US Farmers Getting Concerned about Climate Change

According to the USDA, more than half of the 2 million farms in the United States are “very small farms,” grossing less than $10,000 annually.

The majority of the smaller farmers Truthout spoke with for this story want to see a federal government that tackles climate change head-on and restructures agriculture to be a solution by encouraging diversified farming that stores (rather than releases) carbon. Industrial agriculture is a major contributor to climate change, through its reliance on chemical fertilizers, the manufacturing of which releases carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, and depletes the soil of nutrients. It’s a system that farmers are “stuck in,” says Tom Rosenfeld, who grows apples, blueberries, strawberries and peaches on 120 acres of farmland in southwest Michigan.

Many small farmers say they’ve yet to see a presidential candidate or down-ballot candidate fully address their needs in this election cycle. President Trump’s reelection campaign has not yet put out a climate plan. And Biden’s climate plan does not yet spell out what small-scale farmers say they want, like a return to the New Deal-era concept of “parity,” a supply-management strategy designed to prevent the kind of wasteful over-production of soybeans and corn that wipes the land of biodiversity and results in unstable prices.

Source: Ecowatch

Compost Yourself – That means you, composted

Loop, a startup based in Delft, the Netherlands, has come out with a solution to an eco-friendly afterlife with its Loop Living Cocoon coffin made from wood chips and mycelium that quicken the process of decomposition and help nature acquire vital nutrients more effectively.

The coffin itself is made out of mushroom fiber.

With the inside filled with microorganisms to help break down your no-longer-needed body. It takes about 3 years to compost yourself.

Cost is about US $1,750.

Last step, dump composted you back into the environment.

Source: Bored Panda

Source: Loop composting coffin

California Takes a Big Step Toward Making Polluters Pay for Their Messes

Map source: LA Times “Exide‚Äôs troubled history: years of pollution violations but few penalties”

Making polluters pay for their externalities:

A bill currently sits on Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk that proponents say will provide long-needed oversight of the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), the state agency responsible for regulating hazardous waste generation, management and toxic cleanup in California.

Broadly prescriptive, Assembly Bill 995 includes a requirement to develop a hazardous waste management plan, and significant changes to the way hazardous waste fees are calculated and managed in an attempt to help plug major financial holes within the agency. According to community advocates, it also creates new and vital safeguards for some of the state’s most vulnerable, environmentally burdened communities.

Many environmental experts, legislators, community members and other critics of the DTSC say sweeping agency reforms like those included in the bill are a long time coming. And they say they are needed to prevent another environmental and fiscal disaster like Exide from happening again. Pollution from the former Exide Technologies lead battery recycling facility in Southeast L.A. has contaminated as many as 10,000 homes, impacted some 100,000 people and already cost taxpayers more than $250 million in cleanup costs, with waning hopes of the polluters ever being held fully financially accountable.

Source: Capital & Main

Senate reached an agreement to phase out hydrofluorocarbons

Senate Republicans and Democrats reached an agreement last week on a plan to phase out chemicals called hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, which contribute to climate change. The plan would cut the use of HFCs 85 percent by 2035, a target that is in line with an international treaty called the Kigali Amendment ‚ÄĒ which the Trump administration has refused to join.

HFCs are the secret sauce in air conditioners and refrigerators that actually cool the air. The refrigerants cycle between liquid and gas as they flow through these appliances. If there’s a leak, they are emitted into the atmosphere, where they can be thousands of times more powerful at warming the planet than carbon dioxide.

There are already less-damaging alternatives to HFCs available. Phasing them out would create thousands of jobs building new appliances, according to industry groups, and could help the world avoid an estimated 0.5 degree C (0.9 degree F) of warming. The bipartisan plan will be included as an amendment to an upcoming energy bill, although it’s unclear whether it will make it through Congress or past Trump’s pen.

Source: Grist

Zoom-time Enhancement

Some say there isn’t anything more exciting than listening to Krygier drone on in Zoom lectures.

But that’s a pretty small group.

Please use the Zoom Chat section to insert comments while I’m talking. Serious, amusing, whatever. I’ll keep an eye on them. If you crack me up or distract me, all the better.

Please also use the “raise your hand” feature of Zoom. I’ll try my best to answer your questions.

