Key phase of Everglades restoration project starts in November

September 21, 2020 by  
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Federal and Florida state authorities are working together to complete the Tamiami Trail Next Steps Project, an important part of restoring the Everglades. The state was just awarded a $200 million contract, meaning the last step of this plan, which Congress approved in 2009, will finally begin in November. “Phase 2 of the project will focus on raising and reconstructing the remaining 6.7 miles of the eastern Tamiami Trail with features to further improve water conveyance, roadway safety, and stormwater treatment,” according to an official statement. “Construction on Phase 2 is scheduled to begin in November 2020.” Related: Can Florida save its prized Everglades from climate change destruction? The Tamiami Trail is the 275 miles of U.S. Highway 41 that join Tampa and Miami. Politicians in Tallahassee came up with the idea to link Florida’s west and east coasts with this route in 1915. But in the last 105 years, traffic has increased more than anybody could have foreseen, straining local ecosystems . Before the highway and other human interference, more than 450 billion gallons of water per year easily flowed southward into what is now Everglades National Park. By 2000, that figure was only about 260 billion gallons of water per year, resulting in a deteriorating ecosystem. That year, Congress authorized the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP), which aimed to “restore, preserve, and protect the south Florida ecosystem while providing for other water-related needs of the region, including water supply and flood protection.” With a 35-plus-year timeline and a $10.5 billion budget, this was the largest hydrologic restoration project in the country’s history. The restoration project is important for both wildlife and the state’s economy. Routing more freshwater to the Everglades will keep salt water at bay, providing drinking water for humans and animals and helping to restore wetlands for wading birds. A better water flow will also boost recreational activities and agriculture and help maintain real estate values. Everybody from the Florida panther to the alligator to the Midwestern tourist will benefit from this investment in the Everglades ecosystem. “The granting of this award is an exciting milestone in the completion of such a critical project for Everglades restoration,” said Margaret Everson, acting director of the National Park Service, according to CBS Miami . “This step is a wonderful example of how collaboration and coordination with our partners sets the stage for long-term restoration efforts.” + National Park Service Via CBS Miami Image via Pixabay

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Key phase of Everglades restoration project starts in November

Bulk up the eco-friendly way with Grounded’s plant-based protein shakes

September 21, 2020 by  
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Pop culture from days gone by was littered with images of big, ripped guys pouring raw eggs into blenders and eating huge slabs of steak. But those days are over. After all, vegans and environmentally conscious people want to build muscle, too. Enter Grounded’s plant-based protein milkshakes. Being beefy can now mean nixing meat and dairy, too. Grounded’s plant-based protein milkshakes are dairy-free , but each shake still has 20 grams of protein from plants. These protein shakes are also gluten-, GMO-, nut- and soy-free, making them a feasible option for many different lifestyles. As the website says, Grounded shakes are “crap-free”! Related: The best sources for plant-based protein For the creamy effect without the dairy, Grounded uses coconut milk , which has a sweet flavor and smooth, thick texture similar to dairy milk but with a smaller carbon footprint. Coconut milk also has less sugar than all types of dairy milk, including skim milk. Unlike many protein shakes on the market, Grounded eschews a chalky, artificially sweetened flavor found in many protein shakes on the market, instead opting for two rich, delicious flavors (M*lk Chocolate and Mint Choc) made from natural ingredients. Ingredients include organic , fair-trade cocoa powder, pure vanilla extract, pink Himalayan salt and pea protein, just to name a few. “There’s a real need for a clean, genuinely natural, plant-based option,” said Bryn Ferris, co-founder of Grounded. “We know this is the most natural plant-based protein drink out there.” It’s hard to claim you’re environmentally conscious if you’re also using plastic these days. That’s why every single container of Grounded’s plant-based protein shakes is 100% recyclable . These shakes come in cartons and, yes, the cartons are also made from plants. And that is why Grounded is so different from so many other options out there … for now. Soon, other companies may follow this example and start bringing more plants to their products (and packaging) to help you nourish your body in sustainable way. + Grounded Via Plant Based News Images via Grounded

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Bulk up the eco-friendly way with Grounded’s plant-based protein shakes

