By: Courtney McIntosh
Summary. Electric vehicles or EV's would undoubtedly improve health outcomes and poor air quality that current gas transportation emits. BIPOC communities largely are the greatest communities affected by gas emissions and poor air quality associated with motor transportation. Currently the push for EV's as an alternative to gas powered vehicles is paving the way for a more sustainable choice, yet there is an issue to whom the access is available to. One major barrier to EV access are charging stations and to where they are being placed. A majority of charging stations are being placed in predominately wealthy communities, shopping plazas and business. Another notable concern is the price of current EV's and their affordability. To maintain and afford an EV, you typically need to have an house and or attached garage to charge your vehicle. Which is a level of socioeconomic status that is not available to all and our current infrastructure lacks the resources to provide. Expanding access to clean transportation leads to a more environmentally equitable society, but fair and realistic access needs to be brought forth.
Why we should care? The push towards the future of environmentally friendly transportation is quickly descending upon us but the accessibility is not equally distributed.
This article provides a clear breakdown of numbers and percentages of who are disproportionately affected by air pollution created by traffic, and how EV transportation paves a way to a solution. Also included is a great short youtube video on air quality and consumption from BIPOC communities.
Science in Action.
Dr. Maria Cecilia Pinto de Moura is senior vehicles engineer in the Clean Transportation program at the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Maria conducts research on transportation energy and emissions, and performs analyses in support of regional and also national policy campaigns that aim to reduce oil use and lower vehicle emissions. Dr. Pinto has served in the past as a research associate for the Joint Global Change Research Institute/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Dr. Pinto has a history of being an environmental advocate for over 10 years and I believe her studies and research are very much aligned with being environmentally conscious in terms of concern to communities and to the future of EV.
By: Buck Patrick
Summary. Michigan is the state with the most resistance to electric vehicles, due to the state's deep history with big car manufacturers. However electric vehicles are on the rise due to a big push by the Michigan Department of Climate and Energy called the Charge Up Michigan program. This initiative is trying to fund DCFC EV charging station installers. DCFC stands for Direct Current Fast Charging and that is the way that electric vehicles charge. The Charge Up Michigan program aims to make it cheaper for installers to install these DCFC stations by reimbursing them for each station they install up to $70,000. Besides the local governments and their initiatives on EV's, President Biden recently came to the Motor City to talk about Michigan and its future with electric vehicles and the jobs in the electric and automotive industry. Biden made a point in his speech to reassure listeners that the new job opportunities are going to stay in Michigan and stay local, no outsourcing to China or India, but keeping jobs done for Michiganders, for Michiganders. The reason Biden was in Detroit giving this speech is that he recently signed a bill giving $7.5 billion to the transition to electric school buses as well as another $7.5 billion to the installation of a better and more available electric vehicle charging network. This might help the problems with electric vehicles right now, which include finding charging stations and how expensive and time-consuming charging these vehicles are compared to gassing up a car to go the same distance. These problems with electric vehicles are major factors in why electric vehicles are just not possible to completely switch to at this moment.
Why we should care? Electric vehicles are the future. It's that plain and simple. It may not be logical at this moment or even in our lifetimes but these vehicles will eventually be commonplace and for commonfolk.
This article shows how electric vehicles may be the future but at this time they aren't the present. It shows that yes they exist but at this point in time, electric vehicles just aren't as practical for the large majority of people, whether it be because of how much more expensive they are to buy and charge, the cost of deadhead miles, or just the time restrictions of charging the vehicle and driving to a commercial charging station. For upper-middle-class citizens and above, electric vehicles are a reality, they have more cars so if their EV is charging they can get into a different car, they also have a better chance of having their own charging station. But for the average middle class and below, electric vehicles have too many costs for them to be possible for them.
Science in Action.
Carla Bailo is President and CEO for Center for Automotive Research.
Carla Bailo heads and leads research for the Center for Automotive Research. This is not just research about cars, but about the systems that cars drive in, what they drive on, and what allows cars to drive. This is relevant to my topic because she researched what it would take for the full electrification of Michigan and it is a lot. Things including making the cars cheaper, making the charging faster, making charging stations more accessible, making the stations cheaper to use, and making the cars able to handle the extreme cold temperatures seen in some parts of Michigan, as well as handle the tough terrain cars have to traverse in Michigan, especially in the Upper Penninsula.
By: Joshua Rahn
Summary. As a part of the Biden administration’s Build Back Better plan there has been an increased focus on how to combat climate change and more specifically what kind of infrastructure should be built to better combat climate change. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is an important person within this overall conversation because of the large role of transportation vehicles in emitting greenhouse gases. The department of transportation is awarding transportation grants to a number of projects across the country that aim to reduce problems related to racial equity, climate change, economic growth, and safety. Some of the standout programs affecting climate change are the development of ports located within Iowa and Georgia. These ports will aid in transportation of products by increasing the amount of freight travel, and freight to rail travel. This decrease in vehicle miles travelled limits greenhouse gas production and creates other more project specific beneficial outcomes. Many of these projects also aim to reduce the impact of climate change on American infrastructure. An example of this is the I-35 red river project, which includes an increase to the height of a section of the I-35 highway which was built over the red river (that runs through Gainesville, Texas) to prevent damage that could occur due to rising water levels. There has been 905 million dollars allotted to these intranational projects in order to improve infrastructure. Among these projects are some that are focused less on climate change and more on public safety and health. For example, one proposed project would see the implementation of protected bike lanes, pedestrian signals, improved curb ramps, and new shade trees in Los Angeles, California to increase the safety of pedestrians and to increase the aesthetic value of the area. Many of these projects cannot be funded solely by the money given to them by these grants and will take a considerable amount of time before they are implemented.
Why we should care? The current development of climate-friendly infrastructure will have a profound impact on the severity of climate change and the United States' ability to respond to it in the future.
This article gives a great summary of the specifics of the grants and what they aim to achieve. This article also goes over some of the proposed projects to demonstrate the specifics of the grant’s goals. I thought the explanation of the seattle project was short, concise, and useful in giving an example of how public safety is worsened by climate change and why these infrastructure grants are important. The article also goes more into detail about the shortcomings of the previous presidential administration especially when it comes to infrastructure that puts the lives of POC in harm's way. The article also spoke on how much of the money awarded is going to rural or urban areas.
Science in Action.
Dr. Kristina Dahl is a Senior Climate Scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Dr. Dahl works for the union of concerned scientists to research the ways that climate change and other environmental concerns impact infrastructure and also to communicate these threats to law makers and the public. Her research specifically into the impact of rising sea level on coastal road and railway systems during high-tide is very important in demonstrating the haste with which infrastructure needs to be updated. Kristina Dahl’s work also calls for the reduction of greenhouse gases in order to reduce the cost of damaged infrastructure, both monetarily and the harm that will occur due to increased degradation arising from climate change. Her work is very relevant to the infrastructure improving grants organized by secretary of transportation Pete Buttigieg. These grants aim to reduce the effects she observed during her research and to address one source of greenhouse gases associated with transportation.
