Arkansas green future

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“Control your own destiny or someone else will.” Jack Welch, CEO, General Electric

Last Friday the bomb-cyclone on the Northeast coast, the second monster storm in two months, was said to be their worst extreme weather event in history. Several people died from rising tides, coastal flooding, and high-speed winds. Destruction in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New York, Maryland, and Virginia took down power lines, leaving more than two million people in the cold and dark. This is additional evidence of the climate emergency. The cost of the devastation will take a massive toll on these communities.

Green money power

Extreme weather events have an enormous cost, not only the loss of life, but the destruction of property and time to recover. Avoiding and mitigating these economic losses provides a clear economic incentive. Climate change deniers will be shunned, ignorant business people set in their ways, blinded by ambition. Education, science, honesty, and hard work will once again be rewarded in the green economy. Sadly, in our democracy, it’s all about money. Let’s use green money to change the laws to protect our planet.

Phasing out fossil fuels

Carbon Fee and Dividend (CF&D) is the best way to transition from fossil fuels. CF&D is simple and honest, moving us to solar and offshore wind energy, benefitting the people and the planet. Polluters pay the price of carbon emissions and people get a check. Dr. Hansen’s granddaughter shows how it works on YouTube: Sophie Sez #3: $1000 for You – A Better World for Your Children. US plants produced five billion tons of CO2 last year. At $55 per ton, the yearly cost of emissions is $275 billion of green money!

Carbon capture and storage

Phasing out fossil fuels is not enough. Dr. James Hansen provides a solution in his 2017 report, Young people’s burden: requirement of negative CO2 emissions. We need to remove carbon from the atmosphere and store it in the soil, with improved agricultural and forestry practices.

Drawdown is a 2017 book describing what people all over the world are doing to extract and store CO2. Reading the stories at drawdown.org brings a sense of hope and determination. Arkansas Interfaith Power & Light is hosting Earth Care Gathering, a Drawdown conference, March 24, Little Rock.

A healthy environment and economy

My vision for Arkansas differs from what we have today: fossil fuels, forest clear cuts, lax environmental regulations, unsafe work conditions, false economic development, low-wages and unemployment, and rising incarceration.

Arkansas has been blessed with 19 million acres of private forests, the place where trees and wildlife live. These ecosystems provide clean air, water, and shelter. But forests are seen as timber factories for loggers and truckers. Noise, pollution, and stumps are the price people pay. Today, the remaining forests are invaluable oxygen factories and carbon sequestration stations, millions of acres working around the clock.

Forest owners get paid to keep their trees alive. The amount of carbon the forest holds, in tons of CO2 per acre, is converted into carbon credits. The Nature Conservancy Working Woodlands program and other agencies offer green money!

Foresters, loggers, and truckers, the people making a living from the forests, have a better role as forest guardians. Having experienced people on the ground protecting and preserving the forests will keep intruders, pests, and arsonists away.

Large projects use Foreign Direct Investments without public input and poor results. The Sun Paper project has taken years and tens of millions of dollars with federal, state and county funds. A lousy deal for Arkansas.

Green economy is Arkansas’ future

Many people travel to Arkansas to enjoy nature at its best. Tourists will be surprised by great roads and the sound of silence, wondering whatever happened to the massive logging machines used to clear cut the forests for wood mills, the road congestion and potholes on the roads. Arkansas will see increased tourist revenues, investing in lodging, fishing, canoeing, and other green local jobs. The bottom-up community development will reduce drug addiction and the increasing inmate population.

Let’s join the efforts and buy-back our democracy with green money!

Dr. Luis Contreras

7 COMMENTS

  1. DRAWDOWN describes over 100 ways to remove CO2 from the atmosphere worldwide

    The world’s 1.9 billion acres of temperate forests are a net-carbon sink.

    According to the World Resources Institute, more than 1.4 billion additional acres are candidates for restoration—either large-scale, closed forest or mixed mosaics of forests, more sparsely growing trees, and land uses such as agriculture. With restoration comes additional carbon sequestration.

    While temperate forests are not threatened by the same large-scale deforestation that afflicts the tropics, they continue to be fragmented by development. They also are experiencing hotter and more frequent droughts, longer heat waves, and more severe wildfires, as well as worsening insect and pathogen outbreaks. These disturbances can push temperate forests beyond their capacity for resilience. Restoration efforts will need to continue evolving in response, yet restoration is no replacement for protection.

    http://www.drawdown.org/solutions/land-use/temperate-forests

  2. Carbon offsets are used by the Nature Conservancy and many other organizations

    Here is a great success story from the University of Kentucky

    The University of Kentucky Hopes to Reap Money from forest Without Mining, Logging
    U.S. News & World Report-Mar 3, 2018

    The Lexington Herald-Leader reports UK is exploring a partnership with The Nature Conservancy to implement a program that could pay UK millions for … Now, UK is looking to tap into the conservancy’s Working Woodlands program, in which local landowners certify their forests are being conserved and …

    http://www.kentucky.com/news/local/counties/fayette-county/article191266484.html

  3. Forests are one of our most valuable resources and Arkansas is home to some of the sweetest in the country! Our organization worked to utilize the carbon market to provide income to landowners while protecting some of the most important places they owned and improving management practices where they were logging. You can find out more about the Carbon Canopy Project here – https://www.dogwoodalliance.org/our-work/forests-climate/carbon-canopy/

    It involved major companies that are likely familiar to everyone reading this… Staples, Coca Cola, Domtar and more.

