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NASA Discovers 10 Potential Planets That May Be Habitable

NASA revealed Monday that one of its teams discovered hundreds of new potential planets, 10 of which may be habitable. The Kepler space telescope team added 219 new potential planets to its catalog, bringing its total findings over the first four years of observation to 4,034 planet candidates. Of those, 50 have now been flagged as potentially habitable because they are similar in size to Earth and 30 have been verified, NASA announced from its Ames Research Center in California. “This carefully-measured catalog is the foundation for directly answering one of astronomy’s most compelling questions – how many planets like our Earth are in the galaxy?” said Susan Thompson, a Kepler research scientist and lead author of the study. The 10 new potential planets could be rocky, and orbit in a range called the “habitable zone,” which means there could be liquid water on their surfaces. The Kepler spacecraft will continue its mission to search for new potential planets and collect information about the galaxy. This data will enable scientists to determine what kind of planets make up our galaxy and monitor possible Earth-like planets. […]

Before and after photos show dramatic retreat of glaciers

Earth is losing ice; the instances of glacial retreat far exceed those of advance, and the photos don’t lie. […]

What are the lessons from Bucky Fuller’s Dymaxion House?

The biggest one is that no matter how clever the design, it is the land that matters, not the house, and that nothing has changed in 70 years. […]

Brazil’s "Green Municipalities": What Works? What Doesn’t? Why?

