Category: soil

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.

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

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 may show. That was my mistake anyway. (App indicated the deep red blob was 30 minutes away.) Approximately 10% 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 Planet, the 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.

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 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. 

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.

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 Earth Cafe!

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!

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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Gordon Plaza EPA Failures | Environmental & Climate Injustice

Washington (GGM) Analysis | June 29, 2021 by author and climate journalist Noreen Wise

“Responsibility is accepting that you are the cause and the solution of the matter.”
—Anonymous

Following an article written on June 7, 2021 outlining the many decades of suffering that the families of the New Orleans subdivision, Gordon Plaza, have endured as a result of the galling indifference of federal, state and local leaders, and their refusal to take responsibility for the traumatic plight of the Gordon Plaza residents, I sent an email to EPA’s Environmental Justice Division, requesting answers to a few questions: 

Time to face the music. Climate and environmental justice require sacrifices. If nature can do it, we can do it. Click here.

∙What new measures are the EPA implementing to protect residents of Gordon Plaza (who are already dealing with environment hazards) from the climate change impact on these environmental hazards?

∙What is the EPA doing to address the safety of Gordon Plaza residents from the threat of the wet bulb temperature (Gordon Plaza used to be called Danté’s Inferno because of the fires caused from spontaneous combustion), thus it seems possible that this particular land could potentially explode? I cited the recent explosion of Chemtool outside of Chicago that is currently being investigated. I even mentioned that potentially the entire subdivision could explode and everyone could potentially be killed. 

∙The residents are seeking a fully funded relocation which is very reasonable. Why is this being denied?

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The EPA Press Office replied as follows:

“Both the Gordon Plaza Apartments and the Gordon Plaza subdivison were included in the residential property clean up that EPA completed in 2001. Lead was the primary contaminant addressed by the cleanup. The cleanup of the Gordon Plaza residential properties included excavating the top 24 inches of lead-contaminated soil and transporting it off-site for disposal; placing a filter fabric on the subgrade;  then covering the residential properties with 24 inches of clean fill.  Following this cleanup, EPA determined that no additional cleanup actions were necessary to protect human health and the environment at the Agriculture Street Landfill Superfund site.

“EPA conducts a review of Superfund site cleanups at least every five years.  These Five Year Reviews (FYR) include a protectiveness statement to communicate EPA’s most recent evaluation of a cleanup’s protectiveness.  The fourth FYR of EPA’s cleanup (also called the remedy) at the Agriculture Street Landfill Superfund site was completed on September 7, 2018.  The FYR determined the remedy for the residential properties, including the Gordon Plaza apartments and subdivison, is protective of human health and the environment.”


First, the 2001 clean up mentioned in the EPA’s reply, was washed away during Hurricane Katrina. Residents repeatedly asked for the clean fill to be replaced. I could not uncover any documentation that stated that the clean fill had been replaced, nor does the above email reply indicate it was replaced. The most logical conclusion that can be drawn, is that the health and well-being of Gordon Plaza residents have been at grave risk since 2005. The 2019 Louisiana Tumor Registry listed Gordon Plaza as the second highest tumor rate in the entire state of Louisiana. If these alarming facts aren’t of concern to the EPA’s Environmental Justice Division, there doesn’t appear to be many issues that will enable the EPA to meet the public’s expectations of such an important and noble mission as environmental justice.

Adding composting worms to our home composting bins and/or directly to the soil in our yards will dramatically improve the amount of carbon we can store in the soil. Climate solutions are much easier than we realize. Act today! CLICK here.

Second, the FYR on September 7, 2018 was during the Trump Administration which was very vocal in their opposition to regulations. Under Trump, the EPA implemented an aggressive campaign to delete superfund sites from the National Priorities List (NPL). The EPA eliminated a staggering 82 sites. There does not appear to be any plans for the current EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan to review the 82 sites deleted from the NPL to make sure these Trump Administration FYRs were thorough.

Gallant Gold Media will continue to follow the Gordon Plaza environmental & climate injustice story. Gordon Plaza lives matter, too. It’s demeaning for the public to see fellow American families treated with such disdain. It must feel dehumanizing for Gordon Plaza residents to experience so many slammed doors, and the blatant contempt of moral integrity. 

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 7 Natural Deer Repellant Hacks | Garden of Eden

Washington (GGM) Analysis | June 27, 2021 by author and climate journalist Noreen Wise

As we race to restore our habitat, as well as dramatically improve soil health on every acre of land in the US, let’s review the top tricks used to naturally divert deer from our yards. Habitat restoration is also wildlife restoration. Our gardens and no mow lawns will become magnets for deer, birds, pollinators and a few furry rascals.  

