Herbal Patrimony Saved For Posterity, And For The Health Of Present Generations

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Black cohosh is a valuable commercial medicinal plant, used to treat symptoms of menopause. TOM POTTERFIELD/FLICKR

Thanks to Nancy Averett at Yale360 for this:

Seeds of Commerce: Saving Native Plants in the Heart of Appalachia

In southern Appalachia, botanist Joe-Ann McCoy is collecting the seeds of thousands of native plant species threatened by climate change. But in this job-scarce region, she also hopes to attract an herbal products company to cultivate the area’s medicinal plants. Continue reading

Carbon, Climate, Concern & Confusion

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Americans love clean energy and climate policies. Photograph: Alamy

 Odd, but noteworthy (thanks to the Guardian for this article its environment section):

There’s broad support for climate policies in every state and county, but Americans view global warming as a distant problem

The Yale Program on Climate Change Communication published the findings of its 2016 survey on American public opinion about climate change. The results are interesting – in some ways confusing – and yet they reveal surprisingly broad support for action to address climate change. The Yale team created a tool with which the results can be broken down by state, congressional district, or county to drill down into the geographic differences in Americans’ climate beliefs. Continue reading

Install Solar Power In Your Home

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Thanks to the Guardian for this series of videos:

Every day, the sun kickstarts mini power plants in about 942,000 homes around America. We are of course talking about solar energy – and in 2017, it’s never been cheaper to invest in it for your home. The Guardian looks at key tips for installing solar panels and why now is the time to switch

How to install solar panels at home

Demanding Action From Those Accountable

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Newly bleached coral on the Great Barrier Reef near Palm Island in February. Photograph: Australian Marine Conservation Society

We could not have said it better:

As the Great Barrier Reef faces the return of coral bleaching, why are Mantra, Accor and Marriott still silent on Adani? Continue reading

Energy Incubator, Alive And Well, For Now

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Thanks to Wired for a story whose title starts The Government’s Green Energy Incubator Fights for Survival and is worth the read:

LIKE MANY FEDERAL employees, Eric Rohlfing will be watching President Trump on Tuesday night as he addresses a joint session of Congress. Specifically, the chemist will be listening carefully for clues to his future employment status. Rohlfing is the leader of a unique science and technology start-up agency tucked inside the Department of Energy, and he and his staff have been trying to convince the new administration to keep it alive. Continue reading

What To Expect When You Are Expecting An EPA

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“For some environmental problems that are truly localized, there is little argument against a state approach,” said Stavins. “However, for environmental problems that are interstate … and for a global commons problem, such as climate change, the federal government really should take the lead.” File photo by Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

We are thankful to the Harvard Gazette for this summary of Professor Stavins by Alvin Powell:

The Senate’s confirmation of former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has alarmed environmentalists.

In Oklahoma, Pruitt prided himself on fighting the agency he will now run, with his website describing him as “a leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda.” He sued the agency to fight regulation and expressed doubt about the human causes of climate change, though he moderated those views in his confirmation hearings.

Robert Stavins is the Albert Pratt Professor of Business and Government at the Harvard Kennedy School, director of the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements, and a past member of the EPA’s Science Advisory Board. The Gazette asked him about the EPA’s future under Pruitt. Continue reading

For Consideration, On Climate Change

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This post on the New Yorker website from some months ago caught our attention but we resisted linking it here for some reason now forgotten. But it should be read by anyone interested in conservation and climate change. The title is provocative, no doubt attractive to deniers but instead meant to raise attention on an issue we are sure most people of all walks of life, and all around the world have reason to be concerned about:

ARE CONSERVATIONISTS WORRYING TOO MUCH ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE?

By Michelle Nijhuis

In January of this year, James Watson, an Australian scientist who works for the Wildlife Conservation Society, noticed an image that had been tweeted by a friend of his, a physician in Sydney. With a chain of progressively larger circles, it illustrated the relative frequency of causes of death among Australians, from the vanishingly rare (war, pregnancy and birth, murder) to the extremely common (respiratory disorders, cancer, heart disease). It was a simple but striking depiction of comparative risk. “I thought, ‘Why hasn’t anyone done something like this for the rest of nature?’ ” Watson recalled.