 

New Research Shows Disproportionate Rate of Coronavirus Deaths in Polluted Areas

COVID-19 can be made more serious ‚ÄĒ and, in some cases, more deadly ‚ÄĒ by a specific type of industrial emission called hazardous air pollutants, or HAPs, according to new peer-reviewed research by ProPublica and researchers at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry. The study, published Friday in the journal Environmental Research Letters, found this association in both rural counties in Louisiana and highly populated communities in New York.

The analysis examined air pollution and coronavirus deaths in the roughly 3,100 U.S. counties and found a close correlation between levels of hazardous pollutants and the per-capita death rate from COVID-19.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency defines HAPs as chemicals known or suspected to cause cancer and other serious health problems. Under the Clean Air Act, industrial facilities emitting these pollutants are subject to regulations.

Hazardous air pollution may help explain the disproportionate number of COVID-19 deaths in communities like West Baton Rouge Parish, home to Port Allen. With 39 deaths as of Sept. 7, the parish’s per-capita death rate from COVID-19 ranked it among the top 3% of all U.S. counties with at least 30 deaths. Several of its neighbors in Louisiana’s industrial corridor also rank near the top of the list.

Source: ProPublica

Resources on Fire

The recent nasty fires in California (and elsewhere – see this interactive fire map) have given rise to interest in fire science, fire ecology, and related careers and research. The Berkely Fire Research Lab has compiled a series of wide-ranging videos and resources on fire and fire science:

Learning Material

Overview / Wildfires / General Repository / Structural Fire Engineering / Engineering Disasters

After exploring our website or seeing one of the hundreds of news articles on wildfires, you might ask how you can learn more? What fire science or fire protection engineering is? And is there a career in it? Well, here we would like to give you a little introduction into the basics of Fire Protection Engineering and Fire Science. These resources have been compiled to answer common questions and are intended to give you an insight into the field from the basics to advanced topics. But if you are curious about more feel free to reach out to us on twitter (@gollnerfire or @FranzHRichter).

Source: Berkely Fire Research Lab

First OWU Sustainability Task Force Meeting (Zoom): Tuesday, Sept. 8, 6:30pm

Above left: mysterious Olentangy River object, near OWU Campus
Above right: possibly less mysterious, but still really interesting: Jess Wilber, STF guest from Citizens Climate Lobby; Jess is Great Lakes Regional Fellow International Outreach Intern

Join us for the first Sustainability Task Force (STF) meeting of the Fall 2020 semester: Tuesday, September 8 at 6:30-7:30 pm on Zoom.

Please contact John Krygier for the Zoom link.

For the Fall semester of 2020, we are focusing on work with the Citizens Climate Lobby – our OWU student group and the national organization.

We plan to set short and longer-term goals during the meeting. You will be part of those goals.

Joining us is¬†Jess Wilber: a fourth-year student at Oberlin College with a double-major in Environmental Studies and East Asian Studies, a double-minor in Politics and History, and a concentration in International Affairs. She has spent the last two and a half years working for Citizens‚Äô Climate Lobby, an international grassroots non-profit, non-partisan organization that empowers everyday people to work together on effective climate change solutions. She helped to pioneer their current programs for students in Higher Education. She was among the first members of the Campus Leaders Program, which seeks to educate and empower students to become effective climate advocates and organizers in their communities. As part of that program, she founded the Oberlin College CCL Chapter, or OCEAL, and worked with the local CCL chapter to get the Oberlin City Council to pass a resolution endorsing Carbon Fee and Dividend. She also got the same endorsement from the Oberlin College Sustainability Committee and President Carmen Ambar later that year. She was then hired as the organization‚Äôs first Regional Fellow, working to expand CCL’s Higher Ed Action Team and directly overseeing its growth. She has also held various internship positions with CCL, including Higher Education Outreach, Volunteer Education & Engagement, and International Outreach.

Humans’ construction ‘footprint’ on ocean quantified for first time

In a world-first, the extent of human development in oceans has been mapped. An area totalling approximately 30,000 square kilometres‚ÄĒthe equivalent of 0.008 percent of the ocean‚ÄĒhas been modified by human construction.

The extent of modified by human construction is, proportion-wise, comparable to the extent of urbanised land, and greater than the global area of some natural marine habitats, such as and .

Source: Phys.org News