cold weather affect car battery

Does the cold weather affect your car’s battery?

The moment you turn on the ignition of your car, the entire functioning and running of your vehicle depends on the battery that is placed in your engine’s compartment. When it comes summers, the car batteries don’t have to function hard, but when the temperature dips and winter sets in, it’s this time of the year that your car battery is prone to failure.

A dilemma among the owners during this time of the year is how to turn your normal battery into a “car battery for cold weather”? But before this, it’s highly imperative to know what is it that causes so much trouble to your car battery during winters. First and the foremost reason is that during the cold weather, motor oil of the car’s engine becomes thicker, hence putting on additional pressure on the battery to provide power for starting the engine in that environment.    

Another factor that sends your car’s battery over the edge is the additional accessories. The already daunting engine, when accompanied by excessive and overweight modifications, adds on additional weight on the battery for functioning in the season that is not friendly for the car battery. Ever wondered why is it that most cases of battery failure are heard in winters? Well, the reason is that starting on the car engine in winters requires twice as much current as compared to what is needed in summers.  

Car batteries can wear out at any time of the year but the number of breakdowns is much higher in winters. Followed by summers, the hot internal temperatures that have already played havoc with the battery thus weakening it, further takes a toll in the frigid temperatures that completely wear it down. There are numerous other reasons that add on to the battery failure including:

  • In cold weather months, turning on the engines is harder because the oil within the engine turns thick and solidifies which further indicates that the battery would require more power and oil for doing the job than the usual. 
  • As the temperature falls down, the chemical reactions responsible for electricity and current slows down, making it cumbersome for the battery to generate even the normal energy. 
  • Speaking statistically, at a temperature of 32 degrees, a car’s battery drops by 20%. It is but natural to believe that at minus degrees temperature, the battery capacity would drop by 50%. This reduction in the capacity to generate power hampers the battery’s ability to start the car. 
  • Once the car is running, its battery is automatically recharging. However, in the colder season, the rate at which the battery recharges is slow, signifying that you would have to drive farther for completely recharging the battery and successfully restarting it the next day. 
  • In winters, one tends to run on the heater, the headlights, defroster, windshield wipers, and seat heaters, thus increasing the battery load and intensifying the pressure on the car battery. 

The next question that might strike many minds would be how to judge or understand the warning signs related to battery breakdown so that it is saved from bigger damage. Here are a few pointers that would help you make an informed decision.

  • When you turn on the engine, there’s a grinding or clicking sound.
  • When trying to bring the engine to life, your car cranks slowly.
  • When inoperative, the headlights dim but are bright when the cars running.
  • Last but not least, when safeguarding the car battery for cold weather; ensure it’s not more than three years old. 

Good thing is that there are ways you can safeguard car battery for cold weather before it breakdowns. Simply follow these checkpoints:

  • It’s highly significant that you undertake regular and periodic corrosion checks on the engine and in case you notice some, scrubbing it off with baking soda and water solution can work magic. 
  • Maintaining a warm battery is highly imperative. Henceforth, make sure your car battery is tightly fastened particularly when you’re driving on rocky terrains. 
  • In cold weather, make sure you park your car in the garage. 
  • For offering additional warmth to the car batteries during the cold season, there’s a battery blanket available that can be installed around it.  
  • Maintaining your car’s battery in summer is equally important. Since the heat can have an impact, your car’s battery can start giving you problems by the time its winters. 
  • There are batteries that come with caps. All you need to do is take them off to check that the fluid within is at least 5mm above the plates or within the levels as mentioned in the battery case. In case it’s low, refill it with deionized water but ensure there’s no spillage.  

Usual day to day activity should not simply be hampered because your car doesn’t start. With the above-mentioned list, you can keep your car battery for cold weather in check and running.


plant a tree - plant a hope

Plant a tree plant a hope and human attitudes

We are living in an age that bears a burden of climate change issues. A time when a tree means a lot to the current and more importantly the future generation. The 19th and 20th centuries saw a lot of trees cut down by us, humans. The need to build an economy and better life from the energy contained by trees was the manor interest by then, however, things have taken a totally different course with the latest discovery of an ailing Earth. The reversal of tree cutting actions can only be done by planting more trees.

You might be thinking of how you’re gonna get a large piece of land to make a forest. This is not the case, you simply need to start the change by planting one tree which shall itself present great hope for the future. So what are some of the differences we hope these trees shall create in the future? Join me as we explore a few.

Presents hope for the restoration of the changing climate

The world is facing serious climate change affects. The change in climate has been influenced by global warming. Global warming is the accumulation of greenhouse gases that cause the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect comes about when these greenhouse gases form a “blanket” in the atmosphere of the earth, this layer allows heat from the sun to penetrate into the earth’s surface while at the same time preventing heat from escaping the earth, the result is extra hot earth.

Trees come in to cool the air and earth in general. Whatever heat might be in a day can be avoided by just going under the shade of a nearby tree. Apart from this, trees also produce water which cools the hot air to give us cool earth to live in.

