news round-up: summer edition

Ok… I’ve accumulated enough links to post another news round-up.

And as a treat, please enjoy this photo of the caterpillar of the Leafy Spurge Hawkmoth. I came across this in the Mackinaw State Forest in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan.

Prayer for a Just War (Harpers Magazine) Finding meaning in the climate fight.

Indiana Awards Electric Utilities $5.5 Million To Build Electric Vehicle Charging Stations (Indiana Public Media) Indiana will award a group of eight electric utilities more than $5.5 million to set up charging stations for electric vehicles across the state. The money comes from the settlement with Volkswagen over its Clean Air Act violations. The Indiana Utility Group will build 61 DC fast charging stations — which can charge electric cars in as little as 20 minutes. There are about 40 high-powered public charging stations in the state — more than half of them are in Indianapolis.

I found this short Vlog Brothers video very helpful in thinking about individual vs. corporate action on climate change. The research they cite is listed in the description section of the video.

Rooftop solar and home batteries make a clean grid vastly more affordable (Volts) Distributed energy is not an alternative to big power plants, but a complement.

Where the buffalo roam: world’s longest wildlife bridge could cross the Mississippi (The Guardian) Between Iowa and Illinois, spanning the only stretch of the Mississippi River that flows from east to west, sits an exhausted 55-year-old concrete bridge. Each day 42,000 cars drive across the ageing structure, which is slated to be torn down and replaced. But when Chad Pregracke looks at the bridge, he has a different vision entirely – not an old overpass to be demolished, but a home for the buffalo to roam.

Pesticides Are Killing the World’s Soils (Scientific American) They cause significant harm to earthworms, beetles, ground-nesting bees and thousands of other vital subterranean species… For our analysis, conducted by researchers at the Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth and the University of Maryland, we looked at nearly 400 published studies that together conducted over 2,800 experiments on how pesticides affect soil organisms. Our review encompassed 275 unique species or types of soil organisms and 284 different pesticides or pesticide mixtures. In just over 70 percent of those experiments, pesticides were found to harm organisms that are critical to maintaining healthy soils—harms that currently are never considered in the EPA’s safety reviews.

Wyoming selected as site of new nuclear power plant (Casper Star Tribune) The project is a partnership with Bill Gates-founded company TerraPower, Rocky Mountain Power and the U.S. Department of Energy. The plant will replace a current coal-fired plant in Wyoming’s Pacificorp system. The reactor will use small, modular reactors as opposed to the traditional larger ones. These smaller modular reactions can be used individually or combined to create a single large power plant.

Radioactivity May Fuel Life Deep Underground and Inside Other Worlds (Quanta Magazine) New work suggests that the radiolytic splitting of water supports giant subsurface ecosystems of life on Earth — and could do it elsewhere, too.

Southern Indiana power plant once named ‘nation’s dirtiest’ shuts down (Spectrum News) At Louisville’s Shawnee Park, the 129-year-old green space on the city’s western edge, two grayish smokestacks stretch high above the expansive green canopy. Down below, on the Indiana side of the Ohio River, sits Duke Energy’s Gallagher Station, a coal-fired power plant that has spewed emissions into a borderless sky for more than a half century. That ended on June 1, when Gallagher Station was officially retired.

Dangerous humid heat extremes occurring decades before expected (NOAA) The study, “The emergence of heat and humidity too severe for human tolerance,” published today in Science Advances shows for the first time that some locations have already reported combined heat and humidity extremes above humans’ survivability limit.

Coal-rich Indiana is going solar. It’s not easy (EE Wire) Solar projects totaling 22,000 megawatts of capacity —- 50% greater than the sum of Indiana’s coal fleet — are seeking to plug into the two wholesale power grids that cover parts of the state, PJM Interconnection and the Midcontinent Independent System Operator. The boom is part of a broader trend playing out across the Midwest and the United States as solar costs continue to fall

Stop Worrying and Love the F-150 Lightning (The Atlantic) Here are seven ways that Ford’s first electric pickup truck signals that decarbonization has entered a new era.

‘You Can Feel the Tension’: A Windfall for Minority Farmers Divides Rural America. (New York Times)

Plug In or Gas Up? Why Driving on Electricity is Better than Gasoline (Union of Concerned Scientists) Electric vehicles have a high profile right now, with EVs featuring prominently in the Biden administration’s and Congress’s plans and also important new vehicle announcements from major automakers like Ford. But what are the climate benefits from switching from gasoline to electricity? While it’s obvious that a fully electric vehicle eliminates tailpipe emissions, people often wonder about the global warming emissions from generating the electricity to charge an EV. The latest data confirms that driving on electricity produces significantly fewer emissions than using gasoline.

Watchdog Finds Trump EPA Changed Scientific Analyses to Support Policy During Dicamba Approval Process (Indiana Env Reporter) EPA Inspector General found altered analyses, lack of scientific reviews and other discrepancies in 2018 approval process for dicamba products.

Cleveland Wants ‘Climate Justice.’ Can The Biden Administration Help? (NPR) The fight against climate change may be taking a striking new turn under the Biden administration. The White House is calling climate action a form of environmental justice, part of a campaign to address economic and racial inequity. It’s bringing new attention and, potentially, a flood of cash to low-tech approaches to climate action that directly benefit low-income neighborhoods. They include aid for home renovations and upgrades to city transportation infrastructure, including buses.

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