Deadly Lightning, Beware | Climate Change

Washington (GGM) Analysis | July 13, 2021 by author and climate journalist Noreen Wise

Climate change impacts everything connected to weather, down to the small details. From the heat of a forest fire, to the strength of a hurricane, the amount of moisture in clouds, and the force of rain microbursts (rain bombs), down to the size and intensity of a lightning strike. 

Lightning strikes can kill, and are far more dangerous than 20 years ago when our atmospheric carbon level was only 370 ppm. (Today we’re at 416.72 ppm.) The National Weather Service keeps track of lightning deaths. Florida appears to be the state with the most frequent deaths by lightning. Walking along the beach during a storm is usually what nets the fatal outcome. Texas is close behind, with most of the deaths occurring while men are doing yard maintenance or working hard at a construction sight. The vast majority of deaths are men, 78 percent, and most often take place in yards, parks, beaches, and trails. From 2008-2018, the United States averaged approximately 30 deaths per year, although 2016 was a record breaker at 40 deaths.

It’s time to face the music. #ActNow on climate by restoring our habitat. Let’s return to the Garden of Eden.

I’m still shaken by a recent near miss when I was out running in the evening last month and a storm rolled in. I was half way though 5K, and was pushing my luck, when I decided to keep on going despite the threatening dark clouds. No sooner did that thought pass through my mind, that an enormous lightning bolt stabbed the ground nearby. I screamed, dashed to my car and sped away. I now speculate that that’s what most likely happens to those who have met a grim fate. We keep doing what we were doing despite the pending storm, and rely more on what our weather app might show. That was my mistake anyway. (App indicated the deep red blob was 30 minutes away.) Approximately 10 percent of the lightning deaths occur when the shelter is struck by lightning. Most seek shelter under a tree.

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The heart of the matter. As explained in the Environment Journal, thunderstorms are a result of convection. The “heating of the earth’s surface by sunlight and infrared radiation causes water to condense as buoyant air rises.” Further, Sir David Attenborough explains in his powerful documentary A Life on Our Planetthe melting icecaps result in “less of the sun’s energy is reflected back out to space.” Thus, connecting these two dots, we should understand that whenever we see a news flash about the melting glaciers, be aware that this means more intense lightning bolts.

Buying an Eco Green Tee helps educate the public about what we must all do to lower global warming and restore our children’s future.

Lightning is to be feared, not admired. It can cause an enormous amount of damage. Further, lightning starts most of the forest fires. As mesmerizing as it may be, again, it’s extremely dangerous. Don’t trust your app, trust what you see right in front of you.

Lightning facts:

∙approximately 100 lightning strikes per second across globe
∙lightning strikes the ground 8 million times a day
∙there will be a 12% increase in the number of daily lightning strikes with every 1°C warming
∙the IPCC report just revealed that global warming has increased by  2ºC, which boosts daily lightning strikes significantly
∙the air that lighting cuts through is instantly 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit, 5 times hotter than the sun’s surface
∙lightning is bigger, badder & more destructive due to climate change

Towns and cities should be required to install the proper lightning infrastructure to protect citizens and property. Parks should be required to build safe lightning shelters.

Lightning Infrastructure:

∙lightning detection system
∙lightning warning system
∙lightning grounding system

Lightning is random and unpredictable. It’s a universal threat that impacts all 50 states. 

No rose without thorns. —French Proverb.
Groundbreaking YA book series for all ages. Not only a gripping modern day nail-biter with Machiavellian villains, but also one that opens our eyes to the brutal war going on beneath our feet that controls our destiny, despite our obliviousness to this potentially civilization-destroying threat.

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Top 7 Natural Deer Repellant Hacks | Garden of Eden

Washington (GGM) Analysis | August 4, 2021 byNoreen Wise, author, Climate Action Leader, Act Now community builder

As we race to restore our habitat, as well as dramatically improve soil health on every acre of land in the US, let’s review the top tricks used to naturally divert deer from our yards. Habitat restoration is also wildlife restoration. Our gardens and no mow lawns will become magnets for deer, birds, pollinators and a few furry rascals.  

Remember though, our primary goal in this urgent effort to drawdown legacy load carbon from the atmosphere is to save what’s left of our two icecaps. “Without our white icecaps, less of the sun’s energy is reflected back out to space, and the speed of global warming increases,” warns Sir David Attenborough in his documentary A Life on Our Planet

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Heart of the matter. Deer seem to be perpetually ravenous, and able to devour an entire backyard garden plot in one visit, which can be incredibly distressing after so much time is spent planting and nurturing our landscapes. Thankfully, many determined gardeners across the decades have masterminded clever techniques to help us out.

