New Office of Climate Change and Health Equity announced

August 31, 2021 by  
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The U.S. Office of Climate Change and Health Equity will be charged with protecting vulnerable communities from climate-driven disasters. Responding to President Joe  Biden’s  executive order on climate change, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the new office Monday. “History will judge us for the actions we take today to protect our world and our health from  climate change ,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra in a statement released Monday. “The consequences for our inaction are real and worsening. We’ve always known that health is at the center of climate change, and now we’re going to double-down on a necessity: fighting climate change in order to help protect public health in our communities.” Related: Evacuations ordered as Caldor Fire moves toward Lake Tahoe OCCHE plans to play a pivotal role in protecting  health  both in the U.S. and abroad. Its mandate includes identifying communities that face disproportionate exposure to climate hazards and addressing their health disparities. The office will promote research on the public health benefits of climate actions and translate that research for the public. OCCHE will also lend its expertise to the White House and federal agencies working on climate change and health equity. With the Caldor Fire still raging in the west and Hurricane Ida’s trail of ruin in the east, help for those with few resources cannot come soon enough. “Climate change is turbo-charging the horrific  wildfires , extreme heat, and devastating floods that are killing people and making millions more sick from exposure to unhealthy smoke, mold and debilitating heat,” said National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy in a statement. “The new HHS Office of Climate Change and Health Equity is fulfilling President Biden’s vision to bring America’s world-class medical community into the fight against climate change—a fight for our health that ensures no community is left behind.” Via Department of Health and Human Services Lead image via Gage Skidmore

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New Office of Climate Change and Health Equity announced

The Cup Hero separates coffee pods for recycling and composting

August 31, 2021 by  
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We’ve written about the  problems with single-use coffee pods  before — a majority of these little capsules end up in landfills and contribute to the world’s growing plastic pollution issues. There are plenty of alternatives, from  biodegradable  and compostable pods to refillable pods, but for coffee lovers reluctant to switch to sustainable alternatives, there’s the Cup Hero. Inventor Connor Feeney got the idea while watching his family make their morning cups of coffee using popular disposable coffee pods, and upon taking one apart discovered that the components were all either recyclable or compostable. At the same time, the process of separating the plastic , foil, and organic materials by hand was too difficult and messy to do on a regular basis. Armed with a masters degree in engineering from Northwestern University, Feeney designed the Cup Hero himself, later performing the marketing, intellectual property, distribution, and finance, as well.  Related: Xoma Superfoods delivers coffee options in single-serve, plant-based pods The Cup Hero uses one simple tool to separate the plastic cup, aluminum foil lid, paper filter, coffee grounds, and internal plastic ring in under 10 seconds. Simply insert the tool to the top of the pod, twist, and detach the different parts. That way, every component of the single-use pod can be sorted, processed and recycled (the plastic and aluminum going into the recycle, and the coffee ground and paper filter into the compost). According to the company, its primary objectives are “to reduce the amount of single-use, disposable plastic that enters our landfills, empower individuals to adopt sustainable practices, and spotlight a significant environmental issue that millions of people contribute to each day – often without realizing the larger impact.” The Cup Hero will be available through a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter in the fall. + The Cup Hero Images courtesy of Connor Feeney

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The Cup Hero separates coffee pods for recycling and composting

How many trees are needed to offset a city’s carbon emissions?