Sustainability leaders must celebrate the work of female mayors on racial equity

August 17, 2020 by  
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Sustainability leaders must celebrate the work of female mayors on racial equity Kimberly Lewis Mon, 08/17/2020 – 01:00 Sustainability leaders are architects, designers, city planners, engineers, scientists, energy experts, lawyers, nonprofit leaders and business owners. The United Nations defines “sustainability” as meeting the needs of today without compromising the needs of the next generation to meet their own needs. In practice, much of our work centers around developing global climate change solutions to save the planet. The Black Lives Matter movement has cast a bright light on what we’ve all known for a long time: We cannot do this work effectively without fighting against white supremacy and putting racial justice at the center of sustainability.  Sustainability also relies on local government. Despite the pain and heartbreak across the country, we have seen leaders — especially female mayors and local officials such as mayors Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta, Muriel Bowser of Washington, D.C., Lori Lightfoot of Chicago, Vi Lyles of Charlotte, North Carolina, Libby Schaaf of Oakland, California and Jenny Durkan of Seattle — working in their communities to create powerful dialogues and meaningful policy action. In June, Ferguson, Missouri elected its first Black mayor, Ella Jones.  As sustainability leaders, we must partner with these mayors to implement an anti-racist future. Whether it be renaming Black Lives Matter Plaza on 16th Street NW in Washington, D.C., or urging protestors and police to congregate peacefully, these leaders are working hard to take action on systemic racism. Sustainability must put people at the center. But what does this actually mean? As Bowser stated in a recent interview , her actions on 16th Street were to “send a unifying and affirming message about what this time and the reaction to the killing of George Floyd means in our country.” The image of Bowser next to the late Congressman John Lewis is a powerful testament to change, progress and hope.  Like these other mayors, Bowser has pushed for a green and sustainable vision for her city . In 2019, Lance Bottoms and Lyles testified before Congress on Atlanta’s and Charlotte’s steps to create a more climate resilient city. Lightfoot , Schaff and Durkan also fight for sustainability in their cities daily. From the carbon footprint of city buildings and housing to energy policy, mayors are on the front lines of sustainability. These leaders — many of whom are Black women — are standing up and also listening, and doing all they can to create a brighter future. Yes, reforming policing is first and foremost right now. But the larger discussions about dismantling systemic racism are about how we will invest in people and communities. Sustainability is part of that necessary community investment. Equal access to clean air, clean water, clean energy, green space and a healthy built environment is the heart of sustainability. Yet, environmental racism is real. A recent literature review published in the Journal of American Medical Association found a statistically significant correlation between low birth rate and miscarriage in Black communities with higher temperatures from global warming and climate. Environmental justice leaders have shown time and time again the disproportionate impact of citing toxic manufacturing plants and landfill in Black, Indigeneous and people of color communities along with the devastating impacts to public health. Putting racial justice at the center of our conversations on climate solutions and design is essential.  Sustainability is often stated as rethinking profit, people and planet. Sustainability must put people at the center. But what does this actually mean? Designers must think about the impact of design, not just the intent. We must not only ask for feedback from communities where we work, but we need to take the feedback and change design based on their needs. Using design thinking, we must separate our intent from our impact. We also must create opportunities for BIPOC individuals to provide input and solutions for sustainability. That means investing in people — specifically, creating job opportunities for BIPOC leaders in creating solutions for a healthier, greener planet. We can’t safeguard the planet if we can’t protect, respect and support each other. It starts with equality, and it leads to the health and resilience of people and the planet. The bold leadership of these women mayors is inspiring. It’s time for the sustainability community to honor their bravery with bold, inclusive action to create a greener and more equitable planet.  Editor’s Note: The authors are past national winners of the Women in Sustainability Leadership Award . Their view is that the role of these local female civic leaders in sustainability and racial equity has been overlooked and that the sustainability community should embrace their efforts. Kimberly Lewis is writing in her personal capacity. Pull Quote Sustainability must put people at the center. But what does this actually mean? Contributors Heather White Topics Social Justice Cities Corporate Strategy Racial Justice Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Protesters looking at the new mural on 16th Street at newly dedicated Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, D.C., on June 5, 2020. Shutterstock Allison Bailey Close Authorship

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Danone’s Eric Soubeiran: ‘The food system is broken’

