Saturday, February 28, 2015

[biofuelwatch] FW: [SynBioCritics] Emergency Day of Action to STOP GE Trees next Tuesday 3 March!







WOULD ANYONE BE WILLING TO COME WITH ME TO THE BRAZILIAN EMBASSY ON 3RD MARCH IN LONDON to protest?

Please forward to anyone you think might respond!

Thanks,

Helena


------ Forwarded Message
From: Anne Petermann <globalecology@gmavt.net>
Date: Fri, 27 Feb 2015 16:31:42 -0500

Subject: Emergency Day of Action to STOP GE Trees next Tuesday 3 March!

 
   
  
   
 
Please share widely!

Emergency actions to STOP GE trees called for Tuesday, March 3rd at the Brazilian Embassy or Consulate near you!

Take action in solidarity with Brazilian social movements and organizations to stop the legalization of socially and ecologically destructive GE trees.

(Click here for all the details) <http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=0019aUXNXidi-7zOI8yzaSGaa8iGImka-OQ8dnMzpvQv6Gah1L5K4DMAkThkdJt2W5X7geD4fQVYfEUMoCutNcbI1zP5xRCCD8x3DGsWKmxNJf_T95-wMHxdYOogQRSHEQ4fJ7SRwtvPUlEGQQ1rbA4fD8BPXmV8kKlDcazVLezb9oqnXosFz8qgvgsiZrSx5O9zgoW9BxwMUBwSo9McCyYS3A-BQgblAVnqTWirteXIn7Mw2ikD_VP4A==&c=kgxH8KqeRKak1eJqwGnIY_W19J22iHUBp9aWkrNTzwn1mzj7szR_GA==&ch=hmghbVhwB2Z-EDRAaANewnBQasQ48wI0KC3gmueyF5yH7ijzXc2Mhg==>

Background:

On THURSDAY 5 March 2015, CTNBio, the agency that regulates GMOs in Brazil, will decide on an industry request to legalize the commercial development of genetically engineered eucalyptus trees.

CTNBio may approve this commercial release of genetically engineered (GE) eucalyptus.

That is, UNLESS there's enough pressure, both nationally and globally, to change their mind.

If this request is approved, it will be an unprecedented decision, with devastating social and environmental impacts not only for Brazil but around the world.

In the US, a similar request to the USDA from GE tree company ArborGen to legalize their GE eucalyptus trees is currently pending, and doubtless the US will be paying close attention to this decision in Brazil.

We need you to help stop this disaster!

We are mobilizing an Emergency Day of Action to STOP GE Trees NEXT TUESDAY, March 3rd and we need your help to make it a success!

Click here to learn how you can take part on Tuesday <http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=0019aUXNXidi-7zOI8yzaSGaa8iGImka-OQ8dnMzpvQv6Gah1L5K4DMAkThkdJt2W5X7geD4fQVYfEUMoCutNcbI1zP5xRCCD8x3DGsWKmxNJf_T95-wMHxdYOogQRSHEQ4fJ7SRwtvPUlEGQQ1rbA4fD8BPXmV8kKlDcazVLezb9oqnXosFz8qgvgsiZrSx5O9zgoW9BxwMUBwSo9McCyYS3A-BQgblAVnqTWirteXIn7Mw2ikD_VP4A==&c=kgxH8KqeRKak1eJqwGnIY_W19J22iHUBp9aWkrNTzwn1mzj7szR_GA==&ch=hmghbVhwB2Z-EDRAaANewnBQasQ48wI0KC3gmueyF5yH7ijzXc2Mhg==> !

 
   
   

The Campaign to STOP GE Trees <http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=0019aUXNXidi-7zOI8yzaSGaa8iGImka-OQ8dnMzpvQv6Gah1L5K4DMAsT3NU7oO0biuN4tE2NktT7rl96sJEt-nsVGQXPdIpNQH91-E7jkKYSdIgB0LgRVsaaUDTx0h0ZVZd_hks2igiTu_H3gP_zNy_94JdZdR2LZOp02mOvRXVs=&c=kgxH8KqeRKak1eJqwGnIY_W19J22iHUBp9aWkrNTzwn1mzj7szR_GA==&ch=hmghbVhwB2Z-EDRAaANewnBQasQ48wI0KC3gmueyF5yH7ijzXc2Mhg==> is an international alliance of organizations mobilized to protect forests and biodiversity and to support communities threatened by the dangerous release of genetically engineered trees into the environment. GJEP coordinates the Campaign.  

