Day: March 24, 2021

The Navajo Nation generates a ton of power — but 14,000 homes don’t have electricity

Read the full story at Grist.

Electricity has long been a contentious issue for Navajo Nation residents. Of the roughly 55,000 Indigenous households located on Navajo lands, which stretch across large parts of Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico, around 15,000 do not have electricity. And yet the reservation is an energy-exporting hotspot, having until recently been home to the Navajo Generating Station, the largest coal-fired power plant in the western U.S, as well as many coal, uranium, oil, and fracking operations.

The Navajo Generating Station, or NGS, was officially decommissioned in 2019, marking one of the first big transitions away from coal in the region. The City of Los Angeles, which has historically gotten its energy from the facility, has been working with the tribe to transform the land into a hub for utility-scale solar, wind, and hydroelectric power. Whether Navajo residents will be able to take advantage of that new renewable energy is another matter. While the tribe’s members have long been able to apply for federal grant money to help them get on the grid, strict eligibility criteria — such as income limits and minimum community population density — made the program inaccessible to many families.

Health Professionals and the Climate Crisis: Trusted Voices, Essential Roles

Maibach, E., Frumkin, H. and Ahdoot, S. (2021). “Health Professionals and the Climate Crisis: Trusted Voices, Essential Roles.” World Medical & Health Policy 13, 137-145.

Abstract: Climate change has triggered a global public health emergency that, unless adequately addressed, is likely to become a multigenerational public health catastrophe. The policy actions needed to limit global warming deliver a wide range of public health benefits above and beyond those that will result from limiting climate change. Moreover, these health benefits are immediate and local, addressing one of the most vexing challenges of climate solutions: that the benefits of greenhouse gas reduction are seen as long‐term and global, which are remote from the concerns of many jurisdictions. In this commentary, we identify roles that health professionals and health organizations can play, individually and collectively, to advance equitable climate and health policies in their communities, health systems, states, and nations. Ultimately, health voices can work across national boundaries to influence the world’s commitments to the Paris Agreement, arguably the world’s most important public health goal.

The Problem with Unpaid Conservation Work

Read the full story from JStor.

There’s no way to sugarcoat it. One million species of plants and animals are currently under threat of extinction, and plenty more could join them due to the impacts of climate change. But the conservation programs that must lead the large-scale global action required to protect even a fraction of these species face constant underfunding. That’s why these organizations depend so heavily on volunteers, who are now an integral part of the conservation movement. But as environmental policy researchers Ans Vercammen, Caroline Park, Robyn Goddard, Joss Lyons-White, and Andrew Knight argue, current volunteer practices may undermine efforts to tackle this biodiversity crisis.

Warmer soils this winter in Illinois could indicate healthy insect populations for spring

Read the full story from the Illinois State Water Survey.

Despite the cold weather this February, winter soil temperatures averaged 1 to 2 degrees higher than the long-term averages in Illinois, indicating a greater chance of insects surviving the winter, according to Jennie Atkins, Water and Atmospheric Resources Monitoring (WARM) program manager at the Illinois State Water Survey.

Newly discovered material may ease wear and tear on extraterrestrial vehicles

Read the full story from Missouri S&T.

As NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover continues to explore the surface of Mars, scientists on Earth have developed a new nanoscale metal carbide that could act as a “superlubricant” to reduce wear and tear on future rovers.

Researchers in Missouri S&T’s chemistry department and Argonne National Laboratory’s Center for Nanoscale Materials, working with a class of two-dimensional nanomaterials known as MXenes, have discovered that the materials work well to reduce friction. The materials also should perform better than conventional oil-based lubricants in extreme environments, says Dr. Vadym Mochalin, associate professor of chemistry at Missouri S&T, who is leading the research.

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