Day: May 24, 2021

Black Birders Week 2021

Black Birders Week 2021 schedule. Visit for text.

After the global success of its inaugural year, #BlackBirdersWeek returns Sunday, May 30 through Saturday, June 5, 2021. This year’s event will showcase the many unique ways Black people connect in the outdoors. The week’s lineup includes nationwide birding events, live streamed panel discussions, and daily interactive themes.

In partnership with The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Bird Collective, US Fish Wildlife Service, National Wildlife Federation, Tucson Audubon Society, and more, #BlackBirdersWeek2021 is taking flight!

Visit the website for more information about the week’s events.

Webinar: Integrating ESG into Business Strategy: Lessons from the Leaders

May 27, 2021, noon-1 pm CDT
Register here.

The pandemic has altered the way companies think about ESG. This new wave of momentum and compelling evidence from the market response have propelled an increase in ESG investing, along with the growth of ESG reporting and disclosure.

As a result, ESG impact is integral to the company’s strategy, operations, financial decisions and, overall, in the company’s culture. The firms that get this right will thrive, creating accelerating progress towards a livable planet and equitable communities.

In this one-hour webcast, a panel of business leaders will share their insights on treating ESG and business strategy together. Among the things you’ll learn:

  • How to embed ESG to optimize innovation and growth
  • Taking the lead – Where to focus?
  • ESG strategy for differentiation and long-term value
  • Systemically measuring and understanding outcomes and impacts


  • Joel Makower, Chairman & Executive Editor, GreenBiz Group


  • Leonardo De Biasi, VP of Data Intelligence, NIMBL
  • Matthew Sekol, Industry Executive, US Capital Markets, Microsoft 
  • Junta Nakai, Regional VP & Global Industry Leader, Financial Services & Sustainability, Databricks

3M study shows 89% of people agree that climate change solutions should be implemented immediately

Read the full story at Environment + Energy Leader.

New research from 3M, “The State of Science Index,” exposes a growing concern and a sense of urgency surrounding the health of the planet. According to the survey, a significant majority (89%) of respondents agree that solutions to mitigate climate change need to happen immediately, and 89% confirm their belief that the world should follow science to help create a more sustainable future.

With landfill emissions regulation, EPA enforces once-delayed methane pollution rule

Read the full story at Waste Dive.

The U.S. EPA recently issued a final rule on emissions thresholds for municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills, which stakeholders see as a significant step in the Biden administration’s climate change plan to slash greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030.

The final rule brings clarity to a drawn-out legal battle over the timeline for implementing state or federal emission rules, industry groups say, helping landfill operators make plans to update emissions systems if necessary. Environmental groups see the rule as an important way to more quickly take a bite out of air pollution, as MSW landfills are the third-largest source of human-related methane emissions in the United States.

The rule is significant because it applies to the majority of MSW landfills in the United States, said David Biderman, CEO of the Solid Waste Association of North America. Under the rule, about 1,590 landfill operators will have 30 months to install or update control systems to meet EPA’s standards.

Illinois climate change assessment shows increased trend of warmer, wetter weather

Read the full story at Brownfield Ag News.

A new assessment of the impacts of climate change in Illinois shows an ongoing trend of warmer and wetter conditions in the state which pose challenges to agriculture.

Co-author and former Illinois State Climatologist Jim Angel tells Brownfield temperatures are increasing which is especially evident with the recent mild winters, and heavy rain events are becoming more common.

Sending science majors into elementary schools helps Latino and Black students realize scientists can look like them

A student’s drawings of a scientist upon starting and after completing the Young Scientists Program. USC Young Scientists Program, CC BY-NC-ND

by Dieuwertje J. Kast, University of Southern California

The Research Brief is a short take about interesting academic work.

The big idea

After taking part in hands-on STEM lab experiments as part of a youth science program I coordinate, Latino and Black students were more likely to picture scientists as people who look like them – and not stereotypical white men in lab coats.

The Young Scientists Program at the Joint Educational Project of the University of Southern California offers specialized science, technology, engineering and math instruction in local elementary schools that have mostly Latino and Black students – two groups long underrepresented in STEM fields. My colleagues and I recruit undergrad and graduate STEM majors to teach lab experiments at seven schools in Los Angeles. About 2,400 students in grades two to five receive 20 hours of instruction each year. Over 80% of the students are Latino, and about 13% are African American.

We wanted to get a sense of whether the program increases the kids’ interest in science, as well as whether it changes how they view scientists. To do so, we used an evaluation tool based on the Draw-A-Scientist-Test created by educational researcher David Wade Chambers in 1983 which assessed kids’ preconceived notions of what scientists look like. Researchers later developed a checklist for the drawings that includes certain characteristics like gender, age, race and being in a laboratory.

