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Patrick Mazza's Posts

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Digging deep to uncover biocarbon’s advantages for farmers

Filed under: Northwest Biocarbon Initiative, NBI, biocarbon, carbon, home, agriculture Soaking carbon from the atmosphere into farm soils is a widely advocated climate solution. A new Australian study kicks dirt all over the idea. Carbon markets would not provide sufficient incentives for farmers to build soil carbon. But digging in a little deeper uncovers a more favorable picture. The Australian Liberal Party has been battling to remove carbon fees supported by Labour. Too expensive, says the more conservative party. Its leaders instead propose buying 85 billion metric tons of farm soil carbon offsets through the nation’s Carbon Farming Initiative to …

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Uniting Cascadia: The forest biocarbon connection

The Pacific Northwest possesses a singular regional identity, one of the strongest in North America.  A large portion of the population is here by choice, opting to move here or to stay here despite the lure of opportunities elsewhere. But what draws the region together?  What are the roots of this identity?     Diamond Creek Falls, Willamette National Forest - courtesy of James Wellington Since the 1980s a powerful stream of identity has come in a fresh name for the region, Cascadia.  Originating from a geology text of the same name, Cascadia now graces numerous institutions such as Cascadia …

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I have a great world dream

Filed under: federal, Climate Change, home When I visit Washington, DC my favorite place to hang out is the Lincoln Memorial.  With the great statue of Lincoln overlooking the mall, his great words inscribed into the walls on either side, it is one of the capital’s most inspiring places. Great words have been spoken there too, none more memorable than Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech to the 1963 March on Washington 50 years ago today. King dared to hold out a higher aspiration when he said, “I have a dream that one day this nation will …

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Do frightened grasshoppers increase carbon storage in grasslands?

Filed under: grasslands, NBI, biocarbon, carbon, natural systems Do frightened grasshoppers increase carbon storage in grasslands?  It appears the answer is yes, according to Yale Forestry School research that shows grasslands where grasshoppers are afraid of being eaten by spiders retain more carbon. But the reason for this phenomenon might not be what you think. The Yale team examined carbon storage in controlled settings where grasshoppers were alone, and others in which they had to contend with spiders. The researchers reported in a recent Proceedings of the National Academies of Science article that “up to 1.4-fold more carbon is retained in …

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British farmland missing huge natural benefits potential

Filed under: biocarbon, NBI, agriculture Patrick Mazza, Research Director By Patrick Mazza Climate Solutions Farm support programs that target only food production miss huge opportunities to generate natural benefits, a new British study documents. A team led by Ian J. Bateman of University of Easy Anglia reported in Science found that carbon storage benefits in agricultural land and tying farm support programs to environmental performance criteria could add £19 billion in natural services values annually in Britain. The new modeling study quantified ecosystem services benefits including carbon, recreation, and urban greenspaces. The study looked at British agricultural areas, including grassland, …

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The growing buzz around the biocarbon benefits of farmland

Filed under: Northwest Biocarbon Initiative, climate change, NBI, soil, home, agriculture Patrick Mazza, Research Director By Patrick Mazza Climate Solutions Can agriculture reverse climate change? That was the intriguing title of a New America Foundation blog post covering a July 25 event at the think tank’s Washington, D.C. headquarters. The key theme was that changing the way agriculture is done can draw heat-trapping carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere into farm soils to improve the viability of agriculture overall. With atmospheric CO2 rising to dangerous levels, actively spurring CO2 removal through plant photosynthesis is drawing new attention.  Plants use CO2 …

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Busy beavers building natural carbon storage

Outside of humans, beavers have more impact on landscapes than virtually any other species. Building dams and changing streams, they well deserve their busy reputation. Now a new study reveals those hardworking animals not only build dams but biocarbon storage as well. Ellen Wohl of Colorado State University reports her findings in an article accepted for Geophysical Research Letters, “Landscape-scale carbon storage associated with Beaver Dams.” Laurence Pope of New Scientist summarizes the findings: “Beaver dams cause water to breach riverbanks, creating areas of wetland known as beaver meadows, which contain large amounts of sediment and organic material. If the …

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Building Natural Carbon: Five Policy Principles

Driven by the fossil-fueled industrialization of Asia, carbon dioxide levels hit 395 parts per million in 2012, the highest level in four or five million years.  That was an era when sea levels were around 80 feet higher and temperatures up to 10° Fahrenheit hotter.   If we sustain those CO2 levels, or go higher as we are doing, over time a completely different world will emerge. Disruptive climate change is pushing two great carbon-reduction imperatives.  The first is to dramatically reduce emissions of heat-trapping carbon pollution through a clean energy revolution, a rapid transition to non-fossil energy sources such as …

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Super Bowl blackout makes the case for smart microgrids

So what does it mean when America’s premier sports event goes dark for 34 minutes? Was Beyoncé just too electrifying? Or does the Super Bowl blackout signify deeper problems with electrical infrastructure?

superbowl blackout
YouTube

First, we now know Beyoncé is off the hook. The halftime show used its own generator. So was the utility to blame? Entergy says a monitoring device detected a power surge in the system, and automatically shut down a feeder to half the stadium. That was to prevent any problems from spreading. Ironically, while the event spurred calls, such as this one at The Daily Beast, for a smart grid, that was a pretty smart piece of grid automation at work. Utility officials, in fact, place the problem within the Superdome’s own power system, giving the poster child for Katrina’s humanitarian crisis a new source of notoriety.

While the particulars are a bit blurred, the blackout does make the case for a different shape of power-grid architecture that is indeed an advanced form of smart grid. The vision is one of a network of smart microgrids served by distributed energy sources.

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Clean energy conference weathers blackout with microgrid

Waking up in my hotel room across the street from the 13th annual Harvesting Clean Energy Conference Monday, I hit the light switch.  Nothing.  I try a few other switches and then look out at the hall to confirm it’s a blackout. But I can see out the window the lights of the Oregon State University campus shining into the still darkened sky.  It turns out that while a blackout has engulfed Corvallis in darkness, the campus location is lucky 13 for the conference.  The original location in a building on the edge of campus is dark, but the conference …

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