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Destruction of the Amazon Could Be Prevented by This Ice-Cream-Flavored “Miracle Tree”

Experts say the inga tree could help slow or even stop deforestation in the sensitive Amazon region.

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(TMU) — While the Amazon continues to plummet toward its destruction amid historic wildfires and a frenzied pace of deforestation driven by agricultural land clearances, some experts are claiming that a certain tree species could keep the soil of the Amazon fertile enough to keep the region somewhat healthy.

The inga tree, also known as ice-cream bean trees due to its vanilla-tasting pulp, could help slow or even stop deforestation in the sensitive Amazon region, reports the BBC.

Not only is the inga tree capable of growing on the poor soil left in the wake of destructive slash-and-burn land clearing methods, but it can also fix the nitrogen in the soil—potentially making it fertile enough for native species to return.

The beans from the inga tree can also be used to feed livestock while the trees can be used as wood fuel, giving small farmers an incentive not to sell their lots to major agribusiness while helping to address the dire problem of poverty in the Amazon.

The trees, which belong to the legume family, have become the basis for a new project by the Ouro Verde (Green Gold) Institute, which researchers hope can supplement farmers’ income while also maintaining the fragile biodiversity in the troubled region.

University of Exeter professor of tropical plant diversity and biogeography Toby Pennington told the BBC:

“It’s very much a kind of ‘miracle tree’ or a super tree because some of the species can do some amazing things.

They can grow really fast on very, very poor soils, even soils where a rainforest has been cut down and have become very degraded.

But even amongst legumes, they have pretty fantastic growth rates.

More than that, these species have fruits that are edible and often have local markets right across Latin America.”

In addition to helping fix the atmospheric nitrogen in the soil, the plants can also provide cover over land, helping create diverse wildlife corridors throughout the increasingly fractured Amazon region.

The Inga Foundation also claims that the trees would “provide soil protection, weed control and a nutrient regime.”

Dr. Saulo de Souza of the Ouro Verde Institute explained:

“These plantations would favor wildlife that could use them as habitats or as stepping stones to move between forest remnants.

By fixing carbon, tree growth in pastures could reduce the ecological footprint of dairy cattle.

The trees could also increase soil permeability, granting higher loads to the water table and reducing soil erosion.”

Yet any attempts to re-green the Amazon would require simultaneous efforts to halt the rampant destruction of the rainforest.

Last week the Mind Unleashed reported that Monica de Bolle, a senior fellow at the Washington D.C.-based Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIEE), warned that the Amazon is being rapidly pushed toward an irreversible “tipping point” that could be reached within two years.

Once the Amazon passes this point, the rainforest would cease to be able to produce its own rain—a crucial part of its ability to sustain itself—and it would degrade into dry savannah and grasslands, releasing enormous amounts of carbon emissions into the atmosphere, disrupting weather patterns across South America, and sending global heating through the roof.

In the meantime, fires have increased by a stunning 84 percent since the same period last year. Deforestation rates between January and August 2019 have also doubled versus the prior year, according to Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research, mainly due to the actions of arsonists serving agribusiness and cattle-ranching oligarchs.

Since coming to office, the radically right-wing President Bolsonaro has encouraged the illegal deforestation of the Amazon through a combination of a hostile attitude toward environmental regulations and genocidal rhetoric toward indigenous groups whose ancestral land lies in the rainforests.

Bolsonaro and his officials regularly blame environmental laws, activist groups, non-governmental organizations, and indigenous peoples for allegedly hindering Brazil’s economic potential.

By Elias Marat | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

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Environment

China Was Just Caught Literally Changing The Weather For Communist Party Celebration: Study

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In recent years, China has made a number of head-turning and downright dazzling technological advances. Now, according to a new study, the East Asian giant has successfully managed to literally change the weather.

According to a recent report from the South China Morning Post, scientists at Tsinghua University say that during the 100-year anniversary of the Communist Party of China, authorities succeeded in modifying the weather in Beijing to clear the sky and improve air quality for the masses gathered to celebrate the party’s centenary in Tiananmen Square.

The large-scale operation involved lacing the clouds above the capital with chemicals to usher in rainfall over suburban parts of Beijing before the July 1 centennial event. According to the Tsinghua researchers, eyewitnesses report rockets being launched from mountains outside the city in the run-up to the event.

The Beijing researchers claim that the artificial rain managed to reduce the level of PM2.5 air pollutants by over two-thirds, bringing air quality to “good” conditions from “moderate” levels per World Health Organization Standards.

The use of chemicals to modify weather conditions is a practice that dates back to at least the 18th century, when European states used gunfire to shoot at storms in hopes to prevent hail from harming crops.

By the turn of the 20th century, dozens of hail cannons were deployed for commercial purposes despite the unproven nature of such primitive geo-engineering methods.