When our program began collecting drawings of scientists from its participating students in 2015, 90% of the pictures were of white men in lab coats, often looking like Albert Einstein. About 10% of the students did not know what a scientist is or does. This was demonstrated by students who wrote “I don’t know” or drew question marks on their drawings.

The drawings have become more diverse over time, which we attribute to a gamut of reasons including hiring more diverse teaching staff and incorporating more examples of scientists of color into our programming.

In fall of 2019, before beginning the yearlong program, we asked the kids to draw a picture of a scientist. Just under 40% drew white female scientists, 6% drew scientists of color – either men or women – and 6% drew themselves as a scientist. Almost half of them, 48%, depicted scientists as either white men or cartoon characters. After completing the program, the kids were asked to draw a picture of a scientist again. This time, 37% of them drew white women, 10% drew scientists of color and 9% drew themselves. Only 44% drew white men or cartoon characters.

These increases in students who drew themselves or scientists of color, though perhaps seemingly small, are significant. They demonstrate that the students are developing and internalizing an identity of becoming a scientist.

A Latina student drew herself as a scientist. USC Young Scientists Program

Why it matters

Black workers make up only 9% of the STEM workforce, and Latino workers represent 8%, though they are roughly 13% and 19% of the U.S. population, respectively. Similarly, Black and Latino undergrad and graduate students are less likely to earn STEM degrees than white and Asian students.

Without diversity in the STEM fields, it’s harder for students of color to see themselves as future scientists. Research shows a more diverse scientific community would likely lead to more innovation, better health care, more supportive academic spaces and a greater trust in science, just to name a few benefits.

What still isn’t known

We hope that students who finish the Young Scientists Program continue to pursue STEM and go on to become scientists themselves. However, that data is not available, and we are unable to track the graduates. We do have one former participant and four other community students who are STEM majors who are now on staff and teaching science in the community where they grew up. This epitomizes the goal of our program.

What’s next

To change students’ preconceived notions of scientists as being white and male, it’s important they experience diverse science teachers, are taught about scientists of color in history and see diverse characters in science-related children’s books. Its our hope to see more of the students in our program drawing scientists of color or themselves as scientists in future drawings.

Dieuwertje J. Kast, Director of STEM Education Programs of the Joint Educational Project, University of Southern California

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

China finances most coal plants built today – it’s a climate problem and why US-China talks are essential

China is closing old coal plants but still building new ones – at home and abroad. Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

by Jeff Nesbit (Yale University)

As nations gear up for a critical year for climate negotiations, it’s become increasingly clear that success may hinge on one question: How soon will China end its reliance on coal and its financing of overseas coal-fired power plants?

China represents more than a quarter of all global carbon emissions, and it has spent tens of billions of dollars to build coal power facilities in 152 countries over the past decade through its Belt and Road Initiative. Roughly 70% of the coal plants built globally now rely on Chinese funding.

That’s a problem for the climate. The International Energy Agency warns in a new analysis that if the world hopes to reach net zero emissions by 2050, widely seen as necessary to meet the Paris climate agreement goals, there should be no investment in new fossil fuel supply projects or in new coal-fired power plants that don’t capture their carbon emissions. Shortly after that report came out, the G7 group of leading industrialized democracies called for an end to international financing of unabated coal projects on May 21, 2021 (see the graph).

U.S. presidential special climate envoy John Kerry was asked pointedly about China’s progress on climate change when he testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee in mid-May.

Chinese President Xi Jinping had called climate change a “crisis” during a world leaders’ summit on climate change a few weeks earlier, but Kerry said talks between the two countries grew “very heated” over China’s continued insistence on financing coal-fired power plants around the world.

While he stopped short of saying it explicitly, Kerry made the U.S. position clear: China’s climate pledges won’t be credible or legitimate until it stops overseas coal financing. “We’ve got five more months left to get them to embrace something we hope you will view as legitimate,” he said. “We’re not there yet.”

China and the United States together represent 43% of global carbon dioxide emissions. They worked together to make the Paris Agreement happen. They will have to push each other to make it a success.

Closing some coal at home, but building overseas

China has been the world’s largest carbon emitter for 20 years. It’s been responsible for 28% of the world’s carbon emissions for the past decade. That number hasn’t budged, despite rapid growth of China’s renewable energy and clean tech industries.

One of the central reasons is coal, the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel. Coal accounted for 58% of China’s total primary energy consumption as recently as 2019 – even as coal use was collapsing elsewhere. China currently operates 1,058 coal plants, roughly half of all coal plants worldwide. To meet even its modest climate goals, it will have to shut down more than half of them, according to a recent analysis by TransitionZero, a U.S.-based thinktank.

