Hawk Haiku

Hawk soars in the sky

As we watch branches whiten

She alights for now.



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Shipping giants look lustily at the warming Arctic

When a blue-hulled cargo ship named Venta Maersk became the first container vessel to navigate a major Arctic sea route this month, it offered a glimpse of what the warming region might become: a maritime highway, with vessels lumbering between Asia and Europe through once-frozen seas.

Years of melting ice have made it easier for ships to ply these frigid waters. That’s a boon for the shipping industry but a threat to the fragile Arctic ecosystem. Nearly all ships run on fossil fuels, and many use heavy fuel oil, which spews black soot when burned and turns seas into a toxic goopy mess when spilled. Few international rules are in place to protect the Arctic’s environment from these ships, though a proposal to ban heavy fuel oil from the region is gaining support.

“For a long time, we weren’t looking at the Arctic as a viable option for a shortcut for Asia-to-Europe, or Asia-to-North America traffic, but that’s really changed, even over the last couple of years,” says Bryan Comer, a senior researcher with the International Council on Clean Transportation’s marine program. “It’s just increasingly concerning.”

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Venta Maersk departed from South Korea in late August packed with frozen fish, chilled produce, and electronics. Days later, it sailed through the Bering Strait between Alaska and Russia, before cruising along Russia’s north coast. At one point, a nuclear icebreaker escorted Venta Maersk through a frozen Russian strait, then the container vessel continued to the Norwegian Sea. It’s expected to arrive in Germany and St. Petersburg later this month.

The trial voyage wouldn’t have been possible until recently. The Arctic region is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, with sea ice, snow cover, glaciers, and permafrost all diminishing dramatically over recent decades. In the past, only powerful nuclear-powered icebreakers could forge through Arctic seas; these days, even commercial ships can navigate the region from roughly July to October—albeit sometimes with the help of skilled pilots and icebreaker escorts.

Russian tankers already carry liquefied natural gas to Western Europe and Asia. General cargo vessels move Chinese wind turbine parts and Canadian coal. Cruise liners take tourists to see surreal ice formations and polar bears in the Arctic summer. Around 2,100 cargo ships operated in Arctic waters in 2015, according to Comer’s group.

“Because of climate change, because of the melting of sea ice, these ships can operate for longer periods of time in the Arctic,” says Scott Stephenson, an assistant geography professor at the University of Connecticut, “and the shipping season is already longer than it used to be.” A study he co-authored found that, by 2060, ships with reinforced hulls could operate in the Arctic for nine months in the year.

Stephenson says that the Venta Maersk’s voyage doesn’t mean that an onrush of container ships will soon be clogging the Arctic seas, given the remaining risks and costs needed to operate in the region. “It’s a new, proof-of-concept test case,” he says.

Maersk, based in Copenhagen, says the goal is to collect data and “gain operational experience in a new area and to test vessel systems,” representatives from the company wrote in an email. The ship didn’t burn standard heavy fuel oil, but a type of high-grade, ultra-low-sulfur fuel. “We are taking all measures to ensure that this trial is done with the highest considerations for the sensitive environment in the region.”

Sian Prior, lead advisor to the HFO-Free Arctic Campaign, says that the best way to avoid fouling the Arctic is to ditch fossil fuels entirely and install electric systems with, say, battery storage or hydrogen fuel cells. Since those technologies aren’t yet commercially viable for ocean-going ships, the next option is to run ships on liquefied natural gas. The easiest alternative, however, is to switch to a lighter “marine distillate oil,” which Maersk says is “on par with” the fuel it’s using.

But many ships still run on cheaper heavy fuel oil, made from the residues of petroleum refining. In 2015, the sludgy fuel accounted for 57 percent of total fuel consumption in the Arctic, and was responsible for 68 percent of ships’ black carbon emissions, according to the International Council on Clean Transportation.

Black carbon wreaks havoc on the climate, even though it usually makes up a small share of total emissions. The small dark particles absorb the sun’s heat and directly warm the atmosphere. Within a few days, the particles fall back down to earth, darkening the snow and hindering the snow’s ability to reflect the sun’s radiation—resulting in more warming.