CO2 is one of the main greenhouse gases. Trees consume CO2 in the process of photosynthesis to make their own food. What shall work best in eliminating this greenhouse gas than the trees? No mechanism or strain is required for trees to photosynthesis, it is their everyday thing, just like we humans have to eat! The only thing you are required to do is to plant a tree.

And by the way, did you know that within a year, an acre of trees can completely absorb CO2 produced by a vehicle in 2600 miles? Now you know!

Hope for clean air with lots of oxygen

As you walk in earth polluted streets, the air is stuffy and at some points, foul-smelling. Trees are responsible for trapping dust particles from the air making it clean. Apart from this, trees also trap odor in the air plus a number of toxic gases resulting in clean healthy air to breathe.

We need oxygen for breathing, burning, and many more functions. Trees are responsible for the production of oxygen, after eliminating CO2, isn’t this magical!

Has it come to your attention that one acre of trees are able to produce oxygen that can surface the breathing needs of 18 people? Well, that’s a fact that should motivate you to plant a tree.

Gives hope for more safe water away from pollution

Water evaporates from the earth at a very high rate due to global warming. As a result, water sources are diminishing day in, day out. Trees are grown near a water source helps prevent too much evaporation due to their shade effect. Know a diminishing water source, start the reclamation drive by planting one tree.

Trees reduce the speed of runoff water. After the water has maintained, it infiltrates into the earth and cleans up before adding up to groundwater. If there were no trees, the run-off of stormwater could have carried all the plastics, toxic chemicals and all manner of trash into the sea and hence pollution. These chemicals, in turn, endanger marine life due to their toxic nature. Give the future generation hope by planting a tree(s) to prevent that neglected runoff.

Trees present hope of curbing soil erosion while providing food.

A tree develops an extensive root system to provide for its support. In the process, the roots intertwine with soil holding the particles close together. The result is a compact soil mass which cannot be shaken by running water. The tree shades also prevent much water from hitting directly on the ground thereby curbing splash erosion.

As trees fight soil erosion, they also fight food insecurity in the same way. Most trees produce edible fruits and even drinks. A single tree produces multiple fruits that can feet a lot of people. Are you planning to fight food insecurity? Why not plant a fruitful tree variety and hand over the task to it?

Better Economy

With the realization of the many benefits that come with planting trees around a homestead, houses with good landscapes are selling high. A house with good landscaping enhanced by trees saves the owner a lot of energy bills. This is because the shade from trees cool the air around the house making the environment cooler, saving the extra energy that could have been used for air conditioning by 20-50%
Source of medicine

Trees are a great source of medicine. The barks and leaves of some trees have saved the people of the world from completely perishing. Talk of aspirin or quinine, all this come from trees, plus many other medicines.

If you need the world’s sick population to get healed, then you better plant that tree now.

Help create hope for the wild world

Birds make their nests on trees, wild animals depend on trees for life. With the diminishing forest cover, wild animals are becoming more and more helpless and if we do not take a step, then, they shall be facing extinction. Planting a single tree means making a home for a big population of birds and other animals and also, food for them. Have you started yet?

Lastly, create hope for better health

Nothing feels better than a nature walk among trees. The air there is always clean and the atmosphere feels cool. That is why most patients recover faster when exposed to nature. That is the reason why you feel relieved of stress with a simple nature walk in a forest. Plant a tree, to add effort to a future healthy atmosphere.


We Have Limited Time To Reduce Deforestation And Save Our Earth

“The trees are tongue-less”

Almost everyone has heard that we are losing our forest tracts rapidly every coming year.  The reasons are many and some of them are controllable. These trees, which provide us oxygen, are extremely important for our biodiversity. Earth has to have life on it. So why don’t we care about saving our lives indirectly? Rather the question is how to stop deforestation?

The tropical rainforest is having over 210 Gigatons of Carbon stocked up within its trees. Therefore, when those trees are cut down, they not only release the stored carbon in them but also the oxygen suppliers are reduced. The atmosphere is getting dense by the emission of carbon, and thus, increasing the greenhouse effect.

What Can We Do To Save Our Earth? 

“We are Awake in Conserving Our Earth”

The contributions we all can make very easily and willingly to let the efforts against deforestation be improved. 

  • Plant as many trees as you can, wherever you can and whenever you can. 
  • Try to stay paperless in your home, office and outside too.
  • Buy and use recycled products and recycle them again.
  • Use recycled paper products (seek FSC ‘tick-tree’ logo while shopping)
  • Support the initiatives taken by companies which are trying to stay committed to reducing deforestation. 
  • Purchase the certified wood products labeled and marked by the ‘Forest Stewardship Council’.
  • Provide others with the awareness of the need of the reduction. Let your family, friends, circle and even society know about the need to stop deforestation. 
  • Avoid using Palm Oil and the products made by Palm Oil.
  • Don’t purchase extra things to throw them in the garbage, merely buy what you need is or will be sufficiently used.

“All the products which are made using the trees are recyclable.

Practice recycling diligently.”

Being the consumers, we all can play a vital role in stopping the deforestation issue. Similar to the businesses, when the demand will reduce, the supply will lessen too. Luckily, we have businesses that are highly forest and environment-friendly. All they require is our support and appreciation. By patronizing their products, we can encourage their efforts in the right way.