August 26, 2021 by  
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Trees are nature’s lungs. While we enjoy their beauty, shade and fruits of their existence, they are silently working to clean the air. The natural process of all plants taking in carbon and releasing oxygen not only gives us clean air to breathe but also stores carbon that otherwise contributes to global warming . Countries around the world are in a race to find solutions for these types of greenhouse gases, which are a result of human activities like driving cars and manufacturing goods. While the push for electric vehicles and renewable energy through  solar panels , wind power and hydroelectricity takes the spotlight, another part of the solution equation is growing all around us in the form of trees. Related: Three Americans’ lifetime emissions enough to kill one person The simple fact is, planting trees is an exceptional tool in the fight against climate change. With this in mind,  Compare The Market  has presented its most recent research on the number of trees capital cities around the world would need to plant annually to offset the carbon emissions they contribute to the atmosphere. The study is based on information available through the Global Carbon Atlas Global City Emissions dataset, which measures emissions levels. While major cities work to reverse, slow down and stop the creation of these carbon emissions, what is the estimated number of trees it would take to counterbalance them? Which countries are the highest contributors and which have the lowest  environmental  impact? According to the data, Asia has some work to do. Five of the ten top carbon-emitting capital cities are in Asia. Note that for comparative purposes, the dataset measures transport, industrial,  waste  and local power plants emissions within city boundaries. The report combined data to show the total amount of carbon produced alongside the number of trees it would take to offset it. For example, the five cities in Asia, which include Beijing, Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Seoul, release a combined 219,506,539 tCO2 annually. The cities would have to plant 43,901,308 trees each year to offset those emissions. Individually, Beijing would need to plant 15,020,976 trees, followed by Singapore with 9,366,336 and Hong Kong with 8,975,292. Tokyo needs a 5,522,200-plant offset and Seoul 5,016,504. Other cities in the top 10 were Istanbul, Lagos, Santiago, London and Mexico City.  An energy spokesperson at Compare The Market comments, “Becoming carbon neutral is an essential goal for countries around the world, and as pledges roll in to reach this target by 2050 and beyond, immediate action is needed. One way we have studied is to offset emissions by planting trees which is great for absorbing CO2, with added benefits of supporting the ecosystem and  wildlife .” The tree offset calculation is based on information sourced from Carbonify.com’s carbon dioxide emissions calculator. The estimates are based on the assumption that five  trees  planted can clean up each ton of carbon dioxide produced.  The study stated, “A tree planted in the humid tropics absorbs on average 50 pounds (22 kg) of carbon dioxide annually over 40 years – each tree will absorb 1 ton of CO2 over its lifetime; but as trees grow, they compete for resources and some may die or be destroyed – not all will achieve their full carbon sequestration potential.” On the other end of the data spectrum are the countries performing better in the battle of low carbon emissions. For these results, a few substitutions were made in the face of missing data. Toronto, Milan and Basel were substituted to include Canada, Italy and Switzerland in the study. Reykjavik, Iceland was the least carbon-emitting capital in the study with total emissions of 346,630 tCO2 per year. The city would still have some work to do, planting 69,326 trees annually to offset its footprint. Of all the cities in the study, Reykjavik was the only one to come in below the 500,000 tCO2-produced mark. Even though nearly 70,000 is still a lot of trees, it was also the only city to have an estimate below 100,000 trees per year to offset carbon emissions. New Zealand took second place for carbon control with annual emissions of 621,179 tCO2. For Wellington to neutralize this, it will have to plant 124,236 trees a year. Basel, Switzerland, had the third-lowest number to plant at 156,786 trees to offset its 783,932 tCO2 footprint. Every other city in the study came in at over 200,000 trees a year. The study provides one tool in an array of options to reduce carbon release. Planting trees alone isn’t a sustainable solution, but neither is focusing solely on renewable energy or  recycling . To achieve goals set by world leaders, it will take a combination of actions across a range of environmental fields.  “The number of trees required may seem very high in cities like Beijing which would need to plant over 15 million trees, but this is if we only used plant power alone. There are many other initiatives and technologies in place, like the government incentives, which present lots of opportunities to offset carbon emissions on a small and large scale,” the spokesman said. + Compare The Market Images via Pixabay

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How many trees are needed to offset a city’s carbon emissions?

How many trees are needed to offset a city’s carbon emissions?