But will it?

China has incentive to cut emissions. With air pollution choking some of its largest cities, it has shuttered dozens of old coal facilities in recent years, and has subsidized renewable energy projects, both domestically and globally.

But despite this progress, China is still building new coal plants.

It has also made a strategic decision to export its industrial and manufacturing might across the globe under its Belt and Road Initiative. Japan and South Korea, which traditionally financed overseas coal projects, have started to abandon them, and China sees opportunity. Nearly all of the 60 new coal plants planned across Eurasia, South America and Africa –70 gigawatts of coal power in all – are financed almost exclusively by Chinese banks.

Construction workers in hard hats pass a sign urging them to work safely
Pakistani workers walk at the construction site of a Chinese-backed coal-fired power plant in Pakistan in 2018. It’s part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Rizwan Tabassum/AFP via Getty Images

It’s clear that China is juggling energy security and economic growth concerns. That’s why analysts were surprised when Xi announced in late 2020 that China would be carbon neutral by 2060, a decade earlier than planned, and make sure its carbon emissions peaked before 2030.

Such an effort would require huge investments in renewable energy, electric cars and technology like carbon capture and storage. None of this will be easy for China. The country has made little progress on reducing emissions, according to recent reports from organizations including the International Energy Agency.

US-China talks

Seasoned climate negotiators are watching what China does with coal today – not just the pledges it makes that are 10 or even 20 years in the future.

The U.S.-China climate relationship was central to reaching the Paris climate agreement, Todd Stern, former U.S. climate negotiator, has said. Failure to revive such engagement “would have grave national security consequences in the United States and around the world.”

Shortly before the recent world leaders’ summit on climate change, the United States and China agreed to work together again on the climate issue, and U.S. President Joe Biden announced ambitious new climate plans

But talk isn’t action. The world will expect both to commit to measurable actions ahead of the United Nations climate summit in November. Countries are expected to strengthen their pledges this year – hopefully enough to keep global warming in check.

I worked in both the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations and have been involved in climate change issues for several years. It’s clear that if China and the U.S. don’t lead the way, the world won’t get on track to meet the Paris climate goals.

China has reason to cooperate on climate change

China is already planning for a world in which fundamental natural resources like water and food grow scarce because of climate change. For example, when China saw a looming threat to its ability to grow enough soybeans, due in part to climate change, it went from importing virtually no soybeans to importing more than half the soybeans sold on Earth. I outline the reasons for this tectonic shift in my book “This is the Way the World Ends.”

A boat pulls a large section of solar panels into place among others on the large lake.
China has built a thriving clean energy industry as the leading maker of solar panels, like these on a lake that was once a coal mine. Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

China also sees economic opportunity in solving the climate crisis. It is mining raw materials essential to battery storage solutions at the heart of a global renewable energy industry; building cheap electric vehicles as fast as it can for domestic and foreign consumers; and aggressively subsidizing solar panel manufacturing and exporting those panels worldwide.

China lost the tech revolution race that defined the global economy of the 20th century. It does not intend to lose the renewable energy and clean tech revolution that will define the 21st.

But even that imperative has not kept China from financing the world’s reliance on coal-fired power. Which is why climate negotiators hope China does more than make promises for the future. Ending coal financing overseas would be a serious first step in that direction.

Jeff Nesbit, Research Affiliate, Yale Program on Climate Change Communications, Yale University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Soil bacteria evolve with climate change

Read the full story from the University of California – Irvine.

While evolution is normally thought of as occurring over millions of years, researchers have discovered that bacteria can evolve in response to climate change in 18 months. Biologists found that evolution is one way that soil microbes might deal with global warming.

The fight to define what ‘clean’ energy means

Read the full story at Gizmodo.

After four years of backsliding under former President Donald Trump, the U.S. is back to increasing its climate ambitions. But there’s a fight brewing over what exactly constitutes zero-carbon energy, showing that challenges decarbonization faces.

President Joe Biden has proposed a clean electricity standard to reduce emissions, and various proposals and bills would create one for the U.S. On Wednesday, though, 650 organizations including Climate Justice Alliance, Greenpeace, Food and Water Watch, the Center for Biological Diversity, and Friends of the Earth sent an open letter to Congress asking it to eschew the clean electricity standard proposals and take another route to clean energy, known as a renewable electricity standard, instead.

A new, deadly risk for cities in summer: Power failures during heat waves

Read the full story in the New York Times.

The author of a new study said the combination of blackouts and extreme heat “may be the deadliest climate-related event we can imagine.”

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