The Environmental Journal of Southern Appalachia

Displaying items by tag: climate change

 Bales Monarch on coneflowerA monarch butterfly, recently declared endangered despite decades of conservation, is seen atop a coneflower. Stephen Lyn Bales

Dramatic monarch declines mean the bell tolls for we

KNOXVILLE Monarch butterflies are ephemeral by nature. The orange and black dalliances that flitter through our lives, our yards, and our countryside like motes of dust are here one minute and gone the next. We pause for a few seconds to watch the “flutter-bys” and then move on.

For about all of the Lepidopteran family, where they come from, where they go, their raison d'être, we don’t ask. They are winged wisps that pass through our busy lives. But that is not true with this orange and black butterfly, named to honor King William III of England, the Prince of Orange. But two people did ask.

Norah and Fred Urquhart lived in Southern Canada and in the late 1930s they noticed that the monarch butterflies seemed to all be fluttering south this time of the year. Could they possibly be migrating and if so, where did they go? The notion that a butterfly might migrate south for the winter seemed hard to fathom. Yes, broad-winged hawks migrate. But a flimsy butterfly?

Published in News

5 July 2022 US Significant Climate Events Map

Record-setting bill will fund extensive efforts to address climate change, but the sausage-making deal is decried by some as a ‘suicide pact’

This story was originally published by Tennessee Lookout.

WASHINGTON The U.S. Senate, along party lines, passed a sweeping energy, health care, climate and tax package Sunday afternoon, following an overnight marathon of votes that resulted in just a handful of notable changes to the legislation.

The 755-page bill was passed after Vice President Kamala Harris broke a 50-50 tie in the evenly divided Senate. It now heads to the House, where Democratic leaders have announced they will take it up on Friday.

At last, we have arrived,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said.  Democratic senators broke out into applause as Harris announced passage of the bill, expected to total more than $700 billion.

Schumer, a New York Democrat, said he dedicated the measure to young Americans who have pushed and protested for the Senate to take action on climate change. 

Published in News

MOTHER EARTH  Scarcity of food, lack of safety nets and paucity of solidarity lead to famine. 12-minute video raises awareness of how global crises combine with intricate national and international issues to precipitate local predicament.

Published in News
Tuesday, 21 June 2022 11:31

The South’s hidden climate threat

Spreading avens in bloom 9406109069Spreading avens are seen in bloom in the Appalachians. The endangered long-stemmed perennials survive in higher mountain elevations but their lack of space to move higher in elevation in times of climate change and warming further threaten the plant.  USFWS

It’s not just the coastlines that are recording climate change. Even the mountains of North Carolina are feeling the heat — including some endangered plants

“Atlanta reporter Dan Chapman retraced John Muir’s 1867 trek through the South, including the naturalist’s troubling legacy, to reveal environmental damage and loss that’s been largely overlooked.” This is an excerpt published by The Revelator from his book, A Road Running Southward: Following John Muir’s Journey Through an Endangered Land.

BOONE It’s a wonder anything survives the ice, snow, and winds that pummel the ridge, let alone the delicate-seeming yellow flowers known as spreading avens.

The lovely, long-stemmed perennials are exceedingly rare, officially listed as endangered, and found only in the intemperate highlands of North Carolina and Tennessee. They sprout from shallow acidic soils underlying craggy rock faces and grassy heath balds. At times blasted with full sun, but mostly shrouded in mist, the avens are survivors, Ice Age throwbacks that refuse to die. Geum radiatum is only known to exist in fourteen places, including hard-to-find alpine redoubts reached via deer trail or brambly bushwhacking.

Published in News

heat photoThomas Fraser/Hellbender Press

TVA sets record power day for June as region swelters and common sense degrades

This story was originally published by Hard Knox Wire.

KNOXVILLE City residents this week joined scores of others around the world — from the Southwest United States to the Indian subcontinent — sweltering through late spring with eyes toward a summer that portends to be very hot.

Whether directly attributed to climate change or not, the heat waves are causing untold misery in locations across the Northern Hemisphere, straining power grids to the brink and causing a sharp rise in heat-related illnesses. 

