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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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BLM schedules two major coal leases, undermining President Obama’s climate action plan

Next week, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) plans to sell 148 million tons of publicly owned coal, making clear that BLM continues to ignore concerns about the carbon pollution from coal mining, burning and export proposals. In addition to this lease sale, known as “Maysdorf II,” BLM has also scheduled the sale of the “Haycreek II” lease sale for next month, which would give the mining industry access to another 167 million tons of our coal at subsidized rates - the last major Powder River Basin coal lease sale went to Peabody for just $1.10 per ton. Unless Interior …

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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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600 Investors in South Dakota’s Premier Community Wind Project

In this episode of Local Energy Rules, ILSR's Director of Democratic Energy, John Farrell, speaks to Brian Minish, CEO of South Dakota Wind Partners about a community wind project that attracted over 600 local investors.  The project was the brainchild of four state organizations rooted in rural South Dakota–the East River Electric Cooperative, South Dakota Farm Bureau, South Dakota Farmers Union and South Dakota Corn Growers. Hoping to broaden ownership in a wind farm project proposed by Basin Electric in Crow Lake, these groups worked with Brian to figure out how to add local investors to the mix. Podcast (Local …

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“Everything is Connected” – The People vs. Coal Exports in the Northwest

In recent days, there were new developments in the fight against Northwest coal exports that stopped me in my tracks. Last week, the news broke that the official review of the largest proposed coal export terminal in Washington State will be unprecedented in scope, and will include not only the health and environmental effects of the project, but also the climate impacts of burning the coal in Asia. This announcement by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Washington State Department of Ecology, and Whatcom County comes after a blockbuster comment period on the project, where 10,000 people attended standing-room-only …

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The Keystone XL pipeline is ACTUALLY a bunch of solar panels! Who knew?!?!

People from across the spectrum have been working for years against the Keystone XL pipeline because we thought it would lock us into decades more of climate-changing dirty energy.  But it turns out, according to the TransCanada Facebook ad that’s been popping up in many of our feeds lately, we got it all backwards: The Keystone XL pipeline is ACTUALLY a bunch of solar panels!  Who knew?!?! I wish this deceptive, manipulative ad were surprising rather than fitting into a larger pattern of deception that has characterized this project. The truth is that America doesn’t need this oil; fossil fuel …

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Uncovering the Cultural Barriers to Sustainability: a Eulogy for Jim Farrell

I spent the past two weeks saying goodbye to my father, Jim Farrell, so instead of my usual discussion of good policy and practices for distributed renewable energy, I’m taking time to explore how my dad’s work on sustainability fits  with how I approach it in this blog (and elsewhere) in my work for the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. My dad was a professor of American History and American Studies at St. Olaf College, in Northfield, MN (where I did my undergraduate work).  He wasn’t a lobbyist for environmental policies or a political activist, but in his courses on “Disney’s America,” …

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Grain Yields Starting to Plateau

By Lester R. Brown From the beginning of agriculture until the mid-twentieth century, growth in the world grain harvest came almost entirely from expanding the cultivated area. Rises in land productivity were too slow to be visible within a single generation. It is only within the last 60 years or so that rising yields have replaced area expansion as the principal source of growth in world grain production. The transition was dramatic. Between 1950 and 1973 the world’s farmers doubled the grain harvest, nearly all of it from raising yields. Stated otherwise, expansion during these 23 years equaled the growth …

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UGA Students, Community Take a Stand Against Campus Coal

Nationwide, college students continue to take the lead on climate action. From leading divestment campaigns, to urging their schools to move beyond dirty fuels, this generation of students is full of truly inspiring leaders. This week was no different down at the University of Georgia, where close to 50 UGA students, alumni, and local community members packed a public hearing on the school's on-campus coal-fired boiler. "For four years, students at UGA have been asking the administration to be a leader in clean energy development and retire the outdated on-campus coal-fired steam boiler that threatens our health," said David Littman, …

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World Solar Power Topped 100,000 Megawatts in 2012

By J. Matthew Roney The world installed 31,100 megawatts of solar photovoltaics (PV) in 2012—an all-time annual high that pushed global PV capacity above 100,000 megawatts. There is now enough PV operating to meet the household electricity needs of nearly 70 million people at the European level of use. While PV production has become increasingly concentrated in one country—China—the number of countries installing PV is growing rapidly. In 2006, only a handful of countries could boast solar capacity of 100 megawatts or more. Now 30 countries are on that list, which the International Energy Agency (IEA) projects will more than …

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