Category Archives: Forests and Climate Change

Drunken trees: Dramatic signs of climate change

By Brian Clark Howard, April 17, 2014. Source: National Geographic 

According to scientists, melting ground is to blame for tilting spruce trees. Photo: Galen Rowell, Corbis

According to scientists, melting ground is to blame for tilting spruce trees.
Photo: Galen Rowell, Corbis

Sarah James, an Alaska Native elder, says global warming is radically changing her homeland. Even the forests no longer grow straight. Melting ground has caused trees to tilt or fall.

“Because permafrost melts, it causes a lot of erosion,” says James, who lives in Arctic Village, a small Native American village in northeastern Alaska. “A lot of trees can’t stand up straight. If the erosion gets worse, everything goes with it.”

Permafrost is permanently frozen ground. But climate change has caused much of that ground to melt at an unprecedented rate. The ground buckles and sinks, causing trees to list at extreme angles.

Sometimes the trees survive the stress and continue growing, uprighting themselves to vertical. Other times they collapse or drown from rising water tables as subterranean ice melts. Because such trees seem to stagger across the landscape, people often call them “drunken trees.”

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Indigenous Peoples

BREAKING: Industry hype and misdirected science undercuts real energy and climate solutions

Note: In response to a recent media frenzy about poplars genetically engineered to create biofuels and “greener” paper, Global Justice Ecology Project, Biofuelwatch, Center for Food Safety and Canadian Biotechnology Action Network issued the following statement today.

To sign GJEP’s petition calling for a global ban on GE trees, click here.

-The GJEP Team

April 9, 2014. 

poplar

Scientists and environmentalists today condemned a recent press release by researchers at the University of British Columbia announcing they have created genetically engineered (GE) poplar trees for paper and biofuel production, opening the prospect of growing these GE trees like an agricultural crop in the future.

The poplars were genetically engineered for altered lignin composition to supposedly make them easier to process into paper and biofuels. Groups, however, warn that manipulation of lignin, and the potential contamination of wild poplars with that trait, could be extremely dangerous.

Lignin is a key structural component of plant cell walls and a major component of soils.  It is also the product of millions of years of natural selection favoring sturdy, healthy and resilient plants. GE poplars with altered lignin could have devastating effects on forests, ecosystems, human communities and biodiversity.

Poplars include at least 30 species, are widespread throughout the Northern Hemisphere and have a high potential for genetic dispersal.

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, BREAKING NEWS, Climate Change, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, GE Trees, Genetic Engineering

IPCC report proposes sucking carbon out of the air as climate fix

By Martin Lukacs, April 7, 2014. Source: The Guardian

A biomass plant in Metz, eastern France. A UN report has suggested burning biomass then pumping the released carbon underground could provide a fix for climate change. Photograph: Jean-Christophe Verhaegen/AFP/Getty Images

A biomass plant in Metz, eastern France. A UN report has suggested burning biomass then pumping the released carbon underground could provide a fix for climate change. Photograph: Jean-Christophe Verhaegen/AFP/Getty Images

An upcoming UN report suggests that unproven technologies to suck carbon out of the air might be a fix for climate change, according to a leaked draft obtained by the Guardian.

Scientists and government officials gather in Berlin this week ahead of Sunday’s publication of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s third part of its series of blockbuster climate change reports, which deals with policies addressing the emissions that drive global warming.

But environmentalists criticised the report’s inclusion of a controversial new technique that would involve burning biomass – trees, plant waste, or woodchips – to generate electricity, and then capturing the released carbon, pumping it into geological reservoirs underground.

Proponents of the technique – known as bio-energy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) – suggest that regrown trees and crops might sequester additional carbon, making the technology “negative emission” because it might reduce the overall amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Geoengineering, Green Economy, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

Biomass expansion project scrapped in Washington state

By Paul Gottlieb, April 4, 2014. Source: Peninsula Daily News

Port Townsend Paper is scrapping plans for a $54 million project to improve the mill’s biomass cogeneration plant. Photo: Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News

Port Townsend Paper is scrapping plans for a $54 million project to improve the mill’s biomass cogeneration plant. Photo: Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — Port Townsend Paper Corp. has abandoned a much-disputed $54 million project that would have upgraded the mill’s biomass cogeneration plant.

