Tag Archive | Environment

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.”

 

 

Repost: 11 Things Truly Successful People Never Do

This morning I found this article from Inc. about success.  The information is so good I have to share!

the universe will remove

“1. Successful people refuse to fit in a box.

“Thinking outside the box” is a business cliché writ large. But truly successful people do more than that–they live outside the box.

They don’t let other people define them, whether those other people are malicious or well-meaning. They don’t listen to the jealous boss who tells them that they’ll never be a leader. Perhaps more important, they don’t hedge their ambitions because a parent or a teacher told them that–for example–they’re “good with numbers” but not creative, or an excellent team player but not a leader. They don’t just develop their strengths. They define their strengths.

Challenge: What external expectation do you need to let go of?

2. Successful people don’t bear grudges.

It takes a lot of effort to win a battle. But when you bear grudges, it’s like you’re fighting a war that only one side even knows about.

Sure, if we bothered, most of us could probably dig deep into our pasts and find a time when we were wronged–almost unforgivably wronged. Even thinking about it, however, hands another victory to whoever wronged you. Direct your energy at something else–the things you truly care about.

Challenge: We all hold on to some things too long. What transgression do you need to forgive?

3. Successful people refuse to argue over “nothings.”

Again: wasted energy.

You’re not going to convince that diehard Trump/Hillary/Bernie supporter on Facebook to change his or her mind. Truly successful people spend their energy on things they can truly affect.

Challenge: What deeply held conviction holds you back? Are you prepared to let it go?

4. Successful people refuse to quit.

Successful people are often more successful simply because they work harder. And they work harder in part because the work they do doesn’t feel like work–at least, it doesn’t feel like drudgery. Their work is the kind of thing they’d do even if they weren’t paid for it (and sometimes, they aren’t!).

However, whether it’s rewarding or not, they don’t ignore the important work that needs to be done.

Challenge: You don’t have to say it aloud, but when was the last time you blew off something important and covered it with excuses? Are you planning to do it again anytime soon?

5. Successful people never betray their values.

At the end of everything, what else do you have besides your deeply held values?

Maybe you have a deep religious faith. Maybe you think it’s wrong to eat meat. Maybe you’d never root for an American League baseball team because you think the designated hitter ruined the sport. These are your values, not mine, my friend–and I’m sure they’re tested all the time. Truly successful people don’t have a lot of non-negotiables, but the ones they do have are sacrosanct.

Challenge: Can you articulate your core values? Even more important, are they obvious to others?

6. Successful people never betray friends or family.

Of course, this doesn’t mean letting yourself be rolled over. You have to stick up for yourself. However, truly successful people know that if your close family and true friends can’t trust you, why would anyone else?

Challenge: Um, when was the last time you called your folks?

7. Successful people never lose sight of their goals.

Identifying and pursuing your goals means the difference between spinning your wheels and actually getting somewhere. You’ll put in the same effort regardless of how well you focus on objectives, but if your aim is deficient, chances are that you’ll just be helping someone else achieve his or her goals.

Challenge: Can you articulate your three most important goals? What have you done today to make them come true?

8. Successful people combat self-doubt in all its forms.

Fear is normal, even healthy–but defeatism is a disease. I’m not sure where it comes from, but we all face it. Successful people refuse to give in, but what’s more, they make it part of their mission to help other people overcome self-doubt, too.

The easiest way to do that? Demonstrate respect for others in all that you do.

Challenge: Have you built up someone else’s ego today? If not, is it because you’re afraid that doing so will tear down your own self-worth? (Overcome that!)

9. Successful people refuse to betray their health.

Another non-negotiable. None of us lives forever, yet the temptation is always there to trade fitness, or sleep, or well-being for a pauper’s price–a few extra bucks, a little bit of esteem in a boss’s eyes. Truly successful people have no room for that in their lives. Their health is one of their top priorities.

Challenge: What’s the one thing you should do differently to ensure you have a better chance at living a long time–and well?

10. Successful people refuse to be dominated by others.

We all face bullies in our lives. Truly successful people don’t put up with them. They find ways to prevail. They don’t necessarily fight the other guy on his turf, but they find a way to win.

Beware that you don’t contradict the rule about not holding grudges with this one, but successful people find that standing up for themselves often means standing up to someone else.

Challenge: Who are the bullies you know? What have you done to offset their impact on others?

11. Successful people never give in to competition.

This is a multifaceted element. Successful people never run from competition–but they don’t let themselves be suckered into being measured by somebody else’s rules. They understand the wisdom of the reverse of that old lottery slogan: “You can’t lose if you refuse to play.”

At the same time, when they win, they can take a compliment. Truly successful people don’t gloat, but they also don’t minimize their contributions when other people are eager to offer them praise.

Challenge: What competitions are you engaging in that aren’t truly worthwhile?”

Beneath the Nara Tree: Global Warming, Food Forests, and the Beinarian Nara tree

Forest lake in summer

Forest lake in summer (Photo credit: Axel-D)

Food forests are the latest urban trend designed to combat global warming while offering free, fresh food to the food insecure.  The concept is simple:  provide an urban oasis of fruit and nut trees, fruit-bearing bushes, herbs, and other edibles which are free to harvest and eat to any and all visitors.  In 2013, Seattle became the first municipality to offer its residents food forest, starting a new trend which promises to provide quality food to those who need it most, combating obesity among the poor in the process.

Planting food forests also make sense when it comes to global warming and the extreme weather that comes with it.  Trees reduce CO2 emissions, offer habit to birds and other animals, and restore oxygen to our atmosphere.

Caring for the environment as much as I do, it only made sense then to include trees into my world building for the Peers of Beinan series and to make trees the ultimate solution to brown eye syndrome.  In brown eye syndrome (so named because the iris of suffers turns brown), two of the five photo receptors in Beinarian eyes are destroyed by exposure to high concentrations of argene. Argene (thorium 232) is highly radioactive.  But one tree on Beinan, the nara tree, reduces argene toxicity — when planted in large enough numbers.

This emulates the impact of trees on our own planet.  A single tree by itself will not stop global warming.  But dozens, hundreds, and thousands of trees altogether will.   Replanting our forests and filling up abandoned urban spaces with food forests is critical to any effort to counter-act the effects of global warming.

On Beinan, nara trees offer not just the ability to neutralize argene toxicity.  Nara trees are prolific fruiting trees that are at the core of Beinarian food forests, an aspect I added to them after researching food forests across the United States.  Wood from nara trees is especially light and strong, making it perfect for building heritage sailing vessels like the “Nenel” in Ghosts of the Past.  Its flexibility makes it ideal for heritage bows.  Beinarians plant it in large numbers because in every way, nara trees benefit their society.

We can make our world better through trees too.  Across public parks, botanical gardens, and yes, our own yards, we can plant fruit and nut bearing trees to nourish our bodies, clean the air, and make our world a nicer place to live.

As the commercial says, “a world without trees is not a world for me.”

Do your part.  Support community gardens and food forests in your area. And of course, support the Arbor Day Foundation in replanting trees destroyed by fire, flood, and logging.