Trees are aware of their neighbors and give them room

Lessons from nature…Cohabitation

In ‘crown shyness,’ some tree species respect those nearby and keep their leaves to themselves.

I could write about trees until I was green in the gills; and I do. And it’s probable that every time I write about them, I slip into anthropomorphising them. Maybe they don’t walk around and fly to the moon, but they are truly remarkable organisms with gifts and talents all their own. They are some of the planet’s most noble workhorses – we’d be nothing without them – and they deserve all the respect they can get.

(Exhibit A: See the related stories below.)

Source: Trees are aware of their neighbors and give them room | TreeHugger

‘This is not controversial’: Bipartisan group of economists calls for carbon tax with dividends

Forty-five top economists from across the political spectrum are calling for the United States to put a tax on carbon, saying it is by far the best way for the nation to address climate change.

Does this plan include exempting the fossil fuel industry from any kind of legal action or reparations for having lied about climate change for decades?

When corporations have evidence of a health or environmental issue in direct relation to the use of their product, do they have a legal duty to not create a propaganda campaign in an attempt to cover up or debunk their own findings?

Source: ‘This is not controversial’: Bipartisan group of economists calls for carbon tax – The Washington Post

Biological Pest Control, Biomimicry & Mycology

Biological pest control is the way of the future using biomimicry to emulate what nature does. Why genetically modify when we can just learn from nature how it’s already being done, and has been doing it for millions of years. Or in other words, why reinvent the wheel?

Mycology is also a great example of such and Paul Stamet is, and has been, doing some great work. If short on time skip to 13:00 for specific info about pesticides.
https://www.ted.com/talks/paul_stamets_on_6_ways_mushrooms_can_save_the_world

Mas info…insects are pretty cool too…
http://www.biocomes.eu/biological-control/biological-control-examples/

U.S. Supreme Court Refuses to Block Exxon Climate Fraud Investigation | InsideClimate News

What did Exxon know and when did they know it, will it be like the tobacco industry's debacle of deniability?

Massachusetts' attorney general is trying to force Exxon to turn over decades of records involving what it knew about climate change and what it told the public.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up ExxonMobil's latest attempt to block Massachusetts' investigation into whether the oil giant misled the public and investors about climate change.

The decision clears the way for state Attorney General Maura Healey to force the company to turn over records as her office probes whether Exxon concealed its knowledge of the role fossil fuels play in global warming.

Those records could open a window into the company's internal discussions, including its

Source: U.S. Supreme Court Refuses to Block Exxon Climate Fraud Investigation | InsideClimate News

U.S. Supreme Court Refuses to Block Exxon Climate Fraud Investigation | InsideClimate News

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up ExxonMobil’s latest attempt to block Massachusetts’ investigation into whether the oil giant misled the public and investors about climate change. The decision clears the way for state Attorney General Maura Healey to force the company to turn over records as her office probes whether Exxon concealed its knowledge of the role fossil fuels play in global warming. Those records could open a window into the company’s internal discussions, including its

Source: U.S. Supreme Court Refuses to Block Exxon Climate Fraud Investigation | InsideClimate News

Going plastic-free: The rise of zero-waste shops – BBC News

How long until this concept crosses the pond?

Packaging-free refill shops are on the rise in Wales as the backlash against plastic gathers pace.

Last year saw "zero waste" shops open in Crickhowell in Powys, Tenby in Pembrokeshire and in Cardiff.

"It's a more modern way of doing an older thing," Sophie Rae, founder of Cardiff-based Ripple said.

Customers bring their own containers from home to the stores and weigh the goods they want to buy – minus the weight of the packaging.

Source: Going plastic-free: The rise of zero-waste shops – BBC News

Vladimir Vernadsky and the Disruption of the Biosphere

Virtually unknown in the west, the great Russian geologist and geochemist pioneered scientific study of life’s impact on the Earth.

As we’ve seen, metabolism, a defining feature of all life, always involves exchanges with the world outside the organism. Life cannot exist without ingesting matter and excreting waste. The fact that the Earth is a sphere surrounded by a vacuum, and that we have access only to its outer few kilometers, means that the amount of matter available for life to use is finite, and that life’s wastes have nowhere else to go.

