The smooth handfish is declared extinct

September 3, 2020 by  
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The International Union for The Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has officially declared the smooth handfish extinct. This news makes the smooth handfish the first fish species to be declared extinct in modern history. The smooth handfish belongs to a family of fish that get their name from their fins, which are shaped like hands. As opposed to swimming, the smooth handfish crawled with its hand-shaped fins across the seafloor. The handfish is among the most unique types of fish. Besides their bright, multicolored bodies, their awkward movement on their hand-like fins makes them stand out from other fish. According to the IUCN, there used to be 14 species of handfish. But after the organization updated its list of endangered species, the smooth handfish has been listed as an extinct species. The smooth handfish has not been seen since the year 1802, despite searches being conducted around the world. Related: We are in the sixth mass extinction, and it is accelerating The IUCN’s announcement marks the first time a fish species has been declared extinct in modern history, according to National Geographic . The unfortunate news now shifts focus on the other species in the handfish family. Alarmingly, seven types of handfish have not been seen since 2000 or earlier. This might mean that these species are also on the verge of extinction . The handfish is a special family of fish that is characterized by isolation. They do not associate with other types of fish and are usually localized in one place. “They spend most of their time sitting on the seabed, with an occasional flap for a few meters if they’re disturbed,” Graham Edgar, marine ecologist, told Scientific American . “As they lack a larval stage, they are unable to disperse to new locations — and consequently, handfish populations are very localized and vulnerable to threats.” While the fish stay on the seafloor, they are faced with many threats. Some of the threats include industrial runoff that affects the quality of seawater. Further, fishing and dredging along the seabed also threaten many fish, including the handfish. Invasive species also pose a threat to these unique creatures. The recent news of the smooth handfish’s extinction opens our eyes to the possibility of losing more precious species if actions are not taken to protect biodiversity . + IUCN Via Mic , National Geographic and Scientific American Image via Kenneth Lu

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Electric boilers fuel Diageo’s carbon-neutral whiskey distillery dream

July 30, 2020 by  
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Electric boilers fuel Diageo’s carbon-neutral whiskey distillery dream Jesse Klein Thu, 07/30/2020 – 00:30 Even whiskey is going electric. Distilleries have long been difficult operations to electrify due to the large heat loads it requires to turn grain into one of humanity’s oldest vices, alcohol. But Diageo’s new 72,000-square-foot distillery is designed to be completely carbon-neutral. According to Diageo, it should avoid more than  117,000 metric tons of annual carbon emissions by switching to renewable electricities compared to operating using a traditional natural gas facility.  “This is an opportunity to build a new distillery from the ground up,” said Andrew Jarrick, North American environmental sustainability manager at Diageo. “It’s not every day you get that opportunity.”  The Kentucky facility primarily will produce Bulleit Whiskey (Diageo also makes Guinness, Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker, Tanqueray, Bailey’s, Captain Morgan and others) and will be one of the largest carbon-neutral distilleries in North America, according to the company. The facility is under construction, with completion slated by mid-2021. Eventually, it will produce 10 million proof gallons of whiskey and employ about 30 full-time brewers.  The distilling process has three large heat requirements: first to cook the grain into mash; then as steam to capture the ethanol in a distillation column; and finally for drying the leftover grain for alternative uses.  Moving away from fossil fuels for this heat production was the first step and the first big obstacle for Diageo.  “The distillery industry is built on very traditional ways of thinking and relies very heavily on time-tested methodologies,” Jarrick said. “We want to produce the same liquid every time. The biggest challenge was to maintain that process integrity, but also move on from traditional fossil fuels.” Instead of traditional equipment, the facility will use 22-foot tall high voltage jet electrode boilers from Precision Boilers . Aside from not using fossil fuels and emitting less greenhouse gases than usual, electric boilers require less maintenance. Gabriel Dauphin, vice president of sales and marketing at Precision Boilers, told GreenBiz via email that the boilers use conductive and resistive properties to carry an electric current and generate steam.  Unlike fossil fuel boilers, which have a certain minimum energy output before turning off, the electric boilers can be turned down to any level before shutting down completely and they can get to the desired heat level almost immediately, Dauphin wrote. This makes the boilers much more precise and nearly 100 percent efficient, with the bonus of zero emissions, he said. Once they decided to make the leap to electric boilers, Jarrick and his team opted to electrify as much as possible in the operation. The lighting in the facility will use LEDs, all the vehicles on the property will be electric and the atmospheric heat systems Diageo will include for  the comfort of workers are likely to use electricity rather than a fossil fuel source. The company is also installing occupancy sensors, lower ceilings and exterior solar panels to help increase energy efficiency. Diageo wouldn’t comment on the exact financial costs or long-term savings associated with the carbon-neutral facility.   Diageo plans to get 100 percent of its electricity needs for the site from renewable sources through partnerships with East Kentucky Power Cooperative and Inter-County Energy . These companies will provide a mix of solar and wind energy to power the distillery. Continuing on its carbon-neutral promise, the facility plans to be zero waste to landfill by giving the dry leftover grain to organizations that can use it for animal feed.  While electric boilers were key for getting this project to carbon-neutral, Jarrick doesn’t know if Diageo is a true convert and will go electric across all its operations. But to deliver on Diageo’s commitment to net-zero carbon emissions and sourcing 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030, it must make additional changes.  Topics Energy & Climate Decarbonization Building Electrification Manufacturing Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off The facility will use 22-foot tall high voltage jet electrode boilers from Precision Boilers.