You can connect with us on Facebook <http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=0019aUXNXidi-7zOI8yzaSGaa8iGImka-OQ8dnMzpvQv6Gah1L5K4DMAibXtTIwzhgAIdD3ux-PvT04xzVyt_zb3PD0OFFAmsH-pAvmAVFMeizOBEeYe1rSXqemhojSz4eDf54XisD4h9GSC0wJUxvp1UCM3QjqF_6k1PJJxkLn0X11zKWCuIAMRgI73Ra44uua&c=kgxH8KqeRKak1eJqwGnIY_W19J22iHUBp9aWkrNTzwn1mzj7szR_GA==&ch=hmghbVhwB2Z-EDRAaANewnBQasQ48wI0KC3gmueyF5yH7ijzXc2Mhg==> , follow us on Twitter <http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=0019aUXNXidi-7zOI8yzaSGaa8iGImka-OQ8dnMzpvQv6Gah1L5K4DMAibXtTIwzhgASNCIFlq4UkgxdASBlmPKcdy6HW2K7JbQ-8B_8Ii8B3jiYtiFA78aM92c0OxsKKutDy90l-qOdSFeadDQ6PsNcDXKbwmSZuwqPeEmenp3fMqYyUk4GFdAQQ==&c=kgxH8KqeRKak1eJqwGnIY_W19J22iHUBp9aWkrNTzwn1mzj7szR_GA==&ch=hmghbVhwB2Z-EDRAaANewnBQasQ48wI0KC3gmueyF5yH7ijzXc2Mhg==> , and become a sustaining donor to keep the movement strong and growing <http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=0019aUXNXidi-7zOI8yzaSGaa8iGImka-OQ8dnMzpvQv6Gah1L5K4DMAg0KNoFfyuBK_uVwsG_yUWxYFMydytftTAB9--snv8olXZZ_ZuTQgO-MFBFMHyvaqLAMM7fOyomXY4l1mBvSMeq3jNEhv2-ylHSjAlzUnjQ3WZOqier1Ze59SxuNVHQ_4TIWwKAQLZRM&c=kgxH8KqeRKak1eJqwGnIY_W19J22iHUBp9aWkrNTzwn1mzj7szR_GA==&ch=hmghbVhwB2Z-EDRAaANewnBQasQ48wI0KC3gmueyF5yH7ijzXc2Mhg==> .

You are receiving this email because you have expressed an interest in Global Justice Ecology Project and/or the Campaign to STOP GE Trees.
 
         

Forward this email <http://ui.constantcontact.com/sa/fwtf.jsp?llr=dui7cqdab&m=1103272747651&ea=info%40globaljusticeecology.org&a=1120240270156>

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Global Justice Ecology Project | 266 Elmwood Avenue | Suite 307 | Buffalo | NY | 14222-2202


--

Anne Petermann
Executive Director
Global Justice Ecology Project
266 Elmwood Avenue, Suite 307
Buffalo, NY 14222 USA

phone: +1.716.931.5833
mobile: +1.716.364.1188
twitter: @AnneGJEP
skype: annepetermann

Global Justice Ecology Project <http://globaljusticeecology.org>  Coordinates the Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees <http://stopgetrees.org>

<https://www.facebook.com/globaljusticeecology>    <https://twitter.com/Climatejustice1>






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Posted by: helena <h.paul@gn.apc.org>



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Thursday, February 26, 2015

[biofuelwatch] Tropical deforestation rates have been UNDER-estimated





Felling of tropical trees has soared, satellite shows, not slowed as UN study found


The rate at which tropical forests were cut, burned or otherwise lost from the 1990s through the 2000s accelerated by 62 percent, according to a new study which dramatically reverses a previous estimate of a 25 percent slowdown over the same period. That previous estimate, from the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) Forest Resource Assessment, was based on a collection of reports from dozens of countries. The new estimate, in contrast, is based on vast amounts of Landsat image data which directly record the changes to forests over 20 years.


"Several satellite-based local and regional studies have been made for changing rates of deforestation [during] the 1990s and 2000s, but our study is the first pan-tropical scale analysis," explains University of Maryland, College Park, geographer Do-Hyung Kim, lead author of the new study accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.

Kim and his University of Maryland colleagues Joseph Sexton and John Townshend looked at 34 forested countries which comprise 80 percent of forested tropical lands. They analyzed 5,444 Landsat scenes from 1990, 2000, 2005 and 2010 with a hectare-scale (100 by 100 meter) resolution to determine how much forest was lost and gained. Their procedure was fully automated and computerized both to make the huge datasets manageable and to minimize human error.