A combination of several diverse tips may net the most effective results. Diversity seems to be the best solution for everything. As Gabe Brown says, “Follow nature’s ways.” Nature loves diversity.

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Top Seven Deer Repellent Tips

  1. If your budget allows, fences are extremely effective in keeping deer out of the garden. In fact, since we’e trying to maximize habitat restoration, and need as many diverse species of shrubs, perennials and grasses in the ground as possible, the best option may be to plant a natural fence around your garden or yard using native species like wintergreen box shrubs, holly, etc.
  2. Deer are similar to humans in having preferences in what they do and don’t like to eat. Their strong sense of smell makes them finicky about certain species. These particular species tend to be our favorites like lavender, mint, basil. This works perfectly with no mow tapestry lawns made up of a variety of herbs in the mix. Perhaps lining the lawn entrance and outside border with the most fragrant species. Deer are also fussy about texture. They tend to stay away from prickly, fuzzy and thorny. Roses are a great natural barrier, fragrant and thorny.
  3. Deer have favorite plants, too. These should be placed as close to your house as possible. When buying seeds or seedlings, the packaging may highlight whether the species is a deer fave or repellant. A quick online search will also clarify. For example, deer love hostas and daylilies, so you might want to choose these to line the walls of your house, and / or placed below tees or shrubs that line your house.
  1. Scare tactics work and can be a fun creative project to enjoy with your children. Effective scare tactics include: objects that move such as flags or unique garden ornaments, also wind chimes, or motion activated sprinklers, as well as motion activated garden lights. You can visit Amazon or Google to find a list of products for your particular setting. I hope you’ll consider several, or one of each of these options for maximum effectiveness.
  2. Deer may be extra nimble out in a meadow or flat lawn, but they’re actually quite clumsy when it comes to garden levels and sunken gardens. If you’re overhauling your lawn and have the budget to create tiers, this may be the ideal natural way to keep deer at bay.
  3. Creating DIY smell repellents to fend off deer is another solution. Some gardeners are jazzed by how effective hanging bars of soap or fabric softeners from a tree, fence or post works. There are also rotten egg or garlic mixtures, as well as hot pepper spray.
  4. And then there’s the ultra simple DIY deer repellant hack, stringing clear fishing line two or three feet above the ground, tied to stakes surrounding a particular garden bed that you may be worried about.
Adding composting worms to our home composting bins and/or directly to the soil in our yards will dramatically improve the amount of carbon we can store in the soil. Climate solutions are much easier than we realize. Act today! CLICK here.

We’re all set. Oh, one more thing. I strongly encourage you to stay away from chemical solutions. These products may seem ideal in the short run, saving time and energy, but they kill the microbes in the soil that are working so hard to drawdown carbon. The goal in switching to no mow tapestry lawns and adding extra layers of shrubs and perennials, is to improve soil health, increase carbon drawdown, conserve water, and reduce carbon emissions.

Best of luck in greening p. Let’s maximize carbon drawdown and save our planet.

No rose without thorns. —French Proverb.
Groundbreaking YA book series for all ages. Not only a gripping modern day nail-biter with Machiavellian villains, but also one that opens our eyes to the brutal war going on beneath our feet that controls our destiny, despite our obliviousness to this potentially civilization-destroying threat.

Subscribe to Force of Nature to stay connected to the insights we provide in our effort to accelerate the transition to a sustainable, eco-friendly, carbon neutral global community. Click here to subscribe.

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Concrete Kills: Burdens Outweigh the Benefits

Washington (GGM) Analysis | June 25, 2021 by Michael Wells

After water, concrete is the most widely used substance in the world. But this does not mean it is safe. Concrete is responsible for 8% of global CO2 emissions. It outweighs the combined mass of every tree, bush, and shrub on Earth, and it hardens and degrades slowly. Joni Mitchell once wrote a song about paving paradise to put up a parking lot, and that has already happened. 

