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Business interests are winning out over science under Trump.

Over the next year, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People will install solar panels on 20 households and 10 community centers, train 100 people in solar job skills, and push for equitable solar access policies in at least five states across the U.S.

“Underserved communities cannot be left behind in a clean energy transition,” Derrick Johnson, NAACP President and CEO, said in a statement about the new Solar Equity Initiative. “Clean energy is a fundamental civil right which must be available to all, within the framework of a just transition.”

The initiative began on Martin Luther King Jr. Day by installing solar panels on the Jenesse Center, a transitional housing program in L.A. for survivors of domestic abuse. The NAACP estimated that solar energy could save the center nearly $49,000 over the course of a lifetime, leaving more resources to go toward services for women and families.

Aside from the financial benefits, the NAACP points out that a just transition to clean energy will improve health outcomes. Last year, a report by the Clean Air Task Force and the NAACP found that black Americans are exposed to air nearly 40 percent more polluted than their white counterparts. Pollution has led to 138,000 asthma attacks among black school children and over 100,000 missed school days each year.

It’s just a start, but this new initiative could help alleviate the disproportionate environmental burdens that black communities face.

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Business interests are winning out over science under Trump.

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The NAACP is bringing renewable energy to communities of color.

Over the next year, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People will install solar panels on 20 households and 10 community centers, train 100 people in solar job skills, and push for equitable solar access policies in at least five states across the U.S.

“Underserved communities cannot be left behind in a clean energy transition,” Derrick Johnson, NAACP President and CEO, said in a statement about the new Solar Equity Initiative. “Clean energy is a fundamental civil right which must be available to all, within the framework of a just transition.”

The initiative began on Martin Luther King Jr. Day by installing solar panels on the Jenesse Center, a transitional housing program in L.A. for survivors of domestic abuse. The NAACP estimated that solar energy could save the center nearly $49,000 over the course of a lifetime, leaving more resources to go toward services for women and families.

Aside from the financial benefits, the NAACP points out that a just transition to clean energy will improve health outcomes. Last year, a report by the Clean Air Task Force and the NAACP found that black Americans are exposed to air nearly 40 percent more polluted than their white counterparts. Pollution has led to 138,000 asthma attacks among black school children and over 100,000 missed school days each year.

It’s just a start, but this new initiative could help alleviate the disproportionate environmental burdens that black communities face.

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The NAACP is bringing renewable energy to communities of color.

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The first wintertime megafire in California history is here

Wildfires

The first wintertime megafire in California history is here

By on Dec 8, 2017

In the hills above the Pacific Ocean, the world crossed a terrifying threshold this week.

As holiday music plays on the radio, temperatures in Southern California have soared into the 80s, and bone-dry winds have fanned a summer-like wildfire outbreak. Southern California is under siege.

As the largest of this week’s fires skipped across California’s famed coastal highway 101 toward the beach, rare snowflakes were falling in Houston, all made possible by a truly extreme weather pattern that’s locked the jet stream into a highly amplified state. It’s difficult to find the words to adequately describe how weird this is. It’s rare that the dissonance of climate change is this visceral.

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That one of California’s largest and most destructive wildfires is now burning largely out of control during what should be the peak of the state’s rainy season should shock us into lucidity. It’s December. This shouldn’t be happening.

The Thomas fire is the first wintertime megafire in California history. In a state known for its large fires, this one stands out. At 115,000 acres, it’s already bigger than the city of Atlanta. Hundreds of homes have already been destroyed, and the fire is still just 5 percent contained.

In its first several hours, the Thomas fire grew at a rate of one football field per second, expanding 30-fold, and engulfing entire neighborhoods in the dead of night. Hurricane force winds have produced harrowing conditions for firefighters. Faced with such impossible conditions, in some cases, all they could do is move people to safety, and stand and watch.