Remember though, our primary goal in this urgent effort to drawdown legacy load carbon from the atmosphere is to save what’s left of our two icecaps. “Without our white icecaps, less of the sun’s energy is reflected back out to space, and the speed of global warming increases,” warns Sir David Attenborough in his documentary A Life on Our Planet

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. Deer seem to be perpetually ravenous, and able to devour an entire backyard garden plot in one visit, which can be incredibly distressing after so much time is spent planting and nurturing our landscapes. Thankfully, many determined gardeners across the decades have masterminded clever techniques to help us out.

A combination of several diverse tips may net the most effective results. Diversity seems to be the best solution for everything. As Gabe Brown says, “Follow nature’s ways.” Nature loves diversity.

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 Earth Cafe!

Top Seven Deer Repellent Tips

  1. If your budget allows, fences are extremely effective in keeping deer out of the garden. In fact, since we’e trying to maximize habitat restoration, and need as many diverse species of shrubs, perennials and grasses in the ground as possible, the best option may be to plant a natural fence around your garden or yard using native species like wintergreen box shrubs, holly, etc.
  2. Deer are similar to humans in having preferences in what they do and don’t like to eat. Their strong sense of smell makes them finicky about certain species. These particular species tend to be our favorites like lavender, mint, basil. This works perfectly with no mow tapestry lawns made up of a variety of herbs in the mix. Perhaps lining the lawn entrance and outside border with the most fragrant species. Deer are also fussy about texture. They tend to stay away from prickly, fuzzy and thorny. Roses are a great natural barrier, fragrant and thorny.
  1. Deer have favorite plants, too. These should be placed as close to your house as possible. When buying seeds or seedlings, the packaging may highlight whether the species is a deer fave or repellant. A quick online search will also clarify. For example, deer love hostas and daylilies, so you might want to choose these to line the walls of your house, and / or placed below tees or shrubs that line your house.
  1. Scare tactics work and can be a fun creative project to enjoy with your children. Effective scare tactics include: objects that move such as flags or unique garden ornaments, also wind chimes, or motion activated sprinklers, as well as motion activated garden lights. You can visit Amazon or Google to find a list of products for your particular setting. I hope you’ll consider several, or one of each of these options for maximum effectiveness.
  2. Deer may be extra nimble out in a meadow or flat lawn, but they’re actually quite clumsy when it comes to garden levels and sunken gardens. If you’re overhauling your lawn and have the budget to create tiers, this may be the ideal natural way to keep deer at bay.
  3. Creating DIY smell repellents to fend off deer is another solution. Some gardeners are jazzed by how effective hanging bars of soap or fabric softeners from a tree, fence or post works. There are also rotten egg or garlic mixtures, as well as hot pepper spray.
  4. And then there’s the ultra simple DIY deer repellant hack, stringing clear fishing line two or three feet above the ground, tied to stakes surrounding a particular garden bed that you may be worried about.
Adding composting worms to our home composting bins and/or directly to the soil in our yards will dramatically improve the amount of carbon we can store in the soil. Climate solutions are much easier than we realize. Act today! CLICK here.

We’re all set. Oh, one more thing. I strongly encourage you to stay away from chemical solutions. These products may seem ideal in the short run, saving time and energy, but they kill the microbes in the soil that are working so hard to drawdown carbon. The goal in switching to no mow tapestry lawns and adding extra layers of shrubs and perennials, is to improve soil health, increase carbon drawdown, conserve water, and reduce carbon emissions.

Best of luck in greening p. Let’s maximize carbon drawdown and save our planet.

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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Big Sur Slide Signals Need for Immediate Action on Climate | Soil

Washington (GGM) Analysis | June 16, 2021 by Catherine Zacuto, M. Ed.

Big Sur just lost a section of its famous coast-hugging highway, and it’s not the first time. The super-scenic roadway boasts magnificent views of giant Redwoods to the east and bluest of blue Pacific Ocean to the west. Drivers struggle to keep eyes on the road as the jaw-dropping views captivate their passengers. Being perilously close to the edge of the continent, though, has its dangers. Two recent catastrophic breaks in the road resulted in sections of the highway plunging into the Pacific, hundreds of yards below. Scientists and residents are finding connections between climate change and the damage done to their beloved two-lane road.

What’s the heart of the matter? The beginning of this story is the summer of 2020, when the Dolan Fire burned over 125,000 acres just east of Big Sur. Burn scars near the area can still be seen. Stripping the area of  forests, shrubs and ground cover, the fire left the area vulnerable to soil erosion. Add into the mix a fierce rainstorm which dropped 16 inches of rain in the area. The catastrophic destruction of a 150-foot section of  Highway 1, near Big Sur on January 28, 2021 was anticipated by officials. Acting out of caution and no doubt previous experience, Cal-Trans spokesperson Jim Shivers noted that 40 miles of the highway had already been closed in anticipation of mudslides near the burn scar.