By: Tori Poma
Summary. Australia is undoubtedly one of the most exotic and beautiful places to exist on Earth. The country is home to crystal clear water, filled with colorful coral reefs and an array of extravagant fish along with other varieties of sea life. More than 80% of Australia's wildlife is made up by species exclusively native to the nation, and cannot be found anywhere else. Animals such as Koalas, Kangaroos, and Wallabies make up a few of the different 140 species of marsupials that are unique to Australia that fall into this category. As well the 828 bird species to exist in this beautiful country, half of which living nowhere else. Australia was recently ranked last, out of 193 other United Nation countries, for actions taken to reduce greenhouse gases being put out into the atmosphere. This report highlighted Australia's reliance on coal oriented power, which in turn results in a large eminence of greenhouse gases. The report also took into account the countries with the largest amount of carbon emitted per capita, which Australia seemed to unfortunately accomplish. The United Nations has put forth an organized and thorough list of goals to fully meet the Department of Economic and Social Affair's requirements. This list is known as The 17 Goals of Sustainable Development. Australia sadly ranked 35th in its progress to meet all the Sustainable Development Goals. Casting more doubt on the country's environmental compliance, the sworn in deputy prime minister, Barnaby Joyce, is not a believer of global warming to say the least. He has made statements in the past about "refusing to be bullied into" being more environmentally progressive. He has also commented on this matter using religious analogies to try and explain why he does not believe in global warming.
Why we should care? Australia is an environmental paradise filled with ecosystems and species that can exist no where else, if the country's own leadership does not believe in its preservation it cannot be saved.
I enjoyed the way this article dove into the leadership aspects of Australia, to give the reader a deeper understanding of why this may occurring. I for one can say that I knew absolutely nothing about the Australian government and politics, despite those being a crucial part in how environmental policies are enforced. Without explaining why something is flawed and just presenting the outcome with no context, there is no room for speculation or improvement. When the politics and government are brought in to the conversation, there becomes a person or group of people who can appropriately be held accountable and open to change.
Science in Action.
Richie Merzian is a Climate Specialist at the Australian Institute.
Richie researches both domestic and international climate change affairs. This is especially relevant to my blog topic both because he is an expert in human affects on climate change but also because he was once a part of the Australian government, the exact country I am writing about. Richie has an inside view into how environmental issues are handled in this country, yet he also has the knowledge and education how they should be handled instead. This makes him the perfect guy to trust on this topic.
By: Thomas Cisney
Summary. China is one of the largest contributors of carbon emissions on earth, with over one billion people within the limits of the country, it may seem like it wont get much better. If acted upon now, China may be able to prevent irreversible damage to Earth. The Chinese president Xi Jinping had made a statement of "Dual Carbon Goals" which promises to "phase down" the use of coal power plants and fossil fuels starting in five years. This plan also means to attempt to be neutral in greenhouse gas emissions, including carbon dioxide. China has indeed been decommissioning many coal plants around the country, and even some Chinese controlled coal plants outside of their borders have been halted. However even though this all seems nice, china's coal energy output increased by a net 29.8 gigawatts. These increases in coal powered energy output tallies more than the rest of the worlds reduction in coal use combined. On top of this China's carbon dioxide emissions where higher than pre-pandemic levels. China has definitely buckled down on climate changes before, excelling in production and use of electric vehicles so this may just be hiccup in their plans or this could be a coal powered statement. Either way being completely neutral within 30 years as pledged by Chinese president Xi Jinping is a interesting goal, and is going to be very hard task to accomplish. In the end this is going to unfortunately be something we have to sit back and see if the Chinese government keeps their word on, and if they do its going to be a great step in the right direction.
Why we should care? Creating some of the most carbon emissions in the world how they treat the damage they've done and plan to change in the future is important when attempting to be a role model for clean energy.
I found this article interesting since it high lights multiple climate factors that china has contributed to negative and positive. Highlighting the Chinese commitments to renewable energy, while also creating a discussion of the negative positions such as coal plants and how the Chinese government plans on tackling the possible irreversible impacts. Also mentioning how important it is to push forward with green energy and the likes is very impactful to readers that want to learn more about our own efforts and that of foreign governments. I also think criticizing governments and their policies is always important for progress even if a majority is agreed upon.
Science in Action.
Steven Mufson is a reporter covering the business of climate change.
Steven Mufson has continually covered climate change issues and topics over the course of his career and has a degree from Yale in economics and political sciences. He has done articles on climate agreements, climate goals, and the recent COP26 agreement. I think he is one of the best researchers to take on these hard hitting environmental science issues. Also Steven shared the pulitzer prize for his climate change series 2C: Beyond the limit, lending more credibility to his words about environmental impacts affecting us all. In addition he speaks some Chinese, which will allow him to feel the tones set by government officials in that he studies.
By: Meghan Richardson
Summary. Back in 2016, many countries put together outlines for their climate policies. For Brazil, this included plans to decrease their environmental impact. The main focus of the proposal was on deforestation and emissions. According to the German Federal Ministry the hope was to decrease deforestation by 80% and lessen overall emissions by 43%. The end date was by 2030. However, these plans have changed over the past four years. A new leader took office in Brazil and unlike his predecessor, has not done as much to combat their environmental impact. His main focus presently is on Brazil's economy. In 2020, Brazil resubmitted their climate outline. This lessened efforts against deforestation and emissions, but the plan for lower emissions is still aimed to be done by 2030. This seems to be just wishful thinking because the Climate Action Tracker is estimating Brazil's climate impact to be 27% higher than the 2016 outline. The updated document took away the previous pledge to halt illegal deforestation. As more deforestation occurs, the impact to their climate worsens. Another issue affecting their environment is the new found reliance on coal energy. Brazil has access to other forms of energy and coal does not provide a high amount of electricity. According to Climate Home News, Brazil's biggest contributor to stored energy is hydropower. One would think that because of this more money would be allocated to it, but this does not seem to be the case. This year Brazil put out a report stating that they want $3.9 billion to assist coal production until 2050. This increase in coal production could lead to even harsher environmental impacts.
Why we should care? Though the impacts of deforestation and high emissions will be immediately felt by Brazil, overtime it also can affect the whole world. A large portion of the worlds carbon emissions are cycled by the Amazon Rainforest.
I chose this article because it sheds light on the deforestation of the Amazon. As I stated earlier, the Amazon does a lot for Earth by cycling a large amount of the worlds carbon dioxide emissions. It seems very important to keep this environment protected. However, this article states that in almost a year 2.4 million acres of the Amazon's forest has been demolished. Areas like this are important to fight against climate change. More effort needs to be put forth to save this environment and its wildlife.
Science in Action.
Dr. Carlos A. Nobre is a Climate Scientist at University of São Paulo.
Dr. Nobre is a climate scientist for the University of São Paulo. Both he and his colleagues see the importance of the Amazon and have been doing research into the populations impact. Some notable trends he has wrote about is the lengthened dry seasons and increased deforestation. He views science to be a key factor in saving his home and is spending his life trying to educate students about the importance of their environment. Most recently he wrote an article titled, "To Save Brazil's Rainforest, Boost its Science" were he writes about the potential dangers to their environment, if actions are not taken to lesson the populations impact.
