5 documentaries exploring Indigenous wisdom and climate justice

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In Brazil’s Amazon forest, the Indigenous Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau people have been fighting tirelessly against the encroaching deforestation brought by farmers and illegal settlers.

That is the subject of the documentary “The Territory,” which won a couple of Sundance Film Festival awards earlier this year and hits theaters today.

Across the globe, communities have fought — and continue to fight — similar environmental battles. And for some communities, environmental justice looks like rooting this work in Indigenous and ancestral knowledge, and away from the norms that colonization has brought about.

Here are five other documentaries that highlight environmental justice issues in the United States, Ecuador, Spain and beyond.

U.S. EPA announces Phase 1 winners of Environmental Justice Video Challenge for Students

U.S. EPA recently announced the Phase 1 winners of the Environmental Justice (EJ) Video Challenge for Students. The challenge is intended to enhance communities’ capacity to address environmental and public health inequities. Its goals are to: 

  1. Inspire students at accredited colleges and universities in the United States and its territories to work directly with communities in the identification and characterization of EJ challenges using data and publicly available tools, and
  2. Help communities (including residents and other stakeholders) address EJ challenges and/or vulnerabilities to environmental and public health hazards using data and publicly available tools. 

In Phase 1 of the competition, students created a video to demonstrate innovative approaches to identify and characterize an EJ issue(s) in a select community using data and publicly available tools.

Phase 2 of the challenge will be open to eligible applicants (with at least one student participating from Phase 1 per team) and is expected to launch in September 2022. Phase 2 will focus on enhancing communities’ capacity to address the EJ issue identified in Phase 1. Students will work collaboratively with community-based organizations to develop a strategy that demonstrates effective community engagement and advocacy and/or a proposal to address the EJ issue.

Watch the winning Phase 1 videos.

The Rise of Climate Litigation

This webinar discussed the efficacy of climate lawsuits, debated the appropriate venues for these cases, and examined opportunities for cities and businesses to collaborate.

Regulations for a Clean Power Sector

A look at the EPA’s “sector-wide roadmap,” potential legal challenges, and the implications for the power industry.

Powderhorn Lake Connectivity Project

Powderhorn Lake is part of one of the few remaining examples of the dune and swale topography – sandy ridges interspersed with water pockets – that once characterized the Calumet Region along the south shore of Lake Michigan. The area is home to 100 bird species, 250 plant species and 2,500 insect species. In addition to reconnecting water flow to Lake Michigan, this project will allow fish passage between the lakes, install water control structures to help prevent future community flooding, and increase hemi-marsh habitat. This work aligns with the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative objective of protecting and restoring communities of native aquatic and terrestrial species important to the Great Lakes.

An Introduction to Green Chemistry

This lesson introduces students to Green Chemistry, the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use and/or the generation of hazardous substances. Green chemistry is a pro-active approach to pollution prevention that teaches chemists how to develop products and materials in a manner that does not use hazardous substances, thus avoiding much waste, hazards and associated costs.

The goal of this lesson is to introduce students to the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry and how they relate to a chemical process. These principles provide a framework for scientists, engineers and chemistry students to use when designing new materials, products, processes, and systems. The Principles focus on sustainable design criteria and have proven to be the source of innovative solutions to a wide range of problems.

Through this lesson, students will also use weight and measurement to understand the concept of a recipe as it is applied to a chemical process and think critically about that process and how it might be improved. Students will be asked to use a wasteful, inefficient procedure to make glue and be challenged to improve the procedure-during which they will unknowingly use the 12 Principles.

Before starting this lesson, students should have been introduced to the periodic table and properties of matter. The estimated time for this lesson is 50-60 minutes.

For more information: https://blossoms.mit.edu/videos/lessons/introduction_green_chemistry

How a breakthrough in geothermal could change our energy grid

Read the video transcript at Grist.

Newberry Volcano — the largest volcano in the Pacific Northwest — is the site of an experiment that’s aiming for a breakthrough in geothermal energy. 

NOAA’s Salvaging Solutions to Abandoned and Derelict Vessels webinar series now available

Thousands of abandoned and derelict vessels (ADVs) litter coastal waterways all over the country, obstructing navigational channels, causing harm to the environment, and diminishing commercial and recreational activities. For many communities, assessing, removing, and disposing of these vessels is complex and requires significant financial resources.

Over the past year, experts from across the country shared their experiences, solutions, and lessons learned through NOAA’s Salvaging Solutions to Abandoned and Derelict Vessels monthly webinar series.

You can now watch the webinars on NOAA’s Marine Debris Program website.

Environmental Health Impacts of Synthetic Turf and Safer Alternatives

Research on the production, use, and disposal of artificial turf has brought to light concerns over environmental contamination, human health hazards, and adverse effects on wildlife. Researchers have studied a variety of contaminants found in artificial turf and different types of infill used to soften its surfaces. Concerns have been raised about polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), heavy metals, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), 6PPD-quinone, and microplastics, among others. Studies have also examined heat related illnesses, skin infections, and other human health concerns. During this webinar Rachel Massey, ScD, Lindsey Pollard, MS, Zhenyu TianPhD, and Sarah Evans, PhD, discussed their work looking at environmental health impacts of artificial turf and safer alternatives.

Dr. Rachel Massey and Lindsey Pollard discussed the research they have conducted at the Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) on health and environmental implications of artificial turf and safer alternatives. They described their research on materials used as artificial turf infill, including waste tire materials. They  also touched upon emerging information on chemicals in artificial turf grass blades, as well as other health and environmental concerns associated with artificial turf, such as microplastic pollution and high surface temperatures. They briefly discussed their research on natural grass athletic fields as a safer alternative.

Dr. Zhenyu Tian briefly summarized the identification of 6PPD-quinone as a lethal toxicant for coho salmon, and will further introduce the comprehensive screening of organic contaminants in urban stormwater and tire wear particle leachate. He discussed knowledge gaps and ongoing research about crumb rubber infill materials.

To conclude, Dr. Sarah Evans spoke from a pediatric environmental health perspective, touching on routes of exposure and concerns specific to children, with an emphasis on what families and communities can do to use safer alternatives.

Expanding the base for climate action and social justice: A conversation with Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson (20th Peter M. Wege Lecture)