July 20, 2020 by  
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Danone’s Eric Soubeiran: ‘The food system is broken’ Cecilia Keating Mon, 07/20/2020 – 00:30 Earlier this year, Danone became the first listed company to become an “enterprise à mission,” a new type of corporation created by a 2019 French law. The pioneering governance structure will see the food giant officially entrench environmental, social and societal objectives into its bylaws, alongside more typical profit goals. Danone, founded more than a century ago and famously declared an asset of national importance by the French government in 2005, has long prided itself on being a purpose-led business. Its new status is the latest in a string of moves the company has made to boost its environmental, social and governance (ESG) credentials as it works towards meeting a highly publicized aim of becoming one of the first B Corps certified multinational. Eric Soubeiran, the company’s vice president of nature and water cycle, explained that weaning the company off intensive farming is at the core of its new sustainability mission. Danone, which owns a range of household brands including Volvic, Evian, Actimel, Alpro and Activia, is first and foremost a dairy company, after all. “If you really want to do sustainability well in a company, you need to know your business well,” Soubeiran said. For a food company, that means knowing how and where you source your ingredients, what your customers want, and understanding the provenance of your direct and indirect carbon emissions. “Concretely, when you look at Danone, 60 percent of our carbon footprint is from agriculture,” Soubeiran acknowledged. “Eighty-nine percent of our water footprint is from agriculture. [Sustainability] starts from knowing your Scope 3 [value chain emissions]. It is looking at the elephant in the room, and going after it piece by piece. That is why it’s very important for us to have an opinion about the agriculture model we want.” [Sustainability] starts from knowing your Scope 3 [value chain emissions]. It is looking at the elephant in the room, and going after it piece by piece. As such, the company is working with farmers worldwide to adopt a regenerative approach to farming that encourages healthier soil and ecosystems, better water stewardship and a broader diversity of cultivated seeds and crops. Danone is providing training to farmers in France to make the switch to new techniques to meet a goal to rely on 100 percent regenerative farming in the country by 2025. And in order to encourage the approach beyond its supply chain, Danone recently founded the One Planet Business for Biodiversity (OP2B) initiative, a cross-sector effort to improve the private sector’s approach to biodiversity. The strained food production system is begging for reform, argued Soubeiran. “It is very clear in Danone’s vision that the food system is broken,” he reflected. The practices ensconced in the “green revolution” of the 1970s, he said, have “intensified agriculture practices to a point where we have created a situation where food has become a commodity. And by definition, a commodity has no value or very limited value. That’s why [as an industry] we are focused on volume, not quality, and how we have reached a point where we accept the fact that 30 percent of all food produced globally is wasted.” The transition away from intensive farming, he stressed, not only can prevent the loss of wild species, create better working conditions for farmers and livestock, end monocropping and protect local ecosystems, but is also a lever that Danone must pull if it is to reduce its carbon emissions to net zero by mid-century in line with global climate goals. Soubeiran has experience disrupting what he dubs “linearalized” food chains and moulding them to be more sustainable. In a previous role at Danone, he was charged with managing the company’s milk supply during the period when France liberalized its previously tightly controlled milk market. The company decided to eschew a price mechanism focused on volume and set its milk price based on the cost of production, giving Danone leeway to firm up production conditions with farmers. “We wanted to stabilize our relationship with farmers so that we could discuss the way they were farming, talk about sustainability and animal welfare,” Soubeiran explains. “It’s hard to do that when you have huge [price] volatility.” Indeed, Soubeiran is under no illusions that the wholesale transition to regenerative farming comes at a cost premium, despite growing interest in sustainable products from customers across Danone’s markets. “There is a market for sustainable food — people look for it — but we need to develop parallel stream of financing,” he said. “That’s why Danone has signed the green recovery appeal at the European level, because we believe the transformation and the renegotiation of the agriculture policy is instrumental to that.” There is a market for sustainable food — people look for it — but we need to develop parallel stream of financing. An additional stream of financing is targeted at helping farmers improve the quality of what they are producing while keeping prices down for the customer, Soubeiran explained. As such, in May the company urged the EU to use its upcoming Farm to Fork and Biodiversity 2030 strategies to establish an EU Common Food Policy that provides incentives to farmers to switch to regenerative practices. These, the company suggested, could range from crop and livestock insurance that minimizes the risk of lower yields through the transition process; “innovative multi-stakeholder financing mechanisms” or carbon bonds for agricultural products with pricing adjusted to reflect soil carbon sequestration