In 2008, the Brazilian administrative district of Paragominas had one of the highest rates of deforestation in the Amazon. By 2010, it had turned itself around and become a template for “Green Municipalities” across Brazil. Since then, efforts to replicate the success have yielded mixed results and generated valuable insights into what it takes to slow deforestation in the Amazon. This is the second in a series of stories examining the emergence of Brazil’s Green Municipalities: what they can achieve, what they can’t, and what must happen for them to succeed. Click here to follow the series on Ecosystem Marketplace. Mayor Adnan Demachki was clearly shaken as he offered his resignation to the citizens of Paragominas, in the Brazilian state of Pará. It was late November, 2008, just days after the loggers torched his office in a dramatic rebuke of his “Green Municipality” program, which was designed to ween this sparsely-populated municipality off the charcoal business that was destroying its forests. “I’d been re-elected just over a month earlier, on October 4th,” Demachki recalls. “But at that point, I felt that if the Green Municipality program wasn’t going to work, then I had nothing to offer.” The leaders of 51 different organizations had come to the charred remains of city hall, and the majority – the farmers’ union, the workers unions, the trade guilds, and the merchants associations – still backed his plan, and Demachki implored them to sign a “Letter of Apology” to the nation. The letter reiterated the terms of the pact they’d all signed eight months earlier, promising to end deforestation in the area, but the loggers and charcoal-makers refused to sign. After hours of debate, Demachki pulled a second letter out of his pocket. “I saw that they just didn’t have any reaction, and this Green Municipality thing was executed under my mandate, and I had decided that if I didn’t have unanimous support for the program, I should resign,” he says – and that’s just what he offered to do. But after seeing his letter of resignation and sensing he was serious, even the loggers and charcoal-makers signed the apology and recommitted themselves to the municipality’s Pact Against Deforestation. About This Series Consumer giants like Unilever and Marks&Spencer have promised to source materials from states and regions that slash deforestation, but slowing deforestation requires buy-in at every level of society. In this series, we examine Brazil’s efforts to create “Green Municipalities” that attract business by conserving nature. Part One – The Difficult Birth Of Brazil’s First “Green Municipality” covers the genesis of the first Green Municipality: Paragominas, which slashed deforestation in two years Part Two – Brazil’s Green Municipalities: What Works? What Doesn’t? Why? shows how the Paragominas experiment played out on the ground and began spreading across the state of Pará. Part Three – Scaling Up (not yet published) examines the state’s efforts to codify the lessons of Paragominas. “That particular moment was a parteaguas, literally a ‘parting of the waters’ or critical crossroads,” says Paulo Amaral, Senior Researcher from Imazon (Instituto do Homem e Meio Ambiente da Amazônia, the “Institute of Man and Environment in the Amazon”), a nonprofit research organization that promotes sustainable development and had been instrumental in getting the Green Municipality program off the ground. “We needed to remain steadfast in the path Paragominas was moving towards, or we would have suffered a massive setback.” Instead of a setback, the municipality continued to slash its deforestation rate – from 8,000 square kilometers in 2004 to less than 2,000 in 2015 – becoming in the process a template for the “Green Municipalities” that was launched across the entire state of Pará in 2011, as well as similar initiatives in the neighboring states of Mato Grosso and Rondônia. But is it replicable? Francisco Fonseca, Coordinator of Sustainable Production at The Nature Conservancy (TNC), thinks so – but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. “The most important thing that happened at that moment was the emergence of a coalition that included an open-minded mayor with a very active role in sustainable development, a union leader who organized farmers to get registered on the CAR (the Cadastro Ambiental Rural, or “Rural Environmental Registry”) and persuaded them to accept the new environmental model called ‘Zero Deforestation’, and the organized civil society that included merchants, farmers, ranchers, soy producers, and also the timber sector,” he says. Hanging In The Balance: The Future Of A Forest Governance and Community Practically everyone we spoke to gives Demachki – or at least the local government – high marks for executing the turn-around. “Paragominas is an organized municipality with high transparency in government and no fantasy workers on the payroll,” said one local businessman, speaking on condition of anonymity. “That’s not always the case down here.” Ian Thompson, Conservation Director of TNC’s Brazil Program, also has high praise for the Paragominas government, but concedes that good governance comes in part from a solid local tax base – built on agriculture and also bauxite mining. “Paragominas has big investors from the mining companies, and their royalties made it possible for the government