50 Ways 100% Clean Energy Won In 2017
By Jodie Van Horn
We'd never argue that 2017 was a great year, but some really great things did happen!
Here are 50 ways (yes, 50!) that clean energy kept winning in 2017 despite Trump's attempts to roll back the country's progress.
1. The Republican Mayor Championing 100% Renewable Energy in Louisiana
Republican Mayor Greg Lemons made his small town of Abita Springs the first municipality in Louisiana to commit to 100% clean energy. Mayor Lemons said his 100% renewable energy vision for Abita Springs, which has a population of 2,900, aligns with the conservative values of his community—and it has made him a trailblazer across Louisiana.
2. Madison and Abita Springs Committed to 100% Clean Energy on the Same Day!
On March 21, Madison, Wisconsin and Abita Springs, Louisiana became the 24th and 25th cities in the country to commit to 100% clean energy. Last year, more than 70% of voters in Madison cast ballots supporting Hillary Clinton, while in St. Tammany Parish, where Abita Springs is located, more than 70% of voters supported Donald Trump. They agree on one thing, at least—the need for 100% clean energy.
3. Solar Created Even More Jobs Across America
A new report released this year by The Solar Foundation showed that in 2016, the number of solar jobs increased in 44 of the 50 states, and more than 260,000 Americans now work in solar. In several major metro areas, the solar workforce grew by 50% or more. The New York Times ran a major piece in April, which pretty much sums it up: Today's Energy Jobs Are in Solar, Not Coal.
4. Chicago Committed to Power All Municipal Buildings with 100% Renewable Energy by 2025
In April, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that by 2025, all 900-plus buildings operated by the city, Chicago Public Schools, Chicago Park District, Chicago Housing Authority and City Colleges will be powered entirely by renewable sources. In 2016, those buildings used nearly 1.8 billion kilowatt hours of electricity—equal to the energy needed to power about 295,000 homes.
5. U.S. Mayors Announced New National Drive for 100% Clean Energy
Mayors from across the U.S. teamed up with the Ready for 100 campaign to announce Mayors for 100% Clean Energy, a new effort to engage and recruit mayors to endorse a goal of transitioning to 100% renewable energy in cities across the country.
6. 100% Clean Energy at the People's Climate March
A contingent of 100% clean energy activists representing communities from coast to coast joined hundreds of thousands of people marching in the People's Climate March in Washington, DC on April 29.
7. Atlanta Committed to 100% Clean, Renewable Energy
Atlanta became the largest city in the South to commit to running entirely on clean energy. The city then took it to the people to learn through a series of #CommunityConversations why Atlanta is #ReadyFor100. Atlantans are helping shape the plan, set to be released next year—and they've even got some superhero support.
8. More Companies Bought Into 100% Clean Energy
Around the world, a record number of big corporations, ranging from Anheuser-Busch to Kellogg, committed to going all-in on 100% clean energy. Collectively, their energy footprint is greater than all energy consumed in the state of New York. Corporate demand for renewable energy is helping drive a shift away from fossil fuels and bringing more renewable energy online. Google declared it now buys enough wind to cover 100% of its energy use.
9. Even Puppies Love 100% Clean Energy
And what's more uplifting than puppies?
10. Entire Town of Hanover Voted Unanimously for 100%
At a town meeting on May 9, residents of Hanover, New Hampshire voted to get off of all fossil fuels by 2050. This is the first community in the country to adopt a goal of 100% clean, renewable energy voted on and approved by the residents of the community.
11. Clean Energy Spiked In California and Texas
In California and Texas this year, clean energy like wind and solar set new records for energy generation. On May 13, renewable energy supplied 67% of all power in California. And wind broke records across the country, especially in Texas where 54% of grid electricity came from wind at one point on Oct. 27, breaking a previous 50% record set on March 23.
12. A Movement of Mayors Across Florida
Florida mayors are leading the way towards 100% clean, renewable energy. More than 40 mayors from across Florida have joined Mayors for 100% Clean Energy, the most of any state in the country. Although the Sunshine State gets less than half a percent of its power from the sun, Floridians beat back previous utility-backed efforts to limit solar energy in the state. Now clean energy advocates and dozens of mayors say they deserve better.
13. Pueblo, Colorado Committed to 100% Clean, Renewable Energy
The city of Pueblo, Colorado committed to running entirely on renewable energy by 2035. City council is now exploring options for how they can cut ties with an uncooperative utility, protect low income rate payers, and move to 100% clean energy for all.
14. A Mother's Clean Energy Vision for Her City
On Mother's Day, Mayor Heidi Harmon of San Luis Obispo, California, who is also a proud mom of two, shared her vision for 100% clean energy in her community. Citing the safety and health threats that climate change and pollution will pose to children, Mayor Harmon sees a solution: transitioning San Luis Obispo to run on 100% clean energy.
