September 2009

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This page includes information on news and events in September 2009. (News and events are archived here at the end of the month.)

Events

News

  • Africa's burning charcoal problem, 25 September 2009 by BBC: "[A]ccording to the Tanzania Association of Oil Marketing Companies, 20,000 bags of charcoal enter the capital Dar es Salaam every 24 hours....But the impact of this unregulated...trade is chilling."
    • "Aid agency Christian Aid estimates that 182 million people in Africa are at risk of dying as a consequence of climate change by the end of the century....One adaptation option for Africa is to keep her forests standing so that they provide essential environmental services such as carbon sinks".
    • "But Africa has not been very good at this....According to the UN the continent is losing forest twice as fast as the rest of the world."
    • "Wood and its by-product charcoal are, unless radical steps are taken, likely to remain the primary energy source for decades....Additionally, charcoal is a lucrative business..."[3]
  • Success of Palm Oil Brings Plantations Under Pressure to Preserve Habitats , 17 September 2009 by New York Times: Each year, the oil palm plantations in Indonesia and Malaysia "produce millions of tons of palm oil, which has soared in popularity since the 1970s and is now found in foods like margarine, potato chips and chocolate, as well as in soap, cosmetics and biofuel."
    • "But the palm plantations are in the cross hairs of consumer groups and corporations in Australia, New Zealand, Europe and the United States. Echoing the longstanding concerns of environmental groups, they say palm oil producers continue to fell large tracts of forest to make way for plantations, destroying habitat for endangered species like the orangutan."
    • "The increasingly vocal protests are not what the industry expected five years after it began developing a certification system for producing environmentally sustainable palm oil. In 2004, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil was formed, representing palm oil producers; consumer goods manufacturers including Unilever, Johnson & Johnson and Kellogg; environmental groups like the World Wide Fund for Nature; and social and development organizations."
    • "The roundtable requires plantations to develop plans to protect rare or endangered species on their land and to assess whether there are cultural relics that need to be preserved."[5]
  • Dead Forests to Fuel Vehicles, 15 September 2009 by CleanTechnica: "The University of Georgia Research Foundation has developed an innovative way to turn dead trees into a liquid fuel and has licensed it to Tolero Energy in California. We could be driving on our dead forests as soon as 2010."
    • "The technology represents a leap forward for the biofuels industry. Not only does the resulting biofuel need no additional refinement before blending with diesel fuel, but it is a naturally very low-sulphur biofuel."
    • "Infestations of the mountain pine beetle have devastated forests in the western United States and Canada, killing over 40 million acres of pine trees. As the trees decompose and decay, they release millions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, and the devastation has created a significant and dangerous fire hazard in the western forests."
    • "Tolero will use this low-cost, on-site process to turn waste biomass into sustainable and renewable forms of energy and industrial products. The biomass is heated at carefully controlled high temperatures in the absence of oxygen, a process known as fast pyrolysis. The vapors produced during pyrolysis rapidly condense into a bio-oil that can be added to biodiesel or petroleum diesel. Other pyrolysis by-products are gas and bio-char, which can be used as a soil amendment."[6]
  • Environmental Groups Spar Over Certifications of Wood and Paper Products , 12 September 2009 by New York Times: "For more than a decade, the nonprofit Forest Stewardship Council generally has been viewed as the premier judge of whether a wood or paper product should be labeled as environmentally friendly."
    • "But to the dismay of major environmental groups, that label, known as F.S.C., is facing a stiff challenge from a rival certification system supported by the paper and timber industry. At stake is the trust of consumers in the ever-expanding market for 'green' products."
    • "This week lawyers for ForestEthics, a nonprofit group dedicated to protecting forests, filed administrative complaints with the Federal Trade Commission and the Internal Revenue Service challenging the credibility of the rival label, known as the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, or S.F.I."
    • "The complaints, which challenge S.F.I.’s nonprofit status, accuse the certification program of lax standards and deceptive marketing intended to obscure the standards and the S.F.I.’s financial ties to the forest industry."[7]
  • UN's Ban calls deforestation summit, 3 September 2009 by AFP: "UN chief Ban Ki-moon said Thursday he planned to bring together leaders of the world's most forested nations, including Brazil and Indonesia, for a meeting this month to discuss deforestation" on 22 September.
    • "The UN Environment Programme recently underlined that since trees and plants absorb carbon dioxide (CO2), stemming deforestation could be a tried and tested method in tackling climate change instead of more ambitious carbon capture projects."
    • The proposed meeting in New York would coincide with the UN summit on climate change."[9]
  • Can Dirt Really Save Us From Global Warming?, 3 September 2009 by NPR: "This month the Senate is set to take up the climate and energy bill that Congress began work on last spring. One provision will likely set up a system to pay farmers for something called 'no-till farming.'"
    • "The concept: When crops are planted without tilling, the soil holds more carbon, which means less goes up into the atmosphere."
    • "But scientists aren't sure no-till really sequesters carbon any better than conventional farming....Researchers have discovered that when you dig down three feet or so, plowed fields hold just as much — if not more — carbon than no-till."
    • "There's a possible conflict brewing here, though. Federal law and the energy bill encourage farmers to remove crop residue — the remains of the previous season's crop — to make ethanol."
    • "'That's a no-no,'" soil scientist Rattan Lal says. "'The moment you take the crop residue away the benefit of no-till farming on erosion control, water conservation and on carbon sequestration will not be realized.'"(Audio also available)
Ret. General Wesley Clark, at Growth Energy press conference, 5 February 2009, in Washington, D.C.



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