New report warns of extreme heat of 127 degrees or more in the US

July 29, 2019 by  
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Just when you thought the environmental news couldn’t get any worse, a shocking new report warns Americans that they may be facing temperatures of 127 degrees Fahrenheit. By the year 2100, more than one-third of the U.S. population could be exposed to this kind of heat and its accompanying health risks. The county-by-county survey predicts that by mid-century, more than 250 American cities will suffer from at least one month of days where the heat index surpasses 100 degrees. Historically, this number has been 29 cities. The heat-index scale combines temperature with humidity to arrive at what the temperature feels like. Related: Extreme heat wallops the US “We were very surprised at how steeply and quickly the number of days of dangerous heat increased in such a short time,” said Kristina Dahl, senior climate scientist at Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). Dahl co-authored the dire new report, “ Killer Heat in the United States: Climate Choices and the Future of Dangerously Hot Days .” Extreme heat will hit the Southeast and Southern Great Plains the hardest. Texas and southern Arizona will also be sweltering. But even temperate areas, such as Seattle, will notice a significant increase in hot days. Humans, with a normal internal temperature of 98.6, function poorly in extreme heat. Climate researcher Tom Crowther said the increase in heat events “represents a terrifying prospect” and “a direct and immediate threat to human health and wellbeing.” Droughts, floods and wildfires will accompany the extreme temperatures. Sea level rise and compromised food production will also make life tougher. Humankind’s best hope? A fast and drastic reduction in carbon emissions . “Our past climate can no longer guide us,” said meteorologist Richard Rood. “We have to build and adapt to what’s coming.” + Union of Concerned Scientists Via National Geographic Image via Mark Hemmings

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New report warns of extreme heat of 127 degrees or more in the US

Beyond & Impossible alternative meats: are they actually healthier than the real thing?

July 29, 2019 by  
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Tempting the most loyal of carnivores, plant-based foods are spreading faster than wildfire as restaurant chains like Carl’s Jr., Del Taco, Burger King and White Castle have added alternative meats to their menus, providing vegans, vegetarians and non-meat eaters with popular food options like burgers and tacos. However, a lingering question remains— how healthy are they? Studies Say Many of us remember the infamous 2006 study revealing that livestock and meat production are generating more greenhouse gas emissions than transport. The report, released by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), was enough to make any carnivore rethink their meat consumption. At the time, Henning Steinfeld, Chief of FAO’s Livestock Information and Policy Branch and author of the report said, “Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems. Urgent action is required to remedy the situation.”  Related: Impossible Foods tests a fish-less fish protein The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the World Health Organization, released a statement classifying processed meat as a carcinogen in 2015 . It also classified red meat as a probable carcinogen. It took a total of 22 experts from 10 countries and the review of over 800 studies to reach this conclusion. They found that consuming 50 grams of processed meat each day (the equivalent of about four strips of bacon or one hot dog) could increase the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%. When it came to red meat, the report found evidence of increased risk of colorectal, pancreatic and prostate cancers. The Big Bucks More and more people are making the switch to a plant-based diet, whether for the environment , personal health or love of animals. As the vegan and vegetarian lifestyles rise in numbers, corporations are taking notice and forming strategies to take livestock out of the equation.  The plant-based meat market is already booming. According to the Good Food Institute, the sale of plant-based meat grew 10% from April 2018 to April 2019 and 37% over the past two years. Last year 11.9% of all U.S. households purchased plant-based meat, which may not sound like much, but that equates to about 15 million households. Plant-based food is currently a $4.5 billion industry and has grown 31% in the past two years. Beyond and Impossible The question of whether these plant-based meats are actually good for your health, however, still has experts debating . Unsurprisingly, the futuristic vegan burgers of two most popular plant-based meat companies in the nation have found themselves under the spotlight. By 2016, Beyond Meat released the first plant-based burger sold in grocery stores (such as Whole Foods) internationally. Impossible Foods began selling their plant-based “bleeding” burgers to fast-food brands and gourmet spots such as Bareburger and Umami Burger in 2017. The controversy first began in 2018 when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration expressed concern over soy leghemoglobin or “heme,” which is an essential ingredient in the Impossible Foods burger “meat.” The key ingredient creates the illusion of blood and aroma of real meat, and the company found a way to harvest it from plants creating a protein produced by genetically modified yeast cells. Soy is also a key ingredient in popular veggie meat patty brands, Morningstar Farms Garden Veggie Burgers and Kraft Heinz’s Boca Veggie Burgers. Beyond Meat uses beets for color and pea protein isolate, which is processed and is not considered a whole food. The Ingredients Beyond : Water, Pea Protein Isolate, Expeller-Pressed Canola Oil, Refined Coconut Oil, Rice Protein, Natural Flavors, Cocoa Butter, Mung Bean Protein, Methylcellulose, Potato Starch, Apple Extract, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Vinegar, Lemon Juice Concentrate, Sunflower Lecithin, Pomegranate Fruit Powder, Beet Juice Extract (for color). Related: Cell-based meat could replicate and replace shrimp, lobster and crab Impossible : Water, Soy Protein Concentrate, Coconut Oil, Sunflower Oil, Natural Flavors, 2% or less of: Potato Protein, Methylcellulose, Yeast Extract, Cultured Dextrose, Food Starch Modified, Soy Leghemoglobin, Salt, Soy Protein Isolate, Mixed Tocopherols (Vitamin E), Zinc Gluconate, Thiamine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B1), Sodium Ascorbate (Vitamin C), Niacin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin B12. Things to Consider While the protein content is similar to actual meat, the plant-based protein used to produce vegan meat is processed. Processed proteins should be eaten in moderation, so more isn’t necessarily better. The process isn’t nearly as synthetic or harmful as say, a twinkie, but it is still something to consider. Both burgers include coconut oil (rich in saturated fat) as a main ingredient, which the American Heart Association has risen concerns about . There is a large amount of sodium in both burgers. Beyond has 390 milligrams of sodium and Impossible has 370 mg. There is also the concerning fact that both Impossible and Beyond have yet to reveal how exactly their burgers are made. The companies consider production methods to be trade secrets, which is understandable in a business sense, but far more complicated than the cow = meat process we’ve all grown up with. When compared to a 4-ounce beef burger with 20 percent fat content, both Beyond and Impossible burgers have fewer calories, fewer grams of fat and the same amount of (or slightly more) protein. Both plant-based burgers have no cholesterol and more fiber than a regular beef burger. So, are these plant-based burgers actually healthier than the real thing? Well, it depends on the individual. High risk for colorectal cancer? Need to lay off the saturated fats or sodium? Your lifestyle, diet and personal health all need to be considered when making the switch to plant-based meats— and that’s between you and your doctor. Images via Impossible Foods, Beyond Meat