Companies and governments have stripped mountains, ripped sand out of beaches, and taken lake and ocean water to feed the massive demand for concrete, the substance that produces buildings for the modern world. Concrete takes so much from the environment, and, in return, the manufacturing of concrete belches CO2 into the atmosphere and spreads harmful particles in the air that causes cancer and respiratory ailments. And it exacerbates the carnage of hurricanes like Katrina and Harvey. It did so by preventing water from being absorbed into the concrete covered ground. In short, concrete is a menace that we all live and work in, on, around, and near.

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Heart of the matter. No material has made the building of the modern world more possible from the construction of the Pantheon in ancient Rome to the Empire State Building. None of it would have been possible without concrete. But that has come at a huge price to the environment, animals, and people. 

“Unfortunately, a cement plant makes for a horrible neighbor,” writes Fred Siegel in his book, Environmental Hazards: Are you Exposed? It is one of the least regulated industries on the planet, and it is largely run by organized crime. What a scheme: perhaps the world’s greatest polluter run by the worst criminals, which makes dead bodies entombed in concrete foundations seem almost quaint by comparison. From thousands of concrete plants that are everywhere it produces mercury, cement kiln dust, burns toxic waste (while lying about it), produces cancer causing particulate matter, and uses toxic gases and metals. 

Time to face the music. In order to succeed at carbon drawdown, we have to return to the Garden of Eden. Very exciting! #ActNow Take a listen.

How this impacts you personally. Concrete is in your backyard, and under your feet as you read this article. You drive on it, play on it, and your house, office, and apartment sit on it. You cannot escape it. The problem is two-fold: the production of the concrete is extremely harmful, and the concrete itself is harmful. As the saying goes, they get you coming and going, they being the industry with a bottomless need for production that has the ear(s) of most politicians. 

Take Harris County where Houston, Texas sits: it has 188 concrete plants due to there being no zoning laws in Texas. In 2015, 5,200 premature deaths were caused by particulate matter from concrete according to a study done by Rice University. The study states concrete production is one of the deadliest forms of air pollution because it produces massive amounts of CO2 and other harmful chemicals, and the dust it produces causes cancer, bronchitis, COPD, and other breathing issues. 

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Unfortunately, concrete plants are located disproportionately in poor neighborhoods and communities of color. Another disturbing fact is ⅓ of concrete batch plants are a short walk from a school or a daycare.  

As if all of these facts were not disturbing enough, there is a company in Scotland that wants to sell you concrete made of toxic ash. No, this is not an Onion article. Given the prevalence of coal ash in the United States, this type of business could easily take off  because the EPA does very little to regulate the concrete industry. And why is that? Because it is everywhere, and it contributes to most people who are in Congress. Therefore, nothing is done about it.

No rose without thorns. —French Proverb.
Groundbreaking YA book series for all ages. Not only a gripping modern day nail-biter with Machiavellian villains, but also one that opens our eyes to the brutal war going on beneath our feet that controls our destiny, despite our obliviousness to this potentially civilization-destroying threat.

What you can do. Be loud. Be vocal in your opposition to using concrete. Tell everyone you can, we need to regulate this industry and do all that we can to find other viable building materials. Surely this dinosaur (no offense to dinosaurs) of a building material can be replaced by something more ecological. Besides, was that building in Miami that recently collapsed built of concrete in a city that is sinking?

Do you want more of that?

Next Steps

  • Call your government representatives at the local, state, and federal levels, and let them know you want something done about concrete;
  • Do research on the internet; and 
  • Boycott companies that pollute when they make concrete.

Concrete is everywhere, and it comprises most buildings in one way or another. It does not always have to be that way though. Concrete may dry quickly and take forever to diminish, but that does not mean the future is already set in stone or concrete, rather. Things can change if we want them to change. 


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Leave No Trace — A Parents Guide

Washington (GGM) Analysis | July 22, 2021 by Sarah J. Kings

You are trying your best to head an eco-friendly family.  You are recycling and upcycling like a champ, you’re careful not to waste water or gas, and maybe you’ve even incorporated Meatless Mondays into your routine. With all the planet conscious talk around your house, your kids are probably starting to show a little love for Mother Nature too.

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Twitter- @NatureKidsBC

Inviting your children to the conservation will inevitably lead to more time spent outdoors.  When you and your loved ones ‘get out’ and try to make the most out of summer, it is essential to remember: Leave No Trace. Leave No Trace is an outdoor ethics initiative that has helped people preserve and protect the environment for over 25 years.