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How does this impact you? We have cause for concern. A “slip-out,” the Los Angeles Times noted, happens when the soil surrounding the road is so full of water that the force of gravity wins and the road falls down the cliff. The “atmospheric river” that triggered this most recent slip-out was basically a moving column of water vapor that brought extraordinary amounts of rain to the coast. According to the Guardian, the amount of rain that dumped on the central coast last week was double the amount the area had, on average, all month.

Place the massive rain event in a burn scarred area, as this one was, and the road had no chance. In burn areas, heavy rainfall causes debris flows that rip up vegetation, choke pipes, and chase people from their homes. There are long-term consequences, as well. Post-fire landslides are a danger for years after the fire. And according to the U.S. Geological Survey, debris flows that happen over a longer period of time result in root decay and loss of soil strength. The soil has little chance of recovery between weather emergencies.

Adding composting worms to our home composting bins and/or directly to the soil in our yards will dramatically improve the amount of carbon we can store in the soil. Climate solutions are much easier than we realize. Act today! CLICK here.

This recent Big Sur slip-out demonstrates the tragic but logical chain of events that resulted in the highway crashing into the sea:

  • massive wildfire 
  • dry landscape
  • ferocious rainstorm

In recent years Californians have seen more evidence of climate change. As high winds and dry vegetation become more common, firefighters can expect to be called into action in any season of the year. Aggravating the situation, some sources, such as Jay Lund writing in the “California WaterBlog,” predict a multi-year drought for the state in the near future. Any one of these events, by itself, poses serious threats. Taken together, they point to the need to act now.

What can you do to help? Climate change affects all of us. You’ve no doubt experienced surprisingly destructive wind, rain, tornadoes, or hurricanes. Snow storms in May. Rising water levels. We know the signs. With science back in fashion, one thing you can do is advocate for change. Stay informed about legislation you can support at the local, state and national levels. Communicate your support for climate change policies. And, as always, remain committed to making a difference by living and modeling a sustainable lifestyle.


Next Steps

  • If you live in a fire-prone area, remove dry brush that fuels fire 
  • Foster lush native trees, plants, and undercover to anchor the soil 
  • Connect with neighbors and friends about ways to slow climate change
  • Volunteer with a local organization working for change
Time to face the music. In order to succeed at carbon drawdown, we have to return to the Garden of Eden. Very exciting! #ActNow Take a listen.

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No Till Soil Is a Climate Solution | Act Now

Washington (GGM) Analysis | June 9, 2021 by Catherine Zacuto, M. Ed.

What can be done about climate change? A lot! Many of us are busy making significant changes in our everyday habits to become more sustainable and lower our carbon footprints. However, there are a few tricks that have yet to be applied on a grand scale, and now’s the time. If you compost, you are part of a growing wave of people concerned about soil health. Because soil stores a significant amount of carbon, keeping it there is vital in the fight against climate change. This is especially significant in agriculture, with its vast acreage. Soil, not to be confused with dirt, is an ecosystem in itself, with millions of microbes and insects which are responsible for plant growth. Maintaining a natural, undisturbed  balance in the soil’s ecosystem leads to a higher level of carbon storage as well as strong, healthy crops. “No-till” farms help make this happen. They are an arrow in our quiver of weapons to fight climate change.

The heart of the matter. Tilling the soil began thousands of years ago, with the invention of the plow. While many iterations of the basic plow emerged over the centuries, the technique’s harmful consequences have only recently become common knowledge. Tilling the soil disrupts its natural covering, leaving it more susceptible to erosion by wind and water. It releases carbon into the air and kills the really important microbes and insects in the soil’s ecosystem. The good news is that no-till farming avoids these damaging outcomes. It’s a technique being used by conservationist farmers doing their part to cultivate healthy, carbon-rich soil.

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 Earth Cafe!

Great civilizations such as Greece and China suffered the consequences of soil erosion due to poor soil cultivation. In ancient Greece, it has been found that soil erosion increased dangerously only after the introduction of the plow. In ancient China, it was deforestation that led to the flooding of vast swaths of land and tragic consequences for towns and villages. Time and again, despite attempts to curb soil erosion by terracing and contour plowing, societies’ destructive practices slowed or stopped crop production. Societies were weakened and left vulnerable to invasions. Growing populations were forced to migrate to new lands. Civilizations collapsed, directly or indirectly, from poor soil management.

The human impact on soil has a long, destructive history, and not much has changed. In recent history, an entire industry developed around artificially improving depleted soil. Using a variety of chemicals on soil across the agricultural fields of the U.S. and beyond “led to an unprecedented increase in food production, but also contributed to global warming and the pollution of aquifers, rivers, lakes, and coastal ecosystems.” And so, the rise of the no-till movement.

Time to face the music. In order to succeed at carbon drawdown, we have to return to the Garden of Eden. #ActNow Take a listen.

