MAN, THIS IS TRIPPY: Replanting ancient forests to save the planet may sound like a Rainbow Family wet dream, but that’s what the nonprofit Archangel Ancient Tree Archive is attempting, according to Associated Press environmental writer John Flesher. Archangel is collecting genetic material from such iconic trees as California redwoods, thousand-year-old oaks in Ireland and the cedars of Lebanon. The group is working to replant clones of these trees to restore the world’s forests and help absorb the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. David Milarch, a tree nursery operator from Copemish, Mich., and his sons have partnered with an investor and some researchers to establish Archangel, which has an indoor research and production complex. Terry Root, a Stanford University climate expert, says the clones could help fight climate change if enough trees are planted where conditions favor their long-term survival. “You can’t put a redwood or giant sequoia just anywhere,” she tells Flesher. Read Flesher’s article. Just Google “Group seeks forest restoration to cleanse planet.”
WE’RE SO OVER THE MIDEAST: Everybody in the United States is sick of shipping huge palettes of good American greenbacks to Arab sheiks to pay for our oil. But how do we achieve “energy independence,” especially before fully “green” sources such as wind and solar are ready to carry a much bigger load? According to Time magazine, in a March 31 cover story by Bryan Walsh, natural gas drawn from shale rock could be the answer. Using drilling methods developed by a Texas wildcatter, companies have been able to tap large quantities of gas from shale, leading to low prices for natural gas even as oil prices go up, Walsh says. Together with conventional gas supplies, the U.S. may have enough gas to last 100 years (the U.S. has less than nine years of oil reserves.) But there are problems. As shale-gas drilling has increased, it’s been met with growing environmental concerns, including complaints about spills, air pollution and wastewater contamination caused by the hydraulic fracturing process—also known as fracking—that is used to tap shale-gas resources. Read the entire piece—“Could Shale Gas Power the World?”—at www.timeinc.com/com. Time may have shown us a version of this movie before. In November 1979, in “Energy: Tapping the Riches of Shale,” William Rademaekers told us that “The drive to gain some freedom from OPEC by developing domestic energy sources has never been more pressing.” He was referring to, among other factors, the ongoing Iran hostage crisis that would help doom Jimmy Carter’s presidency. He said that numerous investors, with encouragement from policymakers in D.C., were attempting to extract petroleum from domestic shale rock. And environmentalists raised concerns about this effort, as well. According to Rademaekers, then- Colorado Governor Richard Lamm protested that any crash development program “could do irreparable damage to our water supply, to our communities, to our environment.”
A NEW GIRAFFE: Tessa, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s four-year-old, 1,800-pound Maasai giraffe, gave birth to her first calf April 2. It is the first time in 26 years that the zoo has celebrated a giraffe birth. Sex of the calf is unknown at this time. The zoo will provide updates, photos and video of the baby through the zoo’s website, Facebook and Twitter, and visitors will have a chance to help name the baby. Although their numbers have decreased in the past century, giraffes are not currently endangered, but listed as “lower risk,” according to a news release from the zoo. For more, go to www.cincinnatizoo.com.
GREEN EVENTS: Sometimes you need to block out the Gloomy Big Picture and just get your hands dirty. Here are some upcoming Alabama eco-events where you can do just that.
Me likey the purty sumac: Ruffner Mountain Nature Center, along with Arnie Rutkis of Stoneshovel, will present a native plant sale, Saturday, April 9, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Learn about the benefits of native plants in residential landscapes. Buy trees, shrubs, wildflowers and grasses and learn proper planting techniques. Plants for sale will include such Ruffner Mountain natives as fragrant sumac, hawthorns and hydrangea. Enjoy guided hikes and tours of the RMNC’s landscape restoration project, fern glade and rain garden. Local native plant experts will have an information booth, and you can learn about upcoming workshops at Ruffner. Learn more at www.ruffnermountain.org.
What’s that, Lassie? A hike from the old mill? The Alabama Chapter of the Sierra Club Cahaba Group will host an outing to the waterfalls of the Bankhead National Forest on April 9. The outing will begin at Collier Creek Falls, the site of an old mill, and then—according to the group’s web site—proceed through the “magical canyon” to Shangri-La Falls (“Dude, it’s a little early in the day for me to go to the ‘magical canyon.’ You feel me?”). Participants should meet at 7 a.m at the Cracker Barrel at the I-459 /U.S. 280 junction or at 8:30 a.m. at the Sipsey River Recreation Area. For information, call (205) 907-6879 or check out www.alabama.sierraclub.org/outings.html.
Go fly a kite! The Watercress Darter Festival, to be held at Railroad Park, Sunday, April 10, 1-4 p.m., will feature kites for sale, performance art and food from George’s Boxcar Café. For information, call (205) 226-4934. The event is sponsored by the Freshwater Land Trust and the Southern Environmental Center. Proceeds will benefit the SEC’s Community Ecoscapes program, which helps schools and communities create nature centers or outdoor learning sites. Learn more at www.myecoscapes.org.
Teach the teachers: The Environmental Education Association of Alabama strives to enhance teachers’ abilities to connect people to the natural world and foster responsible stewardship. The EEAA will host its annual Science & Environmental Education Conference from Thursday, April 14, through Saturday, April 16, at the Solon Dixon Forestry Education Center in Andalusia. Register at www.eeaa.us.