August 26, 2021 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

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Trees are nature’s lungs. While we enjoy their beauty, shade and fruits of their existence, they are silently working to clean the air. The natural process of all plants taking in carbon and releasing oxygen not only gives us clean air to breathe but also stores carbon that otherwise contributes to global warming . Countries around the world are in a race to find solutions for these types of greenhouse gases, which are a result of human activities like driving cars and manufacturing goods. While the push for electric vehicles and renewable energy through  solar panels , wind power and hydroelectricity takes the spotlight, another part of the solution equation is growing all around us in the form of trees. Related: Three Americans’ lifetime emissions enough to kill one person The simple fact is, planting trees is an exceptional tool in the fight against climate change. With this in mind,  Compare The Market  has presented its most recent research on the number of trees capital cities around the world would need to plant annually to offset the carbon emissions they contribute to the atmosphere. The study is based on information available through the Global Carbon Atlas Global City Emissions dataset, which measures emissions levels. While major cities work to reverse, slow down and stop the creation of these carbon emissions, what is the estimated number of trees it would take to counterbalance them? Which countries are the highest contributors and which have the lowest  environmental  impact? According to the data, Asia has some work to do. Five of the ten top carbon-emitting capital cities are in Asia. Note that for comparative purposes, the dataset measures transport, industrial,  waste  and local power plants emissions within city boundaries. The report combined data to show the total amount of carbon produced alongside the number of trees it would take to offset it. For example, the five cities in Asia, which include Beijing, Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Seoul, release a combined 219,506,539 tCO2 annually. The cities would have to plant 43,901,308 trees each year to offset those emissions. Individually, Beijing would need to plant 15,020,976 trees, followed by Singapore with 9,366,336 and Hong Kong with 8,975,292. Tokyo needs a 5,522,200-plant offset and Seoul 5,016,504. Other cities in the top 10 were Istanbul, Lagos, Santiago, London and Mexico City.  An energy spokesperson at Compare The Market comments, “Becoming carbon neutral is an essential goal for countries around the world, and as pledges roll in to reach this target by 2050 and beyond, immediate action is needed. One way we have studied is to offset emissions by planting trees which is great for absorbing CO2, with added benefits of supporting the ecosystem and  wildlife .” The tree offset calculation is based on information sourced from Carbonify.com’s carbon dioxide emissions calculator. The estimates are based on the assumption that five  trees  planted can clean up each ton of carbon dioxide produced.  The study stated, “A tree planted in the humid tropics absorbs on average 50 pounds (22 kg) of carbon dioxide annually over 40 years – each tree will absorb 1 ton of CO2 over its lifetime; but as trees grow, they compete for resources and some may die or be destroyed – not all will achieve their full carbon sequestration potential.” On the other end of the data spectrum are the countries performing better in the battle of low carbon emissions. For these results, a few substitutions were made in the face of missing data. Toronto, Milan and Basel were substituted to include Canada, Italy and Switzerland in the study. Reykjavik, Iceland was the least carbon-emitting capital in the study with total emissions of 346,630 tCO2 per year. The city would still have some work to do, planting 69,326 trees annually to offset its footprint. Of all the cities in the study, Reykjavik was the only one to come in below the 500,000 tCO2-produced mark. Even though nearly 70,000 is still a lot of trees, it was also the only city to have an estimate below 100,000 trees per year to offset carbon emissions. New Zealand took second place for carbon control with annual emissions of 621,179 tCO2. For Wellington to neutralize this, it will have to plant 124,236 trees a year. Basel, Switzerland, had the third-lowest number to plant at 156,786 trees to offset its 783,932 tCO2 footprint. Every other city in the study came in at over 200,000 trees a year. The study provides one tool in an array of options to reduce carbon release. Planting trees alone isn’t a sustainable solution, but neither is focusing solely on renewable energy or  recycling . To achieve goals set by world leaders, it will take a combination of actions across a range of environmental fields.  “The number of trees required may seem very high in cities like Beijing which would need to plant over 15 million trees, but this is if we only used plant power alone. There are many other initiatives and technologies in place, like the government incentives, which present lots of opportunities to offset carbon emissions on a small and large scale,” the spokesman said. + Compare The Market Images via Pixabay

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How many trees are needed to offset a city’s carbon emissions?