How does no till farming help you? It’s clear that not plowing the soil has impressive advantages for the health of our planet. In addition, no-till farming practices benefit the farmer as well. No till farms:

  • leave stored carbon in place, where it can do its job in the soil ecosystem.
  • take carbon dioxide from the atmosphere naturally, without harming land and water resources.
  • preserve the soil cover, allowing water to permeate the soil and reducing erosion. 
  • diminish the amount of pollution streaming into nearby rivers and lakes because of improved absorption.
  • create a healthy soil ecosystem that grows stronger over time to produce healthy crops and prevent disease.
  • decrease the need to irrigate because water evaporates more slowly from an untilled field.

What can you do to help keep carbon in the soil? In the past 300 years, we’ve degraded our soil by 50 percent. Something must be done to reverse the trend. While no till farming practices will not solve all of our climate issues, they can make a difference. For farmers with lots of acres or just one, consider making the change to no till farming. Check out the resources to learn more. (Some are listed below.)  You might not be a farmer, so what can you do? Educate yourself further about no till farming practices. Be an expert who influences others; engaging in conversations is the beginning of change! Locate and support local farmers who practice no till farming, and share the contact information with your neighbors. In the meantime, continue your day-to-day sustainability practices like composting, recycling, and upcycling. We are all in this together, and it will take all of us to make a positive change.

Next Steps

  • Get a soil drill for your yard to plant seeds, the goal is no disturbance
  • Watch Kiss the Ground to get a better understanding of how important soil health is
  • Use no till practices in your yard, which simply means don’t break up the soil, doing so will release the carbon that’s stored in that area
  • Reduce your carbon emissions by living sustainably, walking and biking more and driving less, and switching to renewables
Adding composting worms to our home composting bins and/or directly to the soil in our yards will dramatically improve the amount of carbon we can store in the soil. Climate solutions are much easier than we realize. Act today! CLICK here.

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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Environmental Justice for Gordon Plaza | Systematic Failure to Protect Health

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

Gordon Plaza is a subdivision in the New Orlean’s Desire neighborhood that was developed on the ASL hazardous waste site in the early 1980’s. The first residents, excited about securing their little piece of the pie, moved into their new homes in 1981, 40 years ago. Most of the houses are modest ranches with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths, on 5,000 square ft lots. The properties were federally funded and intentionally marketed as affordable housing to low income wage earners seeking an opportunity to move on up. 

Black American public culture in 1981 was framed in part by the award winning sitcom, The Jeffersons, which aired each week on CBS from 1975 – 1985. Moving on Up was the upbeat theme song: “Movin’ on up, To the east side. We finally got a piece of the pie… Took a whole lot of tryin’, Just to get up that hill. Now we’re up in the big leagues, Gettin’ our turn at bat.” The song writers are Jeff Barry and Ja’net Dubois. It seems highly probable that there were many subdivision developers and realtors across the country who were selling to black communities and linking their sales pitches to this inspirational sentiment in the hopes of motivating potential black buyers to take the plunge. Interestingly, 1981 was the year that Isabel Sanford was the first black woman to win an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for her role as Louise “Weezy” in The Jeffersons.  

This tidy grid of streets in New Orlean’s 9th Ward, was federally funded through HUD as well as the Community Development Block Grant Program. Back in 1981, when potential buyers were shopping around, they were apparently kept in the dark about the former hazardous waste dump. They’ve pointed out often that they felt they were duped into buying homes in Gordon Plaza. 

The history of Agriculture Street Landfill (ASL) makes this shameful failure to inform all the more egregious. The area had been plagued with spontaneous combustion during the 1950’s when the dangerous toxins would regularly mix beneath the surface. Drivers back then would have to slow to a crawl, inching along at 10 miles per hour, guided by the police, on days when the air became so thick with toxic smoke that visibility was impaired. New Orleans Historical website notes that back in the day, this location used to be referred to as Dante’s Inferno. 

Gordon Plaza was designated a Superfund cleanup site in 1994. 

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 Earth Cafe!

The Gordon Plaza residents’ hellacious plight drew international attention in December of 2019 when The Guardian featured the subdivision in its series Cancer Town. This was following the 2019 Louisiana Tumor Registry listing Gordon Plaza as having the second highest cancer rate in Louisiana.

Heart of the matter. After decades of fighting for fully funded relocation, and winning several class action lawsuits against city agencies and insurance companies, as described in The Guardian piece, residents have yet to be paid any money from the lawsuits, or to be relocated to safe grounds. Protesting regularly, Gordon Plaza residents showcase a remarkable amount of grit and determination in their quest to receive what they deserve, and are asking for.

Climate and environmental injustice is only going to get worse. It’s very important to amplify the life-threatening situations homeowners are facing in vulnerable locations as the heat and the water rises. City, state and federal agencies are failing to protect human life and adequately respond.

Time to face the music. Climate and environmental justice require sacrifices. If nature can do it, we can do it. Click here.

