Trees for Love | Planting Seedlings to Remember Those We Lost to Covid

Washington (GGM) Analysis | September 15, 2021 by author and climate journalist Noreen Wise

On October 24, 2020, when covid was ramping up for another major spike, both physical and economic, Gallant Gold Media hosted a free distribution of native redbud and button bush seedlings, at Parking Lot P at George Mason University in Fairfax Virginia. The campaign was called Trees for Love and the seedlings were being planted to remember those we lost to covid in our communities. Fairfax ReLeaf supplied the free seedlings. The Fairfax Tree Commission was an essential liaison that helped get everything off the ground, which enabled the free seedling distribution to come to fruition by connecting the various organizations while in the middle of a pandemic. 

Gallant Gold Media’s Trees for Love Campaign. Planting trees to remember those we lost to covid. Funded by Fairfax City Reconnect Reimbursement Grant.

It takes a village.

This memorable campaign ended up being the largest community tree planting success in the state of Virginia in 2020. The Burke Centre Conservancy was the largest group of planters, distributing 146 Fairfax ReLeaf free seedlings to their Clusters and residences. The rest of the redbud and button bush seedlings were claimed by Northern Virginia residents, many of whom were moved by friends and family who’d been lost to covid and were searching to find a meaningful way to honor their memory. We’re running this story again, after the little seedlings began waking up this spring in their new homes, and stretched their tiny limbs while reaching for the sun and are now another year older. More than 169 million Americans, 51 percent of population, are fully vaccinated.

As exciting as this may be, the pandemic will never be over for those connected to the 664,000 Americans who lost their lives to covid. Many family and friends are struggling with the heavy loss. Others are coping in whatever way they deem works best for them, for some, this is through nature, and planting trees to remember their loved ones.

Burke Centre Conservancy are big tree planters, here’s a photo from 2019

One such Fairfax County resident is Dawn Zimmerman. Dawn, a Virginia State licensed professional counselor, operating her solo practice Imago Dei Counseling in Fairfax City, attributes her love of nature and gardening and the outdoors to her grandfather, a midwest farmer, as well as spending her childhood in Thailand. Although born in metro Washington DC, Dawn’s father was a State Department Foreign Service Officer. From a young age Dawn seems to have become well-acquainted with the understanding of how important it is to connect with others in our community and let them know we care, especially during a crisis.

Whether it’s Dawn’s close connection to the State Department, her career as a counselor, or her passion for nature, Dawn felt compelled to enrich Northern Virginia with multiple Virginia Native redbuds and button bushes to honor the five family and friends she’s lost to Covid. Dawn wanted us to know more than just their names though, she was eager to share their stories.

Ron Ontko: Dawn’s honorary uncle, passed away from Covid related complications on April 2, 2020 in Hendersonville, NC. He was 89 years old. Ron and his wife Carol, met in Wisconsin, and after college, while in a young couples group at Grace Lutheran Church in Washington, DC,  became good friends with Dawn’s parents. The two couples went on to become lifelong friends. Ron was an avid photographer and devoted ‘Skins fan, but his career was spent in public service. After graduating high school, Ron served in the United States Air Force, before he returned to school. He received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Russian Studies from the University of Wisconsin and then his master’s degree in international law from George Washington University. From there, Ron worked for the NSA, the United States Senate, and the US State Department, which is quite a remarkable resume. Ron Ontko was a Freemason and a Shiner, participating in fundraising for numerous children’s charities. He is survived by his wife Carol of 62 years, as well as his son, Andrew, and daughter, Julie.

Ron Ontko and his wife Carol

Jack “Zeke” Zimmerman: Zeke is Dawn’s uncle, who was lost to Covid related pneumonia on October 21, 2020 at aged 86 in Frederick, MD. Survived by wife Lynn, sons Steve (Andrea) and grandsons Eric and Mark of Memphis, TN; Paul of Wilmington, DE and was predeceased by son John, Silver Spring, MD.  Also survived by Mary Lee Zimmerman, his first wife and the mother of their three sons; Daughter-in-Law Christie (widow of John) and grandchildren John Paul “JP” and Maria. 

Uncle Zeke

The following is a loving tribute written by Zeke’s grandson, Mark Zimmerman:
Zeke Zimmerman was known to many as the “Godfather of DC Metropolitan Area Sandlot Basketball.”  GrandJack lived his life around basketball. He grew up in the Washington, D.C. area and fielded basketball teams. He formed teams from players that he would recruit from across the country. Around 1950, having teams with multiple races was unprecedented. My grandfather did not judge a player based on his skin color, but on his basketball ability. Jack was known as Zeke Zimmerman in the D.C. area. He formed a team called “Zeke’s All-Stars.” This was the first team that had both black and white players in the D.C. area. Because my grandfather did not judge a player based on his race, many black basketball players were able to go to college for basketball or even the NBA. A couple of years ago, he gave me a jersey from the 1950 Zeke’s All-Stars team. This jersey is a symbol of my family’s value of inclusion. It did not matter which race wore this specific jersey. The only thing that mattered was that my grandfather saw talent in that young man, and he wanted to help. My family still holds the values of inclusion and equality in our everyday lives, as we do not judge people based on their skin tone, but on their personality.

