Sunday, March 14, 2021

The Great Pause Week 52: Climate Fatigue

"“People want to eat the same thing and that’s sort of a condition of humans, but also you want to innovate so you don’t get bored, and that’s life. That’s cooking.”"

 

No sooner had I finished working up a recipe with my sister to accompany the story last week about grasshopper delicacies, than a Spanish friend said, well, if you like Mexican insects, you have to try chicatanes

A chicatane is a flying leaf-cutter ant — actually the ant queen — found in many parts of Central America. She evacuates her ground nest at the start of the rainy season lest she drown. Although you might find chicatanes in the farmers’ markets of Puebla, Chiapas, Veracruz, or Hidalgo from June through August, they are most sought after in the state of Oaxaca, where they sell for up to a thousand pesos a kilogram, about $20 per pound. 

By carefully watching the patterns of the nest, fearless ant-hunters know when the moment of the queens’ flight is coming. Whole families of men, women and children rise at midnight, don heavy gloves, boots and headlamps, and trek up the mountains to the anthills to wait out the exodus, sometimes until 4 or 5 in the morning. 

When the ants begin to emerge, the gatherers rush forward to bag them. Those who cannot afford rubber boots may have brought buckets of water to stick their feet into while they bend over to gather. A bite that is strong enough to sever the leaf of a tropical tree is not something you will quickly forget, and less so scores of such bites all at once.

While I have yet to find chicatanes in the MasterClass recipes of Gabriela Cámera, they are still prepared in the traditional way in Oaxaca. The cooks remove the wings from the queens and place them on the comal, a flat cooking sheet on an open flame, and add a pinch of salt. Once toasted, they are removed and ground with herbs in a metate or molcajete, a stone mortar and pestle. Moistened with broth they are simmered in a saucepan or pot to a thick paste before being spread onto handmade tortillas fresh off the comal and garnished with minced chiles and requesón, panela, or queso Oaxaca.

The paste can also be combined into mole with chicken, armadillo or deer meat, or folded into masa, wrapped in banana leaves, and steamed in clay pots to make chicatane tamales.

Mexicans sell chicatanes from their homes or in the markets, as they have since before the arrival of Hernán Cortez, but some will be kept for eating throughout the year. No respectable pantry is without a jar of flying ants.

One month after Mexican cuisine was declared by UNESCO an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, I attended the gala opening dinner for the 2010 UN climate conference in Cancún. The spirits of the thousand or more delegates had been battered by the debacle the year before in Copenhagen, when an effort led by the United States and other oil exporting nations thwarted the progress of 150 countries, forged by the European Union, China, the island nations, and South Africa. Five years later these same delegates would agree to a climate treaty in Paris, but for now, in Cancún, what was needed was a sense that humanity was even worth saving. México delivered.

From around the nation, the Mexican president and the chairman of the COP pulled together some of the finest chefs, who set forth long tables of Mexico’s most treasured delicacies, prepared to perfection. Mariachis struck up a lively tune, toasts were made, and everyone feasted.

This memory causes me to reflect on the pandemic of this past year and lessons that are largely overlooked now, but which will bear important fruit when we take on the larger, existential, global crisis in our future. 

Some of those lessons are boredom, ennui, resignation, and impulsive action borne of false certainty.

On February 26, 2021, the Washington Post ran a story by a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter that described growing optimism in the US medical community. Cases, hospitalizations and deaths had fallen steeply in previous weeks, not just in the United States, where 15% of the population had received at least the first stage vaccination, but worldwide, where vaccines were often unavailable at any cost. The World Health Organization reported an 11 percent global decline in cases and a 20 percent drop in deaths in the final weeks of February.

Experts who believe that summer could be much improved remain cautious about the near term, with highly transmissible variants circulating that could cause a spring spike in cases and with pandemic-weary Americans tiring of restrictions. Continuing to be careful for just a little longer as more people get vaccinated could help ensure people get the summer they want, experts said. 
“It’s clear there isn’t going to be some on-off switch where we wake up and the virus is gone,” said Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Georgetown University. “How it all turns out depends a lot on the virus’s behavior but also on us humans and what we choose to do.” 
***
Rasmussen said public officials urgently need to convey that message of hope so that Americans reeling from a long winter will continue to wear masks and distance this spring and buy time for the rapid increase of vaccinations. Only then will the glorious summer many are imagining become a reality. 
“Everybody’s burned out and exhausted. They’re hitting their mental breaking points,” Rasmussen said. “But we’re in the last stretch of this terrible marathon, and people need hope so they’ll be able to make that last dash to the finish line.” 

I have a real problem with this messaging. I hope we don’t repeat this when we are deep into reversing climate change and need to dig still deeper for stamina and willpower. 

Sadly, it has been like this since the early days of the outbreak. Words like “message of hope,” and “dash to the finish line” are juxtaposed with “reeling from a long winter,” “burned out and exhausted,” “mental breaking points,” and “terrible marathon.” Despite being told by virologists and epidemiologists that this is not how it works, most of the population has been conditioned to the on-off metaphor. There is “normal” and there is “crisis.” After the crisis has been dealt with, we will get back to normal, right? When someone speaks a harder truth, as Anthony Fauci and Bill Gates have, their advice is discounted. The truth is that this crisis is not close to over, and there are even bigger ones coming.

Instead of being prepared for normalcy, we should all be preparing for an even greater readjustment from our lives previously lived.

Instead of being prepared for normalcy, we should all be preparing for an even greater readjustment from our lives previously lived. In the early days of the Covid, I described the hammer and the dance, a paired metaphor put forward by Tomas Puelho. The concept was elegantly simple, and endures. It was what spared New Zealand the ravages experienced in Europe, the UK, the US, and Brazil. When outbreaks happen, you put down the hammer — lockdown quarantines, distancing, mask mandates, contact tracing. As soon as the numbers get better, and you have traced down the origins of the outbreak and have it contained, you can reopen in stages — the dance. Each stage is a test. Overstep and you find yourself back in hammer mode. Step carefully and you can step farther. 

What happens when countries or states hammer when they should dance is that people get mad and act in foolish ways. What happens when places dance when they should hammer is that the virus gets worse, hospitals are overwhelmed, caregivers die, and no amount of more dancing will get you out of it. Your only choice is a heavy hammer. Consider how this applies to our climate predicament.

