Climate Tech
Rethinking Our Carbon Future
Carbon + Climate Change, Forest Management, Forest Products

Climate Change Perceptions in America

Alarmed. Concerned. Cautious. Disengaged. Doubtful. and, Dismissive.

A year ago, we explored the importance of the Yale Climate Change Communications Group and their work to map perceptions of climate change.

The initial report - 'Global Warming's Six Americas,' published in 2008 - assessed public climate change beliefs, attitudes, and perceptions to create six personas:

Alarmed. Concerned. Cautious. Disengaged. Doubtful. and, Dismissive.

This research has since been updated or expanded on at least 15 times, with the latest update to the core body of work coming in 2020 showing how distribution within each of these audiences changed between 2015 and 2020.

Spoiler alert: Over those 5 years, people became increasingly concerned about climate change.


Yale released its latest research on the topic: Climate Change in the American Mind.

For those interested in digging deeper on how perceptions of climate change are evolving and opportunities to better communicate on it, this is a must read. Even a cursory glance of the executive summary shows some surprising statistics:

  • Americans who think global warming is happening outnumber those who this it is not happening by 6 to 1 (76% vs 12%)
  • 60% believe global warming is mostly human-caused
  • 70% say they are 'somewhat worried" about global warming.
  • 35% are 'very worried'
  • 69% feel a personal sense of responsibility to help reduce global warming
  • 2/3 believe that it it not too late to do something about it
  • 61% disagree with the statement "the actions of a single individual won't make a difference"

These are among the highest numbers seen since the survey was first conducted nearly 15 year ago and a clear indicator that awareness - as well as concerns over - climate change are growing at an increasingly rapid rate.

Our Takeaway

This is just the tip of the iceberg (climate pun, maybe?). Climate conversations aren't just here to stay, they're going to become increasingly alarming and more prevalent in our day-to-day lives.

But it's not all doom and gloom. The fact that a majority of Americans believe it is not too late and that the actions of a single individual can still make a difference puts a massive spotlight on the importance of forests and forest products.

And we're excited to share that story this year. We believe forests provide powerful climate solutions, forest management is how we deliver those solutions, and markets and products are how we sustain them. We all have a part to play in keeping forests as forests, now and tomorrow.

- The #forestproud team

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Reimagining Our Cities
Biomass + Renewable Energy, Carbon + Climate Change, Careers, Cities, Forest Management, Innovation, Mass Timber, People, Products, Urban Forests

FORESTS: Reimagining Our Cities

For the first time in history, more than 50 percent of the world’s population lives in a city.

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Lacey Rose, Canadian Forester, hosts Volvo Penta’s “Mighty Jobs” series

machinery improves efficiency + the world around us

Spectacular machines in dramatic working environments, and entertaining and informative demonstrations of power and precision; the ‘Mighty Jobs’ series will take viewers to several fascinating locations where Volvo Penta’s industrial engine and machinery range is making a vast difference to the lives of customers and ultimately to daily life.

With more than a decade working in forestry, Canadian presenter Lacey Rose is ideally equipped to show what the machines are capable of. “I have a passion for natural resources and am really looking forward to shining a light on people not normally in the public eye,” she says. “We want to show how this innovative machinery can improve not only efficiency but the world around us, and also how customers can benefit from an increased focus on sustainability. There’s no better way to do this than to experience it hands-on in real working environments.”

Read the full press release + check out the series on YouTube as Volvo Penta’s machinery is put to the test on applications as diverse as harvesters, haulers, fire trucks and reach stackers.

 

Surfer on Grain Surfboards board.
Reconnecting People and Forests
Careers, Forest Management, Innovation, People, Products

FOREST TO OCEAN | Grain Surfboards

Grain Surfboards has been crafting one-of-a-kind wooden surfboards from sustainably managed Maine forests since 2005. With an emphasis on quality and sincere commitment to sustainable practices, each board is made one at a time, by hand, to create a product that has a soul and tells a story.

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Changing the Face of Forestry

Positive changes are leveling the playing field in forestry.

The forest sector is a great career choice. I feel very fortunate to have spent 15 years in forestry—every day is different, the people are amazing and I get paid to be outside. What’s not to love?