“We can’t control it,” firefighter and photographer Stuart Palley told me from a beach in Ventura. “In these situations, you can throw everything you’ve got at it, tanker planes dropping tens of thousands of gallons of flame retardant, thousands of firefighters, hundreds of engines, you can do everything man has in their mechanical toolbox to fight these fires and they’re just going to burn and do whatever the hell they want. We have to learn that.” As we spoke, another wall of flames crested a nearby ridge, reflecting its orange glow off the sea.

The Thomas fire isn’t the only one burning right now. At least six major fires threaten tens of thousands of homes and have forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee in recent days. “California fires enter the heart of Los Angeles” read one New York Times headline, a statement so dire it could double as a plot synopsis in a nearby Hollywood movie studio. Million-dollar mansions in Bel Air were evacuated, and the 405 freeway, one of L.A.’s busiest, was transformed into a dystopian hellscape during the morning commute. Ralph Terrazas, the Los Angeles fire chief, called the conditions the worst he’s seen in his entire 31-year career. “There will be no ability to fight fires in these kinds of winds,” said Ken Pimlott, the state fire chief. Shortly after these statements, state officials sent an unprecedented push notification to nearly everyone in Southern California, ominously warning millions of people to “stay alert.”

For years, climate scientists have warned us that California was entering a year-round fire regime. For years, climate campaigners have been wondering what it would take to get people to wake up to the urgency of cutting fossil fuel emissions. For years, we’ve been tip-toeing as a civilization towards a point of no return.

That time is now.

The advent of uncontrollable wintertime megafires in California is a turning point in America’s struggle to contain the impacts of a rapidly changing climate. Conditions that led to the Thomas fire won’t happen every year, but the fact that they’re happening at all should shock us.

As California-based scientist Faith Kearns writes in Bay Nature magazine, “The admission that our best efforts may not always be enough opens a small window to shift how we think about disasters.”

The sirens are wailing, the long-feared scenarios are coming true. The era that scientists have warned us about for decades is here. There’s no denying the facts anymore: What’s happening right now in California is a climate emergency.

Historically, the Santa Ana fire season in Southern California peaks in October, at the end of the long summer dry season, just as the first snows of the winter start to appear in the Sierras. With the right conditions, the dense, cold air further inland gets funneled toward the coast, warming and drying as it quickly descends toward the sea, waiting to transform an errant spark into a raging inferno.

These are the Santa Ana winds, and they’ve been happening here for millennia. What’s different now, of course, is there are millions of people living in the area, for all the reasons people want to live in Southern California. The seasons are changing, too. Increasingly, those two facts are becoming incompatible.

There’s a whole series of links between climate change and this week’s fires. Ten years ago, scientists warned of possible lengthening of the Santa Ana fire season, and the data bear that out. Fire season is more than a month longer now, and 13 of the state’s top 20 fires in history have happened since 2000. This year’s “rainy” season has also been suspiciously absent so far, with Los Angeles rainfall 94 percent below normal since October. Right now, the atmosphere over the West Coast is the driest in recorded history. There’s no rain in the forecast for at least the next two weeks – the current fires could last until Christmas. Combine that with more people wanting to live in harm’s way – more than a million more people live in Southern California compared to 2000 – and it’s no wonder wildfire seasons are becoming increasingly catastrophic.

This year was the most expensive wildfire season in U.S. history, but money isn’t really the issue here. It’s the daily terror that fills residents as they look up and see a blood red sky and wonder if their home will make it through the night. It’s the rush on breathing masks as air pollution values spike above the top of the scale. It’s the realization that what you thought was normal, isn’t anymore.

In Houston, Puerto Rico, and Los Angeles, Americans are feeling the urgency of climate change not in weather data and distant news reports, but in their pulse rate.

Climate change is no longer some abstract concept, some line on a graph, some strongly-worded scientific consensus statement. Climate change is terrifying. It’s families fleeing a fire with only a moment’s warning to collect their photo albums. It’s single mothers using an ax to break a hole in the roof of their house as floodwaters rise into the attic of their home in the backyard of the oil industry’s capital city. It’s an entire island destroyed and forgotten, buried in a frenetic news cycle.