In Cancún, over sweet melons sliced like floral arrangements, the leaders leveled with the delegates. Copenhagen had failed. There was no pretty way to put that. More importantly, the UN’s long tradition of multiculturalism and fair dealing had been undermined by a cabal of the powerful, self-interested wealthy. None of the elected officials were going to put it quite that way but we all knew that was what they meant. Everyone understood we had been rolled. More importantly, nobody wanted to have it happen again. And so began the process that took us to the Paris Agreement, with its 5-year stocktake ritual and putting science in the driver’s seat. A hammer approach. That, in turn, has led from abstract goals like 350 parts per million or 1.5 degrees of warming, to more demanding audits like net-zero by such and such a date. With a void in leadership from the Clinton, Tillerson and Pompeo State Departments, all of whom favored prolonging the dance, unexpected players like transnational corporations and local governments stepped in and forced the hammer approach.

However, when it comes to changing your lifestyle from one that puts 16 tons of carbon into the atmosphere each year to one that takes 16 tons out, the psychological stamina required for a two-week quarantine after travel is child’s play. Wearing a mask to the super-market, getting a temperature scan, and keeping a 6-foot distance in the checkout line is nothing compared to relocating from coastal cities — or offering refuge to migrant islanders —or changing your family’s diet from one that traces centuries of traditions. Those are hammers from Hell.

Gabriela Camara says, “People want to eat the same thing and that’s sort of a condition of humans, but also you want to innovate so you don’t get bored, and that’s life. That’s cooking.” 

What we can learn from the pandemic is that remodeling your home, starting a garden, learning a new language, losing some of that excess body fat, and getting really healthy is a good thing to be doing. Now, let’s do that for our planet.

_________________________

The COVID-19 pandemic has destroyed lives, livelihoods, and economies. But it has not slowed down climate change, which presents an existential threat to all life, humans included. The warnings could not be stronger: temperatures and fires are breaking records, greenhouse gas levels keep climbing, sea level is rising, and natural disasters are upsizing.

As the world confronts the pandemic and emerges into recovery, there is growing recognition that the recovery must be a pathway to a new carbon economy, one that goes beyond zero emissions and runs the industrial carbon cycle backwards — taking CO2 from the atmosphere and ocean, turning it into coal and oil, and burying it in the ground. The triple bottom line of this new economy is antifragility, regeneration, and resilience.

Help me get my blog posted every week. All Patreon donations and Blogger subscriptions are needed and welcomed. You are how we make this happen. Your contributions are being made to Global Village Institute, a tax-deductible 501(c)(3) charity. PowerUp! donors on Patreon get an autographed book off each first press run. Please help if you can.

#RestorationGeneration

“There are the good tipping points, the tipping points in public consciousness when it comes to addressing this crisis, and I think we are very close to that.”

— Climate Scientist Michael Mann, January 13, 2021.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

The Great Pause Week 51: Chalupas Chapulines

"Grasshopper powder contains 72% protein, all essential amino acids, and a balanced ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids."

after Norman Rockwell, Freedom From Want — U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

Eating bugs is nothing new. I often see confusion on vegan friends’ faces when I point out that:

  • Every fork-, spoon-, or chopsticks-full of food they shovel in their pie-hole contains over a billion animals, some of which have eyes and try to get away. 
  • Most, if not all of these feel pain, avoid it when they can, and do not want to die.
  • Ethically distinguishing the animals you will or won’t consume by their size is a dubious proposition. By that logic it would be better to eat an elephant or a whale than a snail or an oyster. Seriously?

Such fun aside, by 2050 food production will have to grow by more than 70% to meet Earth’s human population, but the farmland needed to produce that food won’t exist. Much will have been drowned, desertified, degraded, and chemically euthanized. The old stand-by, beating forests into farmland, will have an uphill slog to find political traction in a time when trees are a critical part of the fight against climate change.

That is the real reason we’ll all need to eat lower on the food chain, and more efficiently. The same soybeans used to fatten a single steer can produce 10 times the amount of nutrient-dense, life-giving protein if devoted to tofu and tempeh.

Salmon farms are now the fastest-growing food production systems in the world, but those caged fish are fed a diet of land-intensive crops plus wild fish harvested at unsustainable rates.

Insects like cage-raised grasshoppers, beetles, crickets, and soldier flies already serve as a protein source in pet food and feed for livestock — and for humans to a lesser degree, but our commercial future holds for us insect delicacies at the gigaton scale.

Bug wrangling is still very niche, but it doesn’t require a lot of land for production, water, or capital. Founded in 2011 in Paris by scientists and environmental activists, Ÿnsect is now the world leader in natural insect protein and fertilizer production. The company makes premium, high-value nutriceuticals for pets, fish and plants. Robots feed, hatch, harvest, and process bugs grown in trays stacked in tall towers, with AI monitoring the environment to optimize the conditions, the principal feedstock is garbage, specifically local food waste. The factory produces no waste itself, with all parts of their tiny herds converted to protein or fertilizer. After power for the robots is offset by the carbon going into the ground, the factory is carbon negative. 

Ÿnsect now has contracts worth $100 million with fish feed producers. This is significant because it is widely assumed and falsely promoted that as human population expands, farmed fish will fill the gap to prevent overharvesting of wild catch. That is false because most farmed fish are fed wild catch, and with the high feed conversion ratio of your typical salmon, around 1:1.2, farmed fish do more damage to ocean biodiversity than salmon trawlers in the Bering Strait.

A few years ago a group of scientists at UNAM in Mexico City compared the ecological footprint of three types of livestock that are most widely bred worldwide — cattle, pigs, and poultry — to new breeds of mini-livestock from the Orthoptera family (grasshoppers, locusts, and crickets).

Humanity’s most exploited food animals for the past 50 years have been cattle, packed into dense pens and fed antibiotic and hormone-laced maize and soy to speed weight gain. Cows, pigs, and poultry supply 302.5 million tons of meat worldwide, 12% of which comes from the USA. Twenty-six percent of the world’s land surface and 33% of global grain sowing area are used exclusively to feed cattle. Industrial cattle production also uses copious amounts of water, chemicals, and fossil energy. 

Ruminants are very efficient in producing CO2 and methane (CH4). Overall, global livestock is responsible for 14.5% of greenhouse gas emissions, with ruminants accounting for 11.6% and cattle alone producing 9.4% (sheep and goats make up most of the rest). As your vegan niece may have reminded you in less than sweet terms, reducing beef burger consumption by half could significantly lower your carbon footprint and give her generation a chance to make it out of this century alive.

Insects, in the UNAM comparison study, have highly efficient metabolisms, moderate regeneration times, possess superior amounts of usable protein, have a lower impact on land, water, and climate, and are highly nutritious.

It was fitting that this ecological footprint research was carried out in a nation where grasshoppers and crickets for food and feed have been part of a traditional milpa regime since before the Columbian Encounter. In México, some 500 insect species are consumed daily, a quarter to a half of the total number of common food insects raised or hunted worldwide.