Redbud and button bush seedlings planted to remember Zeke Zimerman and Ron Ontko

Below is a State Department obituary with a few extra details provided by Dawn:
Patrick “David” Husar, 67, died May 9, in Arlington, VA. David was born in Lorain, Ohio located on Lake Erie and 30 miles West of Cleveland. At University of Kentucky, where David majored in history, one of his professors encouraged him to consider a career with the Foreign Service. Joining in 1976, Husar served as a consular officer at posts in Pakistan, India, and the Philippines before transitioning to Civil Service. He retired in 2016 and enjoyed long walks around the Washington area, was an avid reader, and was dedicated to his faith. He is survived by his wife, Jonahlyn; a brother Michael; and extended family in the Philippines.

David and Jonalyn Husar
David and Jonalyn Husar

Daniel Lee: Spending a few minutes on Google images to view the architectural designs that Daniel Lee graced upon all of us here in the United States, is sure to inspire. And inspiration is certainly the impulse Mr. Lee appears to have been striving for when he graduated from the Mississippi School of Architecture in 1981 and began his career in classical architecture as an intern with Allen Greenberg. Mr. Greenberg is one of the premier classical architects of the twenty-first century. The son of Protestant missionaries, Mr. Lee’s love of classical architecture sprung from his childhood in Paris, France, surrounded by neoclassical landmarks erected during the reign of Louis XIV and that continued all the way through Louis XVI. Many of us here in Virginia are endowed with an inherent appreciation for classical architecture, which dates back to the founding of our most historic cities. So it’s with great sadness that we lost Mr. Lee to Covid on August 17, 2020, at age 64. Mr. Lee is survived by his wife of 40 years, Leonor Lee, his two sons, Stephen and Christopher, and two daughters, Susanne and Katherine.

Daniel Lee
Daniel Lee and his wife Leonor Lee
Redbud seedling planted to remember Daniel Lee

There’s an additional friend of the family. In Dawn’s own words:
Pat Purcell died from Covid related complications on May 11th, 2020 in Fairfax, VA. Pat resided in the same Senior living community as my mom and was the elderly mother of Ann Lawrence, a friend of my parents from their local Lutheran Church. Mom and Pat became friends but lived on different floors and in different areas of the building. Interestingly, Pat was actually a member of a local Baptist Church but was adopted by the Lutheran pastor, Rev Sandy Kessinger who made regular visits to their Continuing Care Community. 

Redbud seedlings planted to remember Pat Purcell

Dawn spent 10 years working at the State Department before starting her counseling firm. After buying her townhouse, she became involved with her HOA replanting project, which she finds life affirming. During the first five years, Dawn planted five trees, as well as a slew of shrubs and perennials. Dawn was sidelined from her gardening last year following two minor car accidents which required physical therapy. But thankfully, she returned with all her passion and began removing hundreds of “small, weedy Rose of Sharon saplings and bush honeysuckle” that were rapidly spreading in the HOA areas. She’d learned about the importance of growing Virginia Natives and was determined to correct the situation.

Dawn’s Virginia native Trees for Love redbud and buttonbush seedlings are planted in three HOA areas in Dawn’s Northern Virginia townhouse community. Dawn received a note from one family member who expressed, “That’s perfect; thank you. Not just words but heartfelt, tears flowing, gratitude.”

When I asked Dawn for one final thought on the importance of planting trees, she responded with a quote from Oliver Wendell Holmes: 
“When we plant a tree, we are doing what we can to make our planet a more wholesome and happier dwelling-place for those who come after us if not for ourselves.”

Thanks so much, Dawn! You are a great inspiration to so many. 

When Dawn and I had tea on Wednesday, she explained that she planted more seedlings this spring, to remember the additional friends who lost their lives to covid after her October seedling planting. She spoke about how therapeutic nature is, and the wonderful peaceful feeling we can all receive when we stick our hands in the soil and carefully place the bare roots in the awaiting space where the sapling will soon take root and begin its slow and steady climb toward the sky.

© Copyright 2018 – 2021. ALL Rights Reserved.


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School Buses with White Roofs Lower the Heat | Albedo Effect

Washington (GGM) Analysis | September 14, 2021 by author and climate journalist Noreen Wise

Many decision makers in our towns as well as local businesses and corporate office parks are aware of the albedo effect and apply the principles. We can see this with our own eyes as we drive through our towns and cities. Large sports arenas and convention centers seem to glow in the sun, many with their white exteriors and white roofs. I hiked up a mountain over the weekend and was startled to look out and see the bright white church steeples, metallic silver domes covering silos, and a few other gleaming white rooftops on buildings dotting the rural landscape. Another excellent example of the albedo effect principles being applied all around us is the widespread use of white roofs on public school buses in communities across the country. My county in Virginia has white-topped school buses.

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In 1992, Brunswick County, North Carolina decided to run a pilot program to gauge the effectiveness of white roofs on school buses to lower the temperature. They’d learned about the white tops being used in California and Florida. California had begun applying albedo principles to school buses 20 years earlier. The Brunswick County pilot ran from August through December that year. At the conclusion, they found that the white roofs:

  • lowered the temperature by 10 degrees
  • lowered the temperature by 17 degrees during peak hours
  • and only lowered the temperature by 3 or 4 degrees in the winter

Heart of the Matter. Chair of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, Kathy Castor (FL-D) said at a recent hearing, “We are all dealing with the devastating consequences of a rapidly warming planet. In the past 5 years, about 4,000 Americans have died from extreme wether events. Every year we lose about 700 Americans to heat related deaths.” Experts have gone on record stating officially that heat has a direct negative impact on our health.