Shockingly, the mistreatment of the Gordon Plaza residents is pretty consistent across the United States for low income minority communities. At a recent Senate Subcommittee hearing on Public Works and Environmental Justice, Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) pointed out that “Seventy percent of the nation’s most environmentally contaminated sites are located within just one mile of federal assisted housing.” This stark reality shows a system of abuse and environmental injustice towards minority low income wage earners, and is very effective in explaining why the dire situation at Gordon Plaza has been ignored. No governmental agency, or city leader should be holding a blind eye to the shocking injustice.

In a request of New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell for comment, a City Hall spokesperson responded: “The City is exploring the feasibility of returning the Agriculture St. Landfill Superfund site to a productive use. As part of that process, the Cantrell Administration, unlike any previous administration, has reached out to Gordon Plaza residents to gauge their interest in redeveloping the site. The responses we’ve received have confirmed that while some residents adamantly favor a relocation and then redevelopment of the site, other residents want to stay in the neighborhood they call home. This is a complicated issue, and the City is working towards an amicable solution that will satisfy all of the interests of the residents.”

A recent article written by staff writer Halle Parker for nola.com outlined that there are 54 families seeking fully funded relocation. The conflict revolves around what the city thinks is a fair market value and what residents feel is the fair market value. Halle Parker featured a comment by Gordon Plaza resident Leona Floyd in her March 15, 2021 article:

“We are rightfully due the full compensation for our house, not a devalued amount as a result of the city of New Orleans building our homes on toxic soil. We know that fair market value will not be fair to us, and we should not go into debt moving out of a situation that was presented to us as part of the American Dream.”

A quick online search, which doesn’t necessarily mean anything, shows what appears to be a gap of approximately $70,000. It looks like a home in the area that is not on toxic land is valued at approximately $85,000, but a comp home is only worth $15,00 if the property is on the extremely dangerous superfund site. If this is the heart of the matter, then it’s clear why the issue hasn’t been resolved. Is there anyone who would settle for this microscopic amount after being misled from the start four decades earlier, which resulted in a cascade of endless heartache and suffering? No weekly television series is ever produced about this “piece of the pie.” But if we all collectively amplify the Gordon Plaza SOS message each week, it will hopefully net a positive outcome for these traumatized residents who are on the front lines of environmental and climate inequities in the United States.

The Gordon Plaza residents certainly deserve the Outstanding Fighters award.

Next Step

New Orleans is on the front lines of the climate crisis, with regular flooding, high heat, and endless hurricanes. In fact, the sate of Louisiana loses 25-35 miles of coastline per year from rising water levels. Additionally, there is the increased hazard of the wet bulb temperature that will potentially increase toxicity levels on the chemicals stuffed beneath the surface of Gordon Plaza. Ten years ago, back in June of 2011, the EPA became worried about it’s inability to protect human health and the environment in the age of climate change. The EPA asked states to draft Climate Change Adaptation Plans. Louisiana was one of only 14 states that did not comply and thus Louisiana has no Climate Change Adaptation Plan. Yet Louisiana is on the front lines of climate change with a large number of citizens living in environmental justice communities with climate taking a direct toll their health.

Be sure to check back for updates.

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.

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Climate Change and the Explosive Book: Environmental Hazards, Are You Exposed?

Washington (GGM) Analysis | May 28, 2021 by author and climate journalist Noreen Wise; Special Guest author Fred Siegel Environmental Hazards, Are You Exposed?

Today’s atmospheric carbon level is 419.53 ppm, up two points from just a week ago. Additionally, scientists announced today that within the next five years we are 90 percent likely to break yet another record for the hottest year in recorded history, which despite 197 countries joining the Paris Agreement, and working so hard to reduce global warming, shows that we’re tracking in the wrong direction. 

How is this possible?

The United States is at the very bottom of the Climate Action Tracker (CAT), tier 6, “Critically Insufficient.” The CAT monitors how countries are progressing toward “the globally agreed aim” of 1.5ºC. / 2.7ºF. A major factor in the rise in temperature, despite all the effort, has a lot to do with our insufficient progress in carbon drawdown as a result of soil degradation and deforestation. This most difficult challenge has been further complicated by the rising temperature fueling massive wildfires on three continents which resulted in the scorching of billions of trees in 2020 alone, as well as the continued degradation of soil through the long dry months of drought, which has undermined our aggressive effort to drawdown excess carbon and store it in the soil.

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

All of our eyes should be on the soil. The life-changing documentary Kiss the Ground was released in October 2020 and gave many of us hope that we could still win this war against global warming, despite the huge obstacles. Once soil health became the core objective, we quickly learned that agricultural chemicals have resulted in much of the world’s soil degradation. The word “chemicals” naturally results in some of us casting our gaze on a few other types of chemicals, hazardous waste chemicals, the types that seep into the soil in our communities and undermine soil health everywhere, as well as personal health, preventing the much needed carbon drawdown. The total impact is 22 million acres affected.  

