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Renewables

NREL Scientist Jordan Macknick And Jake Janski By Solar Panels
Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Solar farms shine a ray of hope on bees and butterflies

The tidy rows of gleaming solar panels at Pine Gate Renewables facility in southwestern Oregon originally sat amidst the squat grasses of a former cattle pasture. But in 2017 the company started sowing the 41-acre site with a colorful riot of native wildflowers.

The shift was not merely aesthetic; similar projects at a growing number of solar farms around the country aim to help reverse the worrying declines in bees, butterflies, and other key pollinating species observed in recent years…

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Energy At Dusk
Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomerberg

Renewables investment nudges out fossil fuel and nuclear

“The global clean energy transition is gaining pace as it becomes a mainstream investment option. According to the latest research from CERES on progress to a ‘Clean Trillion’ it is also one that far outstripped fossil fuels and nuclear in 2017.

In 2017 the clean energy industry reached a critical turning point. Growth and cost reductions across the sector have far outperformed expectations based on policy frameworks alone.  Dramatic reductions in cost, increases in scale, and technology improvements have fundamentally changed the dynamics of the clean energy market. Energy market dynamics have shifted in favor of clean energy technologies such as wind and solar, which increasingly out-compete new fossil fuel and nuclear power sources…”

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Smoke Stack Video Clip

Planet has only until 2030 to stem catastrophic climate change, experts warn

With as little as 10 - 30 years to make a significant difference—or risk massive species die-off, loss of agricultural lands, forest loss, and extreme weather—I applaud the realization that we can’t continue to conserve land as if climate change is a distant issue.

“Governments around the world must take “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” to avoid disastrous levels of global warming, says a stark new report from the global scientific authority on climate change.

The report issued Monday by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), says the planet will reach the crucial threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels by as early as 2030, precipitating the risk of extreme drought, wildfires, floods and food shortages for hundreds of millions of people…”

 

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Sheep Under Solar Panels
Oregon State University

Study shows crops, forage may benefit from solar panel shade

An accidental discovery at Oregon State University may reveal how solar panels can help grow healthier crops on dryland farms.

Not only can solar power lower energy bills and increase efficiency, but the shade afforded by photovoltaic panels might also boost agricultural production on non-irrigated farmland, retaining more moisture for crops and livestock forage…

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Forbes Media Wind Farm
© 2020 Forbes Media LLC

No, wind farms are not causing global warming

If you hear pushback about wind energy, whether it’s because of the impact on birds and bats, land fragmentation, or light and sound, it’s helpful to frame your response based upon facts and in the context of what havoc climate change will wreak if we don’t slow it down.

Research is documenting we are headed towards massive species die-off, including birds and bats, if we continue on our current track to an increase of three degrees Celsius.

One of the strategic actions your land trust can take is to help your community understand the need for renewables and how they are a necessary part of the conservation solution. A good place to start? Dispel this misconception…

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Climate Change Protest
Wiktor Szymanowicz / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Where Americans (mostly) agree on climate change policies

“Americans are politically divided over climate change, but there’s broader consensus around some of the solutions.

New data from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication — in partnership with Utah State University and the University of California, Santa Barbara — show how Americans across the country view climate and energy policies.

There is widespread support for renewable energy…”

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Solar Panels For Pollinators
The Green Optimistic

Research: Pollinator habitats could be saved by solar power plants

Researchers at the U.S Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory are studying solar energy facilities with pollinator habitats on site. Through this effort they hope to rehabilitate declining pollinator populations that play an important role in the agricultural industries. The loss of such species could result in devastating crop production, costs, and nutrition on a global scale.

Currently, pollinators are responsible for pollinating nearly 75% of all crops used for food. However, because of the increase in man-made environmental stressors, their population continues to steeply decline.

The research team has been working on examining the potential benefits of establishing species’ habitat at utility-scale solar energy facilities to resolve the problem.

They have found that the area around solar panels could provide an ideal location for the plants that attract pollinators

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Committee On Land Trust Hearing Frank San Nicolas PDN
Frank San Nicolas/PDN

Politics: What’s Allowed?

“Can land trusts do advocacy?

Yes! Land trusts can advocate for policies that support conservation — and it’s one of our most important jobs. Think about it. Our elected representatives make decisions about conservation that can open huge opportunities — or shut them down. So, land trusts need to be just as good at building relationships with our elected officials as we are at building relationships with major donors and landowners.

People in land trusts often question whether it’s legal to get involved in politics. The answer is YES, you can advocate on issues, legislation, and ballot measures. But you do need to follow some relatively simple rules. Here’s an overview of the law…”

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Solar And Pollinator Garden
The Road to Wild

Can ground mounted solar farms be wildlife havens?

“Research suggests that the negative impacts of solar installation and operation relative to traditional power generation are extremely low. In fact, over 80% of the impacts were found to be positive or neutral. Yet, it is clear that if it involves the removal of woodland to make space for solar power this can cause a significant contribution to CO2 emissions, but still far lower than coal-based electricity.”

Solar farms can enhance wildlife habitat (and can be compatible with grazing)…

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Hank Stone Uses Compost On His Rangelands
UC Davis

A climate change solution beneath our feet

The roots run deep for Scott Stone at Yolo Land & Cattle Company outside Winters, California. His late father, Hank Stone, bought the 7,500-acre ranch about 40 years ago, and it’s now owned and operated by Scott and his brother Casey.

Stone is as much a natural resources manager as a rancher, with a protective eye on the ranch’s watersheds, trees, pasture and grass-fed cattle, and a genuine desire to leave the land better than he found it…

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