Chelsea, Massachusetts has taken protecting the health and well-being of school children to the next level. According to WBUR in Boston, Chelsea Massachusetts just finished installing two white roofs on their two public middle schools this past July 2021. Their objective was to lower the heat in the classrooms, as well as the area surrounding the school. Chelsea is an oppressive heat island, North of Boston, across form Logan airport and is considered one of the hottest cities in Massachusetts. In addition to lowering the heat in the classroom for the students, according to WBUR, the Superintendent, Almi Abeyta, is also looking forward to the lower cost of electricity that will free up some money in the school budget.

Chelsea elementary schools are up next for the white roofs. Additionally, the city planner, Ben Cares, explained they also plan to replace the asphalt with a lighter material.

Here’s what Gallant Gold Media can do for you! When you buy an Eco Green Tee, you’re helping educate the public on climate change, promote climate action, and fund habitat restoration projects in Environmental Justice communities which will help alleviate heat islands, insufferable air pollution, and boost carbon storage.

I’m personally and professionally very excited about the two white roofs reducing carbon emissions and also having two more buildings added to the growing collection around the world that will help reflect the sun’s energy and make up for the shrinking icecaps. August 20, 2021 was yet another alarming global warming red flag. It rained for the first time in recorded history on Greenland’s summit. According to the Sierra Club, 337,000 square miles of Greenland’s ice sheet, experienced surface flooding and 7 billion tons of water flooded the summit.

Active measures such as these — switching to white roofs on buildings and buses, and lighter ground surfaces to reduce deadly heat — are what every community should be rushing to do to save lives in this new high heat era. We have the ability to lower the heat. We must act.

No rose without thorns. —French Proverb. Groundbreaking YA book series for all ages. Not only a gripping modern day nail-biter with Machiavellian villains, but also one that opens our eyes to the brutal war going on beneath our feet that controls our destiny, despite our obliviousness to this potentially civilization-destroying threat.

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List of Top 10 High Albedo Sports Arenas | Lowering the Heat

Washington (GGM) Analysis | September 7, 2021 by author and climate journalist Noreen Wise

High albedo is a vitally important climate solution, that will not only lower indoor temperatures and curb carbon emissions, but will also help reflect the sun’s energy, making up for the decreased sun reflection of our shrinking icecaps. 

The threat of the smaller white icecaps has been highlighted in several powerful recent documentaries, one of which was A Life on Our Planet, in which Sir David Attenborough highlighted that forcers such as smaller white icecaps are now causing warming to increase at an increasing rate, which has scientists very concerned. 

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In light of this looming peril, and following the release of last month’s IPCC Report in which the IPCC warned that we only have 11 years to fix this, Chairwoman of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, Kathy Castor (FL-D) was recently interviewed and stated boldly and decisively for all to understand: “It’s a call to action. It’s a call to immediate action.”

Sports arenas, as well as many convention centers and hotels in the hottest cities around the country, were developed in high albedo colors and materials, and now serve as great role models in this new era of high heat. High albedo is their rule of thumb. Too many empty seats in steaming hot arenas forced them into action. They responded to the crisis with innovative solutions that reversed the trend. 

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Let’s all do the same. In fact, this is what the IPCC and scientists around the globe are hoping for. That we all rush to reverse the trend with innovative solutions. 

The following is a very subjective list of the Top 10 High Albedo Sports Arenas in US. To be honest, it appears that nearly every sports arena in the world has high albedo which is a bold statement in and of itself.

The list of international high albedo sports arenas is long, but the stunning National Stadium in Singapore, with its massive white dome, is a standout.

What colors do you see when you drive through your county? In Northern Virginia, it’s plainly clear that high albedo is the rule of thumb for hotels, hospitals and large office complexes and appears to be the standard recommendation of developers of large spaces. The Pentagon, which opened its doors in 1943, is a great example of moderately high albedo in its massive complex that employs 35,000 people.

I’m thus confused about the choices made by residential developers who defy these principles and instead choose to nail down black roofs and often use darker materials on exterior walls like red brick. It’s time to turn this around. 

No rose without thorns. —French Proverb.
Groundbreaking YA book series for all ages. Not only a gripping modern day nail-biter with Machiavellian villains, but also one that opens our eyes to the brutal war going on beneath our feet that controls our destiny, despite our obliviousness to this potentially civilization-destroying threat.

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Boosting Albedo Everywhere Is a Climate Solution

Washington (GGM) Analysis | September 4, 2021 by author and climate journalist Noreen Wise

After a summer of unprecedented weather events, with hundreds of deaths and many billions of dollars in damages, the IPCC Report released on August 8, 2021, fell on open ears. We all stopped to process the urgent warnings.

CODE RED for humanity. We must make immediate changes.  These bold and chilling declarations were blasted through the vast major media outlets worldwide, as well as millions of podcasts, billions of private conversations, and trillions of social media posts. Articles such as the one by US New and World Report in July 2021, informing us that climate change already results in an extra 5 million deaths per year, provided real time data of just how forcefully climate change is crashing down on us. 

Get daily climate action tips by joining Act Now for the Earth Cafe and have fun learning the amazing & valuable tips that will help the earth recover from the staggering damage of climate change. Cafe communities are the new big thing. Sustainability is all about community. We’d greatly value you being part of our ecosystem by CLICKing here today and joining the conversation at  Earth Cafe!

And then there were this week’s extreme weather events to drive home the point. This is how traumatic it is at only 1ºC+. But the world is currently on a trajectory of 3ºC. The IPCC recently advised that if we rush and do what’s necessary, we’ll be able to stay below 2ºC. But even 2ºC seems unendurable.