In short, there are:

  • 1,344 federal superfund sites 
  • 1,571 nonfederal National Priorities List (NPL) sites
  • 450,000 brownfield sites

These staggering numbers don’t include the lesser known hazards such as golf courses and dry cleaners that are hidden in plain sight in many of our towns. If we lump all this land together, it’s much easier to see why carbon drawdown has been so slow, and what we need to be more aware of in the age of the climate crisis.

Become an INSIDER 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. Ours will soon be filled with passionate nature enthusiasts, climate conscious consumers, journalists, authors and a collection of experts who love answering member questions. Sustainability is all about community. We’d greatly value you being part of our ecosystem by CLICKing here today and joining Earth Cafe!

Heart of the matter. Against this dire backdrop comes the alarming warning from Hazardous Waste expert Fred Siegel, who outlined in his recently published book, Environmental Hazards, Are You Exposed?, the likely risk we face with the 49 top toxic hazards, outlined in his essential reference guide, impacting our well-being, several of which are in the majority of U.S. communities. 

Absorbing the magnitude of these threats, and factoring in the influence of weather events such as rain bombs, hurricanes and chronic flooding, and the increase these will have on our likely exposure to the toxins, I feel compelled to shine a spotlight on Fred’s work. Many of these chemicals are carcinogens and spread far and wide during storms as we saw back in February 2021, when an Indonesian dye factory flooded and red dye was soon swirling for miles along the newly formed rivers that filled city streets. According to the Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, 60 percent of the NPL sites may be impacted by flooding. 

Fred Siegel and Tony Quagletta have been conducting environmental site assessments for over 30 years (toxictom.com). Fred’s passion and motivation were initially ignited by learning that he and his wife Vicki had purchased their first home atop a toxic landfill in Woodbridge, New Jersey and never knowing it until after they relocated. The flames of activism have been burning strong ever since. In fact, Fred’s eager to explain why he has twice been arrested. 

Environmental Activist Fred Siegel being arrested for protesting environmental hazards.

Environmental Hazards, Are You Exposed? is rich with concise summations of compelling facts, data and first hand insights, that quickly turn readers into “woke” believers. An example that highlights how shocking these facts are, is the beautiful golf course that dots thousands of communities across the country. A study conducted in New York, entitled Toxic Fairways, found that the golf fairways are maintained with extremely high volumes of pesticides, 7 to 8 times higher than the volume used on farms if compared pounds per acre. Many golf courses use pesticides that contain chlorpyrifos which in 2015 the EPA deemed so toxic that there is no safe exposure to it. The soil beneath these fairways is not healthy soil with high water infiltration rates, so during heavy downpours, most of the toxins wash away into our streets and down our public drains. Golf course toxins are just the tip of the iceberg. 

I asked Fred to comment on hazardous chemicals, fire and heat. He remarked, “Depending on the temperature of the fire the materials at the waste site would burn and send chemicals into the air. It would be similar to a chemical factory fire only worse. Wide areas would need to be evacuated and the residue from the fire could potentially create a superfund site 10 times the size or worse.” This is particularly worrisome considering that the higher temperatures associated with global warming have the potential to impact hazardous waste and cause combustion that results in an explosion.

Adding composting worms to our home composting bins and/or directly to the soil in our yards will dramatically improve the amount of carbon we can store in the soil. Climate solutions are much easier than we realize. Act today! CLICK here.

Fred Siegel’s book Environment Hazards, Are You Exposed? is an absolute necessity for every household in America. It’s the ideal reference guide as we all face the climate crisis together. Many of the health threats related to toxic chemicals are preventable if we know what to look out for and what to avoid.  As well-intended as our elected representatives might be, we’ve all seen that there are many barriers to keeping us safe from all the potential threats. 

When I asked Fred what his focus was in writing such a complete guide to hazardous waste in America, he said, “I hope people realize the government will not protect them. They need to protect themselves with knowledge.” 

Gallant Gold Media’s Hill Report will help facilitate Fred’s plan by passing along a small bit of Fred Siegel’s knowledge and insights each week. Our goal is to feature an environmental hazard piece every Friday, touching on each one of Fred’s 49 chapters.

Next Steps

  • Fred’s book is available in paperback or ebook and is free if you have Kindle Unlimited
  • Refer to the chart at the back of the book that provides an important Distance from Hazard Chart
  • Check out Fred’s website toxictom.com 
  • Join Gallant Gold Media’s newly opened online Act Now for the Earth Cafe community that Fred often frequents and posts insightful comments
  • Follow Fred on Twitter and stay updated on his insights on current events
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.

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Composting | A Major Climate Solution

Washington (GGM) Analysis | May 19, 2021 by Catherine Zacuto, M. Ed.

