Sunday, November 28, 2010

TÛRANOR PlanetSolar - An Exciting Alternative Blue Climate Solution

28 Nov. 2010 | Miami, FL -- The world's largest solar-powered boat was in Miami Beach this weekend, stopping on its way to Cancún, Mexico, for the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP16).

The vessel TÛRANOR, part of the Swiss-based project, PlanetSolar, measures close to 102 feet in length and 50 feet in width, and is powered exclusively by solar energy. It will highlight the application of readily available renewable energy (solar power) in Cancún.

After Cancún, TÛRANOR will continue its quest to be the first to circumnavigate the globe in a “solar” boat.

I don’t think you can get much more clean and energy efficient on the water (my sailboat is jealous). We wish them the best of luck.

Raphaël Domjan, founder of the PlanetSolar project, addresses the crowd on Miami Beach.

-Steven Lutz, Blue Climate Solutions

P.S. The name TÛRANOR is derived from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings Saga and translates into "The Power of the Sun."

P.S. (2) Can it keep beer cold?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Cancun's vanishing mangroves hold climate promise

Expect a push for mangroves at COP16 -

Wed, Nov 24 2010 By Patrick Rucker

CANCUN, Mexico (Reuters) - This famous beach resort, which will next week host international climate change talks, was itself born from the destruction of a potent resource to fight global warming.

Thick mangrove forests lined the canals and waterways here before developers dredged the land to make way for the upscale hotels that now draw several million tourists every year.

In the 40 years since Cancun was founded, countless acres of mangrove forests up and down Mexico's Caribbean Coast have been lost -- and the destruction continues.

Now many scientists say that mangrove forests can help slow climate change, and are desperate to save them.

"We still have a lot to learn but the potential is huge for mangroves," said Gail Chmura, a climate change researcher at McGill University in Montreal who studies how much carbon is stored in these knobby, tidal forests.

As they process sunlight into food, mangroves suck an uncommon amount of industrial carbon out of the atmosphere and bury it deep within their underground network of roots.

As nations looks desperately for "carbon sinks" that can capture and store carbon linked to climate change, mangroves are increasingly seen as a resource worth saving.

The United Nations may soon pay countries to set aside mangroves and sea plants that sock away carbon and those same reserves could mean long-term cash under a global carbon cap and trade scheme.

With that plan, polluters would buy, sell and swap their right to burn carbon fuels under new emissions rules.

Breathing life into that carbon market is a key goal of climate talks among almost 200 nations meeting in Cancun from November 29 to December 10. The meeting is a follow-up to the December 2009 Copenhagen summit which disappointed many nations by falling short of a binding treaty to slow global warming.


Climate experts argue that the long-term benefits of conservation will outweigh the short-term gains of development at every turn. In Mexico and around the world, though, the arguments for development usually win.

"There is more profit in tourism than conservation," said Alfredo Arellano, the local director of the Commission for Protected Areas who notes that Mexico loses nearly 25,000 acres or 1 percent of its mangroves annually.

Hotels and beach resorts have been spreading across the areas surrounding Cancun since planners began turning a desolate sandbar into a tourist hot-spot in 1970.

The resort area is now a top destination for U.S. sun-seekers drawn to its white-sand beaches and raucous party scene. Tourism officials expect the area to absorb more than $4 billion in foreign cash this year.

The flow of tourist dollars is simply more bankable than the possible, future income from saving the mangroves.

"Carbon markets are too underdeveloped to create an appetite for conservation," Arellano said. "I hope that changes before it's too late."

Besides their power to sponge up carbon, mangroves serve as fish nurseries and buffers for devastating ocean storms -- a worth that ecologists say is lost in a short-term tally of the land's value.

In Southeast Asia, home to a third of the world's remaining mangroves, shrimp farmers covet the rich, silty estuaries where those forests thrive.

A Thai farmer can rely on government subsidies to pocket $1,220 a year by converting 2.5 acres of mangrove into a shrimp farm but the land will be so depleted after five years that it will cost more than $9,000 to restore, according to a report sponsored by the United Nations. The knock-on expense of lost fish habitat and a vulnerable coastline will top $12,000 a year, the study concludes.

"We are only now getting a glimpse of the true value of the world's natural systems," said Nick Nuttall, spokesman for the U.N. Environment Programme which is calculating the bottom-line worth of many fragile ecosystems.

