I love this earth and we need to save it. That's it. "That's the tweet."
BOOK: Bird on Fire: Lessons from the World's Least Sustainable City by Andrew Ross
I read this book a few months back. The topic interested me as the "world's least sustainable city" is referring to Phoenix, where I live.
Summary: Phoenix, Arizona is one of America's fastest growing metropolitan regions. It is also its least sustainable one, sprawling over a thousand square miles, with a population of four and a half million, minimal rainfall, scorching heat, and an insatiable appetite for unrestrained growth and unrestricted property rights. In Bird on Fire, eminent social and cultural analyst Andrew Ross focuses on the prospects for sustainability in Phoenix--a city in the bull's eye of global warming--and also the obstacles that stand in the way. Most authors writing on sustainable cities look at places like Portland, Seattle, and New York that have excellent public transit systems and relatively high density. But Ross contends that if we can't change the game in fast-growing, low-density cities like Phoenix, the whole movement has a major problem. Drawing on interviews with 200 influential residents--from state legislators, urban planners, developers, and green business advocates to civil rights champions, energy lobbyists, solar entrepreneurs, and community activists--Ross argues that if Phoenix is ever to become sustainable, it will occur more through political and social change than through technological fixes. Ross explains how Arizona's increasingly xenophobic immigration laws, science-denying legislature, and growth-at-all-costs business ethic have perpetuated social injustice and environmental degradation. But he also highlights the positive changes happening in Phoenix, in particular the Gila River Indian Community's successful struggle to win back its water rights, potentially shifting resources away from new housing developments to producing healthy local food for the people of the Phoenix Basin. Ross argues that this victory may serve as a new model for how green democracy can work, redressing the claims of those who have been aggrieved in a way that creates long-term benefits for all.
I think it's important to read about what's happening all over the world with climate change. It's important to understand what you don't directly see. I also think it's important to understand what's happening locally. There were issues that Andrew Ross brought up that I didn't know existed. For example, my father worked at Motorola many many years ago and apparently when Motorola was located in Phoenix, they were releasing toxic chemicals into the ground, which contaminated groundwater. The issues he presented worried me but also makes me want to join a local organization and fight for the local communities who are most affected by the changing climate.
Ryan Resatka, @ryanresatka
Ryan is an adventure photographer based out of Los Angeles, California.
Shelley Pearson, @shelley_pearson_
Shelley is a bird photographer in Mandurah, Australia.
BAD NEWS ARTICLES:
Fire, smoke, heat, drought - how climate change could spoil your next glass of California Cabernet by Steve Lopez by The LA Times
"With more sun and heat, the grape maturation process is rushed, he said, and while it’s possible to still make good wine, it’s harder to get the acid-sugar ratio, pH balance, color and flavor just right. Grapes that he buys “used to ripen maybe the first week of November, and now it’s a good three to four weeks earlier. And that’s not trivial.” The subtle differences in fragrance and complexity Grahm talks about are beyond my palate grade, but what I do understand is that winemakers are adapting because they have to. For them, climate change is not some abstract, distant worry. It’s creeping into their vineyards right now.
For California grapes and other crops, the climate change problem isn’t just about too much heat, it’s about too little water. But some grape varieties can handle harsh conditions, and Zaccaria said that in his native Puglia in southern Italy, vineyards do well in craggy areas with little rainfall and no irrigation. The roots grow strong, he said, digging deeper into the cracked earth, and the vines can thrive for decades."
The dystopian lake filled by the world's tech dust by Tim Maughan by BBC
"From where I'm standing, the city-sized Baogang Steel and Rare Earth complex dominates the horizon, its endless cooling towers and chimneys reaching up into grey, washed-out sky. Between it and me, stretching into the distance, lies an artificial lake filled with a black, barely-liquid, toxic sludge.
After seeing the impact of rare earth mining myself, it’s impossible to view the gadgets I use everyday in the same way. As I watched Apple announce their smart watch recently, a thought crossed my mind: once we made watches with minerals mined from the Earth and treated them like precious heirlooms; now we use even rarer minerals and we'll want to update them yearly. Technology companies continually urge us to upgrade; to buy the newest tablet or phone. But I cannot forget that it all begins in a place like Bautou, and a terrible toxic lake that stretches to the horizon."
Hotter Days Widen Racial Gap in U.S. Schools, Data Shows by Christopher Flavelle by The NY Times
"Behavior, researchers found that students performed worse on standardized tests for every additional day of 80 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, even after controlling for other factors. Those effects held across 58 countries, suggesting a fundamental link between heat exposure and reduced learning.
But when the researchers looked specifically at the United States, using more granular data to break down the effect on test scores by race, they found something surprising: The detrimental impact of heat seemed to affect only Black and Hispanic students."
GOOD NEWS ARTICLES:
I thought it would be easy to find good news articles and unfortunately, I am STRUGGLING to find articles that have positive environment and climate news. I'm thinking this section will more of instead of "Good News Articles," it will be "Sustainability Champions" - focusing on companies and people inventing eco-friendly items.
This distillery creates vodka out of leftover baked goods - diverting hundreds of thousands of pounds from the landfill. From an interview via The Coast News Group with the beverage director of Misadventure & Co.: "In 2015 the company was trying to find a spirit that didn’t have to age for years like bourbon. Enter vodka, which takes a week to make. We still wanted it to be sustainable so we started looking at what was grown locally in abundance. During that search, the Natural Resource Defense Council came out with a study that showed we waste nearly 40% of the food we grow. With that waste comes wasted land, water, and other resources, plus once food decomposes in a landfill it creates massive amounts of greenhouse gases. When you make beer, wine or spirits, all you need is a starch or sugar source. With that understanding, we asked ourselves, could we use some of this extra food as the raw ingredients to make vodka? It was that question that led us to where we are today. The first vodka in the world made from surplus baked goods." **They also made hand sanitizer during the pandemic!
Stanford researchers have developed a gel-like fluid to prevent wildfires by Rob Jordan by Stanford News
"The most widely deployed commercial wildland fire retardant formulations use ammonium phosphate or its derivatives as the active fire-retarding component. However, these formulations only hold retardants on vegetation for short periods of time, so they can’t be used preventively. By contrast, the Stanford-developed technology – a cellulose-based gel-like fluid – stays on target vegetation through wind, rain and other environmental exposure."
A photo of mine from this beautiful world: