Economic benefits of planting trees

Forest sustainability programs are vastly underrated environmental boosters of today despite the clear economic benefits of planting trees. Their influence has been overlooked in favor of expensive experimental air cleansing tactics while forests are being destroyed around the world. Though most of their impact is found in cost reduction in areas like air purification and pollution initiatives, they also provide millions of jobs worldwide.

Natural Air Purification

Not only are trees cost-effective but they are also reliable air purifiers. One of the many benefits of planting trees is that they take in CO2 from the air and turn out oxygen. At the same time, they act as filters for particulates. As the particulate laden air moves through the trees, dust particles are caught on leaves and then are subsequently washed away with the rain. It was estimated that trees cleared 17.4 million tonnes of air pollution annually in the U.S. alone. The benefits on human health were valued at $6.8 billion.

Providing a cleaner atmosphere lowers the risk of airborne illnesses and at a much lower cost. Trees can provide relief for acute respiratory symptoms and asthma for almost one million people. Cities could save millions in healthcare costs and create a visually appealing cityscape by planting trees. Beautiful landscapes also boost mental health and civic morale.

Planting Trees Creates Jobs

Trees bring industry. Trees require a different amount of care in cities than they do in a national forest. Cities require people in order to water and prune the trees. Furthermore, specialists are needed to plan and optimize tree placement. Different cities and various parts of a city will require different numbers and types of trees. This creates jobs for urban planners, ecologists and arborists. These jobs are sustainable and essential to the success of an urban forest’s impact on pollution reduction and health promotion.

Through conscious management, a balance can be struck between conservation of forests and the industry they can provide (i.e., lumber). The lumber industry provides work for 13.2 million people worldwide. However, many of those jobs are primarily in deforestation. By bringing trees into the urbanscape, cities create more job opportunities and economic growth.

Lumber is an industry that will continue to grow as we see countries develop and urbanize. However, at the moment, the industry is causing harm by stripping the world of forests. We are sadly seeing our rainforests dwindle. Through enhancing forest management practices, investing in fire and pest management and developing intense monitoring systems, the economic benefits of planting trees can be brought to its full potential. An industry can be built, giving as much as it takes and ending the destruction of habitats, species and the climate.

Current Environmental Efforts

Slowly, countries are taking advantage of the clear economic benefits of planting trees. In fact, we are beginning to see forest and lumber sustainability programs developing in some parts of the world. The EU initiated the European Neighborhood and Partnership Instrument, Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (ENPI-FLEG) in seven eastern European countries. The program helped these countries improve forest management and sustainability.

Mexico has developed multiple community forestry enterprises that work to renew what it takes from its forests. The National Reforestation Program and Commercial Plantations Program are working to plant trees throughout the country. Even in America, we see states like Georgia striking a balance between taking from and giving back to its forests through their forest management programs.

Lumber is an essential global industry. However, reforestation, conscious conservation and land management are necessary to keep this precious resource from being lost. Hopefully, more countries and cities will begin to understand the benefits of planting trees and to step up to support the world’s forests and protect their futures.

– Emma Hodge
Photo: Flickr

Scuba Diving Can Alleviate Poverty
Scuba diving is the practice of underwater diving with a SCUBA, an acronym for self-contained underwater breathing apparatus. The United States Special Force’s frogmen initially used this during the Second World War. Through this technology, divers can go underwater without connecting to a surface oxygen supply. The main aim for many scuba divers today is dive tourism, with marine conservation trailing closely behind. It is through these conservation efforts and tourism businesses in coastal areas that plenty of communities have found themselves being alleviated from poverty. Scuba diving can alleviate poverty due to the new employment opportunities that arise through environmental efforts, as well as the work scuba diving training businesses provide.

Although the Earth’s equatorial belt possesses 75 percent of the world’s most productive and beautiful coral reefs, this area is home to over 275 million individuals living under poverty. These are individuals who depend directly on coral reefs, fish and marine resources for their food, security and income.