By: Ryan Jacobs
Summary. My thoughts on Carbon Capture and storage are definitely split. To begin with carbon capture and storage is when humans purposely burn fossil fuels to create carbon emissions so we can capture it, store it, and reuse it. There are both positives and negatives with Carbon Capture and Storage. On the positive side of things Carbon Capture can reduce the overall of C02 released in the atmosphere which will ultimately leave a positive impact for the atmosphere. Next, it is much easier to capture carbon when it is in a controlled zone. Lastly, when capturing carbon other pollutants that are created can be removed from the atmosphere as well as the carbon. Now what is bad about Carbon Capture and Storage? To start with, it is great in theory but it does cost a lot for the results that it gives. Some uses for the stored carbon totally go against the purpose of it. Some uses include, using the carbon to get more oil from oil refineries which also produces more C02 which completely defeats the purpose of trying to reduce carbon emissions in the first place. Lastly, there is the threat that a carbon storage leak could occur which would pose as an imminent threat to humans. Overall, I believe this topic is very important for the atmosphere and it's state of health.
Why we should care? This topic is very important to think about for the future state of our atmosphere. Working together on this issue is our best plan of action to create a good path to save our atmosphere.
I found this article interesting because it was not biased at all. It gave information on both sides of the spectrum to help me form my own opinion on the issue. The information that was given was also very meaty and gave me a great understanding of what Carbon Capture was. Overall, this article is a great way to learn about the issue of Carbon Capture and storage and ways to act upon it and make it better for our atmosphere.
Dr. Science in Action.
Dr. Mark Jacobson is a Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University.
The research that Dr. Jacobson conducted included further understanding of air pollution and how the atmosphere is effected by it. He has also researched global warming and renewable energy sources. This research connects to the blog topic because it is all about carbon emissions polluting the air and Dr. Jacobson is looking for ways to reduce those carbon emissions. Dr. Jacobson stated that even though carbon capture reduces little carbon emissions it also releases more pollutants into the air meaning what is the point of carbon capture. Overall, Dr. Jacobson's research is definitely credible and backed by evidence.
By: Sullivan Stack
Summary. The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations’ primary forum for discussing the scientific basis and effects of climate change. Founded in 1998, this organization serves to educate world leaders on climate change so that they may implement policies that could potentially slow or reverse climate change. In a report published in August of this year, the panel described the role that methane plays as a greenhouse gas and a contributing factor to rising atmospheric temperatures. Methane (CH4) is an abundant and naturally occurring gas that is present in large quantities both on and within the earth. Because of its recent popularity as an alternative to coal, it has become the leading fossil fuel for energy production in most of the United States. While methane is often held as being a far superior and cleaner alternative to coal, the damage that it has caused our climate extends far beyond the CO2 it emits when burned for energy. Despite making up an incredibly small proportion of the atmosphere, methane is approximately 80 times more potent of a greenhouse gas than CO2, and is thus the second leading contributor to rising global temperatures annually. However, because of this immense impact (relative to concentration) that methane has on the climate, it presents an exceptional target for world leaders looking to decrease their countries’ contribution to rising global temperatures. The report lays out many sources of methane that could be targeted to reduce this impact. While the largest single source of methane emissions is natural wetland areas, a significant quantity comes from agricultural and industrial practices. Rice paddy farming and livestock rearing are the two largest man-made sources of methane, with the third largest being fossil fuel companies. Furthermore, the report details how increasing global temperatures will create more favorable conditions for the microorganisms that produce methane in natural wetlands environments. This positive feedback loop has the potential to further increase the amount of methane released into the atmosphere, and will therefore increase global temperatures as well. With the true costs of methane production becoming clearer, it is vital that countries move away from these practices. Decreasing the demand for meat and rice would both present a massive decrease in methane emissions. However, developing countries represent a large percentage of these emissions and rely on both of these products to feed billions of people. For this reason, it would be much more beneficial to create regulations for oil and gas industries. Many of these companies are among the largest single-point sources of methane, and strictly regulating them would arguably be the easiest and most effective way of cutting down on greenhouse gas emissions. Even this partial decrease would likely stop the rapid increase in global temperatures and subsequent increase in methane production from natural sources.
Why we should care? Climate change is perhaps the largest threat facing humanity as we move further into the 21st century, and reducing methane emissions is an important step on the path toward combatting it.
This article particularly excels at communicating the data contained within the highly technical (and over 400-page) IPCC report on methane and the role it plays in climate change. In addition, the article expands on the ideas laid out by the IPCC, and even begins to offer some potential solutions to the problem of methane emissions. For example, by expanding on the idea that many of the nonpoint sources of methane production are relatively unknown, the article briefly explains how we are beginning to use satellites to better find these sources in areas where they might otherwise be unobtainable. This all serves to create an informative yet hopeful tone that is so often absent when talking about something as dire as climate change.
Science in Action.
Dr. Ilissa Ocko is a Senior Climate Scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).
Dr. Ocko's research focuses predominantly on using models to study the effects that aerosols and greenhouse gasses (also called short-lived climate pollutants) can have on the environment. She also studies how these types of pollution can be mitigated. Because of this, her work has led her to study methane extensively, and she has many publications on the relationship between methane and climate change. In her work at the EDF, she has also published numerous opinion articles on the need for methane to be addressed in governmental policy, including two directly discussing the IPCC climate report. Ocko is a particularly relevant scientist because she not only studies the effects that methane can have on the climate, she also is a scientific communicator who is passionate about explaining and clarifying research, such as the IPCC report, to the public and world leaders.
By: Charles Horn
Summary. The slow destruction of Niagara Falls by mother nature has been speeded up by acid rain. Historically Niagara Falls has eroded about 3 feet per year for the last 12000 years. This slow procession of the Falls towards Lake Erie has in the last two hundred years. The rate of erosion has increased to 5 feet per year. Niagara Falls is 167 feet tall. When Niagara Falls final reaches Lake Erie water levels would drop dramatically. The 210 feet deep Lake Erie would be dropped 167 feet instantly. A new max depth of 43 feet deep would be created. The loss of freshwater marine life and 100 trillion gallons freshwater would reduce the world's fresh reserves. The power plants and different factories that count on that water to complete their work would be at a loss. The thought of all the doom about Niagara Falls disappearing is 23,000 years away, counting by 3 feet a year. Unfortunately in the last 200 years the rate of erosion has been 5 feet per year. If the acid rain becomes stronger this future could be sooner then we think.
Why we should care? The fresh water that would be lost when the inevitable happens could take care of a whole state water needs. This is a problem we should work on solving now.
I found this article interesting because it was very close to home. Being born and raised less then a mile from Lake Erie, it's my home and heart. Some of my best memories of childhood are on Lake Erie.
Science in Action.
Derrick Beach is the Canadian secretary to the international Niagara Board of Control.
Derrick Beach of the Niagara Board of Control has measured the erosion of all the Falls connected to Niagara Falls. He has studied the boulders that have broken off from the erosion process. Also the time lapse of the total creation and the imminent demise of Niagara Falls. His research gives time frames to splits and other changes in the Falls behavior. In conclusion, his research has also discovered notching indicates future erosion patterns. These unbroken curtains hanging over the Niagara Falls could fall at any time. This research is relevant to my blog because it deals with the raw data of Niagara Falls erosion. His research gives history to this historical gem.
