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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Why Are the Earth’s Trees Suddenly Dying?
:The Truth Revealed 
Trees all over the world are dying and scientists are not sure what to do. Without trees our human race will not be able to survive. Many of us have at least heard about the deforestation of South America’s rain forests. As it turns out, deforestation doesn't just affect the local areas where it’s happening, but the rest of the world as well. "NASA did a study looking at deforestation in the Amazon and thinks that it has caused the drought in Texas… if you cut down a forest in one place it can cause a drought a few hundred miles downwind," says freelance journalist and author Jim Robbins. Mr. Robbins has published four books, the latest of which, The Man Who Planted Trees, is about his concern for this sudden death of massive amounts of trees.
Now, not only are we seeing the extinction of trees in South America through deforestation, but in our community in Marin County where our oak trees are catching diseases. "Sudden Oak Death ( is one of those things we are going to see more of. As it gets warmer the climate wakes up these organisms.”
Forests are really complex. Each forest grows in a different type of soil and might face different directions, and the climates that they grow in vary greatly. Forests have not been studied much until recently, so we don't know very much about them. “The state of the worlds forests is a big unknown and that is part of the problem,” says Robbins. “It’s an enormous task to understand our forests. The best thing that scientist can do is get a sense, and look at small areas of forests.”
One of the projects underway to help restore and preserve our forests is called the Archangel Tree Archive  (, founded in 2001 by David Millarck. The initial idea was to clone the largest tree of every species. For example they would clone the Bristle Cone pine trees. The reason that we would want to clone the larger trees is because those are the trees that have survived the longest, and so the traits that those particular trees have are more favorable and reliable.
Robbins, who owns many acres of forest himself, noticed his own trees starting to die so he decided to investigate. He then followed up with his book. “People need to learn about trees and the role they are taking as well as just planting them,” he says. “I wish I could say there was a fix for it. I do think that more research looking at specific answers and other ways to stimulate growth would help. We have done a lot of damage to our planet and trees are the way to fix it.”
For more information about The Man Who Planted Trees, please visit Jim Robbins’ website ( To help reforestation efforts, donate to the Archangel Tree Archive.

-Robyn Organ, December 10th 2013

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Brooks Haden: President of the U.S. Subsidiary of Solutions for CO2

Emma Gallagher: Earthscope reporter

Brooks Haden is the President of the U.S. Subsidiary for Solutions for CO2, an alternative energy and resource company expanding soon into the Bay Area. It has many project branches, including operations in Toronto, but all deal with using carbon dioxide sustainably and creatively on a commercial level. So what “solutions for CO2” are coming into California? The company has patented and initiated facilities for growing algae on an industrial scale, extracting omega 3 oils for supplements. These oils are substitutes for omega harvested from fish. The process uses repurposed shipping containers as bioreactors and specialized UV light to maximize growing rates. The organisms also require CO2 to fuel their metabolic process. Carbon dioxide is additionally used in a latter step, where it extracts desired oils from dried algae cakes. To supply the growing supplements industry, the algae grow in such reactors 24/7 sustainably and efficiently without outdoor variables. This procedure is a leading system for biopharming technology, holding the key to crucial future environmental innovation. 
The Bay Area is a major clean-tech hotspot, so the project is both economically and environmentally appealing. The carbon dioxide used in algae production and oil extraction is recycled from industries that previously considered it waste. Anaerobic digesters use microorganisms to break down biodegradable material without oxygen. These digesters are structures used in both agriculture and sanitation industry to manage and filter wastes. Unfortunately, greenhouse gases, such as methane and CO2, are undesired byproducts… until now. Haden explains that Solutions for CO2 is working with local dairies and sanitation districts to “solve a manure problem and a waste problem, but also solve a CO2 problem as well”.  Thus, using carbon dioxide from these digesters benefits the agriculture and sanitation industries, along with the environment. In addition, Solutions for CO2 will be providing high paying jobs in clean technology (more than 120,00 people are employed by green jobs in the bay area already).  The company will prove to be an amazing addition to an already advanced region of clean and sustainable technology.

Beyond the Bay Area, Solutions for CO2 could prove to be a valuable company for the world. Using carbon dioxide in two critical steps of the algae omega 3 process is beneficial both globally and locally. Our world obviously has a superfluous amount of CO2, so any uses for such a greenhouse gas provide hope for an increasingly problematic environment. Solutions for COis a company setting an example for sustainable resource technology. Their research has surpassed experimentation and trials. Haden explains, “It’s not just talk, it’s actually commercialization…It is beyond the talk and research stage. It is providing a product and service that will be available.” If the company proves to be successful, its sustainable techniques could provide incentive for other industries to invest in alternative technologies. The process of growing alga for omega 3 oils is not just efficient; it is profitable. Algae sources instead of fish reduce marine over-harvesting and amplify production, thus creating an economical system for a billion dollar industry. In addition, Haden projects future uses for commercial algae farming. Biofuels and alternative energies could also be harvested from the same processes with some genetic engineering and trials. Haden explains, “It is nice when we set up these warehouses and plants that they will have multiple uses down the road as technology develops.” With so much potential on the upswing, Solutions for CO2 could just be the beginning of sustainable clean-tech. Turning research into profits, this company is just another example of how green really is the new gold.

To learn more about Solutions for CO2 and their expansion into the Bay Area, visit their website at

Emma Gallagher: Earthscope Reporter

Monday, August 5, 2013

David Escobar: Aide to Steve Kinsey

I had the pleasure of listening in on an interview that a few of our EarthScope Media interns conducted with David Escobar, an aide to District 4’s Board of Supervisor, Steve Kinsey.

