Sunday, August 21, 2022

We should all switch from red meat to that other basic food group ─ chocolate

Watercolour and crayon
©2022 Charlene Brown

Following years of drastic deforestation in the Brazilian rainforest, a small forest agriculture, or agroforestry, program has been started. Their best-known projects are shade-grown coffee and chocolate. In addition to food production, the main objective of the program is restoration of the land’s vital carbon sequestration capability.  

Because of climate change, it may be that tropical programs such as this will be needed in agricultural areas that are currently temperate. The gradual migration of plant species to higher latitudes and elevations expected with increasing temperatures is symbolically represented in this allegorical painting.

Unfortunately, existing agroforestry programs are not keeping up with the continuing destruction of the rainforest aimed at freeing up land mainly for the purpose of growing soy for beef production.

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Another possible dual solution to problems made worse by climate change

Banff Firebreak
Watercolour and crayon
©2021 Charlene Brown

One of the unforeseen results of many decades of successful forest fire prevention in North America has been thousands of square miles of overmature, tightly packed, highly combustible conifers, particularly in National Parks – a perfect storm of wildfire hazards as climate change worsens conditions around the world. 

Beginning about a hundred years ago, firebreaks such as the one in this painting were cut to protect inhabited areas. This firebreak is now pretty well filled in, and can no longer be easily seen, and a multi-year plan to improve and expand it was launched in 2020.

The original break was a clear-cut on the north face of Sulphur Mountain, with no replacement of trees.  I understand the new one will extend over a much larger area on the west slope of the mountain, with some thinned clusters of trees left in place, and additional deciduous plantings, so that’s the way I’ve painted it.  Deciduous trees provide shade for groundcover as well as acting as fuel breaks because they ignite much less readily than conifers.

I first wrote about this situation and the beginning of a solution a year ago, on August 15, 2021. The part about deciduous trees may have been just optimistic whimsy on my part.  I hope not, but I have not been able to find any recent report of progress on the new firebreak. 

I’ll write about another possible ‘dual’ solution to climate-change problems in a blog post about Agroforestry next week.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Could this be a solution to two climate change problems?

Solar Vineyard in France
Computer-stylized watercolour
©2022 Charlene Brown

Solar Agriculture, sometimes known as agrophotovoltaics, describes the use of land for both alternate (low-carbon) electricity generation and agriculture.

In some parts of Europe, 2% of agricultural land is allocated to the installation of solar photovoltaic panels.  Sometimes the panels are raised high enough to allow access for farm machinery. They are generally mounted in single-axis rotating arrays.

Research to determine what crops will maximize the efficiency of this dual use of the land has been ongoing for some years.   It has been found that grapes adapt well to cultivation under solar panel arrays, in fact they benefit from the intermittent shade provided during extremely hot days and the partial shelter on cold nights at the beginning and end of the growing season.