The UNAM researchers estimated that approximately 350,000 tons of wild grasshopper (Sphenarium purpurascens) biomass per year could be sustainably harvested just in México. Given the weight of your average bug, that is a lot of grasshoppers.

Whether to farm grasshoppers or catch them in the wild is no small question. Grasshoppers currently consume 16% of the world’s maize production (costing 220 billion dollars annually) and are the target of nasty insecticides, suggesting there is good reason to consider wild catch first. Wild grasshopper poachers are another reason — every year they trample down thousands of acres of valuable grains while trespassing in pursuit of their elusive quarry. But, with 8 billion human mouths to feed, there is an efficiency argument.

Farm-raised, grasshoppers (Acheta domesticus or potentially 6 other species) consume less than they do in the wild (penned feed conversion ratio is 1 kilo grasshopper to 1.17 grass, compared to 1:4 for free range — an average confined cow is 1:10). This speaks favorably for wrangling ‘hoppers in the corral, rather than in the arroyos. 

Still, there are worrisome signs emerging from CAFO industries moving into this sector. Through manipulating temperature, humidity, light, ventilation and “more,” Israeli grasshopper farming firm Hargol Foodtech claims to have shortened the incubation time for eggs from 40 weeks to 2–4 weeks, and increased the number of life cycles from one per year to 10. “It’s about timing, it’s about climate, it’s about providing the right conditions at the right time,” a spokesman told AgFunder News. “This is getting us out of seasonal farming into intensive farming.”

 

Hargol’s CAFOs look very similar to chicken CAFOs — large climate controlled warehouses with cages stacked from floor to ceiling. Hargol facilities also have vertical walls of hydroponically grown wheat grass. But getting their product to market has proven difficult. There is a strong, unmet demand in México for whole grasshoppers for restaurants and delis, but import regulations are absurdly restrictive, as you might imagine. There is also a huge global market for pet food protein, but US and EU regulations are much more complicated and pet owners balk at the notion of feeding their loved ones creepy crawly things. 

“You wont believe it. Grasshoppers are part of the natural diet of pets — cats and dogs and reptiles,” said the Hargol spokesman, “but when the pet owner thinks about their pet eating that, they find it disgusting.” For the Israeli company, US import regulations for food additives — virtually non-existent — make those the most simple and clear product choices, and there are sometimes even trade subsidies.

A cow that weighs 500 kg yields 28 to 60 kg protein (most of this weight would be water and to a lesser extent organs, tissue, bones, skin, etc.). Orthopterans, after their visit to the grasshopper abattoir, have a net protein yield of 75 to 100 kg per 500 kg of live bug — up to 20 percent of body mass. Factory farm CO2, CH4, and N2O emissions are also significantly lower (for methane it is zero). Grasshopper powder contains 72% protein, all essential amino acids, and a balanced ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

México grows a lot of corn, but because it feeds half to cattle, it is a net maize importer, mostly from the USA and China. If it could switch to producing more grasshoppers, it could eliminate its trade imbalance. In fact, the UNAM scientists discovered, it could free up four times the amount of maize it imports, making the nation an exporter again.

The next time you go to the taco stand, see if they have any chalupas chapulines.

Grasshopper Chalupas
Serves 6

Ingredients

Guacamole
2 cloves garlic
1 large or 2 medium jalapeño peppers
1 small onion
1 large or 2 small tomatoes
1 sprig of fresh or 1/4 cup dried cilantro
2 large or 6 small avocados
1 lime
Pinch salt

Chalupas
2 cups (about 100) grasshoppers (the younger the better)
1/4 kilo of corn tortillas
250 grams of panela cheese
1 onion
2 tomatoes
2 green tomatoes
4 serranos chiles
1/2 cup oil
6 cups water
1 pinch of salt
3 cloves garlic
1 lime

Directions

Guacamole
Mince garlic, jalapeños, chiles, onion, and tomatoes. Finely chop cilantro. Coarsely mash avocados, squeeze in lime juice, combine other ingredients, and add salt to taste.

Chalupas

  • Soak the grasshoppers in clean water for 24 hours. Boil them, then let dry. Substitutions include locusts, crickets, wild mushrooms, squash blossoms, huitlacoche (corn smut), and colorines (the flowers of the colorine tree, boiled first in salty water), sautéed
  • In a frying pan or wok with hot oil, fry tortillas until soft and golden in color. Remove, dry excess fat and set aside. 
  • Fry grasshoppers in the oily pan until golden and crispy.
  • Roast and remove the garlic, onion, tomatoes and chiles.
  • Separate and blend the red tomatoes with 1 garlic and half an onion. Add salt to taste.
  • Repeat the process to prepare a green sauce with green tomatoes. Sauté both sauces with the little oil remaining from frying the tortillas.
  • Plate the tortillas, cover with red or green sauces, top with fried grasshoppers and crumbled cheese, with guacamole and a slice of lime on the side.

References
Wegier, A., V. Alavez, J. Pérez-López, L. Calzada, and R. Cerritos. “Beef or grasshopper hamburgers: the ecological implications of choosing one over the other.” Basic and Applied Ecology 26 (2018): 89–100.

_____________________________

The COVID-19 pandemic has destroyed lives, livelihoods, and economies. But it has not slowed down climate change, which presents an existential threat to all life, humans included. The warnings could not be stronger: temperatures and fires are breaking records, greenhouse gas levels keep climbing, sea level is rising, and natural disasters are upsizing.

As the world confronts the pandemic and emerges into recovery, there is growing recognition that the recovery must be a pathway to a new carbon economy, one that goes beyond zero emissions and runs the industrial carbon cycle backwards — taking CO2 from the atmosphere and ocean, turning it into coal and oil, and burying it in the ground. The triple bottom line of this new economy is antifragility, regeneration, and resilience.

Help me get my blog posted every week. All Patreon donations and Blogger subscriptions are needed and welcomed. My brief experiment with a new platform called SubscribeStar ended badly, with my judgement that they are not yet ready for prime time. You are how we make this happen. Your contributions are being made to Global Village Institute, a tax-deductible 501(c)(3) charity. PowerUp! donors on Patreon get an autographed book off each first press run. Please help if you can.

#RestorationGeneration

“There are the good tipping points, the tipping points in public consciousness when it comes to addressing this crisis, and I think we are very close to that.” 

 — Climate Scientist Michael Mann, January 13, 2021.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

The Great Pause Week 50: Suicide by Insect

"Chances are, insects or their deeds touch your lips every day."