They found that during the 1990-2000 period the annual net forest loss across all the countries was 4 million hectares (15,000 square miles) per year. During the 2000-2010 period, the net forest loss rose to 6.5 million hectares (25,000 square miles) per year -- a 62 percent increase is the rate of deforestation. That last rate is the equivalent to clear cutting an area the size of West Virginia or Sri Lanka each year, or deforesting an area the size of Norway every five years.

In terms of where the deforestation was happening, they found that tropical Latin America showed the largest increase of annual net loss of 1.4 million hectares (5,400 square miles) per year from the 1990s to the 2000s, with Brazil topping the list at 0.6 million hectares (2,300 square miles) per year. Tropical Asia showed the second largest increase at 0.8 million hectares (3,100 square miles) per year, with similar trends across the countries of Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand and the Philippines. Tropical Africa showed the least amount of annual net forest area loss. Still, there was a steady increase of net forest loss in tropical Africa due to cutting primarily in Democratic Republic of Congo and Madagascar.

The new, satellite-based study "really provides a benchmark of tropical forest clearing not provided by other means," said geographer Douglas Morton, who studies forest cover by satellite sensing at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and was not a coauthor on the GRL paper.

However, the U.N. agency's report is not as flawed as it may seem, argues Rodney Keenan, a University of Melbourne, Australia, forest science researcher who participated in the agency's last forest assessment. Unlike the satellite evaluation, he explained, other deforestation estimates, such as the FAO's 2010 assessment, are based on ground based surveys of trees, often supplemented by imagery. "Both approaches are useful and people need to understand the distinctions and implications of different approaches," he said.

While the new study is "an important contribution to the overall picture," Keenan added, it "should not be seen as contradicting the FAO figures." Not so, say Kim and his colleagues. "We made it very clear in our paper where the FAO missed deforestation that is obvious in satellite images," Kim said, noting that, for example, the FAO reported no change of deforestation rate for 16 of 34 countries from 1990 through 2010, whereas Landsat images show otherwise.

Morton notes that the new, satellite-based estimates are particularly important for those trying to understand the global amounts of carbon being released into the air (primarily in the forms of the climate-warming gases carbon dioxide and methane) or being taken up by plants, soils and waters.

"Tropical deforestation plays a big role in global climate cycles," he explained, pointing out that the cutting and burning of forests accounted for 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in 1990s.

It's not really a surprise that the new research shows dramatically higher deforestation rates although "without the transparency of Landsat satellite data is difficult to put your finger on changing trends," Morton added.

"Tropical deforestation has become increasingly more mechanized," he observed. "In the 60s, it was axes; in the 70s, chainsaws; and in the 2000s, it was tractors." For him, he explained, an increase in deforestation rates makes technological sense.


Felling of tropical trees has soared, satellite shows, not slowed as UN study found?




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Posted by: robertpalgrave@hotmail.com



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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

[biofuelwatch] Grist: What a 20-year Biomass Battle Tells Us About Environmental Justice Policy





What a 20-year Biomass Battle Tells Us About Environmental Justice Policy

- by Brentin Mock, February 24, 2015, Grist

http://www.energyjustice.net/content/what-20-year-biomass-battle-tells-us-about-environmental-justice-policy

It's well-established that the Environmental Protection Agency has been quite flaccid when it comes to enforcing civil rights issues. The online news outlet E&E recently took the time to remind us how bad it is last week, reporting from Flint, Mich., where environmental justice complaints about a biomass energy plant built in a low-income, black community have gone ignored since the early 1990s...

READ MORE / COMMENT
--   Editor, The Biomass Monitor  Editor, Energy Justice Now


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Posted by: Josh Schlossberg <josh@energyjustice.net>



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[biofuelwatch] Farmers To Receive Free Seedlings From IRAD in Cameroon





By Nester Asonganyi

Farmers in Cameroon will, in the weeks ahead, receive improved seedlings of Cassava, palms, cocoa, coffee, Irish potatoes and plantains from the Institute of Research and Agricultural Development, IRAD.

The improved seedlings will be handed over to the farmers following an agreement between the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and IRAD. The information was made public by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Lazzare Essimi Menye, on February 19, at the Buea Independent Square, while launching the 2015 farming season in Cameroon.

According to Minister Essimi Menye, farmers will benefit from some improved cassava cuttings, five million plantain seedlings, 1,100 tons of Irish potato seedlings, six million seedlings of pre-geminated palms and 12 million cocoa and coffee seedlings.

In order to increase productivity, the Minister exhorted the farmers to engage completely in 2nd Generation Agriculture, while redoubling their capacities in their various production units. He also said the best way to achieve high yields is through cooperatives. "We want our farmers to be organised, that is why we have decided to promote the establishment of cooperative societies. For the cassava and maize project which is to start this year. We will work only with cooperatives,"the Minister said.

