Climate fiction is the future. Write it.

Read the full story from Grist.

Fix, Grist’s solutions lab, is excited to announce that we are accepting submissions for our second annual climate fiction short-story contest, Imagine 2200: Climate Fiction for Future Ancestors. There is no cost to enter.

Fix was founded on the simple premise that promising solutions to the climate crisis exist — they just haven’t gained enough momentum to take off. With Imagine 2200, we’re inviting writers to envision a future in which those solutions soar, and our world is radically better. Our hope is that this fiction contest, and the collection of stories we publish, will be part of an uprising of imagination — something we believe is necessary to get us out of this climate crisis.

Ready to get inspired? Check out the winning stories from the inaugural year of Imagine 2200.

This initiative celebrates short stories rooted in hope, justice, creative solutions, and cultural authenticity, while amplifying voices that have been, and continue to be, affected by systems of oppression. 

Imagine 2200 is inspired and informed by literary movements like Afrofuturism and Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, disabled, feminist, and queer futurisms, along with hopepunk and solarpunk. We hope writers look to these genres for inspiration, and we urge writers within these communities to submit stories. A truly clean, green, just future is about so much more than slashing carbon emissions. It means upending the status quo of colonialism, extraction, and oppression. We’re eager to share your visions for achieving that.

Submissions for year two are now open. We’re looking for stories of 3,000 to 5,000 words that envision the next 180 years of climate progress — roughly seven generations. The winning writer will be awarded $3,000, with the second- and third-place winners receiving $2,000 and $1,000, respectively. An additional nine finalists will each receive $300. Winners and finalists will be published in Fall 2022 in an immersive collection on Fix’s website and celebrated during a virtual event.

The deadline for submission is May 5, 2022, by 11:59 p.m. U.S. Pacific Standard Time.

Americans largely favor U.S. taking steps to become carbon neutral by 2050

Read the full story from Pew.

Amid growing global energy demand and rising carbon dioxide emissions, majorities of Americans say the United States should prioritize the development of renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, and take steps toward the country becoming carbon neutral by the year 2050.

Still, Americans stop short of backing a complete break with fossil fuels and many foresee unexpected problems in a major transition to renewable energy. Economic concerns are also front of mind for many when asked to think about what a transition away from fossil fuels could mean for their own lives.

Brainy birds may fare better under climate change

Read the full story from Washington University in St. Louis.

Many North American migratory birds are shrinking in size as temperatures have warmed over the past 40 years. But those with very big brains, relative to their body size, did not shrink as much as smaller-brained birds, according to new research. The study is the first to identify a direct link between cognition and animal response to human-made climate change.

Plastics production is skyrocketing. A new U.N. treaty effort could cap it.

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

Negotiators from around the world will start work this month on a treaty to reduce plastic pollution, in what diplomats say is the most ambitious round of climate diplomacy since the 2015 Paris agreement that focuses on global warming.

The discussions, which have the backing of the Biden administration, could reshape a world increasingly awash in plastics that take centuries to break down and millennia to decompose. Diplomats could agree to caps on plastic production that would forestall the exponential increases that are expected in the coming decades. They could also impose rules to make plastic easier and less toxic to repurpose, amid growing concern that only 10 percent of the material ever made has been recycled.

Water Sensors Toolbox

This toolkit is a collection of resources and information related to EPA research that uses, evaluates, and/or develops water sensors―including remote sensors and related data management technology. These resources may be useful to students, researchers, citizen scientists, water quality decision makers, or others interested in collecting data on water quality with the use of water sensors.

Disasters can wipe out affordable housing for years unless communities plan ahead – the loss hurts the entire local economy

Slow recovery for vulnerable households can slow the recovery of the entire community. Scott Olson/Getty Images

by Shannon Van Zandt, Texas A&M University

The tornadoes and wildfires that devastated communities from Kentucky to Colorado in the final weeks of 2021 left thousands of people displaced or homeless. For many of them, it will be months if not years before their homes are rebuilt.

That’s especially hard on low-income residents.

As a professor of urban planning, I study the impact of disasters on affordable housing, resilience and recovery. The losses of hundreds of homes in towns across the Midwest and in Boulder County, Colorado, show two sides of that impact and illustrate why communities need to plan now to protect their most vulnerable residents as their towns recover. In doing so, they also protect their economies.

Why low-income households face higher risks

Middle- and low-income households tend to occupy the riskiest homes in communities for a few key reasons.

First, land values tend to be lower in areas that are risky or otherwise less desirable, such as low-lying areas that are known to flood, near toxic facilities or in outlying areas that fail to enforce codes designed to protect homes. The housing that gets built there tends to be more affordable.

A woman and teenager stand outside a damaged house.
‘It could happen anywhere, but I just never thought here,’ said Chasity Walton, whose home in Mayfield, Kentucky, was hit by a tornado on Dec. 15, 2021. Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Second, as communities grow, older homes become more affordable through a process called “filtering,” where wealthier households move into newer housing, leaving older, more dilapidated homes available for lower-income households. Older homes were often built under less stringent building codes and typically are less-well maintained, which can make them more physically vulnerable.

