The Environmental Journal of Southern Appalachia
10 Reduced Inequalities

10 Reduced Inequalities (13)

Reduce inequality within and among countries

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“Historical research brings all kinds of insight into who we are in the present day as a species.”

MARYVILLE — Ever wonder how human society and culture blossomed into what it is today?

In his new podcast, “You Are a Weirdo,” historian and Maryville College professor Doug Sofer aims to help people learn just how far we’ve come as a species by embracing how the “strangeness” of the present day would be considered even more vastly weird by the historical standards of the past.

“Real history is a process of interpretation — of understanding the past based on evidence” Sofer said. “Good history is equally immersive; it gets you out of your skin.”

So far, Sofer has immersed his audience in interpreting and understanding topics ranging from why tea is considered a distinctly British beverage, despite being grown in Asia, to why jokes have a short shelf life depending on the decade they are told.

Regardless of each episode’s topic, Sofer finds history to be “the study of human possibilities.” Sofer wants people to learn “that real, legit historical research brings all kinds of insight into who we are in the present day as a species.”

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Canopy Nexus Hotel after floodingFlooding is seen outside a popular hotel in Pakistan following historic and devastating flooding linked largely to the melting of highland glaciers.  Wikipedia Commons

Global population growth promises a drastic spike in public health emergencies

This story was originally published by The Conversation. Maureen Lichtveld is dean of the School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh. 

There are questions that worry me profoundly as an environmental health and population scientist.

Will we have enough food for a growing global population? How will we take care of more people in the next pandemic? What will heat do to millions with hypertension? Will countries wage water wars because of increasing droughts?

These risks all have three things in common: health, climate change and a growing population that the United Nations determined passed 8 billion people in November 2022, which is double the population of just 48 years ago.

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Rue MappOutdoor Afro founder Rue Mapp.  Bethanie Hines via Revelator

Black people like nature, too. But you wouldn’t know it from looking at outdoor magazines before Outdoor Afro got started.

This story was originally published by The Revelator. There are Southeastern chapters of Outdoor Afro, including Knoxville.

If time and money weren’t an issue, what would you do?

That’s what Rue Mapp’s mentor asked her as she faced the completion of her college degree and an uncertain job market.

“I’d probably start a website to reconnect Black people to the outdoors,” Mapp replied, a story she recounts in her new book Nature Swagger. Soon after that she launched the blog Outdoor Afro, which began with stories of her own experiences in nature. It was inspired not just by her own love of the outdoors, but of a desire to increase the visibility of Black people enjoying those spaces.

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Ask your representatives to support the Black Lung Benefits Improvement Act!

Coal miners in Appalachia are getting black lung disease at record rates, even as the amount of coal being mined is declining. It’s past time to make sure they get the care they need.

Because they can no longer work, coal miners who get the disease are promised certain benefits, like health care and a living stipend. But current laws and processes make it incredibly challenging for miners and their families to access those benefits. And the current benefit levels are not even sufficient to support the miners who are out of work because of their illness. 

Pennsylvania Congressman Matt Cartwright and Senator Bob Casey have introduced a bill to make it easier for miners with black lung to access vital healthcare and financial support. Importantly, the bill would also tie benefit levels to inflation. With inflation rising, benefit levels are increasingly inadequate, and this change is needed urgently.

Ask your representatives to support the Black Lung Benefits Improvement Act!

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reames1The inordinate burden of energy costs is shown in this slide presented by Tony Reames during a discussion of energy injustice at the University of Tennessee Howard Baker Center.  U.S. Department of Energy

Department of Energy official pushes goals for energy equity in midst of power turmoil

KNOXVILLE — Energy injustice seems abstract until you run extension cords to your neighbor’s house and store their food in your fridge because their power got cut off.

What else are you supposed to do? Maybe start raising hell about the utility inequities faced by poor people that are clearer every day in an energy marketplace scarred by war and inflation and manipulated by global petroleum cartels?

“We’re at a critical moment in our society. Across the globe, we are hearing about energy insecurity, energy, affordability issues, a lack of resources,” said Tony Reames, Department of Energy deputy director of energy justice, a newly created position at DOE.

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ELOlogoELO is a student-run organization at the University of Tennessee College of Law. It is not directly affiliated with the University of Tennesse or any particular non-profit organization. It is dedicated to providing students and attorneys with learning opportunities and leadership experiences.

Networking environmental leaders across Appalachia and the State of Tennessee

Knoxville — APIEL is a relative newcomer to the small circle of inclusive U.S. public interest environmental law conferences. Because it is organized by law school student volunteers, APIEL is affordable to attend for students as well as citizens from all walks of life.