Heart of the matter. “Without the white icecaps less of the sun’s energy is reflected back out to space, and the speed of global warming increases.” —Sir David Attenborough, A Life On Our Planet

The speed of global warming increasing at an increasing rate due to the shrinking icecaps, is motivation to sprint so that we have the time to make the necessary systemic changes to our infrastructure, as well as transition individual daily household and personal behaviors to eco-friendly, sustainable and green behaviors in a circular economy.

At a symposium in London in the spring of 2009, Nobel Laureate and President Obama’s Secretary of Energy at the time, Stephen Chu, boldly announced to the crowd that whitening all the roofs and pavements in the world would be the equivalent of removing all cars on the planet for 11 years.  He didn’t mean this literally of course, but rather as a powerful illustration that we’d all be able to identify with.

This cool phenomenon is known as the albedo effect. Albedo is the ability of surfaces to reflect the sun’s energy, just like the polar icecaps. Albedo is measured in increments from 0 to1, with 0 being the darkest colors that absorb the sun’s energy which become quite hot, and 1 being the the coolest colors that reflect the the sun’s energy the best and keep everything cool. 

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Albedo levels:

  • Black – albedo 0
  • Green grass – albedo .25
  • Desert sands – .40
  • Newly poured concrete – .55
  • White – .8
  • Metallic silver – .9
  • Perfect mirror – albedo 1

Stephen Chu emphasized the three main benefits of whitening roofs and pavements:

  • Immediately cools a building’s interior which drives down use of air conditioning.
  • Results in lower energy use, which cuts costs and lowers carbon emissions.
  • White and lighter colors reflect the sun’s energy (which will make up for lost icecaps).

Next Steps:

Stephen Chu’s urgent recommendations were made 12 years ago. Many large convention centers, sports arenas, coliseums followed through exactly as suggested and rebuilt their stadiums applying the ideal albedo colors. We have to do the same on an individual level.

  • Switch roof on our houses to white or a much lighter color, no black.
  • If your normal re-roofing is scheduled for 2 years from now, move it up and re-roof immediately.
  • Is your driveway black asphalt? Quickly transition to concrete or paint it non-reflective white.
  • From now on, go with light colored cars.
  • Form an albedo committee in your town and lobby local government to paint town parking lots white, school roofs, libraries, and all surfaces.

Good Luck! Staying below 2ºC is the most precious gift we can give our children. They’ll never forgive us if we don’t succeed at this.

No rose without thorns. —French Proverb. Groundbreaking YA book series for all ages. Not only a gripping modern day nail-biter with Machiavellian villains, but also one that opens our eyes to the brutal war going on beneath our feet that controls our destiny, despite our obliviousness to this potentially civilization-destroying threat.

Subscribe to Force of Nature to stay connected to the insights we provide in our effort to accelerate the transition to a sustainable, eco-friendly, carbon neutral global community. Click here to subscribe.

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Golf Courses and the “Good Life” May Kill You

Washington (GGM) Analysis | August 24, 2021 by Michael Wells

You do not need to be a character in a Lifetime movie to be poisoned by arsenic. Same goes for some other deadly chemical. Just spend time on a golf course or near one. Contrary to what golf affocinadios claim, golf courses are not good for the environment even though many of the courses look like a cross between Xanadu and Shangri La. Pesticides, herbicides, rodenticides and other chemicals abound on golf courses, according to Fred Siegel’s book Environmental Hazards: Are you Exposed?, and they seep into the soil and run off onto property nearby.

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Heart of the matter. In reality, golf courses are not any different than nuclear sites, chemical dumps, and most any other place where toxic chemicals are dumped, buried, or deposited. What makes them more troubling, perhaps, is they masquerade as environmental improvements. 

For example, on Long Island, 52 golf courses applied 192 different pesticides containing 50 different active ingredients, Siegel writes, and it was later found that these courses averaged 7 pounds of pesticides per acre when the national average was 1.5 pounds per acre. 

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In Virginia, the Battlefield Golf Club was built out of 1.5 million tons of toxic coal ash, and its owners sued Dominion Resources for selling them the coal ash laden dirt used to build the golf course. The course is situated in a planned community, and the EPA deemed the water underneath the course contaminated. A contractor hired by Dominion found more than double the acceptable limits of arsenic as well as high amounts of chromium, lead, beryllium, magnesea, and zinc. One of the developers sued Dominion for contracting kidney cancer, and 383 residents sued for over $1 billion in damages. URS Corporation, the company Dominion hired to test the course, found the course was basically an “open dump”. The groundwater under the course threatened the aquifer supplying water to all the residents. 

In Cape Cod , the Conservation Law Foundation sued Willowbend Country Club for dumping toxic nitrogen pollution into the water. 

These are but a few examples, but this is happening everywhere. And very few people living near golf courses are ever asked (or told) about it. Most troubling is that children are the most vulnerable. But, for whatever reason, golf is associated with the “good life,” but sometimes the “good life” will kill you. Talk about a farce.

How this impacts you personally. Maybe you do not golf or think you live near a golf course, but golf courses are everywhere and often near bodies of water. Their chemicals spread through the water and the air like so many other toxic sites in America. They may look pretty, but they are heavily polluted and pose risks to those far beyond their borders. 

If you live in North America, you live near a golf course more than likely.

What you can do. There are a few things you can do. Never play golf, or, if you have, stop playing. Refuse to live on or near a golf course. Show up at zoning meetings open to the public, and say you do not want developers building golf courses in your town. It may not work, but, if enough people speak up, perhaps it will slow their growth.