The 7 Principles of Leave No Trace

  • Plan ahead & prepare
  • Travel & camp on durable surfaces
  • Dispose of waste properly
  • Leave what you find
  • Minimize campfire impacts
  • Respect wildlife
  • Be considerate of other visitors
It’s time to face the music. Nearly 1 billion people around the globe are food insecure because of climate change. And more than double that number are moderately food insecure. The imbalance between those who are currently suffering the consequences of climate change and those who still have very high carbon footprints, requires that we all make sacrifices. Sacrifices are much easier when there’s an awesome song to go with it. CLICK the link and check it out.

As a parent, it is important to take these principals with you when venturing into parks or woods with your kids.  Even if you are only going for the day and won’t be camping- you can still make sure to Leave No Trace.  

Before your outing, be sure to bring water and snacks in reusable containers.  It is also a good idea to bring a small satchel with you to collect any waste. You may find that other people have left behind water bottles or wrappers— help out by getting it out of the woods. Instead of bringing home trinkets like rocks, flowers, or bugs, bring a camera. Encourage your children to photograph what they see, so as not to disrupt the natural ecosystem. Make sure that you and your family members stay on the trails so that growing plants and small wildlife are not disturbed. Also, be sure that no one in your group breaks branches or carves initials into tree trunks.

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There are so many ways you can teach your children to respect Mother Nature while giving her a visit. The most important thing you can do is talk about it. Tell your children about Leave No Trace. Doing so will open up an avenue for their own personal interest in conservation to thrive. 

No rose without thorns. —French Proverb.
Groundbreaking YA book series for all ages. Not only a gripping modern day nail-biter with Machiavellian villains, but also one that opens our eyes to the brutal war going on beneath our feet that controls our destiny, despite our obliviousness to this potentially civilization-destroying threat.

Subscribe to Force of Nature to stay connected to the insights we provide in our effort to accelerate the transition to a sustainable, eco-friendly, carbon neutral global community. Click here to subscribe.

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What’s the Wet-Bulb Temperature | Survivability Threshold

Washington (GGM) Analysis | July 20, 2021 by author and climate journalist Noreen Wise

According to a recent report published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the official wet-bulb temperature of 35˚C (95˚F)  is the maximum temperature the human body can successfully cool itself on its own to keep from overheating. Once we cross the survivability threshold into the danger zone, the combination of heat and humidity results in the skin’s inability to sweat fast enough to cool the body, and we can succumb to heatstroke within a few hours of being outside, which is potentially fatal.

Screen Shot 2020-05-12 at 5.17.46 PM.png

Bloomberg Green reports that there are several cities along the Gulf Coast that have already experienced this type of extreme condition, maximum heat combined with maximum humidity, and have repeatedly crossed into the danger zone. New Orleans is one such city. The concept of there being a survivability threshold that has already been reached in some parts of America, is almost unfathomable. Large populations live in these areas. If the conditions are unsurvivable, they’ll be forced to move. The injustice is maddening.

It always seems to be the same routine. A certain percent of the population disregards the warnings and recommended guidelines, and selfishly pursues material gain at the exclusion of everything else. This causes a negative ripple effect that impacts those of lesser means, with limited resources, resulting in a downward spiral for large segments of the population that involves further financial strain. The rich get richer, everyone else becomes more financially challenged, and climate change extremes increase, impacting an increasing number of vulnerable communities and  cities.

Get daily climate action tips by joining Act Now for the Earth Cafe and have fun learning the amazing & valuable tips that will help the earth recover from the staggering damage of climate change. Cafe communities are the new big thing. Sustainability is all about community. We’d greatly value you being part of our ecosystem by CLICKing here today and joining Earth Cafe!

If we can’t immediately recognize that this is one of the most significant wake-up calls yet, there’s no hope. Everyone has to be all in on climate to save planet earth. If individuals aren’t self-motivated to make the necessary changes, then local, state and federal governments will have to force them. 🌎

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No rose without thorns. —French Proverb.
Groundbreaking YA book series for all ages. Not only a gripping modern day nail-biter with Machiavellian villains, but also one that opens our eyes to the brutal war going on beneath our feet that controls our destiny, despite our obliviousness to this potentially civilization-destroying threat.

Subscribe to Force of Nature to stay connected to the insights we provide in our effort to accelerate the transition to a sustainable, eco-friendly, carbon neutral global community. Click here to subscribe.