If metabolisms were linear, if inputs were simply consumed, the nutrients needed by living organisms would soon be depleted. Plants could consume all the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in about 8,000 years, and all the nitrogen in a million years. Life has lasted far longer than that because its support systems are circular. Vast recycling operations endlessly reprocess and reuse essential elements and compounds. Radical biologist Barry Commoner described the Biosphere as “a closed, circular system, [in which] there is no such thing as ‘waste’; everything that is produced in one part of the cycle ‘goes somewhere’ and is used in a later step."

Source: Vladimir Vernadsky and the Disruption of the Biosphere

What We Do | Stop Ocean Plastic & Reduce Poverty with Plastic Bank – Plastic Bank

By enabling the exchange of plastic for money, items or Blockchain secured digital tokens, we reveal the value in plastic. This empowers recycling ecosystems around the world and stops the flow of plastic into our oceans. All while helping people living in poverty build better futures. HOW WE CREATE SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT

Plastic Bank creates social and environmental impact in areas with high levels of poverty and plastic pollution by turning plastic waste into a currency.

Source: What We Do | Stop Ocean Plastic & Reduce Poverty with Plastic Bank – Plastic Bank

Exclusive: In new policy, downtown housing incentives would spread to other parts of San Antonio, exclude ‘luxury’ developments – San Antonio Heron

Editor’s Note: This is an analysis of the latest revisions to the Center City Housing Incentive Policy (CCHIP), which the City Council has not yet discussed. The council is scheduled to discuss the changes you’re about to learn about on Dec. 12, and vote on them Dec. 13.

In a set of revisions meant to appease Mayor Ron Nirenberg’s concern about a lack of true affordable housing being produced, the downtown housing incentives policy, which is responsible for the flurry of new apartments in the center city

Source: Exclusive: In new policy, downtown housing incentives would spread to other parts of San Antonio, exclude 'luxury' developments – San Antonio Heron

Paula Gold-Williams and the Generators of Opportunity at CPS Energy

While clean energy projects continue to reshape the oil and gas sector, the largest municipally owned electric and gas utility company in the United States is proving that inclusive leadership is as crucial to the energy industry’s future as a diverse portfolio. Based in San Antonio, Texas, CPS Energy bucks state and national norms with unusually high gender diversity at the helm—four out of six members of the executive team are women. That unorthodox culture, cultivated to empower all levels of the workforce, is redefining what it means to be a leader in the energy industry.

Source: Paula Gold-Williams and the Generators of Opportunity at CPS Energy

Rethinking Recycling | Think

The United States recycles about 34 percent of its waste – a number that hasn’t increased much in decades. Beth Porter, climate and recycling director for Green America, joins host Krys Boyd to talk about recycling strategies for both individuals and municipalities, which she writes about in “Reduce, Reuse, Reimagine: Sorting Out the Recycling System” (Rowman & Littlefield).

Source: Rethinking Recycling | Think

Net-Zero Energy Homes Pay Off Faster Than You Think—Even in Chilly Midwest | InsideClimate News

Zero-energy homes start with well-sealed and well-insulated attics, walls and basements or slabs. They often use triple-pane windows, especially in places with cold winters. Inside, energy-efficient appliances, highly efficient LED lighting and smart thermostats help avoid energy waste. Their designs often take natural lighting into account, too, and position windows and overhangs for additional solar heating in the winter and shade in summer. Since the homes are sealed to avoid letting cold or hot air in—and cool or warm air out—they also have ventilation systems customized to maintain comfortable circulation.  

Source: Net-Zero Energy Homes Pay Off Faster Than You Think—Even in Chilly Midwest | InsideClimate News

What Minimum-Wage Foes Got Wrong About Seattle – Bloomberg

A living wage is part of a sustainable economy.

The dire warnings about minimum-wage increases keep proving to be wrong. So much so that in a new paper, the authors behind an earlier study predicting a negative impact have all but recanted their initial conclusions. However, the authors still seem perplexed about why they went awry in the first place.

Source: What Minimum-Wage Foes Got Wrong About Seattle – Bloomberg

San Antonio’s Compost Queens taking food out of landfills to replenish the land – ExpressNews.com

A small San Antonio family business is trying to combat the dangers of decaying banana peels and the gaseous gore of yesterday’s lunch scraps.

Betsy Gruy and daughter Kate Gruy Jaceldo started Compost Queens to keep food waste out of the landfills and within the food cycle.

The Compost Queens make their rounds every week in a Chevrolet truck equipped with a special lift mechanism, collecting 5-gallon buckets of food waste and replacing them with clean ones for individuals who pay about $20 per month per month for the service.