Perspective is everything. Composting can seem like a daunting task or a simple way to make our soil healthy. The benefits of composting for the climate and the environment may persuade you to get on board, to learn something new, and to contribute to a growing movement to give back.

The heart of the matter. The wisdom of composting goes back to the days of Ancient Greece and Rome, and soil cultivation has been in practice ever since. The Founding Fathers realized the importance of renewing the soil of their farms and gardens. Washington, Jefferson, and Adams (among others) treasured the land for its abundance and permanence; fields were not something to be used and abandoned. Because tobacco had depleted the soil of many estates by the late 1700s, Washington began planting crops that could anchor the American agricultural economy. To replenish the soil for wheat fields and orchards, he experimented with manure, Potomac mud, and fish remains. In the end, Washington operated five farms in Virginia and was one of the most successful farmers of his time. 

How does this impact you personally? Composting is a practical way to improve the health of the soil and reduce our carbon footprint. Over the centuries, the basic principles of composting have remained consistent and have yielded the same predictable outcomes for sustaining our planet. The knowledge and tools are at our fingertips. Using the wisdom garnered over the ages, we have the chance, without too much difficulty, to create a thriving environment and help planet Earth.

Composting:

  • adds microbes to dirt and soil, enabling it to store loads of carbon that thwarts climate change.
  • reduces methane-producing waste in landfills
  • creates vibrant soil that supports the ecosystem
  • retains water in the soil, reducing the need to irrigate
  • promotes disease-free plant growth
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 Earth Cafe!

What can you do about this? Whether you live in a noisy urban neighborhood or on a quiet rural road, composting is possible. To keep it simple, deliver your food scraps to your community compost collection site. (See the list of Virginia composting facilities at the end of this article.) Or, find a compost company that picks up your food scraps. Check to see how the company uses the compost, and find out if they return compost to you. Make your own compost by following simple daily guidelines. (Click here to see a short how-to video.) You can make a difference for your family, your community, and the planet. Remember the Founding Fathers: The success of the new nation hinged on its fruitful harvests. Did they ever imagine how critical their organic practices would be for the health of the planet?

Next steps:

  • Begin saving food scraps in a compost bag in your refrigerator, a cool garage or in a clamped container.
  • Gather both green materials (fruits, vegetables, tea, egg shells, coffee grounds) and brown (newspapers, egg cartons, twigs, and dried grass). 
  • Avoid oils, dairy, meat, and bread.
  • Decide if you will create the compost yourself or donate your scraps to your community, or
  • Find the most eco-friendly company to pick up your scraps and use them to benefit soil health.

Virginia Composting Facilities by Area

References:

“Benefits of Compost.” U.S. Composting Council, http://www.compostingcouncil.org/. Accessed 21 Jan. 2021.

Simon, Julia. “How to Start Composting.” NPR, 2021, http://www.npr.org/2020/04/07/828918397/how-to-compost-at-home.

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 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.

Bruce, My Pet Worm | Build Back Better

Washington (GGM) Analysis | May 9, 2021 by Catherine Zacuto, M. Ed.; source expert contributions from Pamela Scaiff

Some people fall easily into the “dog people” category, some into the “cat people” one. If you are not either of those, you may be a “worm person.” Even if you love dogs and cats, you might be surprised to discover the advantages of worms for your lifestyle and your garden. Though not cuddly, worms make great pets. They don’t smell, they are clean, and they don’t have to be fed every day (or even every week). Worms don’t disturb the neighbours. They have a symbiotic relationship with insects. Worms don’t need pet sitters when you go away for a month. Even if you don’t need a new pet, the advantages of worms are worth investigating.

Friend or Slimy Bug? 

According to Pamela Scaiff, a Canadian sustainability aficionado, worms are both the perfect pets and partners in growing an eco-friendly garden. Pamela, who’s been living a sustainable life since 2010, recognizes the value and fun of raising worms. (She calls her worms Bruce, after the “Monty Python” philosophers sketch where all the professors are called Bruce.) Worms are a natural way to fertilize plants and aerate the soil without harming the ecosystem. Because living sustainably, in harmony with nature, is our goal, worms are the way to go. 

Act Now for the Earth Cafe wants you to join our ecosystem and have fun learning valuable tips about nature, carbon drawdown & sustainability. We’re all about community. Be a part of our vibrant ecosystem by CLICKing here today and checking out Earth Cafe!

What are the benefits of worms?

The principle advantage of worms is the natural fertilizer created by worm castings. Pamela calls this “the uppity word for worm poop.” This “black gold” yields nutrients that create strong and healthy plants and provides a viable alternative to harmful chemicals. At the same time, worms aerate the soil, allowing the roots of your plants to easily absorb the nutrients necessary for healthy growth. A secondary advantage, according to Pamela, is that worms are fascinating. From starting the bin, to adding the worms, to harvesting the casings, the journey is engaging and fruitful. 

