Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Caribbean Transitional Energy Conference

WHY CAYMAN? WHY NOW?

Caribbean economies suffer from some of the highest electricity prices in the world. Despite their abundance of renewable energy sources, Cayman has a relatively low level of renewable energy penetration; the economy continues to spend a large proportion of its GDP on imported fossil fuels.

The Caribbean Transitional Energy Conference (CTEC) is about building our resilience as a small nation, about diversifying our energy sector and the way that we do business.

It is about ensuring sustainable social and economic growth through strong leadership, recognising the threat of climate change and the vulnerability of islands across the world and voicing our commitment to take the measures that we can take now. More

Sunday, March 5, 2017

This grazing and cover crop system is producing some impressive numbers - By Gabe Brown


Phone calls, emails and even a few old-fashioned letters — all say the same thing. As I travel presenting at conferences and workshops, the statement comes up repeatedly.

If only I had a dollar for the number of times I had people tell me, “Gabe, you just don’t understand that our soils are not like yours.” I have learned to listen patiently (OK, sometimes not so patiently) as these people tell me all the reasons my soils are productive, and theirs are not.

When they finish, I ask them what they imagine their land looked like pre-European settlement. To this I usually receive a puzzled look.

My point is this: How is it that these lands were once healthy, functioning ecosystems? What changed between then and now? Could it be that we are the reason our land is no longer as productive as it once was? Could it be we are the reason that our soils do not function properly?

We get a lot of visitors to our ranch, more than 2,100 last summer alone. I think most come wanting a “silver bullet.” What we show them is simply how to use the principles of nature to their advantage.

I make it a point to show the difference between soils on our ranch and those of nearby operations. All have the same soil types.

The accompanying table shows soil testing results for four operations in my neighborhood. The one titled “Organic” is just that — an organic operation that is very diverse in its cropping system. The operator grows spring wheat, barley, oats, corn, sunflowers, peas, soybeans, dry edible beans and alfalfa. Natural, organic fertilizers are used. No livestock are integrated onto this cropland. More

Climate Ecoforestry

In 2008 we asked Frank Michael a tough question. Frank is a physicist, formerly with the Ames Research Center group that created the first Flying Solar Laboratory to study the sun and its “weather” and prevent astronauts from being fried by solar storms. We asked him what would happen to atmospheric carbon if everyone on earth planted a tree each day.

It was an interesting question, and one that was not easy to answer. Frank explained some of the variables to us. You would want to know what kind of trees are planted; what their lifespan will be; what happens to their carbon store when they die; the net photosynthetic productivity of the forest, by hectare, based on soils, rainfall, latitude and expected climate change; the effect of all the stored carbon in the ocean that would “leak back” into the atmosphere in response — trying to re-balance the distribution of carbon dioxide — and much more.

Nonetheless, he agreed to give it a go. Thus began a system model that Frank Michael will be presenting at the 7th World Congress on Ecological Restoration later this year in Foz do Iguassu, Brazil.

The question changed to “what amount of trees, land and biochar would be needed to return the atmosphere to ‘normal’ and how long would it take?” We know much less about paleoclimate drawdowns and feedbacks than we know about epochs of carbonization. As his calculations and his global model became more elaborate, he began to be drawn to the complexity of the social dimension. What are the potentials for unplanned reversals like deforestation, population pressure, energy demand and urban sprawl? How many of those trees would survive one year? 5 years? 100 years? Who would care for them and how would those people be compensated? How would you pay for the biochar conversion?

Frank came up with a model that we can only describe as pure genius, worthy some day of a Nobel Prize should he ever be recognized. His “step harvest” system, which we first described in The Biochar Solution, sets out a practical methodology for employing hundreds of millions of forest stewards to regenerate and revitalize neglected and abandoned “wastelands,” working with principles of ecological regeneration and patch management to stack yields while optimizing ecological functions. Rather than rely on charity, it relies on capitalism – a healthy return of investment in semi-autonomous but coordinated microenterprises. More

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Chevron is first oil major to warn investors of risks from climate change lawsuits


Big Oil’s lies about the existential risk posed by its product are now catching up with the industry and threatening profits.

For the first time, one of the major publicly owned fossil fuel companies admitted publicly to investors that climate change lawsuits poses a risk to risk to its profits.
You’re probably thinking that seems like an obvious admission. After all, 190 nations unanimously agreed in the December 2015 Paris climate deal to leave most fossil fuels in the ground because of the existential threat they pose to human civilization.

But this is Big Oil — the industry that has been denying or pretending to deny the existence of climate change for over half a century.
In the “risk factors” section of Chevron’s 2016 10-K financial performance report to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) — amid a discussion of how those pesky climate rules governments are enacting might hurt demand for its product — is this sentence: “In addition, increasing attention to climate change risks has resulted in an increased possibility of governmental investigations and, potentially, private litigation against the company.” http://bit.ly/2mndUir

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Great Change: Mount Pleasant by Albert Bates

Sunday, February 19, 2017

"The problem is not our understanding of the science or the efficacy of our potential solutions. The problem is human willingness to do the right thing before its too late."

We first latched onto the notion of catastrophic climate change back around 1980 when we were a young attorney taking quixotic cases involving impossible-to-rectify injustices like cancers among atomic veterans, trespass of sacred sites or nuclear waste disposal, and shoving those insults under the noses of attorneys-general, judges and justices to try to get a reaction.

Occasionally we would finesse a surprising win and that helped attract donations to keep the enterprise running and the entertainment value high, attracting more donors, and so it went.