performance; and guarantees of “first loss” inspired by the renewable energy sector that would allow farmers to fund the transition to more resilient agricultural systems. Soubeiran contends that the coronavirus has, in some respects, made his mission easier, given that the animal-originating coronavirus has underscored how ecological systems support human life. “If we protect biodiversity, we are basically protecting the diversity of DNA,” Soubeiran mused. “There’s also a sanitary aspect to it, given that we’re protecting corridors of biodiversity. While that was not that obvious six months ago, that’s obvious now for everyone.” He points out more than 65 percent of all emerging infectious diseases in humans are zoonotic — transmitted to people from animals. But, while the zoonotic coronavirus has turbocharged public understanding of biodiversity and served as a “call to action” for Danone’s corporate sustainability initiatives, Soubeiran concedes that on a practical level the pandemic has hampered the firm’s ongoing efforts to transition farmers to regenerative practices. For example, when social distancing regulations were at their most demanding, trips to train farmers on new practices and discuss investment and financing plans became logistically impossible. On the bright side, however, the crisis has underlined the resilience of Danone’s direct sourcing model, he says, which minimized supply chain disruptions caused by the pandemic. The firm sources 75 percent of products directly from suppliers, Soubeiran explained, adding that the model is a major boon in a world where collaborations and knowledge-sharing between multinationals and their suppliers are critical to meeting carbon targets and other joint sustainability objectives. Soubeiran contends that there is a healthy appetite from company shareholders for Danone’s growing file of sustainability initiatives, in particular its decision at the close of last year to publish carbon-adjusted earnings per share (carbon EPS) in its quarterly reports. The metric sends a very strong message to shareholders that the company “has done its homework” on counting its Scope 1, Scope 2 and Scope 3 emissions, according to Soubeiran, as well as exposing them to the invisible cost of carbon. Danone, banking on the assumption it reached peak emissions in 2019, is confident that its carbon-adjusted EPS will rise over the years to come. And investors are engaging with the approach — in 2018, Soubeiran estimates he had 70 interactions with shareholders; last year, it had more than doubled to 190. Moreover, in late June, 99 percent of shareholders backed Danone’s motion to become an “enterprise à mission,” a turnout dubbed “mind-blowing” by Danone chief executive Emmanuel Faber. “Huge kudos to our shareholders after today’s unanimous support of the change of Danone’s by-laws to incorporate health, planet, people and inclusiveness objectives as part of our mission,” Faber enthused. “You showed evidence that finance can change the world. It is on us, boards and CEOs, CFOs to engage finance on what matters. It responds. Big time.” Very often, sustainability is seen as a constraint — about less carbon, less pesticide, less fertilizer. Over the coming months, Soubeiran will focus on steering a cross-sector effort to improve the private sector’s approach to biodiversity, dubbed the One Planet Business for Biodiversity (OP2B) initiative. The coalition, launched by Danone at last year’s UN COP climate conference, counts consumer goods heavyweights L’Oréal, Google, McCain, Walmart, Kellogg, Nestlé and Unilever. The companies have promised to work together to scale up regenerative agriculture practices, to increase the number of ingredients sourced in order to reduce the world’s reliance on a handful of crops, and to better protect local ecosystems through nature restoration and eliminating deforestation. The group is developing a framework for action that will be unveiled at the IUCN World Conservation Congress, postponed six months to January in the wake of the pandemic. The initiative has been inspired by “systems thinking,” Soubeiran explained, and will focus on specific actions that can be monitored instead of overarching science-based targets or percentage-based goals. “With OP2B the focus is on action, action that can trigger a transformation,” he said, adding that that the single-issue, action-orientated initiative is “quite a new way of collaborating” for Danone. Overall, Soubeiran is buoyed by the boundless opportunities’ biodiversity boosting initiatives present to food companies looking to enrich their portfolios — a fact underlined by this week’s World Economic Forum study highlighting how a nature-focused recovery could deliver over $10 trillion of economic gains . “Very often, sustainability is seen as a constraint — about less carbon, less pesticide, less fertilizer,” Soubeiran reflected. “But biodiversity is about more: More choice, more taste, more experience. It’s a very interesting topic and creates a positive spin on sustainability.” Pull Quote [Sustainability] starts from knowing your Scope 3 [value chain emissions]. It is looking at the elephant in the room, and going after it piece by piece. There is a market for sustainable food — people look for it — but we need to develop parallel stream of financing. Very often, sustainability is seen as a constraint — about less carbon, less pesticide, less fertilizer. Topics Food & Agriculture Leadership COVID-19 Biodiversity Regenerative Agriculture ESG COVID-19 BusinessGreen Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Workers fills up milk storage tank at a Danone dairy plant in Normandy, France, April 2008. Source:  Photoagriculture Shutterstock Photoagriculture Close Authorship