Sierra Nevada red fox to be listed as an endangered species

August 4, 2021 by  
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The Sierra Nevada red fox is to be listed as an endangered species following a decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Tuesday. The slender, bushy-tailed fox is one of the rarest mammals in the U.S., and its population has been threatened since the 1970s. According to the federal wildlife officials, the population of the red foxes has dropped to just 40 in an area stretching from Lake Tahoe to the south of Yosemite National Park in California. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said in a ruling that the foxes in the part of the Sierra Nevada south of Tahoe are “in danger of extinction throughout all of its range”. While the agency has admitted not having a clear number of the remaining animals , it is estimated that just about 40 are left within their range in California. Related: Critically endangered bird found alive in Hawaii “While the exact number remains unknown and is also subject to change with new births and deaths , it is well below population levels that would provide resiliency, redundancy and representation to the population,” the agency said in a statement. Several threats have been identified as the main causes of declining numbers for the red foxes. Among them are wildfires, drought and competition in coyotes. They are also threatened due to increased breeding with non-native foxes. Another factor that has affected their population is climate change . About 20 years ago, some scientists declared the red fox extinct in the Sierra Nevada region; this changed when a small pack resurfaced in 2010. California banned the trapping of red foxes in 1974, a situation that has remained to date. There have been several attempts to get the Sierra Nevada red foxes recognized as endangered species in the past without success. The Center for Biological Diversity petitioned the federal government to protect the animals in 2011 and filed a lawsuit in 2013 and 2019. In 2020, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to have the foxes listed as endangered. The Sierra Nevada red fox is among the 10 North American subspecies of the red fox. With a small dog-like body, this red fox measures just 3.5 feet long and has long, pointed ears and a large tail. Via The Guardian Lead image via USFWS Pacific Southwest Region

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Sierra Nevada red fox to be listed as an endangered species

Sanya Farm Lab honors architecture, culture and agriculture

July 26, 2021 by  
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The new Sanya Farm Lab is a four-story exhibition space that provides 4,000 square meters of space for education, play and innovative ideas. It is located in Nanfan High Tech District of Sanya, the southernmost city on tropical Hainan Island, an area transitioning into a scientific and agricultural research hub. The Sanya Farm Lab reflects the surrounding area, where the government is investing in research around critical issues like environmental changes, land/water scarcity and food production. Related: ZHA designs sustainable expansion to China’s largest international exhibition center The multifunctional research compound and commercial display space features exhibitions covering high-tech advancements like agricultural robotics and indoor vertical farming . The goal of the project is to highlight agricultural advancement, a mission the building design honors by blurring the lines between indoors and outdoors. This is achieved through massive windows that stream natural light into the building as well as indoor landscaping and plants. In a press release, Beijing-based CLOU Architects explained that the structure was developed around platforms, stairs and shade. The focus began by detailing the outdoor public spaces first, with a well-planned cantilever on the second floor, which houses the organic restaurant and bar areas. The cantilevered design creates a rain shelter and passive cooling for the first floor below. Platforms center around the farm-to-table dining space, a theater and a children’s play area. Curved staircases connect the indoor and outdoor spaces in a nod to the curves of nature. The final layer is the deep roof grid structure, made of wood , that reduces sunlight absorption by 70% and improves energy efficiency. Natural ventilation is achieved by the design, too. The grid design pays homage to the traditional house of Hainan Li, embracing the cultural Chinese heritage of the area. Sanya Farm Lab is one of many projects by CLOU Architects. The team’s fingerprints on the project speak to their mission to “strive to realize projects that will positively influence the people involved in its process, the environment , and the communities who live and work there.” + CLOU architects Photography by Shining Laboratory via v2com

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Sanya Farm Lab honors architecture, culture and agriculture