Advantages of reduction

Till date, it is estimated that the forest that has cut or burnt was more than 4.6 million hectares. The worst part is that the reason behind this human act is to utilize wood and land demand. It must make us rethink of our fundamental need and high demand i.e. whether we want to stay alive or to live lavishly on a larger area of land respectively. 

The reasons and ways to reduce the tropical deforestations and get the benefits are:

1. Global warming is the global 

Each molecule of Carbon dioxide (CO₂) is trapping heat in our Earth’s atmosphere. The problematic point is that it does not regard whichever the source it is released from. For instance; the tailpipe of cars releasing CO₂, the power plants emitting the smokestack from a coal-fire, and the burning tropical trees all are major ways to add CO₂ in our environment. Reduce the use of all related things in any way.

2. Emissions from the tropical forest

The emission of CO₂ from the tropical forests is very significant and, of course, not ignorable.  The cars are equally responsible for this emission, but 10% of the whole emission is from the burning of tropical forests. This is not an issue which should not be taken into any account.  We all are highly responsible. All of the deforestations is occurring at an alarming rate. 

3. Stabilization of our climate

These tropical forests are not only providing us oxygen for breathing but also emit a vast amount of CO₂ in our atmosphere. The loss of this huge forestation in greatly impacting the ability of Earth in removing the carbon out of the atmosphere, hence, the effects of global warming are becoming worst.

4. Cost-effectiveness

It is explored by the economical analyses that the reduction of emissions released by the deforestation is noticeable cheaper than the reduction of emissions from the fossil fuel combustions and the many other industrial sources.

5. Protection to our citizens

Unknowingly we, ourselves, are paying for the climatic disruptions each day. It pays off in the form of hurricanes, heatwaves, droughts, floods, and additional dangerous weather conditions and events. These all are causing many health and economics issues and risks. In case we address global warming at present, we will be able to save our lives and money for many more years to come.

6. Multiple challenges and seriousness towards future

  • The challenges from which we will be saved are 
  • The different species of animals and plants. 
  • Many of the plants are precious medicines for human
  • Helps in preventing floods
  • The droughts are balanced by regional rainfall
  • The livelihoods of many (indigenous and forest people) are dependent on these tropical forests  
  • Keep the environment clean and green for our children to inherit a better Earth. 

Effects of reduction in deforestation

  • Healthy environment
  • The decrease in global warming
  • Reservation of natives of forests
  • More and pure oxygen to breathe in
  • Prevention from droughts, hurricanes, and even floods. 
  • Utilization of cost for environmental betterment.


The time it takes to say ‘Deforestation’, 

One more chunk of the forest maybe the size of the football pitch is destroyed.

That is–every 2 seconds–every single day 

Our aims and ambitions must not only prevent the destruction but also reforest-restore-replant the forests which are and were once damaged. The predictable and need to be prevented forest damage in years ahead can include the forest of Africa, Australia, South East Asia, and Latin America. We all together have to initiate various projects, bringing the right funding and support the existing ones; all to be utilized for the right action in the place at the right time. And the right time is here.

Let’s just do it NOW before it gets too late to handle!

melting ice

How human being suffer from melting ice

Hey! Do you know that the cryosphere is melting and slowly feeding the sea? The glaciers and sea ice are melting at a very high speed. Remember, the glaciers make up to 10% of land area on earth which shall then transfer to the water. Do you know what this means for us, our economy, the ecosystem and the world in general?

Before we go into detail on this, let us first know what this is that causing the ice to melt?

You must have come across the term Global Warming, this is the rapid heating up of the earth to high temperatures. The high temperatures cause a lot of misfortunes on earth, among the prime is melting of the cryosphere. The high heat causes the ice to reach melting point and therefore drain, like water, into water bodies. 

Now, how shall we suffer from the melting of the cryosphere?

Both humans, plants, and animals shall suffer the consequences of the melting ice. Even when the effects shall affect one more than the other, the three rely on each other and the death of one is the death of all.

A rising sea level and its effects

The warming effect shall melt the Greenland & Antarctic ice which makes up to 98% of the cryosphere. This water shall raise the sea level up to 22 feet which shall continue piling up. This means that most seaboards shall disappear, and so, does it mean the people there shall live in water? They might face extinction, or cause our next effect.

Immigration of human beings

Now that with such a great rise in sea level, expect the people from the then submerged Florida to immigrate to other parts of the already almost congested world or god forbid, the water becomes unmanageable and attack in the wees! We have to start working towards the restoration of our world now!

A warmer land and sea!

The ice at the polar regions serves the purpose of cooling down the regularly warming world. Now that we human beings have worked hard to cause the melting down of ice, there shall be no more ice to cool the world. The heat shall follow the melted ice and warm the waters, this shall present an inhabitable habitat for the sea creatures which shall die. I know it sounds weird, but, imagine going without fish for eternity!

And shall we human beings develop something to cool us, now that we cool our super hot industrial plants with water? By then, the water shall be heated up, the earth shall be heated up, shall we ever enjoy tossing ice cubes into drinks for a super cool feeling!