By: Grace Burbo
Summary. As Joe Biden stepped into office January 20th 2021, we have seen since the beginning especially during the debates that he feels strongly for healing our planet and has promised more sustainability since the beginning. Specifically having a goal of cutting carbon emissions by replacing fossil fuels with more sustainable forms of renewable energy. Biden has been investing money into geoengineering which is why most of the solutions are still in the works while research is still being conducted. He has announced though that he has set a goal for all electricity to be carbon free by 2035 and for the nation to get to net-zero emissions and 100% clean energy by increasing the use of wind and solar power by 2050. Some of the actions that we can suspect during his presidency include upgrading millions of homes to be more energy efficient, plug abandoned oil and gas wells, reclaim mines and make environmental justice a key consideration. By 2030 he has planned for the production and use of billions of gallons of sustainable fuel that will enable aviation emissions to drop by 20%. He did this by proposing a sustainable aviation fuel tax credit, this will help cut costs and rapidly scale domestic production of sustainable fuels for aviation. This tax credit should at least reduce 50% in lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions offering increased incentives for greater reductions. Also he wants to reduce greenhouse gases as much as possible, he plans on doing this by decreasing the aging utility plants and reducing coal use, while carrying out these plans he also wants to increase the support of regenerative agriculture practices to help farmers and sequester some of the burden from carbon dioxide emissions. Therefore I think there is a lot planned to help heal our environment that we have to look forward to in the near future thanks to the Biden administration, it is just a matter of time before his team puts all the pieces together so that all these plans can go into action and be carried out in the best way possible.
Why we should care? We need to care about these things to make changes for the families who are consistently going homeless from natural disasters and losing everything they have and for the future generations.
I found this particular article to be interesting because it highlighted some of the stuff I was not aware of that the Biden administration has planned for our planets future and because the article is about current changes for our environment something which I am passionate about it was not hard at all to get interested in. I find it important for someone such as myself, a environmental science major, to keep updated on current events pertaining to my major so that I am educated on what is going on currently in the world of environmental science while also learning about the past events in class and through reading my textbook. This also gives me the ability to make real world connections while applying both what I learn in class and the day to day basis of real world current environmental problems especially since these topics are gaining more attention in the current politically climate.
Science in Action.
Dan Costa Sc.D., DABT recently retired as the National Program Director (NPD) for the Air Climate & Energy Research Program (ACE).
Daniel Costa has done field research for many of years he a great scientist graduating from four different prestigious colleges and has had five key publications. Now he is retired from field work and works as an adjunct professor teaching environment sciences and engineering. The reason he is relevant to my topic is because he is a retired National Research Program Director for Air, Climate and Energy Research Program US Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA), Research Triangle Park (RTP) meaning he worked for the government researching issues pertaining to the same environmental actions that Biden is putting in place currently.
By: Lindsey Wheaton
Summary. Genetically Modified Organisms, or GMOs are plants, animals, or microbes whose genomes have been altered in some way. We’ve genetically altered crops to mature faster, be resistant to pests, and even have enhanced nutritional value. We’ve genetically modified animals before, but the company Aquabounty has created the first genetically modified animal approved by the FDA for human consumption. There is some backlash however. Many are worried about the potential damage these fish could do if they were to somehow escape. While the fish will be raised on land in aquaculture farms, there is still worry about the possibility of the fish getting out. The fish are modified to be sterile, so the possibility of reproducing with wild fish is not possible, but there are many other ways these fish could impact the environment. If they were to somehow be released there is no way of knowing how the GMO salmon competing with other organisms could affect wildlife. Some think that because of this, it is too risky to continue production of the fish. Other concerns include people not trusting the FDA approval, who feel like eating a genetically modified animal is not safe. Some critics have even called Aquabounty’s Salmon a “Frankenfish”. Other pushback comes from animal rights groups who believe the treatment of the fish to be cruel, comparing the conditions at land aquaculture farms to a slaughterhouse. Many animal rights activists believe that creating a species just for the purpose of consumption is not ethical. With the pushback however, there are some people praising this as a scientific miracle, and a positive step towards a more sustainable future. Overfishing causes not only depleted populations of many different types of fish, but it also is something that leads to a lot of plastic pollution in our oceans. It’s estimated that 500,000 to 1 million tons of fishing gear is discarded in the ocean every year. Genetically Modified Salmon could be a possible solution as the fish are raised on land and would reduce the need to catch wild fish. Aquabounty’s genetically modified salmon will be the first of its kind, an animal who has been altered for the purpose of consumption. It’ll be interesting to see if consumers decide that the pros outweigh the cons and animals modified for human consumption become the way of the future.
Why we should care? We should care about replenishing salmon populations, but at the same time we should be cautious of the potential harm that genetically modified animals could cause if they ended up in the wild.
I read articles that were both in support of and against Aquabounty’s GMO salmon. This article in particular was overall in support of it and I think it did a really good job addressing people's concerns about the fish and explaining why it is not necessary to be concerned about certain things. I found a lot of articles that had claims that were not backed up by the research the FDA has done, or any research at all. One of these claims mentioned in this article was that the hormones in the fish will cause cancer, which is not true because all vertebrae and mammals mature with the same growth hormone as these fish. Just because these fish mature quicker does not mean they mature with different hormones. I liked this article because while I have some issues with the fish, I do think that many other articles were fearmongering simply because the Aquabounty fish is different from what people are used to. So if someone I knew was not sure about the safety of the fish, this would be the article I showed them.
Science in Action.
Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam is a Biotechnologist and Specialist in animal genomics and biotechnology at University of California.
Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam’s research focus of her lab is the use of DNA-based biotechnologies in beef cattle production and agricultural systems. She has won many awards for her work focusing on biotechnology and agriculture. She was a part of the veterinary medicine advisory committee that overlooked the decades of research done by the FDA to either approve or disapprove of the FDA’s conclusion that there was reasonable certainty that genetically modified salmon were not harmful from a food safety perspective. They also looked at the FDA’s research to see if there were any environmental concerns that were overlooked by the FDA. The conclusion of the committee was that it agreed with the FDA that there was reasonable certainty that GMO salmon posed no harm from both a food safety and an environmental standpoint. Dr. Eenennaam was also featured on a npr episode alongside environmental scientist Dr. Anne Kapuscinski discussing and debating the safety and environmental impact of Aquabounty’s fish.
By: Abby Plonka
Summary. There are many costs to making fashion garments so cheap. The fashion industry alone is responsible for about 10% of global CO2 emissions. Between 2018-2019, there were 25.9 million tonnes of cotton fiber, the material most t-shirts are made of, produced. Although conventional cotton farming only uses 2.4% of the world’s land, it consumes 6% of all pesticides. These chemicals are used to control unwanted pests, however, they can also poison people and other wildlife. Synthetic fertilizer is often used to maximize cotton yields, but it also pollutes rivers and degrades soil. Lower quality water and soil can then create further difficulty in growing healthy crops and providing proper irrigation. Irrigated farms, which produce over 70% of the world’s cotton, take one and a half Olympic swimming pools of water to grow one tonne of cotton. One t-shirt alone takes about 7,000 liters of water just to grow the cotton for it. Regions that grow cotton are often plagued by drought, so with that considered, this amount of water is quite a lot. After the cotton is grown and harvested, it then has to be spun into yarn. This process uses a very large amount of energy and is the second-highest source of carbon pollution across a t-shirt’s production cycle. After this step, the cotton yarn is knitted into the fabric that is used to make the t-shirt. 394 million tonnes of CO2 is generated globally by this process every year. Global production of clothing is only increasing, and with it, the negative environmental impacts will only grow, so finding more sustainable options is imperative if we want to save our planet.