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Danone’s Eric Soubeiran: ‘The food system is broken’

Proposed BREATHE Act seeks environmental justice

July 13, 2020 by  
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Environmental justice is one of the important topics that the BREATHE Act addresses. The Movement for Black Lives introduced the bill, which would make enormous changes to the justice system, as well as education, healthcare and many other aspects of Americans’ daily lives. “We crafted this bill to be big,” said Gina Clayton Johnson, executive director of Essie Justice Group and a co-creator of the act, as reported by New York Magazine’s The Cut . “We know the solution has to be as big as the 400-year-old problem itself.” Related: How to support environmental justice The proposal is divided into four sections. The third section, entitled “Allocating New Money to Build Healthy, Sustainable & Equitable Communities for All People,” calls for creating a clear plan to ensure all communities can access safe, clean water; bringing air standards within EPA safety limits; and making a plan to meet 100% of power demand with renewable and zero-emission energy . Other proposed environmental policy changes include funding preparedness efforts for climate change-related disasters, subsidizing community-owned sustainable energy solutions and funding for returning and preserving sacred sites to Indigenous communities. The other three sections of the BREATHE Act address divesting federal resources from incarceration and policing, investing in new approaches to community safety, holding officials accountable and enhancing self-determination of Black communities. The Movement for Black Lives is a nationwide coalition composed of Black organizations. Since forming in 2014, they’ve adopted an anti-capitalist, abolitionist stance calling for axing prisons, police forces and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency. The organization’s political champions include Ayanna Pressley, Democratic Representative of Massachusetts’ 7th Congressional District and the first Black woman elected to Congress from Massachusetts, and Rashida Tlaib, Democratic Representative of Michigan’s 13th Congressional District and the first Muslim woman to serve in the Michigan legislature. “The BREATHE Act is bold…. It pushes us to reimagine power structures and what community investment really looks like,” Tlaib said. “We can start to envision through this bill a new vision for public safety. One that protects and affirms Black lives.” + BREATHE Act Via Grist Image via S. Hermann & F. Richter

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Hood Rivers mixed-use Outpost achieves industrial chic with mass timber

