Restoration Economy: Save 220,000 Rural Jobs And Conserve Nature?

Feb 6 2017 Ecosystem Marketplace see full article here

…. There is, however, a way to reduce regulations without hurting jobs or the environment ….companies save money by cutting jobs, and in this case, the jobs they cut will be those that pay people to plant trees, restore rivers, and turn soggy, unproductive farms into wetlands that filter water, purify air, and slow climate change.

Those jobs are part of a $25 billion “restoration economy” that directly employs 126,000 people and supports 95,000 other jobs – mostly in small businesses – according to a 2015 survey that environmental economist Todd BenDor conducted through the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The restoration economy is already providing jobs for loggers across Oregon, and even some coal miners in Virginia, but it could disappear if the GOP environmental rollback continues. Here are 11 things you need to know to understand it.

1.   It’s not Solar and Wind

The restoration economy is not to be confused with the renewable energy boom that employs 374,000 people in solar parks and 101,738 on wind farms. Like those, however, the restoration economy is part of a burgeoning “green economy” that’s transforming forests, farms, and fields around the world.

2.   It’s Government-Driven

…The demand for restoration, however, isn’t as automatic as the demand for electricity is, because most companies and even some landowners won’t clean up their messes without an incentive to do so. Economists call these messes “externalities” because they dump an internal responsibility on the external world, and governments are created in part to deal with them – mostly through “command-and-control” regulation, but also through systems that let polluters either fix their messes or create something as good or better than what they destroy.

3.   It’s Often Market-Based

….At least $2.8 billion per year flows through ecosystem markets in the United States, according to Ecosystem Marketplace research.

4.   Infrastructure Also Drives Restoration

The federal government – especially the military – holds itself to high environmental standards, as do many states. Government activities alone support thousands of restoration jobs. Government agencies are big buyers of credits, often to offset damage caused by infrastructure projects, but the link between infrastructure and restoration goes even deeper than that. In Philadelphia, for example, restoration workers are using water fees to restore degraded forests and fields as part of a plan to better manage storm runoff. In California, meadows and streams that control floods are legally treated as green infrastructure, to be funded from that pot of money. “Green infrastructure”, it turns out, is prettier than concrete and lasts longer to boot.

5.   Markets Can Reduce Regulations

Nature is complex, and rigid regulations often fail to address that complexity, as environmental economist Todd BenDor makes clear when he points to regulations ”….Done right, environmental markets can replace overly prescriptive regulations, but they still require government oversight and regulation. “Markets are entirely reliant on strong monitoring, verification, and enforcement of limits,” says BenDor. “Provisions must be made to ensure that, but in reality it’s often a problem.”

6.   Restoration Stimulates Rural Economies

In 2015, BenDor published a study called “Estimating the Size and Impact of the Ecological Restoration Economy”, which found restoration businesses in all 50 states. California had the most, but four “Red” states filled out the top five: Virginia, Florida, Texas, and North Carolina. Last place went to North Dakota…

7.   It’s been Mapped…

8.   The Jobs are Robot-Proof…

9.   The Jobs are Cost-Effective…

10.  It Doesn’t Stifle Business…

11.  It Can Be Improved…

Why Nature Restoration Takes Time

Eureka Alert  Feb 8 2017  see full article here

Relationships’ in the soil become stronger during the process of nature restoration. Although all major groups of soil life are already present in former agricultural soils, they are not really ‘connected’ at first. These connections need time to (literally) grow, and fungi are the star performers here (via Eureka Alert).

….A large European research team discovered that when you try to restore nature on grasslands formerly used as agricultural fields, there is something missing. Lead author Elly Morriën from the Netherlands Institute of Ecology explains: “All the overarching, known groups of soil organisms are present from the start, but the links between them are missing. Because they don’t ‘socialise’, the community isn’t ready to support a diverse plant community yet.”…

…”Fungi turn out to play a very important role in nature restoration, appearing to drive the development of new networks in the soil.” In agricultural soils, the thready fungal hyphae are severely reduced by ploughing for example, and therefore the undamaged soil bacteria have an advantage and rule here. The researchers studied a series of former agricultural fields that had changed use 6 to 30 years previously. With time, there is a strong increase in the role of fungi….

Diehard coders just rescued NASA’s Earth science data.

February 13 2017  see full article here  WIRED
On Saturday morning, the white stone buildings on UC Berkeley’s campus radiated with unfiltered sunshine. But instead of enjoying the beautiful day, 200 adults had willingly sardined themselves into a fluorescent-lit room in the bowels of Doe Library to rescue federal climate data. …Groups like DataRefuge and the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative, which organized the Berkeley hackathon to collect data from NASA’s earth sciences programs and the Department of Energy, are doing more than archiving. Diehard coders are building robust systems to monitor ongoing changes to government websites. And they’re keeping track of what’s already been removed—because yes, the pruning has already begun…..

Scientists uncover huge 1.8 million square kilometers reservoir of melting carbon under Western United States

Posted: 13 Feb 2017 06:07 AM PST  full story here

New research describes how scientists have used the world’s largest array of seismic sensors to map a deep-Earth area of melting carbon covering 1.8 million square kilometers. Situated under the Western US, 350km beneath Earth’s surface, the discovered melting region challenges accepted understanding of how much carbon Earth contains — much more than previously understood. 

….He continued, “Under the western US is a huge underground partially-molten reservoir of liquid carbonate. It is a result of one of the tectonic plates of the Pacific Ocean forced underneath the western USA, undergoing partial melting thanks to gasses like CO2 and H2O contained in the minerals dissolved in it.”

….As a result of this study, scientists now understand the amount of CO2 in Earth’s upper mantle may be up to 100 trillion metric tons. In comparison, the US Environmental Protection Agency estimates the global carbon emission in 2011 was nearly 10 billion metric tons — a tiny amount in comparison. The deep carbon reservoir discovered by Dr. Hier-Majumder will eventually make its way to the surface through volcanic eruptions, and contribute to climate change albeit very slowly.

“We might not think of the deep structure of Earth as linked to climate change above us, but this discovery not only has implications for subterranean mapping but also for our future atmosphere,” concluded Dr Hier-Majumder, “For example, releasing only 1% of this CO2 into the atmosphere will be the equivalent of burning 2.3 trillion barrels of oil. The existence of such deep reservoirs show how important is the role of deep Earth in the global carbon cycle

Saswata Hier-Majumder, Benoit Tauzin. Pervasive upper mantle melting beneath the western US. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 2017; 463: 25 DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2016.12.041

Are drones disturbing marine mammals?

Posted: 13 Feb 2017 10:13 AM PST  see full article here

Marine researchers have made sure that their research drones aren’t disturbing their research subjects, shows a new report. And they’re hoping that others will follow their example to help protect wildlife in the future.

Fredrik Christiansen, Laia Rojano-Doñate, Peter T. Madsen, Lars Bejder. Noise Levels of Multi-Rotor Unmanned Aerial Vehicles with Implications for Potential Underwater Impacts on Marine Mammals. Frontiers in Marine Science, 2016; 3 DOI: 10.3389/fmars.2016.00277

Impact of climate change on mammals and birds ‘greatly underestimated’

Posted: 13 Feb 2017 10:14 AM PST  see full article here

Large numbers of threatened species have already been impacted by climate change, new research concludes. Alarmingly, this team of international researchers found evidence of observed responses to recent climate changes in almost 700 birds and mammal species.

Michela Pacifici, Piero Visconti, Stuart H. M. Butchart, James E. M. Watson, Francesca M. Cassola & Carlo Rondinini. Species’ traits influenced their response to recent climate change. Nature Climate Change, February 2017 DOI: 10.1038/nclimate3223

New research to help preserve the benefits people receive from nature

February 9, 2017 University of Queensland Science Daily Full article here

Humans rely on things that come from nature — including clean air, water, food, and timber. But how can we tell if these natural services that people rely on, are at risk of being lost, potentially permanently?…

…”We have developed a framework to identify services that at risk of being undersupplied or even of being lost entirely. This allows time to either move towards more sustainable use, or to start planning for alternatives when we lose the ecosystem service.At its core, the framework is a method to analyse supply and demand, and the different things that affect them, like the condition of natural systems and whether demand by people is expected to change over time….

Martine Maron et al. Towards a Threat Assessment Framework for Ecosystem Services. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, February 2017 DOI: 10.1016/j.tree.2016.12.011

Deep groundwater aquifers respond rapidly to climate variability

February 8, 2017  Science Daily  full article here

Changes in climate can rapidly impact even the deepest freshwater aquifers according to hydrologists. The researchers found that responses to climate variations can be detected in deep groundwater aquifers faster than expected — in many cases within a year.

The researchers found that responses to climate variations can be detected in deep groundwater aquifers faster than expected — in many cases within a year. Because rain water may take years to reach deep aquifers through natural infiltration, the findings suggest another factor is involved, such as pumping of aquifers done by agricultural industries….

Tess A. Russo, Upmanu Lall. Depletion and response of deep groundwater to climate-induced pumping variability. Nature Geoscience, 2017; 10 (2): 105 DOI: 10.1038/ngeo2883

Affecting policymakers with climate science information

February 7 2017  ScienceDaily  see full article here

Exposure to climate models’ predictions affects policymakers and climate negotiators less than the informed general public, a paper assesses. But the right presentation format can improve forecasts’ effectiveness

….while the format didn’t affect MBA students, providing policymakers with the richest format, which includes individual model estimates in addition to the statistical range, increases the likelihood of reporting conditional probabilities closer to the scientific information.

Our results…point to the importance of testing behavioral effects targeting the population of interest and suggest a more effective, and relatively easy to implement, format to visually communicate scientific information to policymakers.“…

Valentina Bosetti, Elke Weber, Loïc Berger, David V. Budescu, Ning Liu, Massimo Tavoni. COP21 climate negotiators’ responses to climate model forecasts. Nature Climate Change, 2017; DOI: 10.1038/nclimate3208

Why the ocean has absorbed more carbon over the past decade

Posted: 08 Feb 2017 01:46 PM PST  full article here

With the ocean absorbing more carbon dioxide over the past decade, less of the greenhouse gas is reaching the Earth’s atmosphere. That’s decidedly good news, but it comes with a catch: Rising levels of carbon dioxide in the ocean promote acidification, which breaks down the calcium carbonate shells of some marine organisms….

new research….demonstrates that a slowdown of the ocean’s overturning circulation is the likely catalyst. Their findings appear in the journal Nature. “Such a slowdown is consistent with the projected effects of anthropogenic climate change, where warming and freshening of the surface ocean from melting ice caps leads to weaker overturning circulation,” DeVries explained….

….According to DeVries, this finding may seem counterintuitive. Prevailing scientific wisdom asserts that the deceleration of circulation diminishes the ocean’s ability to absorb anthropogenic CO2 from the atmosphere as surface waters warm and become saturated with CO2.  “While that is true, there is another effect that appears to be more important in the short term,” DeVries said. “The weaker overturning circulation brings less naturally CO2-rich deep waters to the surface, which limits how much of that gas in the deep ocean escapes to the atmosphere. That causes the ocean to absorb more CO2 from the atmosphere.

Tim DeVries, Mark Holzer, Francois Primeau. Recent increase in oceanic carbon uptake driven by weaker upper-ocean overturning. Nature, 2017; 542 (7640): 215 DOI: 10.1038/nature21068