Thousands to Gather in New Orleans to Stop New Oil and Gas Leases in the Gulf
By Janet MacGillivray and Lee Ziesche
In Gabriel Garcia Marquez' masterpiece 100 Years of Solitude, the story of generations doomed to repeat history, the town of Macondo never learns from the past and is eventually wiped off the map. In a chilling and unconsciously ironic foretelling, BP nicknamed the ill fated oil field where the Deepwater Horizon oil exploded "Macondo."
Now, the Obama administration's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has become the agency that never learns and may doom Louisiana to be wiped off the map.
The state was hit last week by another storm that dumped two feet of rain, causing widespread flooding in neighborhoods that can't seem to get ahead of climate change induced weather events. Portions of 1-10 were so flooded they had to close down and the state is reporting more than 6,000 buildings and homes were damaged by floodwaters.
Unfortunately, our upcoming community screenings of Josh Fox's new film, How To Let Go of the World (and Love All the Things Climate Can't Change), has become even more pertinent for communities in Louisiana.
While the community is still recovering from this state of emergency, Obama's BLM is sticking to plans to auction off 43 million acres of federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico for offshore drilling leases on March 23. These oil and gas leases contain the eighth largest source of carbon pollution on our planet.
While the president has issued a moratorium on new coal leases on public lands and the BLM has canceled an oil and gas lease in the Badger-Two Medicine region in northwest Montana, the government is expanding offshore oil and gas drilling in the Gulf and putting these communities and families at risk for another disaster like the BP oil spill—the largest oil spill in U.S. history.
In December 2015, the U.S. joined the world in Paris to commit to climate change action and keeping carbon in the ground. But these offshore oil leases will accelerate climate change and extreme weather events like the recent flooding in Louisiana. In February, French-speaking Indians who live deep in Louisiana bayou, in the coastal community of the Biloxi Chaktawsome 50 miles south of New Orleans, were named the first climate refugees in America. If the Obama administration allows offshore oil drilling in the gulf, more communities will be forced to leave their home.
In sad irony, the government auction will take place inside the Superdome in New Orleans, the place where refugees from Hurricane Katrina had to flee to when floodwaters drove them from their homes.
The writing is on the wall when it comes to the dangers offshore drilling pose to Gulf Coast communities and the planet, but the Obama administration continues to ignore the lessons taught to us by Hurricane Katrina and BP's Deepwater Horizon disaster.
Gulf Coast communities, Indigenous Elders and climate activists from around the country are refusing to sit by and let America's energy policy continue down a doomed fossil fuel path that will bring more extreme weather and put them underwater with rising sea levels. In support of Louisiana and Gulf Coast communities, thousands are gathering on March 23 in New Orleans to stop the next generation of oil and gas leases, and unite with communities to claim a fossil fuel free future.
A larger scale action is being planned to surround the Superdome and call for an end to new drilling and new leases, and put forward a vision for a Gulf region powered by solar and wind energy.
The Obama administration just last week abandoned plans to drill off the Atlantic Coast. The momentum is in our favor. March 19 was the anniversary of the Superdome auction of Block 252—cursed Macondo oil lease. If the president is serious about climate change, he must halt all new drilling leases in the Gulf.
The victory against offshore drilling in the Atlantic was achieved because communities up and down the coast came together and passed resolutions against offshore drilling. If we're going to stop drilling the in Gulf, the same strong showing of community will be key.
In addition to offshore drilling, fracking on land is impacting the health and well-being of the people living in Louisiana. St. Tammany Parish, one of many parishes currently flooded, banned fracking in 2014, but last year a state judge ruled the parish cannot block fracking in their community. When Denton became the first town in Texas to ban fracking, the state turned around and banned fracking bans.
It's a pattern we've seen all over the country. The industry gets scared when communities start standing up to fossil fuel extraction. Communities who bear the burden of climate change are standing together saying fossil fuels are the past. By stopping these leases on March 23—the day after World Water Day—there will be no more Macondos in the Gulf.
To learn more about the community building events, Indigena has organized in the four days leading up to March 23, click here. For more information on the Let Go And Love Tour screening in Abita Springs and New Orleans, click here.
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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>
An "explosive" wildfire ignited in Los Angeles county Wednesday, growing to 10,000 acres in a little less than three hours.
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If asked to recall a hurricane, odds are you'd immediately invoke memorable names like Sandy, Katrina or Harvey. You'd probably even remember something specific about the impact of the storm. But if asked to recall a heat wave, a vague recollection that it was hot during your last summer vacation may be about as specific as you can get.
<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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One of the challenges of renewable power is how to store clean energy from the sun, wind and geothermal sources. Now, a new study and advances in nanotechnology have found a method that may relieve the burden on supercapacitor storage. This method turns bricks into batteries, meaning that buildings themselves may one day be used to store and generate power, Science Times reported.
Bricks are a preferred building tool for their durability and resilience against heat and frost since they do not shrink, expand or warp in a way that compromises infrastructure. They are also reusable. What was unknown, until now, is that they can be altered to store electrical energy, according to a new study published in Nature Communications.
The scientists behind the study figured out a way to modify bricks in order to use their iconic red hue, which comes from hematite, an iron oxide, to store enough electricity to power devices, Gizmodo reported. To do that, the researchers filled bricks' pores with a nanofiber made from a conducting plastic that can store an electrical charge.
The first bricks they modified stored enough of a charge to power a small light. They can be charged in just 13 minutes and hold 10,000 charges, but the challenge is getting them to hold a much larger charge, making the technology a distant proposition.
If the capacity can be increased, researchers believe bricks can be used as a cheap alternative to lithium ion batteries — the same batteries used in laptops, phones and tablets.
The first power bricks are only one percent of a lithium-ion battery, but storage capacity can be increased tenfold by adding materials like metal oxides, Julio D'Arcy, a researcher at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, who contributed to the paper and was part of the research team, told The Guardian. But only when the storage capacity is scaled up would bricks become commercially viable.
"A solar cell on the roof of your house has to store electricity somewhere and typically we use batteries," D'Arcy told The Guardian. "What we have done is provide a new 'food-for-thought' option, but we're not there yet.
"If [that can happen], this technology is way cheaper than lithium ion batteries," D'Arcy added. "It would be a different world and you would not hear the words 'lithium ion battery' again."
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