Black farmers are rebuilding agriculture in coal country

January 19, 2022 by  
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Jason Tartt saw opportunity in the terraced hillsides of his native West Virginia, both for restoring the land and for other Black farmers.

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Black farmers are rebuilding agriculture in coal country

Manchin opposes Build Back Better and Biden’s climate agenda

December 21, 2021 by  
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One Democratic Party holdout has stopped Biden’s Build Back Better plan in its tracks. On Sunday, Senator Joe Manchin III (D-W. Va.) declined to support Build Back Better, leaving many worried about legislation partly designed to slow climate change. The Senate currently has 50 Republicans, 48 Democrats and two independents, who generally side with the Democrats. Manchin’s support was critical for Build Back Better. Related: Biden’s $2 trillion climate plan: create millions of jobs, reverse climate change The far-reaching plan included grants, tax credits and other policies to lower greenhouse gas emissions . Many environmentalists worry that now the US will fail to meet climate goals. “Without Build Back Better, the 2030 target is certainly still feasible, but it’s going to be a lot harder to reach,” said John Larsen, a director at the Rhodium Group, an independent energy research firm , as reported by the Washington Post. “In one action, the federal government was going to get halfway there.” In addition to funding the largest effort in U.S. history to combat climate change , Build Back Better promises two years of free preschool to every family, the biggest expansion of affordable health care coverage in a decade, programs to bring down costs for the middle class, a huge investment in childcare and eldercare, tax cuts for more than 35 million households and expands free school meal programs, among other things. Manchin’s lack of support can’t really come as a huge shock to other Democrats. The West Virginia senator said for months that he wouldn’t back the plan if it cost more than $1.5 trillion, which he later expanded to $1.75 trillion. Instead, Biden’s plan cost considerably more. Critics accuse Manchin of valuing the millions he makes from his family’s waste coal business and his support for the oil and gas industry, over a clean energy future for America. Manchin says the plan’s price tag is too high, making him worried about inflation. He also thinks the childcare subsidies, child tax credits and paid family leave are too generous. Nor does he like being pushed around. “I knew where they were, and I knew what they could and could not do,” said Manchin of his fellow Democrats on Monday in an interview with a West Virginia radio station. “They just never realized it, because they figured surely to God we can move one person, surely we can badger and beat one person up, surely we can get enough protesters to make that person uncomfortable enough [that] they’ll just say, ‘I’ll go for anything. Just quit.’ Well, guess what? I’m from West Virginia. I’m not from where they’re from and they can just beat the living crap out of people and think they’ll be submissive, period.” Now the US will have to see if Build Back Better can be salvaged, perhaps in a scaled down model that focuses on climate change rather than packing so many aims into one plan. Via Washington Post and White House

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Manchin opposes Build Back Better and Biden’s climate agenda

14-day hunger strike ends following Biden’s COP26 promises

November 5, 2021 by  
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Four young activists on hunger strike outside the White House have ended their protest. In a tweet, the four announced on video that they will be ending their strike following president Joe Biden’s commitments at COP26 . They also said that they will be changing their approach to target Democratic Senator Joe Manchin. The four activists, Kidus Girma, 26, Ema Govea, 18, Julia Paramo, 24, and Abby Leedy, 20, began their hunger strike on Oct. 20 to pressure the Biden administration to take serious climate action . The strike was physically straining, which forced them to sit on wheelchairs due to a lack of strength. One of the activists, Girma, was hospitalized last week after passing out. Related: Activists on hunger strike for climate action outside White House The end to their strike comes a few days after another activist, Paul Campion, 24,  announced on Twitter  that he was ending his hunger strike after being diagnosed with bradycardia. The condition can be fatal and develops when one’s heart drops to extremely low rates. In a Twitter post, the activists noted that Biden’s pledge at COP26 to cut fossil fuel emissions by half by 2030 was part of their motivation to stop the strike. However, they promised to continue fighting, with their target being Sen. Manchin and other congress members responsible for stalling climate reforms. “We are ending our hunger strike to bring the fire to Joe Manchin and other folks in Congress that are more willing to fight for oil and gas billionaires and not for the young people and their communities,” Girma said in the video. Manchin, the Democratic Senator for West Virginia , has been a stumbling block in the way of climate reforms. Manchin, whose home state relies on fossil fuels, blocked the president’s Clean Electricity Program, which would see fossil fuel operators receive funding to shift to clean energy sources. Although the activists have ended their strike at the moment, they promised to continue fighting. They have not specified how, but they say their fight will depend on how Biden and other democrats handle the climate agenda. “Our survival depended on his commitment to climate action. This morning, he promised a 50% decrease in emissions by 2030. Today, we end our strike. But our survival still depends on Joe Biden and other Democrats like him,” the activists said in a tweet. Via HuffPost Lead image via Hunger Strike 4 Climate Justice

