Watsonville Wetlands Watch: Climate Corps Leadership Institute’s Restoration Work
On February 8th, our Climate Corps Leadership Institute student interns joined Wetlands Watch staff to restore the habitats of Upper Struve Slough. Together, they planted over 600 young plants grown in our native plant nursery this fall and winter, bringing the total to 1,500 native plants planted on this site this rainy season. We’re also very appreciative of the Amah Mutsun Land Trust stewardship team for joining us for planting and stewardship work. This work is a part of a multi-year effort to conduct watershed restoration along the Upper Struve Slough within the City’s trail network. This work will replace several acres of non-native and invasive plants with diverse native habitat, essential to the over 270 resident and migratory bird species that rely on the Watsonville wetlands and the impressive biodiversity found within wetlands that surround the Watsonville trail network. Learn MORE.
Ocean Protection Council Approves $1.3 M to restore Elkhorn Slough
“The Ocean Protection Council (recently) approved $1.3 million in new funding to support a far-reaching restoration initiative at Elkhorn Slough. The funding, generated by California’s Proposition 68, will bring back species across an entire coastal landscape —from coastal grasslands to tidal salt marsh, from eelgrass beds to native oysters. This restoration will take place on the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, owned and managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife in partnership with NOAA and with support from the Elkhorn Slough Foundation. “With this effort, we’re using a holistic approach to put the puzzle pieces of an ecosystem together and restore an entire coastal landscape,” notes Reserve Manager Dave Feliz. More than 90 percent of California’s wetlands have vanished over the past century. Today the Elkhorn Slough features the most extensive salt marshes in California south of San Francisco Bay, yet without intervention the remaining marshes are projected to be lost within 50 years due to rising sea levels, subsidence, and tidal erosion.” Learn MORE.
EcoWatch, Feb 24: Atlanta builds the nation’s largest food forest to tackle food insecurity
After a pecan farm in a south Atlanta neighborhood closed, the land was then supposed to be converted into a residential townhouse zone. That project, however, never happened, prompting the city’s Conservation Fund to buy the land in 2016 and develop it into something else: the country’s largest free food forest. Thanks to a US Forest Service grant and a collaboration between the city’s municipality and a number of different NGOs, the 7.1 acres of land are now ripe with 2,500 pesticide-free edible and medicinal plants. The food forest has been particularly welcome in the Browns Mill neighborhood where it’s located, with the closest grocery store there being a 30-min bus ride away. The project is part of the city of Atlanta’s broader goal to bring healthy food within half a mile of 85 percent of Atlanta’s 500,000 residents by 2022. Initiatives like the food forest are much needed in the city as 1 in 6 Georgians face food insecurity, 1 in 3 Brown Mill residents live below the poverty line, and 1 in 4 Atlantans live in acute food deserts. Read ON!
The Guardian, Feb 26: US House passes historic public lands bill
The US House of Representatives has passed a historic public lands preservation bill that pledges to protect nearly 3m acres of federal lands in Colorado, California, Washington and Arizona. The act combines various bills that languished without Senate approval during the Trump administration. Key provisions include permanently banning new uranium mining on land surrounding the Grand Canyon, giving wilderness designation to 1.5m acres of federal land, and preserving 1,000 river miles by adding them to the Wild and Scenic Rivers System. “This is one of the largest public lands protection bills to ever go before Congress,” said Kristen Brengel, with the National Parks Conservation Association. “Wilderness designation is the strongest protection there is to ensure the lands will never be developed. And it can’t be undone with the stroke of pen.” The bill, called the Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act, has strong support from the Biden administration, in part because it will help the president achieve his goal of protecting at least 30% of US land from development by 2030 in order to combat climate change. It must now pass a divided Senate. Read more about protections for California HERE.
Citizen Volunteer Cleans Up Soquel Creek for 1 Year!
Craig Wilson decided to clean up a stretch of Soquel Creek under the footbridge that connects Paper Mill Road and Bridge Street in Soquel. He also documented all of the trash he removed over the course of 1 year, from Feb 2020 to Feb 2021. Here’s what he accomplished:
“346 items of litter were recovered:
Wrappers, Containers, Lids & Butts: 172
Metal Cans: 60
Plastic Bottles: 41
Glass Bottles: 26
Plastic, Cloth, Metal, Rubber & Wood: 47
There is a convenience store about 500 feet from the bridge. About 85% of the litter came from items apparently consumed in the area. Overall, this section of the creek is in relatively good shape but it still needs our help.”
Thank you Craig for your big contribution and initiative!
If you’ve designed or been part of a local environmental project please tell Environteers (firstname.lastname@example.org) and include a photo and we may be able to post it!
Center For Biological Diversity: Judge Overturns Trump for Greater Sage Grouse
“The greater sage grouse is a bird that needs its space. Reliant on large expanses of intact sagebrush and loyal to specific areas, sage grouse are very sensitive to habitat disturbance. As oil and gas extraction, livestock grazing, roads, and power lines have destroyed and fragmented their native habitat, their populations have plummeted. Fortunately for these beleaguered birds — whose males balloon out their air sacs in elaborate mating dances — a federal court has found unlawful the Trump administration’s removal of protections from 10 million acres across the West to allow mining in vital grouse habitat. This decision follows an earlier ruling stemming from a 2016 lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and allies. “Now the new Interior secretary can establish appropriate habitat protections based on science, not favoritism to the mining industry.” Learn MORE.
Bike Santa Cruz County: ”E-BIKE” Act introduced by Congressman Jimmy Panetta
Known as the Electric Bicycle Incentive Kickstart for the Environment Act, or “E-BIKE”, the bill aims to encourage the use of electric bicycles through a consumer tax credit of 30% towards the purchase of a new e-bike. According to Panetta, the legislation “will make it easier for more people from all socio-economic levels to own e-bikes and contribute to cutting our carbon output. By incentivizing the use of electric bicycles to replace car trips through a consumer tax credit, we can not only encourage more Americans to transition to greener modes of transportation, but also help fight the climate crisis.” Read MORE.
Environment America: Good news for bees!
“The Department of Defense’s 11 million acres of public land will become pollinator-friendly! A provision in the recently-passed National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) requires the Department of Defense to protect pollinators on military lands. It also recommends planting native flowering plants, eliminating or minimizing pesticide use in pollinator habitats, and more. Increased public pressure and advocacy has led to the passage of this pollinator-friendly provision. Former Representative Xochitl Torres Small from New Mexico, an environmental champion who our national network endorsed and supported, recommended including pollinators in the NDAA during this legislative session. The pollinator-friendly provision was included in the final version of the bill, which passed on New Year’s Day 2021. And now, thanks to this win, the armed services will become a partner in our work to protect pollinators.” Read MORE.
Bike Santa Cruz County: Watsonville Segment of Coastal Rail Trail Nears Completion
Watsonville’s Segment 18/Phase 1 is nearing completion! This segment parallels the rail line and will connect the City of Watsonville with the Watsonville Slough Wetlands trail network through 1.2 miles of paved trail for cyclists and pedestrians. Over 22,000 residents, 12 schools and 12 parks are located within one mile of the trail, making this a total game-changer for the City of Watsonville by allowing more residents to comfortably ride or walk for their daily trips and exercise. Construction of this phase is expected to be complete in mid-March, with an additional phase (Ohlone Parkway to Lee Road) to follow.
Climate Nexus: Judge Blocks MT Coal Mine Expansion Over Climate Change Impacts
A federal judge blocked the expansion of Montana’s largest coal mine on Wednesday, ruling the Interior Department failed to account for the social cost of the carbon pollution that would result from the additional coal extracted. The ruling criticized the Trump administration for “ignor[ing] more accurate scientific information when it is available,” referring to a 2017 executive order directing agencies not to account for the social cost of carbon. The decision could test the Biden administration’s willingness to undo permitting decisions made by the previous administration. On his first day in office, President Biden directed federal agencies to account for the full damages caused by greenhouse gas pollution to human health and the environment. Read more in Montana Free Press.
Optimist Daily, Feb 10: America will have a Civilian climate corps
“Big news! The Civilian Conservation Corps that was once so popular during Franklin D. Roosevelt’s time as a president is rising up from the ashes again under a slightly altered name. Under a newly signed executive order from the White House, a new Civilian Climate Corps is being established to provide “good jobs” for young people and train them for environmentally friendly careers. In addition, young people who join the Civilian Climate Corps will work to restore public lands and waters, plant trees, improve access to parks, and tackle climate change.” Read MORE.
The Wall Street Journal, Feb 5: The Battery Is Ready to Power the World
After a decade of rapidly falling costs, the rechargeable lithium-ion battery has reached a tipping point and is poised to disrupt industries. No longer just for consumer products, it is poised to transform the way the world uses power. In the energy sector, affordable batteries are making it possible for companies to store electricity and harvest renewable power. In the auto industry, they are set to challenge the gas-powered engine’s centurylong domination. Costs have come down so far and so fast that most car makers expect that electric vehicles, which are currently more expensive than their gas-powered counterparts, will cost the same amount to build within the next five years. The gains are likely to continue. Electric vehicles are currently the main source of demand for battery cells. As demand grows and costs fall further, batteries will become even more disruptive across industries. Batteries recently scored a win at General Motors Co., which said it hoped to phase out gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles from its showrooms world-wide by 2035. Learn MORE.
EcoWatch, Jan 29: Teen Scientist Seeks Solution to Water Crisis
“Shreya Ramachandran, 17, remembers witnessing California’s water crisis firsthand on a visit to Tulare County in 2014, when she was still a preteen. Tulare spans a large swath of farmland in California’s Central Valley, and at that time, locals were facing dire water shortages amid an ongoing drought made worse by climate change. The experience spurred Ramachandran, who lives in Fremont, California, to find ways to reuse water from sinks, showers and laundry machines, what’s known as grey water, to help people better cope with intense drought. She has won numerous awards for her research, was named a global finalist in the 2019 Google Science Fair. Around that time, Ramachandran’s grandmother was visiting from India, and she had brought with her a handful of soap nuts. A soap nut, also known as a soap berry, is a small yellow or brown fruit encased in a hard, brown shell. Soap nuts are native to India, where they are used for bathing.” Read MORE.
Center For Biological Diversity: Biden Executive Order Pushes for Protection of 30% of America’s Land & Oceans by 2030
“President Joe Biden will issue an executive order today directing federal officials to protect 30% of the country’s lands and ocean waters by 2030, part of an effort to slow the wildlife extinction crisis and curb global warming. “This is a crucial step to stopping the wildlife extinction crisis, which threatens the future of all life on our planet,” said Kierán Suckling, executive director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We’ve got to preserve the most biologically rich ecosystems to have any hope of bringing nature back from the brink. Human activity got us to this heartbreaking point, and we’re grateful the Biden administration will address this global crisis by working to protect 30% of the nation’s lands and oceans by 2030.” Under the president’s order, the Interior Department will determine how to measure the country’s progress toward the 30×30 goal and outline steps to achieve it. Federal officials also will support local, state, private and tribal conservation and restoration efforts and work to improve access to nature for low-income communities and communities of color.” Learn MORE.
NEXUS MEDIA NEWS, JAN 22: Dept.Of Interior Effectively Suspends New Public Lands Drilling
The Biden administration effectively suspended new fossil fuel extraction on public lands and waters Thursday. Under an order signed by acting Interior Secretary Scott de la Vega, only high-level staff may “issue any onshore or offshore fossil fuel authorization” including leases and drilling permits. The 60-day order is a first step toward fulfilling one of President Biden’s major campaign promises: the end of fossil fuels leasing on public lands and waters, which account for about a quarter of all U.S. oil and gas extraction. Also, the DOI revoked 70 improperly-issued drilling permits issued, invalidly by existing staff, during the first days of the Biden administration. Nexus Media.
EcoWatch, Jan 26: NYC Pension Funds Are Divesting Four Billion From Fossil Fuels
Three of New York City’s five public employee pension funds are divesting $4 billion from securities related to fossil-fuel companies. Pensions for teachers, school administrators and civil servants voted to divest their holdings, according to a statement from Mayor Bill de Blasio. With a combined value of $239 billion, representing 70% of the city’s pension assets, the move is one of the largest fossil fuel divestments in the world. Under the resolution, the pensions would phase out fossil fuel investments over five years. “Fossil fuels are not only bad for our planet and our frontline communities, they are a bad investment,” said NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio. The NYC pension funds join others, including cities in California and Australia, in the divestment movement. EcoWatch.
Calif Audubon Society: Salton Sea Restoration Project Begins
The California Salton Sea Management Program began construction this week on a project to restore bird and fish habitat at the southern end of the Salton Sea. The Species Conservation Habitat Project (SCH) will reduce wind-borne dust pollution on nearly 4,000 acres to the east and west of the New River delta, lessening dangerous dust pollution affecting nearby communities, while also creating habitat for birds and serving as a water-management pond for future projects in the area. The SCH will be constructed on what is now exposed, dust-emitting lakebed, or playa. It will include several types of habitat areas to accommodate a variety of shorebirds, wading birds and waterfowl. Mid- and deep-water areas will create relatively low-salinity habitat for fish preyed on by American White Pelicans and other fish-eating bird species. Learn MORE.
White House, Jan 27: President Biden Takes Executive Actions to Tackle the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, Create Jobs, and Restore Scientific Integrity Across Federal Government
The order clearly establishes climate considerations as an essential element of U.S. foreign policy and national security. The order affirms that, in implementing – and building on – the Paris Agreement’s objectives, the United States will exercise its leadership to promote a significant increase in global ambition. It makes clear that both significant short-term global emission reductions and net zero global emissions by mid-century – or before – are required to avoid setting the world on a dangerous, potentially catastrophic, climate trajectory. The order also calls for the establishment of a Civilian Climate Corps Initiative to put a new generation of Americans to work conserving and restoring public lands and waters, increasing reforestation, increasing carbon sequestration in the agricultural sector, protecting biodiversity, improving access to recreation, and addressing the changing climate. Read MORE.
Rainforest Action Network: U.S. (Finally) Takes Action On Conflict Palm Oil
“For the first time in history, the US government blocked the import of Conflict Palm Oil from a major Malaysian supplier found to be linked to forced labor. Weeks later, shareholders at Procter & Gamble voted overwhelmingly for increased transparency and reporting on deforestation in their supply chains. In Aug 2019, RAN and our partners GLJ-ILRF and SumOfUs filed a Tariff Act complaint demanding government oversight into allegations of forced labor, child labor, and abusive working conditions in palm oil supply chains. This petition launched a year-long investigation led by the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) that culminated with the announced ban of palm oil from Malaysian-based supplier FGV Holdings Berhad in September 2020. During their investigation, CBP found signs of “abuse of vulnerability, deception, restriction of movement, isolation, physical and sexual violence, intimidation and threats, retention of identity documents, withholding of wages, debt bondage, abusive working and living conditions, and excessive overtime,” in addition to forced child labor. Federal statute 19 U.S.C. 1307 bans the import of goods produced by forced labor.” Learn MORE.