One such case was against the deepwell injection of toxic effluent from the manufacture of pesticides and herbicides by agrochemical companies in Mt. Pleasant, Tennessee. The effluent in question had been extracted from an aquifer and tested by State laboratories where was quickly ranked as the most concentrated poison they had ever pulled from the wild. A single green fluorescent drop killed all the fish in the tank. There were 6 billion gallons injected under Middle Tennessee from 1967 to 1980. It made Love Canal look like the kiddie pool.

https://goo.gl/gw1SCk

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Petition to UN Secretary-General to change the name of our planet from Earth to Peace


Humanity is now playing in the Major Leagues.

As I said in 2011, in 2016, and say again today in 2017, unless the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion protest, like the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's Dakota Access Pipeline protest is successful, there will be casualties, political casualties and eventually millions of human casualties. Casualties from run-away climate change, sea level rise and from conflict. Not to mention from from difficulties in feeding an ever increasing population.

Continued burning of fossil fuel, driven mainly by capitalist greed, will eventually pollute the atmosphere and the environment to the degree that is will no longer support life. What future are we leaving to our children and grandchildren and future generations? There are those scientists like James Lovelock who argues that it is too 'little too late'. http://bit.ly/2irVnAY

Even if we did suspend the burning of petroleum and coal tomorrow our coastal cities and small island developing states would continue to experience sea level rise for hundreds of years. http://bit.ly/2irRxrC

We have had now had, besides the upcoming Trans Mountain pipeline expansion protest, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's Dakota Access Pipeline protest, the election of president-elect Trump, OWS protests in 2011, protests in Brazil and Turkey, and like it or not social protests are here to stay. As Robbert Muggah said of Brazil's Protests "There is little doubt that the protests have challenged the existing social order and alerted a new generation of youth to the unacceptability of the status quo". This holds true globally. http://huff.to/2gTbl60

The political paradigm has changed. Politicians and governments and the corporate world are proving once again to be slow learners, they are resisting change rather than embracing it, and without listening to their people's protests, they will be swept away by the winds of change.

Globally we are faced with climate change, the most serious peril that has faced humanity in its brief history. However, we are faced with more than climate change, there are the life threatening CO2 levels and looming sea level rise, resource shortages and an out of control population, as well as concerns for water and food security in the years to come.

As I say frequently “failing to plan is planning to fail”.

Humanity is today playing in the major leagues. We are in a sink or swim situation. If we can keep the planet habitable by mitigating and adapting to the changing climate, switching to alternative sources of energy such as solar, wind, geothermal, wave, ocean thermal and nuclear, sequester CO2 and provide the population with adequate supplies of water and food and bring the population under control, humanity may survive . Survival means, amongst all the issues above, learning to navigate successfully through a new political morass.

Warfare and conflict will also need to become a thing of the past, as climate change and energy may well exacerbate conflict situations. With a 9.5 billion global population by 2050 ensuring that everyone has adequate food and water could be problematic.

There is however, no ‘Plan B’ if we fail to resolve all the problems facing us.

When playing in the major leagues, there is no time out, there is no one that is going to offer help, let alone rescue us. Look around, the neighbourhood is somewhat sparsely populated and there are no other worlds on which humanity can survive. Even if there were other habitable worlds nearby they would in all probability belong to someone else. Neo-colonialism on an intergalactic scale may well not end well for humans.

There are, in all likelihood, other intelligent races out there somewhere, however, in the major leagues one survives on ones own. As a young civilization it is up to us to solve all our problems, to make peace among ourselves, to bring the population under control, to implement the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and resolve the inequality that is partially responsible for the protests that are occuring around the world.

We must solve our own problems. As a young race we are as children, and as such we may not be able to solve our own problems. But solve them we must. If we are able to solve the situation facing us and make it to adulthood, in the galactic meaning of the world, we may then be introduced to the neighbors. If we do not make it to adulthood we will be just another minor statistic, a failure, a insignificant footnote in the universal history book.

Humanity needs an initiative to train our young people to become Stewards of Nature and the Environment. I envision this being done by involving and employing indigenous peoples around the world to introduce our youth, at the appropriate age, to indigenous philosophy and cultural understanding of the environment and what nature provides for mankind through ecosystem services.

Let us therefore be aspirational and rename our planet, the home of the human race and many other species, as the planet PEACE

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

World's Largest Oil Company, Saudi Aramco, Apparently Mulling $5 Billion Renewable Investment

World's Largest Oil Company, Saudi Aramco, Apparently Mulling $5 Billion Renewable Investment | CleanTechnica

The world’s largest oil company, Saudi Aramco, is apparently mulling over as much as $5 billion in renewable energy investments as part of plans to diversify from crude oil production, according to people with knowledge on the matter.

According to various reports, Saudi Arabia’s national petroleum and natural gas company, Saudi Aramco, is apparently considering as much as $5 billion worth of investments into renewable energy firms as part of larger plans to diversify their operations. According to one report from Bloomberg, “banks including HSBC Holdings Plc, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Credit Suisse Group AG have been invited to pitch for a role helping Aramco identify potential acquisition targets and advising on deals.”

This should come as no surprise to anyone who has been watching the global energy market fluctuate over the last decade. The Gulf countries currently have as close to a monopoly as possible over the world’s oil resources, and dictate oil prices at their whim. But if natural gas reserves and renewable energy continue to put a dent in the need for their oil, then their businesses are going to stumble.

Subsequently, we have seen over the last few years big oil majors from the Middle East begin to diversify their portfolios, looking to renewable energy investments as a surefire way to keep themselves afloat in the long run.

Back in November of 2016, reports circulated regarding seven leading oil and gas majors looking to join forces to create a renewable energy investment fund for the development and promotion of renewable energy. The news was confirmed not long after with the creation of the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI) which announced a $1 billion investment over the next ten years into renewable energy development. More