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Beyond & Impossible alternative meats: are they actually healthier than the real thing?

RISD student designs a micro-algae farm for home use

July 29, 2019 by  
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Rhode Island School of Design student Hyunseok An has created a prototype indoor micro-algae farm in a bid to sustainably and beautifully integrate algae into our everyday lives. Dubbed The Coral after its coral pattern, the micro-farm takes on the shape of a four-by-four gridded bioreactor that can be mounted on the wall like artwork. The algae that grows inside each square component is rendered visible through transparent containers so that owners can watch as the algae grows and changes color. In 1974, the U.N. World Food Conference declared algae “the most ideal food for mankind” for its rich nutritional makeup; however, popular opinion often dismisses the superfood as nothing more than pond scum. Hyunseok An, who is pursuing a master’s degree in industrial design at RISD , wants to change our perception of algae and promote its health and environmental benefits. Algae, which grows quickly with few inputs, is also lauded for its ability to sequester carbon at an absorption rate that’s estimated to be 10 times greater than typical plants. Related: Soil Algae aims to improve soil quality through algae cultures The Coral comprises 16 cells arranged in a grid pattern with two grams of algae in each culture cell — the recommended daily intake amount. Each cell replenishes its stock on a biweekly cycle so that users will always have access to the sustainable food. As the algae grows and replenishes its stock, the cell changes color from clear to varying shades of green. The coral pattern printed on the transparent cells symbolizes the reversal of “coral bleaching,” a global phenomenon where coral is irritated — the causes can be varied from sea temperature fluctuations or pollution — and expels algae, thus turning the coral completely white. “Through its use and indoor experience, The Coral aims to change the preconception of algae, suggesting a socially acceptable way of reconnecting with algae and bringing it into our everyday lives,” Hyunseok An explained in a project statement. “By doing so, The Coral can help us take one step forward to a better, more sustainable way of living for us and for our world.” + Hyunseok An Images via Hyunseok An