to run programs that improved the social situation and education,” he says. “That’s part of the package that makes these changes easier, but only because the benefits were moved to the people, and to investments that bring jobs.” Demachki says credit lies with the local community itself. “Basically, everybody agreed to find a path, and maybe that’s the point,” he says. “Even the loggers knew that their activities were illegal and unsustainable.” Justiniano Netto, who’s charged with replicating Paragominas’ success across Pará, says that lesson isn’t lost on state authorities. “The mayor (Demachki) got his people to make a ‘Local Pact Against Deforestation’, and that’s a cornerstone of our state-level program as well,” he says. “Our role at the state level is to standardize the criteria and coordinate the incentives.” Demachki says he supports the state’s effort – as long as it’s more carrot than stick. “You cannot transform a society with determination that comes from the outside – from Brasilia, or from Belem (the state capital),” he says. “If you want to break a paradigm, it has to be broken by the local people.” For Vasco van Roosmalen, who runs Brazilian NGO Equipe de Conservacao da Amazonia (ECAM), the question going forward isn’t whether Paragominas can be replicated, but which elements can be replicated and in what form. “Every municipality is different,” he says. “Not everything that worked in Paragominas will work everywhere, but most of it will.” He’s helping indigenous people access carbon finance to slow climate change by saving endangered forests and Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD), and he sees the Green Municipalities concept as a tool for reducing the external pressures on indigenous territories. “One of the key lessons is that this level of change is possible,” he adds. “Now we need to focus on making it happen throughout the Amazon.” To do that, you first look at how the program evolved in Paragominas. 2009: A Year of Carrots… The first full year of Demachki’s program was a bountiful one for Amazon conservation, in part because foundations and international aid agencies were beginning to seed REDD programs ahead of the Copenhagen climate talks. The Amazon Fund, for example, had just launched with $20 million from the Norwegian government, and money was flowing directly into regional programs through USAID, the Norwegian International Climate and Forest Initiative, the British Embassy, the Anne Ray Charitable Trust, the Moore Foundation, and others. It’s also the year that mining giant Vale created the non-profit Fundo Vale to “connect institutions and initiatives for sustainable development,” and one of the fund’s first actions was to help Imazon and TNC support the Paragominas initiative and replicate it in other blacklisted areas like São Félix do Xingu – a frontier territory with completely different dynamics from those in Paragominas. It was, as we will see, to have different results as well. …and Sticks 2009 is also the year Greenpeace unleashed its “Slaughtering the Amazon” campaign, which aggregated research from hundreds of NGOs into a massive indictment of US and European companies that purchased beef from the Amazon. The pressure group also turned its attention to the soy sector, resulting in moratoriums on both beef and soy from high-deforestation areas and the imposition of “TACs”, or Termos de Ajuste de Conduta e Ações Civis (Conduct Adjustment Agreements), which are akin to out-of-court settlements between the government and companies that damage communities. As a result, food processors and retailers who’d never shown an interest in sustainable farming suddenly wanted to at least know whether trees had been chopped to supply their beef and soy. For tens of thousands of ranchers and farmers, the CAR was now both advantageous and frightening. For a introduction to the CAR and its role in the Green Municipality program, see Part One of this Series: “The Difficult Birth Of Brazil’s First ‘Green Municipality'” The Calculus of Farmer Fears Brazil’s Forest Code is one of the most environmentally progressive on the planet, but until President Inácio “Lula” da Silva took office in 2003 and appointed Marina Silva as his minister of environment, the code had been poorly enforced. It requires farmers in the Amazon to keep at least 80% of their forest intact, meaning they can only farm on 20% of their land – unless they are in a “consolidated development area” that had been aggressively settled before much of the laws kicked in. In that case, under the new law, landowners could have chopped up to 50% of their forestland by 2008 and not face a penalty. If they had gone above 50%, farmers would have to restore part of the land or arrange an offset with another landowner who had preserved more than his 80%. The problem is that, because of previous lax enforcement, farmers and ranchers had no idea if they were in compliance or not, and they feared that getting on the CAR would expose them to massive fines. Understanding Among Friends To get farmers registered, Demachki brought in experts from across Brazil – including the former governor of Pará, an environmental economist named Simao Jatene. As governor, Jatene had simultaneously reduced rural conflicts in Pará and put 7.8 million hectares of forest under protection. In 2009, he was building a platform