None of us are as good as we want to be about wasting food, and if you're like most people, that food waste ends up in your trash. This organic matter usually makes its way to a landfill where it is buried and decomposes anaerobically, which produces methane (CH4). Methane is a very potent greenhouse gas so even a little bit contributes a lot to climate change - especially in the near term.
You can get a traditional backyard composter or even a vermicomposter that uses worms to cut your carbon footprint, but there's a lot of organic material that doesn't break down well with these composting systems. That's where chickens come in! Chickens are excellent biorecyclers. Have breakfast cereal or chips that have gone stale? Chickens will take them. Left over bread and pasta can't go in a composter, but a chicken would be most appreciative. They're pretty heroic in what they can eat!
Besides reducing fuel use from transporting that food waste to a landfill and cutting methane emissions thanks to the diversion, chickens offer other co-benefits. They produce fresh eggs for you to eat - many types of chickens lay at least one egg almost every other day and that's great for your pocket book. Their manure can replace the fossil fuel-derived fertilizers you currently buy from the store and they also eat garden pests like snails and caterpillars so fewer pesticides too. A recent study suggests that chickens may also be a natural repellent to mosquitoes, which is important as our warming climate is increasing the areas where vector-borne diseases like malaria are found. Chickens are also social creatures, which means that even after they peak in egg production, they still offer all the other benefits listed above plus affection. I love my dogs and cats, but they won't eat snails and I can't use their waste to fertilize my plants.
Interested in having backyard chickens, there are lots of resources that can help you. Do try to build you coop out of left-over construction materials to save both money and further cut your carbon footprint.
Planting trees is a great thing for urban and rural environments, but one "renegade" group is thinking big! Archangel Ancient Tree Archive is taking some small cuttings from large, ancient sequoia trees and propagating them into thousands of redwood saplings that will then be planted. The idea is that these large species will be able to store more carbon. Certainly there is something to that idea. Wood that ends up in a landfill doesn't fully decompose and actually counts as a carbon sink in the US EPA's Waste Reduction Model. So the idea of planting more trees to help sequester greenhouse gases is a great idea - particularly if we can keep them alive. Plus many tree species offer significant co-benefits including reducing particulate matter, reducing water runoff, and providing shade in urban areas that reduces energy consumption and the urban heat island effect. So whether one plants a few giant trees, or many smaller species, the sentiment by one observer at the end of the article is right on: at least do something!
To read more about what this team of pioneering arborists is doing, read the SF Chron article here.
Bad news on the climate front (again). Recent NASA analyses showed that the first six months of 2016 were the hottest on record. This is not necessarily surprising given the long-term trend, but it is disconcerting nonetheless. The rising temperatures are, among other things, shrinking the polar ice caps. Unfortunately for all of us on this planet, shrinking ice caps means the acceleration of climate change and its impacts. It is key to accelerate our efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions if we are to slow the effects of climate change.
To read more about this study, follow the link to NASA's article here.
Douglas Kolozsvari here, and very I'm pleased to announce that Solutions 2050 is launching this week. My company will be focusing on efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at both local and regional levels. I'm excited at the possibility of working with communities to find context-sensitive solutions that maximize their reductions while also ensuring that they contribute to local livelihood. Local climate action planning, and all its various components, is an excellent way to protect the environment at the global scale all the way down to the neighborhood level. I'm looking forward to working with you!