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New Fund Will Help More Seattle Residents Build Rain Gardens

New Fund Will Help More Seattle Residents Build Rain Gardens
RainWise garden Image by Lisa Stiffler Seattle’s RainWise rain garden program is spreading green stormwater solutions across the city, but the rebate program has been out of reach for some homeowners with more modest incomes. While RainWise offers generous reimbursements—$4,600 on average for the installation of rain gardens and cisterns—the homeowner has to pay for the work upfront, then wait up to two months for the program to pay them back. A new financial program called the Green Infrastructure Rebate Advance Fund (GIRAF) should remove that hurdle by bridging the payment gap. RainWise “is definitely an exciting success story,” said Aaron Clark, the driving force behind GIRAF and program manager for the non-profit Stewardship Partners. RainWise is a joint program of Seattle Public Utilities and King County Wastewater Treatment Division. While the project is starting as pilot, GIRAF proponents hope the revolving fund for green infrastructure could expand regionally and beyond.

How Science Denial Derails Scientists Mostly, I recommend bypassing the climate science “debate” altogether. There’s no actual debate so even debunking it gives it undeserved credence. But that’s just it: doubt and denial are more than just states of mind; their perpetuation is strategic. An eye dropper of doubt has proven more potent in stalling action on climate change than an ocean of ironclad scientific warnings. Sometimes it’s good to call attention to this kind of strategy in order to undercut its power. In my line of work, there’s even an obsession with measuring it. “It doesn’t matter! But we’re all vulnerable to the drumbeat. Here are at least three ways denial derails scientists: First, scientists are getting sidetracked by science denial campaigns. Second, when scientists feel compelled to go on the defensive and spend time refuting denialist theories, they not only add credence to false claims, giving them air time, they often begin to adopt the language and frames of the science deniers, thus reinforcing them.

Waste to Energy Plants on the Rise - Forester Network While waste to energy (WTE) is the third-most-preferred municipal solid waste approach behind source reduction/reuse and recycling/composting, some 29 million tons of MSW—12% of total generated—were combusted for energy recovery in 2011, according to “Municipal Solid Waste in the US: Facts and Figures.” The Energy Recovery Council—a national trade organization representing the WTE industry and communities owning WTE facilities—in its 2014 report indicates that there are 84 WTE facilities in the US, of which four are inactive but may return to active service at a later date; one is under construction. Waste to Energy Defined EPA depicts WTE as the conversion of non-recyclable waste materials into useable heat, electricity, or fuel through a variety of processes, including combustion, gasification, pyrolization, anaerobic digestion (AD), and landfill gas (LFG) recovery. Zero Waste: How can waste management professionals prepare for the future? Grate Combustion Waste to Energy

Implementing Stormwater and Erosion Control Best Management Practices - Forester Network Concluding this three-part series on stormwater and erosion control standards of professionalism, author Jerald S. Fifield further discusses concepts of professional integrity derived from an educated understanding of S&EC components and follow-up accountability toward project implementation. Despite a diversity of professional backgrounds—whether the credentials originate in engineering disciplines or the field of environmental sciences—professional certification, a thorough understanding of planning and regulatory requirements, as well as experience in stormwater and erosion control practices hold such professionals accountable. Are Professional Engineers Qualified to Develop, Sign, and Review Sediment and Erosion Control Plans? (Part 3) By Jerald S. Fifield Seeking professional guidance for funding stormwater systems? Designers and reviewers must be able to demonstrate accountability for their S&EC expertise. Evaluation is essential to demonstrate accountability.

This New San Francisco Corner Market Design Will Make You Crave Vegetables What happens when there is food everywhere, but nothing to eat? That’s the question that people living in San Francisco’s Tenderloin have asked for years. The downtown neighborhood counts more than 70 small corner stores in an area spanning less than half of a square mile, yet there is not one full-service grocery market within a mile of the community’s boundaries. (To see the neighborhood and hear from locals, watch the video embedded at the top of this story.) Neighborhoods like the Tenderloin are often referred to as “food deserts,” but an increasing number of public health experts say the popular moniker has it wrong. “It’s actually more accurate to call them food swamps,” says Susana Hennessey Lavery, an educator with San Francisco’s public health department, “because they are swamped with a lot of food, but not much that is healthy.” The second leg is about appearances.