Reuters, Jan 25: Biden vows to replace U.S. government fleet with electric vehicles
President Biden vowed to replace the U.S. government’s fleet of roughly 650,000 vehicles with electric models as the new administration shifts its focus toward clean-energy. “The federal government also owns an enormous fleet of vehicles, which we’re going to replace with clean electric vehicles made right here in America made by American workers,” Biden said. Biden criticized existing rules that allow vehicles to be considered U.S. made when purchased by the U.S. government even if they have significant non-American made components. Biden said he would close “loopholes” that allow key parts like engines, steel and glass to be manufactured abroad for vehicles considered U.S. made. Learn MORE.
ECoWatch, Jan 22: European Investment Bank Chief Declares “Gas is over”
Noted author and 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben was among the first to celebrate word that the president of the European Investment Bank on Wednesday openly declared, “To put it mildly, (fracked) gas is over” — an admission that squares with what climate experts and economists have been saying for years if not decades. Dr. Werner Hoyer, president of the EIB — the investment bank publicly owned by the European Union’s member states — made the comments while presenting at a press conference in Luxembourg. Calling a future break with fracked gas “a serious departure from the past,” Hoer added that “without the end to the use of unabated fossil fuels, we will not be able to reach the climate targets” to which the EU states — and therefore the bank — have committed. Learn MORE.
NOAA, Jan 19: Flower Gardens National Marine Sanctuary Expanded
On January 19, 2021, NOAA issued the Final Rule for expansion of Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. This action protects 14 additional reefs and banks, slightly adjusts the boundaries of the sanctuary’s original three banks, and expands the sanctuary from 56 square miles to a total of 160 square miles. The final rule applies existing sanctuary regulations to all of the new areas, providing protection from the destructive impact of activities related to fishing with bottom-tending gear, ship anchoring, oil and gas exploration and production, and salvage activities on sensitive biological resources. These areas include critical habitat for recreationally and commercially important fish, as well as threatened or endangered species of manta rays, sea turtles, and corals in the Gulf of Mexico. More info HERE.
EcoWatch: The U.S. Is Building a Bike Trail That Runs Coast-to-Coast Across 12 States
The Great American Rail-Trail will be almost 6,000km when complete, and will serve 50 million people within 80km of the route. Trails have proved invaluable for recreation and transport during lockdown. Cycling and safe routes are vital for cities planning their post-pandemic recovery. Stretching almost 6,000km and crossing 12 states, the Great American Rail-Trail will enable cyclists, hikers and riders to traverse the entire US. The multi-use trail will run from Washington DC in the east to Washington state on the Pacific coast. So far more than 3,200km of it has been completed. Learn MORE.
Save The Redwoods League: Governor Newsom’s Proposed Budget Investments in Forestry and Wildfire Resilience
“With California’s record-breaking wildfires of 2020 still fresh in the memory of legislators, Gov. Gavin Newsom has earmarked $1 billion in his proposed budget to address the need for forest restoration, fire prevention and recovery. The proposal is of foremost concern to Save the Redwoods League. In forests and other natural lands across the state, climate change and 150 years of fire suppression and exclusion of indigenous stewardship has resulted in forests that are vulnerable to severe wildfires. As a result, California’s iconic fire-adapted coast redwood and giant sequoia forests are facing an unprecedented threat.” Learn more HERE.
EcoWatch, Jan 7: America’s Newest National Park Is Also the First in West Virginia
The U.S. is beginning the new year with a new national park. The nation’s 63rd national park is also the first to be designated as such in the state of West Virginia, Veranda reported. New River Gorge, in Fayetteville, was officially changed from a national river to a national park as part of the COVID-19 relief bill that passed on Dec. 27. “Redesignation of the National River to a National Park and Preserve will shine a brighter light on West Virginia and all that it has to offer,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). Read MORE.
Boiling Point, LA Times: How rooftop solar could save Americans $473 billion
“With (about 1 week) until Joe Biden takes office — and with Democrats taking control of the Senate — the growth of clean energy is poised to accelerate. If Biden’s appointees want to help consumers save money, they might consider devoting a big chunk of their efforts to solar panels and batteries that can be installed at homes across the country. In a fascinating report released last month, Clack and his coauthors estimated that eliminating nearly all planet-warming pollution from electricity generation would be $473 billion cheaper with dramatic growth in rooftop solar and batteries (versus large solar farms). That calculation is based on Clack’s exhaustively detailed model of the U.S. electric grid, which he says includes 10,000 times more data points than traditional models and allows for a better accounting of rooftop solar’s costs and benefits to the grid.” Learn MORE.
BBC, Dec 17: The batteries that could make fossil fuels obsolete
The twin smokestacks of the Moss Landing Power Plant tower over Monterey Bay. Visible for miles along this picturesque stretch of the north Californian coast, the 500-foot-tall (150m) pillars crown what was once California’s largest electric power station – a behemoth natural gas-fired generator. Today, as California steadily moves to decarbonize its economy, those stacks are idle and the plant is largely mothballed. Instead, the site is about to begin a new life as the world’s largest battery, storing excess energy when solar panels and wind farms are producing electricity and feeding it back into the grid when they’re not. Inside a cavernous turbine building, a 300-megawatt lithium-ion battery is currently being readied for operation, with another 100-megawatt battery to come online in 2021. Learn MORE
Massachusetts Legislature Sends Bipartisan Climate Bill to the Governor
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker is reviewing sweeping legislation to reduce the commonwealth’s greenhouse gas pollution, spur clean energy jobs, electrify buildings, and protect communities disproportionately harmed by pollution. The bill passed by 38-2 vote in the State Senate and in the House 145-9. In addition to mandating net-zero greenhouse gas pollution by 2050, the legislation would also boost offshore wind energy and codify the definition of “environmental justice populations.” Read MORE.
Optimist Daily, Jan 4: Female Of The most endangered turtle species found
“The giant Swinhoe’s soft-shell turtle (Rafetus Swinhoe) is the most endangered turtle in the world, with only one known male currently living at the Suzhou zoo in China. Now hopes are rising that this precious species of turtle could be saved from the brink of extinction after conservationists discovered a female of his species in a lake outside of Hanoi, Vietnam. To find the female Swinhoe’s soft-shell turtle, conservationists spent weeks looking for it in the 1,400-hectare Dong Mo lake near Hanoi. Specifically, the conservationists looked for the distinct, yellow and black pattern that adorns the turtle’s face. After being captured, the scientists performed genetic tests and confirmed that it is indeed a female Swinhoe’s soft-shell turtle. The Guardian reports that she is one meter long and was deemed healthy upon release back in the water.” Learn MORE.
New York Times, Dec 29: New York’s Real Climate Challenge Is Fixing Its Aging Buildings
The city and New York State have zeroed in on buildings in pursuit of meaningful cuts to carbon, like the state’s goal to slash greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent by 2050. A plan to upgrade a cluster of nine unremarkable apartment buildings in Brooklyn typically would not merit a second look. But this isn’t a quick fix; the project, called Casa Pasiva, aims to be a new model for the sustainable transformation of the city’s housing stock. Sleek new skyscrapers that incorporate the latest energy-efficient building materials like mass timber may look impressive, but when it comes to solving the climate crisis in New York, the real challenge lies in the city’s decades-old structures. More than 90 percent of the buildings in New York today will still be standing in 2050, and nearly 70 percent of the city’s total carbon emissions come from buildings. Learn MORE.
Nat Geo: 14 key nations commit to protect oceans
When the heads of state of 14 nations sat down together in late 2018 to discuss the grim condition of the world’s oceans, there was no certainty that anything consequential would result. The leaders planned 14 gatherings, but met only twice before the pandemic upended their talks. So when the group announced this week the world’s most far-reaching pact to protect and sustain ocean health, it signaled a bit more than a noteworthy achievement in a complicated time. The agreement, negotiated via the nuance-free tool of video conferencing, also offered hope of a renewed era of global accord on climate, where issues grounded in science might finally trump political posturing. Overall, the 14 leaders agreed to sustainably manage 100 percent of the oceans under their national jurisdictions by 2025—an area of ocean roughly the size of Africa. Additionally, they vowed to set aside 30 percent of the seas as marine protected areas by 2030, in keeping with the United Nations’ campaign known as “30 by 30.” Read MORE.
Science Daily Dec 21: New population of blue whales discovered in the western Indian ocean
An international team of researchers has discovered what it believes to be a new population of blue whales in the western Indian Ocean. Blue whales are the largest animals that have ever lived on our planet, and they are found around the globe in all oceans. All blue whales sing very low-pitched and recognizable songs, and conveniently for researchers, every population has its own unique song. In a recently published paper in the journal Endangered Species Research, the researchers describe a new blue whale song that is heard from the Arabian Sea coast of Oman across to the Chagos Archipelago in the central Indian Ocean and as far south as Madagascar in the southwest Indian Ocean. Learn MORE.
Treehugger: Gorilla Lovingly Embraces Man Who Rescued Her From Hunters
This captivating image of a lowland gorilla in the arms of a man is the People’s Choice Award winner for Wildlife Photographer of the Year. Photographer Jo-Anne McArthur captured the intimate portrait after the gorilla was rescued from hunters who captured her with the intention of selling her for bushmeat. Pikin the gorilla was rescued by the group Ape Action Africa and sedated while she was moved from one enclosure to another. The sedatives wore off early, and Pikin awoke in the car. However, she remained calm in the arms of Appolinaire Ndohoudou, who has dedicated his life to protecting gorillas in Cameroon. In fact, many of the animals have known him their whole lives. Read MORE.
Union Of Concerned Scientists, Dec 25: Bright Spots in the End of A Dark Year
The covid relief and spending package passed by Congress includes some important climate provisions. authorized the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to phase out hydrofluorocarbons (HFC’s), a greenhouse gas that is approximately a thousand times more potent than carbon dioxide and is widely used in refrigerants and air conditioners. A worldwide phase out of HFC’s has the potential to reduce the overall warming from climate change by .5 degree centigrade. With this legislative authorization, the United States can not only do its part, but US businesses can play a leading role in supplying the world with alternatives to HFC’s. The congressional package also includes a much-needed extension of tax credits for clean energy. One of the biggest wins is for offshore wind energy, for which tax credits are extended for five years. In conjunction with timely and decisive permitting decisions from the federal government, this will propel a giant, job-creating investment in offshore wind along the Atlantic coast. Also included in the tax credit package are more modest extensions for solar and onshore wind, energy efficiency investments, and carbon capture and storage. On top of that, the bill steps up funding for the Department of Energy. Especially important is a $2.9 billion authorization for ARPA-E, a DOE program that funds cutting edge research and development for clean energy. Read MORE.
Lakota People’s Law Project, Dec 17: Deb Haaland chosen For Secretary of The Interior
For the first time in U.S. history, a Native American person was nominated to fill a Cabinet position when Joe Biden tapped Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM) to serve as his Secretary of the Interior. We all share in this victory for Indigenous rights, and I can’t thank Lakota Law supporters like you enough for lending your voices. Nearly 9,500 of you signed our petition to Biden’s transition team in support of Congresswoman Haaland! Today, they made the right call. Once she’s confirmed, Rep. Haaland will bring valuable experience to the executive branch as both a legislator and an Indigenous woman. A 35th-generation New Mexican and member of the Pueblo of Laguna Tribe, she’s already served in Congress on a committee overseeing the Department of the Interior. As a Native person, she’ll bring a new perspective to the position, which is responsible for the federal government’s relationship with tribal nations and has a large role in determining domestic environmental and land use policy. WEBSITE
Environment America: Common Ground Exists Despite Political Divides
“A new report from U.S. PIRG, Environment America and Frontier Group, entitled Moving Forward Together, shows that there is more common ground among the American public than the partisan nature of modern politics suggests. It also highlights the urgent need to bring Americans together to solve problems. The report lays out 12 policy areas that bridge the partisan divide and offer potential for real reform. Some of those include cutting wasteful spending, improving gun safety, offering clean energy tax credits, increasing government transparency and giving Americans the right to repair the things that we own. “Polarization is the bedrock problem that is preventing us from addressing America’s other problems,” said Frontier Group Director Susan Rakov. “The good news is that despite the heat of our current political debate, Americans actually agree on a lot of core issues. By daring to venture across the political divide and find compromise on areas of public concern, leaders can get important work done for the American people and that work itself will forge a pathway out of the nation’s dangerous, counterproductive and toxic polarization.” Learn MORE.
Earthjustice, Dec 9: Montana Supreme Court Deals Final Blow to Mining Plan Near Yellowstone
“A giant gold mining project proposal near Yellowstone National Park is officially dead, and Montanans’ right to stop such unlawful projects is upheld, with far-reaching impacts. Paradise Valley, the northern gateway to Yellowstone National Park, is officially now safe from a destructive mining project after the Montana Supreme Court ruled a Canadian company’s bid to mine for gold is illegal. Earthjustice brought a case challenging the mine on behalf of two local organizations. In its December 2020 ruling, the court found that the state acted illegally when it permitted mineral exploration. The court said Montana overlooked harm to wildlife and failed to provide a plan to prevent pollution of groundwater and streams. The justices further ruled unanimously that a provision in Montana Environmental Policy Act that stripped Montanans of the ability to stop such unlawful projects was unconstitutional. This outcome will have far-reaching impacts on challenges to mining and other industrial projects in Montana.” Read MORE.
Medium: 60 of the most powerful photos taken this year
A breathtaking selection from the International Photography Awards. See them HERE.
EcoWatch, Dec 10: NY Pension Fund Will Divest From Fossil Fuels
New York state’s pension fund will sell all its fossil fuel stocks in the next five years and all shares from companies that contribute to climate change by 2040, the state comptroller Thomas DiNapoli announced Wednesday. It is the most aggressive divestment target set by any U.S. pension fund by a decade. New York will also push companies in which it invests to take action to reduce their global warming pollution. New York is one of the world’s largest investors, with $226 billion in assets, and its move could accelerate global markets’ shift away from oil and gas companies. DiNapoli had resisted calls to divest from fossil fuels out of caution for the investment returns relied upon by the more than 1 million state and municipal workers who rely on the pension fund. The decision to expunge the pension fund of fossil fuel stocks and other companies that contribute to climate change, he said, was driven by the need to protect the fund’s long-term value. Learn MORE.
Nat Geo: A grassroots push to save disappearing birds and bees forces change in Germany
All across Europe, species are disappearing, and nowhere faster than on agricultural lands. Since 1990, the populations of common farmland birds and grassland butterflies, for example, have dropped by more than a third. Bees, which play a central role in pollinating crops, have suffered such dramatic population declines that the European Union banned neonicotinoids, a class of insecticides that harms them. But a fresh wind is blowing across this damaged landscape. The EU, which positions itself as a world leader on environmental issues, has lately recognized its failure to promote a food system that safeguards nature. And over the last couple of years, several regions have shown how the declines in wildlife populations might be reversed—with Bavaria a leading example of the trend. That this would happen in the most conservative state in Germany is surprising. The way it happened suggests to conservationists like Schӓffer that broader change is afoot, because the move was propelled by a groundswell of public support. Read MORE.
