Although 3 trillion might seem like a lot, human activity is compromising tree abundance worldwide and responsible for the loss of billions of trees annually. Since the beginning of modern agriculture 12,000 years ago, the number of trees on Earth has dropped by 46 percent, they said in the study.
Human population expansion responsible for tree-density depletion
“The scale of human impact is astonishing,” says Thomas Crowther, an ecologist now at the Netherlands Institute of Ecology in Wageningen who led a study while at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. “Obviously we expected humans would have a prominent role, but I didn’t expect that it would come out as the as the strongest control on tree density.”
“Crowther and his colleagues merged these approaches by first gathering data for every continent except Antarctica from various existing ground-based counts covering about 430,000 hectares. These counts allowed them to improve tree-density estimates from satellite imagery. Then the researchers applied those density estimates to areas that lack good ground inventories. For example, survey data from forests in Canada and northern Europe were used to revise estimates from satellite imagery for similar forests in remote parts of Russia,” they said.
The highest tree densities, calculated in stems per hectare, were found in the boreal forests of North America, Scandinavia and Russia. These forests are typically tightly packed with skinny conifers and hold roughly 750 billion trees, 24% of the global total. Tropical and subtropical forests, with the greatest area of forested land, are home to 1.3 trillion trees, or 43% of the total, which includes the Amazon rainforest that is currently experiencing human encroachment and deforestation on a massive scale.
Not all tree populations have the same environmental impact
Susan Trumbore a biochemist at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, Germany says, “The number of trees is just one piece of the puzzle,” says Trumbore. “A tree in the tundra is not the same as a tree in the rainforest.”
“The number of trees is just one piece of the puzzle,” says Trumbore. “A tree in the tundra is not the same as a tree in the rainforest.”
The amount of carbon the Amazon rainforest is absorbing from the atmosphere and storing each year has fallen by about a third in the last decade, reported in a new 30-year study by almost 100 researchers, according to the Carbon Brief.
This decline in the Amazon carbon sink amounts to one billion tons of carbon dioxide - equivalent to over twice the UK's annual emissions, the researchers say. This further posits the greater significance of the rainforest depletion over the tundra.
The latest numbers raise questions about which species are represented where and how particular forest types evolve. Crowther cautions that even though the latest figures do not change the current science on carbon storage or diminish the impact of deforestation. “We’re not saying, ‘Oh, everything’s fine’.”
In fact, the work suggests that in some places where trees would be expected to thrive — such as warm, moist regions — human activities such as farming have largely pushed forests aside.
Global forest sink and climate change mitigation
The global forest sink is the ability of unharvested forests, for example, to absorb more carbon than they release. Environmental changes including naturally occurring phenomena, like weather events including droughts, together with human encroachment resulting in deforestation upset the natural steady conditions of absorption affecting tree populations.
“To make good decisions about how to cultivate forests for climate-change mitigation, such as whether it is better to harvest or conserve trees, we must better understand the cause and future behavior of this in situ [in its original place] carbon sink. Until more is known, we propose that forestry management should prioritize 'win–win' strategies — those that increase both forest stocks and timber harvest, through measures such as protecting trees from animals, or replacing dying or low-productivity forests,” according to Nature Magazine.
Finally, forest management techniques should be prioritized when possible, but these techniques only work if forests are managed methodically, not depleted to merely make room for expanding populations requiring more space for agriculture without considering the environmental impact in terms of balance between humans and preserving forests.
Climate change, however, can be mitigated apart from the evolution of the global carbon sink by replacing dying or low-productivity stands, protection of young tree sprouts during harvesting, and planting resilient tree mixes that naturally nitrogen fix in the soil.
Some of the strategies appear to be trial and error, but there is a method in the seemingly arboreal madness. Some scientists believe forest management is more of a “gamble than a scientific debate.” By following 'no-regret' strategies, they say we can buy time while we learn more. Clearly the formula for doing something instead of nothing is better.
Sequester is a familiar, albeit scary, term lately in economics, but it also relates to the capacity of plants, trees, and grasses to move CO2 from the atmosphere through their roots into the soil, thus, removing it from the air mitigating climate change. Billions of acres of trees, no-till farm land, range land and forests can sequester enough CO2 to re-stabilize the climate. Maintaining and managing the planet’s 3 trillion trees is a powerful component to ensure their contribution in this vital process considering the expanding world’s human population which is projected to grow from the current 7 billion to 9.7 billion by 2050.