            After being interested in the environment through his great aunt teaching him long-established ways of seeing our planet, Escobar has since become drawn into working on proactive ways of being involved in the “green movement”. Holding an indigenous perspective, he sees that the
new principles of the “green movement” doesn’t necessarily always harmonize with the indigenous way of looking at the world, which already connects one with the earth.

            Escobar explained that he is constantly bridging his indigenous background with the environment through social equity and the environment. Escobar’s interests and background allows him to tie everything into his work with his district. In this way he is able to work with his knowledge of social justice and equity, and addresses issues with people such as in the canal, and bridge his indigenous values to pertain to the environment.

            According to Escobar, there is a misconception that if you are seen with an indigenous background that you are automatically connected to the environment in the “green movement”, but he pointed out that there is a large gap of environmental values of natives in places like reservations, or Central America. There is disconnection with these people and the environmental protection aspects of their value systems that have gone astray over time. Escobar indicated that the disconnect of some indigenous people overtime due to reasons over history and many generations, makes it more important to get native people involved because everyone needs to be connected to the earth for the use and appreciation of our resources that will also affect the future of our planet.
            To learn more about David Escobar visit his blog at:          

                        -Natalie Kokka

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Huey Johnson: Green Plan Supporter

 On the 22nd of July, the EarthScope interns interviewed Huey Johnson, former Secretary of Resources for California during the Brown Administration, founder of the Resource Renewal Institute, and advocate for Green Plans. Johnson has picked up an interest for Green Plans after noticing the success other countries have had with them, especially the Netherlands and New Zealand. He even wrote a book (Green Plans: Blueprint for Sustainable Earth) on them.

            Johnson described a Green Plan as “a comprehensive approach to managing resources.” He pointed out that as a nation, we can’t just focus on one single issue. We have to understand that in managing natural resources, we need to put them together in a “comprehensive package” in order to face the environment correctly.

            While over in the Netherlands, Johnson was wondering why the chemical industry was one of the most important voices in establishing and initiating a Green Plan, and they replied, “’After there was a terrible accident in India – chemical problems occurred, people died during the night, and gases exploded. We realized that if anything like that happened in Europe, we’d be out of business.’” So, the industry created regulations a lot more severe than anything the government had in mind and the nation got behind them as leaders. As Johnson says, it was a “strange phenomenon.”

            When asked why he thought the Green Plans internationally were such a success, Johnson responded, “because the public was behind them and they were realistic. So you have a systemic, integrated approach to managing resources. A little complicated to say but that’s what it amounts to.”

            Johnson believes that in time, we are going to have to adapt a Green Plan like those in California. Although we are currently a long way away from doing it, he thinks, “under our political system, we are capable of rapid change. If we get some political leaders who understand the importance of it and some industries to back it up, it could happen right away.” He would definitely want to see water be addressed in a California Green Plan and building density. Johnson believes that as our population increases, instead of building out, we should build up, as many other nations like England and Russia have already been doing by building skyscrapers so that there is more space around them. He thinks it’s a great way of managing intense population increases.

            As far as education goes, Johnson believes that it is, one of the most important issues in democracy, saying, “We are only going to be so good as the understanding the public has of issues.” However, environmental issues are complicated and many face them without the background knowledge, threatening a solution. He says, “by not putting money into education, we actually threaten our democracy and our future.”

            He would like to see the education addressed in a future California Green Plan, mentioning, “It’s a good example of one of those issues that seem intangible but relates to the environment in an important way.” In regards to California’s ranking in national education, he also says, “We have sunk from a great education system by our unwillingness to pay taxes for education.”

            -Sophi Leporte, EarthScope Student Reporter

Monday, July 29, 2013

Huey Johnson: Founder of the Resource Renewal Institute


Julia Hansen: EarthScope Student Reporter

Yesterday, three of our EarthScope Student Reporters had the opportunity to interview Huey Johnson of the Resource Renewal Institute. I had the pleasure of observing the interviews and I learned tremendously from what this elder had to say. He has this gift to look at environmental issues through a huge lens, taking vast amounts of factors into consideration. Early in the environmental movement, when Huey first started, many environmentalists tried to solve one problem at a time. Now, with help from Huey and others, environmental issues are solved through “Green Plans”. These green plans are “comprehensive packages for managing resources”. This way, we can not only save the Redwood trees, Sandhill cranes, and Coho salmon that Huey is so fond of, but we can save the entire ecosystems around them. “We are going to manage the environment.”
Huey is also very proud of his hunting experiences. For a long time, I had thought of hunting as a horrible sport just for the sake of killing wild animals. However, after listening to Huey tell us the true benefits of hunting, my opinion was changed completely. He told us about the time he shot a giant elk with a bow and arrow, which is a task that requires heightened awareness of your surroundings and incredible accuracy. Hunting wild animals sustainably completely bypasses the meat packing industry, which dumps unknown chemicals and fillers into their meats. It also takes people back to Native American roots, which is a tremendous part of the whole environmental movement, as our past interviewee, David Escobar, explained to us. It’s quite simple, the Native Americans loved the earth and every part of their lives had nature in mind: their oral history, spirituality and philosophy. Huey believes that every person needs to interact with nature so they can develop that same love. He recalls the day he went hunting for duck and a huge group of Sandhill cranes took refuge quite close to him. This was when decided to take action. Now, this spot is protected as a crane habitat.
Each US citizen owns two acres of land in the form of Public Land. Founded in 1972, The Trust for Public Land protects land, parks, trails, watersheds, and forests for the enjoyment of people. The crane habitat is one such project they took on. The reason why Huey enjoys hunting so much is because he’s taking advantage of his land.
Founder of the Forces of Nature: Environmental Elders Speak, Huey organizes interviews that allow older people to voice their experiences in the environmental movement. If you’d like to watch these interviews, go to He has inspired so many people, including myself.
-Julia Hansen, EarthScope Student Reporter