Center For Biological Diversity: Court Nixes Trump’s Greenlight of Arctic Oil Scheme
“In a magnificent win for the wild Arctic, a federal appeals court on Monday rejected the Trump administration’s approval of what would have been the first offshore oil-drilling development located fully in federal Arctic waters. Hilcorp Alaska got approval in 2018 to build and operate its controversial “Liberty” project, an artificial drilling island and underwater pipeline that could have spilled oil into the sensitive Beaufort Sea and harmed Arctic wildlife and communities. Conservation groups including the Center for Biological Diversity filed suit to stop it.” “This is a huge victory for polar bears and our climate,” said Kristen Monsell, oceans legal director at the Center. “This project was a disaster waiting to happen that should never have been approved. I’m thrilled the court saw through the Trump administration’s attempt to push this project through without carefully studying its risks.” Learn MORE.
EcoWatch, Dec 1: Beavers Build First Dam in England’s Somerset in More Than 400 Years
“England’s Somerset county can now boast its first beaver dam in more than 400 years. The dam is the work of Eurasion beavers who were reintroduced to the National Trust’s Holnicote Estate in Exmoor National Park at the start of 2020, The Independent reported Monday. The beavers began to build the small structure in October, and video cameras caught them gnawing on trees and gathering vegetation for the dam. “It might look modest, but this beaver dam is incredibly special – it’s the first to appear on Exmoor for almost half a millennium and marks a step change in how we manage the landscape,” National Trust project manager Ben Eardley told BBC News. “What’s amazing is that it’s only been here a few weeks but has created an instant wetland.” The beavers weren’t just re-released for the cute factor. These river-dwelling rodents are also a natural solution to the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss.” Read MORE.
EcoWatch, Dec 1: Bank of America Promises It Won’t Fund Arctic Drilling
After ongoing pressure from environmental groups and Indigenous communities, Bank of America has said it will not finance any oil and gas exploration in the Arctic, making it the last major U.S. financial institution to do so. The decision is especially significant because outgoing President Donald Trump has opened up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to fossil fuel exploration, and is rushing to sell leases for drilling in the refuge before leaving office. “It has long been clear that drilling in the Arctic Refuge would trample Indigenous rights, threaten vulnerable wildlife, and worsen the climate crisis. Now that every major American bank has stated unequivocally that they will not finance this destructive activity, it should be clearer than ever that any oil company considering participating in Trump’s ill-advised lease sale should stay away,” Sierra Club Senior Campaign Representative Ben Cushing said in a press release responding to the news. Learn MORE.
EcoWatch, Nov 30: ‘Major Hurdle’ Cleared as Youth Activists Advance Historic Climate Case
An unprecedented climate lawsuit brought by six Portuguese youths is to be fast-tracked at Europe’s highest court, it was announced today. The European Court of Human Rights said the case, which accuses 33 European nations of violating the applicants’ right to life by disregarding the climate emergency, would be granted priority status due to the “importance and urgency of the issues raised.” This is the first climate lawsuit to be filed with the international court in Strasbourg, France, and campaigners say the decision represents a major step towards a potential landmark judgment. Learn MORE.
UCSC, Nov 30: UCSC Science team wins gold, nominated for best environmental project
Thirteen undergraduates were recognized for their research accomplishments at the world’s largest competition in synthetic biology. Last week, after months of both in-person lab work and virtual collaboration, the UC Santa Cruz iGEM team joined 248 teams from around the world in presenting their synthetic biology projects at the annual iGEM Jamboree. At the conclusion of judging on Sunday, their project to create a biodegradable agricultural plastic out of cellulose was awarded a gold medal and nominated as one of the best environmental projects in the competition. Learn MORE.
EcoWatch, Nov 30: 6 Grassroots Activists Win ‘Green Nobel Prize’
“Six grassroots environmental activists will receive the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize in a virtual ceremony this year. Dubbed the “Green Nobel Prize,” this award is given annually to environmental heroes from each of the world’s six inhabited continents. This year’s winners include an Indigenous Mayan beekeeper who led a coalition to ban genetically modified soy in seven Mexican states, a French activist who pressured France’s three largest banks to stop financing coal, a woman who harnessed youth activism to enact a ban on single-use plastics in the Bahamas, an Indigenous Waorani woman who organized legal action preventing oil extraction in a huge expanse of Amazon rainforest, an Indigenous Karen organizer who spearheaded the formation of the world’s first peace park in an active conflict zone, and an activist who prevented the construction of what would have been the first coal-fired power plant in Ghana.” Read MORE.
Anchorage Press, Nov 18: Court upholds protection of brown bears in the Kenai Refuge
A coalition of groups hailed a federal court decision Nov. 13, that upheld a 2016 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rule that enshrines the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge’s long-standing prohibition on brown bear baiting, along with its decades-long approach of managing the Skilak Wildlife Recreation Area for wildlife viewing and education. The decision confirms that the Fish and Wildlife Service necessarily has the authority to manage wildlife on lands it oversees and to set management priorities within Refuges (including emphasizing wildlife viewing). “The court soundly rejected the continuing attempts of the State of Alaska and Safari Club trophy hunters to decimate the iconic wildlife populations of our magnificent Kenai National Wildlife Refuge,” said Dr. David C. Raskin, president of the Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges. “The science-based regulations in the 2016 Kenai rule uphold the legal obligation of the Fish and Wildlife Service to maintain wildlife populations in their natural diversity. This is a great victory for intelligent management for the long-term benefit of wildlife for all Americans to enjoy and cherish.” Read MORE.
John Kerry Signs Paris Agreement With Granddaughter on Lap
Environment America, Nov 23: U.S. set to retake global leadership on climatE
President-elect Joe Biden on Monday named former U.S. Secretary of State and U.S. Senator from Massachusetts John Kerry the “climate czar” for the incoming administration. Biden has cited “the battle to save the climate” among his top five priorities. As the special presidential envoy for climate, Kerry will lead the administration’s efforts on global warming from a seat on the National Security Council. Although Kerry will not be our nation’s first climate czar (the position was held by former EPA Administrator Carol Browner in the Obama administration), it is the first time the National Security Council will include an official dedicated to climate change. Read MORE.
New York Times. Nov 25: Destructive Pebble Mine Denied
The Army Corps of Engineers on Wednesday denied a permit for the proposed Pebble Mine in Alaska, likely dealing a death blow to a long-disputed project that aimed to extract one of the world’s largest deposits of copper and gold ore, but which threatened breeding grounds for salmon in the pristine Bristol Bay region. The fight over the mine’s fate has raged for more than a decade. The plan was scuttled years ago under the Obama administration, only to find new life under President Trump. But opposition, from Alaska Native American communities, environmentalists and the fishing industry never diminished, and recently even the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., a sportsman who had fished in the region, came out against the project. The Army Corps’ Alaska District Commander, Col. Damon Delarosa, said the mine, proposed for a remote tundra region about 200 miles from Anchorage, would be “contrary to the public interest” because “it does not comply with Clean Water Act guidelines.” Learn MORE.
The Optimist Daily, Nov 20: UK to ban sale of new gas-powered vehicles in 2030
The UK is on track to phase out fossil-fuel-powered vehicles sooner than any other major economy with this week’s announcement that it will ban the sale of new gas-powered vehicles in 2030. The ban on polluting vehicles will be introduced five years earlier than previously planned, although it will allow the sale of hybrid vehicles until 2035. The new vehicle standards are part of a larger “green industrial revolution” which includes £12 billion of government investment into climate change mitigation initiatives. To support the electric vehicle transition, the UK will fund the expansion of charging points, battery efficiency research, and subsidize electric vehicles to make them as affordable for consumers as traditional combustion engines. Read MORE.
EcoWatch, Nov 19: World’s Most Remote Island Creates Largest Atlantic Ocean Sanctuary
“To reach Tristan da Cunha, a UK overseas territory with population of 250, one must make a seven-day boat trip from South Africa, reported National Geographic. The island chain recently announced that 700,000 square kilometers (270,271 square miles), or 90% of its territorial waters, will be designated as a large marine protected area (MPA) to safeguard the area’s rich biodiversity and endangered animals, The Guardian reported. At that size, it will be three times the size of Britain, the largest marine sanctuary in the Atlantic and the fourth largest in the world, providing refuge to sevengill sharks, whales and seals, AP News continued.” Learn MORE.
EcoWatch, Nov 17: Dozens of Faith Organizations Divest From Fossil Fuels
“Climate action campaigners applauded Monday after 47 faith institutions from 21 countries announced they would divest from fossil fuels, marking the largest-ever joint divestment by religious leaders in history. Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org, gave credit to campaigners in the fossil fuel divestment movement, who in recent years have pressured banks, universities, and other entities to cut financial ties with the fossil fuel sector in an effort to help mitigate the planetary emergency.” Learn MORE.
Environment America: TD Bank adopts policy against drilling in the Arctic
TD Bank is the latest financial institution to announce that it will not fund oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The bank, the second largest in Canada, ruled out providing financial resources for any oil and gas related activities that fall within the Arctic Circle, where the refuge is located. TD cited the importance of the area to fragile wildlife populations and the risks from climate change as the main reasons for the decision. TD joins six other large banks that have made similar commitments to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. “Companies are increasingly getting the message: the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge must not be spoiled by drilling.” said Environment America Conservation Advocate Alex Petersen. ”It is one of the last pristine wilderness areas on Earth. It’s home to caribou, denning polar bears, and migratory birds from all 50 states and six continents. TD is doing the right thing by announcing they won’t finance a project that would be so damaging to the environment. We need more nature in this country, not more oil rigs.” Read MORE.
Optimist Daily, Nov 12: Clean energy hit record growth in 2020, despite Covid-19
“According to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA), 90 percent of new electricity generation is coming from renewable sources—despite the coronavirus pandemic. Gas and coal, on the other hand, only accounted for 10 percent of new electricity generation. The IEA report indicated that clean energy is on pace to become the largest power source in 2025, ending a 50-year reign from coal. The new report also highlights that the US is one of the world’s biggest markets for renewables and that deployment could accelerate even faster if the next presidential administration implements policies in line with the Paris Agreement. ‘Renewable power is defying the difficulties caused by the pandemic, showing robust growth while other fuels struggle,” said Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director. “The resilience and positive prospects of the sector are clearly reflected by continued strong appetite from investors.'” Learn MORE.
Medium: 40 Stunning Nature Photos, Up Close and Personal
The breathtaking results of this year’s Close-Up Photographer of the Year competition. The winners of this second annual competition were chosen from over 6,500 submissions from 52 different countries. The competition seeks to reward the very best close-up, macro, and micro photographs that “help us see the world anew,” and this year it awarded prizes in multiple categories, including “Animals,” “Insects,” “Plants and Fungi,” “Micro,” “Intimate Landscape,” and “Young.” See them HERE.
EcoWatch, Nov 12: Biden Can Leverage Larger Trends to Make Climate Progress
“Joe Biden’s election creates an exciting opportunity for climate action… He has the advantage of the tide moving in the direction of clean energy. Market forces are shifting strongly away from fossil fuels and toward renewables and energy storage. State governments are moving in the same direction. And public opinion has shifted, with more people recognizing the importance of climate change and the benefits of clean energy. The trick will be to leverage these trends into faster and larger changes. I’d advocate a three-pronged approach to take advantage of these trends: (1) aggressive use of established regulatory tools; (2) funding to improve and deploy new technologies; and (3) government support for state and private sector climate efforts.” Read MORE.
National Geo: Colorado Votes to Re-introduce Gray wolves
“For the first time ever, a state’s voters decided to reintroduce an animal into the ecosystem. In the 1940s, gray wolves were hunted, trapped, and poisoned to extinction in Colorado, often with the help of the government. Last week, Coloradans voted to allow a suitable population of the wolves to settle again in the Rocky Mountain state, Douglas Main reports. The vote was close, with opponents fearing the wolves would kill elk and cattle. Advocates point to the successful reintroduction of wolves to the Northern Rockies in the 1990s, where only one in 10,000 cattle in wolf-occupied counties are killed by the predators on average.” Learn MORE.
E & E News, Nov 13: Conservation Jobs Program Legislation
Another member of Congress has introduced legislation to launch a new conservation jobs program as part of the pandemic recovery effort. The concept has gained traction among members of both parties even as negotiations over the next phase of federal COVID-19 relief remain stalled — and one that advocates might also push to have included in a year-end spending bill. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) yesterday announced he would champion the House version of S. 4538, the “Restore Employment in Natural and Environmental Work (RENEW) Conservation Corps Act,” which Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) introduced in the Senate in September. The legislative proposal would create a Civilian Conservation Corps modeled after the highly successful Depression-era program of the same name, which provided employment and job training to 3 million Americans between 1933 and 1942. Read MORE.
Nature Conservancy: 2020 Ballot Measures – Seven States, $2.2 Billion for Conservation
In 2020, voters in seven states passed ballot measures that secured public funding and forward-looking policies to protect nature near them and help address climate change. These measures total $2.2 billion for conservation, including: Texas – providing $75M to protect the Edwards Aquifer; Michigan voters passed Prop 1 to protect the state’s water, wildlife and parks; Colorado passed: new funding to ensure there is enough clean water for biodiversity, farmers, ranchers, and citizens alike along with water education programs; Portland, Oregon voters approved $200 million in additional funding for the parks bureau, which manages natural areas throughout the city and provides recreational opportunities; The City of Denver passed a measure that would provide $720 million over the next 20 years for climate programs such as energy efficiency, transportation, and environmental justice priorities. Read about several more HERE.
Center For Biological Diversity: South Carolina Is a Safer Place for Native Turtles
“The Center has been working for years, state by state, to stop the dangerous and devastating harvest and selloff of freshwater turtles across the country. Hundreds of thousands of these vulnerable wild creatures are exported from the United States every year for the Asian food and medicinal markets and the pet trade. This week we and our allies had great news out of South Carolina: Gov. Henry McMaster signed a bill banning commercial trade of native turtles. “We’re thrilled South Carolina has taken this meaningful step,” said the Center’s Elise Bennett. “This law will raise the state out of a morass of turtle trafficking and make it a safe haven for wild turtles.” Read MORE.
Center for Food Safety: Court Rules Against FDA Approval of Genetically Modified Salmon
During these turbulent times, we are thrilled to let you know a piece of good news! Yesterday, a federal court ruled in favor of Center for Food Safety’s lawsuit that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) violated core federal laws when it approved the first-ever genetically engineered (GE) animal: a GE salmon! This decision is a huge victory for wild salmon, the environment, and our fishing communities. The court ruled that FDA failed to analyze the serious risks to endangered salmon and other environmental impacts of this novel GE fish. The court declared FDA’s failures violated both the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act. Learn more HERE.
Nature, Oct 21: The Diabolical Ironclad Beetle
The aptly named diabolical ironclad beetle (Phloeodes diabolicus) has an exoskeleton so strong, it can survive being pecked by birds and even run over by cars. When early entomologists tried to mount them as specimens, BBC News explained, that exoskeleton would snap or bend their pins. “This beetle is super tough,” Purdue University civil engineer Pablo Zavattieri told The Associated Press. Now, in a study published in Nature Wednesday, Zavattieri and a team of scientists have discovered exactly what makes the diabolical ironclad beetle so strong. The diabolical ironclad beetle is found in the forests of North America’s Pacific coast! It has lost the ability to fly, so its super-strong exoskeleton is evolution’s compensation for the fact that it can’t flee its predators. Learn MORE.