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Electric boilers fuel Diageo’s carbon-neutral whiskey distillery dream

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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Siberia hits record 100 degrees

June 23, 2020 by  
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Siberia is now setting record high temperatures. On June 20, the town of Verkhoyansk reported a temperature of 38 degrees Celsius, or 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the record for highest Arctic temperature. Verkhoyansk is 6 miles north of the Arctic Circle and about 260 miles south of the Arctic coast. It ties with Oymyakon, about 400 miles southeast, for the title of coldest village in the world. Although people are alarmed by the new record high temperature, Verkhoyansk already holds the Guinness World Record for the greatest temperature range on Earth. Previously recorded temperatures range from -67.8 degrees Celsius in winter to 37.3 degrees Celsius in summer. The town hit its former highest temperature, which equals 99.1 degrees Fahrenheit, back in July of 1988. Related: A breakup in the Arctic’s strongest sea ice is recorded for the first time ever Average late June highs in Verkhoyansk reach the upper 60s. Persistent heat this year is due to what meteorologists call blocking high pressure aloft. A blocking high pressure system can sit over an area for days, causing a heat wave as other weather systems have to go around it. High pressure aloft compresses air downward, warming the lower atmosphere and trapping heat. This block has prevented colder air from Russia’s Arctic coast to push through and cool the region. High temperatures and dry air fuel the wildfires that have been burning in parts of northern Russia since April. This weather pattern is also not good for Arctic sea ice coverage along the Siberian coast, which is at a 41-year low for June. In Norsilsk, Russia earlier this month, thawing permafrost led to a diesel fuel spill when a storage tank’s pillars sank and the tank collapsed. “What’s happening in Siberia this year is nothing short of remarkable,” climate specialist Jeff Berardelli said in a tweet on June 20. “The kind of weather we expect by 2100, 80 years early. For perspective Miami has only reached 100 degrees once on record.” Via The Weather Channel Image via Sergey Gabdurakhmanov

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How sustainability professionals can uplift the black community

June 8, 2020 by  
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How sustainability professionals can uplift the black community Jarami Bond Mon, 06/08/2020 – 02:11 Dear Sustainability Community, I come to you again. It’s been three years since writing my first article for GreenBiz, ” Why diversity is the key to unlocking sustainability .” I provided a quick glimpse of the anxiety and pain that the black community feels daily and actionable steps that the sustainability community could take to advocate for diversity and stimulate unprecedented change. I write to you again today with heavy grief and a set of earnest pleas: As sustainability professionals, we must lead the cultivation of a more inclusive, equitable and safe world for all. We not only must steward the environment, but also explore ways to meet the needs of the vulnerable and create healthy platforms for people of all backgrounds to embrace commonalities, celebrate differences and heal tensions. If not us, then who? Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. George Floyd. Say their names. These are just a few of many precious lives ended tragically and prematurely by people sickened by the venom of racism. The victims were not dangerous. They were not threats. They were unarmed. In their final seconds, they were powerless and vulnerable, diminished to a point where a cry for mother was the only hope. If you really want to be a part of the change, it’s time to get uncomfortable. Please know that these narratives are not new. They are just now being videotaped and disseminated globally across social media platforms. These narratives leave me and so many in my community numb, angry, speechless, depressed, traumatized, exhausted, afraid, emboldened and so on, all simultaneously. We have been crying out for centuries, for generations. We continue even today. My good friend Joel Makower asked some poignant questions in his recent open letter . Among them: What led you to this work in the first place? Was it to protect the unprotected? To ensure the well-being of future generations? To engender community resilience? To create solutions to big, seemingly intractable problems? Or maybe, simply, to make the world a better place? I ask you to reflect with honesty on your answers to these questions. If you really want to be a part of the change, it’s time to get uncomfortable. It’s time to expand your social and professional circles. It’s time to listen. It’s time to ask questions. It’s time to engage with empathy. It’s time to study how our nation has systemically oppressed, crippled and stolen from the black community. It’s time to explore the part you have played. As you shift your posture toward this crisis, your friends, family and colleagues may look at you funny. You may have to swim upstream. I acknowledge the looming tension you may be anticipating in this polarizing moment, but I promise you that it is miniscule juxtaposed to the generational anguish through which our community continues to persevere. However, I do promise that you would not be alone in your newfound, countercultural advocacy. If you care — if you want to see justice, equity and restoration for my community, here are some actions you can take. Believe me. I encourage you to begin by picking one, two or more items from this list and leaning in wholeheartedly. Donate to your local  NAACP chapter, Black Lives Matter and the United Negro College Fund . Before voting, understand politicians’ positions on environmental and social justice as well as criminal justice reform. Hold elected officials accountable once in office. Fight against voter suppression and gerrymandering. Find and support black-owned businesses Push for your company to hire people of color. Ask your company’s HR department to hire more people of color in leadership positions. Call out workplace bias and discrimination when it happens. Promote truly inclusive workplaces. Watch movies and read books that can help educate you on the black experience and race in America. Do research to better understand and process your own biases and privilege. Learn the difference between  equality and equity . Stop appropriation . Many non-black people enjoy the social currency and financial profit derived from embracing elements of our culture, while simultaneously devaluing our very lives. Remember that silence is deadly. Address friends and family who spread ideals laced with racism and discrimination, no matter how subtle. If you witness racism and violence against, record and share the incident. Digital evidence can help protect us against people such as Amy Cooper who weaponize racism, putting innocent black lives at risk. I hope this list gives you actionable ways to get the ball rolling. Your voice and support hold weight and can go a long way in changing the narrative for my community. Don’t let the overwhelming number of ways to get involved hinder you from taking that first step toward real action. For more ways to get involved, I encourage you to explore this robust article, “75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice,” written by Corinne Shutack on Medium. In closing, I believe in us. As a community of purpose-driven professionals, we have an opportunity to help lead the conversation and lean into actions that provide hope for a better future. I would love to hear from you. You can find me at @jarami_bond on Instagram , Twitter and LinkedIn . Pull Quote If you really want to be a part of the change, it’s time to get uncomfortable. Topics Social Responsibility Environmental Justice 30 Under 30 Collective Insight 30 Under 30 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Photo by Jarami Bond