Knoxville Utilities Board asked this week that consumers curtail their electricity use by setting their thermostats a little higher and holding off until night on energy-sucking tasks like doing laundry or running the dishwasher. That request was met in many cases with derision and unsubstantiated claims that charging electric vehicles had overburdened energy infrastructure.

So exactly how hot is it in East Tennessee and how bad is it going to get?

Published in News
Friday, 22 April 2022 14:58

Maybe we should call it Ocean Day

Best Earth Day feature: We still know so little about so much that is vital to life on our planet

CBS News  Stunning midwater creatures of the deep sea

You have to endure a half-minute commercial to see this 6-minute report on the fascinating footage captured by a high-tech marine science project of the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Make sure to turn on full-screen viewing, if you can. Have you ever seen a bloody belly comb jelly?

We think you’ll agree it’s the most worthwile video you watched today.

Published in Water

Brian SohnCarson-Newman University Professor Brian Sohn is hosting a climate-oriented webinar on March 30.  Thomas Fraser/Hellbender Press

Local installment of worldwide virtual Climate Teach-In is set for 2:30 p.m. March 30

JEFFERSON CITY Brian Sohn had “the closest thing to a panic attack” when his second daughter was born.

He had long been alarmed by climate change and its potentially disastrous effects, but her arrival brought home the need to address the environmental challenges of a rapidly changing planet.

So now the Carson-Newman University education professor is putting some final touches on a virtual climate-related “teach-in” he’ll host from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 30.

Published in Air
Thursday, 06 January 2022 15:35

New year. Old challenges.

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From plastic pollution to extreme weather and the extinction crisis, the year ahead promises tough fights, enormous challenges and critical opportunities

This story was originally published by The Revelator.

A new year brings with it new opportunities — and more of the same environmental threats from the previous 12 months.

Published in Voices
Thursday, 02 December 2021 11:41

You’ve got the whole world in your hands

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Personal climate-change remedies have a wide cumulative impact and are part of the solution, so don’t give up

Tom Ptak is assistant professor of Geography and Environmental Studies at Texas State University. This story was originally published by The Conversation.

The average American’s everyday interactions with energy sources are limited. They range from turning appliances on or off, to commuting, to paying utility bills.

The connections between those acts and rising global temperatures may seem distant.

However, individuals hold many keys to unlocking solutions to climate change — the biggest challenge our species currently faces — which is perhaps why the fossil fuel industry spent decades misleading and misinforming the public about it.

I’m an assistant professor of geography and environmental studies at Texas State University. My research explores how geography affects the complex relationships between societies, energy and contemporary environmental challenges. I’ve found that the human element is critical for developing creative, effective and sustainable solutions to climate challenges.

There’s a large and growing body of evidence showing that individuals can have a major impact on climate change in a number of ways. Citizen action can compel utilities to increase renewable energy and governments to enact strong climate action laws. When enough individuals make changes that lower daily household energy consumption, huge emissions reductions can result. Consumer demand can compel businesses to pursue climate and environmental sustainability.

These actions combined could bridge the “emissions gap”: the significant difference between the greenhouse gas emissions expected globally and how much they need to drop in the next few decades to avoid catastrophic climate change.

Published in News

3D2A2F6C B919 4295 B244 36D48A4BF9BD 1 105 cProtestors chant and wave signs urging TVA to commit to a fossil fuel-free future during a protest in downtown Knoxville this summer. Courtesy Amy Rawe/Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

Activists will demand TVA allow public comments during a protest planned for Wednesday morning outside TVA HQ in downtown Knoxville

Knoxville clean-air activists plan another protest  Wednesday outside of Tennessee Valley Authority headquarters to demand a return to public-comment periods and a commitment the huge utility won’t rely on fossil-fuel energy sources in the future.

“Public input is critical right now, while TVA is considering building new, large fossil gas power plants and pipelines, even though they would be contrary to our need to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030,” said protest organizer Brady Watson of Southern Alliance for Clean EnergyStatewide Organizing for Community Empowerment is also coordinating the protest.

Published in Air
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