According to Judi Lowe, Ph.D. in Dive Tourism, these incredible bio-diverse coral reefs have immense potential for dive tourism. However, conflicts are currently present between dive operators and local communities due to a limited supply of essential resources. If businesses in the diving industry turned to greener practices and focused on indigenous local communities, they could achieve marine conservation, along with poverty alleviation.

Integrated Framework Coastal Management and Poverty Alleviation

Without a doubt, efforts to preserve the marine environment must include local communities to preserve the marine environment. By including people whose livelihoods are dependent on fisheries and aquaculture into recreational scuba diving, there will be greater benefits for the community and the environment. One of the pre-existing frameworks that ensure this mutual symbiosis is the integrated framework of coastal management.

Integrated framework coastal management is a tool that ensures a successful and profitable outcome for all parties involved in the use and conservation of marine resources. Through this model, locals integrate into the administration and the use of natural resources in several water-based industries. Supplemental payments and employment within other businesses create employment opportunities, should fish bans or similar legislative actions displace primary jobs. This has occurred in Northern Mozambique and Kenya.

Scuba Diving and Poverty Alleviation in Mozambique

Mozambique is a country with a history of the slave trade, colonization and 15 years of civil war. Nevertheless, it is a nation in the equatorial belt that has significant tourism potential. After the civil war, tourism was its quickest growing industry. Forty-five percent of the country’s population participates in the tourism industry.

Poverty is lowest in the province of Ponta do Ouro, located in the southern-most area of Mozambique. Ponta do Ouro is home to the greatest levels of marine tourism, where tourists and locals collaborate to participate in water-based activities such as scuba diving. The area particularly favors scuba diving due to the presence of bull sharks, tiger sharks and hammerheads. It also has year-round warm water and is home to humpback whales from August through November. As it holds pristine marine biodiversity, the area is a marine protected area (MPA).

Scuba activities in Ponta do Ouro mainly happen within scuba diving management areas that follow the diver code of conduct. Most diving in the area is done to maintain the biophysical environment through the monitoring and assessment of ecosystem health and management of marine pollution by maintaining low levels of plastic pollution that accumulates in the bays along the coastline.

Not only can scuba diving alleviate poverty through dive tourism, but MPAs have also been influential. For example, MPAs have helped promote and facilitate the involvement of Mozambicans to monitor their fisheries, map different user groups that can overlay with physical and biological data and conduct research. All of these actions help locals find employment and elevate their living standards.

In the future, a greater exploration of the Mozambican Indian Ocean should be explored and strategic planning to maintain the attractiveness of the area and avoid loss of biodiversity is imperative. This will open up greater possibilities for locals to set up dive sites and cultivate diving enterprises, conserve the biological species and obtain greater income.

SPACES, Diving and Poverty Alleviation in Kenya

The Sustainable Poverty Alleviation from Coastal Ecosystem Services (SPACES) Project is a collaborative initiative funded by the U.K. Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA) and SwedBio. The project aims to uncover the scientific knowledge on the complex relationship between ecosystem services, poverty and human wellbeing. The project studies sites in Mozambique and Kenya.

The concept of ecosystem services (ES) that the project uses determined that humans derive great benefits from ecosystems. People can apply these benefits to environmental conservation, human well-being and poverty alleviation. People can also use them to inform and develop interventions. If people implement the integrated framework coastal management, there is a large possibility for ecosystem services to inform the development of ES interventions that contribute to poverty alleviation through entrepreneurial activities. If locals cultivate diving enterprises, these communities would reap the benefits of the cash-based livelihood that many diving businesses currently possess.

Lobster Diving in Honduras

In Honduras, diving has been a primary livelihood. In the Central American country that shares its borders with Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua, lobster diving serves as a way of living, particularly in the indigenous community of Miskito. Mosquita is one of the most impoverished areas of Latin America.

Despite the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) setting safe standard diving techniques, one that calls for a gradual ascent to the surface and a limit to the number of dives a person can make in one day, the divers of Mosquita dive deeply, surface quickly and go back for more. They race to collect as much lobster as possible, fishing to take their families and themselves out of poverty. These conditions make them prone to nitrogen decompression sickness, a sickness that disabled over 1,200 Miskitos since 1980.