When spilled, heavy fuel oil emulsifies on the water’s surface or sinks to the seafloor, unlike lighter fuels which disperse and evaporate. Clean-up can take decades in remote waters, as was the case when the Exxon Valdez crude oil tanker slammed into an Alaskan reef in 1989.

“It’s dirtier when you burn it, the options to clean it up are limited, and the length it’s likely to persist in the environment is longer,” Prior says.

In April, the International Maritime Organization, the U.N. body that regulates the shipping industry, began laying the groundwork to ban ships from using or carrying heavy fuel oil in the Arctic. Given the lengthy rulemaking process, any policy won’t likely take effect before 2021, Prior says.

One of the biggest hurdles will be securing Russia’s approval. Most ships operating in the Arctic fly Russian flags, and the country’s leaders plan to invest tens of billions of dollars in coming years to beef up polar shipping activity along the Northern Sea Route. China also wants to build a “Polar Silk Road” and redirect its cargo ships along the Russian route.

Such ambitions hinge on a melting Arctic and rising global temperatures. If the warming Arctic eventually does offer a cheaper highway for moving goods around the world, Comer says, “then we need to start making sure that policies are in place.”

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Shipping giants look lustily at the warming Arctic

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10 Sustainable Mattress Companies: Choosing Your Perfect Green Sleep

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10 Sustainable Mattress Companies: Choosing Your Perfect Green Sleep

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Trump’s latest rule rollback makes natural gas as dirty as coal

This story was originally published by High Country News and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

This summer’s statistics on electricity use and generation included a significant gem: Over the last 12 months, power generation from coal has dropped to a three-decade low. That was party-worthy news for the climate, for air quality, for folks who live near power plants, and for the natural gas industry, which is partly responsible for coal’s decline. Just days later, however, the Trump administration crashed the shindig, causing a major buzzkill.

No, the president’s attempts to revive coal have not succeeded. But on September 18, the Interior Department snuffed out new rules aimed at lowering the oil and gas industry’s methane emissions, just days after the EPA started the process of euthanizing its own methane regulations. This is a bummer not only for the planet, but also for the natural gas industry’s efforts to portray its product as the clean fossil fuel.

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Coal began its climb to dominate the electricity mix in the 1960s, peaking in the mid-2000s, when power plants burned about 1 billion tons per year, generating about half of the nation’s electricity — and an ongoing disaster. Donald Trump likes to talk about “clean, beautiful coal.” It’s anything but. The smokestacks that loom over coal power plants kick out millions of tons of planet-warming carbon dioxide annually, along with mercury, sulfur dioxide, arsenic, and particulates, all of which wreak havoc on human health. What’s left over ends up as toxic (sometimes radioactive) piles of ash, clinkers, and scrubber sludge.

When natural gas is burned to produce power, however, it emits only about half the carbon dioxide of coal, and virtually none of the other pollutants associated with burning coal. So during the 2008 election season — when climate politics were less polarized than now — both parties pushed natural gas in different ways, with Republicans chanting, “Drill, baby, drill,” and Democrats calling natural gas a “bridge” to greater reliance on renewable energy sources. At the same time, advances in drilling were unlocking vast stores of oil and gas from shale formations, driving down the price of the commodity, and making it more desirable to utilities.

(Video via Andrew Thorpe and Joshua Krohn / NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

As a result, natural gas gobbled up a growing share of the nation’s electricity mix, while coal’s portion withered. In 2008, natural gas generated 21 percent of the electricity in the United States; now, its share is 33 percent. Coal use, meanwhile, plummeted from 48 percent to 29 percent over the same period. In consequence, the electric power sector’s total carbon dioxide emissions have dropped by 700 million metric tons over the last decade, with an attendant decrease in other harmful pollutants. Every megawatt-hour of coal-fired electricity that is replaced by gas-fired electricity is a net win for the planet — and the humans who live on it.

Except when it’s not. Natural gas has an Achilles’ heel: When it is sucked from the earth and processed and moved around, leaks occur. The main ingredient in natural gas is methane, a greenhouse gas with 86 times the short-term warming potential of carbon dioxide. Every punctured pipeline, leaky valve, and sloppy gas-well completion eats away at any climate benefits. And if methane’s leaking, so too are other harmful pollutants, including benzene, ethane, and hydrogen sulfide. And so the fuel’s green credentials, and one of the industry’s main marketing tools, end up wafting into thin air.