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Fairfax Ninth Grader Places Second in Well-Timed Science Experiment

Washington (GGM) Analysis | February 20, 2021 by author and journalist Noreen Wise

Gallant Gold Media is very excited to report that Julia Victor, a ninth grader at W.T. Woodson High in Fairfax, Va, placed second in her unique and timely science experiment, which is part of the build up to the annual Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair. We’ve been following Julia’s progress since October 2020 as she’s made her way through this intricate labyrinth of competing in a science fair during a global pandemic with schools closed and students distance learning. Julia was determined to find out which NoVA natives store the most carbon, and whether shrubs can stores as much carbon as trees, so she decided to conduct her own science experiment to discover the answer. We were impressed with Julia’s original idea that ties so closely with the international greenup movement, that of planting lots of trees and nature to restore our habitat. Julia has taken it to a new level, though. She challenges us to be strategic about what we plant as we all strive to find more ways to store more carbon to reduce global warming.

Meanwhile, President Biden, on behalf of the United States of America, officially reentered the 2015 Paris Agreementyesterday, Friday February 19, 2021. The ultimate goal of the Paris Agreement is to become carbon neutral. Carbon neutrality will be accomplished through the global framework established within the Paris Agreement — an international treaty on climate change signed by more than 196 countries. The Paris Agreement outlines a combination of aggressively cutting carbon emissions on one side of the coin, while simultaneously boosting carbon sequestration on the other. Substantially increasing carbon sequestration will be accomplished most notably by a significant increase in soil health as well as the restoration of our habitat, particularly trees and shrubs… and as Julia has proven with her science experiment, the right native trees and shrubs make a difference. 

What’s the heart of the matter? The hard truth is that in order for us to hit the targets outlined for the US in the Paris Agreement, we each have to do our own little bit, by lowering our individual and household carbon footprint, as well as by storing more carbon in our yards (ie, planting more trees, shrubs, flowers and ground cover, and improving soil health through the diversification of the species we plant, as well as composting and biochar). To make this simple, the easiest way to process our individual contribution in reaching the US target, is by living a sustainable lifestyle and planting smart.

Gallant Gold Media is planting a forest in North Dakota to remember those we lost to covid, thanks to the generosity of ranch owner Byron Richard. Join us in GreeningUp to help US hit our Paris Agreement targets. CLICK to see details.

The Paris Agreement measures the contribution each country is making in its effort to curb global warming. It checks to see if countries are doing their “fair share.” The expectation is that large countries like the United States, one of the largest contributors to global warming, will reach the highest level of effort, that of “Role Model.” Currently, the United States is ranked at the very bottom, Critically Insufficient. The following are the Paris Agreement levels of contribution:

  • Role Model
  • 1.5° Paris Agreement Compatible
  • 2° Compatible
  • Insufficient
  • Highly Insufficient
  • Critically Insufficient

The term “role model” is what immediately comes to mind when I think of Julia and her science experiment. Julia’s findings highlight that quality matters, especially when available land to plant is constrained. Although, if possible, a high quantity of high quality plants, sure would help the US make up for lost time. (Click here to read the details of Julia’s experiment.)

I asked Julia if she would be so kind to walk us through the science fair process. In her own words:

“The virtual science fair included only students from my school as a preliminary level. It was all grades, so most of the participants were older than me. There were 7 categories ranging from micro-biology to computer science. I was in the environmental science category and placed second. Environmental science was the largest category with around 25 students in it. The top three projects in each category move on to the regional fair. The school-wide science fair was set up so each student could present their pre-recorded video to three judges and then answer questions. As it started, it became clear that coordinating around110 students and all the judges would be difficult. The links for the judging rooms were broken and it was too much for the coordinators to fix. Eventually, they gave up on the judging rooms, and the judges reviewed the projects and videos by themselves. Overall, the setbacks didn’t affect the quality of the science fair too greatly.” 

Ninth grader, Julia Victor’s 25 seedlings planted and tested to find out which NoVa native species stores the most carbon.

Now that you’ve placed second, Julia, what’s the next round all about

“The next round will be very similar to the school-wide science fair, except it will be better coordinated. It uses an online program made for science fairs and programs like this. It has the same process as my school’s fair. It has a video presentation stage and then a synchronous time for questions. The fair will include all of Fairfax County Public Schools so it will cover much of Northern Virginia. I’m not sure the exact number of students participating, but I know there will be hundreds of them. Due to the virtual setting, the fair is not hosted by a specific school, but by the school district. There are many different types of awards at the regional fair. Depending on the award, students may move to the state-wide science fair, or even straight to the international science fair (Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair).”

