“Forests are vital to life on earth.”-Al Stenstrup

This month, there was a summit in Durban, South Africa, to discuss the depletion of one of the world’s most valuable resources: forests. According to the (London) Telegraph, no agreements were made about how to deal with the problem; instead an agreement was made to keep discussing.

Al Stenstrup, author of Morgan Reynolds’s Diminishing Resources: Forests, wrote, “Our forests are diminishing in quantity and quality. Nearly one-third of the earth’s land is covered with forests–about half of what scientists estimate covered the earth 11,000 years ago. Today, it continues to rapidly decline, losing 36 million acres of natural forest each year.”

The Telegraph reported that in September of 2008, some of the world’s most influential governments donated gobs of money toward a global fund for diminishing CO2 emissions by stopping deforestation, leaving it in the care of the World Bank to use strictly to preserve the rainforests. The total came to 6.5 billion dollars.

“Incredibly,” the Telegraph reported, “the World Bank has spent less than 10 percent of the money it received.”

“This is incompetence on an appalling scale. During the last four years, deforestation has put more than 20 billion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere.”

Stenstrup wrote:

Carbon dioxide, or CO2, is a major contributor to the greenhouse effect and to global climate change. Trees take up CO2 from the atmosphere and use it to make the glucose or sugars that make up the tree. As long as the trees are alive and growing, they store this carbon. But when forests are cleared and the trees either burned or left to decay, this carbon is released back into the atmosphere.

And yet, the World Bank has not made a significant step with the money it has. The Telegraph reported, “The World Bank argues that it’s not easy to distribute money while ensuring that it is spent on the purpose for which it has been donated– especially…where central government … is corrupt and chronically inefficient. But there is a simple answer to that problem: don’t go through governments.”

Until the World Bank finds a way to circumvent those governments, which it is not apt to do any time soon, the world continues to constantly lose a natural resource and gain a whole lot of CO2.

Adrianne Loggins
Associate Editor

For more information about forests, check out Diminishing Resources: Forests by Al Stenstrup (ISBN 9781599351162).

Published in: on December 19, 2011 at 2:40 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The moment always dictates in my work…. Everybody can look, but they don’t necessarily see.”-Andre Kertesz

Morgan Reynolds author Kem Sawyer has recently been revealed as the subject of one of Hungarian photographer Andre Kertesz’s photos.

In 1962, Kertesz was strolling through Greenwich Village when he saw nine-year-old Kem sitting in her mother’s store window reading a Nancy Drew book, and he took her picture.

That photograph is now a part of Kertesz’s On Reading exhibit at the Academy Art Museum in Easton, Maryland.

According to the museum’s website, “On Reading . . . illustrates his penchant for the poetry and choreography of life in public and also private moments at home, examining the power of reading as a universal pleasure.”

Art Daily reported, “Although a lifelong reader, little did [Sawyer] know that one day she would become a children’s author herself.”

In fact, she has authored several books, including two Morgan Reynolds titles: Champion of Freedom: Mohandas Gandhi and, coming soon, Champion of Freedom Nelson Mandela.

Check out Kem’s books!

Champion of Freedom: Mohandas Gandhi (ISBN 9781599351667)

Champion of Freedom: Nelson Mandela (ISBN 9781599351674)

Adrianne Loggins
Associate Editor

Published in: on December 15, 2011 at 12:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“When you study a volcano you get an idea about its behaviour in the same way you judge a person once you get to know them well.”- Professor Pall Einarsson, Iceland University Institute of Earth Sciences

Katla's 1918 eruption

Last week the BBC reported that yet another volcano in Iceland, Katla, is gnashing its teeth and threatening to blow its top. If  Katla erupts, experts say there could be global effects such as severe flooding and climate change.

BBC reported, “Mighty Katla has the potential to cause catastrophic flooding as it melts the frozen surface of its caldera and sends billions of gallons of water surging through Iceland’s east coast and into the Atlantic Ocean.”

According to Don Nardo, author of the Morgan Reynolds title Extreme Threats: Volcanoes, a caldera is a large crater of depression that forms during a volcanic eruption.