Nature global count
"Working Americans can’t afford to stay home when they’re sick because they don’t have paid sick days,” said Dr. Jody Heymann, Director of the Institute for Health and Social Policy and Professor of Epidemiology at McGill University and lead author of the report. "The economic costs of a serious flu outbreak are potentially enormous.
We can't afford to wait any longer before providing American workers with paid sick days,” they said.
The President’s executive order will start in 2017, and government contracts must provide workers with a minimum of one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. But they are not limited to this amount and can be more generous with employees.
Monday’s announcement of the executive order follows a series of measures by this administration to expand access to paid leave. In January, Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum directing the government to advance up to six weeks of paid sick leave for the birth or adoption of a child, or for other sick-leave eligible uses, according to Raw Story.
Parental leave after the birth of a child is also a consideration, and the President has recommended that Congress pass legislation to ensure both mothers and fathers have equal access to six weeks of additional leave.
In a Labor Day appearance in Boston to make the announcements, Obama will also call on Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act requiring all businesses with 15 or more employees to offer minimum seven days paid sick leave yearly.
According to the White House, an astonishing 44 million private-sector workers, about 40 percent of the total private-sector workforce, do not have access to paid sick leave.
Obama will also announce new Department of Labor rules giving federal contract workers new tools to demand equal pay.
The US ranks last in the world in every measure regarding family policy in a study by Pew in major areas such as paid maternity leave, sick leave, child care, flexible work hours, and bans on mandatory overtime.
Executive orders are an expeditious way for a president to enact changes, but permanent changes need to be passed by Congress and become the law of land. Calling on Congress to put American workers and the Middle Class first on their agenda is clearly the direction the country is moving.
Peck stressed the importance of the one worker, one vote principle, the commitment to invest in the community (social transformation) and wage solidarity, limiting management salary to 70% of the market rate. MCC is a strong diversified manufacturing conglomerate, the 7th largest in Spain and competitive globally in manufacturing.
Democratizing a workforce system eliminates the divide between workers, management, and board of directors. Shared decision making includes salary distribution, working conditions, product development, purchasing, and even retirement security by investing in retirement homes for employees.
Mondragon is not the only European example of a successful cooperative rewarding ingenuity and commitment. In Italy the Marcora Law enacted in 1985 ensures a unique approach to unemployment. Laid off workers are given a choice on how to use their unemployment benefits. They can go on incremental payments of unemployment or they can draw all the money in a lump sum if they join together with ten others and invest in a cooperative venture.
Why does the United States need to democratize work?
The slow demise of the Middle Class lowering the standard of living started in the 1970s as salaries began to stagnate. Corporations abandoned the United States for overseas markets taking advantage of low pay and lax environmental restrictions increasing profit margins leaving American cities as ghost towns of their former selves. Richard Wolff, Professor of Economics Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, Amherst from 1973 to 2008 and visiting Professor in the Graduate Program in International Affairs of the New School University, New York City, said the deterioration of the American standard of living and income inequality are linked to the deterioration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. The segue away from programs ensuring upward mobility for the poor and Middle Class is more shocking than ever and blames both political parties for failing the Middle Class—in part because they lack diversity in points of view.
The Great Recession of 2008 was the result of a trend that had been percolating for decades—corporations and banks became reckless under deregulation that began under the Reagan Administration and continued for 30 years. The Glass-Steagall law of 1933 that had separated commercial and investment banking for 70 years was repealed in 1999 ensuring vast sums of capital could be manipulated by banks empowering corporations.
From 1978 to 2008 the divide between the average salary of workers and salaries of investment bankers widened. Average workers realized a 10 percent increase and investment bankers a 150 percent salary increase. Financial fraud was an outgrowth of deregulation, many times including the real estate market writ large in the housing crisis. The savings and loan crisis in the 1980s and 1990s was a harbinger of the future housing collapse in 2008 that robbed Americans of their homes and personhood.
Income inequality is the direct outgrowth of capitalism gone awry and unregulated. In 2009 the documentary film maker Michael Moore introduced his film “Capitalism: A Love Story.” Moore confronted Goldman Sachs, Walmart, and government officials about their contributions to the Great Recession and housing crisis. Also evangelicals, who comprise a component of the conservative tea party, are confronted on whether Jesus would be a capitalist. While the evangelical conservative group embraces free market capitalism, the contradictions inherent in their belief systems cannot be denied. But he was not the first film maker to decry the dangers of capitalism.
In the 1926 Fritz Lang movie “Metropolis,” a fictionalized city in 2026 is maintained by a worker class. The theme is chilling and almost too real as capitalism has created an underclass workforce that performs like robots. The wealthy industrialists rule the city while an endless supply of workers operates machines to provide the “power” for the city. The metaphor is obvious in the stark antagonism and separation of the poor and rich, where income class distinction is sustained by a corporate structure dependent on maintaining inequality.