Wind turbines kill fewer birds than do cats, cell towers Wind turbines kill far fewer birds in North America than do cats or collisions with cell towers, says a study out Monday. As wind power expands in the United States, critics often blame giant turbine blades for bird deaths. What's billed as the most comprehensive analysis ever of these fatalities says birds face far greater threats. Wind turbines kill between 214,000 and 368,000 birds annually — a small fraction compared with the estimated 6.8 million fatalities from collisions with cell and radio towers and the 1.4 billion to 3.7 billion deaths from cats, according to the peer-reviewed study by two federal scientists and the environmental consulting firm West Inc. "We estimate that on an annual basis, less than 0.1% ... of songbird and other small passerine species populations in North America perish from collisions with turbines," says lead author Wallace Erickson of Wyoming-based West. Yet many environmentalists say wind power ultimately benefits birds.

Across U.S., Heaviest Downpours On The Rise Research Report by Climate Central Record-breaking rain across Texas and Oklahoma this week caused widespread flooding, the likes of which the region has rarely, if ever, seen. For seven locations there, May 2015 has seen the most rain of any month ever recorded, with five days to go and the rain still coming. Several people have been killed and hundreds have been rescued from their homes. This interactive is available for embed. Across most of the country, the heaviest downpours are happening more frequently, delivering a deluge in place of what would have been routine heavy rain. Explore these trends in heavy downpours in your state or town, and some of their impacts in our new interactive above. These intense bouts of rain can wreak havoc on communities. In Nashville, for example, a 2010 record downpour dumped 13.6 inches of rain in just 2 days, causing an estimated $2 billion in damage. Extreme heavy downpours are consistent with what climate scientists expect in a warming world.

Is Seattle a model for sustainable cities, or just a mess? In 1962, nearly 10 million people stampeded to the shores of Puget Sound for the Century 21 Exposition, aka the Seattle World’s Fair, an elaborate carnival designed to show the world that the United States was rocketing into the future, with Seattle firmly in the captain’s seat. To wow the visiting hordes, the city built the iconic, saucer-topped Space Needle and a monorail connecting it to downtown via a track elevated two stories above the streets. Neither of those landmarks inspired many imitators. But the city remains an outpost. Things are changing, however. As a result, people are once again flocking to Seattle. Ride a bike around town on a regular basis and you can watch entire blocks transform in a matter of months from rundown, cedar-shingled houses to holes in the ground to gleaming high-rise apartment buildings. The future, it seems, has finally arrived. In theory, at least, this is a good thing. In reality, of course, change is a complicated and messy thing.

Can Technology Save Africa’s Forests? In 2000, Lilian Pintea was getting ready to end his first stint of fieldwork at Gombe Stream Research Center, in Tanzania, when he was invited to stop by Jane Goodall’s house for a drink (she prefers Scotch). Goodall tries to spend a few days each year in the place where she made the discoveries about chimpanzees that made her famous, and she enjoys hearing about the ongoing work at what is possibly the world’s longest-running continually operated field station in wildlife research. Pintea’s specialty was using satellite photos to show changes to ecosystems. “When you see her for the first time,” Pintea recalled of meeting Goodall, “she’s a superstar—one of the last explorers.” These were just low-res photographs taken from planes, but Goodall recognized right away that such imagery would be a fantastic tool for communicating science. Forest outside the village of Kigalye before and after it elected to prohibit tree cutting there. “Nobody could read it,” Moore told me.