July 13, 2020 by  
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About an hour west of Portland, Oregon, a stretch of post-industrial waterfront along the Hood River has been revitalized as Outpost, a dynamic new destination for making, co-working and play. Designed by local studio Skylab Architecture , the first completed mass timber building in the mixed-use development pays homage to the industrial roots of the area — the site was formerly home to an industrial wastewater treatment and processing facility. The project champions eco-friendly construction that includes locally sourced and sustainably harvested wood. The phased project is part of the city’s ongoing Waterfront Masterplan to reconnect residents with Hood River.  <img src="//inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2020/07/Outpost-Skylab-Architecture-1-889×592.jpg" alt="light and charred wood building with large windows" class="wp-image-2274542" Completed in 2018, phase one of Outpost comprises a 30,000-square-foot complex, which consists of a pair of three-story buildings that function as one large structure with a long bar shape. A partially covered, shared open area occupies the heart of the complex at the junction of the two buildings and houses the elevators and stairs as well as informal lounge spaces oriented toward Hood River. The industrial-scaled ground level across both buildings contain maker spaces, a brewery and a distillery. The second level supports retail and restaurants — public-facing spaces that are traditionally located on the street level — in order to take advantage of views of the waterfront, Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood. The third floor houses a variety of creative office spaces. Related: Wedge-shaped Sideyard champions CLT construction <img src="//inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2020/07/Outpost-Skylab-Architecture-3-889×592.jpg" alt="people looking out from a loft over a brewery" class="wp-image-2274544" <img src="//inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2020/07/Outpost-Skylab-Architecture-4-889×592.jpeg" alt="dark wood tables with light wood benches in wood-lined room" class="wp-image-2274545" The structural framing is exposed throughout the interior to celebrate the selection of locally sourced and sustainably harvested timber beams. Tall ceiling heights, oversized windows and black metal accents emphasize the project’s industrial aesthetic. For energy efficiency, the architects optimized access to natural light and installed thermally broken windows. <img src="//inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2020/07/Outpost-Skylab-Architecture-7-889×592.jpg" alt="people seated at large, U-shaped table with fire pit on an outdoor patio" class="wp-image-2274548" <img src="//inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2020/07/Outpost-Skylab-Architecture-11-889×592.jpeg" alt="elongated dark wood building in front of mountainous landscape" class="wp-image-2274552" “Outpost puts the mixed in mixed-use commercial by merging traditionally exclusive industrial uses with commercial, mixed-use maker spaces that can be shared and experienced,” the firm explained. “Outpost represents a new prototype, a wood structure redefining industrial commercial buildings beyond storage and manufacturing.” Outpost will eventually become part of a 60,000-square-foot mixed-use development to better connect the city with the Columbia River waterfront. + Skylab Architecture Photography by Stephen Miller via Skylab Architecture

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How Black environmentalists are organizing to save the planet from injustice

June 26, 2020 by  
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How Black environmentalists are organizing to save the planet from injustice Rachel Ramirez Fri, 06/26/2020 – 00:30 This story originally appeared in Grist;  and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalistic collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story . “I can’t breathe.” These were among the final words that George Floyd and Eric Garner gasped before their deaths at the hands of white police officers. That plea has become part of the current rallying cry for racial justice and an end to police brutality in the United States. But for Black people living near industrial facilities, the phrase has an additional layer of meaning: a reminder of their disproportionate pollution burden. “While many in power seemed surprised that COVID-19 is killing twice as many Black Americans, those of us in the environmental justice movement know that the health impacts of cumulative and disproportionate levels of pollution in our communities have created underlying health conditions that contribute to our higher COVID-19 mortality rates,” said Peggy Shepard, co-founder and executive director of WE ACT for Environmental Justice, said at a virtual press conference in mid-June. Shepard is part of the National Black Environmental Justice Network (NBEJN) , a national coalition of Black environmental justice groups and grassroots activists founded in 1991. Although the network took a hiatus in 2006 after executive director Damu Smith died , the network just announced that it’s making a comeback against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic and renewed calls to fight racial injustice. We see these environmental rollbacks as not just fast-tracking project permits, but as a fast-track to the emergency room and cemeteries. The network’s mission sends a clear message: Environmental injustice is not a single issue. Rather, it’s a constellation of issues including discrimination in housing, jobs and healthcare. It’s impossible to untangle Black communities’ current risks from America’s long history of racist policies and practices. Discriminatory policies such as banks’ government-sanctioned refusal to approve home loans and insurance for people in communities of color, also known as redlining, forced Black families into neighborhoods more likely to be exposed to industrial pollution and extreme heat . Now these same communities face a surge in unemployment and poverty rates as a result of the economic downturn brought on by the pandemic, and they also are  disproportionately dying from the novel coronavirus as a result of a lack of health insurance, unequal access to test sites and higher workplace exposure via employment in essential services. As if that weren’t enough, a recent Harvard study also found a link between air pollution and death from COVID-19. Given the systemic conditions that disproportionately expose Black people to the coronavirus pandemic, climate change and other worsening crises, NBEJN members — including the network’s co-chairs, environmental justice pioneers Robert Bullard and Beverly Wright — say they are looking to bring in Black lawyers, engineers, leaders and other experts to join forces to help create an equitable green stimulus package, take on the fossil fuel industry and fight the Trump administration’s seemingly endless orders to weaken environmental protections . “We see these environmental rollbacks as not just fast-tracking project permits, but as a fast-track to the emergency room and cemeteries,” said Bullard, an author and professor of urban planning and environmental policy at Texas Southern University. “The NBEJN is about dismantling systemic racism, and we’re talking about turning the dominant paradigm on its head.” Network leaders say COVID-19 recovery legislation could be an opportunity for lawmakers to pass a robust green stimulus package that would focus on environmental justice. Such a green stimulus package, the coalition said, needs to address core issues of systemic racism by, for example, providing green jobs to communities of color. NBEJN is needed today to fight these conversing threats and underlying conditions that are denying Black people the right to breathe and the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness enjoyed by white America. “Green stimulus packages often only look at protecting the world, but not protecting people like us,” said Wright, executive director of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice. “Any stimulus package dealing with transportation to housing or whatever they’re talking about doing will have to include us and need to be viewed with equity and justice lenses.” Even if an equitable green stimulus package makes it through Congress and the White House, there still will be a lot more work to be done. Bullard said that even if the Democratic party wins the presidential election or takes control of the Senate, it will take time to reverse Trump-era environmental policy damages, including the country’s withdrawal from the 2016 Paris Agreement. Even then, he added, policymakers will need to take additional steps to curb greenhouse gas emissions and center frontline communities. And NBEJN leaders say the network will stick around to make sure those steps are taken. “Racism is baked into America’s DNA,” Bullard said. “NBEJN is needed today to fight these conversing threats and underlying conditions that are denying Black people the right to breathe and the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness enjoyed by white America.” Pull Quote We see these environmental rollbacks as not just fast-tracking project permits, but as a fast-track to the emergency room and cemeteries. NBEJN is needed today to fight these conversing threats and underlying conditions that are denying Black people the right to breathe and the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness enjoyed by white America. Topics COVID-19 Policy & Politics Environmental Justice Equity & Inclusion Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock Tverdokhlib Close Authorship