Here’s what Gallant Gold Media can do for you! When you buy an Eco Green Tee, you’re helping educate the public on climate change, promote climate action, and fund habitat restoration projects in Environmental Justice communities which will help alleviate heat islands, insufferable air pollution, and boost carbon storage.

Next Steps

Golf is tied to the chemical industry, so fighting golf course development is really about stopping chemical companies such as Dow Chemicals from polluting. To that end, people can:

  • Contact their local, state, and federal officials and complain about golf course development, which is really golf course pollution;
  • Find out which chemical companies manufacture chemicals used on golf courses and protest these companies as well as boycott them; 
  • Google golf course lawsuits, and read more about them. If you do, you will realize these cases are no different than coal ash in North Carolina or the Hanford superfund site. 

Golf courses are the same as any other environmental problem, but they are not as obvious until you learn all about the toxic chemicals necessary to keep them looking pristine. And people should not have to be poisoned, get cancer, and die just because looks can be (and are) deceiving. You shouldn’t have to die for a cliche to be true. 

No rose without thorns. —French Proverb. Groundbreaking YA book series for all ages. Not only a gripping modern day nail-biter with Machiavellian villains, but also one that opens our eyes to the brutal war going on beneath our feet that controls our destiny, despite our obliviousness to this potentially civilization-destroying threat.

Subscribe to Force of Nature to stay connected to the insights we provide in our effort to accelerate the transition to a sustainable, eco-friendly, carbon neutral global community. Click here to subscribe.

© Copyright 2018 – 2021. ALL Rights Reserved.

Top Tips for Staying Alive While Working In the Heat

Washington (GGM) Analysis | August 19, 2021 by author and climate journalist Noreen Wise

Heat can hurt, warned UCLA Assistant Professor of Public Policy Dr. R. Jisung Park in a Twitter thread last month. “In unexpected ways, even indoors,” Park emphasized along with images highlighting the data that supported his assertions. Millions of Americans suffered through a scorching heat wave that punished the Pacific Northwest from late June to mid July, 2021. The staggering temperature highs jolted mayors and governors across five states. “Hotter temperature increases workplace injuries significantly,” Park stated point blank in one tweet.

With so many enduring the negative impact of the heat, and with the IPCC Report confirming last week that we are now above 1ºC and will remain there for at least 20-30 years, (although scientists are very concerned temperatures will climb even higher, possibly at an exponential rate if we don’t act now to lower carbon emissions), the public must demand that OSHA rush to establish national Heat Index Standards to protect employees from the dangers while on the job.

The federal Occupational Safety and Hazards Administration (OSHA) was created on April 28, 1971 after 100 years of workers demanding protection from the torturous conditions endured during the boom in factory jobs that arose during Reconstruction, following the Civil War and beyond. Massachusetts was the first state to pass factory inspection laws in 1877. By 1890, the number rose to 9 states with factory inspection laws. Does this sound familiar? We’ve been experiencing this kind of grueling, slow motion response with curbing carbon emissions for decades. Millions of citizens protest and demand action, but legislative follow through is dangerously slow.

Get daily climate action tips by joining Act Now for the Earth Cafe and have fun learning the amazing & valuable tips that will help the earth recover from the staggering damage of climate change. Cafe communities are the new big thing. Sustainability is all about community. We’d greatly value you being part of our ecosystem by CLICKing here today and joining the conversation at  Earth Cafe!

With temperatures rising, and multiple employees dying at work in the unprecedented heatwaves of 2021, there’s no time for delay. We must call our local, state, and federal representatives and demand that OSHA act now.

According to OSHA, the heat index is the combination of air temperature combined with humidity to create a value that is usually significantly higher than the actual air temperature. The AccuWeather app refers to this as RealFeel.

OSHA has never had specific heat index standards that cover employees working in hot environments. They do have strong messaging about “water, rest, shade” on their web page: Using the Heat Index: a Guide of Employers, but it’s not required and there’s no legal liability if employers do not provide these three essentials.

On July 8, 2021, Oregon’s OSHA established temporary agency standards that applied to both indoor and outdoor work environments where the temperature in the work area was 80ºF or higher. These emergency standards went even further if temperatures exceeded 90ºF. The temporary heat index standards will stay in effect until permanent heat index standards are passed. California and Washington have also adopted heat standards. But there are approximately 30 million Americans who work outdoors in the heat, and we have 47 states that do no have any employer requirements when the temperature skyrockets.

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Under Oregon OSHA’s Temporary Heat Standard, employers must:

  • Provide shade area that meets certain specifications
  • Provide 32 oz of dinking water every hour
  • Provide training for all employees, in whatever language they speak, to educate on: environmental and personal risk factors for heat illness, as well as employee rights and obligations under the heat standard, acclimatization, common signs and symptoms, factors affecting tolerance of heat stress, and how to quickly report.
  • In high heat, with temperatures above 90ºF, employers must create a communication channel between an employee working alone and a supervisor; a mandatory buddy system for others; one designated employee per worksite who’s authorized to call for emergency medical services; ten minutes in the shade every two hours; and implementation of acclimatization practices. 
  • Establish an Emergency Medical Plan
  • Review work sites to determine how these new rules will apply to their sites
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We know that heat is here to stay and will only be getting worse. Our inability to move quickly will cost lives. There’s already so much at stake with climate change. Let’s learn from our past mistakes of inaction, to create a safer tomorrow as we all face, and try to manage, a very oppressive enemy—high heat.

