news round up (2020 kick-off)

Happy Belated New Years!

2020… I remember back in the ’00’s when I heard “we are going to [do this thing] by 2020” and thinking it was so futuristic and far off. What’s the urgency anyway?

Well… here we are! I guess this is a just a reminder that today was at one time someone’s distant future. And we are living with the consequences of the many decisions that echo down through the generations.

It’s hard, but I try to remember this when I hear about “by the end of the 20th century.” I’ll be gone, but by then my children (Lord willing) will be old folks, and presumably still in need of the basics we all crave: food, water, shelter, a safe society, warm & compassion & human belonging. What we do now really does open up or foreclose the opportunities for them.

Ok, that got deep! If you are bundled up inside today, here are a few headlines that I’ve been reading the last several weeks. They are in no particular order, so feel free to scan headlines to find what interested you. Enjoy:

Ecopsychology: How Immersion in Nature Benefits Your Health (Yale 360) A growing body of research points to the beneficial effects that exposure to the natural world has on health, reducing stress and promoting healing. Now, policymakers, employers, and healthcare providers are increasingly considering the human need for nature in how they plan and operate.

A growing body of research points to the beneficial effects that exposure to the natural world has on health, reducing stress and promoting healing. Now, policymakers, employers, and healthcare providers are increasingly considering the human need for nature in how they plan and operate.

Eliminating food deserts won’t help poorer Americans eat healthier (The Conversation) In the U.S., rich people tend to eat a lot healthier than poor people. Because poor diets cause obesity, Type II diabetes and other diseases, this nutritional inequality contributes to unequal health outcomes. The richest Americans can expect to live 10-15 years longer than the poorest. Many think that a key cause of nutritional inequality is food deserts – or neighborhoods without supermarkets, mostly in low-income areas. The narrative is that folks who live in food deserts are forced to shop at local convenience stores, where it’s hard to find healthy groceries. If we could just get a supermarket to open in those neighborhoods, the thinking goes, then people would be able to eat healthy. The data tell a strikingly different story…

And related…

Why community-owned grocery stores like co-ops are the best recipe for revitalizing food deserts (The Conversation)

Mowing urban lawns less intensely increases biodiversity, saves money and reduces pests (Phys.org)

Vatican calls Greta Thunberg ‘great witness’ of Church’s environmental teaching (Crux)

Research: Coyotes don’t reduce deer populations (Journal of Wildlife Management)

Bob Murray paid for science denial instead of his coal workers’ wages as company went bankrupt (Electrek)

Pinebrook, UT Net-Zero Electric Home including one electric vehicle (with two years of data)

New Indiana fish species discovered (well, in 2006, but this was a fun note from I-DNR on Facebook)

Tainted Dreams: Chernobyl survivor, organic farmer faces new contamination problem in Indiana (Indiana Environmental Reporter)

The coal industry is dying. Indiana should let go. (IndyStar) Indiana is about to lose a substantial chunk of its coal mining jobs in one fell swoop — a reminder that, despite the political forces propping it up, the coal industry is much less important to the state’s economy than you might think.

IPL to retire 2 coal-fired units in southern Indiana (WishTV)

NIPSCO fined $1 million for discriminating against 1,500-plus female, black job candidates, court records show (NWI Times)

Scientists have gotten predictions of global warming right since the 1970s (Vox) The first systematic review finds that climate models have been remarkably accurate.

Chicago among cities requiring spaces for apartment, condo dwellers to charge electric vehicles (GreenCarReports)

BloombergNEF: Average Battery Prices Fell To $156 Per kWh In 2019 (InsideEVs) According to BloombergNEF (BNEF) research, this year the average EV battery pack prices decreased to around $156/kWh, which is some 87% less than it was in 2010 (over $1,100/kWh).

The New Climate Math (Yale e360, by Bill McKibben) The Numbers Keep Getting More Frightening: Scientists keep raising ever-louder alarms about the urgency of tackling climate change, but the world’s governments aren’t listening. Yet the latest numbers don’t lie: Nations now plan to keep producing more coal, oil, and gas than the planet can endure.

Controversial Pesticides Are Suspected Of Starving Fish (NPR) There’s new evidence that a widely used family of pesticides called neonicotinoids, already controversial because they can be harmful to pollinators, could be risky for insects and fish that live in water, too.

Trump Pledged to Help Small Farms. Aid Is Going to Big Ones (Bloomberg) Half of the Trump administration’s latest trade-war bailout for farmers went to just a 10th of recipients in the program, according to an analysis of payments by an environmental organization. The study asserted that payouts have been skewed toward larger operations and wealthier producers.

This Solar Energy Company Fired Its Construction Crew After They Unionized (Vice News) Inspired by AOC’s Green New Deal, workers at Bright Power voted to form the first union at a solar power company in New York. On Monday, the company fired them.

What happens when the humble circuit breaker becomes a computer (Vox) The electricity system is evolving from analog to digital — and that’s great news for transitioning off of fossil fuels.

Update Given on Progress of the Yellow River, Kankakee River Basin Development Commission (WKVI)

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