When I attended the University of New Brunswick’s forestry program in 2006, about 25% of my classmates were women. In my first few summer forestry jobs, I worked with women and my first mentors were women upon graduation. I didn’t realize there was a gender imbalance until I started working for industry, spending more time in the woods and attending meetings and conferences. In fact, as of 2016, just 17% of Canada’s forestry workforce was made up of women, an increase of only 3% since 1996. While I hope that the census data more recently collected will show a dramatic increase of women in forestry, there is still progress to be made. In 2015, I cofounded Women in Wood, a network for women who work in, with and for the woods. Since then, I have learned a lot from women working in Canada’s forests about their experiences. It seems there are challenges at all stages of their careers—but there are also solutions.

First jobs are tough. Difficult to secure because of a likely blank resume, and oftentimes, they can be challenging to survive because you may not have anyone to ask hard questions. This was my experience; I had difficulty getting my first forestry job, and I faced stiff competition against my male peers who came from forestry families and had experience, and more stereotypical “field-work-ready” statures than mine. I am still grateful to the person who took a chance on the underdog and gave me my first job—if hiring is your responsibility, perhaps you can be that person for someone else.

Once I did secure a forestry job—working in remote, isolated conditions—I spent every day being afraid I would be eaten by a bear. Imagine my surprise, 10 years later, to have that same concern raised in the WIW group by a woman in her first job. The number of women commenting with the same experience—with many solutions—was amazing. Personally, what helped was the passage of time and eventual development of confidence and knowledge (plus, a healthy amount of stubbornness that didn’t allow me to quit from fear). I believe a better solution now exists through openness, increased training and education, and support networks like WIW to help build confidence through shared experiences.

Planning for a family can be stressful for women, whether it is planning to take time off or integrating back into the workforce. It can be difficult finding childcare with flexible or extended hours, to do camp work, or balance home and work life. Women looking for employment or working contract positions are hesitant or worried about how pregnancy could impact their ability to be hired. The key here seems to be flexibility by employers, both with hours and strategic onboarding after maternity leave. Also, an increasing number of men taking paternity leave and breaking down gender roles in the household goes a long way toward changing stereotypes associated with “mom in the workforce.”

As women enter the mid-career phase of their forestry careers, many hope to advance into management and leadership roles. However, many women don’t have leadership role models to look to in their workplace. It is difficult to imagine you can be it, if you can’t see it. The fact that we’re only recently seeing “firsts”such as first female chief forester, first female mill manager, is somewhat telling. It’s very encouraging that these occurrences are happening at an accelerated pace in recent years, and hopefully soon, we won’t have to remark on or celebrate “firsts” anymore. The solution to this one is in the hands of women themselves, and employers. Women must identify the skills and experience they need to advance their careers and seek mentors or training to help them get there. Employers must ensure that women are given equal opportunities to become qualified and compete on a level playing field as their male counterparts and mentoring men and women in the same way.

Today, there are many success stories for women in Canada’s forest sector. The number of companies and organizations engaging in diversity and inclusion initiatives is remarkable, and the fact that we’re having this conversation is a definite win. But let’s not take the foot off the gas—it’s in the hands of every person working in the sector to challenge behaviors and create change that will lead to a more welcoming environment for all employees. We’re an industry with an aging workforce primed for a continued post-pandemic boom. Attracting and retaining good employees is the only way to sustain that momentum—let’s make sure we consider 48% of the available labor force in building the future of our sector.

Authors: Lacey Rose
County Forester and Cofounder, Women in Wood
www.womeninwood.ca
@foresterLacey

Original Article: Biomass Magazine

Surfer on Grain Surfboards board.
Reconnecting People and Forests
Careers, Forest Management, Innovation, People, Products

FOREST TO OCEAN | Grain Surfboards

Grain Surfboards has been crafting one-of-a-kind wooden surfboards from sustainably managed Maine forests since 2005. With an emphasis on quality and sincere commitment to sustainable practices, each board is made one at a time, by hand, to create a product that has a soul and tells a story.

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Battle Royale: Orca 🐳 vs. 🌲Tree

Carbon Storage | Climate Tech vs. Natural Climate Solutions

Ah, the age-old debate: Orca vs. Trees.