Oceana delivers $1 million to end California’s deadly drift gillnet fishery
Oceana transferred $1 million to the state of California to end the destructive swordfish drift gillnet fishery, which, for years, killed more dolphins than all other U.S. West Coast and Alaska fisheries combined. The money will be used to implement the 2018 law – which passed following campaigning by Oceana – that established a program to destroy and recycle the nets, compensate fishermen, and incentivize the use of cleaner gear to catch swordfish. Learn more HERE.
Oregon’s last coal plant shuts down Oct 15
The owners of Oregon’s last remaining coal fired power plant shut it down permanently last week. During its operation, the plant was the single worst source of greenhouse gas pollution in the state, pumping nearly 2 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year.
Environment America: New report shows decade of U.S. renewable energy progress
In 2019, the U.S. produced over 30 times more solar power and more than triple the amount of wind energy than it did in 2010, according to a new report from Environment America Research & Policy Center.. The project, Renewables on the Rise 2020, documents the growth of five key clean energy technologies during the past decade: solar power, wind power, battery storage, energy efficiency and electric vehicles. In addition to the growth in renewable energy, utility scale battery storage increased 20-fold since 2010, energy consumption per person declined thanks to improvements in energy efficiency, and more than one million electric vehicles were sold in the U.S. “America’s growth in clean energy is primarily the result of states taking action,” said Emma Searson, 100% Renewable Campaign director with .
Sempervirens Fund: Cotani-Coast Dairies National Monument
“Your support for Cotoni-Coast Dairies National Monument has been truly impactful. (In October), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released its final plan for managing the monument, and we want to be sure you are aware of what it includes and excludes… When you joined us to press for national monument status for the Cotoni-Coast Dairies property, our goal was to prioritize the preservation of its incredible ecological, archaeological, and cultural values. It was a unique opportunity for the public to experience this natural treasure in ways that are sustainable and responsible. It is a tricky balancing act, for sure. There is a lot that Sempervirens Fund supports about BLM’s final plan. (And we have important concerns) that need to be addressed, (including allowing) archery hunting on a large portion of the monument (with few limitations).” Read more HERE.
Banning Toxic Pesticides
Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) and Representative Joe Neguse (D-CO) introduced pesticide reform legislation to ban the use of toxic pesticides that harm children, farmworkers, and consumers. The Protect America’s Children from Toxic Pesticides Act of 2020, or PACTPA, updates the law governing pesticide use in the United States, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, or FIFRA. The bill would ban organophosphates, which damage children’s brains and poisons farmworkers, neonicotinoids, which are linked to bee colony collapse, and paraquat, a pesticide linked to Parkinson’s disease that has been banned in 32 countries, including the European Union.
“When Americans go to the store, they expect that the food they’re buying for themselves and their families is safe; as a parent of two young children, this is something at the top of my mind. We also expect that farmworkers — the essential employees working through the global coronavirus pandemic, without whom that food would not be on those store shelves — that they and their families are safe,” said Daniel Savery, Earthjustice. Learn MORE.
Optimist Daily, Oct 19: Firefighters are using fireball-dropping drones to contain wildfires
As the West Coast continues to battle unprecedented wildfires, firefighters are taking innovative steps to try to keep the flames under control. More recently, firefighters in the region have added drones to the equation, using the technology to drop special fireballs to contain the spread of the wildfires. Outfitted with a funnel-shaped device, the drones are dropping ping pong ball-sized incendiaries, called “Dragon Eggs,” which explode when they hit the ground, starting small fires known as backfires. While fighting fire with fire may sound counterintuitive, backfires are a common technique used to combat wildfires. The goal is to start controlled burns in order to remove any possible fuel sources for larger fires, thus preventing them from spreading. Learn MORE.
Optimist Daily, Oct 20: The gharial, How this special creature was saved from near extinction
Though often mistaken for crocodiles or alligators, the gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) is its own special creature that dwells in the rivers of India and Nepal eating only fish and some crustaceans. This incredible reptile is believed to have split from all other crocodilians perhaps more than 65m years ago and has a distinctive snout tipped with a bulbous mass and elongated jaw. As is the case with so many special creatures, the gharial population experienced heavy declines over the past several decades. In the river ecosystems of Pakistan, Myanmar, Bangladesh, and Bhutan, it is estimated that gharial populations declined from up to 10,000 individuals in 1946 to fewer than 250 in 2006, which led them to be classified as critically endangered. It is truly disheartening to read these numbers, but fortunately, thanks to conservation efforts, there is hope for the gharial. Learn MORE.
GreenTech Media: How a Single UK Turbine Could Prove a New Use Case for Wind Power
An Enercon turbine in Cornwall is trialing a concept that could smooth demand on the grid and boost revenue for wind farm owners. Centrica’s Cornwall Local Energy Market (LEM) project has installed solar panels, battery storage units and other smart energy devices at 100 homes and 125 businesses across the county. These provide the network with flexible demand, generation and storage when requested. The turbine in Cornwall is part of these trials. Using an Enercon E82 E4 machine, the project team aims to be the first in the U.K. to demonstrate the concept of making small adjustments in output to help smooth peaks and troughs in electricity supply and demand on the grid. Learn MORE.
CapRadio, Oct 15: Starting With Low-Income Communities, California Plans To Jumpstart Transition To Emission Free Vehicle Charging
https://www.capradio.org/articles/2020/10/15/starting-with-low-income-communities-california-plans-to-jumpstart-transition-to-emission-free-vehicle-chargingWith California vowing to only sell emission-free cars and trucks by 2035, the state is now hoping to jumpstart that process by investing millions into low-income communities for charging stations. Last month California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced all new cars and trucks in the state must be sold as zero-emission by 2035. The executive order is a climate adaptation strategy and part of the state’s climate goal of having 5 million zero-emission cars on roads by 2030. Right now there’s only about 700,000 in the state. “This is the most impactful step our state can take to fight climate change,” Newsom said in September. He says more than 50% of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions are from the transportation sector — 80% of smog-forming pollution and 95% of toxic diesel emissions. Learn MORE.
Optimist Daily, Oct 12: First Solar prevents e-waste by creating new solar panels from old ones
Though the global surge in solar power is good news for our green energy transition, it also means that in the coming years we will face an enormous amount of e-waste. In fact, it’s estimated that the first wave of solar panels will generate as much as 8 million metric tons of e-waste by 2030. This is because most manufacturers of solar panels don’t account for what happens to the technology when it wears out — meaning that most of it skips recycling facilities and goes straight to landfill. That, however, is not the case for First Solar, a manufacturer that has integrated circularity within the design of its solar panels. Equipped with custom e-waste processing technology, the company disassembles and recycles old panels at a recycling plant in Ohio, recovering 90 percent of the materials inside. Learn more HERE.
Audubon California, Oct 7: Newsom Executive Order to preserve 30% of Calif Land and Water by 3030
“With this decision, California takes the lead as the first state in the United States to make this commitment, joining 38 countries around the world. The governor directed state agencies to develop nature-based climate solutions which will reduce carbon in our atmosphere, protect biodiversity of animals and plants, and protect wildlife habitat. These goals will benefit all Californians, especially those living in disadvantaged communities who have been deprived of regular availability of fresh water, clear air, and access to nature.” Read MORE.
Science Advances, Oct 7: Restoration of seagrass habitat leads to rapid recovery of coastal ecosystem services.
There have been increasing attempts to reverse habitat degradation through active restoration, but few large-scale successes are reported to guide these efforts. Here, we report outcomes from a unique and very successful seagrass restoration project: Since 1999, over 70 million seeds of a marine angiosperm, eelgrass (Zostera marina), have been broadcast into mid-western Atlantic coastal lagoons, leading to recovery of 3612 ha of seagrass. Well-developed meadows now foster productive and diverse animal communities, sequester substantial stocks of carbon and nitrogen, and have prompted a parallel restoration for bay scallops (Argopecten irradians). Thus, this study serves as a blueprint for restoring and maintaining healthy ecosystems to safeguard multiple benefits, including co-benefits that may emerge as management priorities over time. Read MORE.
SLO Tribune: New national marine sanctuary proposal for Central Coast kept alive.
A proposal to create a marine sanctuary along a section of shore stretching from Cambria to Gaviota Creek near Santa Barbara has been granted another five years of review, rather than being taken off the table as of the Oct. 5 deadline, according to a letter sent Sept. 24 to the Northern Chumash Tribal Council by John Armor, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.
If approved, the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary could mean no oil rigs, wind farms or development of the in-ocean resources in an area of the Pacific Ocean that’s between two existing sanctuaries. However, uses such as fishing, boating, diving and walking along the beach would be allowed. Proposals for wind turbines off Morro Bay would be located farther out to sea, beyond the sanctuary’s boundary. Read more HERE.
Surfrider: San Onofre Beach and Trestles Finally Protected From 6-Lane Toll road
After a marathon campaign of more than 15 years, the battle to Save Trestles came to fruition today when Governor Newsom signed AB 1426 into law. This new legislation will protect San Onofre State Beach and Trestles from any type of road construction. The valiant effort to Save Trestles has been a long and winding road (no pun intended). The first step in this battle was the formation of our mighty Save San Onofre Coalition (SSOC), which represents millions of people from local and national organizations. In 2005, SSOC first came together when over 1,000 activists showed up at a Parks and Recreation Commission hearing to speak out against a six-lane toll road that would have cut through San Onofre State Beach — damaging the last remaining undeveloped watershed in southern California, the world-famous surf break at Trestles Beach, multiple endangered species, and sacred Indigenous sites. Read MORE.
Environmental Working Group: California First To Ban Toxic Chemicals in Cosmetics
California became the first state in the nation to ban two dozen toxic chemicals from cosmetics.
The Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act, or AB 2762, targets 24 toxic chemicals including mercury and formaldehyde that have been linked to cancer, birth defects, hormone disruption and other negative health impacts, Environmental Working Group (EWG) reported. While these ingredients have been barred from cosmetics and personal care products in the EU, they are not regulated in the U.S. on the national level. “Every day, Californians are exposed to hazardous chemicals hiding in their cosmetics and personal care products. Children, communities of color and pregnant women are especially vulnerable to these ingredients, which are not actively regulated by the federal government,” Newsom said in a press release. “California is leading the nation by banning toxic ingredients from our cosmetics. This legislation will save lives and keep Californians and our environment safe.” Learn MORE.
EcoWatch, Oct 2: Seismic Blasting Is Halted in Atlantic Ocean
The federal government and fossil fuel industry announced at a legal hearing Thursday that seismic blasting will not be carried out in the Atlantic Ocean this year—and possibly not in the near future either—a development welcomed by conservation groups who lobbied forcefully against what they said would have been an “unjustified acoustic attack on our oceans.”
“Communities can breathe a little easier knowing the Atlantic is now safe from seismic airgun blasting in 2020,” said Oceana campaign director Diane Hoskins, who called the news “a bright spot and in line with the court of public opinion.” Read MORE.
Society For Conservation Biology: How many bird and mammal extinctions has recent conservation action prevented?
Up to 48 bird and mammal extinctions have been prevented by conservation efforts since a global agreement to protect biodiversityin 1993, according to a new study. The Iberian lynx, California condor and pygmy hog are among animals that would have disappeared without reintroduction programmes, zoo-based conservation and formal legal protections since 1993, research led by scientists at Newcastle University and BirdLife International found. The study, published in the journal Conservation Letters , estimates that extinction rates for birds and mammals would have been three to four times higher over that period, which was chosen because 1993 is when the UN Convention on Biological Diversity came into force. Since then, 15 bird and mammal species have become extinct or are strongly suspected to have disappeared. But researchers say that between 28 and 48 bird (including the Calif Condor) and mammal species were saved. Read MORE.
National Geo: How beavers became North America’s best firefighter
The rodent creates fireproof refuges for many species, suggesting wildlife managers should protect beaver habitat as the U.S. West burns. The American West is ablaze with fires fueled by climate change and a century of misguided fire suppression. In California, wildfire has blackened more than three million acres; in Oregon, a once-in-a-generation crisis has forced half a million people to flee their homes. All the while, one of our most valuable firefighting allies has remained overlooked: The beaver. A new study concludes that, by building dams, forming ponds, and digging canals, beavers irrigate vast stream corridors and create fireproof refuges in which plants and animals can shelter. In some cases, the rodents’ engineering can even stop fire in its tracks. Learn more HERE.
Washington Post, Sept 26: Montana judge ousts Trump’s temporary Bureau of Land Management director, casting doubt on range of decisions
“An order by the chief judge of the Montana federal court on Friday not only ousted William Perry Pendley as the acting director at the Bureau of Land Management but might also invalidate a wide range of decisions he took to open up vast parts of the American west to oil and gas drilling. Pendley has been effectively serving as BLM’s acting director even though President Trump never sent his name to the Senate for confirmation, Judge Brian Morris said in his order. The judge gave the Interior Department and the plaintiffs in the case 10 days to submit examples of actions Pendley took that might be set aside.
Morris’s order could also call into question decisions made by officials in similar positions across the administration, which has not nominated people to fill 133 of the more than 750 key positions that require Senate confirmation. Many of the people carrying out those responsibilities may now be challenged for doing so in violation of a law about filling federal vacancies.” Learn MORE.
EcoWatch, Sept 25: New Jersey Legislature Passes ‘Most Comprehensive’ Plastics Ban in the Nation
New Jersey is close to passing what environmental advocates say is the strongest anti-plastic legislation in the nation. The state Legislature passed a sweeping measure Thursday that would ban plastic bags from stores and restaurants and single-use food and drink containers made from polystyrene foam. The ban is noteworthy for being the first in the country to include supermarket paper bags as well as plastic ones. “This is the single most comprehensive plastics and paper reduction bill in the nation,” former U.S. EPA Regional Administrator, Judith Enck said. “Building on the success of local laws adopted throughout New Jersey to reduce plastic pollution, the NJ State Legislature listened to the people and not the polluters and embraced a sensible environmental strategy.” The bill now passes to Gov. Philip Murphy, who intends to sign it. The bans on bags and containers will go into effect 18 months after he does so. Read MORE.
Nat Geo: 30 Freed Circus Elephants will have large habitat
After years of reports of poor care and abuse, and an audience increasingly uncomfortable with the idea of animals as sophisticated and intelligent as elephants living the lives of itinerant performers, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus made a big decision four years ago: The circus retired its elephants. Since 2016, they’ve been living at Ringling’s Center for Elephant Conservation in Florida. The move was definitely an improvement from their lives as performers, but animal advocates noted the limited space and continued use of foot chains. Next year, these elephants are moving on to a much better life. White Oak Conservation in Florida has broken ground on a new four-square-mile elephant habitat, complete with grasslands, wetlands, forest, and 11 watering holes big enough for them to bathe in. Read more HERE.
