It may be hard to remember in winter, but July 2021 was the hottest month ever documented. In the USA, the mean temperature was higher than the average for July by 2,6 degrees Fahrenheit, and many southern European countries saw temperatures above 45 degrees Celsius including an all-time high temperature of 48,8 degrees Celsius recorded on the eastern coast of Sicily in Italy.
The past few decades have seen an increased incidence of heat waves with record highs around the globe, and this is seen as a result of climate change. Heat waves have been occurring more frequently, have been hotter, and have been lasting longer with severe consequences not only for humans and animals but also for plants. “Heat stress can negatively affect plants in their natural habitats and destabilize ecosystems while also drastically reducing crop harvests, thereby threatening our food security,” says Brigitte Poppenberger, Professor for Biotechnology of Horticultural Crops.
Cells activate a molecular defense pathway for heat stress protection
To survive short periods of heat stress, plants activate a molecular pathway called the heat-shock response. This heat-shock response (common to all organisms) protects cells
American spending on it rose by $2 billion in 2020.
But experts say it’s time to put toilet paper behind us.
Paper doesn’t get you as clean as water. Faeces transmits diseases including cholera, hepatitis, E. coli, and maybe even coronavirus. More common TP-induced ailments include urinary tract infections and something bum doctors call “polished anus syndrome.”
The environmental toll is massive. Logging (sorry) for the type of paper used in toilet rolls impacts over a million acres per year of precious Canadian boreal forest alone, releasing upwards of 26 million metric tons of CO2 and leaving 90% of the disturbed land barren. And that’s just one source.
A lot of this deforestation supplies the luxury consumer – recycled paper isn’t as gentle on your tush. Yet 70% of the world’s population doesn’t use toilet paper at all. Big areas of southern Europe, Africa, and Southeast Asia use water instead. So why shouldn’t everyone else?
As many as 1,720 full-grown and old trees of different species will be felled for the widening of a 40 kilometre stretch of the National Highway 59 in Odisha’s Ganjam district. The Rs 126-crore project is aimed at widening the road to 12 metre from 7 m between Ratanpur near Berhampur city and Mundamarai near Aska. The felling of several old trees has already been started in Ratanpur by the Odisha State Forest Development Corporation. The green activists have expressed grave concern over it. As many as 16,45,410 trees have been chopped across Odisha over the last decade for various projects, said the state forest and environment minister Bikram Keshari Arukha, in a written reply to an MLA at the state Assembly on February 23.
With drought and climate change conspiring to push California’s summer wildfire season into premature overdrive, the state’s lead wildfire agency has acquired a multimillion dollar arsenal to help it cope with unprecedented numbers of dying trees. California recently bought $6 million worth of chippers, mobile sawmills, portable incinerators, and other equipment to help its firefighters remove some of the nearly 30 million trees that now stand dead across the state, killed by drought and insects.
A pair of recent studies show that rising temperatures are shortening the lives of trees in tropical forests and reducing their capacity to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This phenomenon is already being observed in parts of the Amazon, where the temperature has already crossed a critical threshold of 25°C (77°F); by 2050, the same may happen in the Congo Basin, the world’s second-biggest tropical rainforest. Forests play a major role in fighting global warming, but the authors of the recent studies say we shouldn’t be overly reliant on them as a solution, given their diminished capacity to absorb carbon dioxide. Instead, they say that cutting emissions is more urgent than ever.
The Israeli army yesterday destroyed a natural reserve and uprooted at least 10,000 trees in a military campaign in the northern West Bank in a move that Palestinians termed a “crime”.
Moataz Bisharat, who is responsible for monitoring Israeli settlement activity in the Jordan Valley, told Anadolu Agency that the occupation army pushed military vehicles and dozens of soldiers into the Ainun area in Tubas city in the morning and destroyed a nature reserve built on an area of about 400 dunums (98 acres). The occupation army “chopped down and destroyed about 10,000 forest trees and about 300 olive trees,” he said.
Trees were planted in the nature reserve eight years ago as part of the Greening Palestine project supervised by the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture and funded by the Venezuelan consulate in Palestine.
More plants and longer growing seasons in the northern latitudes have converted parts of Alaska, Canada and Siberia to deeper shades of green. Some studies translate this Arctic greening to a greater global carbon uptake. But new research shows that as Earth’s climate is changing, increased carbon absorption by plants in the Arctic is being offset by a corresponding decline in the tropics.
Plant productivity in the frigid Arctic landscape is limited by the lengthy periods of cold. As temperatures warm, the plants in these regions have been able to grow more densely and extend their growing season, leading to an overall increase in photosynthetic activity, and subsequently greater carbon absorption in the region over the 35-year time span.
However, buildup of atmospheric carbon concentrations has had several other rippling effects. Notably, as carbon has increased, global temperatures have risen,– and the atmosphere in the tropics (where plant productivity is limited by the availability of water) has become drier. Recent increases in drought and tree mortality in the Amazon rainforest are one example of this, and productivity and carbon absorption over land near the equator have gone down over the same time period as Arctic greening has occurred, canceling out any net effect on global productivity.
Land ecosystems currently play a key role in mitigating climate change. The more carbon dioxide (CO2) plants and trees absorb during photosynthesis, the process they use to make food, the less CO2 remains trapped in the atmosphere where it can cause temperatures to rise. But scientists have identified an unsettling trend – as levels of CO2 in the atmosphere increase, 86 percent of land ecosystems globally are becoming progressively less efficient at absorbing it.
Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and UC Berkeley have discovered that as plants develop they craft their root microbiome, favoring microbes that consume very specific metabolites. Their study could help scientists identify ways to enhance the soil microbiome for improved carbon storage and plant productivity.
“For more than a century, it’s been known that plants influence the makeup of their soil microbiome, in part through the release of metabolites into the soil surrounding their roots,” said Berkeley Lab postdoctoral researcher Kateryna Zhalnina, the study’s lead author. “Until now, however, it was not understood whether the contents of this cocktail released by plants was matched by the feeding preferences of soil microbes in a way that would allow plants to guide the development of their external microbiome.”
The study, “Dynamic root exudate chemistry and microbial substrate preferences drive patterns in rhizosphere microbial community assembly,” has just been published in the journal Nature Microbiology. The corresponding authors were Berkeley Lab scientists Trent Northen and Eoin Brodie.
Microbes within soil improve the ability of plants to absorb nutrients and resist drought, disease
Buildings around us create a whopping one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions — that is about ten times more than air traffic worldwide. In Europe alone about 190 million square metres of housing space are built each year, mainly in the cities, and the amount is growing quickly at the rate of nearly one percent a year.
A recent study by researchers at Aalto University and the Finnish Environment Institute shows that shifting to wood as a building construction material would significantly reduce the environmental impact of building construction. The results show that if 80 percent of new residential buildings in Europe were made of wood, and wood were used in the structures, cladding, surfaces, and furnishings of houses, all together the buildings would store 55 million tons of carbon dioxide a year. That is equivalent to about 47 percent of the annual emissions of Europe’s cement industry.
In terms of wood products, a wooden building provides longer-term storage for carbon than pulp or paper. According to the study findings, a wooden building of 100 m2 has the potential to store 10 to 30 tons of carbon dioxide. The upper range corresponds to an average motorist’s carbon dioxide emissions over ten years.