No, no, no. Not that kind of Orca. (also, we're incredibly disappointed that there is not a better Orca whale emoji) We're talking about Orca - the first of its kind direct carbon capture plant, designed to draw down atmospheric carbon and store it permanently. It went live and has garnered some pretty impressive headlines as a climate solution.

And rightfully so! The Orca plant is a very cool piece of technology. It uses massive fans to suck in air and combines it with chemicals that can selectively remove C02 while releasing nitrogen and oxygen back into the atmosphere (hmmm that sounds familiar 🌲🌳). The carbon rich chemicals are super heated and converted to a pure gas, which is then mixed with water and injected into basaltic rock where over time, the dissolved C02 crystalizes - permanently storing atmospheric carbon deep within the Earth's crust.

While the concept is straightforward enough, there are just a few things keeping it from being a scalable solution and thus a key player in helping the world reach its Net Zero goals today.

Carbon Storage at a High Cost.

Aside from costing somewhere between $10 and $15 million to build, the Orca facility relies on a pretty unique combination of factors as explained expertly by Bloomberg, to make it work.

First and perhaps most importantly, this is an  incredibly energy intensive process. The Orca facility is powered entirely by carbon-free geothermal energy which is awesome, but severely limits the opportunities for building other locations. Secondly, for this process to work there must be access to deep basaltic rock which are formed by rapidly cooling magma deposits (🌋), which further limits where this specific type of facility can be placed.

Lastly, there is capacity. While Orca is now officially the largest direct-air capture facility in the world absorbing 4,000 tons of CO2 a year, it just simply isn't large enough. To put 4,000 tons of CO2 into perspective, that is equivalent to the total annual emissions from roughly 250 U.S. citizens.

A Small Dent for a Very Large Carbon Problem.

So how does this compare to trees and forests? Well, there are more than 600 tree species in the U.S. alone, each uniquely suited to their specific growing locations, and supremely adapted to sequester and store carbon, just by doing their thing.

(Check out the full writeup that inspired this graphic from Ohio State University)

On average, a single mature tree can absorb more than 48 pounds of CO2 per year.

Considering a tree can grow for 30, 40, 50+ years - and extrapolated over billions and billions of trees around the world - you begin to see how trees and forests remain the undisputed carbon sequestration champions of the world.

Visualizing the Impact. 

To give you an idea of just what that looks like, check out this incredible interactive data visualization tool - ForestCarbonDataViz.org - developed by our friends over at the National Alliance of Forest Owners (NAFO). It uses publicly available data from the U.S. Forest Service and the Environmental Protection Agency to show how the continuous cycle of growing, managing, harvesting, and replanting trees and forests holds enormous carbon benefits.

Getting to Net Zero by 2050 is an ambitious - and we believe necessary - goal. We are incredibly excited by the potential of the Orca project as we know that in order to achieve real success in our fight against climate change, it is going to require bold, innovative, and collaborative ideas - and all of us, collectively, working to rethink our carbon future.

So in actually it's less Orca vs. Trees and more Orca AND Trees!  After all, it's true that no blue, no green amirite?

Further Reading

The State of America's Forests (U.S. Endowment for Forestry & Communities)
ForestCarbonDataViz.org (National Alliance of Forest Owners)
U.S. Forest Atlas (U.S. Forest Service)

- The #forestproud team

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Reimagining Our Cities
Biomass + Renewable Energy, Carbon + Climate Change, Careers, Cities, Forest Management, Innovation, Mass Timber, People, Products, Urban Forests

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For the first time in history, more than 50 percent of the world’s population lives in a city.

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Climate Tech
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Carbon + Climate Change, Forest Management, Forest Products

Carbon Credits | silver bullet or a helpful tool?

A California Case Study

As savvy forest folks, we've followed the rise of Net-Zero climate commitments for a while now, and explored the critical role forests and forest products play in helping people, countries, organizations, and multinational brands alike meet their goals.

In addition to being able to trace potential solutions back to forests and forest products, the current wave of Net-Zero commitments has another thing in common: a lack of specificity on how they are going to get there. Just as there is no 'silver bullet' solution to climate change, there is no single answer to Net-Zero, and by extension, no prescriptive path on how to invest in forests to help us reach those goals.