Human beings and the wildlife of the polar regions are in trouble!

The polar bears which, for decades, have been supporting their life with the help of the ice shall be in trouble of diminishing to the levels of extinction unless we act. The people Inuits are facing more spring ice melts which bar them from going hunting.

Consequences on the economy

If a whole piece of the earth gets submerged into water, what happens to the people and economy who depended on the landmass? They perish. So unless we are realistic and chase a lengthy earth’s living life instead of economies, our economies are gonna be submerged in heated up water without any fish. And, where shall we be?


The above are some of the many effects that the melting cryosphere presents to us. What remains is whether we shall change, or wait for the time to come! As said, change begins with a milestone from me and you who then come together to make one strong force that shall make the world keep its constant self-replenishing state.

save our earth

Save our Earth- Now or never

“We are living on this planet as if we had another one to go to” 

These simple yet powerful words quoted by Terri Swearingen have a deep meaning hidden considering the sad state our mother Earth is in currently. Gone were the days when the mere sight of blue skies used to fill us with joy, the blades of grass springing in the fields would move us and the simple things of nature would rejoice our souls making us feel alive. The 21st century we are living in, mirrors a harsh reality of global warming and drastic climate change along with pollution levels and ecological deprivation taking a serious beating. Humans possess the potential to irreversibly damage the environment and its valuable resources and the effect is clearly evident on the harmful damage done to water, air, plants and animals and soil.     


Our Earth’s ecosystem faces a deep scar together with an imbalance in the ecological system because of the enormous discarding of nuclear, toxic and biomedical waste. Global Warming, quite a common term these days and a repercussion of deforestation and the presence of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels hold the potential to negatively impact climate change on a huge scale. It’s the ultra-violet radiation resulting from air pollution and stratospheric ozone depletion that has caused our worldwide rainforests and wild forests to wipe out completely from the face of the planet.   

The second major cause of ruing the planet’s ecosystem is the pollution of groundwater, lakes, and rivers that have additionally restricted potable water supply. Rivers carry a massive amount of eroded soil together with industrial, municipal and agricultural waste into the seas. This has affected the marine life and fisheries that have already started showing the signs of crumpling down.

Next, to get affected is soil productivity which is on the decline further decreasing the world’s per capita food production, courtesy disparaging agricultural and animal husbandry practices. Believing the latest records, almost ten percent of the earth’s fertile land has been destroyed, an area bigger than combined India and China.

Statistics further state that one-third of the topsoil used for harvesting grains feeding much of the world’s population has been washed away. Overgrazing of domestic animals, over-cultivation and deforestation together have negatively impacted over 35% of the total earth’s land surface. 

There’s no seconding the idea that mankind has so far worsened the state of our planet for personal benefits but just like two sides of the coin, there is a segment of people who are working day and night to better the deteriorating condition giving a ray of hope and make us believe it’s never too late. Let’s take a look at some of the works or campaigns run by people just like us who have taken an initiative to make Earth livable once again.  

A forest that started off with planting a tree

Jadav Payeng from India has been doing his bit for 40 years towards safeguarding the planet by planting a tree every single day. Result? What used to be a landscape destroyed by erosion is now a sprawling 1,360 acres of forest land and is also home to hundreds of reptiles, rhinos, elephants, and birds. According to him, it’s the nature that inspires him and he plans on planting a tree till he lives. 

Search Online and Help Search Engine Plant a Tree

A search engine Ecosia has been planting a tree and facilitate you to be a part of the tree plantation drive. With the ad money, they receive on every 50 searches, Ecosia plants a tree. So far this ingenious search engine has planted 60,120,906 trees and the number is increasing every second. When contacted, the founders of this search engine chose to plant trees over other environmental campaigns since they believe planting trees have many more benefits to the environment like fight climate change, help transform barren lands into fertile, resurrect water cycles and also help generate economic stability. 

 Mexico’s Single-Use Avocado Seeds based Cutlery

BioFase, a Mexican company has designed single-use cutlery and straws that are biodegradable in 240 days. Mexico being the world’s 50% avocado supplier, it has an abundance of avocado seeds that were normally burned in the landfill. BioFase came up with a resourceful plan of putting these seeds to use by creating cutlery and thus eliminating plastic waste from the planet.  

Using a Net for Controlling Pollution

Kwinana, Australia in the year 2018 installed two drainage nets for collecting the trash that was earlier picked by hand. Better than it was expected, the nets turned out to be more useful by collecting approximately 815lbs (370kgs) trash in the time frame of four months. This process has turned out to be one of the best approaches towards controlling plastic pollution and thus reducing the side effects caused to our planet.

Brewery Creating Six-Pack Rings for Avoiding Plastic Pollution

In Florida, Saltwater Brewery has created a genius way to control plastic pollution and that is by making six pack biodegradable rings. The best part about this concept is that these rings are absolutely safe for even animals to consume since they are made from barley and white ribbons. The inspiration behind this great idea is to replace plastic rings that damage our environment and animals and instead designed from E6PR, compostable materials, and by-product waste.