An aerial view taken by the airborne imaging spectrometer AVIRIS-NG of a methane plume from a gas storage tank in Kern Front oil field. The leak persisted for multiple years.Riley Duren, Andrew Thorpe and Stanley Sander / NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

When the Obama administration proposed rules that would make the oil and gas industry clamp down on methane emissions, it was a gift, not a punishment. Not only would people and the climate benefit; the natural gas industry would be able to sell itself as a clean fuel and a bridge to the future.

The Obama-era rules are similar to those passed in Colorado in 2014, with the industry’s support. Far from being onerous, they simply require companies to regularly look for and repair leaks and to replace faulty equipment. Some companies already do this on their own; the Obama rules would simply mandate this responsible behavior across the board. That’s why the Republican-controlled Congress ultimately decided not to kill the rules. That, however, did not discourage Trump.

Trump is not being “business-friendly” by ending the rules. Rather, he is once again indulging his own obsession with Obama and with destroying his predecessor’s legacy, regardless of the cost to human health and the environment. Trump’s own EPA estimates that its rule rollback will result in the emission of an additional 484,000 tons of methane, volatile organic compounds, and other hazardous pollutants over the next five years. Meanwhile, the death of Interior’s methane rule on Tuesday will add another half-million tons of pollutants to the air. In the process, it will erode the pillars of the once-vaunted natural gas bridge.

Then again, maybe the time has come to let that bridge burn. We get 70 times more electricity from solar sources now than we did in 2008, and renewables hold 11 percent of the total share of power generation. Perhaps just as significant is a less-noticed fact: Electricity consumption in the U.S. has held steady for the last decade, even dropping during some years, despite a growing population, a burgeoning economy, harder-working air conditioners, and more electric devices. That means we’re becoming more efficient and smarter about how we use energy. If we keep this up, we’ll be able to cross that fossil fuel chasm, no matter how many bridges Trump burns down.

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Trump’s latest rule rollback makes natural gas as dirty as coal

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‘It’s hyped up’: Climate deniers in the path of Hurricane Florence

This story was originally published by the Guardian and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Scientists warn that human-induced climate change is responsible for an increase in the number and severity of storms — such as Hurricane Florence, which has engulfed the Carolinas in the last week.

But many who weathered the tempest, deep in Trump country, don’t believe global warming fueled it and don’t think humans are the problem — or the solution.

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As the world’s oceans warm at a faster rate, hurricanes become more likely, and there has been an increase in storms since the start of the 20th century. Experts warn more numerous and even more ferocious hurricanes are on the way, and the U.S. government is not addressing the central issue even as America’s coasts get battered and inland areas inundated.

But based on the evidence in North Carolina on Wednesday, the random man and woman in the street is still not convinced about the science — even those who have faced two major storms in two years.

“We live on the coast. It’s cyclical,” said Bob Slattery.

“We may get two or three in a year, then go four or five years with nothing,” he added.

Slattery, 74, and his wife Gerda, 73, were sitting in the pretty downtown area of Fayetteville on Wednesday. The couple live six miles southwest of Fayetteville and weren’t hit too badly by the storm, but much of the city was, as the Cape Fear river reached record flood levels, spilling over its banks into neighborhoods and roads.

While miles of North Carolina is inundated, downtown Fayetteville had been fortunate enough to avoid flooding this week, although locals said a wine bar roof had partly caved in.

“There’s a group of people that want to control things, and they’re using climate change to control things, and they want to put a tax on things,” Bob said.

There is scant evidence for a shady group using the concept of climate change to control and tax society — but it appears there is wider support for the theory in these parts.

“That’s our opinion,” Gerda said.

“And many other people I speak to think that, too,” Bob said.

Florence hit North Carolina just two years after Hurricane Matthew blew through the state. Matthew set a slew of unwanted flooding records in October 2016 and at the time was described as a “once in a 500 year event.” But just 23 months later, Florence has shattered that prediction, surpassing Matthew’s flooding totals and in many places having a worse impact.

Despite the proximity of the storms, and expert views, some believe the science is overblown and it’s no more than natural global rhythms.

“It comes down to cyclical climate change,” said Matthew Coe. “I don’t think we play as big a factor in climate change as people say we do — when you think of the fact that the sea level rises naturally anyways.”