And the winners are…

We have our work cut up for us that’s for sure. Biden committed to being at net-zero no later than 2050. But many of our allies have been working at a brisk pace these last 4 years while we’ve been slumped on the sidelines. Our allies have submitted new pledges that will hopefully bring out the best in the US as we reach higher and rush faster. Julia’s experiment gives us a new lens to use. Let’s be smarter about what we put in the ground, so we can build that all important ladder to pull ourselves out of this hole we jumped into back in 2017 when we exited the Paris Agreement.

  • EU has now pledged to cut emissions from the 1990 level by 55 percent by 2030. Insufficient.
  • UK is striving for a 68 percent reduction from the 1990 level by 2030. Insufficient.
  • Canada has pledged to come in at 30 percent below 2005 level by 2030. Insufficient.
  • Costa Rica and Bhutan are both ranked highest on the main list. Compatible.

Congratulations, Julia! Best of luck in the next round.

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A Gift Worth Waiting For | Exciting Eco Projects For Students While Distance Learning

Washington (GGM) Analysis | December 19, 2020 by Catherine Zacuto, M. A. Ed

Wandering through a wooded park or along a shady path, it’s easy to miss what’s right before our eyes. How often do we consider the gifts before us, planted long ago? The cool breeze and fresh fragrance are momentary experiences that began with the planting of seeds. No matter how the trees, shrubs, and understory got there, whether through nature or a particular person, you and I are the beneficiaries.

Thomas Jefferson understood this. His legacy of Monticello lies not only in its Neoclassical architecture but in its lush landscape. As a matter of course, school children learn the importance of the Declaration of Independence. Yet how often are they given the opportunity to uncover Jefferson’s other significant gift, the carbon-fighting greenery flourishing at Monticello and Jefferson’s beloved University of Virginia? His plans for Monticello included vegetable gardens, a vineyard, two orchards, and an 18-acre ornamental forest. Trees planted as early as the mid-19th Century still adorn the Academical Village at UVA. This life-giving vegetation continues to fight the greenhouse gasses humans add to the environment. Jefferson and other forward-thinking botanists gave us gifts centuries before we recognized them. We can pass on their legacy by teaching our children about the gift of trees – what we have received and how we can give.

This land was once James Monroe’s cornfield. But Thomas Jefferson bought it and said, “Let there be trees!”

Benefits of Trees

  • Trees clean the air by trapping particulates on their leaves and branches.
  • Trees help prevent water pollution by collecting rainwater on their bark and leaves and depositing it in the ground below.
  • Trees provide economic opportunities for small businesses that provide food to local markets.
  • Exposure to trees helps relieve mental fatigue.

     Jefferson’s story and his gardens offer valuable lessons for young people. Planting a tree, caring for a sapling, waiting for growth all require patience and hard work. What better way to learn these important life skills? Planting trees with children engages them physically and gives them purposeful time outdoors. Watching and waiting for the first green sign of life teaches youngsters that growth takes time, just like their own development. The tree will need nurturing and thoughtful care including some hands on, “Let’s get messy” work. To generate interest in tree planting, you can begin with age-appropriate literature about trees and their care. Adolescents may be energized to learn about the difference trees make in the fight against global warming, or they may want to plant their tree to support a friend going through a difficult time. So, take a moment to enjoy a refreshing breeze and appreciate the clean scent of a forest. Then make a plan for the gift you will give, a gift someone is waiting for.

“Let there be trees,” said Thomas Jefferson.

Ways to Give Back

  • Plant a tree or shrub in your yard (and post a photo on social media)
  • Add Virginia Creeper to cover a fence
  • Learn more about trees and spread the word

Resources for Parents

Books:

Can You Hear the Trees Talking? by Peter Wohlleben (ages 8-10)

Seeds and Trees: A children’s book about the power of words by Brandon Walden (ages 6-12)

The Tree Book for Kids and Their Grown-Ups by Gina Ingoglia (ages 8-12)

Websites:

Informative video for parents and kids: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=abVvZLyZAIg

Tree Activities for Kids: https://www.fantasticfunandlearning.com/tree-activities-for-kids.html

Benefits of trees: https://canopy.org/tree-info/benefits-of-trees/urban-trees-and-climate-change/,

https://www.treepeople.org/tree-benefits


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Fairfax Ninth Grader Reveals NoVa Native Carbon Storage Champions

Washington (GGM) Analysis | December 18, 2020 by Noreen Wise

The planet will keep revolving around the sun, no matter how destructive and irresponsible humans are. But we humans won’t. Humans are mammals. Mammals rely on our habitat to survive. And mammals eventually become extinct when our habitat disappears. Eighty mammals have gone extinct in the past five centuries.