Optimist Daily: Pink Dolphins are back!
From multiple successful turtle hatchings around the world to decreasing rates of rhino poaching in South Africa, coronavirus lockdowns have been a blessing to many species of wildlife. More recently, scientists have discovered that diminished human activity has also benefited the elusive pink dolphin, whose return to the seas around Hong Kong has come to the delight of conservationists. Since boat and ferry traffic was suspended in the region in March, sightings of the rare pink dolphin – often referred to as the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin or the Chinese white dolphin – have risen by 30 percent, following their rapid adaptation to the quiet environment and offering hope for their populations, according to the research. Read MORE.
Natural Resources Defense Council, Sept 21: Climate Benefits from GE Dropping New Coal Plant Projects
“General Electric, one the world’s largest builders of coal-fired power plants, announced today that it will stop building new coal plants, a course of action long recommended by NRDC, other groups and investors as a way to lessen the harmful impacts on climate change. It’s great news for our climate that GE is heeding the calls of communities around the world to stop financing and building new coal plants. Coal plants are the biggest single source of global carbon emissions—which are fueling climate change.” Read MORE.
Patagonia: Timeless Seeds and the promise of regenerative organic agriculture
When Dave Oien and three friends founded Timeless Seeds in central Montana back in 1987, they had an ambitious goal: to create farming systems that could be sustained without chemical fertilizers and herbicides. At the time, monocultures of wheat and barley were the typical commodity crops in their area. Instead, Timeless wanted to diversify crops, rotating them to add nutrients back to the soil, rather than pulling out nutrients as monocrops do. Looking around the world for inspiration, the Timeless founders observed that most traditional farming systems rotated grain crops with either livestock or legumes—plants in the bean and pea family that enrich the soil with natural nitrogen fertilizer. Recognizing the genius of a strategy much more in tune with nature, the Timeless farmers immediately started planting legumes as soil-building rotation crops. But they also needed an income stream. So they found a harvestable bean adapted to arid, short-season farming: lentils. Learn MORE.
The Land Trust of Santa Cruz County Acquiring Large Ranch
The Land Trust announced plans to protect a 2,640-acre ranch in San Benito and Monterey counties. The land borders a stretch of Highway 101 that has a tunnel complex that could become a wildlife crossing under the busy highway. The Land Trust acquired the purchase rights from the Bingaman family, which has owned the uninhabited ranch since 1947. The property will be held by a third-party for up to three years while the Land Trust raises $10.8 million to complete the purchase.
“This is a spectacular place,” said Executive Director, Stephen Slade. “It’s like nothing in Santa Cruz County. It’s all grassland and oaks and rock outcroppings,” Slade said. Read MORE.
Sierra Club Environmental Law Program: Forum on This Summer’s Victories, Sept 23, noon
Despite a challenging landscape on multiple fronts, Sierra Club’s Environmental Law Program (ELP) won a string of victories this summer, including blocking the illegal construction of Trump’s border wall. Our attorneys and partners had three big wins on pipelines in one week, as the Atlantic Coast Pipeline was canceled, a federal judge ordered that the Dakota Access Pipeline be shut down while a new environmental review is conducted, and the Supreme Court dealt another setback to the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. These wins are changing the national narrative on oil and gas projects.
Forum hosted by Joanne Spalding, ELP, with the attorneys working hard to win these cases. RSVP.
Environment America: California votes to phase out PFAS chemicals
PFAS, a component in many foam-based firefighting equipment, have been linked to increasing cancer, liver disease, thyroid disease, increased asthma, decreased fertility, and a host of other problems. The CDC itself has found that they are also more dangerous than previously thought. And since PFAS don’t break down naturally in the environment, any exposure stays with the user forever, greatly endangering fire victims, bystanders, and especially firefighters themselves. More HERE.
Photo: Climate Corps Intern Alma stands with a coast live oak sapling she planted on the campus of Pajaro Valley High School.
WaTsonville Wetlands WAtch: Preparing Community Climate Leaders
Our Climate Corps Leadership Institute concluded in the last week of July. Students planted 57 trees and completed a program which helped them learn about the impacts of climate change, explore environmental careers and discuss current social equity issues, and allowed for safe learning alongside their friends, family, and community. With the start of the school year, CCLI interns have begun the next phase of their internship, where they will work weekly in our nursery and on tree planting, wetland restoration, and climate change-related efforts over the coming semester. Learn MORE.
Environment America: California passes legislation on electric vehicle charging infrastructure, school energy efficiency
The California State Legislature passed a bill (A.B. 841) on Monday, which will enhance the state’s electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure as well as redirect funding to improve energy efficiency in schools. Most notably, the bill will help move California closer to reaching its goal of 5 million electric vehicles on its roads by 2030 by addressing the shortfall of about 80,000 EV chargers in the state. The bill, which also passed the state senate, now goes to Gov. Gavin Newson’s desk to await his signature. “A total of 41 percent of California’s greenhouse gas pollution comes from transportation and this bill helps address that problem by investing in more charging stations around the state,” said Environment California State Director Dan Jacobson. “ Our coalition of labor, business, public health, teachers and administrators helped us to put this on the governor’s desk. Now we are urging him to sign the bill.” Learn MORE.
University of California, Aug 24: Phasing out single-use plastics
“UC campuses are phasing out single-use plastics as part of a bold commitment to achieve zero waste, furthering its long-established, innovative sustainability efforts and goals. The new policy will transition UC away from plastic bags in retail and dining locations and eventually eliminate single-use plastic food service items and plastic bottles.
Given its significant purchasing power and size, this major initiative underscores UC as an even more impactful environmental leader, advocating for less plastic pollution and fewer landfills. As part of its zero waste goals, this latest action by the University will focus on food service and retail outlets at all UC campuses and medical centers.” Read MORE.
The World Comes to Native Animal Rescue
“An amazing thing happened at Native Animal Rescue last week. We posted a message on the NAR Facebook page about how residents could help wildlife fleeing the fires (see below). Within five days, it was shared 55 thousand times and viewed by 4 million people world wide. There has been an incredible outpouring of support from places as far away as Australia and Norway. We received 200 donations from first-time donors from outside Santa Cruz County including 66 from out of state and 4 from other countries.” Read MORE.
Wild Hearts: Woman Has Removed Over 300 Hooks From Sharks’ Mouths!
Awesome video of woman dedicated to supporting sharks. Wild Hearts is an up-close view of some of the most majestic animals on the planet. Just like our pets, wild animals have a ton of heart — and form the most amazing bonds with each other and the big-hearted human heroes who go above and beyond to look out for them. Like to VIDEO.
BBC Reports: Africa declared free of wild polio!
Twenty-five years ago, thousands of children in Africa were paralyzed by polio. A decade ago, Nigeria had half the world’s polio cases. Now Nigeria has been declared free of the illness, the last African country to be certified, the BBC reports. The vaccination campaign in Nigeria involved a huge effort to reach remote and dangerous places under threat from militant violence and some health workers were killed in the process. The world’s remaining cases now are limited to Afghanistan and Pakistan. BBC
Optimist Daily, Aug 13: New reusable material makes saltwater drinkable in just 30 min.
Access to clean, freshwater is a growing challenge for many communities. Finding scalable desalination technologies to turn our world’s abundant saltwater into a drinkable resource would eliminate water shortages in many areas of the globe, but turning seawater into freshwater is no easy task. Fortunately, a study has found success in desalination using a material called a metal-organic framework (MOF). The material can filter pollutants out of seawater and generate large amounts of freshwater using less energy than other common desalination methods. MOFs are extremely porous and can spread out to cover large surface areas. They are perfect for trapping small molecules and particles to purify water. The team used a MOF called PSP-MIL-53 and used it to effectively trap salt and impurities in brackish water and seawater. Within 30 minutes, the MOF was able to reduce the total dissolved solids in the saltwater from 2,233 parts per million (ppm) to under 500 ppm which is well below the threshold of 600 ppm that the World Health Organization recommends for safe drinking water. The MOF was able to produce as much as 139.5 L (36.9 gals) of freshwater per kg of material each day and can be quickly and easily cleaned for reuse by placing it in sunlight. Read MORE.
Audubon: Court Strikes Down Trump Administration Policy That Let Companies Kill Birds
In a major victory for conservation groups, a federal judge ruled that the Migratory Bird Treaty Act covers unintentional but avoidable avian deaths. No law degree is required to get the gist of the ruling U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni handed down on Tuesday. Caproni’s ruling in the Southern District of New York makes it plain that the Interior Department’s interpretation of the century-old Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) isn’t merely flawed—it’s flat-out wrong. The decision strikes down a 2017 legal opinion issued by Daniel Jorjani, Interior’s top lawyer, which claimed the MBTA did not prohibit “incidental take,” a term for the unintentional but foreseeable and avoidable injury or killing of birds, often through industrial activity. For decades, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has used the threat of potential prosecution under the MBTA to convince companies to take steps to prevent killing birds, such as covering oil waste pits or marking power lines to make them more visible to birds in flight. Learn more HERE.
Optimist Daily, Aug 11: These Scottish Islands Are Mastering Green Hydrogen Power
The Orkney Islands are a small collection of about 70 rainy landmasses in northern Scotland. Although not well known, these tiny islands have silently been mastering the creation of green hydrogen power, an energy source with zero carbon emissions that, unfortunately, isn’t always eco-friendly to produce. The most common strategy for hydrogen power production is the emissions-intensive fossil fuel extraction method. Most methods are very expensive, so few researchers are looking to hydrogen as a green power solution. A small fraction of hydrogen power, about two percent, comes from electrolysis, which uses leftover energy from wind or solar power generation. Most wind or solar farms don’t have energy to spare for hydrogen power production, but the Orkney Islands have some of the strongest winds in Europe, making them an ideal location for this method. In fact, wind farms and tidal turbines on the islands are so effective, they were generating more power than the grid could handle and had to be shut off for periods of time. Researchers turned to hydrogen as a way to capture this excess energy and use it for good. Read More HERE.
New Yorker, Bill McKibben, Aug 6, North Dakota Oil Workers Are Learning to Tend Wind Turbines—and That’s a Big Deal
“I enjoy big machinery, and it punched all those buttons,” Jay Johnson told me. Johnson has one of the jobs that might, with luck, come to define our era. At Lake Region State College, in North Dakota, he trains former oil workers for new careers maintaining giant wind turbines. The skills necessary for operating the derricks that frack for crude in the Bakken shale, he says, translate pretty directly into the skills required for operating the machines that convert the stiff winds of the high prairies into electricity. That is good news, not only because it’s going to take lots of people to move the world from oil and gas to solar and wind but because people who work in hydrocarbons are going to need new jobs now that the demand for hydrocarbons is dropping.
Renewables are now finding capital faster than fossil fuels, which means, for instance, that a single utility, Xcel, adds enough capacity annually across the Upper Midwest to power a million homes each year. Read MORE.
EcoWatch: Meet the Woman Making Bamboo Bikes in Ghana
Bernice Dapaah calls bamboo “a miracle plant,” because it grows so fast and absorbs carbon. But it can also work wonders for children’s education and women’s employment – as she’s discovered. Bamboo is abundant in her native Ghana, where she runs a social enterprise that employs women to transform it into bicycles which are exported all over the world. Cycling is well known as being a low-carbon form of transport, and Dapaah is making it even more sustainable. Bamboo is stronger than steel in terms of tensile strength and is a cheaper, more sustainable material. It also takes less electricity to make a bamboo bike than a metal one. And the frame is completely recyclable. Watch video HERE.
Seattle Time, August 4: Land and Water Conservation Fund Signed into Law.
Thanks to your calls and letters to legislators, the President today made it official: permanent and full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The bill, the Great American Outdoors Act, delivers permanent, dedicated, annual funding of $900 million for LWCF and up to $9.5 billion annually over the next five years to address the urgent and deferred maintenance needs on federal lands, parks, and forests. LWCF has been essential for land conservation for generations, and ensures that more people have access to nature. LWCF also spurs new investments in our outdoor economy, which in this critical time can mean important job opportunities. More HERE.
Monterey County Weekly, July 27: Big Sur Land Returned to Esselen Tribe
The Esselen tribe is getting nearly two square miles of its ancestral lands in the heart of Big Sur back with the closing of a complicated real estate deal that has been in the works for more than a year. The 1,199-acre property long known as the Adler Ranch is being transferred to the Esselen Tribe of Monterey County, a newly founded nonprofit dedicated to preserving tribal heritage. “We are back after a 250-year absence—because in 1770 our people were taken to the missions,” says Tom Little Bear Nason, who heads the Esselen Tribe. “Now we are back home. We plan on keeping this land forever.” The property is located along the Little Sur River, upland from coast among old-growth redwood trees, grasslands, oak woodlands and chaparral and madrone forest. The sale was funded primarily through a $4.5 million grant from the California Natural Resources Agency, awarded in October of 2019. More HERE.
Humane Society, July 8: Yellowstone Grizzlies Win Protection
Rainforest Action Network: Sumatran Elephants’ Migratory Route Protected
“We’re so proud to announce the protection and connection of the rainforest bridge Sumatran elephants use to migrate between important parts of their habitat, their home. You see, this elephant migration route ran smack dab through a palm oil company’s operation in the northeast lowland rainforests of the Leuser Ecosystem. Actually, reverse that, a palm oil company’s operation ran right through the migration corridors elephants have used to move around their rainforests for generations. Thanks to your petitions, strong negotiating by our campaign team, and powerful media exposés, Mopoli Raya (said palm oil company) was put on the “No Buy” list by many of the Snack Food 20, including Nestlé and Unilever, and by the biggest palm oil traders sourcing from the Leuser. And once Mopoli Raya was cut out from the global market for long enough, it decided to start doing the right thing. Naturally 😉. So now I have the good fortune of sharing with you that Mopoli Raya has committed to protect the remaining three-and-a-half thousand acres of forests within its operations. The protection of these forests will maintain the connectivity of thousands of acres of surrounding rainforests in this critical elephant corridor.” Learn MORE.
EcoMotion: Corona virus accelerates the shift to pedal power in Europe and the United States.
Hundreds of thousands of Americans are “flocking to one of the most basic forms of mobility: the bike.” Many are taking up cycling for the first time in 10, 20, 30 years. It’s a good form of socially distanced exercise, especially now with gyms closed. Our country’s bike shops are booming too. There have been record online bike sales. One survey found that nationwide bike sales have doubled, leisure bikes up 121%, commuter bikes up 66%, Ebikes up 85%. The pandemic will likely permanently transform society in many ways, and biking is one of them. This dramatic uptick is and will be changing the urban infrastructure. In April, New York City temporarily opened 100 miles of roads to pedestrians and cyclists. During the pandemic,Oakland shut down 10% of its streets to cars. Read MORE.
