Carbon Mitigation for PSA 2022, Pittsburgh

This summarizes two projects undertaken to mitigate the cumulative carbon impact associated with travel and hotel activities of participants in the 2022 biennial meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association in Pittsburgh, PA. The goals included finding projects that avoided many of the problematic aspects of standard carbon offsetting, while achieving a substantial impact over a an approximately ten-year time horizon. These projects were selected and initiated by the Program Chair, Holly Andersen, using honorarium funding associated with the role of Program Chair. Each project has further positive environmental features involving ecosystem rehabilitation and restoration, involves consideration of the socio-political setting with respect to Native American/First Nations groups, has a number of philosophically intriguing features that may be of further interest to PSA membership.

Project 1: 600 Ponderosa pine trees were planted in Northwestern Montana. The site was selected for several key features: it burned several years ago; that fire was too hot, during a drought, forponderosa pines to naturally re-seed the area; it was too small for commercial planting and would not otherwise have been replanted; it is part of a migration corridor for wildlife, including elk and bears. The site is part of a precarious ecosystem where tree coverage patterns after fires are changing rapidly. Without ponderosa replanting, the area would have naturally seeded with a different tree species, resulting in much more homogenous stands of trees that support far less of the undergrowth and other species that are part of the historical ecosystem in the area. Ponderosas are the best tree species in this area to preserve dirt on sloped hillsides, so that moisture is retained, undergrowth can flourish, and sediment is prevented from clogging the streams, which kills the insects and fish there.

A local forester, Vic Andersen, oversaw the process of sourcing the seedlings, and he planted them in Spring 2022. The site is located around [48.128699, -114.819835]. The site is on the historical territory of the Salish and the Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Nation, and the seedlings were sourced from the Tribal Nursery on the nearby Flathead reservation.

Project 2: A long-term enhancement of blue carbon storage in the form of replanted kelp beds has been initiated in Átl'ka7tsem/Howe Sound, BC. Blue carbon storage is a highly efficient way to remove carbon from the atmosphere, even though it is currently difficult to quantify. Ripe sori are being collected from Neoagarum fimbriatum kelp in the area, to be cultivated by researchers at the Pacific Science Center, in association with Oceanwise. The spores will be released in selected subtidal areas by divers, and monitored over time to learn more about the reproductive cycle of this species and make future plantings more successful. This pilot project may take a while to eventuate in re-cultivation of kelp beds in these areas; it will hopefully eventually result in the knowledge required for the wide-spread re-establishment of healthier kelp and sea grass beds throughout the Sound.

This initiative is led by The Marine Stewardship Initiative (https://howesoundguide.ca/), managed by Courtney Smaha. It is on the traditional unceded territory of the Squamish First Nation. There is a planned event with the knowledge keepers and Squamish First Nation members about these kelp beds and their role in the subtidal and intertidal zones, which have historically served as an important food and cultural site for the Squamish.


More information and photos are available here:

https://sites.google.com/site/andersenphilosophy/home/carbon-mitigation-for-psa-2022

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