15. Oregonians Committed to 100% Clean, Renewable Energy
On the same day that Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement, the Portland City Council and Multnomah County Commission voted to transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050. Thanks to organizations like Verde and Opal, these commitments also represent a strong commitment to racial and economic justice and will ensure that communities of color and low income communities define, lead, and share the economic, social, and environmental benefits of a renewable energy transition.
16. Energy Experts Agreed: 100% Renewable Energy is Possible
In a global survey, more than 70% of the world's energy experts agreed that powering the globe with 100% renewable resources is achievable.
17. Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto to Trump: the Steel City Will Move to 100% Clean Energy
Just hours after Donald Trump claimed to represent the voters of Pittsburgh in his decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement, Mayor Bill Peduto announced his support for a goal of powering Pittsburgh entirely with clean and renewable energy by 2035.
18. Edmonds and Whatcom County Were the First Washington Commitments to 100% Clean Energy
In June, the city of Edmonds became the first community in the state of Washington to commit to 100% clean, renewable energy. Edmonds set the goal of achieving a 100% transition by 2025 shortly after the U.S. Conference of Mayors annual meeting in June. Whatcom County became the sixth county in the country to move towards 100% renewable energy.
19. Mayor Steve Benjamin of Columbia, South Carolina Is a Clean Energy Champ
Columbia, South Carolina Mayor Steve Benjamin, Co-Chair of Mayors for 100% Clean Energy, is #ReadyFor100. Mayor Benjamin's leadership paved the way for Columbia to commit to 100% clean, renewable energy in June. As a local and national leader, Mayor Benjamin is sharing his vision far and wide.
20. Wind is Winning Across America
Wind power reached new heights in 2017! Earlier this year, American Electric Power announced that it would make a $4.5 billion investment in the nation's largest wind energy project, and local advocates like Nancy Moran spoke out in support. The wind farm will provide power in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas, and is expected to save customers $7 billion over the next 25 years. In Texas, wind power became a bigger source of electricity than coal.
21. U.S. Conference of Mayors Approved Historic 100% Clean Energy Resolution, Proving That Mayors Are #ReadyFor100
The 85th U.S. Conference of Mayors approved a resolution establishing support from the nation's biggest cities for an equitable and just transition to 100% clean energy by 2035. Clean energy activists celebrated the mayors' vote by taking part in an aerial art action on the beach. Is your mayor signed onto Mayors for 100% Clean Energy?
22. One of the Country's Biggest Bus Fleets Will Be 100% Electric by 2030
This summer, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), voted to transition its fleet of more than 2,200 buses to zero emission electric buses by 2030. Transitioning to all electric buses will help improve air quality, fight climate change, enhance social equity and improve rider experience. Additionally, with policies that encourage local manufacturing, the transition can create good local jobs in disadvantaged communities. Congratulations to the Sierra Club's My Generation campaign and local partners in Los Angeles who worked hard to achieve this major victory.
23. Orlando's 100% Clean Energy Commitment is Already Having an Impact
In August Orlando became the largest city in Florida to commit to 100% renewable energy. The city plans to stop using fossil fuels by 2050. Orlando's commitment to clean energy is already having an impact: Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer indicated that the city's 100% renewable energy goal is a key factor in determining who will become the next CEO of their city-owned utility.
24. The Path to 100% Clean Energy Is Saving Hawai'i Money
The Hawai'i House of Representatives found this year that Hawai'i residents have already saved over a quarter of a billion dollars as a result of the state's progress toward achieving its goal of 100% renewable energy by 2045. The state called on other states and the federal government to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy, citing that it makes economic sense today. Hawai'i has a detailed plan to hit its goal five years ahead of schedule.
25. Faith Leaders Asked Boise's Mayor to Endorse a 100% Clean Energy Future
Boise Faith Leaders representing 20 different faith communities delivered a letter to Mayor Dave Bieter to urge him to support a goal to make Boise the first city in Idaho to commit to 100% clean energy. The Idaho chapter of the Sierra Club has been building grassroots support and asking Mayor Dave Bieter to commit to a 100% clean energy goal.
26. In the Coal-Dependent State of Utah, 100% Is Trending
In a state that still gets nearly 70% of its electricity from coal-fired power plants, municipalities have begun to say "no more." This year, Summit County and Moab, Utah committed to transition to 100% clean, renewable energy. Salt Lake City, which is also in the 100% club, released Climate Positive 2040, a plan to achieve its goal to run on clean energy by 2032, reduce carbon pollution, and take the lead on climate action.
27. 100% Clean Energy Unleashed in Capitals
U.S. lawmakers introduced bills in both the Senate and House of Representatives this year that would move the entire country to 100% renewable energy. Senators Jeff Merkley and Bernie Sanders announced their landmark "100x50" act with community leaders in April. And clean energy supporters from California to Massachusetts have been pushing state lawmakers adopt 100% renewable energy, but many of these efforts are still in progress.
28. 150 Mayors for 100% Clean Energy
The Sierra Club's Mayors for 100% Clean Energy initiative reached a major milestone: 150 mayors from across the country signed onto the campaign and pledged to power their communities with 100% clean, renewable energy. Civic leaders from across the country are stepping up to make it known that they care about the health of their residents and the strength of their local economy by advocating for 100% clean, renewable energy.
