Environmental Economics

Communities need more than money to stop clearing their forests, new research shows.

Valerie GiesenAccording to a recent study funded by the World Bank and published in Science magazine, tropical land use change was responsible for 7 to 14 percent of gross human-induced carbon emissions between 2000 and 2005. Forests are valuable storage places for large amounts of carbon dioxide, which contributes to global warming when it enters the earth’s atmosphere. This is because plants absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) and transform it into energy necessary for growing in a process called photosynthesis (for details, see the May 2013 Exactly how to trees fight climate change article by Institute for Advanced Development Studies (INESAD) researcher Tracey Li). Land use changes such as clearing forests for agriculture or construction mean that forests are less able to extract COfrom the atmosphere and store it. Additionally, burning trees—which, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) are made up of around 50 percent carbon—to clear land releases the carbon that was previously stored in the them.

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Bolivia Climate Change Monthly: August 2013

INESADWelcome to the August 2013 edition of Bolivia Climate Change Monthly where you will find the latest research, policy, donor activity, and news related to climate change in Bolivia*.

Academic Research Bolivia Climate Change

Soil carbon stocks vary predictably with altitude in tropical forests: Implications for soil carbon storage by Dieleman W. I. J., Venter M., Ramachandra A., Krockenberger A. K. & Bird M. I. published in Geoderma

Abstract: Tropical forests are intimately linked to atmospheric CO2 levels through their significant capacity for uptake and storage of carbon (C) in biomass and soils. Read More »

When Academia Meets Humor (and now in Spanish!). Meet Yoram Bauman, The Stand-Up Economist

yoramYoram Bauman is what happens when economics meets comedy. Development Roast caught up with the friendly, engaging, and enthusiastic Stand-Up Economist himself to find out more about the latest out-of-the-box projects from the man who makes economics fun.

Blending the academic expertise of an environmental economist at the University of Washington (UW) with the sense of humor and charisma of a stand-up comedian, Bauman creates entertaining and informative comedy shows, with an economics theme, that he takes to audiences around the world. He is one of the authors of The Cartoon Introduction to Economics books, available in two volumes, which were reviewed by Development Roast last year. Volume One, released in 2010, covered microeconomics, and following its success the authors wrote and released Volume Two: Macroeconomics, in 2012. Due to their popularity, these books have now been published in several languages including Italian and Japanese, and will shortly be available in Spanish (see below for a sneak preview). Read More »

Bolivia Climate Change Monthly: July, 2013

Welcome to the July 2013 edition of Bolivia Climate Change Monthly where you will find the latest research, policy, donor activity, and news related to climate change in Bolivia*.

Academic Research Bolivia Climate Change

A Measurement of the Carbon Sequestration Potential of Guadua Angustifolia in the Carrasco National Park, Bolivia by Ricardo A. Rojas Quiroga, Tracey Li, Gonzalo Lora, and Lykke E. Andersen published by the Institute for Advanced Development Studies (INESAD).

Abstract: The carbon sequestration potential of an unmanaged and previously unstudied Guadua angustifolia bamboo forest in the Carrasco National Park of Bolivia has been studied, by estimating the total aboveground biomass contained in the forest. It was found that the aboveground biomass consisting of stems, branches, and foliage, contains a total of 200 tons per hectare, leading to an estimated 100 tons of carbon being stored per hectare aboveground, which is comparable to some species of tree such as the Chinese Fir; this bamboo species therefore has the potential to play a significant role in the mitigation of climate change. The relation between the biomass, M, of each component (stems, branches, and foliage) and the diameter, d, of the plant was also studied, by fitting allometric equations of the form M = αdβ. It was found that all components fit this power law relation very well (R2 > 0.7), particularly the stems (R2 > 0.8) and branches (R2 > 0.9) for which the relation is found to be almost linear. Read More »

INESAD on the Radio: Real Food Empire

Real food empireToday, Real Food Empire—a radio podcast on environmentally and socially sustainable farming and eating—featured an interview with INESAD’s Ioulia Fenton.

The program discusses the institute’s work on climate change and human wellbeing, reviews Ioulia’s own research interests in food and agriculture, and highlights what Bolivia has to offer to those seeking inspiration for sustainable living. It touches on two specific articles: one on the merits of agroecological farming versus industrial agriculture and another on the need for smart agricultural planning in the Andes in response to and preparation for changes in climate.

With viewers all around the world, the program’s maker Stephanie Georgieff—who is involved with Slow Food U.S.A—shares her enthusiasm for INESAD and its work. In the program, she particularly praises INESAD’s Development Roast as a ‘living library’ of accessible articles related to sustainability and development. And expresses her hope that U.S.-based policy makers would make use of initiatives such as INESAD’s SimPachamama climate change policy game—which will be officially launched in September 2013—that teaches the player the effects of different policies on an Amazonian town.

You can listen to the entire podcast for free here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/real-food-empire/2013/07/29/inesad-sustainability-research-in-bolivia Read More »

INESAD News: The Potential of Bamboo for Carbon Sequestration in Bolivia

INESAD NewsA newly-released INESAD Working Paper reveals how bamboo forests in Bolivia have a significant role to play in the global fight against climate change. The multi-author paper, entitled “A Measurement of the Carbon Sequestration Potential of Guadua Angustifolia in the Carrasco National Park“, is based on a study of an unmanaged and previously unstudied bamboo forest. INESAD researchers found that this forest has the ability to store around 100 tons of carbon per hectare, in the stems, branches, and leaves of the bamboo, which is more than some species of tree such as Chinese Fir.