There are few better ways to separate wizards from prophets in our modern world than by their revealing attitudes toward mosquitoes. Your average wizard would be quick to swat a buzzing intruder, spray the area with some Raid, or maybe plug in one of those clever blue light gadgets that waft carbon dioxide to lure the little whiners into electroshock therapy. 

Perhaps, if they were a Bill Gates, they would see Mr. Mosquito as the evil embodiment of malaria, deadliest scourge of all infectious diseases, and devise robot-bulldozer eradication of swamp-like habitats or some wizardly genetic alchemy to quash the plague and earn a Nobel Prize. 

In any case, to technological wizards, we are at war with nature and mosquitoes are a corps of enemy. Stewart Brand has more recently revised his famous 1968 axiom, the opening Sentence of Purpose for the Whole Earth Catalog, “We are as gods and might as well get good at it,” to “We are as Gods and we have to get good at it” (coming soon to a theater near you).

Brand is also a champion of moral relativism, an anti-Pelageist, writing,

Certain knowledge of what to fight for, and what to fight against, gives meaning to life and provides its own version of discipline: never give up. That kind of meaning is illusory, I now believe, and blinkered. Fealty to a mystical absolute is a formula for disaster, especially in transformative times. 

For prophets (like myself), a mosquito is as old as time and part of the greater natural order of things. If I don’t want to be bitten, I can screen my windows, drop a net over my bed at night, rub on some non-toxic repellent, or make sure there are no rain-catching knick-knacks in my yard. Like all living creatures, mosquitoes have their role amongst predators and prey. While they may be a nuisance to us and our domesticated animals (their prey), fewer mosquitoes also mean fewer bats and purple martins, fewer bluegill and catfish, fewer dragonflies and turtles (their predators). 

Back in the 19th and 20th centuries, as the hegemonic meme of chemistry was crawling into bed with many different industries, “insect” was a word easily confused with “pest.” The synonymity was a cultural legacy tracing from the locust plagues of Pharoah’s Egypt, The Good Earth, and the indenture of farmers to slavishly produce monocultured field crops year on year, once they had cut down the forests and killed the game.

Of course, not all cultures cravenly clung to that kind of war footing. Aboriginal Australians had many different insects and larval grubs in their broad cuisine, as did their northern neighbors in Indochina, Korea and the Japans. Aboriginal elders might share a good laugh at people that find witjuty grubs revolting but salivate for jumbo shrimp in rotini pasta parmigiana.

In truth, our food has less to do with insects’ competing appetites than the gardening they willingly and gratuitously perform for us. In tropical countries like México (with a savory history of grasshopper and ant delicacies) about one-third of a world class gastronomic palette is derived from insect-pollinated plants. Any decline in forest-, field-, or desert-dwelling insects has devastating consequences. 
Once any insect population drops, populations dependent on them collapse. The ecosystem cascades in search of a different steady state. Crashes in populations of aquatic insects can crash much wider populations of fish and amphibians. The domino effect knocks down dependent species up and down the food chain.

Biodiversity is a useful proxy for ecosystem quality, and so a sort of blinking warning light on Spaceship Earth’s control display.

Chances are, insects or their deeds touch your lips every day. The coffee or tea you brew in the morning. The honey, almonds, apples, cashews, cinnamon and sunflower seeds in your granola. Basil, broccoli, cabbages, carrots, cherries, garlic, grapefruit, olive oil, onions, oranges, watermelon — all insect pollinated. 

Even some vaccines require insects to come to fruition. The majority of flowering plants, the core of terrestrial life systems, depend on insects for pollination and reproduction. Below ground, insects are essential to the cyclical and reciprocal movement of nutrients. While less is mapped about the marine environment, we know the same processes happen there.

But there are troubles in paradise. Human population growth and urbanization — and not just by wizards — are leading to declines among insects, as well as many other lifeforms. Precipitous insect declines are being escalated as we overshoot critical planetary boundaries — biodiversity, climate change, nitrification, and plastic pollution. On average, the decline in insect abundance is thought to be around 1–2% per year or 10–20% per decade. These losses are seen on nearly every continent, even within well-protected areas like national preserves and biological heritage sites. In geologic time it is a biological super-volcano.

Research by scientists at the University of Toronto showed that hummingbirds exposed to systemic neonicotinoid insecticides for even a short period of time lose their high-powered metabolism. Ounce for ounce, hummingbirds in flight expend 5 times the energy of an Olympic sprinter. 

Within two hours of exposure to the pesticides, hummingbird metabolism dropped significantly. While the control group increased energy expenditure between 1% to 7%, the low exposed group displayed a 6% average decline, the medium a 10% decline, and the high exposure group showed 25% reduced energy expenditure

— Graves et al. (2019)

Measures of species abundance, species richness and community composition are all in decline, although rates vary across distance and across families. 

In the United Kingdom, 8% of resident species [of butterflies] have become extinct, and since 1976 overall numbers declined by around 50%. In the Netherlands, 20% of species have become extinct, and since 1990 overall numbers in the country declined by 50%. Distribution trends showed that butterfly distributions began decreasing long ago, and between 1890 and 1940, distributions declined by 80%. In Flanders (Belgium), 20 butterflies have become extinct (29%), and between 1992 and 2007 overall numbers declined by around 30%. A European Grassland Butterfly Indicator from 16 European countries shows there has been a 39% decline of grassland butterflies since 1990. The 2010 Red List of European butterflies listed 38 of the 482 European species (8%) as threatened and 44 species (10%) as near threatened (note that 47 species were not assessed). A country level analysis indicates that the average Red List rating is highest in central and mid-Western Europe and lowest in the far north of Europe and around the Mediterranean. The causes of the decline of butterflies are thought to be similar in most countries, mainly habitat loss and degradation and chemical pollution. Climate change is allowing many species to spread northward while bringing new threats to susceptible species. 

 — Warren, et al (2021)

Sarah Cornell, a scientist at the Stockholm Resilience Centre, points out that we know very little about the extent or cascading effects of insect extinction, or even how this one might compare to others.

There might have been many more mass extinctions. It’s just that we only see extinctions with the things that leave a record… things with skeletons… When people [say], ‘we’re entering the sixth mass extinction.’ Okay, well, how do we know that? We might be entering the 17th?…We might make ourselves extinct before we even reach these hallowed glories of the sixth.” 