France announces end of male chick culling

July 22, 2021 by  
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Being shredded alive. Getting gassed. It sounds like a horror movie, but in fact, it’s the true crime genre. But no more, say the French. France announced on Sunday that as of next year, male chicks can no longer be culled Around the world, about 7 billion male chicks are killed every year. Approximately 50 million of these unfortunates are born in France. Why this fowl sexism? Male chicks produce neither  eggs  nor meat. And then there’s all that crowing, and at such an ungodly hour. For these crimes, they are electrocuted, ground up alive, gassed, or even asphyxiated with plastic bags. Related: KFC confirms suppliers’ chickens suffer from footpad dermatitis Three-quarters of French people said their government wasn’t doing enough to protect animals, according to an opinion poll early last year. Officials are listening. “France is the first country in the world, along with Germany, to end the crushing and gassing of male chicks,” said Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie on the daily news website Le Parisien, according to Reuters. In May,  Germany  banned culling male chicks by 2022. But don’t expect a sudden increase in les coqs .  Instead, the French plan something akin to chicken abortions. Chicken breeders will need to use machines that can determine the sex of chicks before hatching. France is planning a 10 million euro financial aid package for  farmers  to acquire the necessary sexing equipment. However, whether this can be done successfully on a mass scale remains to be seen. As for the developing males in eggs, perhaps France can develop a new delicacy, something like the Filipino street food balut ,  which is a fertilized duck egg containing an embryo. Now France and Germany are encouraging other EU countries to ban culling male chicks. “The killing of large numbers of day-old chicks is, of course, an ethical issue,” said EU Food Safety Commissioner Stella Kyriakides at a meeting of  agricultural  ministers, according to Euractiv. She announced plans to “look very carefully at the issue and find the best possible solution” during an upcoming review of EU animal welfare rules. Via Ecowatch , The Guardian , Euractiv Lead image via Pixabay

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France announces end of male chick culling

New bill regulating carbon offset market could attract farmers

July 9, 2021 by  
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Some farmers are turning to carbon capture to make cash outside of traditional farming practices. A new Senate bill could help attract even more farmers to these programs. One farmer taking part in carbon capture programs is Kelly Garrett, a western Iowa farmer who runs a 7,000-acre farm. Traditionally, Garrett has farmed corn and soybeans, but he began incorporating carbon-sequestering processes for income last year. Since contacting Nori, a carbon-market broker, Garrett has earned $150,000 through carbon capture in his soil . Although Garrett’s farm was already ripe for carbon harvesting when he started, it’s difficult to estimate the actual amount of carbon stored.  Related: Carbon dioxide levels in atmosphere reach record high Quantifying the amount of carbon absorbed by farmers has been a big challenge since these programs began. After all, as a report by Grist explains, the carbon offset market “is built on the idea that money will persuade someone, somewhere, to remove  additional   carbon dioxid e from the air.” Critics argue that most carbon offset projects do not work and instead allow corporations to pay money to avoid taking responsibility for their pollution.  The first offset scheme started in 1989 when AES Corporation sought to build a carbon-neutral coal -fired power plant north of New London, Connecticut. The company paid about $2 million to small farmers to plant about 50 million trees that were supposed to absorb all CO2 emissions produced by the plant over 40 years. Although the project worked to some extent, most farmers ended up cutting the trees before the 40 years were up. To address the lack of regulation in carbon offset markets, the U.S. Senate passed a bill last month to get the federal government fully involved. The Growing Climate Solutions Act could help hold corporations responsible and provide farmers with the support needed to adopt practices they have been reluctant to try for years. However, this all depends on how the bill is enacted. Again, critics worry that this carbon offset process falls short of actually helping the environment. “The atmosphere might not be winning here,” said Lauren Gifford, a geographer at the University of Arizona who has studied carbon policy. “But these carbon offsets have provided a very fruitful funding source for conservation .” Via Grist Lead image via Pexels

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New bill regulating carbon offset market could attract farmers