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14-day hunger strike ends following Biden’s COP26 promises

Flying is even worse for the climate than previously known

November 5, 2021 by  
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A few years ago, flyskam, or flight shame, made headlines. Then the pandemic tamped down air travel. Now the  greenhouse gas -emitting horrors of airplanes are back in the news, as a new study shows that aviation contributes more to global warming than was previously known. According to a study published in  Environmental Research Letters , aviation has contributed about 4% to known human-induced climate warming to date, even though it was responsible for only 2.4% of global CO2 emissions. Why the gap? Because of the mix of climate pollutants that aviation generates. And as far as keeping to the  Paris agreement  goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050, aviation could gobble up 1/6 of that jump in temperature. Related: Turning food waste into aviation fuel could greatly reduce emissions “Any growth in  aviation  emissions has a disproportionate impact, causing lots of warming,” Professor Myles Allen, co-author of the study, said in a statement. “But any decline also has a disproportionate impact in the other direction. So the good news is that we don’t actually need to all stop flying immediately to stop aviation from causing further global warming – but we do clearly need a fundamental change in direction now, and radical innovation in the future.” Researchers responsible for the newly published study are based at the University of Oxford, Manchester Metropolitan University, and the NERC National Centre for Earth Observation. They developed a way to quantify how aviation emissions have historically contributed to temperature and examined both the CO2 and non-CO2 impacts. The researchers examined how CO2 combines with emissions of water vapors, particles and nitrogen oxides to alter the atmosphere’s chemical balance. This can affect cloudiness, thereby increasing aviation’s net warming. The study predicted how aviation could contribute to future  global warming , depending on how people address the climate crisis. “Our results show that aviation’s contribution to warming so far is approximately 4% and is increasing,” said Milan Klöwer, lead author of the study. “ COVID  reduced the amount people fly, but there is little chance for the aviation industry to meet any climate target if it aims for a return to normal.” Via Newswise Lead image via Pexels

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Flying is even worse for the climate than previously known

Sylven New York has vegan shoes made from apples

November 5, 2021 by  
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“Sustainability is an often-used term, yet it is universally undefined – especially when it comes to fashion,” stated Sylven New York, a shoe company looking to take steps in the right direction towards more environmentally-friendly business practices. “For us, sustainability means defending and protecting our natural resources, and minimizing the environmental impact of our consumption and decision-making.” Founder of Sylven, Casey Dworkin, shares a birthday with Earth Day . It’s a connection she’s carried throughout her college years and experiences with footwear and fashion companies. But it wasn’t until she decided to start her own business that she was finally able to truly commit to the mission to “…seek to create the most sustainable, designer footwear on the planet. And that means conducting responsible practices throughout every single facet of our business.” Related: Loci vegan shoes give back to animal conservation efforts The collection of boots, sneakers and flats is a reflection of this commitment. The company regularly experiments with, and adopts, a variety of bio-based products to replace toxic leather, which pollutes land and water. Apple leather is at the heart of the vegan boots and sneakers. Natural rubber sourced from the sap of the hevea tree, coconut husks for the insole and recycled cotton laces show the commitment to creating an entirely plant-based and vegan shoe.  Being a sustainable company requires action at all levels of the business. With this in mind, Sylven is dedicated to only work with ethical Italian shoemakers who offer fair wages and safe working conditions, in addition to quality work meant to last. Sylven works to reduce waste at every phase by using recycled paper, recycled cotton dust bags and recycled and recyclable shoe boxes. The company also offers repairs to extend the life of shoes and works with recognized brand TerraCycle who responsibly recycles and disposes of shoes in order to strictly minimize those that end up in the landfill.  “We only have one planet , and one lifetime (that we’re conscious of)!” Sylven stated on their website. “And we aim to make the most of it. We intend to leave this place a little more replenished, and a lot more beautiful and inspired than how we inherited it. Sustainable thinking is a process, and our commitment is perpetual.” + Sylven New York Images via Sylven New York 