He assured the farmers that the project is going to be a success, since it is partly sponsored by the World Bank and there is enough cash to bankroll it. Before officially launching the farming season in Buea, the Minister had earlier installed a milling unit in Muyuka, where cassava will be processed into starch or flour, which will be used by bakeries.This milling unit, Essimi Menye said, will drastically reduce the importation of flour.

The Minister also revealed Government's intention of refurbishing cocoa and coffee production in the country. "The Government has decided to revamp the production of cocoa and coffee. By April 2015, we will be able to start an assessment of the situation of cocoa and coffee farms. We are going to develop 2nd Generation Agriculture, so we need to know what we have in hand," he asserted.

The Minister also announced that a new programme on youth entrepreneurship will take off this year. "I am calling on young people to join this large agricultural family. We will establish a special unit where we are going to train young people and create what we call 'Agristators'. This means that when you complete your training, you will be able to start up your own business. There will be subsidies to enable you start your own business," he promised. Essimi Menye said there is need to increase the production of palm oil, with efforts geared towards cultivating 10,000 hectares of palm trees yearly. This, he added, will curb the importation rate of palm oil and reduce spending.

According to the Southwest Farmers Regional Representative, Akama Bao, the presence of giant agricultural industries in the Southwest like CDC, PAMOL and Mukete Estate, play a negative role on the State support to the Southwest farmers.

"The Southwest Region is considered rich. This has caused the Region to be deprived of some vital micro- agricultural financing projects like the PAPMIL, which the Region was left out of. In fact, the Southwest farmers are still being looked upon as rich in agricultural loan facilities. The Southwest farmers are looked upon as warm, whereas they are shivering in the cold," Bao stated. He, however, pleaded with the Minister to support producers with good facilities in the Region.

Reacting to the Minster's agricultural roadmap in 2015, the Director of Monitoring and Evaluation at the Southwest Development Authority, SOWEDA, Peter Epie Ngalle, said his institution will live up to the expectations of the Minister. He said what the Minister has outlined in his roadmap will be realised.

"He is a practical Minister. He does what he says and does not talk about what he cannot do. He is really out to promote agriculture", To a worker with the Project Seedlings of Cocoa and Coffee, PSCC, in Yaounde, Sulpice Bene, the Minister has done his part and it is left for the farmers to go to the farms and execute it. "He has set the objectives, we now have the obligation to go to the farm and realise these objectives," he said.

The launching ceremony was crowned by visits to the exhibition stands and encouragement of farmers who came with their agricultural products from the Centre, South, Southwest, Northwest, East, Littoral and West Regions, by the Minister, accompanied by the Governor of the Southwest and other dignitaries.

http://www.cameroonpostline.com/farmers-to-receive-free-seedlings-from-irad/

BetockVoices…….Very encouraging news for farmers in the Nguti sub region but some us remembered what happened to the improved missing maize seedlings in 2010 farming season, we want more cooperatives in our villages. We have never made our voices heard in this sub-region of Cameroon about not receiving information about all the micro- agricultural financing projects. Seek and you will find, ask and it shall be given onto you, knock and the door shall be open on to you, we have a system with institutions which only responds to those knocking on their doors daily about agriculture projects. Let's save future generations from this demeaning exploitation of our land by foreign "land grab" companies in the name of "development". Please note micro- agricultural financing projects are now in place for local communities to develop our land.


http://betockvoices.page.tl/



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Posted by: Betockvoices The Farmers <betockvoices@gmail.com>



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[biofuelwatch] Africa: Agribusiness Companies Destroying Vital Rainforest Habitat of Chimpanzees and Other Great Apes





PRESS RELEASE

Johannesburg — Endangered great ape species are having their rainforest habitat destroyed and threatened by the expansion of agribusiness projects in central Africa according to new evidence from Greenpeace Africa.

Satellite images, obtained by Greenpeace Africa, show that more than 3,000 hectares of rainforest bordering the Dja Faunal Reserve has already been destroyed inside the Chinese-owned Hevea Sud rubber and palm oil concession in Cameroon's Southern region. The reserve is a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to the western lowland gorilla, chimpanzees and mandrills.

"Agro-industrial developments will soon emerge as a top threat to biodiversity in the African tropical forest zone", says Dr Joshua Linder, an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at James Madison University.

"If proactive strategies to mitigate the effects of large-scale habitat conversion are not soon implemented, we can expect a rapid decline in African primate diversity."

UNESCO has previously requested for an inspection to be carried out to assess if any damage has been done to the Dja reserve, but permission was denied by local authorities. The plantation lies in the home district of Cameroonian president Paul Biya. The forest clearance is significantly greater than that carried out by US company Herakles Farms for their palm oil project in the country's South West region that has also deforested vital wildlife habitat and deprived local communities of the forest they depend on for their livelihoods.