They also work with commercial properties and restaurants, though those sites get 35-gallon bins.

It’s a business that restaurants and apartment complex residents like because they don’t qualify for the city’s green compost bins, and it’s timely given the increased awareness of how food waste — and the enormous amounts of heat-trapping methane it produces — contributes to climate change…read more source: San Antonio’s Compost Queens taking food out of landfills to replenish the land – ExpressNews.com

For San Antonio’s Water and Energy Utilities, Collaboration Leads to Conservation

Great article at The Rivard Report on the excellent steps toward building smarter more efficient electric and water grids! Is it time to look at how SAWS and CPS can partner to install water pipes that generate electricity?

Portland did it in 2015 so there should now be some great data to determine ROI and add resiliency to smarter grids without any negative environmental impact.

From The Rivard Report:  A hydroelectric power station at a sewage treatment plant. Water meters that transmit data via a network built for smart electrical meters…

Source: For San Antonio's Water and Energy Utilities, Collaboration Leads to Conservation

Pocacito (Post-Carbon Cities of Tomorrow) in San Antonio

From Deleration.news:

"Because much of the official discussion and implementation of the circular economy has taken place from the top down, on the level of governments and industries, we were most interested to hear about local, bottom-up, and community-driven efforts not just to transform large-scale material flows but the social relations in which they are embedded."

As such, Deceleration had the opportunity to interview representatives of Pocacito (Post-Carbon Cities of Tomorrow), an initiative of Ecologic Institute whose goal is to build trans-Atlantic solidarity and intellectual exchange around local creative efforts for a renewable economy and planet.

In the meantime, check out the opening exchange on Facebook of their "Eight to Infinity" tour (think eight cities, then lay the eight on its side to invoke ideas of a permanent economy/culture), held at San Antonio College's Eco Centro.

Also of interest to folks here interested in solidarity economy, climate justice, energy descent/democracy, permaculture, transition, degrowth, and cooperation, over the next two days, Pocacito brings visionary representatives from Madrid, Spain, and Marseille, France to UTSA CACP Speaker Series: Post-Carbon Cities of Tomorrow and University of the Incarnate Word.

For more details and to catch them at one of their next San Antonio talks:on these upcoming events, see:

Monday, October 1, 2018, at UTSA (“Radically Collaborative“) and Tuesday, October 2, 2018, at University of Incarnate Word (“From Circular Economy to Circular Society Workshop in San Antonio“).

Companies with cleaner, smarter energy use outperform their peers

Companies committed to 100% renewable electricity are more profitable than their peers – a new report by the RE100 draws on financial data from 3,500 businesses underlining the business case for putting sustainability at the heart of corporate growth strategies.

Source: Climate Week NYC: companies with cleaner, smarter energy use outperform their peers | The Climate Group

Will it take another American Civil War to transition from fossil fuels?

Will our addiction to oil drain every last drop? "Having taken oil for granted for decades, the global economy has failed to prepare for its absence. A bleak future awaits . . .

…Today's energy supplies provide the equivalent of the work of 22 billion slaves, according to former oil industry man Colin Campbell. But now the wave of oil looks set to leave us high and dry. At well over $100 per barrel, prices are climbing again to the level last reached in 2008. Since then, however, the tone of commentary has changed." ~Andrew Simms

“In 1860, slaves as property were worth more than all the banks, factories and railroads in the country put together,” ~Eric Foner

"There is no energy crisis, only a crisis of ignorance." ~R. Buckminster Fuller

Conservative Southern businessmen backed a civil war in defense of their business model and business interests. Given that the business model had been operating in the New World for two centuries, the livelihoods of much of the population depended upon it, and had 100 years of bedrock support in the US Constitution, it may be understandable that only a bloody conflict could reconcile the inherent contradictions embedded in that system.

More than two hundred years after that horrible conflict, the nation is again bitterly divided politically, ideologically, and economically, about an economy dominated by a problematic industry, fossil fuels.

Carbon, is the foundation of the global economy and fossil-fuel based industries in the US have trillions of dollars invested in human and industrial capital. These investments supply not only the energy needs of the rest of the economy, they power our pension and investment funds as well. Furthermore, petroleum-based ancillary industries and products also complicate matters. Our food, textiles, technology, construction, etc. industries, all depend upon inputs from fossil fuels.

Millions of people depend upon income derived from fossil-fuels and although in principle they may agree with the abstract goals of sustainability, when the chips are down, most will choose the real "in-your-face" needs of their families over the perceived benefits of a green future.