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Sylven New York has vegan shoes made from apples

Activists endure hunger for more than a week in a strike to push Biden administration to take climate action in a bill

October 29, 2021 by  
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Five young activists are camping outside the White House on a hunger strike to demand climate action . The activists demand that President Joe Biden keep his promise to “build back better.” The five activists (Kidus Girma, 26, Ema Govea, 18, Paul Campion, 24, Julia Paramo, 24, and Abby Leedy, 20) say they will not eat until the president fulfills his promise to Americans. “We’ve committed to not eating until you deliver on your climate commitments in the Build Back Better Act,” the activists said in a statement. Related: How the Sunrise Movement is changing the climate activism game The young activists, part of the Sunrise Movement , have been on a hunger strike for over a week now. They check their blood pressure three times each day and use wheelchairs to prevent falling and fainting. So far, one activist, Girma, has been hospitalized due to dizziness, blurred vision, and nausea. “Millions of people are going to die if they don’t do this — people our age, in our lifetimes, in climate disasters, in floods , fires and hurricanes, of starvation,” Leedy told reporters. The five have written a letter to the president asking him to “stand up to Joe Manchin,” a Democratic Senator from West Virginia . The senator has been a stumbling block in the way of progressive climate policies. West Virginia relies heavily on the coal industry, a situation that Manchin has cited to fight progressive policies. This includes blocking a clean electricity program wherein the government would pay companies to replace their coal plants with renewable energy. “We want Joe Biden and the Democrats to look us in the face, as real people going through the horrific experience of starving and withering away before their eyes, because that’s what’s on the line here, people’s bodies and people’s lives,” she added. “I don’t think we knew how else to get their attention.” In a White House news conference, press secretary Jen Psaki was asked to give the president’s response to the activists. According to Psaki, the president admires the activists ‘ efforts. However, there was no commitment from the government’s side to address the issue. Campion responded on Twitter , saying, “We don’t want your admiration. Show us the results.” Via HuffPost

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Activists endure hunger for more than a week in a strike to push Biden administration to take climate action in a bill

High school students are building tiny homes to give to flood survivors

February 20, 2017 by  
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In West Virginia, students that would normally be constructing birdhouses or bookshelves are instead contributing their labor and newly acquired skills to help give those who lost everything a new start. Last year, historic floods devastated the state, destroying over 5000 homes and killing over 20 people. So students from across the state have gathered together to build compact, energy efficient tiny homes for victims of the flooding. West Virginia has struggled to provide adequate housing for those thousands made homeless by the storm. So high school students attending 12 vocational schools throughout the state are demonstrating that they may have a promising solution. The participating vocational schools, such as Carver Career and Technical Education Center in Charleston, traditionally teach practices such as carpentry and plumbing.  A new, first of-its-kind partnership between the West Virginia Department of Education and the Greater Recovery and Community Empowerment initiative enables students to access hands-on learning to design and build homes for local flood survivors from concept to completion. Each unique  tiny house i s just 500 square feet. Related: Studio H launches Kickstarter Campaign to Build a Shipping Container Classroom at Berkeley’s REALM Charter school 15 homes have been built so far, thanks to funding from the state’s Board of Education and regional community supporters. All of the homes are unique and some are designed to be portable.  Unlike trailers that are supplied by FEMA in post-disaster zones , each of the tiny homes will have individual design accents. Each home includes a bathroom, kitchen, living room and laundry room.  The ground-breaking program has potential to be scaled to serve communities in other post-disaster zones. + WV Public Broadcasting Via NPR Photos Courtesy of West Virginia Department of Education  

