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New Bill Seeks to Commit US to Planting 3.3 Billion Trees Every Year

If the legislation passes, the U.S. will plant 3.3 billion trees each year over the next 30 years.

Emma Fiala

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(TMU) — At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland would leaders addressed various ways to combat climate change and help the environment. It was there that U.S. President Donald Trump committed to the Trillion Trees initiative.

A bill is currently being drafted by Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Arkansas) that would set in stone the commitment to the planting of billions of trees annually. If the legislation passes, the U.S. will plant 3.3 billion trees each year over the next 30 years.

Westerman explained:

The pragmatic, proactive thing to do is to plant forests and manage them so that you’re actually pulling carbon out of the atmosphere.”

Trump said at Davos:

We’re committed to conserving the majesty of God’s creation and the natural beauty of our world.”

Over the last few years tree planting initiatives have increased across the world. From Ireland pledging to plant 440 million trees over the next 20 years to Ethiopia breaking the world record by planting 350 million trees in a mere 12 hours, Sikhs pledging to plant 1 million trees around the world in a few short months, and India planting 50 million trees in only 24 hours back in 2017, inhabitants of planet Earth are responding to the scientists who have urged the world to plant billions of trees in what they say is the fastest and cheapest way to reverse climate change.

Professor Thomas Crowther, a climate change ecologist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich who led the research, told the Associated Press in July:

“This is by far—by thousands of times—the cheapest climate change solution.”

As previously reported by TMU, an area of trees roughly the size of the United States could scrub 205 billion metric tons of carbon emissions—out of the roughly 300 billion metric tons of carbon pollution spewed into the atmosphere over the past 25 years.

However, despite the world-wide effort and research to back it up, experts are now expressing their concerns about the tactic.

University of Chicago geophysical sciences professor David Archer explains:

Trees do take carbon out of the atmosphere and if you want to permanently store carbon in trees, you have to permanently commit to keeping the trees forever.

The fossil fuel carbon is so much bigger than all the carbon in the trees. You can’t do carbon neutral by planting trees…it’s sort of a Band Aid.”

Nevertheless, Trump says the U.S. “will continue to show strong leadership in restoring, growing and better managing our trees and our forests.”

Whether or not scientists, lawmakers, and citizens can agree on if planting trees is the best strategy to combat climate change, no one can argue the fact that such efforts are not in vain and will indeed help the U.S. and planet one way or another. According to a 2018 U.S. Forest Service study, the U.S. lost 36 million trees per year from both urban and rural areas between the years 2009 and 2014.

By Emma Fiala | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

Animals

As Marine Life Flees the Equator, Global Mass Extinction is Imminent: Scientists

Elias Marat

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The waters surrounding the equator are one of the most biodiverse areas in the globe, with the tropical area rich in marine life including rare sea turtles, whale sharks, manta rays, and other creatures.

However, rampant rises in temperate have led to a mass exodus of marine species from the sensitive region – with grave implications for life on earth.

While ecologists have long seen the thriving biodiversity of equatorial species holding constant in the past few centuries, a new study by Australian researchers published in The Conversation has found that warming global temperatures are now hitting the equator hard, potentially leading to an unprecedented mass extinction event.

The researchers from the Universities of Auckland, Queensland, and the Sunshine Coast found that as waters surrounding the equator continue to heat up, the ecosystem is being disrupted and forcing species to flee toward the cooler water of the South and North Pole.

The massive changes in marine ecosystems that this entails will have a grave impact not only on ocean life – essentially becoming invasive species in their new homes –  but also on the human livelihoods that depend on it.

“When the same thing happened 252 million years ago, 90 percent of all marine species died,” the researchers wrote.

To see where marine life is headed, the researchers tracked the distribution of about 49,000 different species to see what their trajectory was. The global distribution of ocean life typically resembles a bell curve, with far fewer species near the poles and more near the equator.

However, the vast alteration of the curve is already in motion as creatures flee to the poles, according to a study they published in the journal PNAS.

These changes augur major disruptions to global ecosystem as marine life scrambles in a chaotic fight for food, space, and resources – with a mass die-off and extinction of creatures likely resulting.

The research underscores the dire need for human societies to control rampant climate change before the biodiversity and ecological health of the planet is pushed past the point of no return.

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Environment

Japan Says Dumping Fukushima Radioactive Water in Pacific Ocean is Now “Unavoidable”

Elias Marat

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While Japan last month marked the 10th anniversary of the devastating 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami with solemn ceremonies, the government has also been stressing the successes of its recovery efforts in the country’s northeast.

In truth, however, the country is still coping with the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster, which has already cost Japan trillions of yen and whose exclusion zone will require up to 40 more years to fully rehabilitate.

And with contaminated water continuing to build up at the ruined Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga says that the government must finally begin dumping it into the Pacific Ocean.

With nuclear waste and fuel rods still contaminating the area, over one million tons of radioactive waste water continue to seep from the facility, according to The Japan Times, forcing authorities into what Suga describes as the “unavoidable” position of having to dump the water.

Officials claim that the water would be purified to the maximum extent possible, but environmentalist groups like Greenpeace warn that the water contains hazardous material that could damage human DNA and the health of marine life.

Fishers also fear that consumers will refuse to buy fish caught in contaminated waters, worsening their plight amid a restriction of imports from Fukushima prefecture imposed by 15 countries and regions.

Regardless, authorities argue they must deal with the cards that have been dealt.

“What to do with the [treated] water is a task that the government can no longer put off without setting a policy,” Japanese trade minister Hiroshi Kajiyama said on Wednesday.

Suga is expected to formally decide on the course of action by next Tuesday. If he proceeds, authorities will dilute tritium to 2.5 percent of the maximum concentration allowed by the country before it is dumped.

But while Japanese officials say that the water will be safe, it remains an open question whether people will trust their word.

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Environment

Crowds Flock to Lava-Spewing Volcanoes in Italy, Iceland and Guatemala to Get Closer View

Elias Marat

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The year 2021 has so far been a particularly active time for volcanic eruptions. In February and March, three spectacular volcanic eruptions have occurred: the Fagradalsfjall volcano in Iceland, Mount Etna in Italy and Pacaya in Guatemala.

In each case, the eruptions have drawn large crowds of curious onlookers and sightseers.

In vivid video captured at Fagradalsfjall volcano on April 1, lava can be seen being spewed as amazed onlookers can be heard in the background. According to local reports, tens of thousands of people have been drawn to the area to view the eruption.

Iceland’s authorities are not anticipating evacuations due to the mile-and-a-half distance from the nearest road.

“We are monitoring the situation closely and as of now it is not considered a threat to surrounding towns,” said Iceland Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir. “We ask people to keep away from the immediate area and stay safe.”

Italy and Guatemala have also experienced a few volcanic eruptions this year.

On March 7, Sicilian villages were showered with ash and lava stone following the eruption of Mount Etna, which began its highly active phase in February.

The Pacaya volcano lying 30 miles south of the Guatemalan capital has also been extremely active since February.

Pacaya’s peak typically attracts tourists, but hikes are temporarily on hold due to the uptick in activity. Pacaya has a clear view of the nearby Volcano of Fire, whose lava flows in a 2018 eruption killed at least 110 people and left rougly 200 missing.

While volcano tourism provides a steady source of income for villages like nearby San Francisco de Sales, locals must balance this with the need to ensure their long-term safety.

So far, however, Pacaya has not yet injured locals.

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