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Iceland will unveil monument for the first glacier lost to climate change

July 24, 2019 by  
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Scientists and local Icelanders will unveil a monument next month that memorializes the first glacier out of the country’s 400 glaciers to be lost to climate change. The Okjokull glacier, nicknamed “Ok”, no longer qualifies as a glacier, given that it is melting at a faster rate than it can expand. When this happens, glaciers become known as “dead ice”. Scientists in Iceland and Texas’ Rice University believe that this will be the fate of all Icelandic glaciers by year 2200— unless the world takes drastic action to curb climate change . “By marking Ok’s passing, we hope to draw attention to what is being lost as Earth’s glaciers expire. These bodies of ice are the largest freshwater reserves on the planet and frozen within them are histories of the atmosphere. They are also often important cultural forms that are full of significance,” said Cymene Howe, a professor at Rice University. Related:Earliest human air pollution detected in glaciers The unveiling celebration will be held on August 18 and attended by scientists, locals, media and Hiking Society members. Just 100 years ago, the glacier covered nearly six square miles and was over 150 feet thick. The plaque, located at a site where the glacier once covered, will read: “Ok is the first Icelandic glacier to lose its status as a glacier. In the next 200 years all our glaciers are expected to follow the same path. This monument is to acknowledge that we know what is happening and what needs to be done. Only you know if we did it.” The plaque is in both Icelandic and English. The plaque also monumentalizes the current count of carbon parts per million in the atmosphere, which reaches a record breaking 415 parts per million in May. “An Icelandic colleague said: ‘Memorials are not for the dead; they are for the living,’” Howe said. “We want to underscore that it is up to us, the living, to respond to the rapid loss of glaciers and the ongoing impacts of climate change. For Ok glacier it is already too late.” The Guardian Image via RICE University

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Iceland will unveil monument for the first glacier lost to climate change

This gorgeous tiny home features a greenhouse and wooden pergola

July 24, 2019 by  
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From climbing walls to a baker’s kitchen , tiny homes nowadays can be outfitted with any number of bespoke features. Now, those with a green thumb can enjoy a cabin-style tiny home with a detachable greenhouse. Designed by Olive Nest Tiny Homes , the Elsa is a gorgeous, pitched-roof home with an interior that opens up to a spacious greenhouse via a breezy pergola with a porch swing. The Elsa is a tiny home on wheels with an enviable design on its own. The exterior is clad in warm cedar shiplap siding and topped with an attractive dark gray standing seam metal pitched roof. Fourteen large windows and a glass front door provide plenty of natural light for the interior living space. Related: Dunkin’ Donuts unveils a tiny home powered by recycled coffee grounds The entrance to the home is via a wooden pergola, complete with a charming porch swing. Walking into the interior, guests will find the living space to be incredibly bright with modern decor. White shiplap walls , light-hued wooden trim and recessed lighting open up the space. Measuring just 323 square feet, the home includes a quaint living room that opens up to the full-sized kitchen with a dining counter. A narrow staircase, which pulls double duty as storage, leads up to the sleeping loft . Opposed to the oppressive loft spaces often seen in tiny homes, the bedroom is made larger thanks to the vaulted ceiling. In fact, there’s not only enough space for a queen-sized bed, but there is more than enough room for residents to stand up. The loft features original artwork by MSusan. Of course, at heart of this tiny home is the fabulous greenhouse that mounts onto the tiny home, both of which are built on trailers. Connected to the residence by the pergola, the greenhouse is surprisingly spacious with enough room to grow all kinds of fruits, herbs and veggies. + Olive Nest Tiny Homes Via Good Home Design Photography by Calvin Hanson via Olive Nest Tiny Homes

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This gorgeous tiny home features a greenhouse and wooden pergola

Climate anxiety: Is hopelessness preventing us from confronting our biggest challenge?