The Dasgupta review, The Economics of Biodiversity (2021) recently revealed:

A general pattern is that rarer species and habitat specialist species are declining, whereas some generalist species are stable or increasing (Marvier, Kareiva and Neubert, 2004). For example, invasive non-native species are on the increase globally (Seebens et al. 2017). Larger species seem to be particularly vulnerable to extinction with direct harvesting for consumption as the principal driver of declines (Ripple et al. 2019). A global review of 166 long-term surveys of insect assemblages found that on average there have been declines of terrestrial species abundance by around 9% per decade compared to increases in freshwater insect abundance by approximately 11% per decade since 1925 (van Klink et al. 2020). These patterns were dominated by trends in North America and some parts of Europe, and it is suggested that improvements in water quality in these regions explain the increasing freshwater insect numbers. The 2020 global LPI shows that the abundance of almost 21,000 populations of vertebrates has declined on average by 68% (in terms of animal population sizes) between 1970 and 2016 (Almond et al, 2020). For freshwater vertebrates, the picture is worse, with average declines of 84%. 

It should be worth noting that the study period cited by Dasgupta began in 1970. Silent Spring was published in 1962. We cannot hide behind our ignorance.

Biodiversity is a useful proxy for ecosystem quality, and so a sort of blinking warning light on Spaceship Earth’s control display. Unfortunately, we do not yet have a definitive list of species that exist on Earth because efforts to quantify and record them are still in their infancy. We instead rely on estimates derived from patterns — models based on what we think we know. In this way we estimate approximately 8.7 million eukaryotic species (animals, plants and fungi, excluding bacteria and similar organisms) of which 2.2 million live in marine environments and 8.1 million are animals and plants. We’ve estimated that 75% of eukaryotic species are insects. Compared to just under 6,500 mammal species, one million insect species are known and named.

Only about 2 million species of all forms have been catalogued. Around 2,000 new plants are added each year to some 390,000 named to date. There are probably more than 100 million species of prokaryotes (life forms not enclosed by a cell, such as bacteria and viruses) and 4 to 6 × 10E30 individuals (that’s a 4 or 6 with 30 trailing zeroes), but our lack of knowledge rivals that scale. 

Other creatures’ activities are critical in processes ranging from helping you breathe, digest, and think to regulating the composition of the atmosphere. 

And yet, species extinction is increasing faster than diversity, far faster than the cataloging process. According to Dasgupta, more than 32,000 species are threatened with extinction — 26% of mammals, 41% of amphibians, 34% of conifers, 33% of reef building corals and 14% of birds (Betts, 2020). 

Birds, mammals, amphibians, corals and cycads are moving towards extinction most rapidly. Half a million animals and plants may become extinct because the loss and degradation of their habitat has already taken place — a so-called ‘extinction debt’ — meaning, even if all destructive practices stopped today, species would still go extinct due to past habitat loss. Only habitat restoration — and that includes climate restoration — can slow the damage.

While we have gone a long way towards extinguishing zebras, tigers, and elephants in the wild, we keep their token brethren alive in zoos to remind us of their former wild greatness. In a warped sort of way, we may begin doing the same with insects, only their confinement will have less in common with a zoo and more in common with a dystopian novel. We will examine that prospect more closely in our next installment.

Pasta con Camarones

Serves Four
Marinating time: 30 minutes minimum, or overnight
Prep Time: 20 Minutes

Ingredients:

Marinade:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed
  • 1 tablespoon Shiro (white) miso
  • 2 Tb minced hot chile such as Habanero, Serrano, or Jalapeno, or to taste (seeds and ribs may be removed)
  • 1 pound sustainably caught medium shrimp, peeled (or you can substitute grasshoppers, sauteed, if available)

Pasta:

  • 1 qt water
  • 1 tsp oliive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 8 ounces penne or rotini whole-grain pasta
  • 2 tablespoons Nutritional Yeast
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • freshly ground salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced

Directions:

Marinade:

  1. Whisk olive oil, garlic, miso, cheese and chile. Combine shrimp or sauteed grasshoppers.
  2. Mix well and marinate, chilled and covered, for at least 30 minutes to overnight, stirring occasionally.

Pasta:

  1. Heat water on high flame with oil and salt until boiling in a 2-qt or larger pot.
  2. Stir in pasta. Check for doneness every few minutes while starting other prep.
  3. Drain pasta when just al dente and keep warm until needed.
  4. Heat a large skillet or wok with olive oil over medium high heat. Add shrimp with marinade, tomatoes, and nutritional yeast, and toss until shrimp are pink, about 2 minutes. Do not overcook. 
  5. Add drained pasta and mix well.
  6. Serve immediately, garnished with Parmesan and green onions.

For a vegan version one could substitute 12 baby (egg-size) eggplants, crowns removed, quartered lengthwise, in the place of shrimp or grasshoppers and add with the other marinade ingredients to the hot skillet, eliminating the overnight marinading. Cook until eggplant is tender, about 10 minutes, before combining pasta.

References: 

Almond, R. E. A., M. Grooten, and T. Peterson. Living Planet Report 2020-Bending the curve of biodiversity loss. World Wildlife Fund, 2020.

Betts, Jessica, Richard P. Young, Craig Hilton‐Taylor, Michael Hoffmann, Jon Paul Rodríguez, Simon N. Stuart, and E. J. Milner‐Gulland. “A framework for evaluating the impact of the IUCN Red List of threatened species.” Conservation Biology 34, no. 3 (2020): 632–643.

Carson, Rachel, Silent Spring. 1962.

Dasgupta, P., The Economics of Biodiversity: The Dasgupta Review. (London: HM Treasury, 2021)

Graves, Emily E., Karen A. Jelks, Janet E. Foley, Michael S. Filigenzi, Robert H. Poppenga, Holly B. Ernest, Richard Melnicoe, and Lisa A. Tell. “Analysis of insecticide exposure in California hummingbirds using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry.” Environmental Science and Pollution Research 26, no. 15 (2019): 15458–15466.
 
Marvier, Michelle, Peter Kareiva, and Michael G. Neubert. “Habitat destruction, fragmentation, and disturbance promote invasion by habitat generalists in a multispecies metapopulation.” Risk Analysis: An International Journal 24, no. 4 (2004): 869–878.

Ripple, William J., Christopher Wolf, Thomas M. Newsome, Matthew G. Betts, Gerardo Ceballos, Franck Courchamp, Matt W. Hayward, Blaire Van Valkenburgh, Arian D. Wallach, and Boris Worm. “Are we eating the world’s megafauna to extinction?.” Conservation Letters 12, no. 3 (2019): e12627.

Seebens, Hanno, Tim M. Blackburn, Ellie E. Dyer, Piero Genovesi, Philip E. Hulme, Jonathan M. Jeschke, Shyama Pagad et al. “No saturation in the accumulation of alien species worldwide.” Nature communications 8, no. 1 (2017): 1–9.