The similarities to 21st century fugitive capitalism are unmistakable. The slow demise of the Middle Class is forcing more people into low paying jobs and the poor without a government safety net. Lang’s film might appear to be an exaggeration, but the prophetic images mirror disparities today as a result of deregulated banks and the rise of corporations. Income inequality is real and measurable.
Professor Wolff believes the change must come from the people in movements like “Occupy.” But there needs to be organization and structure, which “Occupy” lacked. Too often, he believes, people turn to the government for answers when they have the power to unite and demand change.
Workers need to become unionized again because currently only 7 percent of American workers belong to unions. In a stunning move in 2010 The United Steel Workers of America partnered with Mondragon Corporation. The cooperative model is in the United States. The collaboration with the United Steelworkers of America (USW) plan is to identify and convert 5 steel companies to a worker co-op form of ownership. Since the USW/MCC partnership was announced five years ago, the USW has been working to identify potential companies for conversions. Ten companies are under consideration.
I agree with Professor Wolff, and I also believe money has to be taken out of politics, so representation in state and federal governments reflects the population, not who can buy their way into an elected office and once there become indebted to campaign donors and lobbyists.
The Mondragon model is the most profound and transformative example of democracy in action in people’s lives using a cooperative system.
Woody Guthrie sang, “You can’t scare me, I’m sticking to the union” during the union movement in the 1930s and 40s. And continued to echo the sentiments of the working class with “this land is your land, this land is my land.” It was a manifesto on equality, and the lyrics are as poignant and true today as they were in 1940.
“California has demonstrated time and again that when we set our collective sights, no goal is too ambitious,” Pérez said in a statement. “SB 350 and SB 32 will put California’s creativity and ingenuity to work for the sake of our children and future generations.”
Climate work partnering EDF and California’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32), was landmark legislation that set a strict statewide limit on greenhouse gas emissions, and confirmed California’s commitment to transition to a sustainable, clean energy economy.
The rewards and outcomes are demonstrative since AB32 implementation. There have been advancements in clean energy and energy efficiency including reduced emissions.
Currently California is on the road to 50 percent petroleum use reduction. In an article published this month in “California Dream 2.0 by Tim O’Connor, he writes “Fuel combustion chokes our state with exhaust, releases a massive amount of global warming pollution and undermines our economic security.” California drivers spend $50 billion a year on 20 billion gallons of gas, and a majority of the money flows directly out of the state.
O’Connor outlines four easy concepts to meet a 50 percent reduction:
1) The growth curve for alternative fuels, and the vehicles that use them, is at an acceleration point—and there is more opportunity for growth. Examples include the private and commercial use of biodiesel, natural gas, electricity and renewable diesel in some government and commercial fleets like Fedex, United Airlines (jet fuel), Waste Management operations like garbage trucks, as well as buses.
2) Cars and trucks are becoming more efficient in using gasoline and diesel—but still room for improvement by an estimated 32 percent by 2025. Vehicles will advance from getting only 32.6 miles per gallon (MPG) to 48.7 MPG. Plug in hybrids like the Chevrolet Volt and Prius electric vehicles get over 100 MPG.
3) Changes in driving habits, new mobility solutions, and coordinated urban planning are meeting transportation needs with more efficient and diversified solutions—and the trend is expected to continue. In 2014 a Caltrans survey revealed Californians are driving less than they did a decade ago by using alternative means like walking, biking, and public transit. The trend is expected to continue.
4) Setting a 50 percent petroleum use reduction standard drives innovation and investment while keeping money in California’s economy (remember big oil profits are channeled out of the state) yielding massive room for additional economic development across the state.
California uses more gasoline and diesel than any other state, and 60 percent of the fuel comes from imports, which substantiates the claim that money spent here is being routed out of the state. According to University of California economist David Roland-Holst, every dollar saved at the pump amounts to $16 dollars of net economic activity. The reduction of nine billion gallons of gasoline and diesel purchased in California every year—about a 50 percent reduction—at $3 gallon equals $27 billion saved in fuel purchases in 2030. Or stated another way, $232 billion in net economic activity could be saved.
Reducing petroleum use by 50 percent coupled with the decline in driving as people chose alternative methods of transportation are goals worth striving towards. The passage of SB350 is a path towards meeting those goals.
Political fights between the state and oil companies have erupted before whenever legislators pushed bills to require better mileage, higher taxes and cleaner fuel.