No rose without thorns. —French Proverb.
Groundbreaking YA book series for all ages. Not only a gripping modern day nail-biter with Machiavellian villains, but also one that opens our eyes to the brutal war going on beneath our feet that controls our destiny, despite our obliviousness to this potentially civilization-destroying threat.

Subscribe to Force of Nature to stay connected to the insights we provide in our effort to accelerate the transition to a sustainable, eco-friendly, carbon neutral global community. Click here to subscribe.

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Top 9 Immediate Concerns with Extreme Heat

Washington (GGM) Analysis | August 18, 2021 by author and climate journalist Noreen Wise

Human civilization evolved during the most stable climate conditions in the history of the Earth. Scientists refer to this era as The Holocene Epoch, a period of global temperature variations rising and falling between +/-1ºC, but never exceeding the +1ºC. This stability provided more than ten thousand years of reliable four seasons and predictable weather patterns. 

Now, for the very first time, we are above 1ºC. There is global alarm. Scientists are warning that we’re meeting this formidable foe decades earlier than expected. That with the melting icecaps, temperatures will rise much more rapidly. Many scientists warn that the temperatures might actually skyrocket exponentially. 

We are seeing other remarkable changes across the planet that are challenging the limits of our understanding of the climate system. We are now in truly uncharted territory.

World Climate Research Program Director David Carlson
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The sixth IPCC Report, released Monday August 9, 2021, outlines that scientists have no data or compass to accurately predict the future, nor accurately calculate the impact the extreme heat will have on every aspect of our lives. Reaching this dreadful heat marker this early has caught us off guard, and requires immediate action to curb the life-threatening negative impact.

Heart of the matter. Below are the top 9 immediate heat concerns to wrap our minds around. We should view each from the perspective of a citizen scientist: a learning experience to document and share with others.

  1. Work Performance. According to UCLA Assistant Professor for Public Policy Dr. Jisung Park, “heat hurts.” “Using data covering the universe of injury claims from the nations largest worker’s compensation claims,” Park and colleagues explored the link between heat and workplace safety and determined that injuries are more likely when temperatures are above a heat index of 90ºF.
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  1. Food Supply. Drought across the United States farmland in 2021 has dramatically reduced crop yield and impacted our overall food supply. Although the amount of rain is important, and having little of it causes great concern, the more notable telltale is soil moisture. Regenerative farmers and ranchers like Gabe Brown in North Dakota, have worked hard for decades to strengthen soil health on their land using an armor of diverse cover crops. This practice locks in soil moisture, which protects their crops in the event of a drought. But in general, according to Successful Farming: “Soil moisture levels, nationally, declined fast, with topsoil and subsoil both down 4% in adequate/surplus.” Conditions for conventional farmers are not looking good for a profitable harvest this autumn. Additionally, the public was advised several years ago to begin planting our own vegetables in case our food supply was threatened. Those of us who did, may have noticed that tomatoes don’t pollinate in high heat this summer and we only netted a few tomatoes per plant in Northern Virginia.
  2. Water. Years of drought out West have resulted in cascading negative fallout that has crimped the daily routines of millions of Americans. A water shortage has just been declared at Lake Meade along the Colorado River in Nevada. Lake Meade, now at a trifling 34 percent of capacity, is the largest reservoir in the US and supplies 25 million people with their water. Water restrictions have been established in many communities.
  3. Pets. Pets are often left in cars when owners dash into the grocery store or post office. Pets can die of heatstroke in 15 minutes in a hot car, and cracking the window won’t help. Further, asphalt is 40-60 degrees hotter than the air temperature, so walking our dogs on the scorching hot asphalt without little booties will fry their paws.
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  1. Explosions. There have been multiple random explosions at sites in the US and abroad, several of which have resulted in tragic deaths. These need to be properly investigated so we can learn if heat is causing spontaneous combustion. There are thousands of hazardous waste sites around the country, some of which are nuclear. Extreme heat has the potential to result in catastrophic blowback at all of these sites.
    
  2. Infrastructure. Extreme turbulence will become more common as the weather heats up and has the potential to result in passenger planes being violently tossed around, which may result in structural damage. New safety standards should be established in light of this potential constant stressor. Trains, subways, buses, and bridges are made of steel which expands in the heat. Cars have many plastic parts that can melt in the heat.
  1. Home Construction Safety Standards. The list is long and wide. Roofs must be reinforced to withstand the stronger winds and heavier rains. Sealants applied to exterior building walls will protect against frequent heavy downpours. New buildings should be required to have white roofs and white walls to reflect the sun’s energy.
  2. Lightning. Climate change has resulted in stronger and more frequent lightning strikes. In fact, three are more than 100 lightning strikes per second. One million lightning strikes that hit the ground per day. The vast majority of wildfires are started by lightning strikes. We need to make sure that our homes, and all structures, are grounded properly. New grounding standards should be established.
  3. Mental Health. According to American Psychiatric Association, extreme heat negatively impacts mental health. Therefore, we should all be mindful of the connection between the two, and be more aware of what symptoms to look for during heat waves.
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CALL TO ACTION. Contact your local, state and federal representatives and demand:

  • New OSHA protocols for those who work outside.
  • New building standards that guarantee roofs will be made much stronger, and exposed walls have a weather protection sealant. 
  • New requirements for new development homes be constructed with white roofs, and that parking lots and roads be painted white.
  • Lightning is bigger, badder and more frequent with the heat; all buildings need to be grounded, and grounded shelters should be required at all parks.
  • Stronger turbulence will undermine the safety of airplanes. There must be higher safety standards for planes as well as trains, subways and bridges made of steel. Melting plastic car bumpers are one thing, but engine tubes are another issue all together. Consumers shouldn’t have to shoulder the burden of melting auto parts.