July 24, 2019 by  
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Every day, news reporters circulate the latest climate studies that seem to prove the world is ending. The reports appear to be working — if the goal of environmental journalists is to inform people of our existential crisis and create panic. Amidst the current fervor of political discontent, scores of people hit the streets for climate protests and evidence suggests that the marches are working — again, to inform and worry people. Since the release of a U.N. report claiming we have just 12 years to address climate change before it’s too late, hundreds of people have showed up in therapists’ offices with palpable symptoms of what practitioners are now calling “eco-anxiety” or “climate anxiety.” What is eco-anxiety? The term eco-anxiety entered the lexicon after Psychology Today described the phenomena as “a fairly recent psychological disorder afflicting an increasing number of individuals who worry about the environmental crisis.” In 2017, a report by the American Psychological Society went viral and described the term as a “chronic fear of environmental doom.” Climate or eco-anxiety are new terms and no licensed doctor will explicitly diagnose you with it, but it is increasingly discussed with patients, especially among younger patients. As a result, the American Psychological Association published a lengthy manual about climate change to help practitioners guide patients through their anxiety surrounding the climate crisis. Anxiety doesn’t discriminate Overwhelming feelings of hopelessness in the face of environmental threats around the world and at your doorstep are not specific to any one kind of person. It is not, though it may seem, only for those with enough time to read all the doomsday news, nor only for those who can afford therapists and college counselors. Those directly impacted by climate-related disasters, which are happening every week , experience “profound negative impacts” on their mental health. Disaster survivors have increased risk of depression, anxiety, anger issues, grief, post-traumatic stress disorders and even suicide. Related: Climate change will push 120 million into poverty Young people are panicking Youth in particular are stressed out about climate change, so much so that students in more than 70 countries across the world walked out of their classrooms and participated in Youth Climate Marches . Bombarded with messages about climate catastrophes for the entirety of their short lives, the youngest generation has only experienced a world where global warming is a known fact, yet adults don’t seem to be taking it seriously. Young people overwhelmingly feel despair that they will be left with a dysfunctional world, inherited from careless generations before them. This year, Harvard reported that 46 percent of people between the ages of 18 to 24 believe climate change is a crisis that requires urgent action, and this conviction is simply not mirrored by those in power. This discrepancy leads young people to feel hopeless and powerless in the face of such a large and impending catastrophe. The American Psychological Association reported that 58 percent of people born after 1995 feel stressed when they see news coverage about climate change. Is anxiety useful, though? How much is climate anxiety is “normal” or at least inevitable? After all, shouldn’t we be enraged by injustice? Shouldn’t we be sickened by the declining health of the planet? Aren’t these visceral reactions part of the process and a catalyst for change? The answer, experts say, depends on how debilitating the emotions are. The difference is between letting your anxiety prevent you from taking action or even living your daily life versus using it to fuel personal and political changes . Doctor’s orders: how to use your climate anxiety for good Below are a few tips for finding meaning, hope and progress despite what might seem like an overwhelming and unsolvable crisis. Start with yourself Even when you feel powerless, you still have the authority to make your own choices and adjust your personal behaviors. Audit your own energy and consumption patterns, and make small changes that help you feel more in control and more sustainable. Consider following a vegan diet , biking to work, refusing single-use plastics or selecting more sustainable shipping options when shopping online. Related: The pros and cons of online versus in-store shopping “Firstly, make climate change a factor in the decisions you make around what you eat, how you travel and what you buy,” said Duncan Greere , editor of the American Psychological Society report on eco-anxiety. “Secondly, talk about climate change with your friends, family and colleagues. Finally, demand that politicians and companies make it easier and cheaper to do the right thing for the climate.” Join a climate action group There are environmental and climate action groups everywhere. Research those in your areas and attend a meeting. Not only will you find solace among others who are similarly concerned, but together you can take small steps that contribute to a larger push toward sustainability. Not all groups are on the front lines protesting; there is diversity in the work that needs to be done, including contacting your representatives, planting trees , organizing beach clean-ups, advocating for plastic bans and much more. Participate in a clean-up activity Plastic pollution is one of the biggest environmental issues of our time, but there is something you can do about it now. Seeing the change you’ve made by way of a hefty trash pile properly sorted, recycled and sent to the right place can help calm your anxiety, even if just temporarily. Beach and river clean-ups are often organized by neighborhood and community groups or nature conservation groups and can be fun social activities that encourage people to get outside. Focus on local policy If you are feeling hopeless because the national government isn’t doing enough — and sometimes is doing more harm — focus on making changes at the state or local level. Oftentimes, home-grown legislators are better able to understand the local environment and can make more effective policies. For example, while the Green New Deal proposal was causing a ruckus at the national level, New York City passed its own Green New Deal. City and state governments have a better idea about specifically what ecosystems need to be protected, which infrastructure needs to become more resilient and how to pass plastic foam bans without hurting local businesses. Stay informed about solutions It’s great to stay informed and up-to-date with the news, but learn to step away from your computer, TV or newspaper when you start to feel overwhelmed or depressed. Seek out sources that provide positive news about people working toward solutions. See a therapist If your anxiety or depression is disrupting your life and mental health , don’t hesitate to seek out professional help. No, climate-anxiety cannot be diagnosed, but it manifests similarly as general anxiety, and therapists are well-equipped with tools to help you cope and overcome. Via The Washington Post Images via Pixabay , Jonathan Kemper , Jaymantri and Rika C