for the 2010 gubernatorial election; and, not surprisingly, it would focus on sustainable development. Among the NGO partners, Imazon and TNC fit together like yin and yang: Imazon knew how to deliver remote sensing information to government, and TNC knew how to apply this to land management and help nervous farmers join the CAR. “Our forte is working with the private sector, and in Brazil, that usually means soy farmers,” says TNC’s Thompson. “When we began work in Paragominas, we didn’t have a strong private drive, but we had a very strong governmental drive.” Fortunately, Mauro Lucio, the president of the Paragominas Rural Farmers Union (SPRP), understood the risk calculus and invited TNC to set up shop in their offices. “From the start, they introduced us as people who were expert in the code, so they knew we weren’t environmental police, but rather people who can answer your questions about the CAR, and who will maintain confidentiality, because we’re here to help you get into compliance,” says Thompson – who also recalls the moment it almost all went off the rails. “We were sitting in the farmers union office, and there was a farmer waiting there with some documents,” he says. “Then someone from the local government came in and said something to the effect of, ‘Now, with CAR, we can levy fines on the right people and hold them responsible for their actions.'” The farmer folded his documents and left. “He started telling people it was a trap, and everything stopped right then,” says Thompson. In what Thompson describes as an “all hands on deck” response, all the partner organizations – from the NGOs to the municipality to the farmers’ union – hit the phones, and soon prosecutors from the state and municipal level were brought in to state clearly and on-the-record, in front of rolling cameras and smart phones, that the CAR registration drive wasn’t a trap to fine people, but a way to help everyone get into compliance. “The basic idea was that, prior to 2008, the rules weren’t clear, so if you’re found to have exceeded the allowance in that period, the government would work with you – maybe arrange someone with excess forest to lease you some – but if you cleared the land after 2008, you’d be in trouble,” says Thompson. “We wanted them to understand the obligations they had under the new law, but also to make sure they didn’t have unwarranted fears.” While TNC engaged the large landowners, Imazon targeted the smaller ones and also provided the technical analysis underlying the whole project. “We started producing monthly deforestation reports, and the Municipal Environmental Secretary team went to the properties to make sure that what the satellite images were showing was accurate on the ground,” says Amaral. “It was a very effective monitoring process, and it supported discussions with the local society about the challenges and the benefits of Paragominas getting off the [Black] List.” From Soy to Beef Despite its extensive work with soy farmers, TNC didn’t have experience with cattle ranchers – and Thompson feared that could become a problem. “Soy production is, quite frankly, easier to track than cattle are,” he says. “After all, soy doesn’t have legs.” Anticipating that some ranchers would end up with a “forest deficit”, meaning they’d have to restore a portion of their land, the NGOs asked the University of Sao Paulo to pilot a restoration project. Farmers’ union boss Lucio, meanwhile, secured funding for intensification programs to help ranchers get more meat from the same amount of land. “Up to then, ranchers had expanded their herds by chopping their forests,” says Demachki. “With intensification, they could expand their herds by managing them better – by growing vertically instead of horizontally – and it was important to demonstrate that.” Imazon and TNC learned just how important that was when they started testing the program in other blacklisted municipalities. São Félix do Xingu: Same Approach, Different Outcome With Paragominas now going better than anyone expected, Fundo Vale offered to help the NGOs expand their efforts into four other municipalities – among them São Félix do Xingu. “São Félix is an active frontier, while Paragominas got on the black list because it was created with a five-year horizon,” says Thompson. “We took the same approach in São Felix as we had in Paragominas – looking for alliances with locals, mainly in the private sector, offering to help them get off the Black List, to get on the CAR – but the unions weren’t interested, and Ibama was cracking down hard on the region.” The first meeting, he recalls, drew a few dozen curiosity-seekers, but the next one drew hundreds of angry protesters. “It was an ugly, near-riot situation,” says Thompson. “They didn’t know us, didn’t trust us, didn’t want to hear us.” Meanwhile, Simao Jatene announced that he would once again run for governor of Pará – on an environmental platform that included the creation of a statewide “Green Municipalities” program designed to replicate the Paragominas success across the state. This is the second in a series of stories examining the emergence of Brazil’s Green Municipalities: what they can achieve, what they can’t, and what must happen for them to succeed. Click here to follow the series on Ecosystem Marketplace. — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website. […]

