Tag Archives: deforestation

IPCC report: Planting trees isn’t enough to save us from the climate crisis

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IPCC report: Planting trees isn’t enough to save us from the climate crisis

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The group that was supposed to make palm oil sustainable just disappeared

IPOP pops

The group that was supposed to make palm oil sustainable just disappeared

By on Jun 30, 2016Share

The skyrocketing global demand for palm oil is devastating forests in Southeast Asia, and now a group that was created to stop the destruction has been cut down, too — razed by political forces that opposed the push to end deforestation. But all is not as dark as it might look.

Palm oil is everywhere: it’s in most processed foods, not to mention shampoos, soaps, and cosmetics. The Indonesia Palm Oil Pledge, or IPOP, was created at the 2014 United Nations Climate Summit as a means to allow sustainable-minded business interests and responsible palm oil companies to work with and influence government leaders, in an effort to preserve forests and stamp out human rights abuses by bad operators. But IPOP and its member companies became punching bags for their political opponents, who want to keep clearing land (more on the factions here).

The organization itself has not confirmed its dissolution — at least as of June 30 — but corporate members have said it is shutting down. “Cargill supports the dissolution of IPOP,” an associate vice president of the giant U.S.-based agribusiness wrote in a letter to stakeholders, explaining that the Indonesian government had stepped in to fill the role IPOP was originally supposed to perform. The government has instituted a moratorium on new palm oil plantations, protected areas with big trees and high biodiversity, and established an agency to restore carbon-rich peatland.

But the government will need industry support to bring these policies to fruition. Responsible companies should look to the successful strategy used to reduce soy and cattle deforestation in the Amazon, which involved blocking rogue companies from access to the market, said Glenn Hurowitz, a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy. That strategy allowed agricultural production to double even as forest clearance was reduced to one third of what it had been.

The Amazon example shows that there’s plenty of room for Indonesia to grow its agriculture businesses without burning more trees. But to achieve that, responsible companies will have to engage in politics and fight for sustainability, Hurowitz said. Now business leaders will have to do that in some other form than IPOP.


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The group that was supposed to make palm oil sustainable just disappeared

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Daily Action to Celebate Earth Week: Restore Nature

The week leading up to Earth Day is a great time to focus attention on the individual steps we can each take to help protect the planet and ourselves. That’s why, throughout Earth Week (April 17 – April 23) we’ll be highlighting a daily action that can make a difference.

First up: Restore Nature

Nature depends on wilderness, wetlands, forests, prairies and even deserts to sustain the animals, plants and resources ecosystems need to thrive. But the natural world is quickly disappearing. Since the 1700s, the U.S. has lost over 50 percent of its wetlands.

Twenty-two states have lost at least 50 percent of their original wetlands, reports Environmental Concern, Inc., while in seven states over 80 percent of original wetlands have disappeared. The story is similarly grim when it comes to the loss of forests.

The United Nations Environment Programme reports that 13 million hectares of forests, an area equivalent to the size of Greece, are cut down around the world every year. And though over a quarter of the world was once covered by grasslands, much of that has now been turned into farms, energy development and even suburbs, says National Geographic.

Though you may not be able to plant a tract of prairie or singlehandedly restore a marsh, you can do the following to make a difference:

* Plant a tree in your own yard. Can this make a difference? I think of the neighborhood I grew up in as proof that it can. My neighborhood started off as a blank subdivision that had been clearcut so that every house could be easilybuilt on a small, treeless tract. One of the first things my parents and others did when they moved in was plant treesin their front yard as well as in the back. Today, that neighborhood is flush with mature trees that provide shade in the summer and wonderful habitat for all kinds of migrating birds.

* Fill your landscapewith native plants. Whether or not you plant a tree, you will probably have other flowers and bushes in your yard. As much as possible, skip the exotic species in favor of native plants that help restore nature’s balance to your community. Your local county extension agent will be able to tell you what’s native to your region, as well as what will thrive in your own yard given your access to sunlight and water.

* Get together with your neighbors to restore natural spaces. Convene a meeting with your city planning officials and other concerned citizens to identify parts of your neighborhood that you can replant. Connect with the Boy Scouts to stencil storm drains with messages that warn people that the drains connect to their watershed, so they shouldn’t dump oil, paint or other contaminants. Organize a stream clean-up.

* Stopinvasive species.Non-native plants and animals threaten native wildlife and ecosystems and wreak ecological havoc, says the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), which pushes many plants and animals to the brink of extinction. Next to habitat loss and degradation, invasive species are the biggest threat to biodiversity. They can also cost the U.S. economy billions of dollars because they can clog water pipes, decimate fisheries and propagate disease. NWF recommends setting up monitoring systems to detect infestations of these unwanted creatures, and, at home, eradicating invasives in favor of planting and maintaining a natural garden.

* Be water wise. Think about water in two ways: how you use it and how you keep it clean. We waste an enormous amount of water by letting faucets run; by watering grass; by ignoring leaks; and by running appliances like dishwashers and clothes washers when they’re somewhat empty. Save water in your yard by planting more drought-tolerant plants, tightening faucets, replacing toilets and shower heads with more water-wise models and running appliances when they’re full. Protect water quality by minimizing use of fertilizers, insecticides and other pollutants that can run off into streams, rivers and lakes. Buy organically grown food to help reduce agricultural water pollution. And stop using personal care products that contain plastic microbeads, tiny pieces of toxic plastic that wash down the drain and into our waterways.

What other ideas do you have for restoring Nature on Earth Day? We’d love to hear what you plan to do.

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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Daily Action to Celebate Earth Week: Restore Nature

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Are Carbon Offsets Effective?

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Are Carbon Offsets Effective?

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Logging on the rise again in the Brazilian Amazon

Logging on the rise again in the Brazilian Amazon

Sam Beebe, Ecotrust

Can you tell which part has been logged?

Buried amid the bleak news in a forest study that we told you about last week was a glimmer of hope: Analysis of satellite images taken from 2000 to 2012 revealed that deforestation was slowing down in Brazil.

But new Brazilian government figures, from August 2012 to July 2013, indicate that bad news is back: Amazonian deforestation over that period increased by 28 percent compared to the preceding 12 months. The Guardian reports:

The [increase], boosted partly by expanding farms and a rush for land around big infrastructure projects, fulfilled predictions by scientists and environmentalists that destruction was on the rise again. …

The reasons for the rebound in deforestation are numerous. Changes to Brazil’s forestry laws have created uncertainty among landowners regarding the amount of woodland they must preserve.

High global prices for agricultural commodities have also encouraged growers to cut trees to make way for farmland.

Loggers, squatters and others are also rushing to exploit land around big infrastructure projects, including railways, roads and hydroelectric dams under construction in the Amazon.

Brazil’s environment minister tried to put the focus on the “positive” decade-long trend rather than the one-year uptick, but activists weren’t buying it. “You can’t argue with numbers,” said Marcio Astrini of Greenpeace Brazil. “This is not alarmist — it’s a real and measured inversion of what had been a positive trend.”

Deforestation in Amazon jungle increases by nearly a third in one year, The Guardian

John Upton is a science fan and green news boffin who tweets, posts articles to Facebook, and blogs about ecology. He welcomes reader questions, tips, and incoherent rants: johnupton@gmail.com.

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Logging on the rise again in the Brazilian Amazon

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