A Greenpeace Africa investigation in December revealed that Cameroonian company Azur is also targeting a large area of dense forest in Cameroon's Littoral region to convert to a palm oil plantation, a large part of which is adjacent to the Ebo forest, a proposed national park that is used by many primate species including the Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee sub-species plus the rare and endangered drill, as well as threatened mammals such as the forest elephant.

Greenpeace Africa has twice written to Azur asking they detail their plans and allay environmental concerns over the project, but no response has been provided.

The Nigerian-Cameroon chimpanzee is one of the most endangered primates in the world and faces numerous threats including destruction of habitat from illegal logging, poaching, the bush meat trade and the effects of climate change. The drill is a rare ape and 80 per cent of the world's remaining population is in Cameroon and Azur's plantation project may lead to even more habitat destruction of this already endangered primate.

Industrial-scale agricultural concessions, many foreign-owned, are often allocated throughout West and Central Africa without proper land-use planning. This frequently generates social conflicts when forest clearance takes place without prior consent of local communities. This can result in severe negative ecological impacts and effects on endangered wildlife species as many concessions overlap with forest areas of high biodiversity value.

"Governments need to urgently develop a participatory land use planning process prior to the allocation of industrial concessions" says Filip Verbelen, a senior forest campaigner with Greenpeace Belgium.

"Projects that are being developed without adequate community consultation and are located in areas of high ecological value should not be allowed to proceed and risk further social conflict and environmental damage."

The Congo Basin is the world's second largest rain-forested area. Its rich and diverse ecosystem provides food, fresh water, shelter and medicine for tens of millions of people. The conservation of these forests is vital in the fight against climate change. But the area is increasing under threat from rising global demand for resources, corruption and poor law enforcement.

http://allafrica.com/stories/201502231574.html

http://allafrica.com/stories/201309140182.html


Eru, a highly priced and harvested Non-Timber Forest Product in the forest regions of Cameroon. Because of free access and high demand, illegal land grab and logging wild stocks are disappearing from the forests in Anglophone Cameroon!!


http://betockvoices.page.tl/



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Posted by: Betockvoices The Farmers <betockvoices@gmail.com>



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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

[biofuelwatch] MEPs take note: Biofuels are synonymous with volatile food prices





http://www.euractiv.com/sections/energy/meps-take-note-biofuels-are-synonymous-high-volatile-food-prices-312347

 

MEPs take note: Biofuels are synonymous with volatile food prices

Disclaimer: all opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EurActiv.com PLC.

To ensure that the right to food can be realised by everyone, EU politicians should plan to phase out the use of biofuels altogether, write Hilal Elver and Olivier De Schutter.

Hilal Elver is the United Nations' Special Rapporteur on the right to food and Olivier De Schutter is Honorary Advisor to Oxfam International and the former UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food.

One in nine people are currently going hungry and more frequent extreme weather events are threatening food security. But an opportunity to change this bleak reality faces politicians in Brussels tomorrow as they vote on whether to put more food on the plates of the poorest among us, or not.

The core of this debate is the use of biofuels. Amid the claims that biofuels provide a green fuel for the future, they have quickly become synonymous with high, volatile food prices that jeopardise the right to food, affecting land and water resources, while threatening biological diversity.

For the members of the European Parliament's Environment Committee casting their ballot tomorrow (24 February), they can choose what role biofuels should play in Europe's energy consumption. What this means is that they are choosing either to continue backing a policy directly responsible for pushing more people across the globe into hunger; or to adopt a firm stance against food price volatility and the removal of resources that impact impoverished communities' ability to cultivate crops.

The European Union has supported biofuels for 12 years, ignoring the damaging impact this has had to food prices. Take the cost of vegetable oil: if the EU were to scrap its backing for biofuels made from food crops, the price of this daily commodity in Europe could be 50% lower by 2020, and 15% lower worldwide.

But it's not just jumped up food prices. Europe's biofuels policy has a similarly detrimental effect on the ability of poor people to grow their own food. The amount of global land used for crops is estimated by scientists to expand by 5.2 million hectares by 2020 due to the European thirst for biofuels - with three-quarters of this land being outside Europe. As more land and water is syphoned towards growing biofuel crops, less is available for small-scale farmers to grow the food they rely on, or bring to market.

Biofuels also encourage speculation on land values and give rise to huge land acquisitions across the planet – with almost one in four transnational, large-scale land purchases linked to biofuel production. The current most at-risk areas are Sub-Saharan Africa, which is heavily targeted for land deals, and South East Asia, providing the most common European imported source of fuel for biodiesel – palm oil.