Can Brazil’s ‘Green Municipalities’ Save the Amazon?

Consumer giants like Unilever and Marks&Spencer have promised to source materials from states and regions that slash deforestation, but slowing deforestation requires buy-in at every level of society. Here’s how one Brazilian jurisdiction became the country’s first “Green Municipality”, and why that success may prove difficult to replicate. This is the first in a series of stories examining the emergence of Brazil’s Green Municipalities: what they can achieve, what they can’t, and what must happen for them to succeed. Click here to follow the series on Ecosystem Marketplace. Adnan Demachki hadn’t caught a good night’s sleep in days – not since the riots started. The year was 2008, and the riots began on November 28 – exactly eight months after he’d begun transforming Paragominas from an environmental pariah into a Município Verde, or “Green Municipality” – although “county” might be a better way to translate município. Paragominas sprawls across more than 19,000 square kilometers – nearly 7,500 square miles – of forests, farms, and fields in the Brazilian Amazon, and in 2007, it had the second-highest rate of deforestation in all of Brazil. “At the time, most people equated Paragominas with deforestation,” Demachki recalls. “The only time we made the news, it was about illegal logging, murders, blood, conflicts, etc.” The Green Municipality program was supposed to end that, and for a few months, it succeeded – but now it had all gone horribly wrong. He turned on the local news: there was his City Hall in flames, his constituents battling each other in the streets, his police staring them down, and his grand plan to save the rural economy by saving the forest taking the blame. Then came the national news, and he cringed at the sight of Paragominas there as well – the torched local offices of IBAMA, which is often described as Brazil’s “environmental police”, but the acronym translates as the “Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources”. Technically, it’s the Ministry of Environment’s administrative arm, but it does have some police powers, and it did seize those logging trucks… With trepidation, he turned to BBC. Surely, he hoped, they won’t care about an obscure local dispute deep in the Amazon. But they did care, and that meant it was all unraveling – all the trust he’d built among environmentalists and reputation-sensitive food giants, which in turn was built on agreements he’d forged among cattlemen and loggers and settlers and indigenous people. It was all going up in smoke – along with City Hall, along with IBAMA, and along with the Amazon rainforest – and this just two months after he’d won re-election. His phone vibrated. It was a text, from a number he’d never seen before, requesting his presence the next morning in the charred City Hall. “Yes,” he answered. “I’ll be there.” And he sat down to produce two documents. The first was a letter of apology to Brazil’s Minister of the Environment, Carlos Minc, and to the nation as a whole, asking Brazil to forgive the people of Paragominas and reiterating his promise to end deforestation by the year 2014. It left room for signatures from 51 organizations. The second was his letter of resignation. If they’re not behind this Green Municipality idea, he thought to himself, then I have nothing to offer. And with that, he began another sleepless night. How it Came to This The next two days would have profound implications for Paragominas and the entire Amazon Rainforest, and the consequences are being felt to this day, but the sequence of events that culminated in late 2008 began five years earlier, when President Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva took office and appointed Marina Silva as his minister of environment. The daughter of rubber tappers in the state of Acre, her appointment sparked high hopes among environmentalists – and it didn’t hurt that her last name, as well as Lula’s, means “forest” in Latin. At the time, Brazil was losing a record 25,000 square kilometers of forest per year, according to the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), and it accounted for 5% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Lula launched a US$136 crusade against forest destruction – establishing land-use controls, promoting sustainable development, and ramping up enforcement of forest laws. Marina, as her supporters refer to her, started beefing up the previously impotent IBAMA, but landowners pushed back: the Forest Code, they said, was vague and contradictory, making enforcement uneven and unfair. Until then, it had also been non-existent. A New Forest Code, and the Black List Lawmakers began updating the country’s strict but poorly-enforced Forest Code, and by 2007 they’d agreed on a clearer – and in some ways more lenient – law, but one that was also eminently enforceable and came with positive incentives to comply. The old rules still applied: Amazonian landowners still couldn’t convert more than 20% of their forestland to farms, but the new rule would be enforced with a combination of fines and incentives, as well as amnesty of sorts for the farmers of Paragominas, which was classified as a “consolidated development area”. That meant landowners could be forgiven for exceeding their 20% limit, but only if the excess deforestation happened before 2008 and only if it didn’t exceed 50%. Also in 2007, an NGO called the Institute of Man and Environment in the Amazon (Instituto do Homem