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Luxury condo in Budapest will bring residents closer to nature

July 24, 2019 by  
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Hungarian architect István Benyei’s design studio has created a new luxury condo for Budapest that will immerse residents in nature. Conceived as a tranquil getaway from the hustle and bustle of city living, the proposed Budapest condo will comprise four apartments that boast views of the forest, gardens and water. To reduce impact on the environment, the construction will follow passive house principles and preserve existing trees. Nestled in Budapest’s forested hills, the planned condo takes advantage of its lush surroundings with full-height glazing on all floors and covered balconies. The building’s location on a steep plot allows it to be almost completely hidden from view; the top floor will be level with the street. To minimize visual interference with the landscape, the architects have tucked the parking garage underground so that the entrance will be accessed via a footbridge. Rather than fencing, subtle architectural and landscaping solutions were used to mark property lines. “As our lives become increasingly metropolitan, many of us are seeking to be closer to nature,” the architecture studio explained in a project statement. “The pace of urban life can be exhausting as we lose ourselves to our mobile phones and the digital age, which can make the importance of connections with our fellow humans all the more significant. Restoring our connection with both nature and personal relationships is crucial for a harmonious lifestyle, and that’s the overriding thought behind Benyei’s architecture studio’s latest plan. The modern-day sense of a luxury residential space goes beyond quality of design or premium construction materials; the true luxury is a building’s ability to unite family, friends and the silence of nature.” Related: Solar-powered POP-UP Park takes over underused Budapest square The four apartments vary in size from 130 to 290 square meters, and each will have a private terrace and a private garden with water features that help reflect light into the living spaces. The building will be topped with an undulating roof that echoes the surrounding hilly topography. The building is slated for completion in 2020. + István Bényei -B13 architect Ltd. Images via István Bényei -B13 architect Ltd.

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Luxury condo in Budapest will bring residents closer to nature