We’re all citizen scientists now. We should be taking notes about how the heat impacts every aspect of our lives and sharing details through social media so that we can learn from each other. Drinking plenty of water in the heat is essential. And remember, never chug ice cold water after being out in the heat, we can shock our bodies.

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Climate Change Heat Impacts America’s Favorite Pastime | Sports

Washington (GGM) Analysis | August 13, 2021 byNoreen Wise, author, climate journalist, Act Now community Designer

America’s passion for professional sports, particularly baseball, is under severe threat from climate change. With our favorite pastime now in peril, it becomes a powerful wake up call that should motivate us into quick action. 

The intense heat during summer months is impacting both the enjoyment and health of fans and players alike. More must be done as quickly as possible. There were hundreds of deaths during the sweltering heat that gripped the country last month. UCLA Professor R. Jisung Park noted during his recent testimony at a hearing on environmental justice in front of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, that “heat hurts.” Park provided data outlining the grave health risks for those working outdoors in the intense heat. Although his testimony pertained to data collected in EJ communities, the same health threat also applies to anyone working outdoors, including athletes. Park warned that “heat increases injuries above 90 degrees Fahrenheit by 15 percent.” Park pointed out that those in their twenties and thirties are more likely to be injured than those in their forties and fifties.

According to AccuWeather, Dylan Bundy, starting pitcher for the Los Angeles Angels, threw up at the pitcher mound at the bottom of the second in a game against the New York Yankees played in New York last month. Bundy was walked off the field by a trainer in the record heat. The temperature reached 92 degrees that day with a RealFeel of 100 degrees.

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  • High temperatures have resulted in several teams reinventing their stadiums. The Miami MarlinsHouston Astrosas well as four others are now equipped with air-conditioned stadiums with retractable roofs to ensure the well being of all in attendance.
  • Other teams adapt by changing their playing schedule, going to bat at midnight. This might be enjoyable on a summer Saturday night, but would be a nightmare during the week.
  • Wrigley Field in Chicago was dangerously hot this past July, with the heat index temperature reaching 107 degrees. The stadium set up cooling stations and offered fans free ice backs. Coaches were on a mission to keep the players hydrated. This required a significant amount of work and was clearly a borderline health risk. Hopefully, the powers that be are taking notes and finding a better solution for the future. This wasn’t a one-off but is rather a dire climate emergency that will escalate.
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  • In October 2018, not a single American sports stadium made the top 5 sustainable stadiums in the world ranking. (1) Amersterdam Arena,  Netherlends (2) National Stadium, Taiwan (3) Mineral Stadium, Brazil (4) Fisht Stadium, Russia (5) Khalifa International Stadium, Qatar.
  • However, the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta has deemed itself the “‘most sustainable sports venue in the world.'” 
    • 4,000 solar panel
    • 2 millions gallons of stormwater capture
    • Water conservation 
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  • The first “Zero Waste Super Bowl” was held in 2019 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minnesota. The mission was to maximize recycling. The success rate reached 90%.
  • Recycling at America’s massive sports complexes must become a VERY big deal if we are to lower the carbon needle. It’s much more simple than most realize. There are now regional composting services that will assist with this. According to the Sloan Blog, Patrick Boyle, the Sloan Director of Corporate Sustainability, lowering waste at stadiums is a matter of limiting choices so that all refreshments are served using compostable plates and cups. This enables all waste to be thrown away in the same bin and picked up by one truck.
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Some sustainability focused stadiums are taking climate action one step further and getting players involved in educating fans on the importance of recycling and sustainability. The Sloan Blog notes that stars are assuring the public that “Ordinary people can make a difference.”

No rose without thorns. —French Proverb.
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Deadly Lightning, Beware | Climate Change

Washington (GGM) Analysis | July 13, 2021 by author and climate journalist Noreen Wise

Climate change impacts everything connected to weather, down to the small details. From the heat of a forest fire, to the strength of a hurricane, the amount of moisture in clouds, and the force of rain microbursts (rain bombs), down to the size and intensity of a lightning strike. 

Lightning strikes can kill, and are far more dangerous than 20 years ago when our atmospheric carbon level was only 370 ppm. (Today we’re at 416.72 ppm.) The National Weather Service keeps track of lightning deaths. Florida appears to be the state with the most frequent deaths by lightning. Walking along the beach during a storm is usually what nets the fatal outcome. Texas is close behind, with most of the deaths occurring while men are doing yard maintenance or working hard at a construction sight. The vast majority of deaths are men, 78 percent, and most often take place in yards, parks, beaches, and trails. From 2008-2018, the United States averaged approximately 30 deaths per year, although 2016 was a record breaker at 40 deaths.

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I’m still shaken by a recent near miss when I was out running in the evening last month and a storm rolled in. I was half way though 5K, and was pushing my luck, when I decided to keep on going despite the threatening dark clouds. No sooner did that thought pass through my mind, that an enormous lightning bolt stabbed the ground nearby. I screamed, dashed to my car and sped away. I now speculate that that’s what most likely happens to those who have met a grim fate. We keep doing what we were doing despite the pending storm, and rely more on what our weather app might show. That was my mistake anyway. (App indicated the deep red blob was 30 minutes away.) Approximately 10 percent of the lightning deaths occur when the shelter is struck by lightning. Most seek shelter under a tree.