Coe 37, originally from Florida, is studying for an associate’s degree, alongside working at a downtown Fayetteville cafe. He lost power for three days after Florence roared in.

“Mother Nature is its own entity,” he said. “Whatever happens, it’ll fix itself eventually.” He pointed out that there had been fluctuations in the Earth’s temperature before, and predicted there could be another “ice age” which would correct the current trajectory of the climate.

“I think everything is hyped up a bit,” he said. In his opinion, there are “scientists on both sides” of the climate change argument.

There is actually a 97 percent expert consensus among climate scientists that humans are responsible for global warming, although Coe and the Slatterys are far from alone in their beliefs: A 2016 Pew Research Center study found that 51 percent of Americans do not believe global climate change is due to human activity. Donald Trump is among the 51 percent — or at least was in 2015. That year he wrote in his book Crippled America that climate change was not human-caused, although he did not explain the reasoning behind his belief. During the 2016 presidential election, he called it a Chinese hoax. On Wednesday he was in North Carolina and South Carolina, promising “100 percent support” to displaced residents and those with flooded neighborhoods and power outages, but not mentioning measures to deal with climate change, different impacts on rich and poor, or coastal over-development.

Further along Hay Street, the thoroughfare through downtown Fayetteville, the retired air force member Andre Altman was sitting in the Huske Hardware House bar.

“Ask Mother Nature,” said Altman, 57. He echoed Coe’s belief that Earth’s capricious matriarch could be responsible for climate change and the ensuing increase in the number and force of storms.

“Really the Earth goes through cycles. So it’s just we’re on that particular cycle where we’re grabbing more storms,” Altman said. “Back in the industrial age we were burning coal and it didn’t get hotter then.”

Despite his belief that climate change was mostly a natural phenomenon, Altman accepted some of the science that said humans were also to blame. He recycles, he said, but believes his own actions are likely to have little impact.

“I try to worry about what I can affect. If I could actually do something about it, I would,” Altman said.

“But I’m not in politics.”

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‘It’s hyped up’: Climate deniers in the path of Hurricane Florence

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One year after Maria, the Puerto Rican diaspora charts a new path forward

One year ago Friday, Yamil Anglada recalls fear setting in as she lost contact with family members who were riding out Hurricane Maria. The office manager at a women’s cooperative in Brooklyn had moved from Puerto Rico to the mainland U.S. more than twenty years ago. And as the storm passed through her native island, she struggled to concentrate at work between making unsuccessful calls and scanning social media for updates that never came.

Today, her family is safe. But on the anniversary of the storm, she said, “I didn’t want to be alone.”

Like hundreds of other New Yorkers, Anglada made her way Thursday night to one of several gatherings planned to remember the lives lost and continue a call for a just recovery on the island. Although she said it was important for the community to be together for the occasion, she added, “I feel like this is just a date because the crisis is still ongoing.”

Anglada headed to Manhattan’s Union Square for an event organized by a community-led initiative called #OurPowerPRnyc, which was createdr to call out injustices in the U.S. government’s response to Maria. Among other demands, it argues for full relief for the territory’s “catastrophic” debt burden and rejecting the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA). The campaign says PROMESA, which established a federal oversight board for the territory, has hampered recovery efforts and is just one example of U.S. colonial control over Puerto Rico.

At rally in Union Square to commemorate the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria, speakers and attendants called for Puerto Rico to become an independent nation.Justine Calma

Again and again, speakers at the event called for for the island’s people to be able to chart their own future — and escape the federal government’s grip.

Elizabeth Yeampierre, executive director of the Latino community-based organization in Brooklyn, UPROSE, paid respect to a resistance she says is building within the island. She called its members “the people who are making sure that Puerto Rico is there 50 years from now, 100 years from now, and that we are an independent, sovereign nation.”

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New York congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took to the mic later in the program, calling for a transition to renewable energy that leaves no resident behind, a Marshall Plan-type effort to help Puerto Rico recover economically, and for “self-determination of the island.” In response, a voice in the audience called out, “We need independence! Say it!”

The demands for sovereignty resonated with Anglada, as well. “It’s independence for Puerto Rico,” she said. “It’s the only answer at this point.”

