Archive for February, 2016

Climatic Migration is happening. Are we ready?

February 25, 2016

Anthropologist, Brian Fagan paints a sobering world picture for us in his book, The Attacking Ocean. We in NH are far enough inland and upland that unless we have past experiences of living near the ocean and can go back and experience the then and now, it is difficult to accept the reality of rising sea levels and loss of habitable land.

Fagan takes us through the natural events he considers our greatest threat: earthquakes, tsunamis, and tropical storms “which spread water horizontally over low-lying coastal landscapes and river deltas, some of the most densely inhabited environments on earth.”

Our challenge internationally is to figure out how we can cooperate to absorb the migrations that have already begun. In the US, inland migration has begun. How do we plan to share our space, food and water? Earth is prepared to nourish us if we are willing to cooperate and look at the big picture.

We already know that GMO monoculture plowed crops are destroying the life of the earth’s soil, despite the slick rhetoric advertised. The reality is that the fantastic network of soil mycorrhizal fungi which absorb and redistribute carbon and other nutrients through roots, and help to set in motion the release of oxygen we need, is being destroyed by plowing, chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides.

Courtney White traveled all over the world to observe innovative farmers and he takes us along through his book, Grass, Soil, Hope: A journey through Carbon Country. The good news is that permaculture farming, developed by two Australians: Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in the 1970s, is spreading all over the world. Also called no-till farming, permaculture farming avoids the use of plows, pesticides and herbicides. Instead, Prehistoric and Native American practices of no till (permaculture) farming not only enriches our soil, it stores abundant carbon as well.

Permculture farming assures erosion control by not disturbing the network of soil microbes, beneficial bacteria, fungi, nematodes (tiny worms). Mulching, cover cropping, and companion planting of diverse crops encourage a strong network. By not plowing up this network, these practices are reclaiming and protecting the soil, producing greater harvests of robust, healthy foods, free of harmful chemicals.

When Hurricane Irene hit Dorn Cox’s permaculture farm in Lee, NH, he noted “lots of rain but no damage”. Farmers who plowed had no underground network to protect their crops from hurricane energy.

White, a New Mexico farmer himself, takes us to visit ranchers out west who fence off their grassland into paddocks. By rotating herds through the paddocks, they avoid overgrazing and assure good pasture. Some of them grazed sheep and cattle together; the cattle kept sheep predators at bay. Herds, by eating, walking and defecating, also stimulated native grasses to grow, proliferate and outcompete the weeds. To top it off, the quality of grass fed meat gradually increased income and ability to increase herd size.

At a tenuous time when it seems as though every aspect of survival is up in the air, we could literally ground ourselves by reconnecting with Earth’s network as the snow recedes around our homes. How might we encourage the underground internet to flourish?

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Replacing Carbon Footprint for Health

February 9, 2016

Figuring out the carbon footprint we leave with our homes, schools, municipal buildings, ski areas, shopping malls, travel vehicles, road maintenance, and more becomes overwhelming in that there seems to be no end to what we ask Earth to contend with and make OK. Do we really have to look at our footprint?

Only if we want to continue to breathe freely, continue to raise our children and access safe food and water. Most of us luxuriate in this beautiful north country where just a drive to the post office bathes us in scenic splendor. It is hard to recognize that continuing this luxury depends on whether we wake up, do our part, and give back to the Earth the means to continue to provide us with enough oxygen.

The term “carbon footprint”(CF) tells us the amount of land and sea area required to sequester carbon dioxide emissions from human activities. Trees and plants help us because they need to breathe in carbon dioxide and they exhale oxygen for us. Trees are the major lungs of the earth.

To figure out our carbon footprint, just what counts? Is it just about our home energy and personal travel habits or does it include all the goods and services we purchase, the skiing, theatre performances, our shoes and clothes? Do we count the footprint of meat we buy or is that tallied by the cattle raiser? Over which carbon footprints do we have control?

On the state level, the Northern Pass wants to put in an above ground line with 35’ deep cement pilings for miles of High Voltage poles. Every ton of cement emits one ton of carbon dioxide and that doesn’t include the print left by cement mixers, blasting, jackhammers, etc. NP plans to cut 500 miles of access roads to service their power lines. That means cutting carbon-sequestering trees down. Will New Hampshire require NP to mitigate its carbon footprint and include a comprehensive plan to offset the huge carbon footprint the NP creates?

There are international companies that measure and monitor carbon footprints. The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) is an internationally recognized company based in London that measures 4000+ international companies who voluntarily submit their environmental and emissions data. Harry Hintlian, who has a home in Woodstock, where he and his family vacation, recently received the highest environmental rankings from the CDP for his Superior Nut Company. Hintlian’s Cambridge, MA company has been offsetting its carbon footprint by planting trees in the tropics through Reforest The Tropics (RTT).

The Gloucester, MA school system is implementing the Cape Ann Green Initiative, an RTT program that teaches school children how to figure out the carbon footprint of their homes, schools, and community.
Thanks to our school systems, our children are our greatest teachers of basic technology. It is time to raise our carbon footprint consciousness by jumpstarting our schoolchildren who will surely stimulate us to protect their future by offsetting our CF.