According to World Wildlife Fund data, we are losing 12 to 15 million hectares (46,332 to 57,915 square miles) of the world's forests every year. Deforestation is a major contributor to climate change, as it accounts for 15 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, besides killing biodiversity, depleting natural resources, compromising water sources, causing soil erosion and other environmental problems. Efforts to fight deforestation require fast information that could help authorities and NGOs take action before the worst damage is done. Global Forest Watch is a new initiative offering the possibility to do just that. It monitors deforestation activity across the globe, in near real time.
Kicking off with the Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer
(GOCE), which was launched in March 2009, the European Space Agency’s Earth Explorer missions are intended to provide a greater understanding of the Earth and the interactions between various natural Earth processes. “Biomass” is the seventh Earth Explorer satellite to get the nod and will provide and accurate picture of the amount of biomass and carbon stored in the world’s forests.
If you’re concerned about deforestation, you likely blue-bin the no-longer-needed sheets of paper that have been run through your printer. You should keep in mind, however, that even though the recycling of that paper saves trees, the process still requires considerable energy, and most recycled paper still contains some virgin wood pulp. What would be better is if there were an “un-printer” that took the toner off
of the used paper, so you would be left with a blank sheet that you could reuse. Well, thanks to research being conducted at the University of Cambridge, there soon may be.
A NASA-led research team has created a new map using ground and satellite data that accurately quantifies the amount and location of carbon stored in Earth's tropical trees and forests. Based on data from the early 2000s, the map focuses on 2.5 million hectares of tropical forest in seventy-five countries. Data shows that tropical forests contain 247 billion tons of carbon, and of this carbon stock, almost half is held in Latin American forests. Almost the same carbon stock is stored in sub-Saharan Africa in its entirety, compared with 61 billion tons of carbon stored in Brazilian forests alone.
Genghis Khan and his Mongol hordes had an impact on the global carbon cycle as big as today's annual demand for gasoline. The Black Death, on the other hand, came and went too quickly for it to cause much of a blip in the global carbon budget. Dwarfing both of these events, however, has been the historical trend towards increasing deforestation, which over centuries has released vast amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, as crop and pasture lands expanded to feed growing human populations. Even Genghis Kahn couldn't stop it for long.
It’s no secret that paper production and deforestation go hand-in-hand. Long before we ever knew of the evils of styrofoam cups, drift-net fishing, or any of a thousand other ecological no-no’s, we knew that using paper meant killing trees. Recycled paper is a step in the right direction, but it still involves the harvesting of trees early in the process. Now, however, TreeZero paper products is offering up TreeFrog copier paper - it’s made with absolutely no wood fiber, just sugar cane and bamboo.
This British biomass power station concept is one of the many projects being proposed around the globe as the search for renewable energy
sources continues. The visually stunning Teesside plant will be covered with greenery, provide fuel for over 50,000 homes and be powered by palm kernel shells.
The saying used to go, ‘only in America’, but in recent years it might be truer to say, ‘only in Dubai’, especially when it comes to architectural wonders
. Buildings that would be unfeasible just about anywhere else seem to regularly spring from the ground in the oil rich emirate. The next eye-popping construction to grace the skyline could be a seawater vertical farm
that uses seawater to cool and humidify greenhouses and to convert sufficient humidity back in to fresh water to irrigate the crops.
More than 50% of our planet's massive human population is concentrated into urban centres
- and on current estimates, that's likely to be as high as 80% by the year 2050, a year many of us will be around to see. So the challenge facing today's forward-thinking architects is how to create positive outcomes out of a crushing space constraint. Going upwards, in projects like Eugene Tsui's Ultima Tower
and the London Vertical Village concept
, seems to offer some practical solutions to the living space conundrum - but what about feeding all those people? Vertical Aeroponic Farming
seems to be an idea whose time has come - it will let us use land, nutrients, power and water much more efficiently than ever before, while delivering a quality-controllable, year-round and emissions-positive food source for urban communities. Eric Vergne's Dystopian Farm is a design study that examines how a vertical farm might use the latest in agricultural and architectural technology to feed the cities of the future.
March 30, 2005 A landmark study released today reveals that approximately 60 percent of the ecosystem services that support life on Earth -- such as fresh water, capture fisheries, air and water regulation, and the regulation of regional climate, natural hazards and pests -- are being degraded or used unsustainably. Scientists warn that the harmful consequences of this degradation could grow significantly worse in the next 50 years. The Powerpoint presentation of this report makes compelling reading - it should be downloaded by every school, every office and every human being with an interest in seeking positive change. Show it to all those who will listen. It can be downloaded here