So to better understand how forest investments fit into these plans, we looked at the University of California. Back in 2013 - way before Net-Zero was cool - they were among the first to make a commitment to be carbon neutral by 2025.

Looking at their latest sustainability report (2019), the University has made substantial investments into solar energy, electric vehicles, carbon neutral buildings, and innovative tools that turn food waste into energy. The result?

A 15% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2013.

Now, considering the size of the school and the fact that in the last seven years they've added 46,000 students, this is a significant accomplishment. But it is a long way from zero.

According to a report conducted by the University in 2017, the biggest barrier to reaching their goal is the natural-gas-powered plants responsible for heating and cooling its campuses, which together account for 65% of the school's total emissions. Initial estimates to overhaul the plants and convert them to electric were north of $3 billion -- and even if the University had the money, it would not change the fact the California's electric grid still relies heavily on fossil fuels.

Enter carbon credits and offsets.

Carbon Credits & Offsets

In an interview with the Washington Post, Barbara Haya, a climate policy researcher at the University of California, explained why after the 2017 report they started looking at carbon offsets: "The whole concept of offsets is to create a dynamic where organizations and individuals can pay someone else to reduce emissions in order to cover emissions they can't reduce themselves."

The concept is simple, however, the market and dynamics around offsets can be tricky, particularly when it comes to forests - which Haya said accounts for more than half of the offset projects out there.

While the number of mandatory offset markets are growing - government-backed programs that place strict limits on greenhouse gas emissions and allow members to buy credits or offsets from independently verified projects, e.g. forest conservation - the majority of projects still come from voluntary offset programs.

Voluntary carbon offset markets work much the same way, but without the regulatory oversight. In that sense, the market can be kind of like the wild west and there are more than enough examples to point to of organizations failing to do their due diligence before investing. That being said, the principles - as explained, explored, and eventually implemented by the University of California - are still sound.

Driven largely by growing corporate demand to offset emissions (read: increasing number of Net-Zero goals), the vast majority of the credits retired in 2021 - some 20 million credits - were focused on forest protection.

Types of Forest Carbon Credits

I know what you're thinking. Are there other types of forest carbon credits out there besides just protecting forests? YES! According to North Carolina State University, there are three generally accepted project types that produce carbon offsets:

1. Afforestation / Reforestation
2. Avoided Conversion
3. Improved Forest Management (IFM)


The first is pretty self-explanatory and typically includes projects focused on restoring tree-cover to previously non-forested lands. Avoided conversion projects focus on preventing the conversion of forested land to non-forested land, i.e. keeping forests as forests, not as parking lots. The last - Improved Forest Management - is actually the most common credit type in the California carbon credit market. These projects involve land management activities that increase, or at a minimum maintain, the current level of carbon stocking in a forest.

Each one of these has a role to play, and depending on the circumstances, can be a powerful tool when it comes to mitigating emissions and improving our climate.

A Win-Win-Win

When it comes to carbon credits and offsets, it is important to think of them less as a "get out of jail free card" and more as another tool in the toolbox. We know that healthy markets and strong demand for forest products are critical to incentivizing landowners to keep forests as forests.

We also know that as more and more companies and organizations look to reach their Net-Zero goals, they are going to run into "$3 billion natural-gas-powered plant" problems, where carbon credits and offsets are the best viable option.

In that sense, carbon credits and offset markets can be a win-win-win for companies, landowners, and the climate. Companies can offset their most challenging emissions, landowners can be further incentivized to keep forests as forests, and we can collectively begin to move the needle in the right direction for the climate.

Now, obviously, carbon credit projects and offset markets are far more complex than how they've been explained here - the devil is always in the details. But what the University of California Net-Zero efforts show us is that forests are a flexible solution to carbon and climate challenges. They provide solutions for everything from renewable energy (bioenergy) and green building (mass timber), to sustainable packaging (forest products) and carbon offsets (forest management).

TL;DR Forests are shaping up as heavy favorites to be the all-stars of Net-Zero commitments.

- The #forestproud team

Climate Tech
Rethinking Our Carbon Future
Carbon + Climate Change, Forest Management, Forest Products

Welcome to the Age of Decarbonization

As our cities continue to grow, so do the challenges they face. Reimagine the way society lives, works, and plays by moving our cities from climate problems, to climate solutions.

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