The Life Slant

Intrepid Ecologist, Suzanne Simard, Discovering Big Old Trees

SAN FRANCISCO – Professor Suzanne Simard is a remarkable woman – a passionate, courageous forest ecologist who has upended Canada’s, male dominated, planet-killing forestry sector.

Simard’s new book, Finding the Mother Tree, is an epic read loaded with curiositygrit, discovery, grief and triumph.

Fearless, intelligent, caring women are healing our planet. Simard is indeed amongst them.

Professor Suzanne Simard
Suzanne Simard with an ancient western redcedar Mother Tree.
Credit: Diana Markosian

Old-growth rainforests are superlative carbon storehouses and incomparable intercontinental climate-makers, secondly only to the oceans. We cannot inhabit this planet without old-growth inhaling carbon and exhaling oxygen.

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432 New Coal Mines, The Bitter End


SAN FRANCISCO – This week, climate fires, climate floods, climate heatwaves and climate mega-droughts are laying waste to people and Mother Earth.

Climate and Coal Mines
Credit: Peter Carter, Climate Emergency Institute

A mega-drought across America’s West is deepening. In California, a million acres are fallow. Billions of dollars forgone. No mid winter Sierra Nevada snowpack, no spring groundwater recharge, so millions of taps across the Golden State have begun to trickle.

In June amid record U.S. heat, the world’s coal producers announced 432 new coal mines, mostly in China, Australia and Russia. Avarice bankers, oligarchs and the world’s leaders are unconcerned about adding more combustion heat into the biosphere that has become a gigantic land and sea graveyard.

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Droves of Dead Blue Carbon Shepherds – Manatees SOS

SAN FRANCISCO — Woefully out of touch Floridian lawmakers have thrown nature’s indispensable carbon-keepers, manatees, under the bus. So far in 2021, almost a thousand peaceful sea cows have died. Unprecedented.

Dead Manatees
Where are the animals supposed to live on this Florida island? Credit: Wikimedia

Unbridled development, fossil fuel and wood pellet heatpoisonsvessel strikesred tidessewage and agricultural runofffertilizer factories disgorgingplastics, and the former Trump administration lessening protection by downgrading from endangered to threatened status, have fast-tracked Florida’s manatees to extinction.

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Netflix Backs Planet-Killing Show – Unacceptable

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SAN FRANCISCO — An upcoming Netflix series, Big Timber, glorifies the annihilation of Vancouver Island’s rare and indispensable old-growth rainforests. Revolting.

British Columbia (BC), Canada, has about one percent of its old-growth forests intact. Vancouver Island, BC, the world’s forty-third largest island, has been cutover within an inch of its life.

Netflix Climate Show
A sacred old-growth western redcedar in unceded Pacheedaht Territory of southern Vancouver Island.
Credit: TJ Watt

The few unharmed stands of old-growth on Vancouver Island create coveted clouds, which reflect incoming radiation and help keep the planet within a habitable range of temperatures. Those hallowed rainforests are crucial habitat for endangered marbled murrelets, little brown bats, northern bats, black swifts and scarce sockeye salmon.

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Chinese Fisheries Emptying Oceans

SAN FRANCISCO – China’s fishing armada operates more hours than the next 10 biggest nations combined. Mother Earth and all the marine creatures stand no chance whatsoever against this formidable voracious onslaught.

China has fished out the South China and East China Seas, the Sea of Japan and the Philippine Sea. So now, they’ve set sail with an expanded flotilla to conquer the oceans and all life therein.

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Aussie Old Boys, Wrong Side Of History

The neocon Australian government, led by climate science-denying Prime Minister Scott Morrison, has bet the nation’s future on combusting coal, liquefied natural gas (LNG) and wood pellets. To hell with 17 Aussie ecosystems collapsing.

takayna
Seventeen ecosystems collapsing across Australia
Credit: Conversation

Has every member of Morrison’s caucus reserved a one-way seat on Space X? Do they have shares in terraforming the moon, Venus and Mars?

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Ode to Idaho’s 1500 Wondrous Wolves

Keepers of rivers, waterways and
cathedrals of splendor –
O, how we of earth honor Ye and
Gitche Manitou!

Shepherd of sacred balance:
elk, beavers, trout, sturgeons,
grizzlies, wolverines, rattlesnakes,
eagles, ravens, hummingbirds,
worms, butterflies, bees.

Earthmen pay homage to thee.

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Old-Growth Rainforests, Key To Human Survival

Old-growth rainforests are mesmerizing. No other planet in this or any other galaxy, which we know of, supports these hallowed cathedrals of splendor.

Long-lived, self-perpetuating, unique genetics, structurally diverse with dead standing and fallen trees, gaps in the canopy and habitat for a rich array of life forms – old-growth has it all. It is the best that Mother Earth can muster at inhaling and storing carbon, exhaling oxygen, circulating freshwater, making climate and providing lodging for our brethren and sistren, the animals. Hallelujah.

Old-Growth Rainforests
Moisture created in old-growth rainforests circulates and irrigates the globe.
Image credit: Richard Whitcombe

Where there are rainforests it is wet: locally, regionally, continentally and intercontinentally. These stupendous biologically complex treed communities create vast atmospheric rivers of moisture, sustaining life on land. And they are giant air conditioners seeding clouds that reflect an extra five percent of incoming solar radiation into space.

From spirit bears to Tasmanian devils, rainforest life is absolutely dazzling. Predator/prey interactions are in a constant arms race. For instance, tropical rainforest fishing bats use sonar to locate fish and utilize a gaff-like toe to catch them, while plants have developed mind-boggling chemical defenses against fungi, bacteria, viruses, insects and animal grazers and browsers.

The scent within an old-growth rainforest is like walking into a heady aromatic medicine chest. Every breath is a medicinal tour de force that helps the human body ward off cancers.

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Community Food Forests To The Rescue

About 40 million Americans, including many children, experience food insecurity. An estimated 26.5 million people in the United States live in food deserts with little fresh produce on public spaces. Urban food forests to the rescue!

Community Food Forests
Atlanta’s Brown Mills Food Forest has a fruit and nut orchard, raised beds, herb gardens along with terrific walking paths across seven acres. Many hundreds of school children have visited and learned how to grow, tend and harvest the bounty.
Image credit: Sharon Lee

These marvelous oases on community lands often have three layers of food. Fruit and nuts trees make up the overstory, shrubs like raspberries and huckleberries occupy the mid layer, and an abundance of ground food like trailing strawberries or carrots, beets, potatoes and broccoli beautify the floor.

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