Natures silent soldiers aiding in the fight against air pollution

July 19, 2019 by  
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Cities should be planting more trees, but the reasons why may be more complicated than you think. As it turns out, trees provide so much more than aesthetics and a way for humans to connect with nature. More and more research is emerging about how the proper implementation of tree planting in urban areas and cities could help solve growing environmental issues. We already know that nature can improve mental health . It can inspire positive engagement with community and provide the kind of groundedness one needs to live in the moment. A 2017 study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology examined the emotional effects of taking time to notice nature versus human-built objects by dividing participants into three different groups. The group instructed to pay more attention to nature had significantly higher levels of elevating experiences, a sense of connectedness and intent to help others. That means you don’t necessarily have to plan an epic week-long camping trip (though that sounds great!) to reap nature’s benefits. Something as simple as walking through a park on your morning commute or stopping to admire a tree at the bus stop can create positive effects. Related: The Akshar Foundation is creating sustainable schools to teach children important life skills A report published by the Nature Conservatory in 2016 found that investing $100 million annually in tree planting in cities could provide cooler temperatures for 77 million people and cleaner air for 68 million people. That’s a pretty important statistic, considering that a “vast majority” of humanity will be living in cities, towns and other urban areas by the year 2050. When it comes to pollution , the bulk of cities are most greatly affected by particulate matter, AKA the consequence of burning fossil fuels from cars and factories. Fine particulate matter inhalation into the lungs alone causes an estimated 3.2 million deaths per year from complications such as stroke, heart disease and respiratory illness. According to the report, by the year 2050 this number could almost double if something isn’t done. The good news is, the leaves of trees act as an absorber of these pesky pollutants, and the matter itself can get caught or retained on the tree surfaces. Fortunately, we already have some of the answers to these pressing problems. The Nature Conservatory studied 245 cities in 2016 to find that trees are already providing humans with benefits such as reductions in fine particulate matter and reduction in summer maximum temperatures , and that was just the trees that were already there. Significant tree cover in cities can also help reduce the need for air conditioning, reducing utility costs and lowering energy usage. Tree planting, when combined with other strategies, appears to be a cost-effective, simple way to improve the environment and soak up air pollution, all while beautifying the neighborhood. In order to make this approach most effective, the types of trees planted must be considered as well. Trees with larger leaves provide more sufficient shade and are more productive in absorbing pollutants. Species that are less susceptible to drought may also be considered in areas where water is more scarce. Maintenance is another factor to consider, as it may not cost much to plant the trees in the first place, but watering, pruning and protecting against diseases all require added costs and labor for city trees. Trees aren’t the only air purifiers in the natural world. Certain types of moss can produce oxygen while binding environmental toxins such as particulate matter and nitrogen oxides, which at high levels can damage the ozone layer and human lungs. Berlin-based company Green City Solutions is creating irrigated city park benches made of condensed moss. The benches have the ability to absorb air pollutants and use installed fans to create large area-covering air flow. In 2018, Goodyear released a tire design made with living moss that helps improve air quality as you drive. Air pollution was the theme for the 2019 World Environmental Day , held on June 5. Thousands of people took to social media to show their support with the hashtag  #BeatAirPollution and pledging to make lifestyle choices to support the fight for cleaner air. Officials from different countries made big announcements involving environmental issues such as Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, revealing a ban on single-use plastics in national parks. Other politicians who joined were Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s who pledged to phase out coal-use in Canada by 2030 and Chilean President Sebastian Piñera’s plan for Chile to go carbon neutral by the year 2050. UN Secretary-General António Guterres was quoted saying, “My message to governments is clear: tax pollution; end fossil fuel subsidies; and stop building new coal plants. People everywhere are demanding action. On World Environment Day, let us heed their call.” Via UN Environment Images via Shutterstock

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Natures silent soldiers aiding in the fight against air pollution

Extreme heat wallops US

July 18, 2019 by  
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If you live in the central or eastern U.S., it’s time to fill your ice trays and seek shade as a major heat wave will put 50 million Americans under a heat warning this week. People in Nashville, Chicago, Kansas City, Philadelphia, New York, Washington, D.C. and many other cities will be fanning themselves as temperatures top 95 degrees. High humidity will intensify the effect. “The prolonged duration of the heat and humidity will potentially become dangerous to those most vulnerable,” the National Weather Service warned. The heat wave will probably last at least three days. Related: Heatwave roasts mussels alive in California Climate scientists predict that by the mid-21st century, Americans will face an average of 36 days annually when the heat index surpasses 100 degrees, and 24 days when it exceeds 105. By 2100, those numbers could rise to 54 and 40. “Our analysis shows a hotter future that’s hard to imagine today,” said UCS senior climate scientist Kristina Dahl, according to Newsweek . In addition to direct health risks of scorching weather , heat waves bring other dangers and inconveniences to cities. More people cranking air conditioners lead to power fails. Places like Manhattan— which is served by underground delivery systems that heat up as the ground gets hot— are especially susceptible to blackouts. Scientists predict that the current heat wave will bring record high overnight lows in many cities, and that this pattern will also continue to rise with climate change. This phenomenon presents a serious health risk, as people’s bodies don’t have a chance to cool overnight. Via EcoWatch Image via NASA Earth Observatory

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Yes, climate marches are working