Your Fresh Fish Dinner Now Comes with a Dose of Prescription Drugs Researchers have known for more than a decade that the pharmaceuticals we consume tend to turn up secondhand in wildlife. Sometimes this can have horrible effects. Chemical hormones in birth control pills, for instance, pass into the urine and are released via municipal sewage plants into the environment, where they can become potent endocrine disruptors. But so far, society’s reaction has largely been a collective shrug: Those are fish, not people. A new study in the journal Food Chemistry should shake us out of our complacency. The results: Eleven of 14 fish servings contained elevated levels of the two drugs. Moreover, the fish weren’t just freshwater species, such as catfish or its Asian cousin swai, which might predictably pick up wastewater treatment byproducts in river habitats. (Photo: UGA College of Ag and Environmental Sciences/Flickr) Unintentionally consuming multiple drugs with the same effect could still pose a health risk, and some drugs are dangerous if taken together.

Climate Change Is Helping One Weird Pest Destroy More Crops One of the worst agricultural pests in the United States is about to get a whole lot worse. According to new research published in PLOS One, the effects of climate change have caused tiny but devastating migratory insects known as potato leafhoppers to arrive a full 10 days earlier than they did 60 years ago. Not only that, but the research shows that bug infestation levels are worse in warmer years, meaning they could pose a much greater threat than they have for decades. In turn, the warmer weather may push the insects to travel farther north then they typically care to, meaning potato leafhoppers could soon move into regions where they currently aren’t posing much of a threat. “How much farther north is it going to move, and for which crops do we need to start gearing up our management?” RELATED: Your Carbon Emissions May End Up Starving Poor People in Africa Potato leafhoppers migrate annually from Southern states all the way into the northernmost U.S. states and Canada.

Why Moby Wants You To Stop Showering Skip Showers For Beef, a new grassroots project born of the California drought, acknowledges that giving up beef — a product that uses huge amounts of water — is hard. So the campaign’s creators have come up with a creative way for Californians to keep eating meat while reducing their water use: Just stop showering. The project’s premise is a simple one — by the creators’ calculations, every four ounce hamburger requires roughly 450 gallons of water to produce. To offset those gallons, the average Californian would need to skip 26 showers. “We’re not saying people should eat beef, we’re just saying people can eat beef, and here’s how,” Tom Bransford, co-founder of Skip Showers For Beef, told ThinkProgress. The California cattle industry is the fifth largest in the state’s agricultural sector, bringing in $3.3 billion in revenue in 2012. California also grows a huge amount of alfalfa as food for cows — which, though highly nutritious, is also extremely water-hungry.

4 Years After Fukushima, How Is The Nuclear Industry Faring? A team of experts with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) check out water storage tanks at the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Japan, Nov. 27, 2013. (Greg Webb/IAEA) Four years after a tsunami struck Japan and caused the Fukushima nuclear reactor disaster, Here & Now’s Robin Young checks in with a defender of nuclear energy about the state of the industry. Guest Jonathan Cobb, adviser on climate change at the World Nuclear Association. Ecos PowerCube® - world’s mobile, solar-powered generator for military and di... Ecos PowerCube® Ecos PowerCube® is the world’s largest, mobile, solar-powered generator. It runs on high power photovoltaic panels that extend from its container combined with an easy to set up wind turbine. Energy is stored in onboard batteries. Self-Sustaining As a self-contained, self-sustaining power station, PowerCube® is uniquely suited to support military and disaster relief efforts, and being housed in a standard shipping container makes it easy to transport via land, air, or sea. On Location Once it arrives on location, PowerCube® can be deployed immediately to generate up to 15KW of electricity. Onboard Systems The electricity generated can be used to power various onboard systems, including communication systems, water treatment systems as well as water distribution systems and much more.

California Shows the World How to Stave Off a Climate Catastrophe Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday ordered steep new cuts in California’s greenhouse gas emissions in a move to show that states and regions can lead the fight against climate change absent a global agreement to stave off catastrophe. The governor’s executive order cuts greenhouse gas emissions in the world’s seventh-largest economy 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. “With this order, California sets a very high bar for itself and other states and nations, but it's one that must be reached—for this generation and generations to come,” Brown said in a statement. The new targets align California with goals already established by the European Union. That’s where the scientists come in. The seven policy options studied, ranging from “progressive/ambitious” cuts to “gradual/deferred” levels, all resulted in “net positive economic benefits for Californians,” the study’s lead author and University of California, Berkeley, professor David Roland-Holst said in a statement.