The first four months of President Biden’s administration have presented a watershed change in priorities, promising renewed emphasis on environmental protection, natural resources and land conservation, and mitigation of climate change consequences. We greet this news with renewed hope, even as evidence of the catastrophic consequences of climate change continues to mount.
The Washington Post is keeping a TALLY of the administration’s environmental actions. In four months, President Biden has begun to transform the nation’s energy and environmental landscape, according to the Washington Post’s analysis, by overturning 34 of former president Donald Trump’s policies and finalizing 21 of his own, as of this writing. From pausing new oil and gas leasing on public lands and waters to rejoining the Paris climate agreement, Biden has elevated the issue of climate change across the U.S. government and signaled a shift away from fossil fuels. In April he pledged that the United States would cut its greenhouse gas emissions between 50 and 52 percent by the end of the decade compared with 2005 levels—a commitment that will trigger major changes in the ways Americans live, work, and travel.
“I talked to the experts, and I see the potential for a more prosperous and equitable future. The signs are unmistakable. The science is undeniable,” Biden declared at the virtual climate summit he convened on Earth Day. “The United States isn’t waiting. We are resolving to take action.” <continued . . .>
Southern communities can’t afford to be an after-thought when it comes to federal policy. The South is experiencing more climate impacts than any other region of the US. Rural, Southern communities are facing disproportionate impacts due to logging and wood production. Our region is also home to five of the top 10 carbon emitters in the country and is experiencing forest destruction from industrial logging at four times the rate of South American rainforests. Our survival depends on immediate and inclusive solutions.
The "Southern Communities for a Green New Deal" (SC4GND) policy platform builds on the Green New Deal to center frontline communities in the South. The Dogwood Alliance worked with community leaders and other organizations to develop the forest policy part of the policy platform. The vision we created calls for:
It’s time for a new vision for the southern economy. We need a just transition to clean, renewable energy. We need to invest in a regenerative economy rooted in justice and equity. We need to work together for a healthy, strong, and resilient future. Please learn about the SC4GND policy platform: READ MORE.
--Danna Smith, founder of the Dogwood Alliance
Human population continues to surge across much of the southern United States, with resulting conversion of rural landscapes and environmentally sensitive areas to more urban and industrial uses. As human population grows and more urban/suburban development occurs, we should be embracing wiser and more environmentally balanced alternatives for use of land resources and community development.
Upstate Forever, a multifaceted environmental and community conservation organization based in Greenville, South Carolina, has articulated Ten Principles of Smart Growth. READ MORE or click on image.
This year, with clear evidence that the Trump Administration is jeopardizing many U.S. environmental conservation and protection programs and policies, with hugely damaging consequences, Gary E. Machlis, former National Park Service science advisor (and Clemson University professor of environmental sustainability), and Jonathan B. Jarvis, retired NPS career professional and national director from 2009 to 2017, co-authored an important and inspirational book. The Future of Conservation in America: a Chart for Rough Water (University of Chicago Press) asserts that we are in a period of “rough water,” affecting many environmental assets and conservation programs. The authors identify three major environmental and social threats (and the dangerous irresponsibility of denying them) confronting America: climate change, species extinction, and economic inequality. Actions are required to navigate through the very rough waters facing us. It is essential to assure that the conservation movement is understood by Americans (and especially by young people) as critically relevant to public health and interest. A general re-commitment to environmental conservation and protection is necessary. <<continued>>
--by Bobby Whitescarver. Note: A different version of this essay was published as an OPED piece distributed by the Bay Journal News Service on October 17, 2017. Read that article here.
The Clean Water Act is now 45 years old, born in the U.S. Congress on October 18, 1972. Sometime before that date, the river of my childhood – the Roanoke River in southwestern Virginia – had been declared a fire hazard because of pollution.
I learned to water-ski on that river, or rather on one of the manmade lakes along its winding path. It was 1965 and I remember one of those skiing lessons in particular. Dad was the spotter, and his friend George was the driver. I jumped in the water and waited for the handles of the ski rope. When the tips of my skis were up and my butt down, I yelled, “forward!” As the boat began pulling me, I saw banana peels and “floaters” – human waste – drifting past. I was ten years old, and it gave me the heebie-jeebies. “Hit it,” I shouted, now doubly motivated to get up and out of the water.
America now has perhaps the best wastewater treatment in the world. . . .
--submitted by by Bobby Whitescarver (originally published in slightly different form here.)
The Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint is working to reduce sedimentation and agricultural runoff into streams, make nutrient management simpler and more effective, verify land uses and cover crops via remote sensing, and invest in establishing and maintaining streamside buffers.
Lesson 1. The Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint is working
Our number one lesson is that the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint is working. Water quality in the Bay is improving. We have reduced nutrients in the Bay in half since 1983; despite the fact our population as increased 30%. That is quite an achievement.
There are many reasons for this. Waste water treatment, application of Best Management Practices (BMPs) on farmland, oyster restoration, air pollution reduction, reductions in phosphorus from laundry detergent and lawn fertilizers, people doing their part . . . I could go on and on.
The river that flows through my farm is a TMDL stream (i.e., subject to Total Maximum Daily Loads regulations for polluted streams), and we are in the designated Chesapeake Bay TMDL as well. These designations have brought water pollution and sedimentation control and reduction program funds into our watershed that help farmers install needed BMPs like cover crops, crop rotation to perennials and riparian buffers. Because of these programs our farm now produces food and clean water; something we are very proud of. These programs created jobs for fence builders, tree planters, and other contractors. . . .
Conservation, viewed in its entirety, is the slow and laborious unfolding of a new relationship between people and land.
There is in fact no distinction between the fate of the land and the fate of the people. When one is abused, the other suffers.
From the President
SCP President Chuck Roe looked at land conservation along the route of John Muir's "Southern Trek."
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