Fast forward to the 2020s, and the People’s Republic of China has reportedly invested vast resources into weather modification programs that will be tested in a region spanning 5.5 million square miles by the year 2025. The impact of such geo-engineering efforts could lead to regional tensions with China’s increasingly nervous neighbors.

Meanwhile, as the potential for a new cold war with the people’s republic continues to grow, professional China skeptics have stoked fears that the ruling Communist Party could use its newfound ability to manipulate the weather for military purposes. However, it’s worth noting that the United States military has been hoping to weaponize the rain since at least 1967.

However, with arid conditions and extreme drought threatening the food security of populations across the globe, the ability to literally make rain fall may not be as frightening as some make it out to be.

Additionally, some researchers have claimed that geoengineering could play a role in mitigating the impact of rampant climate change. However, it remains far too early to know the long-term impact of lacing skies with chemicals on a widespread, regular basis.

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Animals

Scientists Thrilled by Discovery of Rare, Mammoth 400-Year-Old Coral

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A massive 400-year-old hard coral discovered on the Great Barrier Reef has scientists expressing their sense of surprise and excitement.

Named Muga dambhi by the Manbarra people, the Indigenous group who have traditionally taken care of the land, the “exceptionally large” brown and cream-colored coral is located off the coast of Goolboodi or Orpheus Island in the Great Barrier Reef.

It is believed that the coral was spawned some 421 to 438 years ago, meaning that its age predates the arrival of Captain James Cook and the advent of colonization in Australia, notes the Guardian.

The spectacular coral is about 35 feet wide and over 17 feet high, and is double the size of the nearest coral.

Scientists and members of the community participating in a marine science course discovered the specimen earlier this year.

While not the largest coral in the world, the huge find is of major significance to the local ecosystem, according to Adam Smith, an adjunct professor at James Cook University who wrote the field note on the find.

“It’s like a block of apartments,” Smith said. “It attracts other species. There’s other corals, there’s fish, there’s other animals around that use it for shelter or for feeding, so it’s pretty important for them.”

“It’s a bit like finding a giant redwood tree in the middle of a botanic gardens,” he added.

It is likely that the coral hasn’t been discovered for such a long time due to its location in a relatively remote and unvisited portion of a Marine National Park zone that enjoys a high degree of protection.

“Over the last 20 or 30 years, no one has noticed, or observed, or thought it newsworthy enough to share photos, or document, or do research on this giant coral,” Smith said.

The coral is in remarkable condition, with over 70 percent of its surface covered in live coral, coral rock and microalgae. No disease, bleaching or recently deceased coral has been recorded on the specimen.

“The cumulative impact of almost 100 bleaching events and up to 80 major cyclones over a period of four centuries, plus declining nearshore water quality contextualise the high resilience of this Porites coral,” the field note added.

The specific coral has been given the name Muga dhambi, meaning big coral, out of respect for the Indigenous knowledge, language, and culture of the Manbarra Traditional Owners.

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Environment

Greenland Ice Washed Away as Summit Sees Rain for First Time in Recorded History

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For the first time in recorded history, torrential downpours of rain have struck Greenland’s icy summit nearly two miles above sea level.

Greenland, an environmentally sensitive island, is typically known for its majestic ice sheet and snowy climate, but this is fast changing due to a massive melt taking place this summer.

However, the typical snowfall has been replaced in recent years not simply by a few showers, but by heavy rainfall. The torrential downpour last week was so huge, in fact, that it washed away a terrifying amount of ice across some 337,000 square miles of the ice shelf’s surface, reports Earther.

Temperatures at the ice shelf had simultaneously warmed to a significant degree, with the summit reaching 33 degrees Fahrenheit – within a degree above freezing and the third time that the shelf has surpassed freezing temperatures this decade.

The fact that rain is falling on ice rather than snow is also significant because it is melting ice across much of southern Greenland, which already saw huge melting events last month, while hastening rising sea levels that threaten to submerge whole coastal cities and communities.

To make matters worse, any new ice formed by the freezing rainwater will not last long. The ice shelf currently existing on Greenland was formed by the compression of snow over innumerable years, which shines bright white and reflects sunlight away rather than absorbing it, as ice from frozen rain does.

The huge scale of the melt and accompanying rainfall illustrate the growing peril of rapidly warming climate conditions across the globe.

“This event by itself does not have a huge impact, but it’s indicative of the increasing extent, duration, and intensity of melting on Greenland,” wrote Ted Scambos, a senior research scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado. “Like the heat wave in the [U.S. Pacific] northwest, it’s something that’s hard to imagine without the influence of global climate change.”

“Greenland, like the rest of the world, is changing,” Scambos told the Washington Post. “We now see three melting events in a decade in Greenland — and before 1990, that happened about once every 150 years. And now rainfall: in an area where rain never fell.”

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