Turning Old Electronics into Olympic Medals

Japan, the hosts of the Olympic and Paralympic games 2020 will be giving the Olympians medals recycled from the trash. The brilliant idea has come from the environmental conscious Medal Project that would be using scrap metal for manufacturing the prizes. To support the effort, the citizens of Japan have been donating their non-usable electronics.  

A Clean Up System for Removing 90% Plastic from Ocean by 2040

The Ocean Cleanup, an initiative founded in 2013 aims at finding solutions for cleaning out plastic out of the oceans. To initiate the process, the non-profit organization had created a 600- meter long coastline right in the middle of the ocean for capturing the plastic with the help of natural oceanic forces. The organization in the time period of the next five years plans on cleaning out 50% of ocean plastic and thus removing 90% by the year 2040. 


Howsoever good the image or initiatives are, there is no doubt that we are saturating Earth with its potential to provide us with food, water, absorbing waste and energy. Before the significant global systems are destroyed beyond repair, it is highly imperative for us all to realize the danger we as developed and developing nations are together posing and how together we can help resuscitate our Mother Earth.

climate change, understand climate change

Climate change- Do you really understand it?

Climate change has been a commonly used term in the 20th and 21st centuries. However, most of the world’s human population misunderstand its meaning and often confuse it with global warming!

So, what is it? Is it real or just a hyped-up global political PR? And if it is, then what are the dangers its effects pause to the world? Are we too late to reverse it, or we can still reclaim our climate? These are some of the critical queries you might be asking with a junk of misleading answers. Here is a factual step to step explanation of this phenomenon.

What is climate change?

NASA describes climate change as the change in the average weather patterns over a long period of time, which as a result defines the local, regional and global climatic conditions. This is what climate change really is and should not be confused with Global warming.

Changes in climatic conditions have a number of causes, where global warming falls in. So then, global warming is the continued increase in the average earth’s surface temperatures. As a result of rising temperatures due to global warming, we experience a change in the overall climatic condition.

Is climate change real?

Change in the climatic condition is a real and normal phenomenon. However, change in climatic conditions can either be negative or positive and should not worry you every time it is mentioned. The environmental scientific specialists in the world have unanimously agreed that there is a negative shift in climate.

Who gets effects and how?

Different from the State economy, a negative change in climate is a phenomenon that affects the whole world. That is whether you participated in destroying it or not, giving us the reason why on May 9th, 1992 the United Nations (U.N) adopted the United Nations Convention on Climate change.

None shall be left out, hence the whole world population as groups or individuals should pull together to reclaim our climate.

Is there a chance to reclaim the climate?

As we have said, the Earth’s climate has been changing. Before the beginning of human civilization and the spread of the capitalist economy, the changes were small and normal.

However, the rise in earthly temperatures in this era is alarming. Unlike the natural shift in climate, NASA reports that 95 percent of the current climatic change is caused by human activities. Climatic change takes a long period to happen, its response to human activities takes significant time, meaning, we can do climate threatening activities and clear them before the Earth responds.

What the explanation above means is that we are not too late. We got a chance to step up and work for the good of our climate.

In what way do human beings lead to a change in the climate?

We are the causative agents of Global Warming. Out of the rapid use of fossil fuels in chasing a better economy and living standard, the resultant waste gases include some of the greenhouse gases such as CO2.

These gases subsequently form a blanket between the sun and the earth’s surface. The “blanket” allows sun rays to penetrate into the earth’s surface while trapping the heat within the earth. This is what makes the earth to heat up.

If human being concentrates more on their survival and that of their future generations, then, the consumption of fossil fuels should stop. We have a lot of renewable energy substitutes like solar and wind energy which, if tapped well can serve all the purposes of fossil fuels.

What are the effects of climatic change and their evidence?

1. Tropical Cyclones

Ocean water temperature has increased by 0.4 degrees since 1969. This rapid increase in ocean temperatures has subsequently led to the melting of ice sheets. NASA reports that about 286 billion tons of ice cover have lost each year since 1993.

Glacier retreat has been reported with most of the ice-covered mountains such as Kilimanjaro showing acute ice loss. Since we are talking about melting ice across the world, then the water body’s water levels are increasing at a very high rate.

This might not be alarming, but with the mention of tropical cyclones, then it is worth worrying for people across the world. These storms are increasing and are bound to sweep over a longer distance from the already eaten up shores. Do you know what this means? It means doom out of the hard destructive times the storms are already pausing to the world. A good example of this is Hurricane Katrina, Sandy, and Wilma which shook the world with their mass destruction and fatal results.

2. Heat Waves

Due to human activity, the average Earthly heat is increasing at an alarming rate. If the trends continue, they might stretch to extreme levels that pause the next giant threat to our climate. The heatwaves! You might be asking yourself what this may be. It is simply extremely hot humid air exceeding the normal temperatures by 5° that could make your surrounding unbearably hot.

As already implied these heatwaves pause a big threat to the health of the Earth’s living things. Dry heat waves can also lead to wildfires, thereby destroying property and life on Earth. Imagine if a fire from nowhere consuming a whole city or forest! The fact is that if the world keeps a partially blind or blind eye on the alarming global warming, then this shall surely happen!

