The Environmental Journal of Southern Appalachia
13 Climate Action

13 Climate Action (49)

Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

KUB and SACE provide a guide to a home efficiency uplift

KNOXVILLE — Are you looking to take control of your utility bills to not only save money but also breathe easier knowing your home is healthier and more comfortable? Join us this Wednesday, May 17, from 6-8 PM for a free workshop to learn about newly available, once-in-a-generation funding, resources, and rebates that everyone can benefit from, regardless of if you own or rent your home, or if you have high or low income, through local and federal funds.  

KUB is providing free (yes, free) home energy improvements for income-eligible customers through the Home Uplift program. New or repaired HVAC units, attic and wall insulation, appliances, and electric water heaters are just a few of the home energy upgrades that you may receive. Plus, professional crews are ready and waiting to do the work so you don’t have to. 

— Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

Enviros cheer new Biden plan to limit fossil pollution

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on May 11 proposed new carbon pollution standards for coal and gas-fired power plants to protect public health and reduce harmful pollutants.

EPA’s proposed standards are expected to deliver up to $85 billion in climate and public health benefits over the next two decades and avoid up to 617 million metric tons of total carbon dioxide (CO2) through 2042.

EPA estimates that in 2030 alone, the proposed standards will prevent more than 300,000 asthma attacks; 38,000 school absence days; 1,300 premature deaths; 38,000 school absence days; and 66,000 lost work days.

Dr. Stephen A. Smith, Executive Director of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy“Individuals and communities across the country are doing whatever they can to protect against the immense dangers of climate pollution and are depending on the federal government to do the same. Federal limits on climate pollution from power plants are a critically needed and long overdue protection for public health and the environment. 

“We will be reviewing the proposal and hope that the proposal hits the mark in giving our communities the safeguards they need from deadly fossil pollution.”

EPA will be taking comments on these proposals for 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

— SACE

Rate this item
(1 Vote)

Third Act ROCKING CHAIRSPhoto courtesy of Third Act via The Revelator

As their twilight approaches, elders supercharge climate action on behalf of future generations 

This story was originally published by The Revelator. Eduardo Garcia is a New York-based climate journalist. A native of Spain, he has written about climate solutions for Thomson Reuters, The New York Times, Treehugger and Slate. He is the author of Things You Can Do: How to Fight Climate Change and Reduce Waste, an illustrated book about reducing personal carbon footprints.

Thousands of senior Americans took to the streets in March in 30 states to demand that the country’s major banks divest from fossil fuels.

This “rocking chair rebellion” — organized by Third Act, a fast-growing climate action group focused on older Americans — shows that Baby Boomers are becoming a new force in the climate movement.

Third Act cofounder Bill McKibben, who joined a Washington, D.C., protest, says it’s unfair to put all the weight of climate activism on the shoulders of young people. It’s time for older Americans to take a central role.

“Young people don’t have the structural power necessary to make changes,” McKibben tells The Revelator. “But old people do. There are 70 million Americans over the age of 60. Many of us vote, we’re politically engaged, and have a lot of financial resources. So if you want to press either the political system or the financial system, older people are a useful group to have.”

The State of Bats: Grim news for our winged mammals

Little Brown BatThe big brown bat feeds on beetles, flies, moths, and true bugs, which it catches and eats while in flight. It is widespread across the Southern Appalachians and forages for food by flying slow, straight courses over water, forest canopies, wooded clearings, and around city lights.  J. Scott Altenbach via Georgia Department of Natural Resources

North America’s first State of the Bats report gives a sobering outlook for the winged mammals. According to the North American Bat Conservation Alliance report:

  • More than half of the 154 known bat species on the continent could face severe population declines over the next 15 years.
  • During that time, up to 82 percent of bat species will be negatively affected by climate change, especially extreme drought and temperatures.
  • The scope and severity of threats — including habitat loss, wind turbines and the deadly bat disease white-nose syndrome — are increasing.

The news isn’t all bad. The report outlines ways to help and emphasizes the wide-ranging benefits of bats, from improving crop yields to eating insect pests. It also highlights the promise of focused, collaborative conservation efforts.

Case in point, the lesser long-nosed bat was once endangered in Mexico and the U.S. But thanks to international efforts, it is now delisted and recovered in both countries.

The North American Bat Conservation Alliance is another example. The coalition involving the U.S., Mexico and Canada created the 2023 State of the Bats report with Bat Conservation International and others.

“Bats face many challenges and the conservation landscape is increasingly complex,” said Dr. Jeremy Coleman, alliance co-chair and white-nose syndrome coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “While there is more to do, the level of international collaboration we have achieved for bat conservation in North America is a bright spot and a cause for optimism going forward.”

— Georgia Department of Natural Resources

Rate this item
(1 Vote)

Solar panels are easy to attach without roof penetration to properly prepared metal roof with standing seams.This view shows the main sanctuary from the side building that hosts Oak Ridge Faith Lutheran Church’s solar panels.  Ben Pounds/Hellbender Press

How two East Tennessee churches went solar, and can help your congregation do it, too

OAK RIDGE — On two church roofs on the same road in this small town that helped harvest the atom, panels catch the sun’s rays for electric power.

Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church at 1500 Oak Ridge Turnpike and Faith Lutheran Church at 1300 Oak Ridge Turnpike added solar energy at different times through different companies using different federal incentives. ORUUC added its panels in 2015; Faith Lutheran added them in March 2022. Members of both churches involved in the solar projects spoke to both the challenges involved and the benefits. They said their churches benefited both financially and spoke of the benefits to the planet.