A new study this week that examines the recent performance of climate models, provides a hint that the ones showing the quickest rise in global temperatures have generally been the most accurate so far. Increasingly, that rise will accelerate, say the models, unless the world institutes a sharp reduction in emissions. Should we continue on a business as usual pathway, the new findings show a 93 percent chance that global warming will exceed what was previously considered a worst-case scenario by 2100.

A baby alive today has a good chance of living to the year 2100. The people of the future are real people, you can already meet them. Their climate futures are increasingly tangible. That climate change is now a California emergency doesn’t necessarily fate the region to uninhabitability, it provides an opportunity for a radical rethink. If we bungle this opportunity, all indications are that things can definitely get a lot worse.

A version of this story originally appeared in Rolling Stone.

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The first wintertime megafire in California history is here

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Why a Kindle Is the Greener (and More Community-Minded) Choice

When I gave my TEDx talk on the benefits of minimalism the audience totally resonated with the overarching theme of my message. But to a person, they all had one driving concern.

?What about books?? they wanted to know, with a poorly masked look of terror on their face.

Letting go of their books was an unfathomable concept to them. Apparently holding an actual book lends a whole different experience to reading. I don?t get it, but given my ?less is more? lifestyle I guess I?m not really in a position to comment.

Still, I don?t believe it’s a good enough reason to hold onto?books. There are exceptions, of course, such as beautifully photographed coffee table books or?dog-eared recipe books covered in flour and tomato sauce (or, is that just me?).

But when it comes to paperbacks, I?m less inclined to empathize. Let me explain.

Books and the Environment

If you?re on the fence about whether to stop buying paper books and use an e-reader instead, then perhaps this will sway you.

A 2006 study found that the US book industry consumed approximately 30m trees in a single year. Of course, producing a Kindle also takes a toll on the environment, but the more books you read on it the more you offset those emissions.

More and more publishers are moving towards sustainably sourced paper though, so if you are planning to buy a book be sure get one that carries the FSC logo. That said, given the rate that we?re losing forests due to urban creep,?perhaps?we shouldn’t be so quick to cut them down.

Okay, so how do you save the trees and still keep reading real books??There are two routes you could go here.

Join a Library

The first is to go old school and join a library. (I know, how very eighties of me.) Regardless of how state-of-the-art it is, you?re bound to find something on the shelves to appeal to your reading tastes. Plus, because you?re not actually paying for the books, you can be a little more risky in your choices. If you don?t like a book, just return it and take out something else.

Spread the Love

The second option is to buy the books you want and then, once you?ve read them you can donate them to your library, a school or an old age home, for example. Most libraries have a wishlist of books they?d like to see on their shelves, so you could check in with them first.

A lot of people struggle with the challenge of letting go of books. In my experience it?s usually for one of two reasons. They either think it?s a waste because they spent their hard earned cash on the book or the story really resonated and they somehow feel that by holding onto the book, they?ll hold onto the story as well.

If you fall into the first group, then donating the book when you?re finished reading it is a win/win. Ultimately, your money will have a far greater impact than it would have if the book remained on your shelf at home.

However, if you?re inclined to keep the book because you loved the story then I?d urge you to donate it to a library close to you. That way you can borrow it back and reread it whenever the mood takes you.

Books and Clutter

It might be difficult?at first, but if you take it slow and remember the good you?re doing by donating them, it will get easier. One approach is to start by identifying the books that spark joy and set those to one side. Knowing that you?re keeping at least some will make you feel more at ease about the task.

Remember, books take up space and they?re heavy. If you?ve ever moved with boxes of books, you?ll know what I?m talking about. Do yourself a favor and unclutter your bookshelf now, your back will thank you.

7?Awesome Things About a Kindle

1. You can read in the dark

If you buy a Kindle with a backlight you can read in bed without disturbing your partner. This feature also comes in handy if?the electricity goes out or when?you?re camping.

2. You can take as many books as you want on vacation

Picking just a couple of books to take with you on holiday is tough. What if you?re not in the mood for the ones you chose or worse, you made a bad choice and the story isn?t nearly as thrilling as the book jacket led you to believe?