Exxon lobbyist’s gaffes expose attempts to block climate policies

July 6, 2021 by  
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Everybody says things in private they wouldn’t want publicly broadcast. But when you’re in a very public role, you need to watch what you say carefully, as Exxon Mobil lobbyist Keith McCoy was reminded this week when his indiscreet comments went viral. Greenpeace released video clips of McCoy talking to undercover activists posing as job recruiters. McCoy discussed his lobbying strategies, such as working with “shadow groups” and trying to influence senators to oppose climate elements of President Biden’s infrastructure overhaul. He boasted that he talked to West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin’s office every week, attempting to block policies that would hurt Exxon. Realted: Exxon’s leaked documents reveal devastating pollution plan The oil giant, of course, is trying to distance itself from McCoy’s embarrassing comments. Darren Woods, chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil, released a statement saying that McCoy’s words do not represent Exxon’s views. “We condemn the statements and are deeply apologetic for them, including comments regarding interactions with elected officials,” he said. The company has reiterated that it really, truly supports the Paris climate agreement . McCoy, too, is trying to distance himself from, well, himself. He wrote on LinkedIn, “I am deeply embarrassed by my comments and that I allowed myself to fall for Greenpeace’s deception. My statements clearly do not represent ExxonMobil’s positions on important public policy issues.” The unfortunate comments come at a perfect time to be used against Exxon in upcoming congressional hearings about oil companies and climate change . “We demand Congress immediately investigate Exxon and fossil fuel companies’ climate crimes, and make polluters pay for their destruction,” said Lindsay Meiman of the climate activist group 350.org, as reported by NPR . Representative Ro Khanna chairs the House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on the Environment. He said that he will hold a hearing this coming fall regarding “climate disinformation & the coordinated attack on scientific truth among polluters and their lobbyists.” Khanna plans to call Exxon, Chevron and other fossil fuel company CEOs to testify. Via NPR Image via Mike Mozart

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Exxon lobbyist’s gaffes expose attempts to block climate policies

US govt scientist denied approval to discuss link between climate change and severe fires

November 1, 2017 by  
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Is the United States government blocking scientists from talking about climate change ? Forest Service research ecologist William Jolly was slated to give a presentation titled “Climate-Induced Variations in Global Severe Fire Weather Conditions” at the International Fire Congress – but was denied approval to go to the conference. And the Environmental Protection Agency recently reportedly blocked three scientists from talking about climate change at a Rhode Island event. Jolly, who works at the Rocky Mountain Research Station in Montana, was going to give a 30-minute talk in Florida at the November 28 through December 2 conference hosted by the Association for Fire Ecology (AFE). According to Scientific American , critics are saying Donald Trump’s administration is suppressing the spread of science paid for by taxpayers. The Department of Agriculture , parent agency of the Forest Service, said regional managers mostly determine who will attend conferences based partly on available financial resources, and that political appointees do have the final word but don’t tend to weigh in on which people are chosen. Related: US DOI scientist claims he was reassigned for speaking up on climate change Spokesperson Mike Illenberg said in a statement, “Our front line supervisors and managers weigh a variety of factors including cost, frequency of employee travel, conference location, the number of other employees attending, among other factors in making our business decisions about conference attendance. Based on their recommendations and resource availability, Forest Service leadership gives final approval.” Researchers with the Rocky Mountain Research Station’s Human Dimensions Science Program were also denied travel authorizations – one was Karin Riley, AFE’s board of directors’ vice president, who researches the relationship between wildfires and climate. Three scientists from the United States Geological Survey scheduled to speak about climate change at the wildfire conference are still waiting for a response on their travel requests. Firefighters United for Safety, Ethics, and Ecology executive director Timothy Ingalsbee said, “While the number of acres burned, homes destroyed, civilians killed, and tax dollars spent on suppression are going way up, why is the number of Forest Service scientists and managers meeting at professional science conferences and technical training workshops going way down?” Via Scientific American Images via Bureau of Land Management California on Flickr and Depositphotos

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US govt scientist denied approval to discuss link between climate change and severe fires

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