Category Archives: Desertification

American Forests: North American Forests in the Age of Man

American Forests is a non-profit working towards the reforestation of woodlands both nationally and globally. Though, their “Community Releaf” program is where they shine. With these green endeavors, the organization “aims to bring national attention to the value of our urban forests and reaches geographically distributed and culturally diverse communities across the United States.”

Their community inclined projects typically work to restore tree canopies in urban areas. With their project in Oakland, they intersect social justice with ecological justice.

Here’s an excerpt from a report on the matter:

“Several studies have found correlations between city trees and public health in neighborhoods with low tree canopy — increased respiratory illness, particularly among children and senior citizens, and more incidents of diabetes and heart disease. In terms of psychosocial benefits, a lack of access to green space can negatively impact mental well-being and stress levels, the latter a foreboding allusion to the potential climate change risks highlighted in the recent IPCC report.

Recognizing that tree canopy can be an important factor in understanding and addressing income disparity and supporting sustainable development — both environmentally and economically — a recent study by American Forests examined tree canopy by Oakland council district in correlation with several demographic and socioeconomic factors, including income, poverty rate, unemployment rate, population and age. The information that was derived can help identify the districts where additional trees can provide the greatest positive impacts for communities.”

They have also published a digestible history on the American forest since human civilization has taken root. Here’s a look:

“Human impacts, from colonial times to the present, have drastically changed not just the size, but the nature of American forests, whether you consider the baseline for what is natural to be 1492 CE or 15,000 BP.

The trees in mature forests are adapted to soil characteristics, light intensities and moisture levels created by the forest’s species themselves. Remove these species, and all those factors change. The resulting forest is now composed of pioneer species — those first to grow in a tree-less location, like aspen, birch and alder. The old-growth forest species must wait until the pioneer species recreate their required soil, light and moisture conditions to reemerge. Similar changes in forest composition are created by natural events such as fires and wind storms, and the mature forest regenerates naturally. The difference is that most managed forests today are harvested so frequently that they never reach the optimal conditions for the species that prefer mature conditions. Instead of a complex, old-growth structure of multi-layered canopies with a spectrum of young to ancient trees and tree fall gaps, decaying down wood, standing dead trees and high species diversity, forests today have relatively young, dense, even-aged and even-canopied stands of fewer species.

Simply replanting trees does not always mean the forest has returned. In places where timber companies have replanted with native trees — whether in rows on a plantation or less orderly in wilder areas — the new forest is a monoculture of commercial species that lacks most of the biodiversity associated with the original forest. Smaller patches of forest, or forest fragmentation, has also reduced forest biodiversity because the smaller fragments cannot support wide-ranging wildlife species. In addition, the small, isolated populations of other species, including some trees, are more susceptible to local extinction.”

Mexican Migration and Climate Change

Theme : 

– Mexico is a country that is vulnerable to the many effects of climate change including things like prolonged droughts, soil degradation, devastating rainstorms, lack of water and rising sea levels. These changes eventually cause for an increase in Mexican migration.

– Understanding that not all immigrants are the same, but instead each of their stories is different and unique. Learning to empathize by listening to other’s stories and life experiences, even if you’ve never lived through them before.

General storyline :

-The stories of three Mexican immigrants will follow this main story line: Their former lives in Mexico-> What changed? What lead them to make the decision to migrate?-> What the process of migrating was like? -> What their lives in the United States now look like?

Main characters : 

-My grandfather Jose Luis Castellanos from Michoacan, my friends father Luis Cervantes from Chiapas, and Lourdes Gutierrez the daughter of a farmer from Guanajuato.

Interviews : 

  • Jose Luis Castellanos, immigrant and former fisherman from Michoacan.
  • Luis Cervantes, immigrant and former corn farmer from Chiapas.
  • Lourdes Gutierrez, immigrant and daughter of a farmer from Guanajuato.

Arts Medium : 

-Their different interviews will be turned into vignettes. Each of these vignettes will be read out loud by three different actors. The audience will not know where these immigrants are from until the end of the presentation where it will be announced that all of them are Mexican immigrants. This will be to illustrate that we can’t generalize an entire group of people, instead we have toeach of their stories is different.

Kate’s Outline

cnpoutline

C  N  P    O U T L I N E

Theme : will be based on the concept of oil and crude materials and their destruction of nature and society as a whole. The idea is the spilling of oil will have an effect everywhere with its drips touching everything.

General storyline I (maybe with someone else) will walk up representing humanity/Big Oil. Will admire this beautiful piece, and then spill all over it. Subject matter/ pieces in the whole canvas: forest, ocean, desert, cityscapes, possibly Iowa City, polar ice caps, human health, and how our culture is impacting these elements.

Main characters me, the piece, humanity. 

Interviews / Research Erica Damman (arts medium), Richard Priest (oil background), online research of artists of inspiration

Arts Medium  slanted canvas with acrylic subjects. Then real oil or a replacement will be spilt over it, dripping on ceramic/plastic figures of humans on a map.

What Does The Future Hold?

desert-china-map This article, Living in China’s Expanding Desert illustrates in an interactive way how climate change is affecting not just those who live in coastal areas, but also those inland. It may be hard to understand why warming and increased water content in the atmosphere would cause desertification, but it is quite simple if you think about it. When water is heated, it evaporates and lifts up into the atmosphere where it condenses and falls again. However, in a desert or arid region, any moisture that lifts up, does not fall down in the same place. This is a natural process that is the result of wind cells on the planet stemming from equatorial heating. Unfortunately, the earth is heating more rapidly and water is spread further and further from areas that need it, like Chinese deserts or the Sahal in Africa. The input of energy into any system will cause a reaction and the more energy, the higher the magnitude of such a reaction.

This is yet another example of people who do not cause the majority of climate changes being affected the most by climate change. Rural people all over the world are being impacted and not with just hot days, they are losing their way of life and resources to food. This is a positive feedback loop that will accelerate with time and there is probably no going back from something like this. There is development of solar panels that are de-desertifying some places in Africa, but the problem of government intervention is just as bad or worse in China. This is a human rights issue that must be looked at as such; for, we all have the right to life, liberty and happiness… not just Americans.