Van Klink, Roel, Diana E. Bowler, Konstantin B. Gongalsky, Ann B. Swengel, Alessandro Gentile, and Jonathan M. Chase. “Meta-analysis reveals declines in terrestrial but increases in freshwater insect abundances.” Science 368, no. 6489 (2020): 417–420.

Warren, Martin S., Dirk Maes, Chris AM van Swaay, Philippe Goffart, Hans Van Dyck, Nigel AD Bourn, Irma Wynhoff, Dan Hoare, and Sam Ellis. “The decline of butterflies in Europe: Problems, significance, and possible solutions.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 118, no. 2 (2021).

 ___________________

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has destroyed lives, livelihoods, and economies. But it has not slowed down climate change, which presents an existential threat to all life, humans included. The warnings could not be stronger: temperatures and fires are breaking records, greenhouse gas levels keep climbing, sea level is rising, and natural disasters are upsizing.

As the world confronts the pandemic and emerges into recovery, there is growing recognition that the recovery must be a pathway to a new carbon economy, one that goes beyond zero emissions and runs the industrial carbon cycle backwards — taking CO2 from the atmosphere and ocean, turning it into coal and oil, and burying it in the ground. The triple bottom line of this new economy is antifragility, regeneration, and resilience.

Help me get my blog posted every week. All Patreon donations and Blogger subscriptions are needed and welcomed. My brief experiment with a new platform called SubscribeStar ended badly, with my judgement that they are not yet ready for prime time. You are how we make this happen. Your contributions are being made to Global Village Institute, a tax-deductible 501(c)(3) charity. PowerUp! donors on Patreon get an autographed book off each first press run. Please help if you can.

#RestorationGeneration

“There are the good tipping points, the tipping points in public consciousness when it comes to addressing this crisis, and I think we are very close to that.” 

 — Climate Scientist Michael Mann, January 13, 2021.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

The Great Pause Week 49: BiCRS Without Borders

"Imagine bamboo skyscrapers and biochar sponge cities. Imagine the Spruce Goose."


About 4000 years back, a breed of upright, thinking apes, having mastered fire, then pyramids, then nature (or so they imagined), redirected their energies from their daily allowance — from firewood, wind, rain and sunlight — to their billion-year fossil sunlight trust fund, which, as small withdrawals emboldened them and grew ever larger, they raided and spent.


A forthcoming IPCC report is expected to say that BECCS can deliver 80 to 90 percent emission reductions compared to the fossil energy baseline, and that is true enough, taken in isolation. However, land use conversion and tillage lead to massive and rapid losses of soil carbon, water, and biodiversity (including soil microbes) that can lessen, and in some cases more than erase, any net GHG reductions.

But look out your window. Temperature increases, rainfall pattern changes, weather wilding, and increased frequency of extreme events all diminish biomass photosynthetic productivity. Most vulnerable are exactly the kinds of monoculture cropping patterns favored for industrial scale BECCS by the techno-utopians: bio-lab cultivars, in satellite-directed straight rows, dependent on chemical drips, tended by robots.
 
Holly Buck and Daniel Sanchez, portrait by Albert Bates
Fortunately for the rest of us, there are social scientists on the front lines of the policy debate who are pushing back. Two of these are Holly Buck at U.Buffalo and Daniel Sanchez at U.Cal Berkeley. Joining forces with Columbia University’s Innovation for Cool Earth Forum, now in its 7th year, they write:

Unlike BECCS, which is conceived as a capital and resource intensive industrial process with little consideration for social or biodiversity impacts, BiCRS “describes a range of processes that use plants and algae to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store that CO2 underground or in long-lived products.” Behold, the new carbon economy Kathleen Draper and I described three years ago in Burn.

 https://www.chelseagreen.com/product/burn/


Instead of imagining fake meat factories powered by wood pellets, imagine Geppetto’s workshop with mittened childrens’ faces pressed to its frosty windows hoping to see wooden puppets come to life. Imagine bamboo skyscrapers and biochar sponge cities. Imagine the Spruce Goose.

Carbon Dioxide Removal science is moving so rapidly that unless you are following every lab every week, your scorecard is likely hopelessly out of date, as were the January 2021 Greenpeace UK Briefing, Net Expectations; Bill Gates’ 2021 book, How to Avoid A Climate Disaster; the Drawdown Review 2020; and potentially will be the IPCC’s 2021 Sixth Assessment Report.


The COVID-19 pandemic has destroyed lives, livelihoods, and economies. But it has not slowed down climate change, which presents an existential threat to all life, humans included. The warnings could not be stronger: temperatures and fires are breaking records, greenhouse gas levels keep climbing, sea level is rising, and natural disasters are upsizing.

#RestorationGeneration

“There are the good tipping points, the tipping points in public consciousness when it comes to addressing this crisis, and I think we are very close to that.”

Sunday, February 14, 2021

The Great Pause Week 48: The Climate Cabinet

 "What we need to do will cost less by one-third what we currently spend on fossil fuel subsidies."


A short while from now all of the President’s cabinet nominees will be confirmed and a first cabinet meeting will be convened. We’d like to imagine that after the usual banalities and formalities, it might go something like this.

PRESIDENT BIDEN: We face a great many challenges as a nation — the viral pandemic; an economy that will remain in dire straits for much of this year with consequences that will linger long after; serious security threats from both state and non-state actors — but what we are going to talk about now is the other emergency, the one that we can no longer ignore. I am going to turn the floor over to my climate advisor, Gina McCarthy. 

MS. MCCARTHY: Thank you Mr. President. I will keep this as short as I can. Many of you have years of experience getting briefings like this, but what I am about to tell you may surprise you. 

Let me begin with a few charts most of you will be familiar with. This first one is from James Hansen’s famous 2017 paper, “Young People’s Burden.”


I realize not everyone here is a climate science wonk, so let’s extract the most important takeaways this way:

The black line is the historical record of CO2 emissions from the start of the Industrial Age in 1850. The lower green line assumes that all the countries in the world achieve Net Zero CO2 emissions by 2050 and the blue line is if they accomplish that by 2040. In either of those cases, global temperature peaks at around 1.4C above normal and then declines to about 1 degree above and we achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement. 

We can do this entirely by replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy, no geoengineering or negative emissions technologies required. The rollout and replacement will need to be very rapid. We have to retire existing coal plants and gasoline-powered vehicles and heavy equipment as rapidly as possible and replace all of it. That will look something like this:

 

Williams et al, 2021


There is a limited role for fossil gas in the transition but we will need to be far more strict about fugitive emissions from drilling and pipelines, and gas will have to be also phased out by around 2040, just twenty years from now.