Katla has been moving and shaking lately, which is often a sign that an eruption could be on the horizon. Ford Cochran, National Geographic’s expert on Iceland, told BBC that in the last month alone there have been more than 500 tremors.

BBC reported that in 1783, Katla’s volcanic chain erupted so much in an eight month span that the ash and gases produced by the eruptions “killed one in five Icelanders and half of the country’s livestock.” Cochran said that the eruptions also changed the planet’s climate, causing a cooling that in turn caused famine in several places around the world.

Katla is certainly not the only volcanic threat to our planet. But the knowledge that just one volcanic chain such as Katla’s can wreak so much havoc is unsettling at best. Knowing the fickleness of volcanoes, as Don Nardo prophesied, “humanity faces a scary volcanic future.”

Adrianne Loggins
Associate Editor

For more information on volcanoes and climate change, check out the Morgan Reynolds series Extreme Threats.

Extreme Threats: Volcanoes by Don Nardo (ISBN 9781599351186)

Extreme Threats: Climate Change by Don Nardo (ISBN 9781599351193)

Published in: on December 7, 2011 at 11:11 am  Leave a Comment  
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“Today, if we don’t take care, then what will be our future?”-Anna Hazare

"I want world sympathy in this battle of right against might." -Gandhi

In October, Morgan Reynolds author Kem Sawyer and her husband, Jon Sawyer, traveled to India on behalf of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, for which Jon is the director. Their goal: to learn more about and report on Anna Hazare and his anti-corruption movement in his home country.

Hazare’s campaign is what the Pulitzer Center’s editor, Tom Hundley, calls “Occupy New Delhi.” It’s focus is on the economic gap between classes in India, and the need for “an independent anti-corruption body with real powers,” according to the Sawyers.

Hazare, a veteran Indian soldier with little education, believes that this can be achieved through non-violent protests and revitalizing India’s villages, much like the renowned Mohandas Gandhi. And much like Gandhi, he has fast become an inspiration to many Indians.

Hazare has adopted Gandhi’s practice of ahimsa (non-violence)  in order to push India’s government into giving the Lokpal, or India’s anti-corruption agency, more power. And, according to the Sawyers, “In response to earlier Hazare fasts, the government has already blinked twice.” Now, Hazare once more threatens to starve himself in the name of his fellow Indians.

The Sawyers wrote in a round of dispatches to the Pulitzer Center, “Like Gandhi [Hazare] calls on his ‘inner strength’ to achieve great things.” Hazare is not only working to change India’s government, but also its villages. “After serving 12 years in the army, Hazare returned to [the village of] Ralegan Siddhi. . . There he set about to transform a village rife with problems. . . .  He didn’t set out to merely improve Ralegan Siddhi–he planned to make it a model village.” He helped repair the Hindu temple, banned alcohol and smoking in the village (which had had a problem with over-indulgence for many years), helped install plumbing, and fasted for the government to improve the state of the village’s education.

Kem Sawyer wrote in her book Champion of Freedom: Mohandas Gandhi (a Morgan Reynolds title, “[Gandhi] was convinced he could only find [truth] through selflessness and service for others. As a follower of ahimsa, he believed he must ‘hate the sin and not the sinner’ and he taught others to do the same.” The Sawyers say that Hazare believes the same. He once told a crowd, “If you want happiness, then make others happy first.”

Hazare said that his dream is for inequality among people to be reduced. To do that, the people of India need to learn to be self-sufficient and to band together. Hazare has left his listeners with this message: “Now the struggle has started. Together we have to fight this struggle until the country is free of corruption.”

For more information on Hazare’s inspiration, Mohandas Gandhi, check out Morgan Reynolds’s Champion of Freedom: Mohandas Gandhi (ISBN 9781599354667). For more information on India’s history, look for Classical Civilizations: India (ISBN 9781599351759).

Adrianne Loggins
Associate Editor

Published in: on December 5, 2011 at 2:47 pm  Leave a Comment  
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