These side effects of European biofuels policy are compounded by the failure of biofuels to live up to expectations of providing a climate friendly source of fuel. And under certain conditions, we know that biofuels have more negative effects on carbon emissions and the environment than using normal fossil fuels, if indirect changes to land use are taken into account, as they should be. A stable climate and healthy environment are fundamental to produce nutritious food for all, which biofuels damage while misleadingly claiming environmental benefits.

When judged against this mounting evidence, it is clear that European biofuels policy as it stands is undermining global attempts to ensure that the world's poorest families can feed themselves, as well as to fight climate change.

These are the reasons why tomorrow's vote by MEPs is so important. A robust cap placed on the use of biofuels that competes with food production is a first step, albeit a modest one. In the coming months, the European Parliament and EU governments will strike a final deal. To ensure that the right to food can be realized by everyone, politicians should plan to phase out the use of such fuels altogether.

The EU has pledged to act across all sectors in a way that is coherent with its development policies. It's now time to deliver. With huge decisions to be made on global development cooperation and climate change this year, it is essential that in 2015 Europe begins to bridge the gap between its development and climate and energy policies. This can be done by reshaping its wayward biofuels practices, coupled with investments in genuine agricultural policies designed to eradicate hunger and truly fight climate change.




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Posted by: almuth@ernsting.wanadoo.co.uk



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Monday, February 23, 2015

[biofuelwatch] Fwd:geoengineering the climate with biomass? [2 Attachments]









This article looks at the question of experimenting and research on geoengineering in general - including the technologies like bioenergy with CCS that are proposed as "carbon dioxide removal"

http://truth-out.org/news/item/29247-should-we-experiment-with-climate-geoengineering

Please read, like, share, tweet it etc from the website as this is most helpful for authors and media outlets.  

or… below



Should We Experiment With Climate Geoengineering?
Monday, 23 February 2015 12:52By Rachel Smolker and Almuth Ernsting, Truthout | News Analysis
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The US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) announced its long-awaited reports on climate geoengineering in mid-February. The reports intelligently state at the outset that geoengineering is no substitute for reducing emissions. But the call for experimentation and research - and for federal government funding for it - is pervasive, loud and clear. And worrisome. A similar call for research was published as a commentary in Nature, conveniently timed just a few days ahead of the release of the NAS reports.
One approach to climate geoengineering would have us inject large amounts of sulphate aerosols into the stratosphere to reflect a proportion of sunlight - a form of "solar radiation management" (SRM). That could provide some temporary overall global cooling, though not evenly distributed. Models as well as the real world experience of volcanic eruptions show that this would have severe side effects, from disrupting rainfall over large areas of the planet to degrading the ozone layer.

Experimenting with solar radiation management is a bit like experimenting with heroin. You know even before you try it that it's not going to be good for you.

Those who support research into SRM believe that its negative impacts must be seen relative to the disastrous changes, including to global rainfall patterns, which are already unfolding. However, as NASA climate scientist Gavin Schmidt has pointed out, rainfall is much more sensitive to changes in the amount of incoming sunlight (which would be reduced through SRM) than it is to greenhouse gases. Therefore, an earth with high greenhouse gases plus SRM won't be anything like the earth any of us have experienced.
Experimenting with SRM is a bit like experimenting with heroin. You know even before you try it that it's not going to be good for you. Also like experimenting with heroin, it does nothing to address the underlying problems that lead to addiction. Pumping sulphate aerosols into the atmosphere would do nothing to reduce greenhouse gas concentrations. To the contrary, it could be used as an excuse to continue to do so. Nor would it slow or stop ocean acidification, the other disaster caused by carbon dioxide emissions besides climate change. Because SRM fails to address the cause of warming, and instead just temporarily masks some of the symptoms, it becomes an addiction and would have to be maintained and even increased over time. Getting off the SRM drug would be especially problematic. Suddenly halting injection of sulphate particles would result in very abrupt and dramatic heating.
Those who call for research into SRM cite the urgent need to understand more in order to have it as a "tool in the box" in case things get so bad that we need to take dire action. Others support researching it because they fear if "we" (the United States and the United Kingdom) do not take the lead and get up to speed, some unfriendly nation or entity might do so and then use it as a weapon. The weaponization of geoengineering is a particularly troubling concern and in fact, the CIA contributed to funding the NAS reports. One scientist reports being contacted and questioned by CIA officials.
A blanket call for more research on climate geoengineering is especially foolhardy. In 2010, an article by four climate scientists published in Science pointed out that open-air experiments to test the effect that SRM with sulphate aerosols would have on rainfall patterns would need to be so large as to be capable of disrupting global rainfall - and thus food production on a large scale.
Small-scale, open-air SRM experiments could help to develop and test the feasibility of large-scale deployment of such technologies, but they could not tell us more about what the global effects of such deployment would be than modeling studies coupled with observations of climate effects of volcanoes already can tell us. What this existing research shows does not bode well for SRM.