Nevertheless, a diver receives $3 for every pound of lobster they get and 28 cents for every sea cucumber. This is a significant amount of money for the area and for that reason, many take the risk. The boats where the divers spend their time between dives also only have rudimentary safety equipment, using aging tanks and masks. These divers need to do their jobs to raise themselves out of poverty. Until the government implements necessary training to divers, as well as health insurance provisions, divers will remain at risk. Lobster diving has great potential for promoting marine biodiversity, poverty alleviation and sustainable coastal development; however, health precautions must be a priority as well in order for lobster diving to be a truly sustainable solution.  

Looking Forward

Scuba diving can alleviate poverty with its safety practices and dedication for marine conservation, which opens up many opportunities for technological and economic advances through educational, conservation and entrepreneurship potential. Aside from igniting passion and dedication to fighting for the underwater environment, scuba diving urges divers to fight for their survival, their protection and their businesses as well. It is therefore understandable why many have come to value scuba diving as one of the most potent ways to educate society about environmental conservation, and with it, help increase living standards for coastal communities.

– Monique Santoso
Photo: Flickr

 

sustainable energy in africaSustainable energy has become one of the most significant challenges and focuses worldwide over the past several decades. As most of the world begins to shift away from traditional biofuels, like coal and gasoline, other sources of energy, such as wind, solar and hydropower, have taken up a more significant share of the world’s energy production. The share of traditional sources has decreased from its peak of 81 percent in 2000 to roughly 65 percent by 2016; meanwhile, the share of wind energy has increased from 0.2 percent in 2000 to closer to 6 percent. Though this is a slow rate of progression, it demonstrates that most of the world is steadily moving further towards renewable energy sources. Sustainable energy in Africa is growing as governments push for more sustainable energy and is helping impoverished communities by increasing employment.

Pushing for Sustainability

Sustainable energy in Africa has seen significant boosts in recent years. One country making particularly significant strides in sustainable energy in Africa is Kenya. With a renewable energy rate of about 73 percent, Kenya is making efforts to retain sustainability. In fact, the largest wind farm in Africa just recently completed construction in Lake Turkana, Kenya. The facility has been under construction since 2014, and with a total of 365 wind turbines, it will mark a significant boost toward sustainable energy both in Kenya and in Africa as a whole.

In fact, Kenya is making an official, concerted effort towards becoming 100 percent green energy powered by 2020. Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta, has made clear his commitment to expanding renewable energy in Kenya and has gained support from other developed nations to help invest in those projects in Kenya. Investments have led to increases in wind, solar and hydroelectric power projects over the past 10 to 15 years, with many such facilities doubling in number. Reliance on low-emission geothermal energy has also risen sharply, with Kenya ranking ninth in the world in how much power it generates from geothermal energy.

Sustainable Energy and Fighting Poverty

Aside from being environmentally conscious, renewable energy facilities also markedly increase employment. More sustainable energy in Africa can help people out of poverty. Kenya’s pushes towards wind and solar energy have led to the direct employment of 10,000 workers. Not only that, but access to electricity from these projects has also allowed some 65,000 additional people to seek out and obtain jobs elsewhere, which they could not have found without the use of electricity. The number of workers employed in the sustainable energy sector is also expected to increase by 70 percent by 2022-2023. Similarly, in Nigeria, it is expected that sustainable energy will create 52,000 jobs by that same timeframe.

It is evident that sustainable energy in Africa will drive the future of countries like Kenya and Nigeria, and assist with uplifting people both directly via increased employment and indirectly due to expanded access to clean electricity. These industries will increase not only sustainable sources of energy, but will create a sustainable economy and a sustainable population that will not succumb to the negative impacts of unemployment and poverty.

– Jade Follette
Photo: Flickr

E-Waste in Developing CountriesE-waste in developing and developed countries is when electronics are used, and they come to the end of their lifecycle. In contrast to other forms of waste, disposal of  e-waste is specific, in order to protect humans and the environment from the harmful materials within; yet, impoverished countries do not have the resources nor funds to dispose of their e-waste properly.