Roughly 30 blocks north, a few hundred people assembled at St. Bartholomew’s Church on Manhattan’s Upper East Side to commemorate the solemn day for Puerto Ricans everywhere.

Hurricane Maria evacuees who found refuge in New York City and families of some of the storm’s victims gathered with interfaith clergy, community organizers, and local politicians for a bilingual memorial service — organized by the Power 4 Puerto Rico coalition. They came to bare witness to stories of shared grief and hope as part of a national week of action aimed at a just and transparent rebuilding effort that the coalition called “Boricuas Remember.

Among the attendees was Bethzaida Toro, a 49-year-old licensed nurse from Cabo Rojo in southwestern Puerto Rico. She left the island for New York City last November with her three-year-old grandson. “I wanted to raise him in the paradise I was raised in,” she told Grist. “Unfortunately, that did not happen for him.”

Hurricane Maria’s siege on the island shook Toro’s faith. “When you survive a hurricane and then you realize that thousands of others didn’t — I doubted God.” she opined, adding that she lost her 72-year-old uncle to the storm. “But ultimately I kept praying. I kept walking on Faith Street.”

Nearly 3,000 flickering electric candles crowded St. Bartholomew’s ornate altar, each one representing a life lost to the tropical tyrant. Speakers pointed to these deaths as the result of gross negligence by the U.S. government, as well as the consequences of discriminatory treatment and policies.

People attend a service at St. Bartholomew’s Church for the anniversary of Hurricane Maria which cut through Puerto Rico exactly one year ago Thursday.Spencer Platt / Getty Images

Several evacuees spoke at the ceremony. “Life for the past year has simply been one fight after another,” said Carlos Matos, who is now a physics student at the City University of New York. “Today, I can begin the process of healing.”

Speakers urged those gathered to remember the lives cut short as they mobilized to act and support Puerto Rico. “Today we mourn, but tomorrow we vote.” said former New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who is now campaign director of the Power 4 Puerto Rico coalition.

After taking time to honor Maria’s victims, attendees made sure those in power wouldn’t forget what the Puerto Rican people went through. And so, sign-wielding churchgoers took to the streets for a march to Trump Tower, holding hundreds of votive candles. They called for members of the U.S. Congress to meet the needs of Hurricane Maria survivors and their families. They also beseeched President Trump to apologize for his blatant neglect of the island and his continued refusal to acknowledge the extraordinary death toll, for which, they said, he is partly, responsible.

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One year after Maria, the Puerto Rican diaspora charts a new path forward

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Some displaced Puerto Ricans face homelessness after FEMA stops paying for hotels

This story was originally published by HuffPost and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

It’s been a year since Hurricane Maria upended Jennyfer Ortiz’s life. The single mother fled Puerto Rico with her two children after their house in the mountain town of Orocovis lost power. They have been using a government-funded program to pay for a hotel in the Bronx, but that ended last week, forcing Ortiz, her 20-year-old son, and 14-year-old daughter into a homeless shelter.

“Maria changed our lives ― ruined our lives ― and left us with nothing. After 18 hours of horror, we woke up the next day and had lost everything,” Ortiz said. The 46-year-old hasn’t been able to work since they’ve been in New York City ― she has diabetes and hypertension, takes 14 medications a day, and uses a walker. Her son works full time at a grocery store but doesn’t make enough to pay for their own place.

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“We’re working. We’re not just waiting for the government to pay everything,” she said. “We’re trying to get ahead ― but it’s hard.”

Ortiz is one of 2,436 displaced Puerto Ricans on the U.S. mainland who, as of last month, were still in hotels paid for by the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Transitional Sheltering Assistance program.

After repeated extensions of the program in response to a lawsuit from the advocacy group Latino Justice, a federal judge ruled late last month to end it, forcing people still using the program to check out by September 14.

There were few good options for the people still in hotels: accept the government’s offer to pay for a plane ticket back to Puerto Rico or stay on the mainland and either secure their own place, stay with friends, or go to a shelter.

Many relying on FEMA’s housing funds are in precarious financial situations, said Peter Gudaitis, executive director of the nonprofit New York Disaster Interfaith Services, which has been helping Maria evacuees. Some have medical conditions, others have young kids and haven’t been able to afford daycare, which has prevented them from finding a job. Even evacuees who have found work struggle to save enough for a security deposit and first month’s rent.