“SB 350 is something entirely different,” said Tupper Hull, spokesman for the Western States Petroleum Association. “It is an attempt to essentially put oil companies out of business,” they said.
Fear mongering and threats by big oil in California are not uncommon. They take out “ads warning of state-mandated gas rationing, surcharges on minivans, penalties on people who consume too much gas, and invasion of motorists’ privacy by tapping into their cars’ on-board computers,” all of which is rebuked by legislators as hyperbole.
SB350 passed the California Senate by 24-14 vote, but The Assembly is a different situation, and they are enlisting the help of Gov. Jerry Brown. He and President Pro Tem Kevin deLeon will be attending the global climate summit in Paris later this year, and the hope is that SB350 will be law by then putting California in the forefront in curbing climate change and a model for the nation and the globe.
Social Security is viewed as an entitlement by some politicians, although technically it is not because employees and employers pay into the system in order to create a retirement system. Because of so-called entitlement perception, various ways of calculating or re-calculating benefits looms large during budget time in Washington particularly by Republicans.
One of the most punitive calculations for cost of living increases is called Chained CPI, which has been proposed before but not enacted. This method is a measure of inflation that grows more slowly and ensures Social Security recipients would get smaller increases. Some estimates as high as $10,000 over a lifetime.
Chained CPI changes which items it incorporates into inflation calculations when prices climb and consumers switch to cheaper alternatives. For example, when beef gets too expensive and people start buying more chicken, under chained CPI the inflation index would also switch to measuring the price of the cheaper chicken, instead of the cumulative effect of higher prices on everything.
Supporters say the method is more accurate because it measures what people are actually buying. Opponents call it the "cat food index" because it leaves people on fixed incomes with less money, forcing them to buy cheaper and cheaper alternatives for basic staples like pet food, according to a report in the Huffington Post.
Depending on a person's income and age, shifting to the new inflation gauge could mean cuts of thousands of dollars from retirees' future incomes, they said.
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) who is currently running to be the Democratic nominee for president in 2016 has been a consistent critic for years against chained CPI, and would be again this year if it is proposed.
"At a time when the wealthy and corporations are doing phenomenally well, median family income is nearly $5,000 less than it was in 1999," Sanders continued. "When you look at a budget, it is imperative that you look at the overarching reality of American life, and today when we look at America we have to understand that we have an obscene level of income and wealth inequality, the highest of any major country on earth, and worse in America today than at any time since 1929."
Although President Barack Obama has proposed chained CPI in the past to leverage something from Republicans, he most likely will not propose it for a reduction in benefits. Last February the budget predictions, however, left out mentioning increase for Social Security benefits, which was cause for concern.
There was only general language against “slashing” benefits: “The Administration will oppose any measures that privatize or weaken the Social Security system and will not accept an approach that slashes benefits for future generations or reduces basic benefits for current beneficiaries.” This language allows for negotiating with Republicans who continually try to reduce Social Security benefits and raise the age of eligibility. This year will not be any different.
The president’s current transfer reallocation plan insures that both the Social Security retirement fund and the disability fund would be able to pay full benefits until 2033. Without the reallocation transfer the 11 million disabled would have their benefits reduced by one-fifth or 19 percent. With this cut the severely disabled would see their incomes fall below the poverty line.
But, there will likely be a partisan fight on transfer reallocation proposal because the House Republicans passed a rule in January that would hold a transfer between the two funds hostage unless there is a plan in place to cut Social Security benefits overall. Repubublicans do not see anything wrong with putting millions of vulnerable Americans at risk. The arguments they use are myths designed to sway public opinion against a vulnerable population. What is not a myth is how difficult it is to qualify for disability benefits. Still, they argue incorrectly that people receiving disability do not deserve it.
Legislators are back in Washington after Labor Day on September 8 to begin work before they take another break at the end of September. Social Security benefits might not be at the top of their list, but it certainly is for 60 million Americans.
Admittedly legal scholars, however, have disagreed over whether the Wong Kim Ark precedent applies when alien parents are in the country illegally.
Congress can act outside of the US Supreme Court by restricting birthright citizenship in two ways. First by statutory redefinition of the term jurisdiction, or by overriding both the Wong Kim Ark ruling and the Citizenship Clause itself through an amendment to the Constitution, but no such proposal has been broached because the process could take years and the political repercussions to legislators is untenable.
The current interest in punitive measures to deny citizenship took root in the Great Recession of 2008 when unemployment percentages skyrocketed and fear spread that immigrants were taking jobs away from Americans. It’s a phenomenon that has propelled itself into the current Republican discourse as an appeasement to extremist right-wing conservatives, although some could say the scapegoating of immigrants never left.