3. More Severe Droughts

The upcoming deviations from normal climate seem to imply that their continuity for some more time is likely to swallow more of our proper land into desertification.

Talking of desertification, the world has not experienced the most extreme desert conditions. The increasing Earth’s temperatures shall subsequently completely dry up the deserts. Subsequently, the extremely cold polar regions shall dry up to some extent making them habitable. Naturally, we expect human beings and the entire living world to migrate towards the polar regions in search of favorable conditions. But what about the tropics?


In recent years, the overall global climatic conditions have shifted to worse and are set for the worst. It is no longer the hearsay that has been there as we are already experiencing a rehearsal of its effects in terms of harsh weather conditions such as Hurricane Katrina. However, it is not yet late for a reversal of the worrying trends our climate is taking. This can, however, prove to be quite difficult if the world keeps on piling up carbon emissions in the air. Finally, control of climate change solemnly relies on everyone’s efforts to curb environmental degradation.

Revolutionary Google-backed system unlocks power of ‘big data’ to save forests

Global Forest Watch showing tree height and forest loss and gain between 2000 and 2012. 

World Resources Institute (WRI) today announced the release of a tool that promises to revolutionize forest monitoring. 

The platform, called Global Forest Watch and developed over several years with more than 40 partners, draws from a rich array of “big data” related to the word’s forests and translates it into interactive maps and charts that reveal trends in deforestation, forest recovery, and industrial forestry expansion. Global Forest Watch is the first tool to monitors global forests on a monthly basis, allowing authorities and conservationists to potentially take action against deforestation as it is occurring. 

“Businesses, governments and communities desperately want better information about forests. Now, they have it,” said Andrew Steer, WRI President and CEO, in a statement. “Global Forest Watch is a near-real time monitoring platform that will fundamentally change the way people and businesses manage forests. From now on, the bad guys cannot hide and the good guys will be recognized for their stewardship.”  

Global Forest Watch leverages Google’s computing cloud to make sense of staggering amounts of NASA satellite data, which in the past would have taken years to process, according to Rebecca Moore, Engineering Manager at Google Earth Outreach and Earth Engine, who worked with a team of researchers led by University of Maryland scientist Matt Hansen to develop the high resolution dataset of forest cover and change that underpins the system. 

We analyzed… almost 700,000 Landsat images,” Moore said. “It was a total of 20 terra-pixels of Landsat data and to do that we applied one million CPU hours on 10,000 computers in parallel in order to run Dr. Hansen’s models to characterize forest cover and change. It would have taken a single computer 15 years to perform this analysis that we completed in a matter of days using the Google Earth Engine technology.” 

The result is a high resolution map that reveals annual change in forest cover since 2000. Global Forest Watch integrates data from other sources to generate near-real time alerts akin to the system Brazil has used to help reduce deforestation by nearly 80 percent since 2004. Users — whether they be government authorities, conservationists, members of traditional forest communities, activists, or armchair environmentalists — can set up personalized alerts to generate emails whenever there are signs of deforestation in an area, including municipalities, national parks, or zones defined by the user drawing shapes on a map. 

“Technical users can download the data for their own analysis,” said Nigel Sizer, director of the Global Forest Project. “But a cool function for everyone is the alert system, which automatically sends you alerts telling you when there is forest cover change in the area you specify.” 

Forest cover loss and oil palm expansion in Riau Province near Tesso Nilo Protected Area in Indonesia. 

Global Forest Watch however goes well beyond displaying forest cover and change data. In several countries, WRI has persuaded governments to release spatial data on forestry concessions, including oil palm, timber, and pulp and paper plantations in Indonesia, a country which until now has been notorious for lack of transparency in its forestry sector. Global Forest Watch lists each concession in the country, including the owner and permit information. That data can be used as a layer to see how fast oil palm plantations have expanded at the expense of natural forests and even pinpoint cases where illegal conversion has occurred within protected areas. For example, the map shows oil palm development in two nature reserves — Gunung Nuit Penrisen and Gunung Raya Pasi — in Indonesia’s West Kalimantan. Global Forest Watch also has extensive concession data for Congo Basin countries, Liberia, and Colombia. Further data will be added as it is becomes available. 

Logging concessions in Liberia 

The concession data could prove especially useful to companies who have committed to eliminating deforestation from their supply chains. 

“It’s going to help our suppliers demonstrate that they are indeed also free of deforestation,” said Duncan Pollard of Nestle, which launched a zero deforestation policy for palm oil sourcing in 2010. “And it’s going to help us monitor and report on the progress that we make on to our global commitment.” 

“Deforestation poses a material risk to businesses that rely on forest-linked crops. Exposure to that risk has the potential to undermine the future of businesses,” added Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, in a statement. “As we strive to increase the visibility of where the ingredients for our products come from, the launch of Global Forest Watch – a fantastic, innovative tool – will provide the information we urgently need to make the right decisions, fostering transparency, enforcing accountability, and facilitating partnerships.” 

