Virtual Thanksgiving definitely doesn’t sound as appealing as a cozy in-person feast with the fam, but we’re still planning to stay home for the holiday because we believe that right now the best way to express our gratitude for the health and happiness of the people we love is to stay far, far away.
That’s not to say we aren’t bummed about it, but we’ll make do. In an effort to cheer ourselves up we decided to think about the things we feel most grateful for. We know, so cliché, but also there’s never been a better time for it.
When it comes to the environment and the future of our planet (and our potential future children), we are first and foremost very grateful that we will have a new commander in chief come January to help this country fight climate change. President-elect Joe Biden named climate change as one of the top four priorities of his campaign, and though he hasn’t given a whole lot of details about what policies he plans to promote, there’s quite a bit he can do right off the bat by reversing executive orders and environmental rollbacks.
How much more Biden is able to do on this issues might depend on whether Democrats win the Senate runoff races in Georgia. But in our heart of hearts we truly wish it didn’t, and we are here to tell you it doesn’t have to.
The Republican Party has not always been anti-environment and anti-science. In fact former president Richard Nixon signed more legislation to protect the environment than almost any other president in American history. Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970. While in office he also created the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, pushed Congress to pass the Endangered Species Act, and signed both the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act into law.
Americans MUST depoliticize climate change if there’s any hope of reining it in. And despite the Trump GOP’s complete denial of climate science, we are grateful to know that there is a growing faction of conservatives who don’t think of climate change as a hoax, who are 100% down with the facts, and are fighting tooth and nail to bring conservative free market climate policies to Washington. The future for our planet looks considerably brighter if we can all agree that climate change is real and that we have to do something about it, even if different people have different ideas about what to do.
Young Democrats statistically have stronger feelings about climate change and are more worried about it than their parents or grandparents. The same is true of young Republicans—and some are working to make climate change something other conservatives care about too. One of these people is 22 year-old conservative political activist Benji Backer. He’s the president and founder of the American Conservation Coalition, a nonprofit that gets young people on his end of the political spectrum involved in conversations about what conservative climate solutions look like. Last year he testified before Congress beside Greta Thunberg, and this year he drove an electric car across the country in the months leading up to the election to promote free-market tech solutions. Young Conservatives for Carbon Dividends is another group pushing genuine climate solutions “from the heart of the GOP youth wing.”
We highly recommend a virtual family viewing of Backer’s inspiring testimony before congress as part of your zoom Thanksgiving:
Here’s another thing we’re grateful for: a new media trend we’ve noticed recently when it comes to reporting on climate change. In this election cycle, presidential debate moderators asked serious questions about the future of the planet for literally like the first time ever. Hillary versus Trump? Didn’t come up a single time. Obama versus Mitt Romney? Not a peep. Yet in 2020, climate change came up consistently (though it still didn’t receive the kind of attention it merits in our humble opinion.) The change reflects a wider shift.
For so long we felt frustrated because even the most reputable national news outlets seemed to simply ignore the problem. There was no environment or climate tab on most newspaper websites. In the reporting that did happen, there was often a problematic disconnect between “nature stories” that focused on wildlife habitat or outdoor adventure, and “climate catastrophe” stories that drove home the point that we should all be absolutely terrified because life as we know it is about to end. And if you wanted to know what to do about it, you’d be hard pressed to find anything other than the “10 things you can do to reduce your footprint” stories with suggestions such as drive less, eat more vegetables, and recycle that felt a lot like telling people on the titanic to get out oars and buckets and try to keep the whole damn ship afloat.
Now, it seems like more newspapers are taking the problem seriously—many more have a climate or environment section, and reporting is becoming more nuanced, tying in the big picture to specific places and events. We’re also noticing more and more stories about solutions, and this is truly exciting. The Washington Post has even gone so far as to create TWO environmental sections on its menu, and one is entirely dedicated to how people are trying to face and fight the problem! The first is called “climate and environment,” and the other is called “climate solutions.” We still think the separation between the doomsayers and the optimists is somewhat strange, but this feels like progress.
Keep reading for local environment reporting from SFR and others. If you love our environment newsletter, we’d love your help spreading the word! If you’ve got a story about something happening on the local environmental front that we should know about, write firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Thanksgiving is nothing if not a celebration of food, and we are determined to continue the tradition even if we have to eat alone this year. We are excited to indulge in cranberry pie, especially since climate change is already having a massive impact on cranberry growers in Massachusetts. Eat ‘em while you still can so that one day you can tell your great grandchildren that before they were specially grown in a lab, cranberries grew naturally outside in ice covered bogs.
Speaking of food and climate, the New York Times has an entire section devoted to the topic. For a truly futuristic Thanksgiving feast, first read NYT’s story about why kelp is one of the most sustainable super-foods on the planet and then try one of their recipes for seasoning your roast chicken (or turkey) and potatoes with seaweed. If you are feeling extra adventurous, you could even add some cricket flour to your stuffing mix (we know it sounds crazy, but bugs are extremely nutritious and very sustainable and we mix them into our pancakes all the time for extra protein. We can barely taste the difference, promise.)
Trump is pushing to open Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling by the time he leaves office. His administration plans to hold a lease sale before Jan. 20.
An illegal shale shingle dump and recycling operation set up by outsiders in a historically Black neighborhood in Dallas is a perfect example of how decades of redlining and racist urban development strategies have shouldered communities of color with disproportionate impacts of pollution in the US. In Richmond, Virginia, the city’s failure to plant trees or build green spaces in the city’s historically Black neighborhoods has led to these neighborhoods experiencing much hotter average summer temperatures than historically white neighborhoods.
Several sinkholes have opened up in the oilfields in Southeastern New Mexico in the last decade, leading to a statewide study of where more could appear. Officials found that a sinkhole could open cause big problems near Carlsbad as early as 2021. Mitigation work is underway.
D. and D. Mountain Air Cleaners, Inc. in Española may be behind some of the groundwater contamination in the area, according to the New Mexico Environment Department. NMED issued a $56,000 fine to the business for alleged hazardous waste violations and has ordered the business to present draft new procedures for hazardous waste disposal in the future.
New Mexico Senator Martin Heinrich introduced new legislation to prevent future mining in the Pecos called the Pecos Watershed Protection Act. It would not stop a proposal for a new Tererro mine that was submitted by Comexico, a company owned by an Australian company called New World Resources last year.
New Mexico’s state treasurer says new proposed rules for regulating methane leave too many loopholes. The state Oil Conservation Commission will hold a public hearing on the proposal in January. Meanwhile, some state legislators worry the new regulations could hinder the recovery of the state’s oil drilling industry.
New Mexico’s legislative interim committees are preparing for the January 2021 session (though it is still unclear how or even if the session will be held in light of the recent COVID-19 spike). New Mexico’s climate change task force issued a report this month on the state’s progress towards a renewable energy transition that concluded that the state has a lot more to do to be able to meet its 2030 emissions reduction goals.
SFR’s Environment News
The Trail to Recovery
One year in, the Outdoor Recreation Division has begun the work of building a resilient outdoor economy.
Can Legislators Slip Industry Shackles?
The increasing volatility of the oil and gas market could loosen the industry’s grip on state politics.
‘I Am Greta’ Review
Teen activist gets the documentary treatment
A Different Cranksgiving
Yearly holiday bike ride and food drive switches up rules to social distance and donate hundreds of turkeys
Albuquerque’s Skarsgard Farms helps the area weather COVID-19 one delivery at a time