Company President Roger Hagan told the Peninsula Daily News on Wednesday that the company’s construction permit will not be extended beyond the 18-month June deadline for the improvements.

“It’s not a financially viable project,” said Hagan, who took over at the mill May 1, succeeding Roger Loney.

“It is not our intention to proceed with the project or ask for another extension.”

He attributed the decision to environmental challenges that delayed the project, an overwhelmingly strong market for cheap natural gas compared with biomass and the expiration of federal tax-credit incentive programs despite a $2 million state grant for the project that the company received in 2009. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Green Economy, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

Biomass plans scrapped in Scotland, good news for forests and communities

March 27, 2014. Source: Biofuelwatch

Activists drop a banner and lockdown at Forth Energy's offices in 2012. Photo: bioenergyaction.com

Activists drop a banner and lockdown at Forth Energy’s offices in 2012. Photo: bioenergyaction.com

Forth Energy, formerly a joint venture between Forth Ports and SSE, have confirmed that they are dropping plans to build their consented 100 MWe biomass power stations in Grangemouth and Rosyth, as well as withdrawing plans for a similar plant in Dundee.  Campaigners and community members have expressed their joy at hearing the announcement. Whilst Forth Energy will now be looking to sell their consents at Grangemouth and Rosyth on to other developers, campaigners are warning that any new attempts to revive the plans will be fiercely opposed.

Walter Inglis, formerly Chairperson of Grangemouth Community Council said: “This is certainly good news for us in Grangemouth, as it casts even more doubt on these plans. After having opposed Forth Energy’s plans for so long it’s great to see them walking away. However, the consent remains in place so we’ll be watching closely to make sure no other developers try to take it on.”

Andrew Llanwarne, Co-ordinator of Friends of the Earth Tayside, welcomed the announcement. “This removes a dark shadow which has been hanging over Dundee for the past four years and it’s great news for all who campaigned against the project. It would have been highly inefficient as a means of producing electricity and required enormous Government subsidies of about £1m each year for every job – there must be better ways to create much-needed employment in Dundee.

It would have added to Dundee’s existing problems of air pollution and had a negative visual impact on the waterfront, as Dundee Councillors decided last June. But it would also have made a major contribution to carbon emissions which are disrupting our climate, and had devastating effects on communities and biodiversity in other countries.”
Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Actions / Protest, Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Greenwashing

REDD could lead to a “carbon grab” – new report from the Rights and Resources Initiative

By Chris Lang, March 20, 2014. Source: REDD-Monitor

Image: Santiago Armengod and Melanie Cervantes

Image: Santiago Armengod and Melanie Cervantes

The World Bank continues with its push to trade the carbon stored in forests. But new research shows that safeguards and legal protections for indigenous peoples and local communities in these new forest carbon markets are “non-existent”.

The research was carried out by the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) together with the Ateneo School of Government in the Philippines. It includes a survey of 23 countries in Latin America, Asia, and Africa, covering two-thirds of the Global South’s forests. 21 of these countries are members of the UN-REDD programme and/or the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility. Brazil has a US$1 billion REDD agreement with Norway. India is the only non-REDD country included in the research.

In a press release, Arvind Khare, RRI’s Executive Director, said,

“As the carbon in living trees becomes another marketable commodity, the deck is loaded against forest peoples, and presents an opening for an unprecedented carbon grab by governments and investors. Every other natural resource investment on the international stage has disenfranchised Indigenous Peoples and local communities, but we were hoping REDD would deliver a different outcome. Their rights to their forests may be few and far between, but their rights to the carbon in the forests are non-existent.”

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Biodiversity, Climate Change, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Green Economy, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, REDD, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

A note concerning the International Day of Forests

Note: Today , March 21st, has been declared the “International Day of Forests” by the United Nations, to celebrate the “value” of standing forests.  But what type of “value” is the UN really celebrating?  Wally Menne of the Timberwatch Coalition in South Africa provides a deeper look at the United Nations’ increasingly pro-corporate agenda.

