by Michael D. Pulliam
REGENERATIVE FARMING TO FIGHT CLIMATE CHANGE
Scientists, farmers, the USDA, and President Biden are rallying around an idea that can pull tons of atmospheric carbon into the ground: Regenerative Farming. The Nature Conservancy has released a large study showing that no-till farming paired with the off-season planting of cover crops and nutrient-dense foods (like root vegetables) could sequester as much as 10% of the world’s carbon footprint.
President Biden stated that his climate change policies aim to make “American agriculture the first in the world to achieve net-zero emissions,” while creating “new sources of income for farmers in the process by paying farmers to put their land in conservation, [and] plant cover crops that use the soil to capture carbon.”
In early 2020, a farmer named Marylander Trey Hill was the first to benefit from this vision. A privately run farmer-focused marketplace paid Hill $115,000 for his use of regenerative farming practices, which sequestered over 8,000 tons of atmospheric carbon in the soil. If farmers across the globe adopted similar regenerative practices, some experts estimate this could capture a sizable percentage of the world’s carbon emissions. Deborah Bassio, a soils scientist at The Nature Conservancy, estimated that if soil was protected and rejuvenated globally we could expect to see nearly 10% of the carbon dioxide drawdown necessary to avert near-term climate catastrophe.
Sources: Good News Network, Washington Post, Nature.org
REDWOOD COAST ENERGY AUTHORITY BOOSTS BUYING POWER
Community Choice Aggregations (CCAs) are programs that allow diverse energy consumers more collective control over where their power comes from; most CCAs can deliver lower prices and greener energy than typical electrical utilities suppliers. A group of CCAs along California’s Northern and Central coasts (which includes the Redwood Coast Energy Authority of Humboldt County) have banded together into a Joint Powers Authority (JPA) called “California Community Power.” As a JPA, this community of communities can combine their purchasing power to help each region access any new, cost-effective, clean, and reliable energy sources that may help advance local and state climate policy goals.
According to the Redwood Coast Energy Authority, “This [JPA] structure will give us real buying power – we’ll be one of the biggest buyers of power in the country…. we’ll be leading the way to achieving California’s clean energy goals.”
Many CCAs already set up their communities to meet or exceed state requirements for renewable resources; some have gone as far as to aim for 100% renewable energy 15 years ahead of schedule. And numerous California CCAs are doing this while lowering their customers’ utility bills, developing new wind and solar power projects, and innovating new energy programs.
Source: Solar Power World, RCEA Facebook
SEABIRDS SAVED WITH SIMPLE FISHERIES SOLUTION
An international coalition of conservationists have found a surprisingly simple method for saving the lives of tens of thousands of seabirds, including some endangered albatross species. The solution: tie colorful streamers on boats and longline fisheries equipment.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds teamed up with BirdLife International to establish the Albatross Task Force (ATF) in South America and southern Africa. Their goal was to prevent endangered seabird species from being drawn in to trawling and longline fisheries equipment, where they are easily tangled and caught. Bycatch (a fishing term that describes animals unintentionally caught in fishing gear) in Namibia is responsible for the deaths of a staggering 30,000 seabirds a year.
Once laws were passed that require fishing vessels to attach bright streamers, deaths of seabirds including albatross dropped by 98%, according to a study published in Biological Conservation. The color and motion of the streamers deters birds from pilfering the nets and hooks.
Samantha Matjila at Namibia ATF and Namibia Nature Foundation said, “It’s truly wonderful to see bycatch drop by such a huge amount in Namibia. Our waters are crucial for many globally threatened seabirds – to think that our collaborative efforts with all the vessels and the fishery managers has resulted in more than 22,000 birds being saved every year is something special.”
Sources: Good News Network, EcoMagazine
PUBLIC UPRISING HALTS ROCKY MOUNTAIN COAL MINING
In Alberta, Canada, a government decision to quietly repeal mining restrictions inspired a massive public outcry that succeeded in preserving protection laws. Tens of thousands of Albertans—country music stars, conservationists, First Nations people, ranchers, and Canadians from all walks of life—came together to oppose the legal rollback that would allow mountaintop-removal mining in the Rocky Mountains. The public resistance lasted almost nine months, and included social media campaigns, petitions, and print media scrutiny.
The eastern Rocky Mountains are a very significant region of Alberta. They contain deposits of coal useful in steelmaking, as well as habitats for some threatened wildlife species, drinking water sources, lands important to First Nations communities, popular recreation destinations, and long-held ranch lands. In 1976, the government designated much of this region as Category 2, unavailable for mining development; this labeling was the subject of the repeal that caused so much public pushback.
Sonya Savage, provincial Minister of Energy, said, “We admit we didn’t get this one right. We’re not perfect and Albertans sure let us know that.” She later announced the official decision, saying, “No mountaintop removal will be permitted… and all future coal exploration approvals on Category 2 lands will be prohibited.”
Sources: Good News Network, The Narwhal
TRIBE IN PANAMA REGAINS 400,000 ACRES OF ANCESTRAL TERRITORY
In a historic court ruling, the Naso Kingdom of northwestern Panama has regained stewardship and sovereign rights over some 400,000 acres of their ancestral land. The ruling concludes decades of struggle (beginning in the 1970s and ’80s) between the Naso people and the government of Panama, as well as ranchers and international interests like the palm oil industry. Included in the 400,000 acres of traditionally Naso territory are two national preserves, one of which UNESCO named a World Heritage Site in 1990.
King Reynaldo Santana, leader of the Naso (and the last monarch in the Western Hemisphere), said the court ruling was “an act of justice that will restore tranquillity and allow the land to flourish again…. We will be able to continue what we know best and what our culture and way of life represents; taking care of our mother earth, conserving a majestic forest, and protecting the country and the planet from the effects of climate change.”
With the Naso Kingdom back in control of the region, cattle ranchers and transnational corporations will have a much harder time pursuing their interests in these conservation areas. The Naso also plan to prevent further crises for local wildlife such as endangered jaguars, peccaries, and harpy eagles.
Sources: Happy Broadcast, Uspire, NACLA.org