While these are all difficult tasks, they are things we know how to do. There is nothing that needs to be invented that doesn’t already exist. This is an affordable project — about $1 per person per day; less by one-third then we currently spend on fossil fuel subsidies — and it will make many new jobs and buoy our economy, almost immediately. By methodically increasing energy efficiency, switching to electric technologies, utilizing waste biomass, wind and solar power, and deploying a small amount of carbon capture technology such as BiCRS, the United States can reach zero emissions without requiring changes to behavior.

VICE-PRESIDENT HARRIS: I sense there is a “but” coming.

MS. MCCARTHY: I am afraid so, Madam Vice-President. The change to the atmosphere brought about by the picture I just painted is only short-lived. Here is another chart, that takes it out beyond 2100:

 

Randers et al, 2020


What is going on here? If we wait until 2050 to make this change, and hit net-zero at 2100, you get the top line, in black. By assuming our technology is much better then, we get a rapid drop until about the second quarter of the next century. By then everyone is feeling much better about having solved the problem. 

Then, suddenly, it changes and starts going back up, despite whatever anyone tries to do. The dotted purple line assumes we start right now and achieve net zero by 2050, but then the same thing starts to happen, within our own century. The curve rebounds and continues rising to 2.5 degrees and much higher in later centuries. It only gets worse. This is what sea level rise looks like:

 

Randers et al, 2020

 

The left-hand chart is permafrost melt. That is baked into the cake now. It will only stop if we can get the atmospheric CO2 levels back to around 300 ppm. The middle chart is what melting ice cover and permafrost do to albedo, or the ability of sunlight to bounce back to space, reflected off of shiny surfaces. Naturally that goes down as we lose more ice and snow cover. The third chart is how all that is going to affect sea level rise. We are looking here at a 1 meter rise by 2100, if we wait to act, and 2200 if we act rapidly. But one meter is a fait accompli, and only the start of a much greater rise. So, what is going on?

What we are seeing here are the latent consequences of delayed action. Those who warned Lyndon Johnson in 1965 that we had 20 years to turn this around or told Jimmy Carter in 1977 that we had just 10 years left were precisely correct. Those who issued that same sort of warning in 1990, 2000, 2010, or 2020 were just gaslighting us.

After the short-lived greenhouse gases decay away, the long-lived ones keep gradually warming the planet. Greenland, the Arctic Ocean, and Antarctica continue to melt, less sunlight is reflected back to space, and sea levels continue rising. That process has been set in motion by tipping points that were crossed when we and most other countries failed to meet our Kyoto Treaty obligations more than 20 years ago. So, even if we now hit our Paris targets, we still have to face the fact we will likely lose large parts of Miami and New Orleans and will have to spend vast amounts of money to save New York City, Washington, Sacramento and many other coastal cities.

We can see how this happens if you compare our planned approach to lowering carbon emissions to zero and the actual effect that has on the atmosphere:

Williams et al, 2021

The chart on the left is the Net Zero 2050 pathway of annual emissions for the US and the path on the right is that same pathway’s cumulative emissions. The chart on the left has its own challenges, as I will discuss in a minute. It is the chart on the right, however, that is going to cause the problem. Once we stop emitting greenhouses gases, the insulation of the atmosphere, and global temperature, will stop growing, but where we stop is where we stay.

Between 2020 and 2050 we expect to load the atmosphere with another 100 billion tons of greenhouse gases from the United States. Those will eventually go away. They will be absorbed by the ocean, space, or break down chemically. Unfortunately, that process does not take years, or even centuries. The natural drawdown process takes thousands of years.

MR. KERRY: I really hope this is not the whole story and you have something you are saving to tell us.

MS. MCCARTHY: Yes, John, thank you. There is. If, in addition to merely substituting clean energy for fossil energy we invest in a strong program of carbon dioxide removal, there is a 50–50 chance we can switch off that future and move into to a better one. 

VICE-PRES. HARRIS: Not great odds. 

MS. MCCARTHY: Not great odds. But better than zero. We already have good enough negative emission technology to achieve a large fraction of what we need at negative cost — that is to say, it produces profits — and with just that we can achieve 350 ppm by year 2100. By accelerating that development it is conceivable that we could return to pre-industrial concentrations by early in the next century, if not sooner. Below 300 ppm, ice would begin to reform at the poles. Ocean heat would stabilize and sea level rise would slow. That is the consensus science finding at this moment.

 

Bates, after IPCC 2021
 

You see going forward there is a large yellow and orange zone below zero, which is our carbon capture and net drawdown zone.

The “normal” temperature of our old climate, from about 200 to 250 years ago before widespread use of fossil fuels, could be recovered at 220 ppm, with about 90% confidence level. That, Mr. President and Mr. and Ms’s Secretaries, is our new target.

PRES. BIDEN: All good news.

MR. KERRY: All good news until you get to the politics. (laughter)

GENERAL AUSTIN: Politics will come down to guns or butter. I don’t know how you will sell this, given we're also asking for better cyber-defense and projecting fleet power into the South China Sea. 

MS. MCCARTHY: Xi Jinping’s Green New Deal proposes $30 billion per year toward seven strategic goals: universal 5G cellular; artificial intelligence; industrial internet of things; data centers; EV charging stations; intercity high speed rail; and ultra high voltage smart grids. That sounds a lot like what we will be proposing, as will our NATO allies.

GEN. AUSTIN: I’m sorry, but are those guns or are those butter?

PRES. BIDEN: I would say the distinction has become irrelevant, Lloyd.

MS. MCCARTHY: I am afraid, Mr. President, the challenge is not technical, as I said at the start. Our challenge is a social and cultural one. 

Here are some charts that show what we will need to do just on the clean energy transition to get to Net Zero 2050. First let me begin by showing what a growing economy like the United States will demand as we electrify our transportation, industry, and heating, and phase out fossil fuels.

Williams et al. 2021
 

The 21st century recarbonization, by moving strongly into electrification, will cost on the order of one trillion dollars and to that we must now add negative emissions technologies to bring us back below 250 ppm, assuming most other countries, and in particular Europe, China, Russia, and India, can be persuaded to do the same. The Fed is telling me our proposed capital investment in climate of $600B per year represents about 10% of current U.S. annual capital investment of $6T in all sectors, but remember — what we will actually be doing is redirecting some of the $800B/year from fossil fuels into clean energy and NET technologies. So, finance per se is not a barrier.

What I want everyone here to pay attention to is not the goal, but the direction of change and the speed at which it must be accomplished. It is how we get from here to there. If we miss the target by so much as a decade, the world winds up at 3 degrees, maybe more. Humans and nearly all other mammals, with the limitations of our sweat glands to cool our bodies, could go extinct at some yet unknown temperature. Our kind, going back several million years, has never lived above 3 degrees. So, that course is unthinkable. We must get onto this lower trajectory.