e Meio Ambiente da Amazônia or “Imazon”) started processing data from NASA satellites and publishing state-by-state deforestation rates every few weeks. The data clearly showed that some states were worse than others, and that Mato Grosso and Pará, where Paragominas was located, had the highest rates of all. On top of this, Lula asked Ibama´s environmental protection director, Flavio Montiel, to identify the municipalities with the worst records and put them on a “Black List” (the favored name is now “Critic List”). He identified 36 municipalities that, combined, represented just 6% of the jurisdictions in the Amazon, but accounted for more than half of deforestation in 2007. Almost half of them – 17 to be exact – were in Pará state. Paragominas was second on the list, and it immediately lost access to credit and faced an embargo on new land permits, while IBAMA – together with the Federal Police and the National Army – launched an enforcement mechanism called Arco de Fogo, or Arc of Fire. Landowners who exceeded their tree-chopping allowance were soon being visited by armed soldiers, who often arrived by helicopter, and commandos began tossing illegal loggers out of the forest and shutting down charcoal plants and illegal sawmills. From “Black List” to “Green Municipality” Demachki had anticipated the Forest Code, and he was in the process of steering his community towards more sustainable practices, but the Black List caught him by surprise. “We already knew we had to straighten ourselves out, but it wasn’t only about illegal logging,” he says. “I knew it was bigger than that – but how big?” He asked Imazon to help him map the municipality and identify the drivers of deforestation. Not surprisingly, he found, most of it had come from the soybean boom, with the expansion of cattle not far behind. Logging made headlines, but it was minimal and mostly confined to illegal incursions into indigenous territories, primarily the forest that belonged to the Tembe people. “We wanted to get off the Black List, but what were we getting into?” he asks. “We wanted to preserve, but preserve what?” With Imazon’s land-use data, he started finding answers. “We identified the areas that could be preserved, the ones that were in production, and those that could be reforested,” he says. “Then we started reaching out to businesses – individually at first to identify conflicts and commonalities, starting with the forest sector, then the farmers and ranchers, then commerce, and so on.” Over time, the groups became cross-sectoral, and there were meetings every night for three weeks straight in February. “We spent every night talking about behavior change, the way we manage ourselves as a municipality, global warming, climate change,” Demachki recalls. By all accounts, it was an inclusive process, involving the heads of the various farmers’ unions, the loggers’ associations, the laborers who turned illegally-harvested wood into charcoal. “Up to then, we’d been growing by chopping the forest, so we were growing horizontally,” Demachki says. “Most of the farmers understood that we needed to grow vertically instead – meaning using information and technology to make our agriculture more efficient.” Labor understood, too, and he promised to court new industries, like frozen-food plants and furniture factories using sustainably-harvested wood. “The idea was to add more value locally instead of just exporting raw materials,” he says. “People were receptive, and even the loggers understood their business wasn’t sustainable in the long term. Plus, most of what they were doing was already illegal – we were just enforcing the law.” Finally, Demachki convened a meeting in City Hall on February 28, 2008. “It lasted four hours, and we emerged with a social agreement that included a zero deforestation clause,” he says. “It was signed by the heads of 51 organizations, representing civil society, labor, companies, etc.” The agreement vowed to end illegal deforestation immediately and begin re-shaping Paragominas into a Green Municipality, with zero net deforestation by 2014 and 100 million new trees planted in rural areas. Each city, it said, would have 12 square meters of green space per resident. Sustainable Amazon At the same time, Lula and the governors of the Amazon states – Acre, Amapá , Amazonas, Maranhão, Mato Grosso, Pará, Rondônia , Roraima and Tocantins – launched the Sustainable Amazon Plan (Plano Amazônia Sustentável or “PAS), which was a roadmap for municipalities to get off the Black List. Although called a “plan”, the PAS is really a set of guidelines that the states agreed to follow while trying to balance growth and conservation. The idea was to impose enough regulation to slow deforestation, while leaving enough flexibility to meet the social and cultural particularities of each state. Assembling the CAR A cornerstone of the PAS was the CAR – the Cadastro Ambiental Rural, or “Rural Environmental Registry”, which is a national database of rural properties. Registration was voluntary, but any blacklisted municipality had to get 80% of its land onto the CAR to get off the list – and that was no easy task. To begin with, the population of the Amazon’s “new frontier” had increased more than six-fold between 1960 and 1970, as the government incentivized land clearing. These rural pioneers rarely gained official land title, and it was nearly impossible to tell which farmers were responsible for which rainforest destruction. On top of that, farmers often balked