Humans have escalated the destruction of our habitat for several centuries now. Leveling billions of trees. Replacing nature with concrete. We began waking up at the turn of the millennium. Al Gore traveled the globe with his megaphone, beating the drum, challenging us with his Inconvenient Truth. But did we rush into action, planting billions of trees and shrubs to restore our habitat?

No, sadly, we did not.

And now we have to face the fallout. The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is today. A jarring reminder that haunts us as we finally begin racing to save our habitat by infusing as much nature into our local communities as possible, implementing an agenda to quickly catch up to a level we would already be at if we’d begun the campaign back at the turn of the millennium as Al Gore suggested.

The interesting phenomenon that nature graciously reminds us of, is that it can’t be rushed. We can’t force a tree to grow dramatically faster than it is predisposed to grow. With this reality staring us in the face, it’s imperative that we turn to shrubs to help with carbon storage, providing oxygen, filtering pollutants, stabilizing soil, increasing property values, and providing shade all while the young trees continue their upward climb.

At the end of October, Gallant Gold Media’s Hill Report ran a story about a W. T. Woodson High School ninth grader in Fairfax, Virginia, Julia Victor, and her science experiment for the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair . Julia was determined to find out if shrubs can hold as much carbon as trees. Today we are very eager to share Julia’s findings.

Julia’s original hypothesis: I am hypothesizing that the holly tree will grow to be the largest and will absorb the most carbon. I also think that shrubs might not be far behind. I am hoping to be able to come to the conclusion that shrubs and smaller plants are just as important to reversing climate change as large trees. 

The steps that Julia initially planned to implement to test her hypothesis:

  1. Remove the soil and weigh each plant. Record each plant’s bare root weight (without soil).
  2. If plants are not the same weight, trim each plant until they are approximately equal.
  3. Plant each plant in its new container with 1 gallon of soil each. Label each container with the plant species.
  4. Water each plant with 1 cup of water each. 
  5. Set up each plant’s light to a 12-hour timer to simulate the sun.
  6. Water each plant regularly with its recommended amount of water.
  7. After 25 days, remove all the soil from the bare roots from each plant and weigh.

The NoVa native species that Julia used in her experiment:

  • American Holly 
  • Strawberry bush
  • Spicebush
  • Arrowwood Viburnum
  • Black Chokeberry

I sent Julia a list of follow up questions, but its best to let her explain her findings in her own words.

First question: Julia, were you able to follow her exact procedure. She replied:

I followed my original procedure except for step two. Some of the plants had very different starting weights so I would have to trim the plants quite a bit. If I had trimmed them all to be the same weight, some plants would have very little leaf coverage which would affect their ability to absorb carbon. That step was originally included to make conclusions easier for me, but I didn’t want to alter my results even though it would make it easier. 

What was the most challenging part of the experiment?

The most challenging part of the process was weighing the plants at the beginning and end of the experiment. I took three measurements for each plant, which led to 150 measurements. The process of unplanting, bare-rooting, weighing, and replanting took all day, but I was excited to start my experiment and to see my results. 

What were your findings?

The species all reacted differently to the same conditions. Some plants showed a surprising amount of change over only 24 days, but others lost leaves and lost weight. Even within species, each plant had variance. I started the experiment expecting that each plant would be different and be able to process carbon differently. Using a t-test, I determined that on average, plants that started out larger (30+ grams) grew substantially more than the smaller plants. This is consistent with research I did before starting my experiment. The larger plants were in a different stage of life and can sequester more carbon. 

Which species stored the most carbon?

On average the American Holly sequestered the most carbon, but the individual plant that gained the most weight was a Black Chokeberry. Not all plants gained weight due to leaves falling and certain plants entering their winter stage, but on average every species gained weight. Some species gained less weight because they had more intense winter stages or because the species processes carbon slower. By looking at the data, I can say that the shrubs are important to carbon sequestration. The trees (American Hollies) did absorb more carbon than the shrubs, but Black Chokeberry was very close behind. 

Will you be planting any nature this spring?