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Good, Better, Best: Reducing Your Transportation Carbon Footprint

May 7, 2020 by  
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This is the first in a series of five articles … The post Good, Better, Best: Reducing Your Transportation Carbon Footprint appeared first on Earth911.com.

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This Napa Valley winery has been farmed organically since 1985

May 5, 2020 by  
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Nestled on a gently sloping segment of land on the quiet, western end of St. Helena, California, Spottswoode Estate contains a remarkable piece of environmental history. The property became one of the first vineyards in the Napa Valley to farm 100%  organically  in 1985, eventually evolving into a leader in sustainable farming for the famous wine-growing region. In addition to being organic, the property is also solar-powered and biodynamic, all while producing world-class and sought-after vintages year after year. The family-run business has continued to inspire its peers to explore the sustainable farming practices it helped shape in the 80s. Related: LEED Gold eco hotel in the Wine Country was built using reclaimed wood The Napa Valley estate vineyard at Spottswoode was first planted in 1882. Just like many other historic vineyards and wineries in the area, Spottswoode survived Prohibition throughout the 1920s by selling grapes for use in sacramental wine. In 1985, the St. Helena property became the first winery in the valley to  farm  without the use of chemicals, pesticides or fertilizers, long before sustainability became popularized in wine marketing. In 1992, Spottswoode made history again by becoming one of the first wineries to earn CCOF organic certification. Since 2007, Spottswoode has committed to donating 1% of its gross annual revenue to supporting environmental causes with 1% for the Planet; it also became one of the earliest members of International Wineries for Climate Change. The 46-acre estate has added owl boxes, bluebird boxes, green-winged swallow boxes, bee boxes and year-round insectaries to maintain wildlife conservation  on property. The company works hard to ensure that the Spottswoode land works as its own living ecosystem while continuing to produce award-winning wine. In 2007, Spottswoode began installing solar arrays to offset its energy usage. Today the system has grown to offset 100% of its annual production and office-related energy needs and generates about 75% of its agricultural energy needs. In 2010, biodynamic farming through the use of cover crops and composting was introduced to the vineyard. The Spottswoode Winery was founded by Mary Novak in 1982, exactly 100 years after the original planting of the property’s vineyard. At the time, Mary was one of the first women to manage a major winemaking estate in Napa Valley. Since her passing in 2016, her two daughters have followed in her footsteps to run the winery as a female-led company, playing an important role in the environmental and  sustainable  practices that their mother instilled in the Napa wine industry. In 2017, Spottswoode was honored with the Green Medal Environment Award by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, California Association of Winegrape Growers, Wine Institute and Napa Valley Vintners. Mary’s daughter Beth Novak was named chair of the Napa Valley Vintners Environmental Stewardship Committee in 2019. + Spottswoode Estate Vineyard & Winery Images via Spottswoode Estate Vineyard & Winery

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This Napa Valley winery has been farmed organically since 1985

Climate Change 101: What Is Climate Change?

May 5, 2020 by  
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This article is the first of five in a series … The post Climate Change 101: What Is Climate Change? appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Indigo Ag’s plan to compensate farmers for carbon removal is attracting funders such as FedEx

April 23, 2020 by  
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The startup initially planned to have 3 million acres signed up for its Indigo Carbon program in the first year. It sextupled that goal.

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Indigo Ag’s plan to compensate farmers for carbon removal is attracting funders such as FedEx

Good, Better, Best — Cutting Down Paper Waste

April 6, 2020 by  
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This is the first in a series of articles about … The post Good, Better, Best — Cutting Down Paper Waste appeared first on Earth911.com.

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