Due to these countries improperly disposing of their waste, toxic chemicals then leak into the environment. In turn, health hazards arise. Below illustrates the prevalence of e-waste around the globe, recycling e-waste methods, impacts on human health and possible solutions eliminating excess e-waste in developing countries.

Presence of E-Waste

As technology advances exponentially around the world, consumers are constantly purchasing, upgrading, replacing and discarding their electric products. These products include computers, printers, televisions, cell phones, microwaves and washers, and dryers. Among the developed nations, the U.S. alone throws away 400 million tons of electronic items per year. In contrast, the European Union produces 8.9 million tons of e-waste and Japan produces 4 million tons. In total, the world produces 50 million tons of e-waste a year. It is an estimate that the world’s population will be discarding 60 million tons of e-waste by 2021.

The Differences in Recylcing E-Waste

Both developing and developed countries recycle their e-waste. In the formal recycling facilities of developed countries, electronics are disassembled, separated and categorized by material. They are then cleaned and shredded for further sorting. It is necessary hat recycling companies adhere to health and safety rules. They must also use pollution-control technologies to decrease the health and environmental hazards of handling e-waste.

This process is expensive, and to avoid spending the large amount of money needed to recycle e-waste formally, developed countries illegally ship their e-waste to developing countries for disposal. However, these developing countries do not have the means to recycle their e-waste formally. This is why countries, like Nigeria and Ghana, recycle their e-waste in informal ways.

Within developing countries, the informal e-waste sector includes sites where the extraction of valuable components of electronics happen using crude recycling and disposal methods. Families and individual workers depend on the extraction of valuable metals for an income. Metals include gold, silver, copper, platinum, palladium, lithium and cobalt.

Effects of Chemicals in E-Waste

However, these electronics also contain toxic heavy metals, such as lead, mercury, cadmium and beryllium. They also include polluting PVC plastic and hazardous chemicals like brominated flame retardants. These chemicals remain in electronics after extraction of valuable materials. They are burned, buried and discharged into waterways. Furthermore, these chemicals can find their way into the air, earth, water and ultimately into food.

Victims of contamination from e-waste in developing countries can experience both direct and indirect exposure. Direct contact with hazardous materials from e-waste in both formal and informal recycling settings can cause increases in stillbirths, spontaneous abortions, premature births and lower birth weights. They can also cause increases in mutations, congenital malformations, abnormal thyroid function, lead levels, decreased lung function and neurobehavioral disturbances.

Intervention in Recycling E-Waste

To decrease the amount of informal recycling of e-waste in developing countries, the United Nations created the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal. This organization bans the trading of hazardous waste between nations. Sadly, this policy fails to reduce informal recycling due to a general lack of governance and enforcement resources.

Renne Cho, a staff writer for the Earth Institute, lists six solutions in research that disposers should consider and practice globally to solve the global e-waste crisis. These six solutions are: designing better products, repairing and reusing devices already owned, extending producer responsibility, improving the recycling system, making recycling more convenient and making our economy more circular.

In regard to improving the recycling system, one strategy proposed to alleviate e-waste in developing countries is taking advantage of the large collection network of informal recyclers existing. Instead of eliminating this network, developing countries can utilize these companies to bring their collective e-waste to the formal sector.

Another solution to reduce the amount of e-waste illegally shipped to developing countries is for countries to invest in the resources necessary to provide the enforcement and supervision that will restrict the importation of e-waste.

The rapid rate at which consumers are now purchasing, upgrading, replacing and discarding electronics gives little reason to believe the e-waste crisis will end soon. More awareness about how e-waste is impacting the health of men, women and children in developing countries is necessary.

– Jacob Stubbs
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Interesting Facts About Teddy RooseveltTheodore Roosevelt, also known as Teddy Roosevelt, is one of the most renowned presidents in United States history. He is popular due to his ruthless foreign affairs policies and his love of nature and teddy bears. Here are the top 10 interesting facts about Teddy Roosevelt and his lasting impact on the environment and poverty.

