This edition focuses on articles and perspectives from sources and voices that will hopefully uplift us as we review 2021 and look ahead to 2022. There will be time enough to read the reporting and opinions that are more sobering but we’ll put that off until at least January. When I decided I wanted to produce a “good news” roundup to close out the holidays, I was worried I wouldn’t find enough material. I’m thrilled to say I was wrong! The diversity of subjects is amazing. I hope you enjoy what follows.
- Save the Date—January 20, 7 pm, virtual and in-person author event: Erik Curren will discuss his new book, Abolish Oil Now! —at Eastern Mennonite University’s Swartzendruber Hall (Suter Science Center) and online on Facebook. I hope to see you there!
- Sign the Southern Environmental Law Center petition to join birders and others who want to end the mass cutting of U.S. forests to produce biomass—a practice that’s killing our birds by eliminating their habitats.
- California’s “Monarch butterflies may be thriving after years of decline.” Learn how you can help these beautiful creatures: Sierra Club/Falls of the James Group Webinar: MONARCHS: ENDANGERED BUT NOT PROTECTED – Jan. 11, 2022, 7 PM. Register here. And plant milkweed!
- The Washington Post’s Editorial Board listed “21 good things that happened in 2021.” Here are two:
- “The United States reentered the Paris climate agreement.”
- Restoring “protection to Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante and other monuments — protecting natural grandeur, Indigenous tribes’ sacred land and delicate ecosystems along with it.”
- Large EU insurers are seriously considering ending coverage for coal mines and plants.
- There’s a “sustainable industrial revolution” underway in the shipping, steel, and plastics industries—e.g., the North Carolina ferries.
- Like to bike? “Cycling is on a roll. More than 2,900 miles in the West and Midwest have been added to the U.S. Bicycle Route System’s national network.”
- The Biden Administration “launched a new energy division of its Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and appointed Sally Benson, a well-known energy expert at Stanford University, to a high-level position to contribute to climate change policy.”
- Biden also approved “the first offshore wind farm to supply power to New York.”
- The Administration proposes a “road ban on much of Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. The move would restrict development on roughly 9.3 million acres in North America’s largest temperate rainforest …, reversing [a] Trump administration decision.” The Interior Department believes “Oil and gas companies should pay more to drill on public lands and waters.”
Climate Solutions and Adaptations (and the communities working on them)
- Looking Forward—Grist’s “new newsletter from Fix, Grist’s solutions lab.” Note the hopeful 2022 predictions from “climate visionaries.”
- There is technology to help reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions from the trucking industry.
- Two companies have launched “the construction of their first biomethane production unit, in Friona, Texas. The biomethane will be used as an alternative fuel for mobility, thus contributing to decarbonize road transportation.”
- Portable large-scale batteries help ensure that utilities have storage capacity when and where they need it and can supplement or reduce the need for permanent charging hubs. Energy storage is becoming a big business.
- “A changing climate is buckling concrete and flooding roads. States are moving slowly to guard the nation’s infrastructure.”
- John Kerry, the U.S. climate envoy, believes the private sector is key to “solving climate change.” The executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change says we must empower young people.
- A bit of irony—Russia is “cashing in” on the climate crisis—a look at an upside.
- Pittsburgh and other localities are shutting down coal plants to meet wastewater standards; Pittsburgh is also thinking about taxing plastic bags.
- A West Virginia community, historically dependent on its coal economy, is examining ways it can move forward and avoid repeating past mistakes.
- “FreshFarm FoodPrints is a D.C.-based educational program that has partnered with 19 schools across the city and works with about 7,000 kids. Students learn how to grow, harvest and cook all kinds of different plants, but they also get lessons in social and emotional learning, English, language arts, mathematics and other subjects.”
- Farmers are looking at a new “crop”—carbon credits earned through improved sustainability practices—to help reduce their GHG emissions.
- Despite concerns of some about loss of “prime land”, Texas “farmers and ranchers have embraced a renewable energy boom that … promise[s] to make agricultural operations more sustainable and deliver steady income in an industry in which economic fortunes swing from season to season.”
- Farmers and conservationists in the West “are teaming up to preserve grasslands, which act as a carbon dioxide sink that could support climate goals.”
- A Norfolk, England farmer has “a plan to transform dozens of fields into grazing wetlands on [his] 10,000-hectare (25,000-acre) farm and nature reserve.”
- Private landowners in Kansas may be critical to saving “the Prairie, acre by acre.”
- The architect Maya Lin “planted 49 trees … for [an] exhibition, which opened in May and drew crowds and critical acclaim with its haunting evocation of environmental apocalypse. The trees, Atlantic white cedars, came from a dying grove that was slated to be cleared as part of a restoration project in the Pine Barrens in New Jersey, where climate change has caused a large swath of forest to die, and with the installation Lin was making a statement about climate change and environmental sustainability.” Lin then authorized the dismantling of her work “Ghost Forests”—for students to create boats, delivering high-profile, and creative, messaging AND recycling.
- An old technology—cloud seeding—may be making a comeback and may help the West’s prolonged drought.
- Scotland is “Harnessing the energy of the ocean to power homes, planes and whisky distilleries.”