Check out worms’ other benefits:

  • Increased soil nutrition from worm castings rich in nitrogen and adding four times the phosphorous that’s normally found in soil
  • Improved drainage and water storage, helping  alleviate drought and extreme heat conditions
  • Water infiltrates the soil more easily
  • Plant roots often descend lower and reach more water and nutrients
  • Improved soil structure
  • Improved productivity

How to get started. Following simple guidelines will help you create and maintain healthy worm bins. Pamela began with a very small collection of Red Wiggler worms and worm cocoons and has had great success. She created an expert list of steps to get you started:

Location. First, decide where you are going to keep the bin – indoors or out. If you live in a cold environment, indoors is best. (Be selective about what you add to it, though, to avoid odors.)

The Container. Get a ratty old Rubbermaid tote — not the big kind, but the smaller one. Red Wigglers are surface dwellers, which means they are happiest just below the surface, not down deep. Drill air and drainage holes all over the tote, including the lid. (Pamela’s worms don’t escape because they don’t like light and also her bin is not toxic – so far). 

The Habitat Ingredients. Pamela recommends the following generally agreed upon ingredients for your bin:  

Browns: To keep your bin balanced, absorb liquid, and cool, you need bedding (carbon). Pamela uses shredded newspaper, egg cartons, coconut coir, manure, and more.

Greens: Add food scraps (they don’t have to be green). But be mindful about what you use. Brassicas like broccoli and kale cause odors. Acidic food such as onions and citrus upset the worms. 

Grit: Grit helps worms digest. Some (but not all) possibilities include sand, used coffee grounds (no longer acidic), and ground eggshells (they can’t use the shells otherwise.)

Water: Pamela advises, “Goldilocks style: too much and the bin goes anaerobic, starts to smell, and all kinds of bugs flourish. Not enough and your worm castings dry out and become useless.”

Compost: Add a handful of compost to inject helpful bacteria into your bin and get it working.

Worms: Many different varieties of worms will work. Pamela prefers red wigglers. Earthworms are an option, but they are not as productive as the red wigglers. They also escape more often.

Feeding your Worms

Pamela feeds her worms 2 – 4 times a month, and only when there is no food or almost no food left. You may need to adjust the time period as your worms grow. Be careful not to overfeed them, or it will be too much to process before it gets smelly or hot.

Here is Pamela’s formula, in her own words: 

Bedding: I rip up newspaper and egg cartons.

Greens:  Apparently, the worms love avocados and bananas. So, I chop up banana peels, gleefully much the brown bits of avocados… and freeze them. The freezing helps speed up the decomposition by breaking membranes. Only at this stage will the worms be able to eat them. I have added science experiments from the fridge.. mouldy berries, for example, but nothing cooked and no meat. 

Grit:  I mix into the food a handful of used coffee grounds and ground egg shells. I got an old coffee grinder off my local buy nothing group, so I grind shells as I collect them. 

Water:  This took me some time to figure out – how to feel the right amount of water. But the next day, I lift the lid.  If I suddenly see lots of white bugs or worms climbing the sides, I keep the lid off and let it air out. I often have a large piece of paper over the castings. 

More Worm Wisdom 

To fluff or not to fluff – there is some debate. Pamela fluffs her bin about once a month. Not only because it is fun, but also because it allows her to see if the bin is too wet or too dry and to check for uneaten food and changes in the population. 

Don’t worry about the worms overpopulating. According to Pamela, worms self-regulate. They stop reproducing if there are too many of them, if it’s too dry or too wet, or if there is not enough food. If the conditions are right, they can double their population in 60 days. 

Adding composting worms to our home composting bins and/or directly to the soil in our yards will dramatically improve the amount of carbon we can store in the soil. Climate solutions are much easier than we realize. Act today! CLICK here.

You might notice other bugs in your bin. Don’t overthink this! A healthy bin is an entire ecosystem. Pamela explains, “The worms need other bugs that are also decomposers to start the process. Basically, the other bugs and bacteria are food processors for worms.” Pamela was vigilant in identifying the bugs, so as to avoid a bug problem in the house, but, in the end, they were all so happy that they got to stay!

You may wonder how to harvest the castings without losing the worms. Pamela has two suggestions: Feed only one side of the bin for a month; the worms will all migrate to that side. Alternatively, put a basket in the middle and only place the food there; the worms will hang out with the food while you gather the castings. Be careful! Castings and cocoons look remarkably alike.

Next Steps

  • Have fun setting up your bin.
  • Buy, find, or trade for worms.
  • Dump the worms on top of the habitat and watch them immediately start burrowing.  
  • Watch your worms grow.
  • Harvest the “black gold” add to your plants – indoors or outside.
  • Share extra worms with like minded gardeners.
  • Read up on how to shrink your carbon footprint
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 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.

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