Video: Freedom to Breathe Tour Bus Visits Communities Across the Country Working on Climate Solutions
By Owen Agnew
Wildfires, sea level rise, air pollution, asthma—you don't have to go far to find communities living with climate change impacts. But there are also climate solutions everywhere you look. This summer, the Freedom to Breathe Tour visited communities across the country that are working to reduce carbon emissions and make their communities healthier and more resilient.
Freedom to Breathe Solutions youtu.be
At Chispas Farm in Albuquerque, New Mexico, climate change figures into every planting decision. "The whole goal and why we grow so many crops, is this idea of resilience and diversity," farm manager Casey Holland said. "We grow over 120 different varieties of vegetables, mainly because, with a changing climate, some will do better than others."
Crop diversity is an important way farmers can adapt to climate variability, but many older crop varieties are being lost. In the U.S., 90 percent of the fruit and vegetable varieties grown by farmers a century ago are no longer available. Seed banks can help keep older, traditional varieties readily available to farmers and communities. At Tesuque Pueblo outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico, where people have been farming for more than 900 years, the pueblo's seed bank stores traditional varieties of corn, beans, squash, melons and other vegetables. Gailey Morgan, foreman at Tesuque Pueblo Farm, said the goal of the seed bank is to make locally sourced seeds available to the community. "We're here in the high desert, and we feel like our seeds are adapted to our environment here," Morgan said.
From locally-sourced seeds in New Mexico, the Freedom to Breathe Tour traveled to Nevada, where community members, politicians and businesses are working together to make solar power available to everyone. Last year assemblyman Chris Brooks helped pass a state law bringing back net metering, which makes roof-top solar viable. "We're providing a democratization of energy production," Brooks said, "and that is so important to so many segments of society. Everyone should be able to participate in both making their own energy, creating high-paying good-quality jobs, but also being part of the solution as we fight climate change, instead of being part of the problem."
Residential solar company Sunrun is helping to make solar affordable in Nevada and elsewhere. They offer discounted electricity rates to low-income customers in Nevada, and in California, they've committed to installing 100MW of solar on affordable housing around the state in the next ten years.
The growth of solar and wind energy across the country means that the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions is no longer power generation—it's transportation. In California, where transportation accounts for 41 percent of emissions, the state is investing heavily in EVs and EV charging infrastructure, and plans to move to all electric buses by 2040. That includes school buses. With the help of state funds, school districts across the state are investing in electric school buses. For John Clements, a former district transportation director and a self-described electric bus evangelist, every bus is a mark of progress. "In my own school district, one in six students carried an inhaler to school. That's an example of what we're trying to change here," Clements said.
The move to electric school buses is just beginning—the leading manufacturer, Lion Electric, has about 150 electric school buses on the road across the country, and there are almost 500,000 school buses nationwide. But many states are planning to devote some of their share of the $3 billion Volkswagen settlement money towards replacing diesel school buses, which means the number of zero-emission school buses will continue to rise.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Nexus Media.
What's more, the accounting firm predicts that another 21 million electric cars will be on the road globally over the next decade due to growing market demand for clean transportation, government subsidies, as well as bans on fossil fuel cars.
Sunoco's controversial Mariner East pipeline project in Pennsylvania is beginning 2019 on unstable ground, literally. A sinkhole opened in the suburban development of Lisa Drive in Chester County Sunday, exposing the old Mariner East 1 pipeline built in the 1930s.
Greenland is melting about four times faster than it was in 2003, a new study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found, a discovery with frightening implications for the pace and extent of future sea level rise.
"We're going to see faster and faster sea level rise for the foreseeable future," study lead author and Ohio State University geodynamics professor Dr. Michael Bevis said in a press release. "Once you hit that tipping point, the only question is: How severe does it get?"
By Marlene Cimons
Most Europeans know the great tit as an adorable, likeable yellow-and-black songbird that shows up to their feeders in the winter. But there may be one thing they don't know. That cute, fluffy bird can be a relentless killer.
The great tit's aggression can emerge in gruesome ways when it feels threatened by the pied flycatcher, a bird that spends most of the year in Africa, but migrates to Europe in the spring to breed. When flycatchers arrive at their European breeding grounds, they head for great tit territory, knowing that great tits—being year-round European residents—know the best nesting sites.
Most people have heard of the Amazon, South America's famed rainforest and hub of biological diversity. Less well known, though no less critical, is the Pantanal, the world's largest tropical wetland.
Like the Amazon, the Pantanal is ecologically important and imperiled. Located primarily in Brazil, it also stretches into neighboring Bolivia and Paraguay. Covering an area larger than England at more than 70,000 square miles, the massive wetland provides irreplaceable ecosystem services that include the regulation of floodwaters, nutrient renewal, river flow for navigability, groundwater recharge and carbon sequestration. The wetland also supports the economies of the four South American states it covers.
By Patrick Rogers
If you have ever considered making the switch to an environmentally friendly electric vehicle, don't drag your feet. Though EV prices are falling, and states are unveiling more and more public charging stations and plug-in-ready parking spots, the federal government is doing everything it can to slam the brakes on our progress away from gas-burning internal combustion engines. President Trump, likely pressured by his allies in the fossil fuel industry, has threatened to end the federal tax credits that have already helped put hundreds of thousands of EVs on the road—a move bound to harm not only our environment but our economy, too. After all, the manufacturing and sale of EVs, hybrids, and plug-in hybrids supported 197,000 jobs in 2017, according to the most recent U.S. Energy and Employment Report.
This week, people across the country are joining environmental leaders to speak out against the nomination of former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler to lead the the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As Scott Pruitt's hand-picked successor, Wheeler has continued to put polluters over people, most recently by using the last of his agency's funding before it expired in the government shutdown to announce plans to allow power plants to spew toxic mercury and other hazardous pollution into the air.