Why we should care? We should care about this topic because fashion plays a huge role in society, and finding sustainable ways to produce clothing is needed to prevent further negative impacts.
I found this article interesting because it summarizes the many ways that the fashion industry contributes to climate change and pollution, and carbon emissions in particular. It also discusses how fast fashion has only made these impacts worse because of how they increased consumption rates and the amount of clothing that goes to waste. This article also discusses the goals that have been put in place in order to reduce the carbon footprint of clothing production and ways that individuals can help reduce the environmental impacts, such as repurposing old clothing instead of buying something new. Additionally, there is also information about new technology that works to reduce waste, which was very interesting to learn about.
Science in Action.
Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson is a marine biologist and policy expert and is the founder of the non-profit think tank Urban Ocean Lab.
Dr. Ayana has done a wide range of research on ocean conservation, climate change, social justice, and more. She has conducted research on the impacts of coral reef trap fisheries and has also contributed to research on reducing the impacts of climate change on small island states. She also does research on and helps spread awareness of the different ways we as individuals can help save the planet. This is relevant to my topic because clothing production greatly contributes to water pollution, especially in the ocean. Additionally, the information that she has shared has contributed to the massive amount of awareness that we must achieve in order to work together to create a change in industries’ contribution to pollution.
By: Rachel Mangulabnan
Summary. Donating unwanted clothes seems like an eco-friendly, sustainable way to dispose of items we no longer want; it certainly feels better than just tossing them in the trash. The harsh reality is, an estimated 80% of unwanted clothing within the United States is not put back into circulation. In fact, not even 1% are actually made into new garments. Instead, millions of tons of clothing accumulate in such vast amounts that textile mountains are formed. If the garment does not make its way to one of these enormous dumping grounds, they are burned releasing toxic chemicals and pollution into the air. The communities surrounding dumping sites are then exposed to a multitude of health risks. Waterways are blocked, livestock may begin to graze on them, and the people who make a living rummaging through unstable textile mounds are at an extreme risk of physical injury. Often, we fail to conceptualize just how much waste fast fashion produces. We have the privilege to ignore this growing problem because discarded items get shipped and sold across the world, left to pile up in other people’s backyards rather than our own. So, what has caused this massive influx of textile waste? From ever fleeting trends, to poor construction and quality of garments, a multitude of factors push this cyclical rotation, out with the old and in with the new. The mixed material composition often used to construct these garments makes it extremely difficult to separate, reuse and repurpose. Reconstructing and re-dyeing them is costly and extremely resource intensive as well. Additionally, this clothing was just not made to last as the whole goal is to sell the new trend and then on to the next and the next to maximize profits. It is not just the end of a garment's life cycle that produces large quantities of waste either. Textile factories cause pollution and waste in the communities they are located in. In some instances, local water sources surrounding these factories have turned neon pink and purple colors from the dyes. Physically cutting fabrics leave an excess of scraps due to fast production being prioritized over waste reduction. Many of the countries where garments both begin and end their journey lack proper waste disposal infrastructure, increasing the harm done. Some major clothing brands have pledged to use a certain percentage of old textile materials in order to combat this ever growing issue. To no surprise, they often fall short as many of these companies are where fast fashion originated. What this does show is, with increased pressure from consumers by refusing to support the fast fashion industry (if one has the means to) companies have started to listen.
Why we should care? The fast fashion industry produces about 5% of total global emissions or over 1 billion tons of CO2 equivalent each year. If we don't stop it now, then their pollutants will continue to skyrocket as well.
The contents written are informative and give a more global perspective to the issue. However, what really stood out was the use of imagery and graphics as you scroll through the website. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words and the amount displayed really helps to quantify the unfathomable truth of fast fashion waste. Talking about what is happening is one thing, but showing the reality of the people, animals, and land being affected compels us to care more. I appreciated how they talked about the impact it has on local economies because that can easily be overlooked. Overall the article gives a good gist of fast fashion waste production; if someone did not know anything they would finish with a very good, well-rounded understanding of what is going on.
Science in Action.
Dr. Pasty Perry is a Leader in Fashion Marketing and Academic Lead for International at Manchester Fashion Institute, Manchester Metropolitan University.
Dr. Perry has a PhD in CSR garment supply chains. To no surprise, much of her research surrounds the fashion industry's supply chain. With her research she has found the shift from fast fashion to slow fashion has to start at the start of the supply chain. She reiterates the fact that garments need to be made to last once again. This implies that they need to be made out of higher quality materials and without the trend cycles in mind, which directly relates back to fast fashion waste. In order to reduce waste we need to look at the whole picture and start at the beginning of the fabrics.
By: Keara McLaughlin
Summary. Heat waves are regularly associated with climate chaos and environmental concerns. Many people overlook how detrimental heat waves are to the health of the worlds populations. With heat waves increasing in 2021, not only did we see adverse climate effects, but significant health concerns and deaths. Heat waves create droughts, and droughts dry out areas of land that is not typically dry. When land is dry and thus exposed to wind and other factors, particulates circulate through the air significantly impairing the breathing of those with respiratory illnesses and even creating illnesses in people who have never experienced these issues before. Not only do droughts cause illnesses, they also ruin crops and potable water in reservoirs. Individuals facing food and water shortages are then additionally at risk for other kinds of illness including environmental, communicable and noncommunicable. This severely atypical increase in heat creates numerous public health concerns that many may not view as significant, but overtime cause serious stress on the body. Tradesman who work outdoors in areas that are faced with these heat waves such as Arizona and other southern states experience the effects of heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion can lead to long term side effects such as kidney failure and other serious illnesses. In 2021, in Seattle there was one of the worst heat waves ever recorded for the area with temperatures over 100º Fahrenheit for several days at a time. During this period, over 600 people died. Many people don't correlate increased temperature with health concerns, but with issues like starvation, dehydration, respiratory illness and long term effects, heat waves are very dangerous to the overall health of the worlds populations. Many may say that one could just stay indoors. The concern with this argument is that areas like the Pacific Northwest are not equipped with the infrastructure like HVAC and AC to allow people to stay cool indoors. Many parts of this country and the world were not ready or used to the extreme temperatures brought by heat waves and thus many people suffered and will continue to. Heat waves are extremely detrimental to the overall health of humanity.
Why we should care? The intersection of Public Health and the environment is absolutely critical. Learning and caring about how the environment affects us on a health level incentivizes change.