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High school students are building tiny homes to give to flood survivors

Green makeover transforms cedar-clad Virginia house into a lifelong retreat

January 26, 2017 by  
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A few easy steps has transformed a normal Virginia home into a charming, lifelong retreat. A couple approaching retirement commissioned Thrive Architecture to renovate their Hickory House into an accessible home that uses less energy than it did before. The architects expanded the existing space to include a living room, bedroom, bathroom, dressing room and laundry, all organized on a single story. The main sitting area offers views of the surrounding forest. Related: Gorgeous cedar-clad house boasts stunning mountain views in Canada Three types locally-sourced hardwoods were used for the interior, including Hickory. This choice of materials complements the exterior cladding, dominated by ship-lapped oiled cedar . To make the house more energy efficient, the team added air-tight spray foam insulation, LED lighting and low-flow plumbing fixtures. + Thrive Architecture Photos by Ansel Olson

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Green makeover transforms cedar-clad Virginia house into a lifelong retreat

Villagers in India knit sweaters to protect rescued elephants from the cold

January 26, 2017 by  
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The rescued elephants at the Wildlife SOS Elephant Conservation and Care Center in India get a second chance at life after being abused and exploited by their former owners and handlers. Along with finally having the freedom to take walks, bathe and play in water pools, and scratch themselves up against trees, several of the sanctuary’s elephants recently received a new winter wardrobe: giant sweaters lovingly hand-knit by the villagers of Mathura. As the nighttime temperatures dipped to freezing levels last year, the center’s staff issued a call to local women to help provide a little extra warmth to the giant pachyderms. The villagers responded enthusiastically, coming together to knit and crochet the brightly colored sweaters . The elephants quickly took to their new attire and, judging from the photos, seem pretty intrigued by the knitting process itself. In addition to looking cheerful and festive, the sweaters help protect the vulnerable animals from the cold and stave off their arthritic symptoms. Related: Cindy Chinn carves a tiny family of elephants into pencil tips The only downside to this giant knitting project is the length of time to make one sweater: each one takes about four weeks to complete. As a result, only three of the 20 elephants at the sanctuary have been fully outfitted so far, while the rest have been given blankets. Since the elephants suffered years of neglect and mistreatment, they are especially susceptible to infections and illnesses, so staying covered up in the poncho/sweater/long john combos is essential for keeping them healthy. The center is hoping for more volunteers to continue knitting in order to outfit every elephant with his or her own sweater by next winter. Considering that Wildlife SOS plans to rescue another 50 elephants this year , that’s a pretty tall order. If you want to get involved , including  volunteering on-site with the organization and preparing food or helping to bathe these gentle giants or donating funds, click here . Via Booooooom , Daily Mail , and My Modern Met All images © Roger Allen

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Villagers in India knit sweaters to protect rescued elephants from the cold

Frank Lloyd Wright beach house listed on Airbnb for under $150 per night

October 18, 2016 by  
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The 3,000-square-foot house located on Crystal Lake in Virginia Beach is the only Wright House with direct boating accessibility to the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay. For 23 years it has been home to the Cooke family, Maude, Andrew and their three children. In 1983, Daniel and Jane Duhl purchased the property. Their restoration of i received an award for preservation from the AIA of Hampton Roads. The restoration was informed by passive solar design and included the introduction of floor heating, indirect lighting and a new air conditioning system that protects the house from heat and humidity. Related: Life-sized replica of van Gogh’s The Bedroom to rent on Airbnb for $10 a night In its present state, the home features four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a spa, sauna and an exercise room. Surrounded by camellias, giant azaleas, dogwoods, magnolias and cherry trees, it takes advantage of the natural dune to provid a high degree of privacy. At lakeside are two docks; one floating dock for launching small boats and a larger one that can accommodate two significantly-sized yachts. + Frank Lloyd Wright Beach House Via Archinect

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Frank Lloyd Wright beach house listed on Airbnb for under $150 per night

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