While mangroves in Asia have been chipped for scrap wood and West African mangroves are commonly burned to extract salt from seawater, the marine forests of Mexico are routinely flattened for tourism.

Cancun is now home to about 600,000 people, and officials are seeking bids for an international airport about 100 km (60 miles) to the south near the seaside town of Tulum where mangroves are still abundant.

Rene Gonzalez, a local guide, often takes visitors from that quaint tourist town deep into the adjacent Sian Ka'an nature reserve that covers 1.3 million acres of brackish marsh, grassland and estuaries.

"Thirty five years ago, Cancun looked exactly like the biosphere is today," Gonzalez said of Sian Ka'an, a United Nations' World Heritage Site.

Gonzalez says he has lived in eastern Mexico long enough to know that tensions between conservation and development almost always end in tree stumps and asphalt.

"It's working its way down," Gonzalez said of development, while zooming around in a flat-bottomed boat through Mayan trading routes carves through the mangroves. "It won't take forty years for them to make another Cancun."

(Additional reporting by Jose Cortazar; Editing by Kieran Murray)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Blue Carbon Message Presented

23 Nov. 2010 -- Thanks again to all who signed our Blue Climate Coalition letters, which advance the blue works and blue carbon concepts - basically healthy coasts and oceans as critical economic infrastructure and as part of the solution to climate change. The letters were delivered to:

The White House – aimed to keep interest alive for blue carbon and offer a range of policy options to the Executive Branch, regarding both domestic and foreign policy.

The Global Environment Facility – aimed to stir interest in blue carbon with this major international climate change funding body.

Senators Kerry and Lieberman – Coalition thank you letters for their action of including options for blue carbon in US climate change legislation (American Power Act, discussion draft).

Seventy-four conservation groups and marine stakeholders, from seventeen countries, signed-on!

Blue Carbon ecosystems - critical components of coastal and island economies and important carbon sinks.

Related press release:

Blue Works: Marine Restoration Advanced to Help Stimulate the Economy and as Part of the Solution to Climate Change

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 19, 2010 -- A large international coalition today issued communications in support of marine conservation and restoration options for creating jobs and stimulating the U.S. economy, and as part of the solution to climate change.

The ‘Blue Climate Coalition,’ comprised of seventy-four conservation groups and marine stakeholders, from seventeen countries, issued recommendations to President Obama and the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

The coalition represents a wide range of interests - environmental leaders including the Pew Environment Group, Sierra Club, Surfrider Foundation, Greenpeace USA, and The Ocean Foundation; restoration groups including Restore America's Estuaries, Seagrass Recovery, and Mangrove Action Project; science and technology interests; and many others.

President Obama was asked to include the conservation and restoration of coastal and marine ecosystems in his plans for economic recovery, and in policies for climate change mitigation.

When healthy, certain marine ecosystems, such as mangrove forests, saltwater marshlands, and seagrass meadows store atmospheric carbon and thereby naturally help mitigate climate change. They also support coastal communities through tourism and commercial and recreational fisheries.

The coalition asked Monique Barbut, GEF chair, to include coastal and marine ecosystem conservation and restoration in GEF funded climate change mitigation projects, and to support the research and development of this approach, recently termed ‘blue carbon’ by the conservation community.

Thank-you letters were also issued to Senator’s Kerry and Lieberman for including options for marine conservation as potential climate mitigation projects in the American Power Act.

“Healthy coastal and marine ecosystems represent critical economic infrastructure for many Americans and around the globe,” said Steven J. Lutz, Executive Director of Blue Climate Solutions, the Miami based group that organized the coalition effort. “A healthy environment can play a central role in driving the economy, as well as addressing greenhouse gas pollution and global climate change.”

“Sadly, we are loosing these important ecosystems at an alarming rate, with 59,000 acres of coastal wetlands lost each year in the Eastern United States alone,” said Lutz. “Such loss threatens the way of life and economic well being of millions of Americans. Let’s take advantage of this opportunity to help ensure a strong economic future while doing something good for ourselves and the environment.”

Blue Climate Coalition letter delivered to the Global Environment Facility.

The Coalition letters are available at:

-Steven Lutz, Blue Climate Solutions