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How Black environmentalists are organizing to save the planet from injustice

Ocasio-Cortez and Kerry co-chair climate change task force

May 15, 2020 by  
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By focusing on climate change and other issues important to progressive voters, Joe Biden is attempting to win over Bernie Sanders’ supporters and unify the Democratic Party. Biden has tapped Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and former Secretary of State John Kerry to co-chair a climate change task force. “She made the decision with members of the Climate Justice community — and she will be fully accountable to them and the larger advocacy community during this process,” Ocasio-Cortez’s spokesperson Lauren Hitt said in an email. Ocasio-Cortez was a staunch Sanders supporter until he dropped out of the race in April. Related: Rep. Ocasio-Cortez releases Green New Deal resolution Ocasio-Cortez serves as representative for New York’s 14th congressional district, which includes the eastern part of the Bronx and parts of Queens. At only 30 years old, she’s Congress’ youngest member and is known for advocating for working-class people and social and environmental justice; Ocasio-Cortez sponsored the Green New Deal. Kerry is known for his work on environmental improvements. He helped orchestrate the 2016 Paris Agreement, which addressed greenhouse gas emissions . Other panel members bring the perspectives of both rural and urban areas. “This is the Climate Dream Team for Democrats,” said Jeremy Symons, a Washington, D.C.-based environmental consultant, according to Inside Climate News . The climate policy panel is one of six task forces Biden convened to unify Democrats after Sanders left the presidential primary race. The other five panels focus on healthcare, immigration, the economy, criminal justice reform and education . The groups will meet before the Democratic National Convention to help set Biden’s campaign agenda. “A united party is key to defeating Donald Trump this November and moving our country forward through an unprecedented crisis,” Biden said in a statement. “As we work toward our shared goal, it is especially critical that we not lose sight of the pressing issues facing Americans.” Via NPR Image via Senate Democrats

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Ocasio-Cortez and Kerry co-chair climate change task force