3. You have access to a world of books

If you want a new book, the only thing you need is wifi and you can connect to Amazon?s storefront and browse to your heart?s content. As an added bonus, you can download a sample first to see if you like the book.

4. Giving Indie authors a leg up

Nowadays, a lot of emerging writers only publish their work on Kindle. This means?there are countless gems that you?d never have known about if you didn?t have a Kindle. Plus, you?re helping these guys get their work out into the world.

5. Moving house is a breeze

You may well own hundreds of books, but all you have to do is slip your Kindle into your laptop bag and you?re done moving them. How easy is that?

6. Look Ma, no hands!

You can balance you Kindle on your lap, leaving your hands free for important stuff like drinking hot chocolate and munching?on Oreos.?(I’m not the only one who snacks and reads, am I?)

7. They’re easier to clean

Okay, obviously if you spill the entire contents of your coffee cup directly onto your Kindle things aren’t going to look too good. However, cleaning greasy fingermarks and cookie crumbs is a breeze.

Related:
What Does Watching TV vs. Reading a Book Do to Your Brain?
7?Books to Read For Spiritual Growth
20 Ways to Reuse Old Books

Photo credit: Thinkstock

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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Why a Kindle Is the Greener (and More Community-Minded) Choice

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In Irma’s wake, Florida deals with a long-predicted apoocalypse.

There’s been a long decline in the nutrition of our crops, often attributed to people breeding plants for higher yields rather than health benefits. But, as is often the case, climate change is making it worse.

An altered atmosphere means altered food, because plants suck up CO2 from the air and turn it into sugars, Helena Bottemiller Evich points out in a new piece for Politico. That means we’re getting more sugar per bite, and less protein, iron, and zinc. The global phenomenon puts hundreds of millions of people at risk for nutrient deficiencies.

It’s not just a problem for humans. Analysis of pollen samples going back to 1842 shows that protein concentration declined dramatically as atmospheric CO2 rose. That makes yet another suspect in the great bee-murder mystery.

“To say that it’s little known that key crops are getting less nutritious due to rising CO2 is an understatement,” Evich writes for Politico. “It is simply not discussed in the agriculture, public health, or nutrition communities. At all.”

The world is changing in so many ways that it’s nearly impossible to track them all — even when those changes happen right at the ends of our forks.

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In Irma’s wake, Florida deals with a long-predicted apoocalypse.

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Irma dredges up snakes, alligators, and, of course, the ‘Florida Man.’

There’s been a long decline in the nutrition of our crops, often attributed to people breeding plants for higher yields rather than health benefits. But, as is often the case, climate change is making it worse.

An altered atmosphere means altered food, because plants suck up CO2 from the air and turn it into sugars, Helena Bottemiller Evich points out in a new piece for Politico. That means we’re getting more sugar per bite, and less protein, iron, and zinc. The global phenomenon puts hundreds of millions of people at risk for nutrient deficiencies.

It’s not just a problem for humans. Analysis of pollen samples going back to 1842 shows that protein concentration declined dramatically as atmospheric CO2 rose. That makes yet another suspect in the great bee-murder mystery.

“To say that it’s little known that key crops are getting less nutritious due to rising CO2 is an understatement,” Evich writes for Politico. “It is simply not discussed in the agriculture, public health, or nutrition communities. At all.”

The world is changing in so many ways that it’s nearly impossible to track them all — even when those changes happen right at the ends of our forks.

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Irma dredges up snakes, alligators, and, of course, the ‘Florida Man.’

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Hurricane Irma’s power leaves Florida powerless

One of the most powerful hurricanes ever to make U.S. landfall has left millions of people across Florida without power.

As of Monday morning, nearly 60 percent of the entire state — close to 6 million customers — had lost electricity. That’s the largest outage in Florida history and one of the country’s biggest ever.

Restoring power could take weeks, or longer. A spokesperson for Florida Power & Light, the state’s biggest utility, said recovery from the storm would require a “wholesale rebuild” of the electrical grid.

