Websites Black Out across Canada Today in Defense of Nature and Democracy
Today diverse groups from around the world will black out their websites in a symbolic protest of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government’s attack on nature and democracy.
The attacks come in a sweeping budget legislation that, to prevent debate, touches on everything from environmental rules to immigration; pensions to student groups. Its unprecedented scope has been roundly condemned by voices from the left and right as fundamentally undemocratic. Parliamentary debate has also been shortened by Harper.
A big reason why there’s such a rush is oil interests at play. Working in close coordination with oil company lobbyists and industry front groups, the Harper government is attempting to silence public interest groups—all the while working to rollback longstanding Canadian environmental protections, slash environmental enforcement and eliminate independent oversight of the environmental decision-making process.
The Canadian government is also targeting civil society groups by allocating millions for onerous new tax audits. The target is clearly environmental organizations opposed the government’s plans to expand tar sands oil extraction operations. Sitting members of Harper’s Cabinet have called them “radicals," accused them of “money laundering” and—ironically, given most tar sands oil companies are not Canadian-owned—being puppets of rich foreigners, especially Americans.
Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and 350.org today will feature Black Out Speak Out actions on their websites, joining groups from across Canada, the First Nations and the European Union.
“Canada—once an example for other countries on this planet—is in danger of letting tar sands greed undermine its democratic traditions,” said Bill McKibben, 350.org. “We're blacking out our website for a day, because we want very badly for the Harper government to see the light: by deciding to keep carbon safe in the ground, it can set a shining example for the rest of the Earth.”
“This attack on democracy and nature starts in Canada, but the multi-national oil industry is pushing tar sands to markets in the United States and abroad, attacking any clean energy policies in their way,” said Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, NRDC international program director. “And now an emboldened oil industry is pushing for Congressional approval of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline without further public input in the unrelated transportation bill. This is a critical time to join our Canadian friends in protesting this attempt to silence debate about our energy future and the need to fight climate change.”
“Let’s hope Harper gets the message that suppressing civil society’s voice in the interest of the oil industry is dangerously radical,” said Michael Marx, Sierra Club Beyond Oil campaign director. “It’s one thing to disagree with environmental groups, we’re used to that. But it’s quite another to try and silence your opposition by attacking civil society’s essential freedoms. Harper has crossed a very dangerous line.”
- Redwoods are the world's tallest trees.
- Now scientists have discovered they are even bigger than we thought.
- Using laser technology they map the 80-meter giants.
- Trees are a key plank in the fight against climate change.
They are among the largest trees in the world, descendants of forests where dinosaurs roamed.
Pixabay / Simi Luft<p><span>Until recently, measuring these trees meant scaling their 80 meter high trunks with a tape measure. Now, a team of scientists from University College London and the University of Maryland uses advanced laser scanning, to create 3D maps and calculate the total mass.</span></p><p>The results are striking: suggesting the trees <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">may be as much as 30% larger than earlier measurements suggested.</a> Part of that could be due to the additional trunks the Redwoods can grow as they age, <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a process known as reiteration</a>.</p>
New 3D measurements of large redwood trees for biomass and structure. Nature / UCL<p>Measuring the trees more accurately is important because carbon capture will probably play a key role in the battle against climate change. Forest <a href="https://www.wri.org/blog/2020/09/carbon-sequestration-natural-forest-regrowth" target="_blank">growth could absorb billions of tons</a> of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year.</p><p>"The importance of big trees is widely-recognised in terms of carbon storage, demographics and impact on their surrounding ecosystems," the authors wrote<a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank"> in the journal Nature</a>. "Unfortunately the importance of big trees is in direct proportion to the difficulty of measuring them."</p><p>Redwoods are so long lived because of their ability to <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cope with climate change, resist disease and even survive fire damage</a>, the scientists say. Almost a fifth of their volume may be bark, which helps protect them.</p>
Carbon Capture Champions<p><span>Earlier research by scientists at Humboldt University and the University of Washington found that </span><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378112716302584" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Redwood forests store almost 2,600 tonnes of carbon per hectare</a><span>, their bark alone containing more carbon than any other neighboring species.</span></p><p>While the importance of trees in fighting climate change is widely accepted, not all species enjoy the same protection as California's coastal Redwoods. In 2019 the world lost the equivalent of <a href="https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/deforestation-and-forest-degradation" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">30 soccer fields of forest cover every minute</a>, due to agricultural expansion, logging and fires, according to The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).</p>
Pixabay<p>Although <a href="https://c402277.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/publications/1420/files/original/Deforestation_fronts_-_drivers_and_responses_in_a_changing_world_-_full_report_%281%29.pdf?1610810475" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the rate of loss is reported to have slowed in recent years</a>, reforesting the world to help stem climate change is a massive task.</p><p><span>That's why the World Economic Forum launched the Trillion Trees Challenge (</span><a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a><span>) and is engaging organizations and individuals across the globe through its </span><a href="https://uplink.weforum.org/uplink/s/uplink-issue/a002o00000vOf09AAC/trillion-trees" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Uplink innovation crowdsourcing platform</a><span> to support the project.</span></p><p>That's backed up by research led by ETH Zurich/Crowther Lab showing there's potential to restore tree coverage across 2.2 billion acres of degraded land.</p><p>"Forests are critical to the health of the planet," according to <a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a>. "They sequester carbon, regulate global temperatures and freshwater flows, recharge groundwater, anchor fertile soil and act as flood barriers."</p><p><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor">Reposted with permission from the </em><span><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor"><a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/03/redwoods-store-more-co2-and-are-more-enormous-than-we-thought/" target="_blank">World Economic Forum</a>.</em></span></p>
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