“I don’t have anybody here. I don’t know what to do,” Myrna Reyes, another Maria evacuee, who suffers from diabetes, asthma, and high blood pressure, told HuffPost on Monday. “I’ve lost hope.”

After Reyes left the hotel that FEMA was paying for in Brooklyn on Friday, she ended up at a New York shelter. But she didn’t feel safe there. She saw people outside injecting drugs, she said, and her room was up four flights of stairs with no elevator, and she has limited mobility. She went to a friend’s home nearby, but that friend is moving to Florida next week, and Reyes will have to find somewhere else to go.

“They’ve left us practically in the street,” Reyes said. “They’re not treating us like the U.S. citizens that we are.”

Jennyfer’s daughter, 14, painting at the table in their room at the Bronx shelter. HuffPost.

When U.S. District Judge Timothy Hillman in Massachusetts ruled to end the FEMA hotel program earlier this month, he urged the government to find longer-term housing solutions for Maria evacuees. Latino Justice alleges that FEMA hasn’t.

FEMA told HuffPost on Tuesday that since Maria hit, it had assisted more than 7,000 families who had survived the storm with temporary hotel rooms in 40 states, costing more than $100 million.

“While FEMA and other forms of government assistance can never make a disaster survivor whole, the assistance is meant to help survivors begin their recovery process,” FEMA spokesperson Lenisha Smith wrote by email. “FEMA will continue to work with survivors in their long-term housing plans.”

Gudaitis, whose group has been helping Maria survivors in New York, said that of the 34 families it assisted who were still in hotels paid by FEMA as of last week, over two-thirds are now in the New York City shelter system. The rest are staying with family, and a “small number” have found their own place, he said.

In central Florida, Vamos4PR, a group assisting Maria evacuees there, said of about 100 families it knew of that were using the FEMA program, about half are now doubled up with friends, a “handful” returned to Puerto Rico, and a few had secured their own place. For the remaining, the group is now trying to assist with cash or by negotiating low hotel rates. They were told in recent months that there was no more capacity in the central Florida shelter system. Amneris Ortíz (no relation to Jennyfer) is a single mom who had been using the FEMA program to pay for a hotel on the outskirts of Orlando until Friday, along with her elderly mother and three children, ages 17, 10, and 8. A local church helped her pay a deposit and the first month’s rent to secure an apartment, but she doesn’t know how she’ll make rent next month.

She had been working at a Wawa gas station, but after her car broke down in July, she lost that job because it was too far to walk there. She then got a job closer to the hotel, working as a part-time teacher in a daycare, but the apartment they were able to line up is too far from that job. When HuffPost spoke to her Monday, she hadn’t been able to make it to work that day.

“I don’t know how I’m going to do it,” said Amneris Ortíz. Her kids have asthma, and her mother also has health issues. She has a college degree, but her current job pays only $9 an hour. “I’m trying to make enough to help my kids get by, but it’s really hard.”

Amneris Ortíz, her mother and three kids in their rental apartment.


FEMA noted that one of the options it offered evacuees was free plane tickets to return to Puerto Rico. About 500 people have taken them up on that.

But for many of the most vulnerable families, returning to the island is not a viable option. Experts say Puerto Rico’s recovery process will take years. Repeated power outages still plague the island, and the health care system has not fully recovered.

In the wake of the storm, the schools Amneris Ortíz’s kids had attended had closed. In Florida, they’re getting a good education, at least. The principal at her son’s school even paid for his soccer cleats so he could join the team.

Jennyfer Ortiz says she’s undergoing treatment in New York for her medical conditions. She has knee surgery scheduled. Without power in the wake of Maria, she couldn’t keep her insulin refrigerated. The family would line up for hours for ice only to have half of it melt by the time they got home. She doesn’t see how she can return to an island where she has no place to stay ― their home that flooded was a rental ― and where there’s still a shortage of doctors.

“Without health, we have nothing,” Jennyfer Ortiz said. “They wanted to pay me a ticket to go back to an island where I lost everything. And to return where? To the street?”

FEMA also pointed to a rental assistance program it offers to provide two-months’ rent to survivors. The agency said it had provided it to 3,833 families who had previously stayed in FEMA-paid hotels stateside.

