Archive | December 2016

Repost: Don’t underestimate the life-saving power of urban trees

Health in Harmony is one of my favourite charities. HIH is dedicated towards rain forest conservation and tree planting efforts in critical south Pacific ecosystems where many of endangered plant and animal species make their home. Along with the Rain Forest Alliance they are doing vital work in combating global warming and numerous other environmental challenges facing our world.

Through these charities I found the following article regarding urban forestation and the importance of trees in our communities. Author: Matt Hickman

“Don’t underestimate the life-saving power of urban trees

Major new study details the pollution-scrubbing, temperature-lowering qualities of the urban canopy.

We already know that urban trees can help deter crime and prompt us to smile a bit more. We know that they mitigate stormwater runoff, sequester carbon and provide vital habitats to city-dwelling critters while lending invaluable visual appeal to otherwise foliage-starved concrete jungles. No argument here; urban trees are pretty much the best.

We also know that the health benefits attached to urban trees extend well beyond their uncanny mood-improving abilities. Urban trees are air scrubbers nonpareil, dutifully sucking up the pollutants that city dwellers release. This, in turn, helps the denizens of major cities breathe a bit easier — or, in more stark terms, breathe at all.

A comprehensive new study recently released by the Nature Conservancy titled “Planting Healthy Air” takes an eye-opening deep dive into the relationship between urban trees — or lack thereof — and public health, particularly potentially fatal respiratory diseases linked to dirty city air. The takeaway of the study — at 136 pages, there’s a lot to digest — is this: the planting of trees in cities cannot and should not be underestimated as it serves as one of the most cost-effective methods of curbing urban air pollution levels and combating the urban heat island effect. We’ve all taken refuge under the shady canopy of a tree to escape from the sweltering heat at one time or another, looked up and thought to ourselves phew, what a lifesaver. As the Nature Conservancy details, this is one hell of an understatement.

Nature Conservancy, the impact of urban trees on air pollution graphic (Graphic: The Nature Conservancy)

The lead authors of “Planting Healthy Air” conclude that by investing just $4 per capita in tree-planting efforts, cities could have a lasting impact on the respiratory health of residents. Additional trees planted in cities could potentially help reverse a truly troubling reality: more than 3 million people across the globe perish each year from air pollution-related illnesses brought on by the inhalation of fine particulate matter released by human activities that involve the burning of fossil fuels. Transportation-borne particulate matter — that is, the deadly air pollution released when firing up the engine of a car — is a biggie here. Trees can remove particulate matter released within their immediate vicinity by as much as a quarter.

What’s more, tens of thousands of city dwellers die each year from devastating heat waves. Given that canopies do a bang-up job of effectively cooling urban environments, their role in preventing heatwave-related deaths is also critical.

“Trees can have a significant local impact on pollution levels and temperatures,” notes Rob McDonald, the study’s primary author and a scientist for global cities at The Nature Conservancy, in a press statement. “Urban trees can save lives and are just as cost-effective as more traditional solutions like putting scrubbers on smokestacks or painting roofs white.”

Globally, a “conservative” investment of $10 million in urban tree planting activities could help 68 million people breathe cleaner, less deadly air and provide 77 million urbanites with the peace of mind that the next heat wave won’t be their last. As the study’s authors point out, trees are the only solution that can do both: cool and clean air.

Nature Conservancy, the impact of urban trees on urban temperatures graphic (Graphic: The Nature Conservancy)

Of course, certain cities would benefit more from per capita tree-planting efforts than others. Looking at 245 of the world’s largest cities, the study identifies which urban areas would reap the greatest return on investment (ROI) from more trees — and a lot of them. Obviously, densely populated cities that suffer from both high levels of air pollution and are often struck with deadly heat waves top the list.

A majority of the cities found to have the greatest ROI in terms of both cleaner air and cooling are (somewhat predictably) big, crowded, hot and located in South Asia: Delhi and Mumbai, India; Dhaka, Bangladesh; Karachi, Pakistan; Kathmandu, Nepal, and on. The African cities of Cairo, Dakar and Freetown, Sierra Leone, also make the study’s top-ROI list as does the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince.

While the study doesn’t provide case studies for all 245 cities taken into consideration, 15 cities across the globe with a desperate and not-so-desperate need for major tree-planting investments are further examined.

Atlanta, for example, was found to have a low ROI thanks in part to one of the densest urban canopies in North America. With trees covering 47.9 percent of the sprawling southeastern metropolis (the national average for U.S. cities in 27 percent), Atlanta’s “city in the forest” nickname is more than well deserved. However, the study does point out that Atlanta’s densely populated — and only getting denser — downtown neighborhoods could benefit from additional street-side trees, particularly with regard to heat mitigation.

