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Revive 2

How are we to revive the earth?

By reducing our waste.

Community Life

In his Pulitzer prize-winning novel, “The Overstory,” Richard Powers creates a character, Dr. Patricia Weatherford, who uses science to discover the true nature of tree-life. Researching the chemicals produced by trees and released into the air around them, Dr. Weatherford verifies that “trees under attack pump out insecticides to save their lives.” But she also discovers that “trees a little way off, untouched by the invading swarms, ramp up their own defenses when their neighbor is attacked. Something alerts them. They get wind of the disaster, and they prepare. She controls for everything she can, and the results are always the same. Only one conclusion makes any sense: The wounded trees send out alarms that other trees smell.”

Eco-Lawsuit

On June 22, 2023 law firms sued fossil fuel companies on behalf of Multnomah County, Oregon for deaths and damages due to the 2021 heat dome. Climate experts assert that this heat event was ‘virtually impossible’ apart from the climate change due to increased carbon emissions in the atmosphere. The lawsuit argues the heat dome was “a direct and foreseeable consequence” of oil companies, which knew from their own research that carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels was causing global warming but continued to ‘lie’ about the harm their products were causing. Other counties have sued oil companies with similar arguments, but in this case the law firms won’t charge the county for their services unless the county receives a favorable judgment.

Pollution

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How are we to revive the seas, air, and soil? By sustaining their ecosystems and reducing our polluting waste. The only way to revive our seas, air, and soil is to stop dumping our waste into these environments. That requires repairing and reusing items that we might throw away, or recycling items that can be efficiently recycled, or even better upcycling items that can be refashioned for new uses.
We should try to avoid all single-use plastic containers, straws, utensils, cups, etc. There’s no need to buy Tupperware. Instead, reuse plastic food packages including takes-out containers from restaurants.

SEJCA Grants

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The Environmental Justice Government-to-Government (EJG2G) program provides funding at the state, local, territorial, and tribal level to support government activities that lead to measurable environmental or public health impacts in communities disproportionately burdened by environmental harms. Model EJG2G programs should leverage existing resources to develop processes or tools that integrate environmental justice considerations into governmental decision-making at all levels. Formerly known as EPA's State Environmental Justice Cooperative Agreement Program (SEJCA), this program has been renamed to better reflect the spectrum of entities eligible for this funding. In Iowa, Linn County was awarded a $1 million grant from the EPA to create a cost-share program for energy efficiency improvements at low-income rental units.

SILT

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The Sustainable Iowa Land Trust (SILT) has a creative economic plan that enables men and women who want to grow food but can’t afford to buy farmland, to lease farms that retiring farmers donate to a land trust. In just 8 years, SILT has protected 16 farms totaling 1,200 acres across Iowa. SILT farms grow shiitake mushrooms, fresh vegetables, organic hay to get grass-fed animals through the winter. Some grow organic corn and soybeans on long rotations that give the soil a chance to regenerate. A few have beehives and others grow herbs, nuts or fruit. They give next generation farmers a chance to get into the game. They give their communities local, healthy, fresh food, jobs and a new way to look at the world.

Stingless Bees

Bees are threatened by Amazon deforestation. “According to Dr. Vásquez Espinoza, stingless-bee honey grew in popularity during the Covid-19 pandemic among Indigenous residents in Peru. It became a favored ingredient in alternative treatments for upper respiratory infections at a time when the country was hard hit by the virus. Selling the honey provided economic relief for families in remote areas who could not take advantage of government support because they did not have bank accounts. Dr. Delgado and Dr. Vásquez Espinoza hope to use these incentives to promote the practice of keeping stingless bees in artificial nests. They are working with Indigenous communities to develop more sustainable methods of collecting stingless-bee honey in the wild."

Student Composting

Elkader, Iowa, a town of 1200 located 100 miles north of Iowa City, was the winner of a 2016 Iowa Environmental Excellence Award from the governor's office for its innovative composting. The Central Community School in Elkader began composting food waste after community members approached Ann Gritzner, a teacher at the school. In 2014, Gritzner had her global science class research how to organize such a program. The school first had students after lunch dump their food scraps onto a tarp, so they could see the amount of waste from one lunchtime. Once they located a site for the compost pile, composting lunch waste began and continues each school day.

Support Biodiversity

The State Department announced on September 30th that Monica Medina, former general counsel of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has been appointed as special envoy for biodiversity and water resources. She will represent the United States at a mid-December conference to reverse the loss of species by adopting an international framework for conserving biodiversity. The United States will urge other nations to conserve 30 percent of their land and water area, which is the goal set by the Biden administration. The Inflation Reduction Act passed this year designated billions of dollars for funding conservation. And the Biden administration has already reinstated restrictions on fishing off New England and restored protections for deserts in Utah, reversing decisions made by the Trump administration.

Symbiotic Relationships

David Yeates, director of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization’s Australian National Insect Collection, reports that a newly identified ant species “babysits” the caterpillars from one of Australia's rarest insects, the bulloak jewel butterfly. The ants, now identified as the Anonychomyrma inclinata species, carry the little caterpillars out from under the bark of the bulloak tree to feed on the soft tips of the leaves or needles at night; they carry them out and then back. The ants protect the butterfly caterpillars from predators as they embrace the caterpillars while they feed at night. At the same time, the ants nourish themselves by feeding on “a sugary substance” the caterpillars produce from glands on their bodies.

Tree Friends

In “The Hidden Life of Trees” German forester Peter Wohlleben writes: “Why are trees so social? Why do they share food with their own species and sometimes even go so far as to nourish their competitors? The reasons are the same as for human communities: there are advantages to working together. On its own, a tree cannot establish a consistent local climate. It is at the mercy of wind and weather. But together, many trees create an ecosystem that moderates extremes of heat and cold, stores a great deal of water, and generates a great deal of humidity. And in this protected environment, trees can live to be very old. To get to this point, the community must remain intact no matter what.”

Urban Ecology

We must learn to live more ecologically in urban environments. Solving urban problems begins with seeing each city, with its suburbs and surrounding countryside, as an evolving landscape within nature. The city is a granite garden, composed of many smaller gardens, set in a garden world. Parts of the granite garden are cultivated intensively, but the greater part is unrecognized and neglected. To those with eyes to see, nature in the city is far more than trees and gardens, and weeds in sidewalk cracks and vacant lots. It is the air we breathe, the earth we stand on, the water we drink and excrete, and the organisms with which we share our habitat.

Your Squirrels

Have you watched the squirrels in your yard? If so, you’ve seen them run head-first down a tree trunk. Have you wondered how they can do that? A squirrel’s back ankles can rotate 180°, turning their paws all the way around to grip the tree trunk as they descend. Pretty amazing! You have seen them bury nuts or seeds in your yard. Have you noticed that squirrels “sort” their nuts that they bury in different places? Either by the species of the nut or by its size. There are, of course, many squirrel species. Have you looked up the species in your yard? Your squirrels may be native or may have been brought from elsewhere.

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