Those who argue for retracting citizenship for children of undocumented immigrants with an amendment need to consider the international law implications. Setting aside the inhumanity and insensitivity of not recognizing children born here as citizens, questions regarding the legality for denying citizenship under international human rights norms could be applicable to the United States.
In a position paper from Harvard University published in the Human Rights Journal Vol. 25 in 2009 “Born in the Americas: Birthright Citizenship and Human Rights,” Katherine Culliton-Gonzalez argues revocation of birthright citizenship disparately impacts certain racial or ethnic minority groups and might violate human rights law.
Retrogression of birthright citizenship, she says, cannot be substantiated just because other countries do not or have not provided it to all children of undocumented immigrants. International law allows sovereign countries to design their own laws and rules regarding citizenship, but retrogression is problematic under international law. The Dominican Republic is one of the few nations in the Americas that denies birthright citizenship to the children of unauthorized immigrants.
This concept was tested in 2005 in the Dominican Republic in the case of Dilcia Yean and Violeta Bosico v. Dominican Republic. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights found that “while the Dominican Republic had the right to enact its own citizenship rules, those rules were also subject to norms providing for the right to a nationality, especially for children, as well as the right to freedom from discrimination,” argues Gonzalez.
The Dominican Republic amended its constitution in 2010 to retract birthright citizenship entirely from children of undocumented immigrants; however, this was immediately challenged by a Haitian who was born in the Dominican Republic. The decision of the Inter-American Court in the case of Yean and Bosico children made it clear that any retraction of birthright citizenship displaying discrimination is legally questionable under human rights’ law.
Three out of four unauthorized immigrants in the US are Hispanic and retraction of birthright citizenship of their children born here would disproportionately affect the country’s Latino population. Evidence of discriminatory intent would be in violation of fundamental equality rights by retrogression. A US constitutional amendment limiting birthright citizenship for children of undocumented immigrants would violate the fundamental human rights norms of the US and be an unwise policy.
If the US retracted citizenship from children of the current generation of immigrants and “retrogress” from the standard set by the Fourteenth Amendment, it would be in violation of the most fundamental of all human rights: every person should be treated equally and judged on their own merits.
Furthermore, in her final summary Ms. Gonzalez writes, “Congress should not pass an amendment retracting the guarantees of the Fourteenth Amendment, nor should it enact any legislation limiting birthright citizenship. Similarly, as the states are also bound by fundamental human rights law, no state should take any measure limiting birthright citizenship for children of immigrants. The children represent our collective future, and they should be free to realize the promise of the American dream.”
Any bill or movement to deny citizenship to children born here of alien parents is unconstitutional on its face value. Moreover, a constitutional amendment to restrict birthright citizenship, even though not technically unlawful, would contradict our Nation’s constitutional history and traditions embracing diversity and tolerance.
This is how it works: pages contain nano-particles of silver or copper, which kill bacteria in the water as it passes through.
In trials at 25 contaminated water sources in South Africa, Ghana and Bangladesh, the paper successfully removed more than 99% of bacteria, they said.
The residual levels of contamination are similar to US tap water, the researchers say. Tiny amounts of silver or copper also leached into the water, but these were well below safety limits.
The invention is American and developed by a researcher at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Dr. Teri Dankovich has been working on the technology for several years in coordination with McGill University in Canada and the University of Virginia.
"It's directed towards communities in developing countries," Dr Dankovich said, noting that 663 million people around the world do not have access to clean drinking water.
"All you need to do is tear out a paper, put it in a simple filter holder and pour water into it from rivers, streams, wells etc and out comes clean water - and dead bacteria as well," she told BBC news.
"Ions come off the surface of the nano-particles, and those are absorbed by the microbes," Dr Dankovich explained.
According to her tests, one page can clean up to 100 litres of water. A book could filter one person's water supply for four years.
This is an astonishing break through for countries that have grappling with providing clean drinking water. Projects for digging wells in rural locations could incorporate Ms. Dankovich’s book filters to complete an all encompassing project to find and filter water.
The marketing possibilities for book water filters are limitless. It could be sold to governments for use by the military in remote locations, as well as hikers and campers. But the most important application would be to undeveloped countries whose survival depends on clean drinking water.
is retired and lives in Clearlake, California. She has three grown
children and one grandson and a Bachelor’s degree in Health Services
Administration from St. Mary’s College in Moraga California. On the
home front Dava enjoys time with her family, reading, gardening, cooking