I found this article to be particularly relevant because it encapsulated the public health concerns with heat waves as well as the environmental causes and their effects on the climate and Earth. This article not only walks through health issues caused by heat waves, but shows important anecdotal evidence of the real effects of heat on the everyday person. I think this article helps to show how severe the heat waves of 2021 were throughout the country, especially in places that people may be unfamiliar with. Most importantly this article shows is the severity of climate change, and in turn heat waves, and the affect on public health.
Science in Action.
Dr. Kristie Ebi is at the University of Washington in the Department of Global Health.
Professor Kristine Ebi, along with a group of international researchers found that the heat waves in America in 2021 were a direct result of human caused climate change. Professor Ebi's work primarily focuses on the intersection of public health and the environment. She has worked on numerous research projects related to environmental concerns and global health, such as the public health implications of rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement and increases in Zika Virus cases due to climate change. This area of study is directly related to my topic as well as the article I found because concerns with heat waves are not only a public health concern but also an environmental concern. Not only does Professor Ebi's work generally operate in this intersection, but she also worked on a study directly related to health concerns related to heat waves.
By: Juliana Witt
Summary. 142 years ago temperatures around the globe were being measured and recorded. This led to scientists making observations and averages of temperatures not only from the whole globe, but also from specific areas around the globe as well. Since the effects of climate change have been a waving red flag throughout the last decades varying global temperatures have been becoming increasingly important to scientists. Throughout the last decade global temperatures have been slightly increasing with July of 2021 being the hottest month on record. This insane record was measured at a temperature of 60.4 degrees Fahrenheit (15.8 degrees Celsius), this being almost 2 degrees higher than the global average. This heightened temperature is believed to be mostly caused from human factors, such as greenhouse gas effects from the release of carbon and methane. Even though this two degree increase in temperature doesn't seem like much, it can have huge impacts on many different functions around the world. This increase in temperature increases climate change which can cause major weather events which can affect animals and people living in heavily affected areas. Most noticeable to the public today is the increase in floods, droughts, and severe weather storms that have been occurring throughout the past years. As noted from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration a huge impact of increasing temperatures is melting Arctic sea ice. Due to the way heat rises the Arctic has gotten hit by the record breaking temperature the most. The July of 2021 procured the largest amount of sea ice loss in history, showing a direct correlation between increasing global temperatures and amount of sea ice melting per year. The increasing temperature bears with it huge impacts to the society that is known today and poses great threat to all the inhabitants of the Earth. It is frightening to think that we lived through the hottest recorded temperature and from the history that is being presented it is only going to get worse.
Why we should care? We should care about this topic because we are the reason for the impacts of a hotter earth. It is not only greatly affecting the animals and plants around us but is directly impacting the lives of many people.
This article was interesting because it provided graphs and images to portray the intense heat surge throughout the entire world. It provided data from NASA (National Aeronautics & Space Administration) (National Aeronautics & Space Administration) that showed that the whole globe was hotter than it has ever been with just a few spots being cooler. Something this article also brought to light was the term "heat domes". Heat domes are areas that have a bubble-like top that does not allow the heat to leave, therefore becoming trapped. In this article it stated that the Northern hemisphere had 5 heat domes in the month of July. This heat was not only extreme, but it continued to August and September afterwards creating some of the hottest temperatures on record all over the world. Many different countries such as Turkey, Greece, and Japan experienced heat wave temperatures that they had not experienced for decades before. This is causing a wave of panic all over the world as places get hotter and hotter with no end.
Science in Action.
Dr. Randall Cerveny is a Geographical Science Professor at Arizona State University and Rapporteur for the World Meteorological Association (WMO).
Randall Cerveny's research is to, with scientific evidence, conclude if the temperature of 130 degrees Fahrenheit (54.4 degrees Celsius) is a legitimate temperature recording. This temperature was recorded in Death Valley in 2020 and could be the third hottest temperature ever recorded on the planet. Cerveny working with the WMOs (World Meteorological Organization) will contest if that temperature measure is true. This topic is relevant to July of 2021 being the world's hottest month because it shows that the temperatures on Earth are only getting hotter. With better research and technology, it can be shown that everywhere on Earth it is not only getting hotter but reaching scorching temperatures never felt by the people on the Earth. With a better focus on these weather extremes and temperatures it may be easier to inform the public about weather disasters and why they are occurring.
By: Jenin Kaddoura
Summary. Intense heat waves take place in southern Europe every summer as temperatures continue to rise. Southern European countries are also known as “Mediterranean Europe” as they have coastlines on the Mediterranean Sea, and thus foster a Mediterranean climate. This climate is characterized by dry and hot summers, which further intensifies any risks of climate change. Hardships like heat waves, wildfires, and droughts are likely to happen more frequently and intensely as the earth continues to warm. This summer, extreme and deadly wildfires raged across southern Europe, destroying villages and forests. Countries like Spain also saw record-breaking high temperatures, while other countries asked pregnant employees and elderly women to stay at home. Aside from the naturally dry climate, scientists believe that the burning of fossil fuels like oil and coal and the abandonment of rural areas is what worsens these events. Furthermore, wild growth significantly affected unmanaged agricultural land, and contributed to the quicker spread of the fires as well. On the other hand, forest ecosystems and biodiversity are also greatly impacted by these longer and harsher heat waves. The earth’s climate crisis encompasses heat-related and other corresponding issues, therefore, a big part of the contributing factors to the issue are human-caused. Human activities and emissions drastically increased greenhouse gases’ concentration in the atmosphere, yielding a human-induced global warming issue. Consequently, people living in Mediterranean-like climate areas have to deal with amplified effects like extreme heat and severe drought, while people in colder regions are challenged with catastrophic floods. Unfortunately, serious health issues are also arising from the extreme weather events. Likewise, animals and other exposed organisms are highly threatened due to their vulnerable environmental traits.
Why we should care? We should care about this topic, as it does not only affect the wildlife and far-off countries only, but rather every global citizen. We play a very big role in causing the irreparable damage as well.
I found this article interesting because it covers a very important topic and includes extra relevant information. For example, the article mentioned Algeria (a North African Mediterranean country), Geneva (a city in Switzerland - central Europe), and Turkey which is mostly an Asian country (intercontinental). It also includes statistics that demonstrate the severity of the issue. A thorough explanation regarding the causations and impacts of the heat waves was also provided to highlight other correlated factors. I also found it interesting how a conspiracy about people causing the fires in Italy was mentioned in the article. Overall, the article included a clear explanation of what caused and intensified the crisis, and deeply discussed the effects of the issue as well.
Science in Action.
Dr. Myles Allen is the head of the Climate Dynamics group at the University of Oxford's Atmospheric, Oceanic and Planetary Physics Department.
Professor Myles Allen’s research looks into observing the greater changes in the climate and the global mean surface warming, which is greatly determined by carbon dioxide emissions. He further researches about the natural and human-caused influences that contribute to climate change. The research also emphasizes the importance of not emitting fossil carbon reserves if goals of avoiding the 2 ͦ C increase in global warming are set. Professor Allen served in the UN and founded the world’s largest climate modeling experiment (the Climate Prediction Project). His research is relevant to the topic discussed, since it covers the issue of global warming and the potential causes of it. Furthermore, the Myles Allen has played a significant role in detecting human influence on climate change and with climate predictions, in which he was even awarded for it.