Global Forest Watch profile for Bolivia 

WRI says the tool, which is web-based and usable on virtually any Internet-capable device, will also help governments better manage forests and conservation areas. 

“Many governments like Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, welcome Global Forest Watch because it can help them design smarter policies, enforce forest laws, detect illegal forest clearing, manage forests more sustainably, and achieve conservation and climate goals,” the group said. 

Heru Prasetyo, Head of Indonesia’s REDD+ Agency, added that the tool will be a boon to his new agency, which is tasked with shifting the country away from a deforestation-as-usual approach to forest management. 

“The ability to better monitor our forests and have up-to-date information to make decisions are critical,” he said in a statement. “I commend the Global Forest Watch initiative, will continue to support it, and expect that it will be an effective tool for the world and each nation as we leave neglect and ignorance in the past.” 

The ignorance will continue to diminish with Global Forest Watch’s flexibility to integrate new data sources, which makes it well-positioned to benefit from new satellites slated for launch in coming years. 

“It’s possible for the first time to have this near-real time update of the world’s forests,” said Google’s Moore. “That has never existed before. It’s quite unprecedented.” 

“But again there are some really promising new satellites scheduled to launch that we think will improve the timeliness and the resolution of this data.” 

Global Forest Watch reveals massive forest loss in Paraguay over the past 12 years 

Global Forest Watch also takes advantage of trends in user-generated content and crowd-sourcing to augment its offerings. Users can submit photos and their own reports to the system, potentially creating a global network of forest monitors who can help hold companies, governments, and NGO’s accountable for destroying or failing to preserve forests. Global Forest Watch is also partnering with media outlets to populate its maps with news articles on forests. The tool itself has the potential to generate virtually a limitless supply of news stories, boosting awareness around forest issues. 

“We now have the possibility of doing something that would have been absolutely unheard of ten years ago which is near-real time data delivered to everybody who has a laptop computer or smart phone,” said Andrew Steer, the President and CEO of the World Resources Institute. “So when the president of Indonesia passed good laws on forests it was very difficult for him to know what was going on in real time in Kalimantan. Now he can.” 

Global Forest Watch showing tree height and forest loss and gain between 2000 and 2012. 

Written by Rhett A. Butler

Indonesia rejects, delays 1.3m ha of concessions due to moratorium

Background image courtesy of Bing Maps. 

The Indonesian government has rejected nearly 932,000 hectares (2.3 million acres) of oil palm, timber, and logging concessions due to its moratorium on new permits across millions of hectares of peatlands and rainforests, reports Mongabay-Indonesia.

According to data released by Indonesia’s new REDD+ Task Force and the Ministry of Forestry, permits for an additional 409,000 hectares (1 million acres) are held up pending review. 

Of the permits denied under the enforcement of the country’s moratorium, 25 percent of the area belonged to a single company — PT Usaha Tani Lestari — operating in Nabire in Indonesian New Guinea. Sulawesi accounted for half the area of rejected permits. 

Just under half the area of rejected permits was off-limits under the moratorium, but because companies applied for single operating units that included moratorium areas, their concessions were denied in whole. 

Permits covering 255,000 hectares in Papua and 154,000 ha in North Kalimantan, Indonesia’s newest province, were delayed. 

The moratorium is the centerpiece of the Indonesian government’s push to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, more than 80 percent of which result from deforestation and degradation of carbon-dense peatlands. The moratorium was signed after Norway pledged a billion dollars toward Indonesia’s deforestation-reduction plan. Norway’s payment is contingent on Indonesia’s success in reducing forest loss. 

The moratorium, which put some 14.5 million hectares of previously unprotected forests off-limits to conversion, was fiercely opposed by interests in the forestry sector, especially Indonesia’s powerful palm oil industry. Lobbying by plantation and logging companies led to the moratorium being heavily watered down from what was originally envisioned by Norway. The moratorium includes significant carve-outs for mining and agro-industrial projects. It also exempts concessions granted prior to May 2011, when the moratorium went into effect. 

Nonetheless, the moratorium represents an important development in efforts to protect Indonesia’s forests which have in recent decades suffered from large-scale conversion for oil palm estates, timber plantations, and industrial agriculture. The country lost nearly half of its forest cover since 1950. 

Peatland plantations drive steep GHG emissions in Indonesia’s Riau Province

Oil palm and cleared forest in Riau. Photo taken by Rhett A. Butler in February 2014. 

Versatile is the best way to describe the reddish brown fruit born from oil palm trees. Both the flesh and seed of the fruit is used in many applications including cooking, cosmetics, and biofuel. In addition, the fruit is composed of 50 percent oil, making it a highly efficient product that requires less land than other oil producing crops. 

Palm oil is cultivated in the tropical regions of Asia, Africa, and South America. However, 85 percent of global production comes from Malaysia and Indonesia. The rural regions of these countries strongly benefit from a commodity that is in high demand as a raw material or as an edible ingredient. 