29. Local Clean Energy Advocates Rallied for Community Choice
In support of a clean energy future for California, community members rallied in September to protect Community Choice energy programs, like Alameda County's East Bay Community Energy. Community Choice gives cities and counties the chance to take control of their electric power supply and offer renewable energy to residents and businesses.
30. North Carolina Counties Went All-In On Renewable Energy
While cities across the country continue to commit to 100% clean energy, some North Carolina communities are going even bigger. Orange County and Buncombe County, North Carolina this year became some of the first counties in the country to commit to 100% clean, renewable energy.
31. Pueblo's Movement for Energy Justice Featured in Sierra Magazine Profile
In a profile published in Sierra, Michael Tannahill's story reveals the connections between economic and environmental justice—and highlights why the community of Pueblo, Colorado is pushing back hard against high utility costs and dirty fuels to get to 100% clean energy.
32. Portland's Commitment to 100% Clean Energy Pushed Portland General Electric (PGE) to Invest in Renewables
PGE acknowledged that Portland and surrounding Multnomah County's 100% renewable energy goals are shaping its future energy investments. After the Oregon Public Utility Commission rejected PGE's proposal to expand a gas-fired power station in August, PGE issued a proposal to develop renewable energy and energy storage.
33. St. Louis Became the Largest Midwest City to Commit to 100% Clean, Renewable Energy
On Oct. 27, the St. Louis Board of Aldermen unanimously approved the city's commitment to transition to 100% by 2035. St. Louis, a longtime coal capital home to Arch Coal and Peabody Energy, represents the largest city in Missouri and across the Midwest to establish a goal of transitioning entirely to clean, renewable energy. The city will develop a plan by December 2018 to meet the goal and conduct a transparent and inclusive stakeholder process. This includes community members and representatives from organizations representing labor, faith, social justice, environmental justice, frontline communities and those most impacted by our current energy systems, among others.
34. In Cleveland, the Community Wants Clean Energy for Everyone
Through a series of Community Dialogues in Cleveland, Ohio, Ready for 100 organizer Jocelyn Travis has been helping residents of "the Rock and Roll Capital of the World" envision a 100% clean energy transition in their city. The Dialogues have helped Cleveland's diverse communities connect with each other, learn about clean energy solutions, and build a movement for a healthy and just clean energy transition.
35. Community Choice Can Help San Diego Reach Its 100% Clean Energy Goal
A City of San Diego study released this year determined that Community Choice Energy can help San Diego achieve its goal of 100% clean energy at a cost competitive rate with the local utility. San Diego is the largest city in the country to have adopted a legally binding 100% renewable energy goal, which the city plans to achieve by 2035. San Diego's Republican Mayor, Kevin Faulconer, is a co-chair of Mayors for 100% Clean Energy.
36. 100% Clean Energy Won Big on Election Day
37. U.S. Climate Leadership is All About Local
During the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP23) in Bonn, Germany, U.S. cities and mayors joined other local leaders to stand behind the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. Mayors affirmed #WeAreStillIn by doubling down on local support for bold climate action. The aggregate climate actions of We Are Still In signatories and other non-federal U.S. actors are being quantified through America's Pledge, an initiative spearheaded by UN Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change Michael Bloomberg and California Gov. Jerry Brown.
38. The Sierras Went All-In On Renewable Energy
South Lake Tahoe, Nevada City and Truckee, California all committed to 100% clean, renewable energy this year, leading the way for other communities across the Sierras. Mountain towns in the West have been leading a move to clean energy to save their snow and the tourist industry.
39. Ready for 100 Released 2nd Annual Case Studies Report
The Ready for 100 campaign released a new report in English and Spanish highlighting 10 cities across the U.S. that have committed to 100% renewable energy and the steps they are taking to get there. Featured cities span from coast to coast, and include tiny towns and large metropolises. This is the second case studies report issued by Ready for 100, following a 2016 release.
40. What Do an Eagle Scout, a Colonel, and a Utility Company Have in Common?
They all support 100% renewable energy! Community members packed a town hall in Breckenridge, Colorado, in support of the town adopting a goal to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2035. Testimony included fifth-grade Boy Scout Eli Larson, who stated, "If this global warming keeps up, we might not even have a winter." And a U.S. Colonel testified that there was a mandate from the community to go renewable. Six Colorado cities in total have committed to 100%, including Nederland and Lafayette this year. An Xcel Energy spokesperson acknowledged that the utility would do everything it can to help cities achieve their goals.
41. Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski is #ReadyFor100
Since Salt Lake City committed to 100% renewable energy last year, Mayor Jackie Biskupski has been on a mission to get other mayors on board. A co-chair of Mayors for 100% Clean Energy, Mayor Biskupski has rallied support for 100% everywhere from Twitter to the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
42. Two Massachusetts Cities Committed to 100% Clean, Renewable Energy
Cambridge and Amherst, Massachusetts passed resolutions in 2017 committing to 100% clean, renewable energy. As the first municipalities to do so in Massachusetts, the cities are leading the way in the Bay State.