Building new power stations to scrub a small fraction of the carbon dioxide emitted by other power stations clearly makes no sense.

What about other climate geoengineering approaches? Under the heading of "carbon dioxide removal" (CDR) are approaches that use plant or plankton biomass growth to absorb carbon out of the atmosphere, as well as methods that use machinery to filter carbon dioxide out of the ambient air (direct air capture).
Direct air capture of carbon dioxide might seem an attractive prospect, but it is technically challenging and - most importantly - highly energy intensive and extremely costly. Building new power stations to scrub a small fraction of the carbon dioxide emitted by other power stations clearly makes no sense, nor is there any sense in diverting any of the small fraction of lower carbon energy such as wind power to power giant carbon dioxide-sucking fans rather than replace existing fossil fuel use for energy. No proposed direct air capture technique has so far proven feasible at scale.
Plant biomass approaches range from very large-scale afforestation (tree plantations), to stimulating plankton growth with ocean iron fertilization, very large-scale use of biochar, (although the National Academy scientists do not regard biochar as a proven form of carbon dioxide removal) or low-till agriculture (included by the NAS, even though that is mostly a practice for industrial GMO soya and corn producers, and even though several studies have put claims about low-till and no-till sequestering of carbon into serious doubt). They also include most prominently, capturing carbon from industrial bioenergy processes, also known as bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS).
Ocean fertilization (except for small-scale experiments that have undergone a risk assessment) would contravene an international convention (London Convention and Protocol) as well as a specific moratorium by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. Its potential to harm marine biodiversity is well established, while several studies have contradicted claims that it could sequester substantial amounts of carbon.
The biomass-based CDR approaches have won favor as more "benign," and because they involve using plants, they elicit less of the visceral repulsion that most feel toward sulphate particle injection. Proponents claim that these plant-based CDR techniques can provide various auxiliary benefits. For example, the assumption is that BECCS can provide us with alternative renewable energy while simultaneously removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Biochar advocates meanwhile claim it will improve soils, increase agriculture productivity, reduce use of fertilizer, retain moisture, clean toxins from the environment and more, all while simultaneously removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere - despite the fact that studies do not show that biochar can be relied upon to actually deliver such benefits.

"Public research into agroecology is drastically inadequate . . . And past analyses have found that funding for agroecology is a very small part of the federal research budget."

Sound magical? Only if one accepts underlying false assumptions. The first is that there are copious amounts of "sustainable," available biomass, (and by implication of the land, soils, fertilizers and freshwater required to grow such quantities of biomass) readily available to be burned for bioenergy, or pyrolyzed to produce biochar or refined into biofuels. Those mythological supplies of biomass simply don't exist. Even with the comparatively small scale of bioenergy production we currently have in place, the impacts on land, food and climate have been hugely problematic and are already well documented. Numerous studies have demonstrated the climate benefits of agroecological farming, protection and restoration of soils, or halting deforestation and allowing natural forests to grow. Establishing huge new demands for wood and crops for CDR achieves just the opposite.
The second false assumption is that large-scale bioenergy is largely "carbon neutral," based on the absurdly simplistic claim that carbon released from burning a tree for electricity (or refining it into fuel) will be offset when a new tree grows in its place. This "carbon neutral" myth has been debunked in scientific literature repeatedly and yet still remains, a testament to the potency of marketing myths and industry PR messaging.
Those who advocate biomass-based CDR climate geoengineering continue to accept it on face value and assume that when CCS is then applied to a "carbon neutral bioenergy" process, it is rendered "carbon negative" (removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, or "net zero emissions"). Since this is simply not true, we already know full well that the impacts of global scale deployment of BECCS would not only fail to reduce atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations, but would also increase manifold the problems we are already witnessing as a result of bioenergy mandates and subsidies (land grabs, soil and water depletion, biodiversity loss, competition with food production, air pollution and more).
So should we experiment with CDR? Unlike the case for SRM, small-scale "experimentation" is already underway in many locations, though not referred to as "geoengineering." For example, tree plantations (afforestation) already exist and are expanding. Many different kinds of bioenergy processes are already in practice from ethanol production (which currently consumes nearly 40 percent of the US corn crop) to co-firing of wood with coal for electricity. Capturing carbon from ethanol fermentation and fossil fuel smokestacks has been tested and found to be energy intensive, expensive and risky. Furthermore, to offset the costs, carbon dioxide is often marketed for "enhanced oil recovery" (pumped into depleted oil wells to force remaining oil out). None of these, at the scale currently in place would be considered "climate geoengineering." But our experiences with them have already flagged up serious limitations and problems. For most biomass-based approaches, the limited availability of biomass, and the land, soils, nutrients and water for growing it, is the key limitation.

