The Environmental Journal of Southern Appalachia

Maybe we should call it Ocean Day

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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.

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  • Enviros to TVA: Retire the fossil-fuel pacifier
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    This story was originally published by Tennessee Lookout.

    CLARKSVILLE — On behalf of the Tennessee Chapter of the Sierra Club and Appalachian Voices, the Southern Environmental Law Center asked TVA to prepare a supplemental environmental statement to address concerns with TVA’s draft environmental impact statement, which details the agency’s plans to retire the Cumberland Fossil Plant.

    The Cumberland Fossil Plant, about 22 miles southwest of Clarksville, is TVA’s largest coal-fired power station and was built between 1968 and 1973. TVA plans to retire each unit of the two-unit, coal-fired steam-generation plant separately: one unit no later than 2030, and the second unit no later than 2033. But the plant will need to be replaced, and TVA is currently considering three alternatives to fossil fuel, including natural gas and solar energy, according to its draft EIS.

    (Tennessee Valley Authority already plans to close down the Knoxville-area Bull Run fossil plant in Claxton next year).

  • There’s a whole world in the dirt beneath your feet
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    Dirt is far from just dirt. It’s a foundation for life.

    This story was originally published by The Revelator.

    Look down. You may not see the soil beneath your feet as teeming with life, but it is.

    Better scientific tools are helping us understand that dirt isn’t just dirt. Life in the soil includes microbes like bacteria and fungi; invertebrates such as earthworms and nematodes; plant roots; and even mammals like gophers and badgers who spend part of their time below ground.

    It’s commonly said that a quarter of all the planet’s biodiversity lives in the soil, but that’s likely a vast understatement. Many species that reside there, particularly microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria, fungi and protists, aren’t yet known to science.

  • Monarch butterflies, an ephemeral but regular glimpse of beauty, are fluttering toward extinction
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    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?

  • Dems pass huge climate bill assailed by some as another fossil energy sop
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    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. 

  • Congo retreats from climate commitments to fuel its fossil energy sector
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    Opponents say it’s another step in knocking over the dominoes of climate renewal as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues to roil energy markets and threaten international commitments to addressing climate change.

    “The oil and gas blocks, which will be auctioned in late July, extend into Virunga National Park, the world’s most important gorilla sanctuary, as well as tropical peatlands that store vast amounts of carbon, keeping it out of the atmosphere and from contributing to global warming,” according to the New York Times.

    Leaders say the global energy paradigm has shifted to the point it makes little sense to prioritize the natural environment over boosting the economy of an impoverished nation.

    According to NYT: “That’s our priority,” Mr. Mpanu said, in an interview last week. “Our priority is not to save the planet.”

  • Thinking Globally: Many places suffer even worse inflation!
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  • The South’s hidden climate threat
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    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

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    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.

  • Hot weather doesn’t always equal evidence of climate change, but the puzzle is almost complete
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    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?

  • Updated: It’s your Earth Day week! You should connect with your mother.

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