By: Eric Domenico
Summary. A record-breaking heatwave, which was once considered a rare event for the Pacific Northwest, claimed hundreds of lives and disrupted millions more in June of 2021. Temperatures rarely exceed 90 degrees Fahrenheit in Portland, Oregon, but three consecutive days of temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit swept across the land in late June, which most residents and infrastructure were unprepared for. Roads buckled, power cables melted, businesses closed. With temperatures typically being cooler, it is not uncommon to not have air-conditioning, so cooling centers were being opened for the public. Many climate scientists are of the conviction that climate change is responsible for this generally unlikely occurrence. Perhaps to be considered an anomaly by some, that conclusion was tested in August, when 100 plus degrees was met for another two days back-to-back. An alteration to the Jetstream currents that naturally flow across this area has been discovered to be the culprit of this phenomenon. The swirling motion of the Jetstream set in place an unusual condition called an "Omega Block", where the surge of high-pressure stacked on top of itself and stalled over the northwest. An effect of climate change, the responding weather in this region is non-linear due to the magnification brought on by droughts and subsequent wildfires. The positive-feedback loop of increasing temperatures, prolonged droughts, and wildfires in this region is amplifying the devastation even more. In 2021, in the states of Oregon and Washington, wildfires have clamed nearly twenty times more land than in the previous year, which already sustained more wildfires than previously recorded. Drought conditions are recorded in over 90% of the entire Pacific Northwest, too. The likeliness of these events will only increase if temperatures continue to rise globally. The fight against climate change is an uphill battle, and it is still a long ways from effectively mitigating what is being experienced today.
Why we should care? As an unsuspecting traveler of the western United States during this heatwave, this topic had become relatable for myself with my first-hand experience of the event. It is prudent to understand the way this has disrupted lives for so many people.
The article of choice was selected because of its in-depth account of the experience. The article touches on the background of the weather in Oregon and it articulates well on the timeline of this devastating heat wave. Gardener includes detailed accounts from residents and officials experiences to help visualize the devastation which allows it to become relatable. I think often it is easy to detach yourself from a terrible situation you aren't in. Bringing the first-hand accounts to the limelight is a good way to engage and educate readers. Gardner captures the panic, the scramble to respond, the science, and the results all in one captivating read.
Science in Action.
Dr. Geert Jan van Oldenborgh (Deceased October 11, 2021) was a climatologist and physicist at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute and Co-founder and Co-leader of World Weather Attribution.
Geert Jan van Oldenborgh was co-founder of the World Weather Attribution; an organization that studied extreme weather events to provide quick analyses of the events. Oldenborgh's analysis of the Pacific Northwest heatwave was a desperately important contribution to climate science and understanding climate change's influence on this particular event. Oldenborgh and his partner, Friederike Otto, developed a computer program, called The Climate Explorer, as an unexpected result of studying El Niño. This program revolutionized weather and climate analysis. As someone who was on the forefront of studying extreme weather events, Oldenborgh is a perfect fit to select for this topic and I think choosing him is a great way to honor all of the work he has done as a climatologist while his recent death is still mourned.
By: Benjamin DeGrove
Summary. Russia has completed work on a new pipeline to northern Germany earlier this year. The new line, created by the Russian company Gazprom, will transport natural gas to Germany. The Nord Stream 2 pipeline runs along the original Nord Stream pipeline under the Baltic Sea. The pipeline originates in Ust-Luga and runs to the northern German city of Greifswald, whereas the old pipeline began in Vyborg and ended in Greifswald. With the decline of extraction of fossil fuels in the European Union, prices for power have rose and the new line could alleviate some of the costs for electricity through the European Union. The project has been opposed by the United States and the Ukraine as they try to prevent further Russian aggression into Ukraine. The gas line if turned on could cause United States sanctions on Russia to be much less effective if they decide to invade Ukraine. The new pipeline also would cause a further dependence on fossil fuels in Europe and also increase the overall dependence of exports from Russia, which could be a powerful political tool for the Russian side. Also, if the Germany allows the import of natural gas through this new line, the United States will threaten to put sanctions on German companies as well to combat the Russian aggression in Ukraine. Germany has not yet legalized the new gas line because the operators of the line would have to be organized under the German government or have to create a subsidiary inside of Germany.
Why we should care? We should care about the new pipeline because it is a new mode for fossil fuels to be burned and could create a change in balance of regional power in Europe and the independence of Ukraine.
This article shows an in depth look at the international politics between the countries involved in making the pipeline and the United States. The article also explains the Swiss operating companies move to create a German subsidiary to legally run the European side of the gas line. It contains a link to a sanctions list for the European Union on Russia. I also like the article because explains why the pipeline isn’t running right now and states it could be out of commission up until June 2022. The Nord Stream line being blocked is bad for the European economy but good for their environment and greenhouse gas emissions.
Science in Action.
Dr. Erika von Schneidemesser is the Research Group Leader at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, Potsdam.
Dr. Erika von Schneidemesser is an atmospheric chemistry specialist that studies the air quality, pollution and atmospheric processes of urban areas in Germany. Her research is relevant to Nord Stream 2 pipeline because when it opens, it will create a new wave of burning natural gas in Germany. This would cause air pollution and quality problems which would directly impact her research.
By: Hailey Bernys
Summary. The Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline is a trans-country natural gas pipeline. The TAPI pipeline is expected to transport 33 billion cubic meters of natural gas each year. It was originally created to create revenue from Turkmenistan’s gas reserves by exporting natural gas from Afghanistan to Pakistan and India. Afghanistan is expected to receive 400 million dollars a year as a transit fee for the pipeline. Some benefits from the creation of the pipeline is that it will facilitate trade and cooperation among the region. The pipeline is sometimes referred to as the “peace” pipeline because it will support peace and security between the four countries involved. Another benefit is the long term energy security that will be provided to more than 1.5 billion people in Afghanistan. Afghanistan and Pakistan will receive benefits of transit fees and for Turkmenistan the revenues are assumed to increase from the sale of gas. The TAPI pipeline will help diversify trade routes and help spread its natural gas production to others. There are of course downsides to the pipeline such as disagreements over prices and transit fees. Wars could break out from these disagreements and they have in the past such as Ukraine and Russia back in 2014. However, Afghanistan views this pipeline more so a form of connectivity rather than separation which is positive. This isn’t to say maybe at some point there won’t be disagreements but the pipeline was created to support peace between the countries. Turkmenistan currently sends much of its gas production to China and before the coronavirus it was running at full capacity but with coronavirus there was a slow down in demand which prevented Turkmenistan from increasing its gas production. With the pipeline they can seams and trade much of their natural gas supply. The pipeline is said to serve for at least 30 years but pipelines in general can typically serve 30-100 years.
Why we should care? We should care about this topic because it is one of the best solutions to lowering greenhouse gas emissions. This helps the environment by slowing climate change and reducing pollutants you would find in the air.
I found this article interesting because it covered this topic very well and explained what I had talked about very thoroughly and in a manner that was easy to understand. Someone who doesn’t know anything about this topic at all could read this article and walk away with a really good understanding of the TAPI pipeline. I wasn’t able to find a current article from 2021 but I found the closest one I could and used that. The pipeline is supposed to be done in 2022 so I’m surprised there isn’t more current information on this topic.
