WINSTON-SALEM’S VIRTUAL EARTH DAY CELEBRATIONS
As part of The Climate Daily’s Earth Month celebrations, we’re letting our followers on FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, and on our homepage at TheClimate.org hit us up with happenings in their neck of the woods. And oh by the way, if you surf on over to TheClimate.org/episodes and click on today’s episode, you’ll not only see a transcript of the show, but also links to all the events we’re talking about today in the DEEPER DIVE section at the end of the transcript.
(And I might add, all of our episodes offer transcripts and DEEPER DIVE resource links)
Today, we’re going to focus on the American South, specifically, the Carolinas. Tammy from Winston-Salem, NC hipped us to the 2021 Virtual Piedmont Earth Day Fair happening in the Winston-Salem metropolitan area. It’s going on from April 19-23. The goal of the fair for folks to get more connected to local environmental action through videos, programs, and activities for everyone at home to celebrate, learn about.
Piedmont Earth Day started back in 2006, when a small group of friends joined together to host a family-friendly Earth Day celebration in their community. Because of its initial success, the group officially formed the Piedmont Environmental Alliance.
2021 marks the 15th year the PEA has been in existence. According to its website, it has grown to become the largest one-day environmental education event in that region of North Carolina. The goal of the PEA is to aim people, groups, schools and government toward the common goal of building a more environmentally sustainable community. Did I mention the virtual Earth Day is happening from April 19-23rd?
DEEPER DIVE: Piedmont Virtual Earth Day, Piedmont Environmental Alliance
WINSTON-SALEM PASSES CLEAN ENERGY/GREEN JOBS RESOLUTION
While we’re on the topic of Winston-Salem, NC and the Piedmont Environmental Alliance, just want to give a quick shout out to the city of Winston-Salem. That town’s city council recently approved a resolution approving a goal of 100% clean renewable energy by 2050 and the creation of green jobs.
Back in 2018, North Carolina governor, Roy Cooper, signed Executive Order-80 titled, “North Carolina’s Commitment to Address Climate Change and Transition to a Clean Energy Economy.” You know what Executive Order-80 also says? It says that North Carolina will honor the 2015 Paris Agreement’s goals and the state’s commitment to the United States Climate Alliance. That alliance requires all participatory states to reduce GHG emissions to 40% below 2005 levels by 2025.
Anyway, thanks to Resolution #20-0499 adopted by Winston-Salem, that city is now committed to those items in its title, AND to developing programs that assist vulnerable communities in reducing their energy costs while also increasing their neighborhoods’ environmental quality of living. It also commits the city to green job training and creation; the creation of an annual report regarding the city’s metrics for achieving energy efficiency and renewable energy transition goals as stipulated in the resolution; and it tracks whether the city has funded these mandates. Kudos to Winston-Salem, NC!
DEEPER DIVE: W-S Clean Energy/Green Jobs Resolution
GREEN TECH: CRISPR VS. SHRUBS
For many of us, planting trees is the mantra for combating climate change. However, our reporting here on The Climate Daily has revealed the importance of biodiversity on protecting and saving the climate. So, it’s not all about trees. It’s also all about planting plants.
But which plants? That’s the question scientists, researchers and botanists are trying to answer. According to Cornell University’s Alliance for Science, the question is not so much “which plant” as it is “Which plant can we best modify using CRSIPR? CRISPR is an acronym for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats. CRISPR is a technology used to edit genes. In other words, it’s a way to remove weak or bad DNA from a gene and then replace it with strong or good DNA. CRISPR is not GMO. The goal is to make/engineer plants that are more heat, drought, humidity and salt tolerant. This is because the world is forecast to get hotter, drier, wetter and saltier.
Human-made carbon emissions are a direct contributor to climate change, and excess nitrogen overflow into rivers, lakes and oceans from human-made fertilizers are creating dead zones in those waters. So another CRISPR science goal is to engineer plants that can more quickly uptake carbon and/or better fix nitrogen, at least partially solving those problems.
Some plants currently being CRISPR’ed in the interest of science include alfalfa, beans, clovers and peas. Why CRISPR matters to us is because a lab approach to re-greening the planet is equally important to an horticultural or silivcultural approach.
DEEPER DIVE: Alliance for Science, CRISPR Plants, GenEng News
HOW SHRUBS CAN HELP SLOW CLIMATE CHANGE
Let’s face it. In the same way humans are in a race—pitting COVID vaccination shots in arms against spreading of COVID-19 mutations/variants, we are in a race to remove as much carbon from the atmosphere while WE’RE still churning out GHGs.
Despite all science’s best efforts, natural solutions remain the most expedient solution. Trees and plants already exist, they don’t have to be engineered in a lab, patented and then sold to the highest bidder before widespread dissemination. The thing is, you can’t plant JUST trees. Trees don’t grow above certain elevations, and aren’t suited for smaller, crowded spaces. THAT’S WHY– shrubs.
Scientists and farmers in South Africa have got their eyes on one shrub in particular—the Spekboom shrub. It’s a small-leaved succulent plant found in South Africa. Imagine a Bonsai jade tree. Now imagine that as a thicket, or a hedgerow, except growing as large as a cypress tree. That’s what Spekbooms are capable of doing. Spekboom is part of the family of plants, Portulacaria Afra, all of which have similar properties. These PLANTS include Elephant Bush, dwarf jade plant and Porkbush. What are those properties?
Well, Researchers love them because they sequester an exceptional amount of carbon dioxide (due to THEIR photosynthetic properties), particularly in warm, semi-arid regions. In this capacity they are more akin to forest ecosystems. From an economic standpoint, Spekboom has additional favorable characteristics over forested systems regarding carbon trading (CT), namely: economic water use; potential for combating desertification and poverty in arid environments. Added bonus–Spekboom is fire resistant. That improves its attraction as a commodity in the carbon trading market. But that’s another story….
DEEPER DIVE: BBC, National Wildlife Federation, Live Science