Third, durable patterns of historical segregation and ongoing discrimination in real estate and lending can compound these problems by limiting Black and Hispanic families’ ability to afford lower-risk neighborhoods.

Research has shown consistently that lower-income households are not only more likely to suffer damage in a natural disaster, but they are more likely to take much longer – two to three times longer – to recover.

Poverty and other household characteristics, such as being headed by a single mother, having racial or ethnic minority status, low levels of education, a disability, or renting rather than owning one’s home, define what researchers call “social vulnerability.”

A man with a can sits on cabinets in what remains of his kitchen after a tornado. The roof and walls are gone.
Research shows that socially vulnerable households have less capacity to prepare for and respond to disasters. Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

The location and quality of housing, combined with the vulnerability of residents, means that those most affected by disasters are often those least able to recover from them.

Slow recovery affects the entire community

Communities need to understand that slow recovery for vulnerable households can slow the recovery of the overall community.

Researchers have found that housing recovery is strongly linked to business recovery. Workers need housing so they can return to work, and businesses need workers so they can resume operations.

Rockport, Texas, where Hurricane Harvey made landfall in 2017, offers a cautionary tale. A year after the hurricane, hotels and restaurants – even those that were part of national chains – struggled to reopen for Rockport’s critical tourist season due to the loss of affordable housing for workers. Many of those workers had relocated to San Antonio, two and a half hours away.

A man in sweatpants and no shoes appears distraught standing in the parking lot of a damaged motel.
When rental properties are destroyed by disasters, workers who keep local restaurants and businesses running often have little choice but to leave. Gunnar Word/AFP via Getty Images

Many homes can’t be replaced for the same price

Housing recovery typically gets left to the market. For homeowning households with good insurance, the market works reasonably well. But for lower-income households, including renters, it can be difficult to return to their homes or even their original neighborhoods.

In depressed markets with low-value homes, like many of those impacted by the December tornadoes in Kentucky and the Midwest, replacement values are not enough to rebuild equivalent housing. Home values in these areas may average under US$100,000. It is nearly impossible to build a home for that today.

Hot markets like Boulder County, Colorado, face a different challenge. Rebuilding in those markets allows developers and speculators to take advantage of redevelopment opportunities. Research suggests that affordable housing will almost always be replaced by more expensive housing targeted to a wealthier demographic. And for low-income residents who rent and lose their homes to disasters, there is little chance that they will be able to return to their original development. Little is known about where they end up.

An aerial view of a neighborhood mostly reduced to rubble with the exception of one home.
The fire in Boulder County, Colorado, wiped out entire neighborhoods in December 2021. Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

Safety nets exist but are inadequate.

Short-term assistance from FEMA’s Individual Assistance Program helps displaced households find temporary housing and make repairs to homes that qualify. Assistance can also come from Community Development Block Grants from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, but these funds take months and even years to arrive, and spending plans submitted by states often misdirect funds and have almost no oversight.

What can be done?

What then, can be done to ensure vulnerable residents can rebuild and return? A few communities have tried new ideas.

La Grange, Texas, which flooded during Hurricane Harvey in 2017, is experimenting with community land trusts. These involve cooperative ownership of land coupled with individual ownership of units. Residents must occupy the unit for a prescribed period of time and gain only a small percentage of increases in land value, with the rest going to the co-op. This approach allows residents to pool resources for land purchases and maintains affordability over time.

Boulder County relaxed its rental rules to help displaced residents find temporary homes after the fire.

Monitoring recovery funds closely is also important to ensure they help those most in need. Following the 2008 Hurricanes Ike and Dolly, the Texas Low Income Housing Information Service, now called Texas Housers, sued the State of Texas, claiming the state recovery plan failed to address the needs of the most vulnerable Texans. The resulting agreement brought an additional $3 billion in aid, and ongoing monitoring of funding has ensured it helped rebuild hundreds of homes for low-income families.

Nearly every community in the United States is increasingly vulnerable to some kind of natural disaster due to climate change. A Washington Post analysis of federal disaster declarations found that 40% of Americans lived in counties that were hit with extreme climate-related weather in 2021 alone.

Planning disaster recovery to ensure that the most vulnerable members of communities can return will result in greater resilience and community vitality.

by Shannon Van Zandt, Professor of Architecture and Urban Planning, Texas A&M University

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

Quorn to explore decarbonised production at Billingham plant

Read the full story at Food Manufacture.

Meat alternatives producer Quorn has collaborated with green hydrogen provider Protium and its consortium partner Petrofac to explore the deployment of green hydrogen technology at its Belasis plant.

How are food manufacturers working towards net zero?

Read the full story at Food Manufacture.

The pressure is on for food and drink manufacturers to become more sustainable and hit net zero carbon emissions.

The advantages of museum philanthropy that builds staff diversity rather than new wings and galleries

What’s wrong with this picture? Tetra Images/Getty Images

by Lisa M. Strong, Georgetown University

Retired financier Oscar Tang, along with his wife, Agnes Hsu-Tang, are giving the Metropolitan Museum of Art US$125 million. Their gift, announced in November 2021, will help pay for a long-planned renovation of the New York City museum’s Modern and Contemporary Art wing.