43. Ameren Missouri Proposed Wind to Help Meet St. Louis's 100% Clean Energy Goal
Ameren Missouri, the utility serving St. Louis, acted right away on the city's 100% clean energy commitment, which passed in October. The utility has invested $1 billion in wind projects and now wants to create a Renewable Choice Program for customers that would give cities and companies the option to buy wind energy.
44. TOAD the Wet Sprocket Took Ready for 100 on Tour
TOAD the Wet Sprocket went on tour with a cause this summer. Promoting the Ready for 100 campaign at tour stops across the country, the alternative rock band encouraged fans to join the campaign and support 100% renewable energy!
45. Coastal California Cities Embraced 100%
This year, the cities of Santa Barbara, Monterey, Solana Beach, Chula Vista and Goleta, California all made commitments to transitioning to 100% clean, renewable energy. To date, 14 cities across California have committed to running entirely to clean energy.
46. Scotland Will Reach 100% Renewable Energy By 2020
The Scottish government confirmed the country is on track to get all of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. Scotland hit its 2020 emission targets five years early and has gone from delivering 10% to 60% of its electricity consumption from renewable sources over the past 15 years. For the first six months of 2017, wind power provided enough electricity to meet 118% of Scotland's national demand.
47. Greater Philadelphia Is Sparking a Movement for 100% Clean Energy in Pennsylvania
Three Philadelphia-area communities committed to transition to 100% clean, renewable energy. West Chester, Phoenixville Borough and Downingtown in Chester County all set goals to move entirely to renewable energy, setting the bar for Philly and other Pennsylvania cities to follow. Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney pledged support for the goal through Mayors for 100% Clean Energy this year, a great first step.
48. Hawai'ian Mayors Committed to 100% Renewably Powered Ground Transportation by 2045
In December, mayors from the City and County of Honolulu, Maui County, Hawai'i County and Kaua'i County committed to transforming Hawai'i's transportation to 100% renewable fuel sources by 2045. The proclamations build off of Hawai'i's goal to transition away from fossil fuels in the electricity sector by the same date.
49. It's Not 100% If It's Not Equitable and Just
This year California adopted legislation requiring all communities in the state to integrate environmental justice policies, objectives, and goals into their General Plans. In October the California Environmental Justice Alliance released a toolkit to help cities integrate these changes. NAACP also released a national toolkit on Just Energy Policies & Practices, a resource for energy justice advocates. And Island Press published a new book titled Energy Democracy, Advancing Equity in Clean Energy Solutions, a collection of essays from leaders across the U.S. who are winning local campaigns that demonstrate what an alternative, democratized energy future can look like. #powertothepeople.
50. More Than 50 (Yes, 50!) Cities Committed to 100% Clean, Renewable Energy
The Ready for 100 campaign hit a milestone when Truckee, California became the 50th city in the U.S. to make a 100% commitment. The Town Council adopted a resolution to move entirely to clean electricity town-wide by 2030, as well as all energy sources by 2050. See a complete list of all cities, counties, and states committed to 100% clean energy here. Ready for your community to be next?
On Thursday, April 22, the world will celebrate Earth Day, the largest non-religious holiday on the globe.
This Earth Day falls at a critical turning point. It is the second Earth Day since the start of the coronavirus pandemic and follows a year of devastating climate disasters, such as the wildfires that scorched California and the hurricanes that battered Central America. But the day's organizers still have hope, and they have chosen a theme to match.
"At the heart of Earth Day's 2021 theme, Restore Our Earth, is optimism, a critically needed sentiment in a world ravaged by both climate change and the pandemic," EarthDay.org president Kathleen Rogers told USA TODAY.
Last Earth Day marked the first time that the holiday was celebrated digitally to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This will largely be the case this year as well.
"Most of our Earth Day events will be virtual with the exception of individual and small group cleanups through our 'Great Global Cleanup' program," EarthDay.org's Olivia Altman told USA TODAY.
Tuesday, April 20: A Global Youth Summit begins at 2:30 p.m. ET featuring young climate activists like Greta Thunberg and Alexandria Villaseñor. This will be followed at 7 p.m. ET by "We Shall Breathe," a virtual summit organized by the Hip Hop Caucus to look at issues like the climate crisis, pollution and the pandemic through an environmental justice lens.
Wednesday, April 22: Beginning at 7 a.m. ET, Education International will lead the "Teach for the Planet: Global Education Summit." Talks will be offered in multiple languages and across multiple time zones to emphasize the importance of education in fighting the climate crisis.
Thursday, April 22: On the day itself, EarthDay.org will host its second ever Earth Day Live digital event beginning at 12 p.m. ET. This event will feature discussions, performances and workshops focusing on the day's theme of restoring our Earth through natural solutions, technological innovations and new ideas.
"EARTHDAY.ORG looks forward to contributing to the success of this historic climate summit and making active progress to Restore Our Earth," Rogers said in a press release. "We must see every country rapidly raise their ambition across all climate issues — and that must include climate education which would lead to a green jobs-ready workforce, a green consumer movement, and an educated and civically engaged citizenry around the world."
EarthDay.org grew out of the first Earth Day in 1970, which drew 20 million U.S. residents to call for greater environmental protections. The movement has been credited with helping to establish the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and to pass landmark environmental legislation like the Clean Air and Water Acts. It has since gone on to be a banner day for environmental action, such as the signing of the Paris agreement in 2016. More than one billion people in more than 192 countries celebrate Earth Day each year.
This legacy continues. The organization called the scheduling of Biden's summit a "clear acknowledgement of the power of Earth Day."
"This is a critical stepping stone for the U.S. to rejoin the world in combating the climate crisis. In concert with several planned parallel EARTHDAY.ORG events worldwide, Earth Day 2021 will accelerate global action on climate change," EarthDay.org wrote.
Super-emitters are individual sources such as leaking pipelines, landfills or dairy farms that produce a disproportionate amount of planet-warming emissions, especially methane and carbon dioxide. Carbon Mapper, the non-profit leading the effort, hopes to provide a more targeted guide to reducing emissions by launching special satellites that hunt for sources of climate pollution.
"What we've learned is that decision support systems that focus just at the level of nation states, or countries, are necessary but not sufficient. We really need to get down to the scale of individual facilities, and even individual pieces of equipment, if we're going to have an impact across civil society," Riley Duren, Carbon Mapper CEO and University of Arizona researcher, told BBC News. "Super-emitters are often intermittent but they are also disproportionately responsible for the total emissions. That suggests low-hanging fruit, because if you can identify and fix them you can get a big bang for your buck."
The new project, announced Thursday, is a partnership between multiple entities, including Carbon Mapper, the state of California, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and Planet, a company that designs, builds and launches satellites, according to a press release. The project is being implemented in three stages.
The initial stage, which is already complete, involved the initial engineering development. NASA and Planet will work together in the second stage to build two satellites for a 2023 launch. The third phase will launch an entire constellation of satellites starting in 2025.
The satellites will include an imaging spectrometer built by NASA's JPL, NASA explained in a press release. This is a device that can break down visible light into hundreds of colors, providing a unique signature for chemicals such as methane and carbon dioxide. Most imaging spectrometers currently in orbit have larger pixel sizes, making it difficult to locate emission sources that are not always visible from the ground. However, Carbon Mapper spectrometers will have pixels of around 98 square feet, facilitating more detailed pin-pointing.
"This technology enables researchers to identify, study and quantify the strong gas emission sources," JPL Scientist Charles Miller said in the press release.
Once the data is collected, Carbon Mapper will make it available to industry and government actors via an open data portal to help repair leaks.
"These home-grown satellites are a game-changer," California Governor Gavin Newsom said of the project. "They provide California with a powerful, state-of-the-art tool to help us slash emissions of the super-pollutant methane — within our own borders and around the world. That's exactly the kind of dynamic, forward-thinking solution we need now to address the existential crisis of climate change."
By Jenna McGuire
Commonly used herbicides across the U.S. contain highly toxic undisclosed "inert" ingredients that are lethal to bumblebees, according to a new study published Friday in the Journal of Applied Ecology.
The study reviewed several herbicide products and found that most contained glyphosate, an ingredient best recognized from Roundup products and the most widely used herbicide in the U.S. and worldwide.
While the devastating impacts of glyphosate on bee populations are more broadly recognized, the toxicity levels of inert ingredients are less understood because they are not subjected to the same mandatory testing by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
"Pesticides are manufactured and sold as formulations that contain a mixture of compounds, including one or more active ingredients and, potentially, many inert ingredients," explained the Center for Food Safety in a statement. "The inert ingredients are added to pesticides to aid in mixing and to enhance the products' ability to stick to plant leaves, among other purposes."
The study found that these inert substances can be highly toxic and even block bees' breathing capacity, essentially causing them to drown. While researchers found that some of the combinations of inert ingredients had no negative impacts on the bees, one of the herbicide formulations killed 96% of the bees within 24 hours.
According to the abstract of the study:
Bees exhibited 94% mortality with Roundup® Ready‐To‐Use® and 30% mortality with Roundup® ProActive®, over 24 hr. Weedol® did not cause significant mortality, demonstrating that the active ingredient, glyphosate, is not the cause of the mortality. The 96% mortality caused by Roundup® No Glyphosate supports this conclusion.
"This important new study exposes a fatal flaw in how pesticide products are regulated here in the U.S.," said Jess Tyler, a staff scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. "Now the question is, will the Biden administration fix this problem, or will it allow the EPA to continue its past practice of ignoring the real-world harms of pesticides?"
According to the Center for Food Safety, there are currently 1,102 registered formulations that contain the active ingredient glyphosate, each with a proprietary mixture of inert ingredients. In 2017, the group filed a legal petition calling for the EPA to force companies to provide safety data on pesticide formulations that include inert ingredients.
"The EPA must begin requiring tests of every pesticide formulation for bee toxicity, divulge the identity of 'secret' formulation additives so scientists can study them, and prohibit application of Roundup herbicides to flowering plants when bees might be present and killed," said Bill Freese, science director at the Center for Food Safety. "Our legal petition gave the EPA a blueprint for acting on this issue of whole formulations. Now they need to take that blueprint and turn it into action, before it's too late for pollinators."
ATTN @EPA: Undisclosed "inert" ingredients in #pesticide products warrant further scrutiny! ➡️ A new study compared… https://t.co/bdFwXCVHsD— Center 4 Food Safety (@Center 4 Food Safety)1618592343.0
Roundup — also linked to cancer in humans — was originally produced by agrochemical giant Monsanto, which was acquired by the German pharmaceutical and biotech company Bayer in 2018.
The merger of the two companies was condemned by environmentalists and food safety groups who warned it would cultivate the greatest purveyor of genetically modified seeds and toxic pesticides in the world.
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
By Ayesha Tandon
New research shows that lake "stratification periods" – a seasonal separation of water into layers – will last longer in a warmer climate.
These longer periods of stratification could have "far-reaching implications" for lake ecosystems, the paper says, and can drive toxic algal blooms, fish die-offs and increased methane emissions.
The study, published in Nature Communications, finds that the average seasonal lake stratification period in the northern hemisphere could last almost two weeks longer by the end of the century, even under a low emission scenario. It finds that stratification could last over a month longer if emissions are extremely high.
If stratification periods continue to lengthen, "we can expect catastrophic changes to some lake ecosystems, which may have irreversible impacts on ecological communities," the lead author of the study tells Carbon Brief.
The study also finds that larger lakes will see more notable changes. For example, the North American Great Lakes, which house "irreplaceable biodiversity" and represent some of the world's largest freshwater ecosystems, are already experiencing "rapid changes" in their stratification periods, according to the study.
As temperatures rise in the spring, many lakes begin the process of "stratification." Warm air heats the surface of the lake, heating the top layer of water, which separates out from the cooler layers of water beneath.
The stratified layers do not mix easily and the greater the temperature difference between the layers, the less mixing there is. Lakes generally stratify between spring and autumn, when hot weather maintains the temperature gradient between warm surface water and colder water deeper down.
Dr Richard Woolway from the European Space Agency is the lead author of the paper, which finds that climate change is driving stratification to begin earlier and end later. He tells Carbon Brief that the impacts of stratification are "widespread and extensive," and that longer periods of stratification could have "irreversible impacts" on ecosystems.
For example, Dr Dominic Vachon – a postdoctoral fellow from the Climate Impacts Research Centre at Umea University, who was not involved in the study – explains that stratification can create a "physical barrier" that makes it harder for dissolved gases and particles to move between the layers of water.
This can prevent the oxygen from the surface of the water from sinking deeper into the lake and can lead to "deoxygenation" in the depths of the water, where oxygen levels are lower and respiration becomes more difficult.
Oxygen depletion can have "fatal consequences for living organisms," according to Dr Bertram Boehrer, a researcher at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, who was not involved in the study.
Lead author Woolway tells Carbon Brief that the decrease in oxygen levels at deeper depths traps fish in the warmer surface waters:
"Fish often migrate to deeper waters during the summer to escape warmer conditions at the surface – for example during a lake heatwave. A decrease in oxygen at depth will mean that fish will have no thermal refuge, as they often can't survive when oxygen concentrations are too low."
This can be very harmful for lake life and can even increase "fish die-off events" the study notes.
However, the impacts of stratification are not limited to fish. The study notes that a shift to earlier stratification in spring can also encourage communities of phytoplankton – a type of algae – to grow sooner, and can put them out of sync with the species that rely on them for food. This is called a "trophic mismatch."
Prof Catherine O'Reilly, a professor of geography, geology and the environment at Illinois State University, who was not involved in the study, adds that longer stratified periods could also "increase the likelihood of harmful algae blooms."
The impact of climate change on lakes also extends beyond ecosystems. Low oxygen levels in lakes can enhance the production of methane, which is "produced in and emitted from lakes at globally significant rates," according to the study.
Woolway explains that higher levels of warming could therefore create a positive climate feedback in lakes, where rising temperatures mean larger planet-warming emissions:
"Low oxygen levels at depth also promotes methane production in lake sediments, which can then be released to the surface either via bubbles or by diffusion, resulting in a positive feedback to climate change."
Onset and Breakup
In the study, the authors determine historical changes in lake stratification periods using long-term observational data from some of the "best-monitored lakes in the world" and daily simulations from a collection of lake models.
They also run simulations of future changes in lake stratification period under three different emission scenarios, to determine how the process could change in the future. The study focuses on lakes in the northern hemisphere.
The figure below shows the average change in lake stratification days between 1900 and 2099, compared to the 1970-1999 average. The plot shows historical measurements (black), and the low emission RCP2.6 (blue), mid emissions RCP6.0 (yellow) and extremely high emissions RCP8.5 (red) scenarios.
Change in lake stratification duration compared to the 1970-1999 average, for historical measurements (black), the low emission RCP2.6 (blue) moderate emissions RCP6.0 (yellow) and extremely high emissions RCP8.5 (red). Credit: Woolway et al (2021).
The plot shows that the average lake stratification period has already lengthened. However, the study adds that some lakes are seeing more significant impacts than others.
For example, Blelham Tarn – the most well-monitored lake in the English Lake District – is now stratifying 24 days earlier and maintaining its stratification for an extra 18 days compared to its 1963-1972 averages, the study finds. Woolway tells Carbon Brief that as a result, the lake is already showing signs of oxygen depletion.
Climate change is increasing average stratification duration in lakes, the findings show, by moving the onset of stratification earlier and pushing the stratification "breakup" later. The table below shows projected changes in the onset, breakup and overall length of lake stratification under different emission scenarios, compared to a 1970-1999 baseline.
The table shows that even under the low emission scenario, the lake stratification period is expected to be 13 days longer by the end of the century. However, in the extremely high emissions scenario, it could be 33 days longer.
The table also shows that stratification onset has changed more significantly than stratification breakup. The reasons why are revealed by looking at the drivers of stratification more closely.
Warmer Weather and Weaker Winds
The timing of stratification onset and breakup in lakes is driven by two main factors – temperature and wind speed.
The impact of temperature on lake stratification is based on the fact that warm water is less dense than cool water, Woolway tells Carbon Brief:
"Warming of the water's surface by increasing air temperature causes the density of water to decrease and likewise results in distinct thermal layers within a lake to form – cooler, denser water settles to the bottom of the lake, while warmer, lighter water forms a layer on top."
This means that, as climate change causes temperatures to rise, lakes will begin to stratify earlier and remain stratified for longer. Lakes in higher altitudes are also likely to see greater changes in stratification, Woolway tells Carbon Brief, because "the prolonging of summer is very apparent in high latitude regions."
The figure below shows the expected increase in stratification duration from lakes in the northern hemisphere under the low (left), mid (center), and high (right) emission scenarios. Deeper colors indicate a larger increase in stratification period.
Expected increase in stratification duration in lakes in the northern hemisphere under the low (left), mid (centre) and high (right) emissions scenarios. Credit: Woolway et al (2021).
The figure shows that the expected impact of climate change on stratification duration becomes more pronounced at more northerly high latitudes.
The second factor is wind speed, Woolway explains:
"Wind speed also affects the timing of stratification onset and breakdown, with stronger winds acting to mix the water column, thus acting against the stratifying effect of increasing air temperature."
According to the study, wind speed is expected to decrease slightly as the planet warms. The authors note that the expected changes in near-surface wind speed are "relatively minor" compared to the likely temperature increase, but they add that it may still cause "substantial" changes in stratification.
The study finds that air temperature is the most important factor behind when a lake will begin to stratify. However, when looking at stratification breakup, it finds that wind speed is a more important driver.
Meanwhile, Vachon says that wind speeds also have implications for methane emissions from lakes. He notes that stratification prevents the methane produced on the bottom of the lake from rising and that, when the stratification period ends, methane is allowed to rise to the surface. However, according to Vachon, the speed of stratification breakup will affect how much methane is released into the atmosphere:
"My work has suggested that the amount of accumulated methane in bottom waters that will be finally emitted is related to how quickly the stratification break-up occurs. For example, a slow and progressive stratification break-up will most likely allow water oxygenation and allow the bacteria to oxidise methane into carbon dioxide. However, a stratification break-up that occurs rapidly – for example after storm events with high wind speed – will allow the accumulated methane to be emitted to the atmosphere more efficiently."
Finally, the study finds that large lakes take longer to stratify in spring and typically remain stratified for longer in the autumn – due to their higher volume of water. For example, the authors highlight the North American Great Lakes, which house "irreplaceable biodiversity" and represent some of the world's largest freshwater ecosystems.
These lakes have been stratifying 3.5 days earlier every decade since 1980, the authors find, and their stratification onset can vary by up to 48 days between some extreme years.
O'Reilly tells Carbon Brief that "it's clear that these changes will be moving lakes into uncharted territory" and adds that the paper "provides a framework for thinking about how much lakes will change under future climate scenarios."
Reposted with permission from Carbon Brief.
By Robert Glennon
Interstate water disputes are as American as apple pie. States often think a neighboring state is using more than its fair share from a river, lake or aquifer that crosses borders.
Currently the U.S. Supreme Court has on its docket a case between Texas, New Mexico and Colorado and another one between Mississippi and Tennessee. The court has already ruled this term on cases pitting Texas against New Mexico and Florida against Georgia.
Climate stresses are raising the stakes. Rising temperatures require farmers to use more water to grow the same amount of crops. Prolonged and severe droughts decrease available supplies. Wildfires are burning hotter and lasting longer. Fires bake the soil, reducing forests' ability to hold water, increasing evaporation from barren land and compromising water supplies.