The answer was that, until recently, nobody had the data. While many scientists have studied the vulnerability of individual species or groups of organisms (corals, say, or birds) to extinction, only in 2010 did ecologists, conservationists, taxonomists, and naturalists begin to more comprehensively assess the threats posed to species of all kinds—an effort to assemble what the biologist E. O. Wilson has called a “barometer of life.” Continue reading

Looking Forward To The Debate On Nature As Climate Technology

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We cannot help wondering, with the political upheavals in the USA and Europe, what will become of our commitments to take care of serious environmental issues, and specifically climate change; we are looking forward to this debate on the Intelligence Squared podcast, and will post a reminder when the podcast drops:

NATURE: OUR BEST CLIMATE TECHNOLOGY?

It was historic. The 2015 Paris climate agreement saw every member country of the UN pledge to cut its carbon emissions to zero by the second half of this century and keep global warming at well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

There’s just one problem. To reach this goal the world would need to shut down all of its coal-fired power stations by 2025 and ditch the combustion engine entirely by 2030. To reach its own targets, the UK will need to decarbonise the vast majority of its electricity supply within a mere 15 years. Eliminating fossil fuels this way is going to be extremely challenging. An extra lever is needed to reach the Paris climate targets. But from where? Continue reading

Cleaner Cook Stoves

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Image: Gumilang Aryo Sahadewo/Flickr

Thanks to Anthropocene:

Tackling climate change through cleaner cookstoves

Jimmy’s Sunny Disposition

What a decent man, we say every time we see news of Jimmy Carter. This story is no exception, and we especially appreciate the example he is setting with this action:

PLAINS, Ga. — The solar panels — 3,852 of them — shimmered above 10 acres of Jimmy Carter’s soil where peanuts and soybeans used to grow. The panels moved almost imperceptibly with the sun. And they could power more than half of this small town, from which Mr. Carter rose from obscurity to the presidency. Continue reading

Corn Culture Cropped

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Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site in Collinsville, Ill. A thriving American Indian city that rose to prominence after A.D. 900 owing to successful maize farming, it may have collapsed because of changing climate. Michael Dolan/Flickr

Thanks to National Public Radio (USA) and the folks at the salt for raising our awareness of another corn-influenced culture we knew nothing about until just now:

1,000 Years Ago, Corn Made This Society Big. Then, A Changing Climate Destroyed It

by Angus Chen

About a 15-minute drive east of St. Louis is a complex of earthen mounds that once supported a prehistoric city of thousands. For a couple of hundred years, the city, called Cahokia, and several smaller city-states like it flourished in the Mississippi River Valley. But by the time European colonizers set foot on American soil in the 15th century, these cities were already empty. Continue reading

Coastal Preparations

Thanks to the Nature Conservancy’s Cool Green Science, and specifically Lisa Feldcamp, for this note and video on adaptive coastal folks:

“It hurt my heart to see how [the beach] had been deteriorated,” says Norris Henry of St. Andrew’s Development Organization. “I know in the past there was a nice beachfront, where you can play cricket, you can play football, you can run. But it’s so sad to see it is no longer there.” Continue reading

Climate, Change & Mayan Foodways

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Farmers Gualberto Casanova (left) and Dionisio Yam Moo stand among young corn plants in Yam Moo’s improved milpa plot. Gabriel Popkin

We are grateful as always to our friends at the salt, one of National Public Radio (USA)’s great occasional series, for this story (the photo after the jump is a beauty, so read on):

Mayans Have Farmed The Same Way For Millennia. Climate Change Means They Can’t

by Gabriel Popkin

Dionisio Yam Moo stands about four-and-a-half-feet tall, and his skin is weathered from years in the tropical sun. A “proudly Mayan” farmer, he grows corn, beans and vegetables on a six-hectare farm in Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula. The farm is surrounded by dense tropical forest, and crops grow amid fruit trees in thin soil, with the peninsula’s limestone bedrock protruding in places. Continue reading

Clean Energy, Nordic Style

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Hunderfossen Dam, Norway via Sigurd Rage/Flickr

Thanks to Anthropocene:

Nordic countries offer important lessons for clean-energy transition

Continue reading

Model Mad, March

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A women’s march in Fairbanks, Alaska, last month. The movement inspired a group of scientists to organize their own demonstration in Washington. Credit Robin Wood/Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, via Associated Press

We have not had a shortage of model mad stories, which may be the silver lining to the cloud, so thanks to the Science section of the New York Times for this contribution:

Listen to Evidence’: March for Science Plans Washington Rally on Earth Day

By

Within a week of its creation, the March for Science campaign had attracted more than 1.3 million supporters across Facebook and Twitter, cementing itself as a voice for people who are concerned about the future of science under President Trump.