at getting on the CAR – an act many saw as akin to sticking your head into the lion’s mouth. To reach them, Demachki and Imazon turned to another environmental group: The Nature Conservancy (TNC) Overcoming CAR Resistance Lula’s arrival coincided with burgeoning awareness among consumers that Brazil’s soybean farms and ranches were driving deforestation. As a result, environmental pressure groups started shining a light on household brands that sourced their products from the Amazon, prompting them to pressure their own suppliers – like food giant Cargill – to begin tracking their own suppliers, of which there were hundreds of thousands. TNC had been working with Cargill since 2004 to monitor the deforestation impact of soy producers in Santarém, in western Pará. It had learned to understand and appreciate the needs and fears of farmers. “They’re basically afraid they’ll get hit with a massive fine if their land is mapped and it shows they’ve exceeded their deforestation limit,” says Ian Thompson, Director of TNC’s Amazon Conservation Program. “Their fears are normally exaggerated, and we tend to focus on the benefits of compliance: peace of mind, and access to credit and to the major markets, plus the ability to plan their production much better, because they end up with a better understanding of their own land use.” Demachki invited TNC to join Imazon in his offices, and Thompson recalls an incident that almost derailed the whole process. “We were sitting in Adnan [Demachki]’s office, and there was a farmer waiting there with some documents,” he says. “Then someone from the prosecutor’s office said something to the effect of, ‘Now, with CAR, we can levy fines on the right people and hold them responsible for their actions.'” The farmer folded his documents and left. “He started telling people it was a trap, and everything stopped right then,” says Thompson. Demachki then called the governor’s office and arranged a public meeting, with prosecutors from the state and municipal level stating clearly and on-the-record – in front of rolling cameras – that the CAR registration drive wasn’t a trap, but a way to get everyone into compliance. “The basic idea was that, prior to 2008, the rules weren’t clear, so if you’re found to have exceeded the allowance in that period, the government would work with you – maybe arrange someone with excess forest to lease you some – but if you cleared the land after 2008, you’d be in trouble,” says Thompson. Uneven Acceptance Slowly, farmers began to join the CAR – and many early-movers said they were able to better manage their land as a result. “A lot of these guys never had maps before,” says Thompson. “Now, they could look and say, ‘Well, this land is really unproductive, let’s give it back to nature,’ and if they were out of compliance, they could come back in quite easily.” Demachki handily won re-election on October 4, but it was slow going, and not everyone was keeping up their end of the bargain. The loggers, for example, continued to poach timber from the Tembe indigenous territory, and the illegal factories continued to turn much of that wood into charcoal. Damachki and IBAMA clamped down on these operations, but his efforts to attract new businesses languished – largely because of the municipality’s dirty reputation. “That stigma was hard to overcome,” he says. Tensions began to build between the farmers – who saw a clear benefit to the Green Municipality initiative – and the loggers, who didn’t. It escalated as IBAMA confiscated 15 truckloads of illegally-harvested timber, and it all came to a head after the November 15 Republic Day celebrations. “Some people burned the trucks, which belonged to logging companies, and the employees of these companies were completely desperate,” says Damachki. “The loggers retaliated, and they were joined by the unemployed people, and in that confusion, the riot started.” The date was November 28, 2008: eight months to the day after the Green Municipality agreement had been signed. Into the Lions’ Den Damachki arrived at city hall as he promised, and it was packed. “Everyone was there!” he says. “Loggers, civil society, people in commerce.” He presented the letter that he calls his Apology to the Nation, and made his case. The world is watching, he said, and he implored them to reaffirm the deal they made eight months earlier – or, he warned, they’d give up all hope of attracting the kind of jobs they needed. Most agreed, but the logging and labor factions balked. “I needed unanimous support, or we would never overcome the stigma,” Damachki says. He dug into his pocket and offered his letter of resignation. This is the first in a series of stories examining the emergence of Brazil’s Green Municipalities: what they can achieve, what they can’t, and what must happen for them to succeed. Click here to follow the series on Ecosystem Marketplace. — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website. […]

Smartfin lets surfers act as citizen scientists just by catching a wave

The sensor-filled fin is gathering important ocean data for scientists to study. […]

Marijuana Farmers VS Hemp Farmers Over Pollen

Complaints from legal marijuana farms have halted the issuance of hemp farming licenses in Oregon- for now. Both types of farms are authorized under Oregon law. Marijuana, used for medicine and recreation, and hemp, used for industrial and commercial purposes, are plants in the same family. That means they can cross-breed. The Oregonian reports that […]