The carbon stored in a forest comes from the carbon dioxide (CO2) that it absorbs. CO2 is a harmful greenhouse gas produced by the burning of fossil fuels, which accumulates in the atmosphere and traps heat. This artificial change in the composition of the atmosphere is what causes climate change. Hence forests play a vital role in mitigating climate change, because they absorb CO2 which would otherwise end up in the atmosphere.  See Exactly How Do Trees Fight Climate Change? for more details about this process. Read More »

Bolivia Climate Change Monthly: June, 2013

Welcome to the June 2013 edition of Bolivia Climate Change Monthly where you will find the latest research, policy and news related to climate change in Bolivia*.

Academic Research Bolivia Climate Change

The vulnerable Amazon: The impact of climate change on the untapped potential of hydropower systems by R. Shaeffer, A. Szklo, A. Frossard Pereira De Lucena; R. Soria, and M. Chavez-Rodriguez, published in Power and Energy Magazine.

Framing climate change and indigenous peoples: Intermediaries of urgency, spirituality and de-nationalization, by A. Roosvall and M. Tegelberg published in International Communication Gazette.

An International Network on Climate Change Impacts on Small Farmers in the Tropical Andes – Global Conventions from a Local Perspective by Andre Lindner and Jürgen Pretzsch, published in Sustainable Agriculture Research.** Read More »

What does migration have to do with on-farm conservation? A field report from the Altiplano Norte of Bolivia.

Giulia BaldinelliBy Giulia Maria Baldinelli

Although this fact may not be immediately obvious to most people outside the region, the Bolivian Altiplano is the origin and heart of much of the world’s agricultural biodiversity. While most Western consumers have at least seen one type of potato and some health-conscious eaters have come into contact with quinoa, most of us would have never heard of other foods such as oca, isaño, papalisa, cañahua, and tarwi. This is because these crops have traditionally been excluded by developed countries’ agricultural research and conservation activities for a number of reasons.

Firstly, past and present efforts have aimed at increasing yields and productivity of a narrow set of crops suited to high-input, high-output farming, focusing on grains like rice, wheat, and maize, which produce more than half of the global food energy needs. Indigenous crop varieties are simply less commercially viable and thus remain relatively invisible. They are rarely sold for money, but are instead consumed directly by poor, rural people that grow them in order to meet their own families’ nutrition needs. The likes of oca, tarwi, and papalisa are thus relatively unknown outside rural areas; the demand for them in urban and international markets is scarce, and commercialization is difficult. Read More »

‘Development – for Whom?’: Economic development and minority rights in Bolivia and beyond.

Valerie GiesenBy Valerie Giesen

Private sector investment in infrastructure and extractive projects such as mining are often perceived as opportunities by national governments. For instance, African governments have welcomed the large-scale involvement of Chinese and Indian firms in infrastructure and mining projects as an economic advantage, which allows governments to improve their competitiveness abroad and increase employment at home. However, these projects tend to affect local populations unevenly, confronting governments with the dilemma of weighing the benefits and disadvantages of economic development in emotionally charged environments. Just last week Ricardo Morel Berendson wrote about the difficulties of building an inclusive mining model in Peru.

An example of the tensions between development goals, which made it into the international headlines in 2011, was the Bolivian government’s plan to build a 182-mile highway, parts of which were to cut through a national park in the Bolivian part of the Amazon basin. Up to this point, the government under Evo Morales had presented itself as a radical defender of indigenous ecological rights on the global stage and had gone beyond external demands on developing countries to preserve their natural environment as a safeguard against climate change. For instance, in 2010, Bolivia was the only country to refuse the outcome of the United Nations (UN) climate summit in Cancún; Its ambassador to the UN, Pablo Solon, argued that the voluntary agreements proposed at Cancún would not be sufficient to bring global warming under control, accusing the international community of acting irresponsibly.

In July 2011, the government’s ‘green’ discourse was undercut by its desire to improve domestic economic growth, when Bolivia’s participation in a continent-wide Brazil-led infrastructure plan was announced. Read More »

Changing Temperatures and Water Shortages: Why Bolivians need more than prayers on the Aymara New Year

Aymara new yearToday, the time of the Winter Solstice in the Southern hemisphere, marks the beginning of the new agricultural year for the Aymara indigenous people of the Andean region. In June 2010, Bolivia’s President Evo Morales, an Aymara himself, decreed June 21 as an important national holiday: the Aymara New Year.

Although the celebrations center in the ancient ruins of Tiwanaku, with more than 50,000 participants in 2010, all over Bolivia, indigenous Aymarans gather on this typically coldest, longest night of the year to see in the sunrise. They brave the freezing temperatures in order to welcome the sun out of its winter season, characterized by short days and early darkness, and into longer days and more sunshine. Rituals back-dropped with traditional music abound and sacrifices of  llama, incense, alcohol, and coca are offered to Pachamama (mother nature/Mother Earth) until sunrise. All of this is in the hopes of enticing Tata Inti, the sun god, to heal the earth and give the farmers a good harvest. Read More »

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