The consequences of climate geoengineering are global, so global governance should be considered essential.

Directing science funding toward climate geoengineering raises additional concerns: First of all, public funding for scientific research is limited and spending more of it on geoengineering research will inevitably result in other areas of research being starved of funding. Secondly, once significant funding for geoengineering research becomes available, a bias toward research "results" that reinforce the need for more, similar funding can easily develop. For example, hundreds of studies per year are currently being published about obscure aspects of biochar research, with titles such as "Adsorption of anionic dye on magnesium hydroxide-coated pyrolytic bio-char and reuse by microwave irradiation." Yet field studies that could reveal to what extent biochar actually does increase soil carbon and what its effects on different crops and soils really are remain few and far between. The National Academy rejected biochar altogether as unworthy of consideration for CDR. Meanwhile, agroecology - one of the most promising ways of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and making agriculture more resilient to the now unavoidable level of climate change - remains starved of funding. A letter signed by more than 200 scientists in 2014 warned: "Public research into agroecology is drastically inadequate . . . And past analyses have found that funding for agroecology is a very small part of the federal research budget."
Investing in climate geoengineering research creates momentum. Careers are built around it, grants are sought, and institutes and initiatives sprout up as is already clearly underway. These all will seek to perpetuate and advocate the need for more research and investment. That momentum becomes increasingly difficult to stop, even if the ideas have been deemed too risky, too expensive, ineffective or otherwise pointless to further pursue.
Another concern relates to the regulation of activities associated with geoengineering. In the aforementioned Nature article, the authors write: "We argue that governance and experimentation must co-evolve. We call on the US government and others to begin programs to fund small-scale, low-risk outdoor climate-engineering research and develop a framework for governing it."
The US government? US government "regulation" of GMOs, just as an example, is considered by many to be woefully inadequate and driven more by the interests of Monsanto and their ilk than any interest in protecting public health or the environment. Many people around the globe would likely feel uncomfortable with a US government funded, or governed program on geoengineering. This is especially important given that the negative effects of different types of geoengineering would likely be felt most dramatically in the global South: Sulphate aerosol injections from real-life volcanoes have been linked to major droughts and famines in large parts of Africa, while tropical countries, where trees and crops grow fastest, would be the likely biggest targets for any biomass-based CDR schemes.
The consequences of climate geoengineering are global, so global governance should be considered essential. Yet, realistically, the global community can hardly come to any agreement on climate. How will nations agree on a framework for the governance of geoengineering? Is it possible? Or is climate geoengineering essentially impossible to govern?
Finally, any advancement of climate geoengineering plays directly into the hands of political forces including the oil industry and climate deniers who are pleased to have a "Plan B." As Pat Mooney from ETC Group points out: "The fossil fuel industry is desperate to protect between $20 and $28 trillion in booked assets that can only be extracted if the corporations are allowed to overshoot GHG-emissions. The theoretical assumption that carbon capture and storage will eventually let them recapture [carbon dioxide] from the atmosphere and bury it in the earth or ocean provides the fossil fuel industry with the best way to avoid popping the 'carbon bubble' other than outright climate denial. . . . If the US or other powerful governments accept geoengineering as a plausible 'Plan B,' Plan A will evaporate faster than Congressional bipartisanship."
Pumping funds into geoengineering research seems especially unwise given the political context, and since we already can see clearly enough that these approaches are extremely dangerous, likely won't work, will have unanticipated negative impacts, are very likely to worsen rather than improve the climate - and with different outcomes for different people in different places - are virtually ungovernable, divert resources from better uses, are a political nightmare, and can potentially be weaponized.
These issues are not all unique to climate geoengineering. Many are common to other kinds of technology developments that pose enormous and potentially global risks. The time is long overdue to recognize that our capacity for developing technologies in many cases poses serious risks to ourselves and the rest of life. When it comes to climate geoengineering, we should not be forced to accept that because we "can," even though we know we "shouldn't," "if we don't, someone else will" and therefore we "must." That line of reasoning is no way for an intelligent species to conduct itself.

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Rachel Smolker, Ph.D.
Biofuelwatch (codirector)
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