But Gudaitis said that, to his knowledge, none of the families his group serves in New York had been able to get rental assistance through that program. Vamos4PR echoed that in central Florida: None of the families it had assisted received additional longer-term housing assistance from FEMA.

“I honestly feel lost,” said Amneris Ortíz. She applied for rental assistance from FEMA a couple of weeks ago and sent further documentation last week. She has not heard anything so far.

“I’m getting panic attacks. I’m scared of ending up in the street with my kids,” she said, in tears. “Not being able to provide them with what they need ― they ask me for things and I can’t. I’m feeling very depressed. I don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

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Some displaced Puerto Ricans face homelessness after FEMA stops paying for hotels

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Donald Trump just called himself an environmentalist. Wait, what?

President Trump was in Las Vegas on Thursday evening headlining Nevada Senator Dean Heller’s reelection event. Heller is currently high on the list of endangered GOP members up for reelection this fall, so Trump flew down there to save him. Speaking of endangered species, the president just unveiled a proposal to severely weaken the Endangered Species Act, but I digress.

At the rally, Trump said something that will shock the pants off of anyone who has been even remotely attuned to the myriad ways in which this administration has undermined environmental regulations. He said, AND I QUOTE, “I’m an environmentalist.” Sir! This actually isn’t the first time Trump has tried to tell people that he’s a champion of the environment. In 2017, he said, “I’m a very big person when it comes to the environment.” Watch the Vegas clip:

No offense, my guy, but you’re an environmentalist if today is opposite day on the planet Mars. Trump went on to say that we have the cleanest air and water — as coal ash spills threaten rivers in North Carolina, students can’t use the drinking fountains in Detroit due to lead contamination, and the air quality in parts of the Western U.S. was the worst in the world this summer due to smoke from climate-worsened fires.

Want more proof that the Trump administration has launched targeted attacks on public lands, renewable energy, climate science, and more? Here’s the short list:

Remember when the president appointed Scott Pruitt, grifter-in-chief at the EPA and dedicated chore-boy for the fossil fuel industry? Yeah, Pruitt wasn’t great for the environment.
What about that time Trump decided to shrink two enormous national monuments, opening up sacred indigenous land and acres of important animal and plant habitat for resource extraction?
Or, hey! How about when he announced plans to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement? Or what about that year when mentions of climate change essentially disappeared from government websites (and they’re still MIA!)?
Wait! One more. How about that time he repealed Obama’s Clean Power Plan with a “coal-at-all-costs” plan?

I guess everyone can just say that they’re whoever they wanna be now. By Trump’s logic, I am now a Midwest ostrich farmer. You can be one, too! There are no rules.

More here:  

Donald Trump just called himself an environmentalist. Wait, what?

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7 Easy Eco-Friendly Lifestyle Changes You Can Make Today

Whether you?re a full-time eco-warrior or just learning about sustainability, there are many modifications you can make to your lifestyle to support a healthy planet. Here are seven cheap and easy changes you can make starting today.

1. Drive greener

The average American driver spends roughly 17,600 minutes behind the wheel each year, according to AAA. And each minute, traditional vehicles release pollutants that can spell trouble both for your health and the environment. ?Pollutants released by vehicles greatly increase air pollution levels and have been linked to adverse health effects, including premature mortality, cardiac symptoms, exacerbation of asthma symptoms, and diminished lung function,? according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

So if you burn fuel every day, it?s time to re-evaluate your commute. Look for alternatives, such as walking, biking, carpooling and public transportation. Find out whether you can telecommute to work or shift your hours to avoid sitting in heavy traffic. And try to run errands when traffic is light. The gas money you?ll save is just an added bonus to breathing cleaner air.

2. Create a meal plan

Are you guilty of buying more food than you can finish before it goes bad? You?re definitely not alone. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 22 percent of discarded solid municipal waste is food. That?s a serious waste problem, especially given the environmental impact of food production.

But with a bit of effort, you can dramatically cut your food waste. Simply plan your meals, write out a shopping list and stick to it. You don?t have to cut out impulse buys completely ? though you should avoid shopping on an empty stomach ? but if you do purchase something unexpected, be sure to adjust your meal plan so nothing spoils. And try to share or donate any excess food before it ends up in a landfill.