The gift was the largest donation the museum has ever received and led the couple to rank No. 22 among the top 50 U.S. donors of 2021, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy. The donors placed no official requirements on how the money should be used but expressed support for the Met’s plan to spend it on a new space that will exhibit work by artists from a wide range of countries and backgrounds.

As a scholar of museum studies, I would welcome a more inclusive vision for the Met’s collection in a state-of-the-art gallery. However, I believe that the institution would enhance its inclusiveness more by taking steps to increase the diversity of its staff from top to bottom, particularly at the entry level.

30 years of seeking more equity in art museums

Calls for greater social justice in museums began to pick up three decades ago.

The American Alliance of Museums, the largest professional museum organization, published a report in 1992 that highlighted this problem and called for museums to “become more inclusive places that welcome diverse audiences” and to “reflect our society’s pluralism in every aspect of their operations and programs.”

Since then, museums have acknowledged their need to increase diversity of their collections and exhibitions by reducing the over-representation of straight white male artists.

Eventually, this effort broadened to include a wide range of equity issues, as well as access for people with disabilities and various kinds of inclusion. In 2020, with the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, this movement gained momentum at the Met and other museums.

A blocked pipeline

Due to historical inequalities, young people of color embarking on an art museum career are less likely to have families that can fund their unpaid internships or volunteer work. Done right, these types of early training opportunities help ensure that candidates of color will join the pipeline of museum professionals.

Lonnie Bunch made this case in the Alliance’s Museum magazine in 2000, long before he became the first Black secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. Among his many responsibilities: overseeing 21 museums, including two in planning stages.

Despite Bunch’s personal rise to prominence and the Smithsonian’s recent hire of Jane Carpenter-Rock, who is also Black, as a new deputy director, museums haven’t made enough progress toward this goal in recent years.

The most recent comprehensive demographic survey of art museums, which the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation conducted in 2018, found that only 28% of all museum staff were people of color. It also determined that only 16% of curators and 12% of top executives were nonwhite.

Although there is no data yet regarding the number of people of color hired at museums since 2020, early reports suggest incremental increases and a sense of isolation among curators hired into high-profile museum positions.

How might museums do better? There are many options, such as making grants contingent upon making strides toward a more diverse workforce, or engaging in diversity training. One solution that I rarely hear mentioned is paying entry-level staff higher wages.

A curator assistant at a major metropolitan art museum can make as little as $36,000 to start, whereas a senior curator at the same-sized institution can make four or five times as much.

This wage differential may have made sense in the past, when these jobs didn’t require educational credentials. Today, however, most new hires have earned an expensive master’s degree.

Even getting that credential doesn’t always help launch a career in the arts. Alumni of the program I direct often tell me they have left coveted positions for higher-paid work in another field. People of color typically enter the workforce with less generational wealth than their white peers, so it stands to reason that they are more likely to leave the profession due to low compensation, if they enter it at all.

A significant gift

In August 2020, Adrienne Arsht, a banker and arts philanthropist who previously shored up the finances of the Miami Center for the Performing Arts, pledged $5 million for the Met to fully fund paid internships for 120 graduate and undergraduate students per year.

Students without the financial means to undertake an unpaid internship would now participate in the Met’s valuable mentor and training programs, “increasing opportunities and supporting equity in the art field,” Arsht promised. In an interview, she said that applications went up 300% once the internship positions became paid.

I see Arsht’s gift as a possible model for other wealthy donors who wish to make long-term contributions to museum diversity, equity and inclusion. A few similar examples have emerged, including a $462,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that’s supporting long-term paid internships at the National Gallery of Art for students attending Howard University, a historically Black school.

A tile on a wall indicates that Adrienne Arsht made a big donation
When philanthropist Adrienne Arsht made a large gift to Washington’s John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the venue acknowledged the donation with a wall tile. Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Toppling conventional wisdom

If the Met wants to present a more global and inclusive vision of modern and contemporary art, it does not need to renovate its Modern and Contemporary wing. It could hang more diverse artwork on the walls it already has and use new funds from donors to compensate its staff differently so that early career hires of color have more of an incentive to stick around.

But, as I have long seen firsthand, museum leaders and fundraisers generally presume that big donors don’t want to help support day-to-day expenses, such as salaries.

Instead, conventional wisdom holds that major philanthropists prefer to make gifts that are used to build new spaces and will give them the opportunity to see their own name splashed on those new walls.

The Met’s internship program, which as it happens now bears Arsht’s name, is proof that some donors are willing to fund unglamorous expenses such as salaries for young professionals and students. If more philanthropists were willing to do that, it would surely help increase the diversity of museum staff in the long term.

by Lisa M. Strong, Director of the Art and Museum Studies MA Program and Professor of the Practice, Georgetown University

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

The Nature Conservancy releases map to help site renewables

Read the full story at pv magazine.

Site Renewables Right map helps solar and other renewable developers avoid important natural areas, permitting delays, and cost overruns.