    This is a great and important issue Dr. Contreras is raising and an excellent alternative to new pulp and wood pellet mills. Something that could actually benefit all people in Arkansas not just offshore company shareholders.

  4. AEDC and ATRS are not alone trying desperately to sell our Forests, including the Ouachita National Forests.

    This may seem surprising, but there are no secrets in Arkansas.

    Some people say, there is nothing we can do, this is a RED state and the Koch Brothers make the rules. This line of thinking no longer works, Arkansans are standing and taking charge.

    Please read about the Seed to Sawmill tour, an event sponsored by US Senator Boozman and US Rep Bruce Westerman, intended to promote the Resilient Federal Forests Act in the US Senate.

    Note: Resilient and Renewable are two terms used by Boozman and Westerman to deceive the American people, paid by Big Timber.

    1. Logging National forests and clearcutting the land would prevent wildfires, but who wants stumps on the ground? How is that resilient?

    2. Clearcuting a forest and planting seeds is at best a poor bet new trees will grow. Why? Extreme weather events with floods, droughts and high heat, our new reality getting worse every year under Trump’s orders to use fossil fuels and stop solar power generation, makes new trees a thing of the past. Pine tree plantations are not resilient forests, the Arkansas pine beetle infestation is a disaster waiting to happen.

    Please read what the Factory tour is all about, and comment.

    “Dubbed “Seed2SawmillTour,” the event began on Aug. 30 to promote forest health and tout the economic benefits of forestry to the state of Arkansas. In addition to Pine Bluff, Boozman and Westerman have visited El Dorado, Emerson, Warren, Monticello and Crossett.”

    Westerman, the only professional forester in Congress, lead the tour through counties in his Fourth Congressional District. In addition to an undergraduate degree in engineering from the University of Arkansas, Westerman holds a master’s degree in forestry from Yale University.

    “Trees are America’s number one renewable resource,” Westerman said. “Healthy forests provide clean air, clean water, wildlife habitat, outdoor recreation opportunities, and beautiful vistas. But healthy forests don’t just happen. A wide range of professionals from research scientists and foresters to technicians, loggers, machinery operators and the remaining 28,000 Arkansans employed in forestry and its related mills and processing facilities all play a key part in healthy forests in the Natural State.”

    Boozman added that “the timber industry generates over $3 billion a year for our state’s economy and supports jobs for thousands of Arkansans. Its impact on our economy cannot be overstated. That’s why it is important that Congressman Westerman and I take this opportunity to visit our timber farms, mills, and factories to speak directly with those whose livelihoods are tied to the decisions we make in Washington. We need to hear from them about what Congress should be doing to help this important industry continue to thrive in Arkansas.”

    According to the Arkansas Forestry Association, 28,057 Arkansans are directly employed in the forestry and forest products industry with an average annual income of more than $49,000. The Arkansas Forest Resources Center reports an additional 41,755 indirect and induced jobs resulting from the forestry industry. The total economic impact of forestry to the state of Arkansas is $3.2 billion, the AFA reports, while the AFSC notes an additional $3.4 billion in indirect and induced economic impact.

    During the forestry tour, Boozman and Westerman have explored forestry from the birth of a tree through its lifecycle, including its use in forest products such as paper and building materials. The tour also featured proper forest management and the positive environmental impacts achieved through conservation efforts.

    http://www.pbcommercial.com/news/20160901/boozman-westerman-tour-pine-bluff-thursday

  5. AEDC’s mission is to improve Arkansas economy …

    The Arkansas Teachers Retirement System’s mission is to protect teacher’s future needs, when they retire. To some, (ATRS) is a piggy bank used by AEDC to fund high-risk, high-carbo projects, when no one else wants to touch these projects at all.

    Please read and comment:

    “The ATRS board recently decided to invest more than $125 million in two different projects that could help bring jobs to south Arkansas and help mid-level startup and emerging companies in Arkansas reach the next stage of development.

    Hopkins said the ATRS staff held formal and informal talks with Highland Pellets of Boston and Sun Paper of China, who are at different stages of developing two paper mill projects that will bring more than $1 billion of new investment into south Arkansas’s vast timberland region.

    “We own over 100 square miles of timber in South Arkansas and we are excited about Highland and Sun Paper and had regular discussions with them and we want to see both of them not only succeed but prosper and expand,” Hopkins said.

    HIGHLAND PLANT DRAWS $25 MILLION FROM ATRS
    To that end, the ATRS board invested $25 million in privately-held Highland Pellets, which is building a 600,000 metric ton wood pellet facility in Pine Bluff. Highland Chairman Tom Reilley said the $200 million project is on schedule to begin production in late 2016 despite spring showers that slowed progress.

    Arkansas Teacher Retirement System (ATRS) Executive George Hopkins: “I think Highland pellet has a partner in ATRS they feel can help them navigate the political and cultural reality of Arkansas that people from out-of-state would not know,” Hopkins said.

    https://talkbusiness.net/2016/08/atrs-deal-flow-pipeline-investments-benefit-arkansas-companies-job-prospects/

  6. Foreign Direct Investment is a third world economic development strategy, with foreign investors having a minority ownership, somewhere between 10 and 30 percent

    Arkansas is writing new rules by giving China 100 percent ownership, and 10’s of millions in federal, state, and county incentives

    This reference says the Arkansas Economic Development Council (AEDC) is giving $102 Million incentives, I have requested confirmation from AEDC but no response

    https://businessfacilities.com/2018/02/arkansas-governor-report-new-business/

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