-The GJEP Team

By Wally Menne, March 21, 2014 

Natural peatland forest in Sungai Sembilang Nature Conservation Park in South Sumatra.  Photo: Kemal Jufri / Greenpeace

Natural peatland forest in Sungai Sembilang Nature Conservation Park in South Sumatra. Photo: Kemal Jufri / Greenpeace

On 21st March, the International Day of Mourning for Millions of Hectares of Destroyed and Stolen Forests, we should weep in solidarity with the millions of displaced, dispossessed and now poverty stricken, formerly forest dependent local communities and indigenous peoples around the world.

In a message, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon highlights the value of the world’s remaining forests to nearly 1.6 billion people worldwide who “depend on forests for their livelihood, food, fuel, shelter and medicine”.

The value of forests for their climate change mitigation and adaptation services is acknowledged too, but nothing is said about the ongoing corporate driven land grabbing; and the complete destruction of forests through logging and land use change, that has occurred over the past 60 years at least.

Praise is poured onto the timber and paper industries: “Round wood production, wood processing and the pulp and paper industries account for nearly 1 per cent of global gross domestic product”. But at what cost to forests, rivers and forest dependent people comes this mere “1 per cent”? Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Biodiversity, Climate Change, Commodification of Life, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Green Economy, Industrial agriculture, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

Forest peoples demand their rights be made central to global efforts to curb deforestation

March 19, 2014. Source: Forest Peoples Programme

After a major inter-continental gathering on Deforestation and the Rights of Forest Peoples held between 9 and 14 March 2014 in Palangka Raya, Central Kalimantan, Indonesia, indigenous and forest peoples called on the international community, governments and international organizations to secure and respect their customary rights to their forests, lands, territories and natural resources in conformity with international law.

They issued this call in the form of the Palangka Raya Declaration, which urges governments, the private sector, financial institutions, international agencies and the international community to:

  • halt the production, trade and consumption of commodities derived from deforestation, land grabs and other violations of the rights of forest peoples;
  • stop the invasion of forest peoples’ lands and forests by agribusiness, extractive industries, infrastructures, energy and “green economy” projects that deny forest peoples’ fundamental rights;
  • take immediate and concrete actions to uphold forest peoples’ rights at all levels including the right to land, territories and resources, the right to self-determined development and to continue to own, control and manage their customary lands according to their knowledge and livelihoods.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Corporate Globalization, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Indigenous Peoples, REDD, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

Kior falls after biofuel maker warns of default, bankruptcy

Note: One of the largest attempts yet at manufacturing liquid biofuels from trees seems to be failing.  This is great news for campaigners and communities organizing to stop genetically engineered (GE) trees and biofuels in the southeastern US.  GE tree company ArborGen – which is currently seeking USDA approval to begin selling their cold-tolerant, GE eucalyptus trees – has repeatedly mentioned the cellulosic biofuel industry as an important market for their GE tree seedlings.  Maybe now ArborGen won’t have such an easy time turning the southeast into the plantation-riddled gas tank of the US they’ve been promoting to investors for so long.

-The GJEP Team

By Christopher Martin, March 18, 2014.  Source: Bloomberg 

061512 Kior 14Kior Inc. (KIOR:US), the Vinod Khosla-backed operator of the first U.S. commercial-scale cellulosic biofuel plant, fell the most on record after management told regulators they have serious doubts about staying in business.

Kior declined 39 percent to 65 cents at the close in New York, the most since its June 2011 initial public offering at $15.

The company needs additional capital by April 1 and its only potential source of near-term financing is a March 16 commitment letter from billionaire investor Khosla, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission yesterday.

The commitment for as much as $25 million is contingent upon meeting certain milestones. The company shut down its Columbus, Mississippi, biofuel plant in January to upgrade the manufacturing process, and “until we restart the Columbus facility, we expect to have no production or revenue from that facility,” according to the filing.

If the company doesn’t receive additional financing, it will “likely” default on its debts and may file for bankruptcy. “We have substantial doubts about our ability to continue as a going concern,” the Pasadena, Texas-based company said in the filing.

Kior in October received $100 million from Khosla Ventures LLC and Gates Ventures LLC to expand production at the Columbus plant. The company makes transportation fuels from wood waste and non-food crops.

Leave a comment

Filed under Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests and Climate Change, GE Trees, Genetic Engineering

Biomass plant drives injustice in North Carolina

Leave a comment

Filed under Actions / Protest, Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Green Economy, Pollution, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests