Fourteen months after the world watched in astonishment as poorly regulated coal-washing chemicals contaminated the Elk River in West Virginia, coal country residents and supporters are gearing up for an epic showdown on March 16 with the state's Department of Environmental Protection—and the U.S. Congress—over the mounting death toll and health crisis from mountaintop removal strip mining.
After witnessing the loss of their health, livelihoods, forests, historic farms and homes over a half century of unparalleled strip mining destruction, The People's Foot movement—an extraordinary alliance of residents, community and environmental groups and national civil rights organizations—is coming down in Charleston, West Virginia, with a clear message: March 16 has officially been declared "No More Mountaintop Removal Permits Day."
The era of "clean coal" billboards is over in West Virginia. A new era of billboards calling for an end to the devastation of mountaintop removal and a transition to clean energy jobs has begun.
In essence: Mountaintop removal ends March 16; the people declare that the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection must no longer approve the necessary permits for this deadly and costly strip mining operation.
And from this day forward, the health and lives of central Appalachian children, adults and pregnant mothers are in the hands of the U.S. Congress, who must pass the Appalachian Community Health Emergency Act in 2015.
Seeing how 25 peer-reviewed health, medical and scientific studies demonstrate the association and connection between a broad range of ill health outcomes and mountaintop removal mining, including lung cancer, birth defects, heart and respiratory problems;
Seeing how President Obama can veto the Keystone pipeline, we can bring 50 years of mountaintop removal ruin to an end;
Seeing how a federal judge has upheld the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' right to disregard studies on the health impacts of mountaintop removal mining in its permitting process;
Seeing how the Obama administration has failed to send a single high-level official to tour the mountaintop removal areas in central Appalachia over the past six years;
Seeing how President Obama has failed to heed former West Virginia congressman Ken Hechler's call for a President Truman moment and sign an executive order for basic civil rights in strip mining operations;
Seeing how an AP review of federal environmental enforcement records "shows that nearly three-quarters of the 1,727 coal mines listed haven't been inspected in the past five years to see if they are obeying water pollution laws;"
Seeing how central Appalachian citizens have spent decades committed to building a citizens movement and education campaign for basic health rights and civil rights and environmental protection; leading legislative campaigns, nonviolence protests and direct actions; testifying in front of the state legislatures, the U.S. Congress, and the United Nations and in forums across the country;
Seeing how tens of films and documentaries, and concerts and songs, books and poetry, and artistic campaigns have attempted to highlight the humanitarian crisis and extraordinary environmental devastation;
Seeing how former U.S. Senator Robert Byrd called more than five years ago for the U.S. Congress to take the "time to fully understand the effects of mountaintop removal mining on the health of our citizens:"
The People's Foot is coming down in Charleston, West Virginia, on March 16.
Here's the official announcement—pass the word:
Respiratory birth defects in mountaintop removal mining communities (MTR) are triple that of NON-MTR communities. A mother that DOES NOT SMOKE, but lives in an MTR community is at 10x's GREATER RISK of birthing a baby with a respiratory birth defect than a woman THAT DOES SMOKE, but does not live in an MTR community. Research scientists, including West Virginia University's Mary Baab Randolph Cancer Center have proven that MTR blasting particulate matter collected from the air and peoples homes in MTR communities promotes tumor formation in human lung cells. Cancer rates in MTR communities are nearly triple the national average. There are now more than 25 peer reviewed and published research papers showing mountaintop removal is a major health threat to the living and the unborn. Yet, in spite of this overwhelming evidence the WV Dept. of Environmental Protection continues to issue mountaintop removal permits that allow the coal industry to blast WV mountains with high explosives unleashing fine particulates of silica, aluminum, and molybdenum dust. We, The People will no longer stand silent while the WV DEP with the blessing of Senator Joe Manchin and our Governor continue to encourage and support the poisoning of our children with toxins that cause cancer. Click the events link on the left side of this page, then come join us at the WV DEP to send a loud and firm message to the Secretary of the WV DEP; no more permits, stop allowing this murderous act to continue, mountaintop removal ends today!
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Transitioning to renewable energy can help reduce global warming, and Jennie Stephens of Northeastern University says it can also drive social change.
For example, she says that locally owned businesses can lead the local clean energy economy and create new jobs in underserved communities.
"We really need to think about … connecting climate and energy with other issues that people wake up every day really worried about," she says, "whether it be jobs, housing, transportation, health and well-being."
To maximize that potential, she says the energy sector must have more women and people of color in positions of influence. Research shows that leadership in the solar industry, for example, is currently dominated by white men.
"I think that a more inclusive, diverse leadership is essential to be able to effectively make these connections," Stephens says. "Diversity is not just about who people are and their identity, but the ideas and the priorities and the approaches and the lens that they bring to the world."
So she says by elevating diverse voices, organizations can better connect the climate benefits of clean energy with social and economic transformation.
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.
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If weather is your mood, climate is your personality. That's an analogy some scientists use to help explain the difference between two words people often get mixed up.
Size Matters<p>Climates are a bit like woven tapestries. The big picture is important, no question. But so are all the seemingly minor details found inside the larger whole.</p><p><a href="https://research-information.bris.ac.uk/en/persons/tommaso-jucker" target="_blank">Tommaso Jucker</a> is an environmental scientist at the University of Bristol. In an email, Jucker says he'd define the term microclimate as "the suite of climatic conditions (temperature, rainfall, humidity, solar radiation) measured in localized areas, typically near the ground and at spatial scales that are directly relevant to ecological processes."</p><p>We'll talk about that last bit in a minute. But first, there's another criteria to discuss. According to some researchers, a microclimate — by definition — must differ from the larger area that surrounds it.</p><p><a href="https://www.cfc.umt.edu/research/paleoecologylab/publications/Davis_et_al_2019_Ecography.pdf" target="_blank">Forests</a> provide us with some great examples. "The climate near the ground in a tropical rainforest is dramatically different from the climate in the canopy 50 meters [164 feet] above," says University of Montana ecologist <a href="https://www.cfc.umt.edu/personnel/details.php?ID=1110" target="_blank">Solomon Dobrowski</a> in an email. "This vertical gradient among other factors allows for the staggering biodiversity we see in the tropics."</p><p>Likewise, scientists observed that a 2015 partial <a href="https://animals.howstuffworks.com/insects/bees-stopped-buzzing-during-2017-solar-eclipse.htm" target="_blank">solar eclipse</a> caused the air temperature of an Eastern European meadow to <a href="https://rmets.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/wea.2802" target="_blank">change more dramatically</a> than it did in a nearby forest. That's because trees provide not only shade, but their leaves also reflect solar radiation. At the same time, forests tend to reduce wind speeds.</p><p>All those factors add up. A 2019 review of 98 wooded places — spread out across five continents — found that forests are 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) <a href="https://natureecoevocommunity.nature.com/posts/47363-forests-protect-animals-and-plants-against-warming" target="_blank">cooler on average</a> than the areas outside them.</p><p>Now if you hate the cold, don't worry; there's a cozy exception to the rule. According to that same study, forests are usually 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) warmer than the external environment during the wintertime. Pretty cool.</p>
A Bug's Life<p>When does a microclimate stop being, well, micro? In other words, is there a maximum size we should be aware of when discussing them?</p><p>Depends on who you ask. "In terms of horizontal scale, some have defined 'microclimate' as anything that is less than 100 meters [328 feet] in range," Jucker says. "I'm personally less prescriptive about this."</p><p>Instead, he says the "scale at which we want to measure [a particular] microclimate" ought to be "dictated" by the questions we're trying to answer.</p><p>"If I want to know how temperature affects the photosynthesis of a leaf, I should be measuring temperature at centimeter scale," Jucker explains. "If I want to know if and how temperature affects the habitat preference of a large, mobile mammal, it's probably more relevant to capture temperature variation across [tens to hundreds] of meters."</p><p>For instance, solitary plants have the power to generate itty-bitty microclimates. Just ask <a href="https://www.colorado.edu/geography/peter-blanken-0" target="_blank">Peter Blanken</a>, a geography professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder and the co-author of the 2016 book, "<a href="https://amzn.to/2XN6FT8" target="_blank">Microclimate and Local Climate</a>."</p>
The urban heat island effect is a good example of how microclimates work. NOAA
Microclimates on a Grand Scale<p>It's no secret that our planet is going through some rough times at the macro level. The global temperature is <a href="https://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/global-temperature/" target="_blank">climbing</a>; nine out of the <a href="https://www.noaa.gov/news/2019-was-2nd-hottest-year-on-record-for-earth-say-noaa-nasa" target="_blank">10 hottest years on record</a> have occurred since 2005. And by one recent estimate, roughly 1 million species around the world are <a href="https://ipbes.net/sites/default/files/2020-02/ipbes_global_assessment_report_summary_for_policymakers_en.pdf" target="_blank">facing extinction</a> due to human activities.</p><p>"One of the big questions that ecologists and environmental scientists are trying to answer right now is how will individual species and whole ecosystems respond to rapid climate change and habitat loss," says Jucker. "...To me, [microclimates are] a key component of this research — if we don't measure and understand climate at the appropriate scale, then predicting how things will change in the future becomes a lot harder."</p><p>Developers have long understood the impact small-scale climates have on our daily lives. <a href="https://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-science/urban-heat-island.htm#pt0" target="_blank">Urban heat islands</a> are cities that have higher temperatures than neighboring rural areas.</p><p>Plants release vapors that can moderate local climates. But in cities, natural greenery is often scarce. To make matters worse, plenty of our roads and buildings have a bad habit of absorbing or re-emitting heat from the sun. <a href="https://www.google.com/books/edition/Microclimate_and_Local_Climate/LHUZDAAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&bsq=urban%20heat%20island" target="_blank">Vehicle emissions</a> don't exactly help the situation.</p><p>Still, it's not like Boston or Beijing are thermal monoliths. Sometimes, the documented temperatures <a href="https://e360.yale.edu/features/can-we-turn-down-the-temperature-on-urban-heat-islands" target="_blank">within a single city</a> vary by 15 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit (8.3 to 11.1 degrees Celsius).</p><p>That's where metro parks and city trees come in. They have nice cooling effects on nearby neighborhoods. "Several cities around the world have developed programs to increase urban green spaces," says Blanken. "Tree planting programs and green roof programs, have been shown to lower surface temperatures, decrease air pollution and decrease surface water runoff (urban flash-flooding) in urban areas."</p>
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Note: This story was originally published on August 6, 2020
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<div id="ecf36" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c2dcc9d48a6cd61f247df1544539a783"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1290959314132361216" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Naming heatwaves is a good idea—making the abstract concrete, the invisible visible. Why should hurricanes and wild… https://t.co/hDWgYb79Ob</div> — Ed Maibach (@Ed Maibach)<a href="https://twitter.com/MaibachEd/statuses/1290959314132361216">1596623660.0</a></blockquote></div>
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