In many ways the transformation is going to be truly marvelous. We will see cargo ships built like the Americas Cup yachts, with hydrofoils and carbon fiber hulls. We will see wooden skyscrapers. Carbon will become a much greater part of our lives. It will be ubiquitous. Let me run this brief clip from climate scientist Michael Mann.

Video: 

“The lockdown and social distancing — those weren’t really voluntary actions, we were forced to do that by the pandemic — and we saw that those did have an immediate impact: carbon emissions are going to be down about 7% this year. That’s the good news, right? We’re actually sort of coming down the ramp now, as we need to do. The bad news is we’ve got to do that 7%, roughly, every year. Seven percent upon seven percent, then seven percent more the year after that for ten years, if we are going to bring carbon emissions down fast enough to avert catastrophic warming of the planet —  more than a degree and a half Celsius or roughly three degrees Fahrenheit warming. To do that, behavioral change simply isn’t going to be enough. We are going to need to decarbonize civilization; we need to decarbonize all the sectors of the modern economy. And that requires serious, systemic change, not just behavioral change. But we can do it.”

What does that mean in practical terms, for your average factory-worker, or office clerk, or someone teaching school or waiting tables? Let’s talk this through. If yours and my climate pollution footprint is 16 tons, as it is now, within a couple of years it needs to be 14 tons. A few years after that it needs to be 12. Well, in the EU it is 11.5 now and moving down. The global average is at 4. We know this is do-able.

The Danish government has told its people they have to get down to 2 tons per person and, you know what? Danes are listening and doing it. In Denmark 47 percent of the population considers climate change to be the most serious problem facing the world. That’s more than double the E.U. average of 23 percent.

I guess don’t have to tell you what pollsters tell us about the United States.

SECRETARY GRANHOLM: I guess I am not getting something here. If we can replace all our carbon emitting machines and factories with clean energy and also deploy negative emissions technology to deal with what is up there from the past, why does anyone have to modify their lifestyles?

MS. MCCARTHY: By 2050, global negative emissions technology will require a third to half of total biomass on the planet for conservation, sustainable bioenergy and carbon capture (up to 80 Gj in energy terms). That will only barely keep pace with population growth and rising standards of living around the world, and also pull down legacy emissions. If those of us in the developed world cannot bring our lifestyles into sync with our carbon limit we will blow out the budget nature has provided. It is a hard biophysical limit.

SECY. GRANHOLM: What about nuclear fission and eventually fusion instead of more bioenergy? 

MS. MCCARTHY: Sorry, that doesn’t draw carbon out of the sky. We can and will build direct air capture machines, but those take energy, they don’t produce it. Only photosynthesis lets us have both. Also, there is no way we will replace a million acres of seagrass meadows or the Siberian forest with direct air capture machines.

PRES. BIDEN: Social acceptability is key to our success. We are going to have to sell this to the American people and I can already hear the howls from the other party. And you know what Bill Clinton said, “You can’t get elected by promising people less.” We all saw what happened when Jimmy Carter tried that.

Suggestions? Anyone?

_________

References

Canadell, Josep G., and E. Detlef Schulze. “Global potential of biospheric carbon management for — Second level climate mitigation.” Nature communications 5.1 (2014): 1–12.

Hansen, James, Makiko Sato, Pushker Kharecha, Karina von Schuckmann, David J. Beerling, Junji Cao, Shaun Marcott et al. “Young people’s burden: requirement of negative CO 2 emissions.” Earth System Dynamics 8, no. 3 (2017): 577–616.

Randers, Jorgen, and Ulrich Goluke, “An earth system model shows self-sustained melting of permafrost even if all man-made GHG emissions stop in 2020.” Scientific reports 10, no. 1 (2020): 1–9.

Sanchez, D.L., P.A. Turner, E. Baik, C.B. Field, S.M. Benson and K.J. Mach. “Rightsizing expectations for bioenergy with carbon capture and storage toward ambitious climate goals” in Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage: Using Natural Resources for Sustainable Development, Elsevier Press (2019).

Sandalow, David, Roger Aines, Julio Friedmann, Colin McCormick and Daniel Sanchez, Roadmap: Biomass Carbon Removal and Storage (BiCRS), ICEF 2021.

Sivaram, Varun, Colin Cunliff, David Hart, Julio Friedmann, and David Sandalow. “Energizing America.” CGEP, Sept 2020.

Williams, J. H., Jones, R. A., Haley, B., Kwok, G., Hargreaves, J., Farbes, J., & Torn, M. S. (2021). Carbon‐neutral pathways for the United States. AGU Advances, 2, e2020AV000284.

________________________

The COVID-19 pandemic has destroyed lives, livelihoods, and economies. But it has not slowed down climate change, which presents an existential threat to all life, humans included. The warnings could not be stronger: temperatures and fires are breaking records, greenhouse gas levels keep climbing, sea level is rising, and natural disasters are upsizing.

As the world confronts the pandemic and emerges into recovery, there is growing recognition that the recovery must be a pathway to a new carbon economy, one that goes beyond zero emissions and runs the industrial carbon cycle backwards — taking CO2 from the atmosphere and ocean, turning it into coal and oil, and burying it in the ground. The triple bottom line of this new economy is antifragility, regeneration, and resilience.

Help me get my blog posted every week. All Patreon donations and Blogger subscriptions are needed and welcomed. My brief experiment with a new platform called SubscribeStar ended badly, with my judgement that they are not yet ready for prime time. You are how we make this happen. Your contributions are being made to Global Village Institute, a tax-deductible 501(c)(3) charity. PowerUp! donors on Patreon or SubscribeStar get an autographed book off each first press run. Please help if you can.

#RestorationGeneration

“There are the good tipping points, the tipping points in public consciousness when it comes to addressing this crisis, and I think we are very close to that.” 

— Climate Scientist Michael Mann, January 13, 2021.

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The Great Change is published whenever the spirit moves me. Writings on this site are purely the opinion of Albert Bates and are subject to a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike 3.0 "unported" copyright. People are free to share (i.e, to copy, distribute and transmit this work) and to build upon and adapt this work – under the following conditions of attribution, n on-commercial use, and share alike: Attribution (BY): You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work). Non-Commercial (NC): You may not use this work for commercial purposes. Share Alike (SA): If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one. Nothing in this license is intended to reduce, limit, or restrict any rights arising from fair use or other limitations on the exclusive rights of the copyright owner under copyright law or other applicable laws. Therefore, the content of
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