Recycled materials and traditional techniques define this farmstay in India

May 15, 2020 by  
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At the edge of the Sasan Gir wildlife sanctuary in Gujarat, India, d6thD design studio has completed Aaranya, an agricultural farmstay that pays homage to the rural vernacular and Mother Nature. Crafted with a small carbon footprint, the building adopts low-tech systems, such as passive solar orientation and terracotta roofing, to minimize energy usage. The use of local construction techniques also helped stimulate the economy by employing nearby villagers and craftspeople. Completed in January 2019, Aaranya comprises a series of buildings, each consisting of two attached cottages topped with gabled terracotta -tiled roofs that help offset the monsoon seasons’ heavy rainfall and intense heat in summer. Carefully set amidst the mango trees, the low-profile cottages blend into the lush landscape and look as if they were “planted” on site. The east-west orientation of the buildings also helps minimize heat gain and takes advantage of the cooling breezes from the adjacent agricultural field. Related: A terracotta home keeps naturally cool in one of Thailand’s hottest regions “Rather [than] spending millions on the best technology to create the greenest of green buildings when very few Indians can associate with them and even fewer can afford, we have came up with a simple, established and honest approach inspired by the vernacular architecture,” the architects explained. The use of terracotta, for instance, helps evoke the image of traditional Indian village architecture that has been built from the earthy material for generations. Over time, the tiled roofs will be covered in creeping plants and, as a result, the building will “virtually disappear” once the roof is fully vegetated. In addition to terracotta roof tiles, the architects also looked to traditional construction techniques for the rubble stone-packed foundation, load-bearing exposed natural sandstone walls and the brick dome, which features a mosaic and a window wall of recycled glass bottles . The architects noted, “Every effort has been made to ensure that the cottages remain true to its context and testifies itself to the norms of vernacular architecture.” + d6thD design studio Photography by Inclined Studio via d6thD design studio

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Recycled materials and traditional techniques define this farmstay in India

MIT moves toward greener, more sustainable artificial intelligence

May 15, 2020 by  
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While current  artificial intelligence  (AI) technology holds strategic and transformative potential, it isn’t always environmentally-friendly due to high energy consumption. To the rescue are researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) , who have devised a solution that not only lowers costs but, more importantly, reduces the AI model training’s carbon footprint. Back in June 2019, the  University of Massachusetts at Amherst revealed  that the amount of  energy  utilized in AI model training equaled 626,000 pounds of carbon dioxide. How so? Contemporary AI isn’t just run on a personal laptop or simple server. Rather, deep neural networks are deployed on diverse arrays of specialized hardware platforms. The level of energy consumption required to power such AI technologies is approximately five times the lifetime  carbon emissions  from an average American car, including its manufacturing.  Related:  This AI food truck could bring fresh produce directly to you Moreover, both  Analytics Insight  and  Kepler Lounge  warned that Google’s AlphaGo Zero — the  AI  that plays the game of Go against itself to self-learn — generated a massive 96 tons of  carbon dioxide  over 40 days of research training. That amount of carbon dioxide equals 1,000 hours of air travel as well as the annual  carbon footprint  of 23 American homes! The takeaway then? Numbers like these would make AI model deployment both unfeasible and unsustainable over time. MIT’s research team has devised a groundbreaking automated AI system, termed a once-for-all (OFA) network, described in  their paper here . This AI system — the OFA network — minimizes  energy consumption  by “decoupling training and search, to reduce the cost.” The OFA network was constructed based on automatic machine learning (AutoML) advancements.  Essentially, the OFA network functions as a ‘mother’ network to numerous subnetworks. As the ‘mother’ network, it feeds its knowledge and past experiences to all the subnetworks, training them to operate independently without the need for further retraining. This is unlike previous AI technology  that had to “repeat the network design process and retrain the designed network from scratch for each case. Their total cost gr[ew] linearly … as the number of deployment scenarios increase[d], which … result[ed] in excessive energy consumption and  CO2  emission.” In other words, with the OFA network in use, there is little need for additional retraining of subnetworks. This efficiency decreases costs, curtails carbon emissions and improves  sustainability . Assistant Professor Song Han, of MIT’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, was the project’s lead researcher. He shared that, “Searching efficient neural network architectures has until now had a huge carbon footprint. But we reduced that footprint by orders of magnitude with these new methods.” Also of particular interest was Chuang Gan, co-author of the MIT research paper, who added, “The model is really compact. I am very excited to see OFA can keep pushing the boundary of efficient deep learning on edge devices.” Being compact means AI can progress towards miniaturization. That could spell next-generation advantages in green operations that improve environmental impact. + MIT News Images via Pexels and Pixabay

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MIT moves toward greener, more sustainable artificial intelligence

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