Science in Action.
Dr. Mirza Saqadat Huda is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at OSCE Academy in Bishkek.
Dr. Huda studies the environmental and social impacts of infrastructure development. This is relevant to my topic because the TAPI pipeline is an example of an infrastructure development and it has to do with our environment as well as the social inner workings between the four countries it runs through. These countries have conflicts especially with Afghanistan and the Taliban trying to take over so this is definitely a topic he would be interested in. Primarily, he’s interested in the link between natural resource governance and conflict resolution. Which also ties into the topic because of the natural gas being a natural resource as well as the potential conflicts that can arise between the four countries involved.
By: Jacob Philip
Summary. Canadian oil company Enbridge's recently constructed Line 3 pipeline runs southeast from Canada’s oil sands region across northern Minnesota and into the western tip of Lake Superior near the Minnesota-Wisconsin border. Throughout it’s construction this pipeline was highly contested not only because of the risk of a potential oil spill somewhere along the route, but also because the set route violates multiple indigneous land treaties with the United States government. Despite this, the project was completed at the end of September this year and Enbridge claimed that it was fully operational by the beginning of October. However, this has not stopped climate activists and indigenous water protectors from continuing their protests, even in the face of over 900 activists being arrested. Alongside this, Enbridge has reimbursed Minnesota state and local police over 2.4 million dollars for surveilling and arresting anti-pipeline activists, even going so far as to pay for things such as meals and hotels for officers from other regions of the state. Activists continue their fight even in the face of such conditions because this pipeline has more than doubled carbon emissions for the state of Minnesota. Additionally, even though the Minnesota Court of Appeals has claimed that the project meets state and federal clean water standards, there was no federal environmental impact assessment completed prior to pipeline construction. Activists have said that they intend to continue protests until the pipeline is no longer operational, while Enbridge has stated that they have no intentions of closing Line 3 in the foreseeable future.
Why we should care? I think that we should care about this topic because it sets a precedent for the construction/decommission of other pipelines such as Michigan's own Line 5.
I found this article interesting because I think it is something we should all be concerned about given the climate crisis. Personally I do not believe that anything that would double the carbon emissions of an entire state should be constructed in the modern day and while I am by no means an expert/authority on energy resources I feel comfortable saying that there has to be a better way to meet our energy needs. Alongside this the whole time I was researching it was really frustrating to learn about just how much Enbridge seems to have gotten away with in this situation with little to no regard for the population or environment.
Science in Action.
Dr. David Schindler was an ecologist at the University of Alberta.
Dr. Schindler did research on tar sands extraction proving that the process creates many pollutants in the surrounding environment, disproving the statement that Enbridge and the Canadian government had put out saying that these pollutants were "naturally occurring".
By: Hailey Finnen
Summary. The Keystone Pipeline was proposed in 2008, designed to transport Alberta tar sands oil from Canada’s boreal forests to oil refineries on the Gulf Coast of Texas. The first leg of the pipeline has been operational since 2010, but the second proposed leg, the Keystone XL, has finally been canceled as of June 2021 after a tumultuous battle. Tar sands oil is different than other oil, and extracting it brings intense environmental and economic costs. The EPA says that tar sands oil emits 20% more carbon than other types. Because it is thicker, more acidic, and more corrosive than conventional crude oil, pipelines carrying tar sands oil are more likely to leak. The operational leg of the keystone pipeline system has leaked more than a dozen times since 2010, with a North Dakota incident that spewed 21,000 gallons of tar sands crude into the air. For all of these reasons, the pipeline itself and the proposed addition has been a highly controversial topic between the government, citizens, and oil companies for the last decade. The Obama administration blocked the construction initially, then later the permits were approved and provided by the Trump administration. However, in 2021, President Biden canceled the permits, and the Keystone XL addition was put to rest. The working leg of the pipeline remains in use.
Why we should care? The mining of tar sands oil is much worse for the environment than other types of oil, and big energy companies wanted to triple tar sands production by 2030, using the Keystone Pipeline as a major tool.
This article, from January 2021, goes in depth about President Biden’s plans to cancel the permits made for the Keystone XL addition that were signed by former President Trump.
Science in Action.
Dr. James Hansen a leading climate scientist. During the time of the pipeline protests, he was the head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.
In the 1980’s, Hansen was among the first scientists to warn that burning fossil fuels was a leading cause of climate change. He has since joined several public protests against the pipeline. He researched to debunk the claims that were being made about the pipeline.
By: Gage Percival
Summary. Line Five pipeline is an outdated financial investment for Enbridge Energy and an alarming risk to Michigan's economy. The pipeline pumps 23 million gallons of oil a day, running north and south throughout the state and across the Mackinac Straits. Enbridge continues to operate the pipeline illegally, despite orders from Governor Gretchen Whitmer given in November 2020 to shut it down in May '21. Should the 68-year old pipeline continue to operate, it could "generate $41 billion in climate damages between 2027 and 2070" according to a scientific witness for a court mediation between Enbridge and Governor Whitmer. Testimony from senior scientist and climate policy director Peter Erickson and Peter Howard, an economic policy expert, was provided who argued the continuation of the project would be inconsistent with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement as well as the Michigan Healthy Climate Plan. Whitmer created the plan to develop new jobs and to set direction to making Michigan carbon neutral by 2050. Pumping oil throughout Michigan is no longer safe and sets us up for continued unnecessary reliance upon fossil fuel. Enbridge is likely to argue to the courts that there is no other alternative to fossil fuels, even though a study shows that Michigan could meet its energy needs from renewables and electrification. Recently the mediation between Enbridge and Whitmer ended without settlement, leaving the pipeline operational illegally and with expressed opposition to Michigan's future. In one act of collective action by the people, Water Protectors and activists took it upon themselves to temporarily shut down part of the line in Vassar Michigan. They notified the state and Enbridge prior and acted to turn the emergency shut off manually by hand and a wrench. The shut-off lasted only a day at most, however, is crucial to have occurred in demonstrating how people can take action and stand up to large corporations who put our safety and future at risk.
Why we should care? Michigan has many reasons to fear the black snake running through its land. These ecosystems are invaluable to us, and will easily be polluted should the pipeline burst anywhere along the 645 miles that it travels through the state.
This article is of interest because it highlights the blatant criminality of the energy companies. You can see how they operate illegally and are at odds with consumer interest, who will fight tooth and nail to ensure their continued operation and exploitation of the land. The article highlights a turning point in how this is a new direction for the state, having opposed the building and continuation of fossil fuel infrastructure.
Science in Action.
Peter Erickson is the Climate Policy Program Director at Stockholm Environment Institute US.
Peter Erickson has done a number of studies and projects. Recently he worked on greenhouse gas tracking in Seattle, the quality and quantity of potential greenhouse offsets in the US, and a study into the role of international offset in global climate mitigation. He takes interest in cap-and-trade programs, the contribution of consumption and behavior change to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, industrial policy, and cities. Peter is doing fine work in the ways of making it clear where our priorities should currently stand, in limiting the number of greenhouse gases that we put into our atmosphere.