July 5, 2019 by  
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If you’re on social media or watch the news, you probably noticed that protest marches have increased in incidence and popularity in this era of Trump. The President’s political and personal actions have sent the opposition out on the streets, including mass protests for issues from women’s rights to climate change and everything in between. Up until recently, social scientists believed aggressive protests alienate activists from potential supporters, but the massive popularity of recent climate marches have turned this idea on its head. The popularity of the People’s Climate March (2017) and Youth Climate Strike (2019) spurred participation from all walks of life and changed the stereotypical face of an activist to be– well, anyone. This critical shift may render marches one of the most powerful political tools. Trump’s election was a “blessing for the climate movement.” His anti-environment policies, like closing national parks and slashing the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget, have galvanized the opposition and united groups that don’t agree on much except that Trump is terrible for the environment. Related: Climate change will push 120 million into poverty Climate fanatics have become likeable A new study from Penn State University examined public opinion before and after the March for Science and the Peoples’ Climate March, both in 2017, and found that unlike previous marches, these helped boost likability and support. So, what is different about climate activists? All of the nearly 600 people interviewed heard about the marches through the media, but did not attend. The results of the survey indicated that across political affiliation, participants reported that the activists were “less arrogant, less whiny and less eccentric” than other activists. Clearly, activists have a negative connotation in the minds of the American public, but something about these climate marchers was slightly different. Activists get a bad rep A widely cited study on activism from 2013 concluded that depending on the tactics, certain acts of civil disobedience lose supporters. For example, acts viewed aggressive, militant or wasteful (think: throwing red paint on a fur coat) mostly earn activists scorn— but not support. These feelings of scorn reduce peoples’ willingness “to adopt the behaviors that these activities promoted,” the research team from the University of Toronto reported . “If you were a bystander in 2017, if you were looking at the march, you’d see people of faith, labor unions, people of color and frontline communities,” the director of the People’s Climate Movement, Paul Getsos said about the March. “It wasn’t your typical kind of activist march; it counters the narrative that no one cares about climate change. If we were just mobilizing the usual activist base, I know for a fact it wouldn’t have had the same impact.” What is the point of marches? In general, the goal of a march is to inspire people to support the cause and to get government to act. In her article “ To have impact, the People’s Climate March needs to reach beyond activists ,” Jill Hopkes argued the goal of marches needed to be to gain attention and support from people who did not already support the cause. Garnering this far-reaching impact is incredibly important and it’s where marches can get it right or get it wrong. Surprisingly, survey respondents of the University of Tornoto study, who identify as conservative, reported an increase in what researchers call “collective efficacy.” This means an increase in their belief that together, we can solve the climate crisis . Climate marches, because of their palatability and sheer numbers, may make a difference in terms of gaining supporters across the aisle, but will that lead to action? In an op-ed for Grist, Director of Climate Justice for the Center for Popular Democracy, Aura Vasquez, argued that this intentionality to reach not only across aisles but across cultures is critical. “It’s about sending a message of unity that crosses color lines and income scales. It’s about demonstrating the diversity of the climate movement, the diversity that gives us our strength,” wrote Vasquez. Related: Polls show climate change is a determining issue for 2020 elections The Climate Movement started at Standing Rock Aura Vasquez also makes sure to give credit where credit is due, citing: “Standing Rock is when the movement truly bloomed, bringing together thousands of people from every corner of the country to block a pipeline that threatens ancient water sources and blatantly disregards treaties with sovereign First Nation.” As the protests at Standing Rock bubbled and grew into something larger than just a small sect of activists, the indigenous-led movement began to make “a powerful argument that wove together environmental, racial and economic justice, water protectors were able to attract both die-hard climate activists and allies brand-new to the cause,” said Vasquez. From there, the momentum for the climate and science marches grew. Suddenly, with over 300 marches throughout the country, the climate movement became something that everyone could get involved with, even those who weren’t militant (or privileged) enough to skip out on work and fly to North Dakota to protest a pipeline. Inclusive tactics will reach non-believers Researchers and critics of general marches have suggestions for how the activists can be more inclusive and effective, including more carefully selecting who is the face of the protest and what messages they use in order to avoid the “whiny, arrogant and eccentric” stereotype. Seasoned environmentalists may have thought people would join their fight when the science came out over 30 years ago that fossil fuels were altering the climate. But the truth is that emissions have gotten drastically worse. It’s clear, then, that facts from scientists might convince some, but they aren’t enough to sway the public. Climate Outreach suggests that the visuals used by both the media and the activists themselves also have a role to play in their reputation and supporters they attract. According to the climate communication advisors, visuals that show the negative impacts of climate change alongside positive solutions help people understand the gravity of the crisis. Climate Outreach also encourages “careful use” of protest imagery, since many people still do not identify with activism. However, to the extent that protest images show diversity and unification– rather than aggression– this new research indicates these images may be the turning point toward finally achieving political action, together. Via Grist Images via Mark Dixon, NiklasPntk , filmbetrachterin

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Yes, climate marches are working

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