Urban TreesUrban trees aren’t just easy on the eyes. In densely populated cities with high levels of air pollution, they’re also a lifesaver. (Photo: Takyua ASADA/flickr)

Denver, touted as being a success story in combating rampant air pollution that once held the city in a sooty grip, is also noted as having an all-around low ROI that’s largely due to extensive sustainability efforts and a low population density. However, like Atlanta, Denver’s increasingly crowded downtown neighborhoods sport a high ROI.

And there’s Los Angeles. While drought-ravaged, car-dependent L.A.’s citywide ROI is moderate when compared to other major global cities, localized tree-planting action is suggested in denser neighborhoods of central L.A. along with the cities of Santa Monica and Long Beach. The study concludes that an annual investment of $6.4 million in new trees in targeted neighborhoods could bring temperature-decreasing relief (a 2.7-degree Fahrenheit drop) to more than 400,000 Los Angelenos during Southern California’s sweltering summers.

Click here to view “Planting Healthy Air” in full and to see how your city stacks up on the tree-planting ROI scale compared to other cities around the globe. While most North American cities do rank on the extreme low end of the ROI scale compared to let’s say, Ho Chi Minh City, there is of course, always room for improvement. After all, a few more trees never hurt anyone.”

 

 

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Repost: 3 Tips to Help You Spend Your Book Marketing Money Better

Earlier this week I received this wonderful article called “3 Tips to Help You Spend Your Book Marketing Money Better” in my email from Book Marketing Tools.  Great advice, especially for indie authors just starting to get into the business.  To these three tips I want to add one more of my own:  invest in multiple language editions of your books crafted by quality translators.

 

Here is “3 Tips to Help You Spend Your Book Marketing Money Better” in full as presented in the newsletter I received.

Episode 108 of The Author Hangout Podcast featured this amazing advice from bestselling author Ernie Lindsey: Don’t be afraid to spend money early on on good covers, excellent editors, excellent proofreaders. Don’t be afraid to spend money on looking professional. If you don’t have it to spend early on, save it. Save up until you can. Four years ago, we didn’t know that it was going to get to this point. We didn’t know how professional the indie author community was going to get. So make it a top quality product before you even get it out the door.

Ernie is absolutely right — today’s indie authors need to keep up with an industry that’s producing books that are becoming increasingly indistinguishable from the big-time publishers’ output.
But you’re an indie author, which means that you probably need to make a limited marketing budget stretch as far as possible.
So where should you spend your money to make the biggest impact?
Here are three great tips!
Catherine de Valois

Original cover for “Catherine de Valois” (English edition). The cover is good because it’s genre appropriate and features a lady contemporary to Princess Catherine and wearing the same style of gown she wore.

Aristocratic_Lady_15th_b1899sd

The small addition of a subtitle to the original cover makes it stand out more and provides more information to potential readers, moving it from simply good to GREAT.

#1 — Cover Design
“Dont’ judge a book by its cover” is great advice for everyday life, but it’s terrible advice when it comes to your books!
People are going to judge your book by its cover, no matter how much effort you’ve put into writing your masterpiece, so we recommend spending any extra money you have on professional, market- and genre-appropriate cover design.
This is really important, especially when you consider the way people browse books online these days!
For more info, check out episode 73 of The Author Hangout with guest Jim Palmer, who shared some great thoughts about how you should prioritize cover design, how much you should spend and who you should hire (not Fiverr!!!)
#2 — Hire an Editor
Maybe you’ve been using your spouse, significant other, close friend or family member to give your books a look before you publish. Or perhaps you’ve been relying on feedback from your writer’s group to polish your prose.
There’s nothing wrong with these methods of getting additional sets of eyes on your work, but we recommend that you hire a professional editor to give your book a thorough scrubbing!
Professional editors can be costly — don’t be surprised to get quotes for more than $1,000 — but an experienced, reputable editor can mean the difference between a bestseller and an also ran.
One of the best ways to locate an editor is to check the credits and thank-yous of books that you’ve enjoyed to see who your favorite writers turn to for editing. Don’t be afraid to reach out!
For more detailed advice on finding an editor, read this article from our friend Jane Friedman.
#3 — Supercharge Your Website
Your website is one of the cornerstones of your author platform, and it’s one of the foremost representations of your brand on the internet. So if it doesn’t look good and help you build your fan base, it can actually hurt your business.
Spend as much money as you afford to make it look great and ensure that it provides users with a satisfying experience. If possible, hire an experienced SEO writer to create copy that drives traffic to your site.
And don’t forget to make your site mobile friendly!
-Shawn & R.J. from Book Marketing Tools