3. Learn what goes into your food

On the topic of food, you also should know what you?re buying. Food production often involves the use of chemical fertilizers, burning fossil fuels for transportation, inhumane treatment of animals, harm to wildlife and more. So as a consumer, it?s up to you to make responsible choices.

Buy local, organic and humanely raised food whenever possible. Look for ?fair trade? on the label for goods that promote better standards for the producers and the environment. And refuse to support restaurants and other establishments that don?t make these environmentally conscious choices.

4. Cut plastic waste

Plastic waste is a massive problem for our planet. It?s polluting oceans, killing wildlife and making us sick. Still, it?s unfortunately difficult to entirely avoid plastic in everyday life, but we can be more responsible about our use of it.

?You can start cutting down on your plastic waste in a few simple steps: use reusable bags when you shop, ditch single-use water bottles, bags, and straws and avoid products made from or packaged in plastic whenever possible,? the Center for Biological Diversity recommends. Consider buying items used instead of new to avoid plastic packaging. Shop local, and cut down on online purchases, which often come wrapped in plastic. And, of course, recycle everything you can. Saying no to that straw won?t clean an entire ocean, but it might save one sea animal?s life.

5. Switch to natural cleaners

Chemical cleaning products might make your home smell “meadow fresh” ? whatever that means ? but at a huge cost to actual meadows and your health. ?Store-bought cleaners typically contain dangerous chemicals, contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and are packaged in petroleum-based products,? according to Ohio University?s Office of Sustainability.

Luckily, you can find eco-friendly cleaning products at most retailers, and you can easily make your own. Most clean and disinfect just as well as the chemicals, and you don?t have to be afraid to breathe while you knock out your chore list.

6. Question your purchases

You might buy something based on impulse, hours of research and everything in between. Hopefully, you at least pause to think about the impact of your purchase. ?Every product we purchase has an environmental footprint, from the materials used to create it to the pollution emitted during manufacturing to the packaging that ends up in landfills,? the Center for Biological Diversity says.

So first ask yourself, ?Do I really need this?? If the answer is yes, as it often is, then look for items that have a smaller environmental impact. Upgrade to energy-efficient appliances or a fuel-efficient vehicle. Purchase furniture made from sustainable materials, such as bamboo ? or better yet, buy it secondhand. Basically, if you?re already putting in research before buying an item, don?t forget to consider the environment as a factor.

7. Time your showers

There?s plenty you can do to make your home more eco-friendly ? and much of it adds up to cost savings and better health for you, too. Upgrade your home?s insulation, and seal any air leaks to save on heating and cooling. Switch to energy-saving light bulbs and low-flow faucets. And grow low-maintenance, native plants in your garden.

If you?re a new eco-warrior, all those green options can be dizzying. So here?s a good place to start: Time your showers. To save water, you first have to realize how much you use. Try to beat your time each day by a minute, and ultimately you?ll learn only to use the water you need to get the job done. Then, let this victory in sustainability inspire you to branch out and live a more eco-friendly lifestyle.

Main image credit: Sasiistock/Thinkstock

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

Taken from: 

7 Easy Eco-Friendly Lifestyle Changes You Can Make Today

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Cry of the Kalahari – Mark James Owens & Delia Owens


Cry of the Kalahari

Mark James Owens & Delia Owens

Genre: Nature

Price: $9.99

Publish Date: October 15, 1992

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Seller: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company

This is the story of the Owens’ travel and life in the Kalahari Desert. Here they met and studied unique animals and were confronted with danger from drought, fire, storms, and the animals they loved. This best-selling book is for both travelers and animal lovers.


Cry of the Kalahari – Mark James Owens & Delia Owens

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A Natural History of the Senses – Diane Ackerman


A Natural History of the Senses

Diane Ackerman

Genre: Science & Nature

Price: $1.99

Publish Date: September 10, 1991

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

Seller: Penguin Random House LLC

Diane Ackerman's lusciously written grand tour of the realm of the senses includes conversations with an iceberg in Antarctica and a professional nose in New York, along with dissertations on kisses and tattoos, sadistic cuisine and the music played by the planet Earth. “Delightful . . . gives the reader the richest possible feeling of the worlds the senses take in.” — The New York Times

Source – 

A Natural History of the Senses – Diane Ackerman

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