Huffington Post, July 24: End Polluter Welfare Act of 2020
Democrats led by Rep. Ilhan Omar and Sen. Bernie Sanders introduced a bill to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies and other industry giveaways, calling taxpayer support of the climate-killing business a counterproductive and dangerous use of federal funds as the climate crisis worsens and Americans suffer through an economic downturn sparked by the coronavirus pandemic. “It’s past time we end the billions of taxpayer subsidies to fossil-fuel companies,” said Omar, a Minnesota Democrat. “Our focus right now needs to be on getting the American people through this difficult, unprecedented time, not providing giveaways to polluters. Taxpayers provide $15 billion in direct federal subsidies to the fossil fuel industry every year. That ends with this bill.” More INFO.
Vote Solar: Victory For Solar Rights
“A group called NERA slipped in under cover of the COVID-19 pandemic and tried to strip away solar rights in every state. NERA’s petition to attack rooftop solar investments and gut energy savings during a health and financial crisis was ill-conceived. Solar provides massive amounts of clean energy, lowers system costs and utility bills, and puts America to work making our energy system more resilient. We need more, not less solar, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission did the right thing (by rejecting their petition). We will remain vigilant in protecting solar rights and clean energy savings at every level of government.” More info HERE.
Yes! Magazine: Mushrooms Clean Up Toxic Mess, Including Plastic.
In the last 15 years, fungi enthusiasts and “citizen scientists” have deployed mushrooms to clean up oil spills in the Amazon, boat fuel pollution in Denmark, contaminated soil in New Zealand, and polychlorinated biphenyls, more commonly known as PCBs, in Washington state’s Spokane River. Research suggests mushrooms can convert pesticides and herbicides to more innocuous compounds, remove heavy metals from brownfield sites, and break down plastic. They have even been used to remove and recover heavy metals from contaminated water. Read more HERE.
Common Dreams: Judge Blocks Trumps Attempt To Gut Methane Restrictions!
We’re celebrating a “resounding victory for taxpayers, public health, and the environment after a federal judge blocked the Trump administration from rolling back an Obama-era rule designed to limit planet-warming methane emissions. U.S. District Judge Yvonne Rogers of the Northern District of California said the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) 2018 rescission of the Waste Prevention Rule without “thoroughly and thoughtfully” considering potential environmental impacts was unlawful. “Instead, in its zeal, BLM simply engineered a process to ensure a preordained conclusion,” Rogers wrote in her decision. “Where a court has found such widespread violations, the court must fulfill its duties in striking the defectively promulgated rule.” Erik Schlenker-Goodrich, executive director of the Western Environmental Law Center, applauded the “forceful repudiation” of BLM’s rollback.”
The Revelator, July 14: Washington Dam Is Being Removed After Decades-Long Battle
The conclusion to decades of work to remove a dam on the Middle Fork Nooksack River east of Bellingham, Washington began with a bang yesterday as crews breached the dam with a carefully planned detonation. Over the next couple of weeks, crews will fully remove the 125-foot-wide, 25-foot-tall dam, allowing the Middle Fork Nooksack to run free for the first time in 60 years. With the dam’s removal, 16 miles of river and tributary habitat will open up to help boost populations of three threatened Puget Sound fish species: Chinook salmon, steelhead and bull trout. Two local tribes, the Nooksack and Lummi Nation, have been behind the effort to help restore fish passage and the river’s ecological integrity.Read more HERE.
YES! Magazine, July 17: Youth Climate Movement in The Global South
The latest State of Civil Society Report from CIVICUS, the global civil society alliance, puts the spotlight on this rising generation of young climate leaders, who are giving fresh impetus to persistent struggles in countries including Colombia, Ghana, and Sudan. They may not have received the same media attention as Greta Thunberg, but these youth activists are every bit as committed, engaged, and important. In their collective undertaking, these climate leaders have cast aside stereotypes of young people as impulsive and immature. They have come to embody the voice of reason by embracing science, encouraging evidence-based decision-making, and challenging disinformation. They are offering a lesson to their governments on what it means to act responsibly. Read more HERE.
Mexico Will Phase Out and Ban Roundup
“Given the scientific evidence of glyphosate toxicity, demonstrating the impacts on human health and the environment, the Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) has taken important steps to gradually reduce the use of this chemical until it achieves a total ban in 2024.” Read more in the Sustainable Pulse.
Endangered Yellowstone grizzly bears protected from trophy hunting on July 8
In 2017, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed Yellowstone’s grizzly bears from Endangered Species Act protections, prompting Wyoming and Idaho to schedule trophy hunts for this threatened and iconic American species. Earthjustice attorneys sprung to the defense. For the last three years, we have been fighting the agency’s ill-advised decision — which culminated with a victory at the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. This win is the latest in a long line of lawsuits filed by Earthjustice on behalf of Yellowstone-region grizzly bears. We’ve been working to protect the grizzlies for more than 30 years, and we will continue fighting to ensure the government is doing everything in its power to protect grizzlies and other endangered species.
Hawai’i Center For Food Safety: Regenerating Paradise
In this episode of Hawai’i Center for Food Safety’s four-part series, “Regenerating Paradise: Season 2”, learn the wisdom Kaui Sana has gained from managing MAʻO Organic Farms on O’ahu, and from Claire Sullivan, Director of Development & Impact, on how interning at the farm improves health outcomes.
Ma’o is a non-profit social enterprise with a mission to grow fresh organic vegetables AND young leaders for the community. Ma’o not only supports the resilience of the land and local food security, but showcases the relationship between healthy land and healthy people. Watch YouTube VIDEO.
Sierra Club, July 5: The fracked gas Atlantic Coast Pipeline project is dead!
The 6-year-long struggle to stop the fracked gas Atlantic Coast Pipeline ended when Duke and Dominion Energy cancelled the project. (Martin Winstead reports) “As a farmer living in Nash County, North Carolina whose property was in the crosshairs of the route of this unneeded, dirty, and dangerous project, this was the best news I’ve received since the project was announced in 2014. For me it means I can go back to life before fighting the ACP. For North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia communities it means we will no longer be burdened by pipeline construction and the pollution associated with the pipeline.” This is a story of grassroots resistance and relentless organizing–building power to take on the fossil fuel industry. Learn more HERE.
Desert Sun: Endangered California condors seen in Sequoia National Park after nearly 50 years
Endangered California condors have been spotted in Sequoia National Park for the first time in nearly 50 years as the giant birds reclaim historic habitat lost when the species teetered on the brink of extinction. Condors were observed atop the towering granite dome of Moro Rock in late May, the National Park Service said Tuesday. Golden State news, straight to your inbox: Sign up for our California newsletter Condors fitted with GPS transmitters were also tracked flying around Giant Forest, according to Dave Meyer, a California condor biologist with the Santa Barbara Zoo. The birds are scavengers and they almost died out in large part due to ingesting lead in the carcasses of animals shot by hunters. Read MORE.
Lakota People’s Law Project, July 6: Dakota Access Pipeline Ordered Shut Down!!
This morning, District Court Judge James Boasberg ordered the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) to be shut down within 30 days! In this momentous ruling, Judge Boasberg found that the Army Corps of Engineers failed to fully consider the environmental impacts of Energy Transfer’s crude oil pipeline, and that there were too many safety concerns to allow its continued operation. While this order only shuts DAPL down for 13 months while the Army Corps completes additional environmental assessments and safety planning, there is a good chance that when the oil is drained in 30 days, that oil will never flow again! Read more HERE (soon).
Los Angeles Times: Santa Cruz County Still doing A (Relatively) Good job of flattening the curve!
Environment America: House passes climate-forward transportation bill, July 1
“The U.S. House passed the “Moving Forward Act”, a sweeping $1.5 trillion infrastructure package that will rebuild and modernize American in several key areas. H.R. 2 and the INVEST Act will protect public health and the environment. The House’s long-term transportation spending plan, the INVEST Act, was included as part of the package. This legislation reorients highway funding to prioritize maintenance and safety, and increases investment in electric vehicles, public transportation, biking and walking.” More HERE.
Earthjustice: A Win For Tongass National Forest
Prince of Wales Island, Alaska — “A federal court opinion issued today (June 24) vacates a U.S. Forest Service plan to log centuries-old trees across a 1.8-million-acre project area on Prince of Wales Island, in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. The ruling spells out the consequences for the Forest Service’s failure to adhere to environmental laws that require public participation, following a March decision where the Court ruled that the Forest Service had illegally approved the timber sale . The ruling throws out the Forest Service’s record of decision and environmental impact statement (EIS) on the Prince of Wales project entirely, requiring the agency to prepare a complete new EIS before proceeding with logging plans or roads on Prince of Wales Island. The ruling is a victory for the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council and seven other conservation groups, represented by Earthjustice.”
Elfin-Woods Warbler Protected
Following litigation brought by the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today designated critical habitat for the elfin-woods warbler, Setophaga angelae. This small, black-and-white bird, found only in Puerto Rico, has lost a significant amount of habitat to urban and agricultural development. Today’s measure designates 27,488 acres in El Yunque National Forest land on the island. “The designation is a great step in the right direction for protecting Puerto Rico’s magnificent forests, which are home to this tiny bird,” said Jaclyn Lopez, Florida director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “This beautiful little warbler needs a buffer against the increasing intense storms that plow through the island.”
YES! Magazine: The Hopeful Work of Turning Appalachia’s Mountaintop Coal Mines Into Farms
“On a surface-mine-turned-farm in Mingo County, West Virginia, former coal miner Wilburn Jude plunks down three objects on the bed of his work truck: a piece of coal, a sponge, and a peach. He’s been tasked with bringing in items that represent his life’s past, present, and future. “This is my heritage right here,” he says, picking up the coal. Since the time of his Irish immigrant great-grandfathers, all the males in his family have been miners.
“Right now I’m a sponge,” he says, pointing to the next object, “learning up here on this job, in school, everywhere, and doing the best I can to change everything around me.” Read more HERE.
EcoWatch: California Passes World’s First Clean Trucks Rule. Jun. 26
The state of California made history June 26 when it passed a clean truck rule that E&E News reported was the first of its kind in the world. The Advanced Clean Trucks (ACT) Regulation, passed unanimously by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), will require more than half of trucks sold in the state be zero-emission by 2035 and 100 percent by 2045. “California is once again leading the nation in the fight to make our air cleaner,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. More info HERE.
Wild Salmon Center: Oregon Forest Reform Bill Passes!
“On June 26, the Oregon Legislature passed new forestry reforms and directed the state to set up a mediation process for comprehensive protections for salmon streams on non-federal forests. Your emails to legislators helped push this bill over the finish line! The legislation sets up bigger buffers from aerial pesticide spray around homes, schools, and many small streams. It will start a first-in-the-nation system to allow people to get notified when aerial spray of forestlands happens near their homes. And it requires larger stream buffers on many salmon streams in the Rogue-Siskiyou region. Please send legislators a quick note of thanks HERE!
Zero Emission Electric School Bus Program
In partnership with Monterey Bay Air Resources District (MBARD), Monterey Bay Community Power’s (MBARD) latest energy program is designed to fund 100% of the costs to replace at least six traditional school buses with electric buses. MBCP dedicated $1.2 million in funding to add to MBARD’s existing electric school bus program. MBCP and MBARD share a goal of improving air quality and this powerful partnership reduces local greenhouse gas emissions for an annual program total of 120 MTCO2e, the equivalent of over 132,000 lbs. of coal burned each year by replacing six traditional school buses with electric buses.
The Zero Emission School Bus Program helps ensure your school district has the opportunity to provide clean running electric transportation for our students in the community. More info HERE.
Center For Biological Diversity: Gila River Saved From Water Project on June 18
After a battle of 15 years, a proposal to divert water from the Gila River for irrigation in southwestern New Mexico has been defeated. The proposal would have been devasting to the Gila, a stronghold for endangered species and one of the last intact rivers in New Mexico. Center cofounder Todd Schulke said, “This decision bodes well for all the wildlife and the riverside forest that make the Gila so beloved by many of us.” Read MORE.
Pocket: Spiders are a natural and healthy part of your home’s ecosystem.
Should I kill spiders in my home? An Entomologist explains why not to.
“I know it may be hard to convince you, but let me try: Don’t kill the next spider you see in your home. Why? Because spiders are an important part of nature and our indoor ecosystem – as well as being fellow organisms in their own right. Some species even enjoy the great indoors, where they happily live out their lives and make more spiders. These arachnids are usually secretive, and almost all you meet are neither aggressive nor dangerous. And they may be providing services like eating pests – some even eat other spiders. Read more HERE.
Earthjustice, June 16: THE BADGER-TWO MEDICINE AREA – Too Sacred To Drill
“VICTORY! On June 16, 2020, a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., rejected a Louisiana company’s bid to keep its oil and gas drilling lease in Montana’s Badger-Two Medicine region, adjacent to Glacier National Park. The decision settles a decades-long fight to protect lands and waters sacred to the Blackfeet and critical for wildlife habitat. For the Blackfeet, who have lost so much over the past few centuries, the Badger-Two Medicine area remains one of the last strongholds of the Tribe’s values. The landscape is a critical part of the oral history, creation stories, and ceremonies of the Blackfeet people. For centuries, they have used these mountains and forests to hunt elk and other game, gather plants, collect lodge poles, and search for supernatural powers. Today, many Tribal members travel to the Badger-Two Medicine area for prayer and vision quests.” Learn more HERE.
The Guardian, June 18: World’s Largest Liquid Air Battery Will Help the UK Go Carbon Neutral
Construction is beginning on the world’s largest liquid air battery, which will store renewable electricity and reduce carbon emissions from fossil-fuel power plants. Spare green energy will be used to compress air into a liquid and store it. When demand is higher, the liquid air is released back into a gas, powering a turbine that puts the green energy back into the grid. A big expansion of wind and solar energy is vital to tackle the climate emergency but they are not always available. Storage is therefore key and the new project will be the largest in the world outside of pumped hydro schemes, which require a mountain reservoir to store water. The CryoBattery works by using electricity to cool and compress air, turning it into liquid and storing it in industrial sized containers. It then feeds the liquid through a turbine, turning it back into electricity and pumping it back into the grid when it is needed. More HERE.
Homeless Garden Project Farm Stand Re-Opens, Tues. – Sun., 10 am – 4 pm
After a couple months of online farm stand sales, we are excited to be re-opening the farm stand for walk-up sales!Come on by the farm anytime between 10am and 4pm on Tuesday-Sunday to get fresh produce straight from our fields, including our delicious strawberries! We will be accepting cash and credit/debit cards. We are maintaining numerous social distancing protocols at the farm. In recognition of Juneteenth, the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States, HGP staff will be matching each dollar spent at the Farm Stand this weekend with a donation to Black Lives Matter. INFO.
Optimist Daily, June 17: Innovative tree growing method sees tiny urban forests pop up across Europe
Planting more forests around the globe is definitely a good approach to help reduce the risk of climate change, but it can take decades before trees can grow to their full potential and significantly benefit the environment. Using an innovative approach towards growing forests, people around Europe are working on speeding up this process by planting tiny, dense, and fast-growing forests in their urban and suburban areas, all in a bid to promote biodiversity and help fight the climate crisis. Often sited in schoolyards or alongside roads, the forests can be as small as a tennis court. They are based on the work of the Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki, who has planted more than 1,000 such forests in Japan, Malaysia, and elsewhere. More INFO.