“I really hope it works well for us as well as for the environment,” said George Smith, associate pastor at Faith Lutheran. “I’m fond of thinking that we’re turning God’s gift of sunshine into a gift of cash for ministry.”

ORNL gets boost to make airliners cleaner

OAK RIDGE — The Center for Bioenergy Innovation has been renewed by the Department of Energy as one of four bioenergy research centers across the nation to advance robust, economical production of plant-based fuels and chemicals. CBI, led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, is focused on the development of nonfood biomass crops and specialty processes for the production of sustainable jet fuel to help decarbonize the aviation sector.

The DOE announcement provides $590 million to the centers over the next five years. Initial funding for the four centers will total $110 million for Fiscal Year 2023. Outyear funding will total up to $120 million per year over the following four years, contingent on availability of funds.

“To meet our future energy needs, we will need versatile renewables like bioenergy as a low-carbon fuel for some parts of our transportation sector,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “Continuing to fund the important scientific work conducted at our Bioenergy Research Centers is critical to ensuring these sustainable resources can be an efficient and affordable part of our clean energy future.”

— Sara C. Shoemaker, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Rate this item
(3 votes)

Sandra Goss, Executive Director, Tennessee Citizens for Wilderness PlanningTennessee Citizens for Wilderness Planning Executive Director Sandra Goss is nearing retirement after decades of tending to the environmental issues facing East Tennessee and the Cumberland Plateau.At cusp of retirement, Sandra Goss reflects on what she and others have saved

This is the latest installment of an occasional series, Hellbent, profiling citizens who work to preserve and improve the Southern Appalachian environment.

OAK RIDGE — I can see the view of Lilly Bluff Overlook at Obed Wild and Scenic River in my mind. The trees are bare save some evergreens. The stream I love to splash around in during warmer times is flowing between the slopes. 

I can see the cliff face in the distance. It would be a great place to interview Tennessee Citizens for Wilderness Planning (TCWP) Executive Director Sandra Goss; after all she and her organization helped preserve the area. It’s also near the places she grew up. She cited the experiences as inspiring her conservation ethic.

Earlier this winter, the Christmas tree in Oak Ridge’s Jackson Square was on its side due to icy gusts and I’ve called off meeting with Goss in person at Panera to avoid torturing her or me with the elements. We could hike, but not stand around.

I’ve seen her at TCWP Christmas parties in Oak Ridge and on hikes though, so just like Lilly Bluff, I can imagine her silver-white hair, smile and glasses as I speak to her by phone. I hear her accent, more Southern Appalachian than the Yankee-ish Oak Ridge accent I speak, nodding to her origin in Crossville.

Goss is retiring Aug. 31, and she’s looking back on her work and forward to the break.

Rate this item
(1 Vote)

TVA power generation assetsTVA service area and power generation assets.  Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) | GAO-23-105375

GAO report concludes TVA is flat-footed on climate-change risks to infrastructure

This story was originally published by Tennessee Lookout.

WASHINGTON — Extreme weather patterns have sparked several improvements to the climate resiliency of Tennessee Valley Authority electrical infrastructure over the past two decades. 

A report from a government watchdog, however, found the huge utility still has work to do in mitigating climate hazards to the regional power grid. (Bitter cold around Christmas led TVA to implement rolling blackouts).

“TVA has taken several steps to manage climate-related risks,” the Jan. 30 report from the Government Accountability Office said. “However, TVA has not conducted an inventory of assets and operations vulnerable to climate change, or developed a resilience plan that identifies and prioritizes resilience measures to address specific risks.” 

One issue: The Southeast has experienced a period of accelerated warming since the 1960s. Among cities in the region, 61 percent are experiencing worsening heat waves, a percentage greater than anywhere else in the country, according to the GAO. 

The report came in response to a five-part joint request for information on the climate resiliency of U.S. infrastructure, from U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Environment and Public Works Committee Chair Tom Carper of Delaware. The two Democrats sent their request to the GAO on May 13, 2019. 

Rate this item
(2 votes)

TVApamphlet

 

As demand for electric vehicles soars, several roadblocks have emerged

This article was originally published by The Revelator 

Manufacturers, governments and consumers are lining up behind electric vehicles — with sales rising 60% in 2022, and at least 17 states are considering a California-style ban on gas cars in the years ahead. Scientists say the trend is a key part of driving down the transportation sector’s carbon emissions, which could fall by as much as 80% by 2050 under aggressive policies. But while EVs are cleaner than gas cars in the long run, they still carry environmental and human-rights baggage, especially associated with mining.

“If you want a lot of EVs, you need to get minerals out of the ground,” says Ian Lange, director of the Energy and Economics Program at the Colorado School of Mines.

The crucial Amazon rainforest is nearing a point of no return

NYT: Decades of extraction have left the South American rainforest at a “tipping point.”

The Amazon has long served as a vast carbon sink, even as vegetation pumped oxygen into the atmosphere to the point it was called the “lungs of the Earth.”

But vast deforestation, despite calls to save the Amazon that originated decades ago, portends profound changes in the ecology of the huge, increasingly fragmented forest that lies mainly within Brazil.

“Just in the past half-century, 17 percent of the Amazon — an area larger than Texas — has been converted to croplands or cattle pasture. Less forest means less recycled rain, less vapor to cool the air, less of a canopy to shield against sunlight,” according to a report from Alex Cuadros.

“In one study, a team led by the researcher Paulo Brando intentionally set a series of fires in swaths of forest abutted by an inactive soy plantation. After a second burn, coincidentally during a drought year, one plot lost nearly a third of its canopy cover, and African grasses — imported species commonly used in cattle pasture — moved in.”

Page 1 of 4