Progressives are spot on about the facts of possible futures, about the need to systemically and urgently move away from fossil fuels. Conservatives are correct that there isn't enough money in the world to solve all problems everywhere now, and do it effectively using the middleman of Big Government.

If we are to effectively, justly, and quickly meet the ever evolving challenges of Climate Change, we will need more efficacious tools than stalemated government and self-interested business.

There are several sources of capital for the purpose of addressing human problems; business, government, wealthy people, foundations. Each has advantages and disadvantages but we tend to favor one source or another based upon ideology, politics, and one's values.

What is lacking is not money, what is lacking is imagination and a genuine sense of a shared future. This we can not blame on the other. This we must honestly confront with the woman/man in the mirror. If we can learn the rudimentary lessons of Human cooperation, embrace complexity and inclusion in our social relationships, be flexible and creative, we can begin to truly begin solving problems instead of preaching to our respective choirs and lobbing rotten eggs at one another from behind our group-defined walls and moats. We are One Human Family, living on a blessed and beneficent planet, let's do a better job of acting like it. Our children deserve no less.

Our addiction to oil is draining every last drop – The Guardian

Swiss startup Energy Vault is stacking concrete blocks to store energy — Quartz

Swiss-based Energy Vault provides an alternative to pumped-hydro energy storage by using concrete blocks and cranes instead of water and dams. The Energy Vault concept contends that because concrete is denser than water, lifting a block of concrete requires more energy and can store more energy than a water tank of the same size.

Source: Swiss startup Energy Vault is stacking concrete blocks to store energy — Quartz

Figuring out how climate change affects the fungi that feeds trees and absorbs carbon

Despite aspen’s ability to grow from the northernmost reaches of Canada to the highest altitudes in Mexico, the tree is on the run. The southern part of the aspen’s range is drying up, while the northern edges are warming up and thus becoming more conducive to the tree’s survival, because of climate change, said Justine Karst, the NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Terrestrial Restoration Ecology.

And while the shrinking, expanding or shifting of a tree’s habitat is always cause for concern, Karst said the bigger questions surround what then happens to one of nature’s unheralded carbon sink champions and a plant’s best friend—the mysterious mycorrhizal fungi.

According to Karst, mycorrhizal fungi—which comes in two types, arbuscular and ectomycorrhizal—colonize the fine root tips of just about every tree and plant on Earth.

In a symbiotic ballet from which life as we know it is allowed to spring, these mycorrhizal fungi grow tiny branch-like hypha into the soil to break down organic matter in a way that roots can’t, taking up nutrients and essentially feeding to the plant.

“A tree could not grow without them,” explained Karst.

While most fungi get their carbon from decomposing matter, Karst said mycorrhizal fungi have given up that ability over time and are completely reliant on a living host to get their carbon supply, which they get through the plant’s sugars

“It is a mutualism, so, yes, they both need each other.”

And while this nutrient transfer from the fungi is what feeds the tree, it’s offering is what makes the headlines these day.

Karst explained those carbon-laden sugars begin as carbon dioxide in the air before it is photosynthesized by the plant.

“Upwards of 40 per cent of those sugars get allocated below ground to support these symbiotes,” she said. “As we learn about mycorrhiza, we learn they affect a lot of ecosystem processes; one of them is carbon cycling.”

Researchers believe that up to 50 per cent of carbon in soils is derived by mycorrhizal fungi.

Karst said she chose to study the aspen because of its wide range and the fact it is the rare species of tree that hosts both ectomycorrhizal and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. Because they differ in size and carbon-cycling rates—the larger ectomycorrhizal fungi requires more carbon and leaks more carbon into the soil—she thinks she will be able to determine what is happening to the ecosystem as aspens get stressed and then are lost.

“What I’m interested in is before aspen moves across the landscape, and how a changing environment affects the mycorrhizal community and the cascading effects on ecosystem processes like carbon cycling,” she said. “Typically when we are thinking about roots and microorganisms, we don’t necessarily connect them to these larger scale ecosystem processes. We don’t think of them affecting the forest as whole. There is that avenue of recognizing when we are thinking of forest health, resiliency and productivity—you also have to think these microbes in the soil.

“When you think of the health of the forest, its resiliency and productivity and how it is going to function in the future, we need to recognize that these small things matter.”

Source: Figuring out how climate change affects the fungi that feeds trees and absorbs carbon