Claire Krummenacher

Investigating ancient forest destruction: This week, a New York Times deep dive into the clear-cutting of protected forests across Central Europe revealed devastating losses of centuries-old trees in the name of "renewable energy". The investigation, which was supplemented by public records and a yearlong tree tracking effort by the Environmental Investigation Agency, documented trees from protected forests being ground into wood pellets, which were then shipped to Western Europe. Demand for pellets in the EU has skyrocketed as nations turn to so-called "biomass" to meet their renewable energy commitments despite evidence that the practice can produce higher emissions than burning coal and cause irreversible biodiversity loss. While the Dutch, German, Belgian, and Luxembourgish governments have signaled support for ending wood pellet subsidies, official legislation is likely to face hurdles due to the Russian energy crisis.

 Courtney White

The Agricultural Internet of Things: As the water crisis in the American West deepens, many eyes are turning toward agriculture, which uses 80% of the region’s fresh water. Most of this water is used to irrigate crops in dry country. One solution is microirrigation, a highly efficient drip system first developed in Israel benefitting today from new plastics technology. A different sort of technology might offer a longer-term solution. Digital cameras and AI software are enabling crop and soil monitoring systems that cut water use while improving productivity. It’s just the beginning. The Internet of Things - wireless technology, multiple sensors, and computing power all linked together – is now being applied to food production including regenerative farms. A leader is my friend Dorn Cox, a farmer and founder of OpenTEAM, an open-source research community focused on ecological agriculture that is changing the game.

 Juliana Birnbaum

Funding regenerative initiatives:  A national green bank is being established in the U.S. as part of the historic climate bill that was recently passed as part of the Inflation Reduction Act.  Reflecting years of work on the part of activists, the bank will provide funding to expand the use of renewable energy and transform supply chains, lowering the cost for consumers and speeding the transition away from fossil fuels.  It will support the work of existing local green banks, already flourishing in many states, and make financing available faster and with reduced risk to lenders.

 Kavya Gopal

Frontline communities bring back water: Since 2005, sixteen Indigenous Zapotec communities have created hundreds of water infrastructure projects to conserve water in the drought-stricken Oaxaca valley in Mexico. It is a joint effort with nearly 250 families, a university, local municipalities, and the government’s National Institute of Indigenous People, digging absorption wells, putting small dams in rivers, and using water pans. Their work has improved water levels, promoted soil regeneration, increased water sources for biodiversity, and improved livelihoods. Perhaps most importantly, all of this work is being driven by female-led Indigenous leaders under the organization, Flor y Canto. Although the fear of drought always looms, the Zapotec Indigenous communities show us how collective action benefits not just individuals, but the entire region.

 Robert Denney

California turns to beavers in fighting climate change. As the Beavers Nexus points out, this creature has historically been labeled as a nuisance because of its power to dam up waterways and cause flooding. That is beginning to change in California, where the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife is establishing a new beaver restoration unit. The unit will develop methods for nature-based solutions involving beavers and artificial beaver dams, and the unit will also help update California’s policies on beavers. The Department plans to allocate at least $3 million over the next two years for this new program, which comes at a time when California can use all the help it can get to restore and protect wetlands during a period of extended drought in the state.

 Amy Boyer

Tracking carbon sinks on land: On August 31 the California legislature passed, among other climate bills, AB 1757, which requires the California Air Resources Board to determine "an ambitious range of targets" for carbon sequestration on natural and working lands of California and to track carbon sequestration and emissions on those lands. Environmentalists hope this will make it easier to manage lands as carbon sinks; industrial farmers are worried that they may not be able to comply with those targets and cite its potential impact on small farmers. However, other agriculturalists hope the targets and tracking mandated by the bill will make the case for agriculture that is climate smart.

Take Action on Nexus
Did you know that only 50% of the precipitation that falls over land comes from oceans?
The remainder originates over the land itself. This is the small water cycle. Moisture evaporates from lakes, plants, trees, and the soil, making clouds overhead. Often, this moisture falls back to the ground within the same area. If the land is covered with plants and the soil is a carbon-rich sponge, rain and snow will be absorbed, helping alleviate drought and improve access to fresh water.
This week, learn how restoring degraded land can sequester large amounts of atmospheric carbon in the soil, feed millions of people, improve wildlife habitats, and make water more abundant.


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Photo Credits
1st photo: Danny Green, NPL
2nd photo: Russell Ord

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