With the amount of carbon in the atmosphere at a level never before witnessed by human civilization we need to know how what to do about it. Obviously we need to cut back on all emissions and wasteful consumerist consumption. Beyond that we need to actively support carbon sinks. A new way of measuring carbon sinks can help us determine which type of coastal forest needs the most protection (or revitalization).
Nóbrega hopes to build a library of soil reflectance fingerprints for mangrove soils throughout the world. He doesn’t want to stop with mangrove soils, though. “Ultimately, we want to expand to other coastal environments, such as saltmarshes, seagrasses, and tidal flats,” he says.
Eventually, it might be possible to equip a drone with the required sensors. “Then we could obtain vital information without disturbing sensitive ecosystems,” says Nóbrega. “We could monitor carbon levels in large, inaccessible areas.”
This week it was announced that carbon in our atmosphere has reached levels not seen for 800,000 years. Clearly we need to do better to reduce our consumption of fossil fuels and the releasing of carbon (and other waste) into the atmosphere. While reduction efforts continue, we need to do something now. And doing something now is what an international coalition of agencies is doing in Brazil. They are going to plant 73 million trees to bring life back to the amazon. They will be planting the trees on rainforest land that was previously cleared for factory farming using a new technique to see how well it works.
“This is not a stunt,” Sanjayan says. “It is a carefully controlled experiment to literally figure out how to do tropical restoration at scale, so that people can replicate it and we can drive the costs down dramatically.”
The muvuca strategy demands that seeds from more than 200 native forest species are spread over every square meter of burnt and mismanaged land. The seeds are purchased from the Xingu Seed Network, which since 2007 has acted as a native seed supply for more than 30 organizations, thanks a collection of more than 400 seed collectors–many of whom are indigenous women and local youths.
When fish farms kill their fish for food some of that food is ground up and fed to other fish as nutrient pellets. It’s well known that current fishing practices are really bad for the environment and that fish farms aren’t good for their local environment. Anything we can do to help reduce the damage done by fish (and eating fish) will make this world a little better.
A new company, NovoNutrients, has created a solution to the fish feed problem by addressing another global issue: too much carbon. The company has a process which takes carbon from factories and feeds it to microbes, which in turn grow to become fish food.
The startup’s process uses carbon dioxide, along with other emissions, to feed microbes that can then become protein for companies that make pellets of food for fish. Those microbes are similar to ones that evolved to live near gas vents in the ocean; the startup arranges them with other species into “microbial factories” that work together to make the whole process more efficient.
The company is also developing new microbes, using synthetic biology, that can produce particular nutrients–vitamins or probiotics, for example–that can also be used as ingredients in feed. All of this will happen in pipes that help the gases dissolve in water, rather than in the large tanks that are used for fermentation in a brewery or some pharmaceutical companies. The pipes can connect directly to a cement plant or other industrial emitter and then into a fishmeal factory next door. Hydrogen, which can be produced through electrolysis of water using solar power, can provide energy for the system.
When it comes to carbon storage you can’t beat peatlands. They store tons of carbon and clean the air so efficiently that we ought to protect them way better than we currently do. Indeed, peatlands are on the decline – that’s not good. Fortunately there is research in how best to protect the peatlands from further damage and ways to restore them to their former glory.
Peatlands are the superheroes of ecosystems: purifying water, sometimes mitigating flooding and providing a home for rare species. And they beat nearly every system when it comes to carbon storage. Known peatlands only cover about 3% of the world’s land surface, but store at least twice as much carbon as all of Earth’s standing forests. In addition, at least one-third of the world’s organic soil carbon, which plays a vital role in mitigating climate change and stabilizing the carbon cycle, is in peatlands.
“From a climate perspective, [peatlands] are the most essential terrestrial ecosystem,” says Tim Christophersen, a senior program officer with Forests and Climate at the United Nations Environment Programme.
The Canadian province of Alberta is best known for the tar sands and the damage extraction of the bitumen has done to the planet. The province is now aware that their extraction economy won’t last forever because it isn’t renewable, so they have started to implement policies to make their province more efficient. One recent thing they did was implementing a carbon tax. Over at desmog blog they compiled a list of ten reasons Albertans like the new carbon tax and how it benefits them.
4) Household Rebates — $1.5 Billion
A popular critique of carbon pricing is that it unfairly punishes lower income people, costing poor people a higher percentage of their income and leaving even fewer options to, say, buy a newer and more fuel-efficient car or furnace.
Thankfully, Alberta has integrated well-designed rebates into the design of the carbon levy, channelling $410 million in 2017-18 to household rebates.
Two-thirds of Albertan households have already received partial or full rebates, depending on their income levels. Consumers who pollute less than average actually make money from the rebates.
Over three years, the household rebates will amount to $1.5 billion.