Monday, March 28, 2016

Astronaut Piers Sellers’ Climate Change Awareness Campaign: An Uphill Battle?

Given that he has already dedicated his life to spreading awareness to the dangers of climate change, does the former NASA astronaut and climatologist Piers Sellers face an uphill battle?

By: Ringo Bones 

After being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and the prognosis showing that he might have only 500 days left to live, former NASA astronaut and climatologist Piers Sellers has thus dedicated his life to spreading awareness of the dangers of climate change. Given that pancreatic cancer survival rate is less than 1-percent, Sellers has indeed dedicated himself to such a noble endeavor despite of his terminal illness and, indeed, he has a lot to be very optimistic about because back in 2015, new energy generated from renewable sources like wind and solar power has reached 90-percent. But he also faces an uphill battle because religious conservatives, especially in the United States, has harbored the belief since 1996 that all this climate change and global warming brouhaha is a scientific hoax and all climate change mitigation measures formulated so far to protect the poorest 90-percent of the world that will be mostly affected by climate change are nothing more than a “21st Century Communist Plot”.

Especially in the U.S. Republican Party camp where none of the prospective candidates for the 2016 U.S. presidential elections even raised concerns over climate change and man-made greenhouse gas emissions. And one of the former U.S. Republican Party presidential candidates, Sen. Marco Rubio, even adopted a staunchly climate change denial stance by comparing the current science of climate change, however sound it is, to a religious cult. Despite of the wide acceptance of scientists around the world, a significant number of the powers that be in Capitol Hill still view climate change data as sham science and thus makes Piers Sellers’ climate change awareness cause face an uphill battle. 

Sunday, March 6, 2016

March 21 International Day of Forests: Environmentalism’s Watershed Moment?

Even though we already have a lot of days commemorating our embattled environment, is the March 21 International Day of Forests the most important of them all?

By: Ringo Bones 

While Earth Hour may have succeeded in its intended environmental mission – i.e. crude oil prices had fallen 70-percent since 2014 – it seems that deforestation seems still like the most ignored issue of our embattled environment. South East Asian palm oil farms had been slashing and burning primeval forests / old-growth forests as if they’re growing out of fashion since the last decade of the 20th Century, it only has been relatively recently that the powers-that-be at the United Nations finally established a resolution to combat the increasing rate of global deforestation.  

The 21st day of March which was designated as The International Day of Forests was established by resolution of the United Nations General Assembly on November 28, 2014. Each year since then, various events celebrate and raise awareness of the importance of all types of forests and trees outside forests for the benefit of current and future generations. Countries are encouraged to undertake efforts to organize local, national and international activities involving forests and trees such as tree planting campaigns on March 21 – the International Day of Forests. The Secretariat of the United Nations Forum on Forests in collaboration with the Food and Agricultural Organization, facilitates the implementation of such events in collaboration with governments, the Collaborative Partnership on Forests and international, regional and subregional organizations. International Day of Forests was observed for the very first time on March 21, 2013.
The catalyst for a “Forest Day” that lead to the establishment of the International Year of Forests started as a casual conversation between two scientists in Oxford, England back in February 2007 who felt that world at large was underestimating the importance of forests in mitigating carbon dioxide emissions and saw a growing need for the latest forestry research and thinking to inform global policy makers and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of Parties negotiators. The two Oxford scientists did not foresee the conference would become one of the most influential global events on forests and climate change today.
Each year since the 1970s, more than 13 million hectares or 32 million acres of forests are lost – an area roughly the size of England. As the forests vanishes so too are the plant and animal species that they embrace which make up 80 percent of all terrestrial biodiversity. Most importantly, forests play a critical role in mitigating the worst effects of climate change including global warming. Deforestation results in 12 to 18 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions – almost equal to the carbon dioxide emissions of the entire global transportation sector. Equally crucial, healthy forests are one of the world’s primary carbon sinks. Today, forests cover more than 30 percent of the world’s land and contain more than 60,000 tree species many of them as yet unidentified and yet to be catalogued by the world’s botanical science community. Forests also provide food, fiber, clean drinking water and medicines for approximately 1.6 billion of the world’s poorest people who earn less than 1 US dollars a day – including indigenous peoples with unique cultures.