- The U.S. West “has particularly immense potential for renewable energy generation [with its] vast sunny skies, windy open plains, rapid rivers, and ample underground geothermal activity.”
- A Florida Conservatives for Clean Energy study of rooftop solar showed the industry “creates $18.3B in Economic Impact” in the state.
- A Colorado town prepared successfully for its economic security once its coal plant shut down.
- Native Renewables plans to provide solar power to provide electricity to 15,000 Navajo and Hopi Native Americans unable to access a utility grid.
- An amateur scientist’s 50-year study of snowfall in the high Rockies “helped shape climate research” there.
- A Sierra Leone entrepreneur never forgot his experience in a mudslide caused by deforestation; he’s doing something to keep that devastation from happening again.
- A new report from the Environment America Research & Policy Center and Frontier Group gave North Carolina high marks for its progress on clean energy.
- A Kentucky “college [is the] first in the US to finish [a] hydropower project…. The 2.64‑megawatt plant [along the Kentucky River in Estill County] began generating electricity for Berea College in May  and will give power to hundreds of Jackson Energy Cooperative customers…. The $11 million project … has an expected lifespan of at least 50 years.”
- Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has produced a “great coral spawning, giving … hope for climate change recovery.” And, who would have guessed? Healthy corals support fish that produce “‘mind-blowing’ noises” that scientists perceive as “song.”
- Belize “committed to protecting 30 percent of its ocean territory, with the support of the largest debt conversion for ocean conservation to date.”
- New York is unearthing Tibbetts Brook, part of a wetlands system destroyed 100+ years ago for development. “An engineering feat known as ‘daylighting’” will restore the Brook and help ease flooding in the area. New York City added 11 million oysters to the Hudson River “as part of an ongoing project to rehabilitate the polluted waterways around the city.”
Ideas, Events, Entertainment and Information
Listen, Read, and Learn …
- Understanding Earth from a geographic approach can foster ideas for meeting the planet’s challenges—a TED talk by a renowned geographic information systems pioneer.
- Did you know that “Nature’s Air Sensors Are Growing on Your Street”? Think carbon emissions can smell good—like “fig leaf, orange peel and jasmine”? Air Company makes Eau de Parfum and says yes they can.
- This New York Times pictorial and text piece giving us a glimpse of a fragile Norwegian archipelago that likely will not survive climate change. Don’t miss it!
- Floating homes in the Netherlands—A “Dutch reality TV director by day and guerrilla sustainable commune organizer by night” spearheaded a movement in her community of Schoonschip proving “that the technology already exists to make floating urban development a solution for the world’s densely populated waterfront cities that are grappling with rising sea levels and the accelerating impacts of climate change.” Find out what else got built.
- VA Tech researchers found “two species of Antarctic fish” who appear to have “responded to progressive warming with an elaborate array of behavioral maneuvers.” This could be a hopeful indication that, as the Antarctic warms (as predicted), its native marine animals will be able to survive.
- Heard of Cape Lookout National Seashore? It’s on the North Carolina Outer Banks and now has “certified Dark Sky Park designation.”
- There’s a “crucial intersection of climate and capital”—a TED talk by an investment decarbonization expert.
- “[T]here isn’t a single ‘solution’ to climate change.” Here are five from Canary Media. Some eco-righters believe there are natural climate solutions, including the American Conservation Coalition. Its website is “Rooted in America.”
- Britain is looking to “the financial industry … to meet climate goals.”
- Two climate and climate justice activists discuss “climate crisis and global inequality” in a moderated conversation.
- Recycling, innovation, and reuse may offer ways to reduce the environmental hazards posed by the emerging EV market with its dependence on battery power.
- Generation 180 says, “All Grown Up: EV Charging in 2022.” But wait–“Move over, electric cars: E-boats are coming — and investors are on board”
- Indigenous peoples gave thanks for Interior Secretary Haaland’s efforts to save many localities sacred to their culture.
- A Long Island resident “Works for God (and Against Lawns).” He and his wife “say fighting climate change and protecting biodiversity starts at home. Or rather, right outside their suburban house.”
- A Duff, Tennessee resident is spearheading efforts to educate neighbors about, locate, and clean up acid mine drainage in his community.
- Research in Oregon shows “a well-positioned skylight is a simple way to harness ‘passive solar’ power.”
- You might be surprised at some of “the top 10 states with the most installed solar power capacity.” Ditto for the top 10 states with the most wind power. Virginia isn’t on either list. See the maps below.
- Nate the House Whisperer has a Facebook page to help you “Electrify Everything.” “Buy Nothing” groups collaborate to reduce their collective waste.
- Some eco-righters want the Republican Party to embrace climate change solutions. Here’s a YouTube post with this message.
- The Biosphere 2 project in the Arizona mountains has solar panels that provide shade to numerous crops. The concept is one farming practice of indigenous peoples who used native trees as cover. The project is “part of a movement aimed at reimagining and remaking agriculture in a warming world. In the Southwest, projects are looking to plants and farming practices that Native Americans have long used as potential solutions to growing worries over future food supplies. At the same time, they are seeking to build energy resilience.”
Happy Holidays from CAAV and Joy Loving, CAAV Steering Committee Member