Now, hoping to transform that viral success into something approaching the significance of the women’s march last month, the campaign has scheduled its demonstration in Washington for Earth Day, April 22. Continue reading

Model Mad, 314

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The website itself is not exactly scintillating, but click the banner above to read the mission statement. Better yet, read Ed Yong’s scintillating explanation of how and why this organization came to be, and what it is doing:

For American science, the next four years look to be challenging. The newly inaugurated President Trump, and many of his Cabinet picks, have repeatedly cast doubt upon the reality of human-made climate change, questioned the repeatedly proven safety of vaccines. Since the inauguration, the administration has already frozen grants and contracts by the Environmental Protection Agency and gagged researchers at the US Department of Agriculture. Many scientists are asking themselves: What can I do? Continue reading

Model Mad, NPS

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Redwood national park in California. Photograph: Jeffrey Schwartz/Alamy

We like what we see of the madly determined folks risking their professional careers in the interest of the environment and social justice:

National Park Service climate change Twitter campaign spreads to other parks

A day after three climate-related tweets sent out by Badlands National Park were deleted, other park accounts have sent out tweets that appear to defy Trump

The National Park Service employees’ Twitter campaign against Donald Trump spread to other parks on Wednesday, with tweets on climate change and a reminder that Japanese Americans were forcibly interned in camps and parks during the second world war.

A day after three climate-related tweets sent out by Badlands National Park were deleted, other park accounts have sent out tweets that appear to defy Trump. One, by Redwood national park in California, notes that redwood groves are nature’s number one carbon sink, which capture greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming…

…Golden Gate national park in California said in a tweet that 2016 was the hottest year on record for the third year in a row. The tweet directed readers to a report by Nasa and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, also known as Noaa…

…The tweets went beyond climate change.

Death Valley national park tweeted photos of Japanese Americans interned there during the second world war, a message that some saw as objecting to Trump’s pledge to ban Muslims from entering the country and a proposal to restrict the flow of refugees to the United States…

Read the whole story here.

Scotland’s Awesome Accomplishments

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Scotland’s new strategy calls for a totally carbon-free electricity sector by 2032. Photograph: Murdo Macleod for the Guardian

Thanks to the Guardian for their excellent environmental coverage:

Scotland sets ambitious goal of 66% emissions cut within 15 years

Holyrood ministers aim higher after hitting target of 42% cut by 2020 six years early, but say Brexit poses challenge Continue reading

Grasslands, Underdogs & Hope

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Butterflies congregating on the Nature Conservancy’s Bluestem Prairie, considered one of the largest and best northern tallgrass prairies in the United States, designated by Minnesota as a state natural area. Photo © Richard Hamilton Smith

We agree with the sentiment, never underestimate the underdog; more often than not, we root for the underdog. Thanks to the Nature Conservancy’s Cool Green Science for the reminder, in an ecological context:

Can Grasslands, The Ecosystem Underdog, Play an Underground Role in Climate Solutions?

By Marissa Ahlering

Never underestimate the underdog — in sports or in ecosystems. My favorite baseball teams, the Royals and the Cubs, reminded us of this over the last two years, and prairies (the underdog in the world series of ecosystems) proved this again recently in an analysis demonstrating that grasslands have a role to play in our climate change solutions (Ahlering et al. 2016).

Globally, grasslands are one of the most converted and least protected ecosystems (Hoekstra et al. 2005). The rich soil of Earth’s grasslands plays an important role in feeding the world and because of this much of our grassland has been converted to row-crop agriculture. Loss of grasslands is a big problem for two reasons: Continue reading

Urban Shape & Ecoefficiency

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Thanks to Anthropocene for this summary of a counterintuitive finding:

To save energy on heating and cooling, look at the shape of cities, not just their buildings

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