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The heart of the matter. As explained in the Environment Journal, thunderstorms are a result of convection. The “heating of the earth’s surface by sunlight and infrared radiation causes water to condense as buoyant air rises.” Further, Sir David Attenborough explains in his powerful documentary A Life on Our Planetthe melting icecaps result in “less of the sun’s energy is reflected back out to space.” Thus, connecting these two dots, we should understand that whenever we see a news flash about the melting glaciers, be aware that this means more intense lightning bolts.

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Lightning is to be feared, not admired. It can cause an enormous amount of damage. Further, lightning starts most of the forest fires. As mesmerizing as it may be, again, it’s extremely dangerous. Don’t trust your app, trust what you see right in front of you.

Lightning facts:

∙approximately 100 lightning strikes per second across globe
∙lightning strikes the ground 8 million times a day
∙there will be a 12% increase in the number of daily lightning strikes with every 1°C warming
∙the IPCC report just revealed that global warming has increased by  2ºC, which boosts daily lightning strikes significantly
∙the air that lighting cuts through is instantly 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit, 5 times hotter than the sun’s surface
∙lightning is bigger, badder & more destructive due to climate change

Towns and cities should be required to install the proper lightning infrastructure to protect citizens and property. Parks should be required to build safe lightning shelters.

Lightning Infrastructure:

∙lightning detection system
∙lightning warning system
∙lightning grounding system

Lightning is random and unpredictable. It’s a universal threat that impacts all 50 states. 

No rose without thorns. —French Proverb.
Groundbreaking YA book series for all ages. Not only a gripping modern day nail-biter with Machiavellian villains, but also one that opens our eyes to the brutal war going on beneath our feet that controls our destiny, despite our obliviousness to this potentially civilization-destroying threat.

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Top “How To” Tips to Help Make It Rain

Washington (GGM) Analysis | July 6, 2021 by author and climate journalist Noreen Wise

“Soil. Earth. Ground. And due to its vast scale and its ability to sequester immense quantities of greenhouse gases, it could just be the one thing that can balance our climate, replenish our freshwater supply, and feed the world. That’s why some people are racing to save our soil, in hopes that our soil just might save us.” —Award winning documentary, Kiss the Ground

Soil health becomes even more important once we realize our food supply is at risk due to conventional agriculture practices merging with climate change weather events that increase droughts and extreme heat. Currently, according to US Drought Monitor, there are 14 states experiencing extreme and exceptional drought conditions, with the following states having the highest exposure:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • Utah

It’s time to face the music. #ActNow on climate by restoring our habitat. Let’s return to the Garden of Eden.

Heart of the matter. In the center of California’s prosperous farm belt in the San Joaquin Valley, farmers are struggling to stay afloat after four years of extreme drought. In June 2021, the Fresno Bee published an article with the headline: San Joaquin Valley needs to stop waiting to be rescued. The piece outlined that the Bureau of Reclamation issued an update for the Central Valley Project for Agriculture informing farmers that water deliveries to famers were being reduced from 5% to 0%. Farmers would now have to rely on groundwater, which would likely be challenging due to reduced snowpack and little to no rain.

Pioneer soil health expert, and North Dakota rancher, farmer and author, Gabe Brown, knows the perils all too well and has been working tirelessly since the mid-nineties to educate and promote the six principles of regenerative agriculture to farmers across the country in an effort to help prevent the precarious downward spiral that leads to soil degradation when heat and drought set in. Additionally, Gabe was invited to speak to the House Agriculture Committee back in spring 2021 about the impact of climate change on farming.

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I recently spoke with Gabe and asked him what he recommended for homeowners in states experiencing drought conditions. Is it better to conserve water, or plant diverse no mow plants? He explained that the regenerative soil health principles are the same everywhere, and can be applied despite tough conditions. He suggested the following:

  • Plant diverse native species that are low water users.
  • We need living plants in order to get more rainfall (“people don’t often believe this, but it’s true”).
  • Living plants attract moisture conditions.
  • Plus they emit moisture.
  • Way better off to grow something than not.
  • We’re compounding the problem by NOT growing things.
  • Need to grow the right kind of plant that can tolerate these conditions.
  • Not only will plants create rain, they’ll also boost soil health and store more carbon above and below ground.

This can seem challenging to wrap our minds around, so I better repeat. If we want rain, we have to start planting the right native species. Live roots in the ground, generate the rain.

Next Steps

  • A quick search online populates lists of plants that grow well in drought conditions.
  • Become a citizen scientist and test to see which species grow best in your community.
  • Diverse mix of no mow, drought tolerant grasses are ideal.
  • Once we feel more certain about which plants will survive we can pass the word to neighbors as well as the environmental department at town hall. Collective action will turn us all into rainmakers.
  • Let’s give it our best shot.

Good luck!

No rose without thorns. —French Proverb.
Groundbreaking YA book series for all ages. Not only a gripping modern day nail-biter with Machiavellian villains, but also one that opens our eyes to the brutal war going on beneath our feet that controls our destiny, despite our obliviousness to this potentially civilization-destroying threat.

Subscribe to Force of Nature to stay connected to the insights we provide in our effort to accelerate the transition to a sustainable, eco-friendly, carbon neutral global community. Click here to subscribe.

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