Top 10 Interesting Facts About Teddy Roosevelt

  1. Conservation was one of Theodore Roosevelt’s main concerns during his presidency. The United States Forest Service (USFS) and 150 national forests were established under the 1906 American Antiquities Act. It has created the national parks enjoyed today while reducing pollution and extinction rates to native animals. During his presidency, Roosevelt protected approximately 230 million acres of public land. While many consider the natural resources from the Earth to be inexhaustible, Roosevelt stated, “What will happen when our forests are gone, when the coal, the iron, the oil, and the gas are exhausted”. Throughout his life, Roosevelt was a popular advocate for environmental concerns and conservation.
  2. In his early years in the New York State Assembly, Roosevelt was a major proponent for the health conditions of businesses. He fought for a ban on homemade cigars after witnessing entire families suffering from prolonged exposure to raw tobacco. Although he was against government interference in business, Roosevelt fought for the health and well-being of Americans.
  3. Roosevelt made use of his power with presidential commissions to create changes, many which benefited the environmental, economic, and public health domains. For example, the Inland Waterways Commission established in 1907 to manage bodies of water and utilize them for transportation networks. While the commission had economic objectives, the plan included measures for flood control, soil reclamation and reduction of pollution, all which benefited public
  4. During his presidency, Roosevelt established the White House conference. In 1908, there was a conference focusing on conservation, and almost every governor present went on to form conservation commissions at the state level. This was a huge victory for conservation and public health in the interest of all Americans.
  5. Although Roosevelt’s foreign policy was militaristic, he was also capable of diplomacy and peacemaking. When Japan and Russia fought for control of Korea and Manchuria in 1905, Roosevelt arbitrated the conflict. In doing so, Roosevelt became the first American to receive the Nobel Peace Prize and more importantly, mitigated conflict in Asia and the Pacific. In this way, Roosevelt’s diplomatic efforts have impacted America’s development on a global level.
  6. A popular fashion trend in the late 1800s was women’s hats to be decorated with bird feathers. To meet this need, poachers hunted species of exotic birds near to extinction. In response, Roosevelt made Pelican Island, Florida a federal bird reserve in 1903. Many other protected areas followed and the National Wildlife Refuge System was born. These initiatives help develop and preserve America’s ecosystems and reduce pollution that would otherwise contribute to poverty in some areas.
  7. In 1902, Theodore Roosevelt established the Reclamation Service, an agency that creates arable land for agriculture through the use of dams and irrigation. This service converted many dry areas into plots of land that could produce food. This service brought millions of acres of farmland into service and set precedent for success in America’s agricultural industry in years to come.
  8. Even after his presidency, Roosevelt continued to lobby for progressive policies. His strong advocacy for old-age pensions, unemployment insurance, child labor laws and women’s suffrage are the foundations for the future federal government. In fact, his distant cousin Franklin D. Roosevelt would go on to create policies that supported these same causes. These efforts were all aiming towards the betterment of American peoples and an effort to alleviate poverty.
  9. Roosevelt was heavily involved in the construction of the Panama Canal. He took on the project when the original French construction company failed to complete it. In a speech in Congress, Roosevelt notes that “No single great material work which remains to be undertaken on this continent is as of such consequence to the American people.” Today, the Panama Canal is an important trading route connecting the Pacific to the Atlantic. It also fosters important trade between all countries in the Americas. Furthermore, the Panama Canal secures partnerships between the U.S. and Panama.
  10. Roosevelt reformed the basis of government-business relations. Initially, there were business titans that existed en par with the federal government. However, Roosevelt believed that the government’s role is to regulate big businesses. This is to prevent their actions from affecting the general public.

These top 10 interesting facts about Teddy Roosevelt provide some insight into one of America’s well-known presidents. His strong advocacy for wildlife conservation has resulted in millions of acres of federally protected lands and countless national parks and monuments. His foreign policy and peacemaking initiatives have set a high standard for U.S. foreign affairs in mitigating conflict and alleviating poverty.

– Andrew Yang
Photo: Google Images