As a longtime observer of interstate water negotiations, I see a basic problem: In some cases, more water rights exist on paper than as wet water – even before factoring in shortages caused by climate change and other stresses. In my view, states should put at least as much effort into reducing water use as they do into litigation, because there are no guaranteed winners in water lawsuits.
Alabama, pay attention to Supreme Court ruling against Florida in water war #Water #SDG6 https://t.co/wIjdoY6Ccr— Noah J. Sabich (@Noah J. Sabich)1617800452.0
Dry Times in the West
The situation is most urgent in California and the Southwest, which currently face "extreme or exceptional" drought conditions. California's reservoirs are half-empty at the end of the rainy season. The Sierra snowpack sits at 60% of normal. In March 2021, federal and state agencies that oversee California's Central Valley Project and State Water Project – regional water systems that each cover hundreds of miles – issued "remarkably bleak warnings" about cutbacks to farmers' water allocations.
The Colorado River Basin is mired in a drought that began in 2000. Experts disagree as to how long it could last. What's certain is that the "Law of the River" – the body of rules, regulations and laws governing the Colorado River – has allocated more water to the states than the river reliably provides.
The 1922 Colorado River Compact allocated 7.5 million acre-feet (one acre-foot is roughly 325,000 gallons) to California, Nevada and Arizona, and another 7.5 million acre-feet to Utah, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico. A treaty with Mexico secured that country 1.5 million acre-feet, for a total of 16.5 million acre-feet. However, estimates based on tree ring analysis have determined that the actual yearly flow of the river over the last 1,200 years is roughly 14.6 million acre-feet.
The inevitable train wreck has not yet happened, for two reasons. First, Lakes Mead and Powell – the two largest reservoirs on the Colorado – can hold a combined 56 million acre-feet, roughly four times the river's annual flow.
But diversions and increased evaporation due to drought are reducing water levels in the reservoirs. As of Dec. 16, 2020, both lakes were less than half full.
Second, the Upper Basin states – Utah, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico – have never used their full allotment. Now, however, they want to use more water. Wyoming has several new dams on the drawing board. So does Colorado, which is also planning a new diversion from the headwaters of the Colorado River to Denver and other cities on the Rocky Mountains' east slope.
Utah Stakes a Claim
The most controversial proposal comes from one of the nation's fastest-growing areas: St. George, Utah, home to approximately 90,000 residents and lots of golf courses. St. George has very high water consumption rates and very low water prices. The city is proposing to augment its water supply with a 140-mile pipeline from Lake Powell, which would carry 86,000 acre-feet per year.
Truth be told, that's not a lot of water, and it would not exceed Utah's unused allocation from the Colorado River. But the six other Colorado River Basin states have protested as though St. George were asking for their firstborn child.
In a joint letter dated Sept. 8, 2020, the other states implored the Interior Department to refrain from issuing a final environmental review of the pipeline until all seven states could "reach consensus regarding legal and operational concerns." The letter explicitly threatened a high "probability of multi-year litigation."
Utah blinked. Having earlier insisted on an expedited pipeline review, the state asked federal officials on Sept. 24, 2020 to delay a decision. But Utah has not given up: In March 2021, Gov. Spencer Cox signed a bill creating a Colorado River Authority of Utah, armed with a $9 million legal defense fund, to protect Utah's share of Colorado River water. One observer predicted "huge, huge litigation."
How huge could it be? In 1930, Arizona sued California in an epic battle that did not end until 2006. Arizona prevailed by finally securing a fixed allocation from the water apportioned to California, Nevada and Arizona.
Litigation or Conservation
Before Utah takes the precipitous step of appealing to the Supreme Court under the court's original jurisdiction over disputes between states, it might explore other solutions. Water conservation and reuse make obvious sense in St. George, where per-person water consumption is among the nation's highest.
St. George could emulate its neighbor, Las Vegas, which has paid residents up to $3 per square foot to rip out lawns and replace them with native desert landscaping. In April 2021 Las Vegas went further, asking the Nevada Legislature to outlaw ornamental grass.
The Southern Nevada Water Authority estimates that the Las Vegas metropolitan area has eight square miles of "nonfunctional turf" – grass that no one ever walks on except the person who cuts it. Removing it would reduce the region's water consumption by 15%.
Water rights litigation is fraught with uncertainty. Just ask Florida, which thought it had a strong case that Georgia's water diversions from the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin were harming its oyster fishery downstream.
That case extended over 20 years before the U.S. Supreme Court ended the final chapter in April 2021. The court used a procedural rule that places the burden on plaintiffs to provide "clear and convincing evidence." Florida failed to convince the court, and walked away with nothing.
Robert Glennon is a Regents Professor and Morris K. Udall Professor of Law & Public Policy, University of Arizona.
Disclosure statement: Robert Glennon received funding from the National Science Foundation in the 1990s and 2000s.
Reposted with permission from The Conversation.