This spring, I will be planting all 25 shrubs that were in my experiment at my school. I originally planned to plant them in my yard, but many of them will grow to be fairly large and my yard does not have enough space. My science teacher was happy to plant them at Woodson.


Julia’s work and her findings are significant. I’m cheering this exciting outcome and personally look forward to planting black chokeberry this spring. I can’t wait to promote planting NoVa native trees and shrubs as well. Gallant Gold Media will be sending Julia’s work to Al Gore to see what he has to say about a young Fairfax, Virginia ninth grader taking action to address an Inconvenient Truth. Stay tuned for more information.

Thank you, Julia Victor! Northern Virginia, and I’m sure the entire state of Virginia, appreciates your hard work for our betterment.

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Chopping Down Trees Creates Legal Liability

Washington (GGM) Analysis | December 16, 2020 by Attorney Michael Wells, PodcastLegal Fact and Fiction

Trees provide everything from oxygen to habitats for animals, yet they are chopped down with impunity. The damage to the environment is incalculable. To put it into perspective, however, half the number of trees exist now than those in existence when humans first evolved; fifteen billion trees are cut down annually; and ten percent of climate change is attributable to chopping down trees. Environmental carnage aside, legal liability and criminal liability exist for cutting down trees that do not belong to the harvester.

The legal terms most closely associated with cutting down and removing trees that do not belong to the harvester are “timber trespass” (mistakenly harvesting trees from another’s property) and “timber theft” (stealing trees from someone’s property). Timber trespass deals more with the civil end whereas timber theft can involve civil and criminal penalties. It varies from state to state. Nevertheless, lawsuits are filed for large sums of money over taking timber that does not belong to the harvester. 

In South Carolina, as of 2016 one-hundred cases per year are investigated and pursued with a value of between $500,000 and $600,000. A man in North Carolina illegally cut timber near Asheville, the value of the trees owned by a conservancy assessed at $1,000, but the mill rights to the timber of $25,000-$30,000. 

Illegal tree harvesting tends to be less of a problem in North Carolina, which has a larger population, than it is in Maine, which has a smaller population and vast swaths of uninhabited forests. Maine has over one-thousand complaints of timber theft each year.

The damage to the environment cannot be separated from the legal issues that arise from stealing trees, which are property, but they are far more than that to every living thing. In the most basic sense, illegal harvest of trees contributes to the problem of deforestation:

Over half the world’s land-based plants and animals live in forests, and three quarters of the world’s birds live in and around forests. It does not take a science PhD or intricate knowledge of environmental science or ecology to understand that the more trees that are cut, the more environmental problems that will follow.  

And it is a problem all over the world from the rainforests in South America to the United States to even Ireland:

All of it is interconnected, and every time a tree is cut down (regardless if it is replaced), the owner of the tree is impacted as is the rest of the planet. While planting new trees can certainly mitigate the problem, it cannot recapture what is lost every time a tree is cut down. Sadly, the only way to stop harvesting of trees may be filing lawsuits because people and corporations tend to respond the most when their money is on the line. 

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Compost & Carbon Sink | Climate Action

Washington (GGM) Analysis | December 10, 2020 by Noreen Wise

Compost is a big deal in the calculus for increasing carbon sink in our soil. It provides one of the most effective methods for the US public to assist with cutting carbon as deeply and swiftly as possible.

Peat is a compost. It looks very much like soil, but is simply partially decade vegetation rich in nutrients. These nutrients are what enable the increased absorption of carbon. Peatlands are only 3% of our global lands, yet they store approximately “30% of the earths soil organic carbon.” In light of our extreme #ClimateCrisis, peat should never be removed from its environment to be sold to consumers for profit.

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The ever increasing carbon levels as the global population continues to grow, demands that we each do our own part in every way possible to curb carbon, especially in light of the fact of how simple and easy this actually is.

As we hurry to build infrastructure to support solar energy and EV autos, it makes sense to simultaneously rush to improve our natural carbon storing assets, which will further the lowering of CO2 in our atmosphere.

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Creating compost bins wherever possible can provide the much needed extra compost for forests, home gardens, public gardens and parks. It was exciting to see a “Compost” bin at the restaurant where I ate today. It was lined up with the other options at the recycling and garbage hub. I always feel so hopeful when a business “gets it” and does it’s little part. The care and maintenance of a compost bin in a restaurant is minor, but the benefit to society is huge. It pretty much follows the same ratio mentioned at the top of the page: 3% / 30% .

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We can do this!


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