Indonesia produced 9 million tons of palm oil in 2011, making it the world’s largest producer. The country aims to double production over the next decade by expanding production from its tropical forests to peatlands, located closer to coastlines. The impact of this shift is expected to be substantial, as shown by recent research that assessed greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from oil palm expansion in Riau Province, on the island of Sumatra. 

Unlike other scientists’ research into GHG emissions from palm oil, graduate researchers Fatwa Ramdani and Masteru Hino of Tohoku University in Japan, looked into emissions on a provincial scale as opposed to an Indonesia-wide scale. They found that palm oil expansion in Riau resulted in an average of 5.2 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year from 2000 and 2012. Nearly 70 percent of the emissions resulted from plantations on peat soils. 

Study area and oil palm development in Riau. Courtesy of the authors. 

In contrast, 60 percent GHG emissions from plantations in the 1990’s resulted from conversion of forests. The results indicate that carbon-dense peatlands have been increasingly targeted by the palm oil industry in Riau, raising further questions about the industry’s sustainability. 

“High demand for oil palm and little government management is driving plantation expansion at an unsustainable rate,” said Ramdani. “Indonesia needs to explore sustainable development of oil palm plantations to protect biodiversity, its local economies and to reduce GHG.” 

Oil palm plantation on drained peatlands in Riau in February 2014. Photo by Rhett A. Butler. 

The importance of peatlands

While both tropical forests and peatlands provide many important ecosystem services such as a refuge for biodiversity, the provision of clean air and water, and carbon sequestration, peatlands are the undisputed champion of carbon storage. These systems are wet, damp, and muddy, so any dead vegetation is slow to decompose. Thus, carbon taken from the atmosphere by plants is stored indefinitely in the tissues of living and dead materials. But when these systems are disturbed or altered, the stored carbon is released. 

And indeed Riau’s peatlands are being disturbed on a massive scale-between 2000-2012, 137 multinational and two public companies occupied Riau. Overall natural forest cover plunged in the province from 63 percent in the early 1990’s to 22 percent in 2012. 

Oil palm development on peatlands. Courtesy of the authors. 

Ramdani explained why, despite poorer nutrient levels compared to tropical forests, conversion of peatlands is growing in Riau. 

“Oil palm trees require a lot of water, and peatlands are very flat, making them easier to irrigate,” the author told, adding that the benefits to business are not based purely on physical practicalities. “Unlike other systems, peatlands generally receive little to no protection from government moratoriums.” Thus, peatlands are prime exploitable areas for companies looking to occupy and convert large tracts of land into plantations. 

However there are emerging signs that Riau’s peatlands may soon be better protected. Institutions like the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) are beginning to strengthen standards for production, while two palm oil giants-Wilmar and Gold-Agri Resouces-have recently committed to avoiding conversion of peatlands for new plantations. But ultimately only consumer demand for more sustainable palm oil will ensure that Riau’s peatlands will be around to sequester carbon and provide wildlife habitat in the future. 

Ramdani explained why, despite poorer nutrient levels compared to tropical forests, conversion of peatlands is growing in Riau. 

“Oil palm trees require a lot of water, and peatlands are very flat, making them easier to irrigate,” the author told, adding that the benefits to business are not based purely on physical practicalities. “Unlike other systems, peatlands generally receive little to no protection from government moratoriums.” Thus, peatlands are prime exploitable areas for companies looking to occupy and convert large tracts of land into plantations. 

However there are emerging signs that Riau’s peatlands may soon be better protected. Institutions like the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) are beginning to strengthen standards for production, while two palm oil giants-Wilmar and Gold-Agri Resouces-have recently committed to avoiding conversion of peatlands for new plantations. But ultimately only consumer demand for more sustainable palm oil will ensure that Riau’s peatlands will be around to sequester carbon and provide wildlife habitat in the future. 

Written by Michael Buelna

Google forest data now available for download

Forest cover data for Peninsular Malaysia from the dataset.

The data underlies the much-publicized global forest map released last year. Until now, users could browse the map to view historical forest cover loss and gain, but weren’t able to download the raw data. 

The dataset includes tree canopy cover for 2000 and 2012, forest cover loss and gain for 2000-2012, and year of gross forest loss on a global scale. 

While the dataset is available in a format that will most likely be used by the technically savvy, it will allow users to create derivative maps, visualizations, and aggregations. For example, a government agency could develop annual forest loss estimates at a national or sub-national level, while a conservationist could look at forest recovery in a newly protected area. 

The data can also be analyzed using Google Earth Engine. 

Forest map showing deforestation in the Chaco ecosystem 

The dataset is based on analysis of 654,178 NASA Landsat images. The paper describing the research was published November 2013 in the journal Science. It concluded that the world lost some 2.3 million hectares of forest – and gained 800,000 square kilometers – between 2000 and 2012. 

Matthew Hansen, a University of Maryland geographer who led the study, remarked on the power of the data when the research was published last year. 

“People will use these data in ways we can’t even imagine today,” he said. “Brazil had used Landsat data to document its deforestation trends and to inform policy and they also shared their data publicly. But such data has not been widely available for other parts of the world. Our global mapping of forest cover lifts the veil-revealing what’s happening on the ground in places people could only conjecture about before.”