- How to erase 100 years of carbon emissions? Plant trees—lots of them.
- Tree planting ‘has mind-blowing potential’ to tackle climate crisis
- Hague climate change judgement could inspire a global civil movement
- Patagonia Will Donate the $10 Million It Saved From Tax Cuts to Environmental Groups
- Bioplastics Made From Cactus
1) How to erase 100 years of carbon emissions? Plant trees—lots of them.
An area the size of the United States could be restored as forests with the potential of erasing nearly 100 years of carbon emissions, according to the first ever study to determine how many trees the Earth could support.
Published today in Science, “The global tree restoration potential” report found that there is enough suitable land to increase the world’s forest cover by one-third without affecting existing cities or agriculture. However, the amount of suitable land area diminishes as global temperatures rise. Even if global warming is limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the area available for forest restoration could be reduced by a fifth by 2050 because it would be too warm for some tropical forests.
“Our study shows clearly that forest restoration is the best climate change solution available today,” said Tom Crowther, a researcher at ETH Zürich, and senior author of the study.
That does not alter the vital importance of protecting existing forests and phasing out fossil fuels since new forests would take decades to mature, Crowther said in a statement.
“If we act now, this could cut carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by up to 25 percent, to levels last seen almost a century ago,” he says.
2) Tree planting ‘has mind-blowing potential’ to tackle climate crisis
Planting billions of trees across the world is by far the biggest and cheapest way to tackle the climate crisis, according to scientists, who have made the first calculation of how many more trees could be planted without encroaching on crop land or urban areas. As trees grow, they absorb and store the carbon dioxide emissions that are driving global heating.
New research estimates that a worldwide planting programme could remove two-thirds of all the emissions that have been pumped into the atmosphere by human activities, a figure the scientists describe as “mind-blowing”. The analysis found there are 1.7bn hectares of treeless land on which 1.2tn native tree saplings would naturally grow. That area is about 11% of all land and equivalent to the size of the US and China combined.
Tropical areas could have 100% tree cover, while others would be more sparsely covered, meaning that on average about half the area would be under tree canopy. The scientists specifically excluded all fields used to grow crops and urban areas from their analysis. But they did include grazing land, on which the researchers say a few trees can also benefit sheep and cattle. Let nature heal climate.
3) Hague climate change judgement could inspire a global civil movement
“You have been negotiating all my life”, cried out 21-year-old Anjali Appadurai from the lectern of a UN climate change conference four years ago. The activist, speaking on behalf of her nation’s youth, could have been speaking for anyone who has taken a mild interest in more than two decades of international negotiations on climate change and stood aghast as world leaders have failed to protect the most basic of human rights – to exist. But today, thanks to 886 Dutch citizens who decided to sue their government, all of that may change. We may not have to wait for the politicians to save us – the lawyers may step in instead. In the first successful case of its kind, a judge in the Hague has ruled that the Dutch government’s stance on climate change is illegal and has ordered them to take action to cut greenhouse gas emissions by a hefty 25% within five years. Lawyers say the precedent it sets could trigger similar cases all around the world. Already, in Belgium, 8,000 citizens are preparing for a similar court case, with others pointing to another possible lawsuit in Norway.
4) Patagonia Will Donate the $10 Million It Saved From Tax Cuts to Environmental Groups
Patagonia is taking money the company saved from the 2017 federal tax cuts and putting it toward another cause: the planet’s well-being. In a 360-word statement published to LinkedIn on Wednesday, CEO Rose Marcario announced that Patagonia will be donating its $10 million tax cut to “groups committed to protecting air, land and water and finding solutions to the climate crisis.”
“Based on last year’s irresponsible tax cut, Patagonia will owe less in taxes this year—$10 million less, in fact,” wrote Marcario. “Instead of putting the money back into our business, we’re responding by putting $10 million back into the planet. Our home planet needs it more than we do.”
Marcario also called out the results of the most recent Climate Assessment report from 13 federal agencies, which warned that the United States could lose 10 percent of its GDP by 2100 if greater action isn’t taken to protect the planet and curtail climate change. “The climate crisis is already affecting all of us,” she continued. “Mega-fires. Toxic algae blooms. Deadly heat waves and deadly hurricanes.
5) Bioplastics Made From Cactus
Sandra Pascoe, a researcher from the University of the Valley of Atemajac (Univa) used the most common variety of edible nopal cactus (the opuntia ficus-indica and the opuntia megacantha) to make a biodegradable and bio-based plastics ( bioplastics ). Nopal is a common name in Mexican Spanish for Opuntia cacti. The English word is prickly pear. “The plastic is basically made out of the sugars of nopal juice, the monosaccharides and polysaccharides it contains. The sugars, pectin and organic acids in the juice give it a very viscous consistency. Thanks to the viscosity, a solid material can be produced.” Glycerol, natural waxes, proteins and colorants are mixed with the juice after it has been decanted to remove its fiber. The formula is then dried on a hot plate to produce thin sheets of plastic . The process was registered with the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property (IMPI) in 2014 and the National Council of Science and Technology (Conacyt) has contributed funding to advance the project. Pascoe is collaborating with the University of Guadalajara Center for Biological and Agricultural Sciences to determine how quickly and under what conditions the plastic will decompose.