#3 A Bonn Voyage with John D. Liu

Episode 3 closes out Muse Ecology’s inaugural series recorded in December 2017, about ecosystem restoration and the work of John D. Liu. In this episode, John and I have a conversation on the way to the airport that weaves through many topics currently affecting our global situation, and we discuss how a large scale shift to focusing on ecosystem restoration addresses the roots of all of them.

John D. Liu is Ecosystem Ambassador for Commonland Foundation and Visiting Research Fellow at the Netherlands Institute of Ecology of the Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences. He also catalyzed the Ecosystem Restoration Camps movement. You can find his films and research papers at knaw.academia.edu/JohnDLiu

One of the topics we discuss is how water vapor is more of a greenhouse gas than carbon emissions, and how ecosystem destruction has disrupted the water cycle and led to increase of uncondensated (not formed into clouds) atmospheric water vapor. The source John was referring to for his greenhouse gas numbers can be found at the following link.


Water vapor also acts as a magnifier of other greenhouse gases through strong feedback effects. Here’s another article, from NASA, on water vapor’s contribution to the greenhouse gas effect.


Some have ascribed the increase in uncondensated atmospheric water vapor simply to warming caused by carbon emissions, as in the following article.


Other researchers have been doing work synthesizing peer-reviewed findings from climatology, ecology, soil science, microbiology, and other fields that show anthropogenic causes, besides carbon emissions, of increased uncondensated water vapor and climate change. The good news about such effects is that they are based on our land management, and hence can be changed. The ecosystems that control the water cycles and climate have largely been cleared, drained, and paved or tilled up, and by restoring ecosystem function on the surface of Earth, we can restore hydrological cycles, which control most of our planet’s thermodynamics. Here are some links to some of this important work exploring these complexities.

Walter Jehne‘s Restoring Water Cycles to Naturally Cool Climates and Reverse Global Warming paper was presented at Tufts, MIT, Columbus, Dayton, Oberlin, and Harvard Universities in 2015. It addresses water as greenhouse gas, our land management’s effects on the water cycle and climate, and the role of vegetation and organic carbon and microbiology in the soil. Atmospheric carbon is relevant too of course, and he also has a great paper on the carbon drawdown possibilities of ecosystem restoration, Regenerate Earth. He also gave a fantastic webinar presentation earlier this year, 2018, on the water cycle, how we’ve altered it, and what we can do about it, as a guest on the Sustainable Design Masterclass webinar hosted by my friends Neal and Raleigh. You can find the webinar video here. You’ll couple longer presentations with more details in the videos in the following 2 links:


two hour presentation with more hydrological cooling details

Here are a couple more links with lists of further resources on the relations between vegetation, water cycles, and climate.



There lots more out there on these complexities, and folks are continuing to do important research, so stay tuned in to this topic of the connections between ecosystem restoration, water cycles, and climate change. We have alot to learn about this, and there will be alot more research developments in the coming year.


Michael DiGiorgio recorded the banjo-bird jams I’m using in the intro and ending. You can find his amazing nature art at https://www.mdigiorgio.com. Mike says that if you’d like to buy the album of his nature-banjo jams, you can find his email on his website and he can mail you a CD.

In the two links below you’ll find an mp3 and chords and lyrics for State of the Union, the song Alison and I sang to close out the series at the end of this episode. You can find a few of my songs and videos and booking contact at www.singingdirt.com

State of the Union Chords and Lyrics

State of the Union mp3

The lovely version of Home on the Range in the background during the introduction to the bison series at the end was on the album The Spirit of South Dakota, part of an album series of music and nature sounds from National Parks around the U.S. You can find this beautiful music at https://orangetreeproductions.com/

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