APIEL is much loved and considered essential by regional nonprofit leaders and activists. It is also highly acclaimed by seasoned environmental lawyers. With just 12 conferences under its belt, APIEL has risen to rank among leading peer conferences with a much longer track record, such as the  Public Interest Environmental Law Conference (PIELC) at the University of Oregon School of Law (39 events), the Red Clay Conference at the University of Georgia School of Law (34) and the Public Interest Environmental Conference (PIEC) at the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law (28).

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MEMPHIS Area residents were invited to a film screening of “Keep the Lights On” and a panel discussion at the Memphis Rox climbing gym with community members, local advocates and policy experts. The event, which ran from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20, coincided with Global Climbing Day, and professional rock climbers Nina Williams, Manoah Ainuu (who recently summited Everest), Olympic Silver Medalist Nathaniel Coleman, and Fred Campbell hosted and participated in community and climbing-oriented events prior to the film screening and conversation. 

The film follows Memphis Rox staff member and leader Jarmond Johnson, recounting his experiences with intermittent energy access growing up in South Memphis, his growth into a gang activist and mentorship role at Rox, and, ultimately, working with professional rock climber and environmental activist Alex Honnold (best known for the academy award-winning film, Free Solo) to bring solar energy to the gym. Following the screening, Jarmond and a panel of experts discussed takeaways from the film, and how equitable access to solar energy could help all Memphians keep their lights on. 

— Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

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Charles Henry Turner zoologistZoologist Charles Henry Turner was the first scientist to prove certain insects could remember, learn and feel. Charles I. Abramson via The Conversation

Charles Henry Turner concluded that bees can perceive time and develop new feeding habits in response 

This story was originally published by The Conversation. Edward D. Melillo is a professor of history and environmental studies at Amherst College.

On a crisp autumn morning in 1908, an elegantly dressed African American man strode back and forth among the pin oaks, magnolias and silver maples of O’Fallon Park in St. Louis, Missouri. After placing a dozen dishes filled with strawberry jam atop several picnic tables, biologist Charles Henry Turner retreated to a nearby bench, notebook and pencil at the ready.

Following a midmorning break for tea and toast (topped with strawberry jam, of course), Turner returned to his outdoor experiment. At noon and again at dusk, he placed jam-filled dishes on the park tables. As he discovered, honeybees (Apis mellifera) were reliable breakfast, lunch and dinner visitors to the sugary buffet. After a few days, Turner stopped offering jam at midday and sunset, and presented the treats only at dawn. Initially, the bees continued appearing at all three times. Soon, however, they changed their arrival patterns, visiting the picnic tables only in the mornings.

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The Economist The global food crisis explained
The global food crisis, explained. a 12-minute video by The Economist raises awareness of how global crises combine with intricate national and international issues to precipitate local predicament.
(It is unclear why this video has become age-restricted by YouTube — after being available unrestricted for quit a while. Some facts and brief clips of destitute people or riots seem little more disturbing — not just to young minds — than what’s often seen on daily TV news. Parental guidance is recommended.  —Ed.)
 

MOTHER EARTH — Scarcity of food, lack of safety nets and paucity of solidarity lead to famine. This explainer by The Economist elucidates much of the detrimental interdependencies of the global economy which resulted in bottlenecks that can not withstand unanticipated shifts in supply and demand.

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Jim Hill Fellow for Conservation Breelyn Bigbee holds a viewing window with a Logperch in Long Swamp Creek while conducting fieldwork in search of Bridled Darters near Jasper, Georgia.Jim Hill Fellow for Conservation Breelyn Bigbee holds a viewing window with a logperch in Long Swamp Creek while conducting fieldwork in search of bridled darters near Jasper, Georgia. Tennessee Aquarium

Tennessee Aquarium fellowships bring minorities into the science space

CHATTANOOGA — Never let it be said that all summer jobs are created equal.

Squatting on his heels to dangle the flexible hose of an environmental DNA pump into a briskly flowing North Georgia stream, the last few weeks have been anything but ordinary for Spencer Trimpe. With the pump’s droning motor steadily collecting a sample of water to filter out genetic traces of the stream’s inhabitants, he doesn’t bother holding back a smile.

A lanky junior biology major from Thomas More University, Trimpe is one of two students selected as part of the Tennessee Aquarium’s George Benz Aquatic Ecology Fellowship. Instead of manning a cash register or waiting tables this summer, he’s assisting freshwater scientists from the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute with a variety of research projects.