jGj’s Environmental WINS for 2016

We are sadly in for some rough waters ahead in terms of Environmental Protections from the current U.S. Administration. America cannot expect to be a leader in this regard, at least in the near future. The good news is that local movements are yielding powerful results. And the International community continues to make heroic strides in environmental stewardship. As the Jan. 4th, 2017 Washington Post headline reads: “Republicans can cancel some of Obama environment rules but they’ll have to choose carefully.”

So let’s look at some of the Enviromental Wins for 2016:

Technological Advances

FlowerIconTinyIceland has come up with a way to inject naturally escaping carbon dioxide geothermal plant Screen Shot 2017-02-21 at 12.27.32 AMemissions 400-800 meters (1300-2600 ft.) underground into basalt rock where it turns back into mineral, making it unavailable as a gas to escape back into the atmosphere. They are calling the procedure “Carbfix”. Once the carbon dioxide is injected it becomes one with the volcanic basalt, eventually forming carbonite within two years time. America’s own Pacific Northwest arm of the Dept. of Energy is scaling up and adopting “Carbfix” in the Columbia River region of Washington State.

In effect, what the researchers in both Iceland and Washington State have accomplished is a high-speed version of the geological process known as “weathering,” in which carbon dioxide very slowly becomes locked away in rock layers.

Renewables are King

Screen Shot 2017-02-21 at 12.15.51 AM

FlowerIconTinySolar & Wind energy saw a record year! Because of the infrastructure build-out of renewable energy sources in 2015, more gigawatts of power were produced from wind, solar, and other clean energy sources than from coal or oil.

“The growth of clean, renewable energy to more than 50 percent of all new energy installations worldwide is part of a trend rather than an anomaly, and the growth is expected to increase. Ultimately, I expect that within five to 10 years, between 80 percent and 100 percent of all new annual electric power generation worldwide will be from wind, water, and solar.” – Mark Z. Jacobson, Stanford University clean-energy expert.

FlowerIconTinyScreen Shot 2017-02-21 at 12.00.06 AMAnd the cherry of top of this renewable-surge-sundae is the merger of a handful of innovative, progressive business leaders, which include Bill Gates, recently announcing the launch of a joint venture to invest over one billion dollars in “next-generation energy technologies.

Oceans & Marine Stewardship

FlowerIconTinyScreen Shot 2017-02-21 at 12.49.00 AMFollowing the designation of the largest ecologically protected area on the planet at its time – the Marine National Monument, encompassing 582,578 square miles of land and sea – Obama followed up with the withdrawal of millions of acres of the Atlantic and Arctic oceans from consideration for future offshore oil and gas exploration, ushering in worldwide oceanic protections and stewardship.

FlowerIconTinyCosta Rica, Ecuador & Columbia are working together to protect 10,000 square miles of ocean corridors near the Galapagos.

“This is an historic moment – the first time that three presidents got together to expand protections in their neighboring waters.” – Enrich Sala, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence

FlowerIconTinyShortly following the Central/South American protections, a 25 country, International Commission agreed to protect the Ross Sea, 600,000 square miles of pristine marine wilderness, making this the Earth’s single largest protected area, thanks to the 25 country, cooperative, international stewardship.

Forest Protection

forestFlowerIconTinyA September report from the Dept. of Food & Agriculture confirms that the global rate of forest loss is half the loss rate of five years ago. This remarkable 50 percent drop in forest loss (in the Northern regions) is attributed to commercial planting. Forests are still under unprecedented stress due to climate change (drought, wildfires, invasive species, and disease), but with advanced data collection and remote-sensing, “we’ve never been better prepared for managing forests” according to Kenneth MacDicken, former FAO senior forestry officer.

Kermode, or SPIRIT-Bear in the Great-Bear Rainforest

Kermode, or SPIRIT-Bear in the Great-Bear Rainforest

FlowerIconTinyAnother big win in the forests’ column is the recently protected 9.1 million acres of British Columbia’s Great Bear forest after a hard-fought, 15 year conservation effort by First Nation groups. Years of peaceful protests and boycotts against timber companies resulted in a deal between the First Nation groups, said timber companies, and the Canadian government.

Remember, our Northwest U.S. & Canadian forests are ultimately the North American rainforest. They are equally vital to climate control and biodiversity as Tropical rainforests.

Dam Deconstruction

Breaching Oroville Dam, CA

Breaching Oroville Dam, CA

You may have noticed that dams are in the news these days. Environmentally, dams have had a target on their back for quite some time now. The macro explanation is that they are disruptive to natural ecosystems, namely fish & wildlife. In addition, some major dams are failing or being seriously breached, such as the Nation’s tallest dam, Oroville, in CA  and the Elko, NV dam breach of Feb. 9th 2017

Anne Shaffer, marine biologist with the nonprofit Coastal Watershed Institute, when speaking to the removal of the Glynes Canyon Dam on Washington State’s Elwha river, explained:  “a river system is often the primary source of sediments, which define and build the nearshore habitat, and nutrients and wood, which support life. When you throw in a couple of dams, you create a fish passage barrier and you lock up sediment and wood. So the Elwha nearshore has been starved for a hundred years, and was significantly impaired.”

FlowerIconTinyA recent victory by the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe of upstate New York, makes them the first tribe to take down a federal dam. The Hogansburg Dam removal will now connect the St. Regis and St. Lawrence rivers as part of the Mohawk Tribe’s cultural restoration program and restoring fishing groups for the Native New Yorkers.

“While the great majority of the world’s large dams and all of the major dams have been completed within the last six decades, some of the environmental effects of a dam may not be realised for hundreds of years after construction. A dam can thus be regarded as a huge, long-term and largely irreversible environmental experiment without a control.” – Patrick McCully, Silenced Rivers: The Ecology and Politics of Large Dams

Environmental Social Justice Causes

FlowerIconTinyGreenpeace has formally endorsed the movement for Black Lives platform calling for divestment from fossil fuels, a clean energy economy and an improved democracy.

“For most of our history, the environmental movement has left communities of color behind and failed to lift up the voices of those most impacted by environmental injustice. We cannot allow that anymore.” – Annie Leonard, Greenpeace USA Executive Director and David Barre, Greenpeace USA Program Director

FlowerIconTinyCalifornia governor Jerry Brown introduced bill AB 2616, the state’s fifth legislation in 2016 directly addressing low-income communities that are disproportionately impacted by pollution, dirty development and greenhouse gases.

Screen Shot 2017-02-21 at 12.24.09 AMFlowerIconTinyNewark, New Jersey passed an environmental justice ordinance with the distinction of being the first of its kind in the nation! The Environmental Justice and Cumulative Impacts Ordinance  focuses on city development (where one in four children currently suffers with asthma). The goal is to “Protect the health of all residents, regardless of race, culture or income, from exposure to pollution linked to adverse health effects, including the cumulative impacts that may be worsened as an unintended by-product of new development or redevelopment, and to ensure the enforcement of laws, regulations, and policies in a manner consistent with the principles of Environmental Justice.”

 

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Here at Jenny Green Jeans, by sharing success stories and easy-to- implement tips, I hope to inspire and empower you to continue to make sustainable choices in your life and watch how far the impact goes. Contact me with any questions or suggestions you may have.

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