The damage to the state’s electrical infrastructure was just one form of devastation left in Irma’s wake, as the United States faces its second hurricane catastrophe in as many weeks.

An unusually large hurricane, Irma left an exceptional swath of damage on both Florida coasts and nearly everywhere in between. By one metric, this single storm packed an entire season’s worth of destructive power.

Some of Irma’s worst impacts were well-removed from the center: Miami looked like “a watery war zone” at the height of the storm, with residents warily eyeing rising floodwaters in the heart of downtown.

In Jacksonville, at the far northeast corner of Florida, Irma set a new coastal flood record, beating the one set during 1964’s Hurricane Dora.

In Naples, near where Irma made its second landfall in southwest Florida after initially striking the Keys, winds reached as high as 142 mph. The city set an odd mark: The ocean rose nearly 10 feet in eight hours, the quickest rise ever recorded there.

As Irma’s center passed close by, strong winds blew the ocean away from land, exposing the seabed, and then the water quickly rushed back in as winds changed direction and the storm moved north. The effect led to surreal scenes and even prompted a special warning from the National Weather Service to gawkers along the shore.

As is so often the case with these storms, Irma could have been worse: A last-second 50-mile jog inland likely prevented higher storm surge across cities on Florida’s western coast, including Tampa.

Still, the combination of damage from Harvey and Irma will probably total in the hundreds of billions of dollars.

And it’s still peak hurricane season. Hurricane Jose skirted the northeast corner of the Caribbean over the weekend, prompting a full-scale evacuation of the tiny island of Barbuda — which Irma almost totally destroyed just four days earlier.

The latest weather models show that Jose could make a loop in the central Atlantic this week, and then possibly head toward the East Coast. One thing’s for sure: In a year when it’s become clear that “natural” disasters aren’t natural any more, we can’t say we weren’t warned.

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Hurricane Irma’s power leaves Florida powerless

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Have what it takes to be a Grist fellow? Don’t miss the application deadline!

Listen up, procrastinators: You have a few days left to apply for Grist’s fall 2017 fellowship. The application deadline is Monday, July 31, 2017.

If you’re just now hearing about the fellowship, here’s the gist: We’re looking for early-career journalists to come work with us for six months and get paid. This time around, we’re looking for all-stars in two areas: environmental justice and video. You’ll find a full program description and application requirements here.

Our dynamic duo of current fellows just keeps raising the bar for excellence. Senior fellow Emma Foehringer Merchant reports on a shuttered army base in West Oakland that’s the source of a controversial redevelopment project. (Emma’s story is the second installment of our ongoing Extreme Community Makeover series.) And video fellow Vishakha Darbha tells the story of East Chicago, Indiana, which has been called “the next Flint” due to widespread lead contamination. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: We ❤️ our fellows.

So what are you waiting for? Oh, right, the last possible minute. As long as we receive your application by 11:59 p.m. PT on July 31, no judgment here.

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Have what it takes to be a Grist fellow? Don’t miss the application deadline!

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Want to stop wildfires? Try logging, says Utah official.

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Want to stop wildfires? Try logging, says Utah official.

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Just as John Oliver predicted, a coal tycoon is suing him.

The nation’s largest privately owned coal company, Murray Energy, just filed a lawsuit against the Last Week Tonight host over the show’s recent segment. Oliver had criticized the company’s CEO, Robert Murray, for acting carelessly toward miners’ safety.

Murray Energy’s complaint stated that the segment was a “meticulously planned attempt to assassinate the character and reputation” of Murray by broadcasting “false, injurious, and defamatory comments.”

Oliver shouldn’t be too concerned, according to Ken White, a First Amendment litigator at Los Angeles firm, who told the Daily Beast that the complaint was “frivolous and vexatious.”

The lawsuit is hardly a shocking development. Before the show aired, Oliver received a cease-and-desist letter from the company. He noted that Murray has a history of filing defamation suits against news outlets (most recently, the New York Times).

Oliver said in the episode, “I know that you are probably going to sue me, but you know what, I stand by everything I said.”

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Just as John Oliver predicted, a coal tycoon is suing him.

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