EWG: California Assembly Bill 2762: The Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act
California law on cosmetic safety mirrors the inadequate federal law. It does not give state regulators enough authority to ensure that cosmetics sold to Californians are safe. What authority the law does provide to regulators is rarely used. When state agencies investigate harmful cosmetics, the results are limited and the products often remain on the market. Winding it’s way through the legislature, AB 2762, the Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act, will explicitly prohibit the use of the 12 of the most harmful chemicals and contaminants in cosmetics today. These “Toxic Twelve” ingredients include mercury, three types of formaldehyde, some of the most toxic parabens and phthalates, and the fluorinated compounds known as PFAS.
Audubon: Court Shuts Down Interior’s Second Illegal Land Deal in Alaska
“A federal District Court decision released on June 1 resoundingly shut down the Interior Department’s second attempt at an illegal land exchange with the King Cove Corporation to make way for a road through vital protected wetlands in Izembek National Wildlife Refuge.”
“For the second time, the Court has told the road proponents that invading the Izembek Wilderness and damaging the biological heart of the Refuge to build an unnecessary and expensive road is unacceptable,” said David C. Raskin, president of Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges. “Let us hope that this decades-long, misguided effort is finally over, and the natural habitat and wildlife that depend on the Izembek Refuge will continue to be protected in perpetuity.” More HERE.
EcoWatch: Study Says U.S. Can Reach 90% Renewable Energy By 2035
“Experts disagree about how fast the United States can replace coal and gas-fired power plants with zero-carbon electricity. Researchers tried to get around this sticking point (of when we will can get to 100% renewable energy) in a new analysis from UC Berkeley. Instead of asking, “how much?” they asked “how fast?” — specifically, how fast we could get to 90 percent zero-carbon power — meaning wind, solar, hydropower and nuclear power — at no extra cost to consumers. Thanks to rapidly falling costs for wind turbines, solar panels and batteries, the answer is 2035 (with substantial legislative support).” “We’re spending too much time stressing about the last 10 percent and not enough time thinking about the first 90 percent,” said Ric O’Connell, executive director of GridLab, a clean energy consulting firm, and co-author of the report. “So let’s focus on the first 90 percent.” More HERE.
Audubon, June 3 – Growing Climate Solutions Act of 2020
“Farmers, ranchers and foresters are too often unsung heroes in the fight against climate change, and this bill is a first step in giving them the resources they need to maintain their lands in a way that supports common sense conservation,” said David Yarnold, president of the National Audubon Society, “This bill will help to create a cleaner future for both people and birds, while also helping rural economies recover from the COVID-19 crisis.”
“A bipartisan bill introduced today in the Senate will provide technical assistance for the agriculture and forestry sectors to improve their ability to reduce air pollution and remove carbon from the atmosphere through natural processes, such as storing it in the soil. The Growing Climate Solutions Act of 2020, led by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Mike Braun (R-IN), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) will help advance these natural climate solutions at the national level.” More HERE.
Grist: House Democrats unveil Environmental Justice For All Act
Democratic lawmakers on March 28 rolled out an environmental justice bill that aims to address inequities faced by marginalized communities. “For far too long, communities of color, low-income communities and tribal and indigenous communities have not been a meaningful voice in the decisionmaking process impacting their well-being. Not with this bill,” Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Va.) said during a press conference. Advocates have long called for action to tackle unequal effects of environmental issues on these communities. There have been studies, for example, that show that low-income and nonwhite communities face greater impacts from pollution. (Co-authors Raúl M. Grijalva & Donald McEachin pictured above) The new bill would require that cumulative impacts be considered in Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act permitting decisions. More HERE
Center On Race, Poverty & the Environment: Kern County Violating Law by Rubber Stamping Oil Drilling
FRESNO, Calif.— In a monumental victory for both public advocacy groups and local farmers, a California’s Fifth District Court of Appeals today (2/25/20) ruled that a Kern County oil and gas ordinance paid for and drafted by the oil industry violated the state’s foundational environmental law. The court ruled that a key county analysis failed to disclose the full extent of drilling’s environmental harm, in violation of state law. Kern County used the flawed study to pass an industry-friendly oil and gas ordinance in 2015 and has issued more than a thousand permits a year since it passed. The court ordered that the environmental impact report and the ordinance be set aside until the county can demonstrate it complies with the law. Kern County must stop issuing permits under the ordinance within 30 days. The ruling means environmental review of new drilling proposals in Kern County will revert back to state authorities.
“This is an important victory for Kern County residents,” said Caroline Farrell, executive director of the Center on Race, Poverty, and the Environment. “Kern County residents deserve to know the impacts from oil and gas operations on their community so that we can reduce those impacts and protect our health and environment.”
Inside Climate News: As Protests Rage Over George Floyd’s Death, Climate Activists Embrace Racial Justice
Elizabeth Yeampierre, executive director of UPROSE, Brooklyn’s oldest Latino community-based organization, said she considers showing up to fight police brutality and racial violence integral to her climate change activism. Bronx Climate Justice North, another grassroots group, says on its website: “Without a focus on correcting injustice, work on climate change addresses only symptoms, and not root causes.” These community organizations in New York have been joined in protest by the nation’s most prominent climate change activist groups, including the Sierra Club, 350.org, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sunrise Movement and Extinction Rebellion.
Optimist Daily, June 8: A female-led energy company is bringing green power to the Navajo Nation
The Rural Electrification Act of 1936 aimed to erase energy access disparities across the US but left out Native American tribes throughout the country. Lack of energy access still plagues these communities today. According to the American Public Power Association, Native American communities account for 75 percent of non-electrified homes in the US. This affects every aspect of life for these families. Without electricity, homes often lack running water, lighting, cooling, heating, and refrigeration. But a renewable energy group, co-founded by Native American women, is aiming to close the energy gap. Wahleah Johns is one of the cofounders of Native Renewables, the solar energy company whose goal is to provide renewable energy to every home in the Navajo Nation using off the grid solutions. The organization employs Navajo tribal members, holds educational workshops on the benefits of renewable energy, promotes economic independence, and seeks to empower tribal members. With over 300 days of sunlight each year, solar is a logical solution to accessing reliable energy. More HERE.
SF Chronicle, May 13: Forests can help boost California’s economic recovery, Laurie Wayburn
As California begins its recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, the Legislature has a short window to simultaneously address both our current economic losses and ongoing climate challenges. Although these remain unprecedented times, it is also an opportunity to envision a better future and a different way of doing things, particularly regarding fire, drought, water reliability, forest health and how these are entwined with our economic recovery. Even as state and local leaders focus on gaining the upper hand on the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting budget fallout, California’s longer-term economic stability is increasingly threatened by the risks of climate change. We are in another year of drought. An intense, long and dangerous fire season is projected. Degraded north state watersheds threaten California’s water supply and reliability, and northern rural counties rank among the highest in the nation for unemployment. By restoring our northern watersheds — the streams, meadows and forests that store and provide water to the state’s largest reservoirs — we can create and sustain good full-time jobs, reduce fire risks, and increase our water security through launching a new generation of climate resilience work. As with the state’s clean-energy transformation, smart forest management delivers direct economic as well as environmental benefits by creating clean, green jobs. AB 2693, introduced by Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), will support economic recovery, increase water security and reduce fire risk with a ready-to-implement economic and climate solution. More INFO.
National Geo, June 3: Millions of cicadas are emerging in the U.S. right now.
There are only seven species of cicadas that come out all at once every 13 or 17 years—a life cycle that’s unique among insects. Each year, warm weather in North America brings the familiar buzzing and clicking of cicadas that have surfaced from their underground burrows in search of mates. Once every decade or so, though, that cacophony turns deafening as millions of the winged insects emerge at once in dense throngs. They stick around for about a month, and die. It’s happening right now across southwestern Virginia, southern West Virginia, and the tip of North Carolina, where a group of cicadas known as brood 9 is emerging for the first time in 17 years. In 2021, an even bigger brood is expected to emerge throughout the mid-Atlantic. More HERE.
TED Talks: How Trees Talk To Each Other, Suzanne Simard
“A forest is much more than what you see”, says ecologist Suzanne Simard. Her 30 years of research in Canadian forests have led to an astounding discovery — trees talk, often and over vast distances. Learn more about the harmonious yet complicated social lives of trees and prepare to see the natural world with new eyes. Link.
Santa Cruz Sentinel, June 2
In a shift that significantly expands public access to some of California’s most scenic places, parking lots at 144 of California’s 280 state parks, beaches and historic sites have now reopened after being closed for more than two months due to the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, several high profile state parks that had been completely closed also have reopened in recent days, including Big Basin Redwoods and Castle Rock in the Santa Cruz Mountains, which began welcoming visitors again on Friday. Campgrounds and the visitor center remain closed at Big Basin, as they are at all state parks still. But restrooms are open, along with trails, and the park store. Rangers are wearing masks. Visitors are encouraged to wear them at the entrance kiosk, although are not required to wear them while hiking.
Smart Cities Dive: NYC passes sweeping ‘Climate Mobilization Act’
The New York City Council passed wide-ranging legislation to fight climate change known as the “Climate Mobilization Act,” a package of seven bills that supporters said would help build a “Green New Deal for New York City.” The legislation passed Thursday by a 45-2 vote, according to CityLab and multiple other reports.
The bills’ centerpiece requires buildings over 25,000 square feet to cut climate emissions 40% by 2030 and more than 80% by 2050, which officials said is “the most ambitious energy efficiency legislation in the country.” The legislation also requires green roofs on certain large buildings and establishes requirements for smaller buildings to do the same.
Optimist Daily: During the 1980s, the Ashaninka tribe of Brazil had seen large swaths of its land being devastated by deforestation at the hands of lumber companies seeking to exploit the indigenous reserve for resources such as mahogany and cedar wood. Seeking justice, the tribe managed in 1996 to take the companies responsible for decimating their homes to court. After enduring an over twenty-year-long legal battle, last month, Ashaninka has finally won the lawsuit — in a victory representing a truly historic win for indigenous rights. On top of a $2.4 million settlement, the indigenous Ashaninka people will receive an official apology from the companies who deforested their lands decades ago. According to the Ashaninka’s lawyer, there’s more to the sentence than granting justice to the group. The settlement marks a key turning point in the safeguarding and protection of native peoples’ rights, acting as a precedent for thousands of similar cases of environmental crime and destruction.
Yes! Magazine: How to Feed Ourselves in a Time of Climate Crisis
Changing the food system is the most important thing humans can do to fix our broken carbon cycles. Meanwhile, food security is all about adaptation when you’re dealing with crazy weather and shifting growing zones. How can a world of 7 billion—and growing—feed itself? Here are 13 of the best ideas for a just and sustainable food system, from saving seeds to curbing food waste. HERE.
National Geographic: A legendary Ozark chestnut tree, thought extinct, is rediscovered
“The chinquapin was supposed to have been wiped out by blight. Now one determined Missouri naturalist is hand-pollinating trees in secret groves to bring it back. Deep in the rolling southeast Missouri Ozarks, Steve Bost gets out of his car at the end of a remote dirt road. Somewhere nearby, carefully hidden from the public, is the Ozark chinquapin tree, once a keystone Ozark forest species. Decimated by chestnut blight in the mid-1900s, any viable trees were thought to be long gone—that is, until Bost found a few healthy hangers-on in the 2000s. Now he’s trying to bring the tree back from the edge of blight in a non-traditional way. And he’s succeeding.” More HERE.
National Wildlife Federation: No cause for panic over Asian giant hornets in North America.
“Recent documentation of the Asian giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia) in Canada and Washington state have prompted questions and concern about the species. While invasive non-native species are a real problem and something to be concerned about, right now there’s no cause for panic over Asian giant hornets (nicknamed the “murder hornet”) in North America. Monitoring continues, but the problem was local to a specific area of the Pacific Northwest and seems to have been resolved. Early detection and rapid response to new species invasions is of critical importance. Eradication of new non-native invasive species is only truly possible when the problem is identified and dealt with early enough. Monitoring continues, but hopefully that is the case with the Asian giant hornet in North America.”
Yes! Magazine: Your New Healthy Habits? Their Ancient.
Centuries before the arrival of Europeans in the Americas, Indigenous peoples had refined natural ways to become and stay healthy. Nowadays, modern medicine is discovering that the traditional practices and lifestyles of Native Americans improve your health. Before modern conveniences, here’s what they knew about vitality, health, and a better night’s sleep.
Environment, May 18: This startup shows us why drones hold the key to mass reforestation
“This week, on land north of Toronto that previously burned in a wildfire, drones are hovering over fields and firing seedpods into the ground, planting native pine and spruce trees to help restore habitat for birds. Flash Forest, the Canadian startup behind the project, plans to use its technology to plant 40,000 trees in the area this month. By the end of the year, as it expands to other regions, it will plant hundreds of thousands of trees. By 2028, the startup aims to have planted a full 1 billion trees.” More INFO
State Park Recent Openings!
Castle Rock SP – as of May 22. Open from 8:00 a.m. to sunset. PLEASE NOTE: rock climbing activities are currently suspended. Very limited parking is now available to the public. The Kirkwood parking lot will be open with 50% capacity
Henry Cowell Redwoods SP – as of May 16. The main day-use lot is open with 50% capacity. Parking will remain closed at Fall Creek and along Highway 9 and Graham Hill Road. Garden of Eden remains closed to all visitation. Visitors must wear masks at the kiosks for day use entry in accordance with Santa Cruz County health order.
Nicene Marks SP – The kiosk parking at The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park is open with reduced capacity. No parking along the road or at picnic areas. Visitors must wear masks at the kiosks for day use entry in accordance with Santa Cruz County health order.
Wilder Ranch SP – as of May 16. The main day-use lot a is open with 50% capacity. All other parking lots along Highway 1 will remain closed. Beaches will remain closed from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. in accordance with the Santa Cruz County shelter in place order. Visitors must wear masks at the kiosks for day use entry in accordance with Santa Cruz County health order.
And Continued Closures
Big Basin SP – The full closure means there is no public access at these public outdoor spaces on a temporary basis to protect public health from the COVID-19 pandemic. All restrooms are closed, and there are no parking facilities open for visitors, recreational boats or off-highway vehicles. No form of activities is permitted (including sunbathing, walking, jogging or watersports).
Manresa, Natural Bridges, Sea Cliff, Sunset State Beaches – These beaches continue to be temporarily closed to vehicular access, meaning there are no parking facilities and parking on roadways is prohibited to protect public health from the COVID-19 pandemic. The beach is fully closed from 11 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily, meaning there are no public access during this time. During the other times, the beach is open to local residents.
Virginia Bans Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling!
After years of advocacy by the Surfrider Foundation, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed legislation banning offshore oil and gas drilling. The law permanently protects state waters, which extend three miles from shore, from drilling and makes it very difficult and expensive for any future oil and gas drilling in federal waters offshore of Virginia! Surfrider is committed to filling in the patchwork of bans on drilling from coast to coast. We are stoked to see Virginia join Florida, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, New Hampshire, and Maine in banning offshore oil drilling on the East Coast and Oregon and California on the West Coast.
Optimist Daily, May 13: Demand for community supported agriculture has never been higher
As news of large agricultural distributors dumping milk and plowing under crops coincides with reports of massive demand increases at food banks, community-oriented food systems are finding their niche as reliable, healthy options for sustainable food distribution. Full Belly Farm, a 450-acre organic farm in Northern California delivers weekly boxes of fresh diverse produce to members who buy into their CSA program. Redmond, a founding partner of the farm, says, “The interest in getting local, fresh, organic produce just has skyrocketed during this crisis.” Full Belly Farm, like many others, has seen their restaurant demand plummet, but the demand for their CSA boxes has jumped by 2,000 a week. More info HERE
350.org: May 15, The Williams Pipeline Permanently Blocked!
“We did it! The Williams fracked gas pipeline proposed for New York City has been stopped. This is a multi-year people powered victory! The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation released its long awaited decision on a key permit for the Williams fracked gas pipeline in NYC. Not only did they deny the permit, but the company cannot reapply again – which means the project is stopped for good! There’s no need for new fossil fuel projects.”
The Optimist Daily, May 15: Seattle to make some of its neighborhoods permanently “car-free”
In April, as the pandemic made parks and sidewalks more crowded in Seattle, the city shut down most traffic on a series of streets to help give people more room for exercise or walking to the grocery store. Now, the city plans to make the changes permanent on 20 miles of streets. Like in other ”car-free” neighborhoods, the streets still allow some vehicles like those of residents and businesses in the area — but cars can no longer travel through, which significantly shrinks the total amount of traffic. The streets are part of a network of quieter residential roads that Seattle has designated as greenways—relatively flat streets, in a hilly city, that can help people bike or walk to run errands. Also, as more businesses begin to reopen and people return to work, the routes can also help workers safely commute without turning to cars.
Pocket-lint, April 21: Future batteries, coming soon: Charge in seconds, last months and power over the air
Smartphones, smart homes and EV cars are still limited by storage power. “The battery hasn’t advanced in decades. But we’re on the verge of a power revolution. Big technology and car companies are all too aware of the limitations of lithium-ion batteries. While chips and operating systems are becoming more efficient to save power we’re still only looking at a day or two of use on a smartphone before having to recharge. While it may be some time before we get a week’s life out of our phones, development is progressing well. We’ve collected all the best battery discoveries that could be with us soon, from over the air charging to super-fast 30-second re-charging. Hopefully, you’ll be seeing this tech in your gadgets soon.” More HERE.
Environment California provides Good As News feature
U.S. wind energy hits a new milestone
Wind energy accounted for more new utility-scale generation capacity in the U.S. than any other energy source in 2019. A new report by the American Wind Energy Association found that wind energy made up 39 percent of all new U.S. generation capacity last year, making wind the largest source of renewable energy in the U.S.
Wolf population on the rise in Washington
The wolf population in Washington state, which was nearly eliminated in the 1930s, increased by 11 percent in 2019. While wolves still face serious threats in Washington and across the country, there are now an estimated 145 wolves in 26 packs.
New Jersey’s transportation fleet is going electric
New Jersey committed to invest millions of dollars from the Volkswagen settlement and Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) revenue in electrifying the state’s transportation system. This investment will turn diesel trucks and vehicles into clean, electric fleets all across the state, improving air quality and promoting clean, renewable energy for a healthier future.3
Houston tackles carbon emissions and transportation
Mayor Sylvester Turner and the City of Houston’s Office of Sustainability released the city’s first Climate Action Plan on Earth Day, laying out a vision for America’s fourth largest city to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reach carbon neutrality by 2050.4
The Elwha’s Living Laboratory: Lessons From the World’s Largest Dam-removal Project
Two dams removed from Washington’s Elwha River were branded as salmon-restoration projects, but their watershed and scientific impacts are just as significant. For over 4 years now, the Elwha River has run free. Source: The Revelator, Oct 1, 2018, Tara Lohan
While pursuing her master’s degree, Mariah Pfleger had the opportunity to conduct genetics research on deep-sea sharks in the Gulf of Mexico. “My research revealed that there was a case of mistaken identity! For years, Genie’s dogfish had been misidentified by researchers as a different type of dogfish shark called Squalus mituskurii. However, Genie’s dogfish looked different from other dogfish species: it had a longer body, a smaller tail fin, and differently-proportioned dorsal fins. In addition, the genetics of Genie’s dogfish didn’t match anything else! Once the research team and I realized that Genie’s dogfish was its own, unique species, we had the opportunity to name it and formally describe it for the scientific literature.” Mariah named the species after her hero, Dr. Eugenie Clark (1923 – 2015), “a pioneer in shark biology, and one of the first women to make a name for herself in the boys club of marine biology.”
Dr. Eugenie Clark
Today, Sept 27, 2018, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill (SB) 1017 — that will clean up California’s swordfish fishery. SB 1017 will phase out the use of large-mesh driftnet fishing for swordfish, establish a buyout program, and incentivize the use of cleaner fishing gear to reduce the incidental catch of marine wildlife.
“This hard-won victory was a long time coming. Finally we have found a way to phase out the use of these deadly and destructive nets without harming the commercial fishing industry in the process. I am grateful to Governor Brown for signing it into law,” said Senator Allen. “I’m very pleased that we now can look forward to a time not far in the future when magnificent marine creatures will no longer be injured and killed by these nets. I am grateful to the lead supporters of the legislation, Pew Charitable Trusts, Oceana and Turtle Island Restoration Network, and hundreds of other groups, for their steadfast, effective advocacy of this measure,” Allen added.
Monterey Bay Salmon And Trout Project In Action
Ruby Rorty is bubbling over with enthusiasm for environmentalism. Like a busy sea otter, this Pacific Collegiate School junior is a gal-on-the-go contributing to many local and international ocean conservation organizations in the footsteps of her oceanographer hero, Sylvia Earle, ambassador for the world’s oceans.
Ruby is clearly going places, and at the top of her list of favorite destinations is her very own Santa Cruz Environmental Alliance which she started with her friend and artist Kaiya McMurdo. These two change-makers created an art and environmentalism curriculum for grades 3-5 cleverly called Trashtastic that addresses plastic manufacturing, disposal, and pollution. The Santa Cruz Environmental Alliance is currently running a social media campaign, #nomoremermaidtears, which is promoting plastic pollution awareness through photos of young people dressed as mermaids holding signs with ocean conservation messages. The pictures can be found on the SCEA Instagram page, @sc_environmental.
Ruby’s quest for protecting the oceans was sparked in second grade when she set off to write a report on orcas. At home her family encouraged her to cultivate a passion that could be used to help others. They told her to “Change the world, do what you love, and figure out how other people benefit as well.” She credits her teacher Hillary Daniels for guiding her to take a leadership role in the EarthEcho International 3T3 beach clean up campaign. Ruby takes a bold stance for what she believes in, even while wearing a mermaid tail. Go Ruby, go!
Sept 16, 2107 – Climate Adaptation and Resiliency Program created by AB 109
The Climate Adaptation and Resiliency Program was created by AB109, which, on September 16, 2017, amended the Budget Act of 2017 to provide $20 million to the Wildlife Conservation Board for local assistance, payable from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF). The Program is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide program that puts Cap-and-Trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, strengthening the economy, and improving public health and the environment – particularly in priority populations, which include disadvantaged communities, low-income communities, and low-income households.
Seed of Flame: Mt Madonna Middle School Project Wins $10,000 in National Environmental Challenge
The Seed of Flame, an environmental STEM project undertaken by a team of seventh grade students at Mount Madonna School (MMS), is one of 16 finalists nationwide to receive a $10,000 prize through the 2016-17 air and climate Lexis Eco Challenge.
“Mount Madonna’s seventh grade has taken on this project in response to our changing climate,” said MMS science teacher Katrina Leni-Konig. “As part of the final challenge, we are engaging social media and art activism to raise awareness about local impacts, and to catalyze global action.”
The students have launched a social media challenge on Instagram, @seed_of_flame. The public is invited to post pictures of themselves or others hugging a tree, with the hashtag “#hugatree”. Select photographs will be compiled into a public art exhibit. The challenge will be used to raise money for the organization, Trees for the Future, through the student’s online fundraising campaign at https://donate.trees.org/seedOFflame. The goal is to raise $640 which is enough to help a family in Africa grow and maintain a forest garden, providing food security and enhancing environmental resources for generations. In addition to #hugatree, students are creating a film collection of people around the world planting trees, and are reaching out to communities across the globe to participate. They have also created a YouTube video, “Seed of Flame Claymation,” and are in the process of creating a video game.
Last fall, this 10-student MMS team participated in the initial air and climate challenge. Inspired by the Loma Fire, a nearby wildfire that occurred in fall 2016, they developed an action plan that can benefit their local community by transforming a school greenhouse into a forest nursery to restore forests after wildfire, disease, and other human impacts. “We need to understand that wildfires are a necessary part of our forest ecosystem, but climate change is making it more difficult for forests to regenerate on their own,” commented MMS science teacher Katrina Leni-Konig. “Wildfires in California are larger, burn hotter, last longer, and are more frequent than usual. The forests need our help!” Students began a small seed bank in their science classroom, with seeds gathered from the forest property surrounding the MMS campus. Once established, the forest nursery and seed bank will serve as an ongoing educational resource for the school and broader community. At present, the students estimated that the forest seed bank contains thousands of seeds including acorn, redwood, manzanita, madrone, and coyote bush.
John Morley volunteers with Save The Waves
When in college, John Morley thought about majoring in marine biology but ended up getting a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and pursuing a career in international trade. He chose to be an Encore Fellow with the non-profit Save The Waves in July of 2016 after retiring as the Director of Corporate Customs at Intel Corporation. Encore.org brings new sources of talent to organizations solving critical problems.
John first became familiar with Save The Waves when he participated in a surf fundraising trip they held in Baja. He’s passionate about the ocean and surfing and feels fortunate to be able to contribute to Save The Waves’ efforts to protect and improve the environment and drive positive environmental changes along our cherished coast.
Interview by Dale Zevin 2/3/17
Mount Madonna Honored with Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award
Congratulations to teacher Jessica Cambell and Mount Madonna School (MMS) on receiving the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA), which celebrates the environmental education work of MMS fifth grade students for the last nine years! MMS is one of twelve California organizations – and the only school – recognized with a 2016 GEELA, the state’s highest environmental honor, in a ceremony held January 19 in Sacramento.
“I am extremely honored to be a part of Mount Madonna School,” commented Cambell, “and to have worked with amazing teachers like Nate Rockhold and [the late] Sri Gyan James McCaughan, to create an award-winning program that allows students to find passion in using their voice to create positive change within the world!”
The annual program is administered by the California Environmental Protection Agency, in partnership with the Natural Resources Agency, the Department of Food and Agriculture, the State Transportation Agency, the Business, Consumer Services, and Housing Agency, the Government Operations Agency, the Labor and Workforce Development Agency, and the Health and Human Services Agency.
The GEELA program recognizes individuals, organizations, and businesses that have demonstrated exceptional leadership and made notable, voluntary contributions in conserving California’s precious resources, protecting and enhancing its environment, building public-private partnerships and strengthening the state’s economy.
“This year’s GEELA recipients are demonstrating the creativity and collaboration that make California a leader in protecting our environment,” said CalEPA Secretary Matthew Rodriquez. “They stand out as examples for how sustainable practices go hand in hand with economic and organizational success.”
Following the ceremony Cambell was also presented with a certificate from the California State Assembly, recognizing MMS’ GEELA achievement, presented by Assemblyman Mark Stone, representative of the 29th Assembly District.
The Carbon Farming Solution: A Global Toolkit of Perennial Crops and Regenerative Agriculture Practices for Climate Change Mitigation and Food Security
Written by Eric Toensmeier
Published by Chelsea Green Publishing, 2016
Reviewed by M.L. Altobelli
First things first – Eric Toensmeier ’s new book was fun to poke around in. I do realize that sounds almost blasphemous since the subject of climate change is so serious and essential for current eco-landscapers to get a handle on, but I think it helps that the information in The Carbon Farming Solution is so easy to access. Eric is a permaculture specialist with a deep understanding of applied ecology and that shines through the entire book. He’s also hopeful that we humans can make changes to clean up our world and stabilize its ecology and climate and that optimistic message can also be a tonic of its own kind in these current times. For more: Ecolandscaping.org
Aggie Morrow volunteers at the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History
Chris Sulots, Volunteer Coordinator at the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History introduced me to Volunteer Aggie Morrow. Aggie is in her third year of volunteering at the Museum and she said she naturally gravitated to volunteering at the Museum since she is a trained Biologist. Aggie finds her volunteer work with students rewarding, fun, and varied. She leads Ohlone Program tours for K-4 students, Neary Lagoon Watershed tours for 5th graders and Neary Lagoon Wetland walks for 3rd graders. Aggie also volunteers at the Museum’s special events, such as the Migration Festival and at Natural Bridges events.
Aggie is inspired by what the children take away from their Museum experiences and what they will remember. She also values the opportunities she receives for her own personal enrichment as a Museum Volunteer, such as participating in a tour of the Santa Cruz City Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Sawyer Claussen volunteers with Save Our Shores
Fourteen year old Sawyer Claussen can’t not pick up trash. Even during lunch at middle school he doesn’t refrain from saying, “Remember to pick up your trash. There’s a recycling bin right there.” His friends know him as a tireless environmental enforcer who can’t stand litter or plastic water bottles and picks up trash when he’s surfing. These friends also join him on beach clean up days.
Sawyer has been volunteering for the Save our Shores beach clean up days for half his life, literally. He was seven years old when he started picking up trash and 13 years old when he took the SOS steward course. He is currently earning his hours of service until he is old enough to be eligible to lead groups on his own. Learning the SOS curriculum about single use plastics is important to Sawyer. He says, “It’s fun, I like the beach, I like a clean beach, and it feels good when I look at all the trash we pick up.”
We are lucky Sawyer lives in our county and has many years ahead of him cleaning up the beaches we all enjoy. Thanks for your service Sawyer!
Eva Claussen volunteers with Save Our Shores
Twelve year old middle schooler Eva Claussen remembers a picture of herself when she was just five years old holding a display board with a cigarette butt, a plastic straw, a water bottle cap and a plastic bag glued to it. She was participating in a Save Our Shores presentation on ocean pollution to an O’Neill Sea Odyssey group before the fourth and fifth graders set sail.
Since that early start in environmental volunteering, Eva has also participated in many beach clean ups. She says that even though she is currently too busy with organized sports practices and games to join SOS group events, she remembers what she learned at that impressionable age. Everyday at school she picks up snack wrappers from chips, Pop Tarts, hot chocolate and ice cream bars that don’t quite make it through the push lids of trash cans.
She will never forget the time she was surfing at 38th Street and a plastic bag got caught on the fin of her surfboard that caused her to fall when it acted like a parachute and suddenly slowed her down. It’s times like this that leave lasting impressions and call us to act just as young Eva’s environmental deeds leave lasting impressions on those who are lucky enough to see her in action.