From Earth Island Journal <[email protected]>
Subject Earth, Wind, Fire, and ... Radioactive Waste
Date November 9, 2019 1:01 AM
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As we head into an increasingly uncertain climate future, what's your backup plan?


** News of the world environment
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NEWSLETTER | NOVEMBER 8, 2019
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** Coffee and Backup Plans
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Two Sundays ago, I woke up to an eerily quiet home. No buzz of the phone alarm, no low whine of the Roomba on the charger, no thrum of the refrigerator. It was the weekend of October 26, and my old house in the Berkeley hills was among the nearly million homes across the California Bay Area that Pacific Gas & Electric had cut off power to in an effort to prevent fires during a spell of dry, windy weather. (The Diablo winds ([link removed]) were sure blowing like the devil that morning!) I welcomed the stillness and the gift of slow-moving time that the day held out to me until I went into the kitchen and discovered — we didn’t have any coffee grounds!

After a bit of a groggy pause and a small round of cursing the husband, who’s the household barista, I pulled out the small shil nora (mortar pestle) my mother had gotten hand-cut for me back in Kolkata and proceeded to grind the coffee beans by hand. It took a while, but I definitely appreciated my morning brew a little extra that day.

The incident reminded me of writer Tom Smith’s essay, “Ecology Fast and Slow ([link removed]) ,” in our special issue exploring our relationship with technology, where he talks about another woman in another far-off land and her backup grinding stone. The basic question Smith posits in his piece is: what fallback do we have, when the many technologies, the numerous gadgets and gizmos that we depend on so much in our everyday lives, are suddenly rendered useless?

As we head into an increasingly uncertain future on a warming planet, it seems to be a question we all need to ponder on more urgently.
Maureen Nandini Mitra
Editor, Earth Island Journal
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** Radioactive Waste Linked to North St. Louis Cancers ([link removed])
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After years of raising the alarm about the health impact of World War II-era radioactive waste dumped near their homes, North St. Louis residents have finally gotten one step closer to the restitution they deserve. This year, federal scientists affirmed the link between the waste, which is a legacy of the federal Manhattan Project, and increased incidences of certain cancers in their Coldwater Creek neighborhood. If the EPA fulfills a recent promise, shovels should hit ground on the cleanup within two years.
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** What the Seagrass Says ([link removed])
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Seagrasses don’t get the attention of, say, corals, despite the fact that they provide essential habitat, prop up marine food webs, store carbon, and help mitigate ocean acidification. But that doesn’t mean seagrasses are A-OK. Unfortunately, these underwater plants are disappearing at a rate of about two football fields an hour, offering us yet another warning about the degradation of our oceans that we’ve ignored for far too long.

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** In Brazil, Oil on the Beaches ([link removed])
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More than two months ago, oil mysteriously began washing up on beaches in northeastern Brazil. It’s still not clear where the oil is coming from, but more of it continues to wash up every day, wreaking havoc on local fishing industries, marine wildlife, and coastal communities. Volunteers from around the country have rallied to assist with the cleanup, but the Bolsonaro government hasn’t yet lent much of a helping hand.

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ICYMI ()
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** Desert Conservation ([link removed])
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Baja California’s dry, rugged landscape — filled with spiny cacti and scurrying scorpions — may seem inhospitable. But if you stop and listen, and look closer, you’ll find it teeming with life. Now a unique organization is working to build a welcoming conservation community in an effort conserve this slice of Mexican desert.

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** Tasty! ([link removed])
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Diners in southeastern Australia like their fish! So much so that they’ve been happily chowing down on a type of grouper previously unknown to science. Thanks to the work of a determined fish expert, who finally beat consumers to the fish market, Epinephelus fuscomarginatus has officially joined the ranks of the 91 other fish in its genus.

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