FEMALE SCIENTISTS FOCUS ON SECRET WEAPON TO FIGHT CLIMATE CHANGE: MOMS
In 2019, climate researcher Katharine Hayhoe was at a church breakfast in Fairbanks, Alaska, when a young woman tapped on her shoulder and confessed that she was terrified. Ever since the birth of her daughter, the young woman said, she couldn’t stop worrying about the threat of a rapidly warming planet.
“That heartfelt question is one I thought I could only really answer as a fellow mom,” said Hayhoe, an atmospheric scientist at Texas Tech University and an evangelical Christian who has spent years trying to educate the public about climate change.
Hayhoe told the Alaska woman the same thing she sometimes had to tell herself when she worried about her own son’s future: Channel your fear into action. Talk to your friends and family. Advocate for change in your town, your church, your school, your state.
Now, Hayhoe aims to replicate that exchange on a much bigger scale. Along with five other female climate scientists who are also mothers, she has teamed up with Potential Energy, a nonprofit marketing firm, to launch Science Moms, a $10 million campaign to educate and empower mothers to do something about climate change. Advertisements featuring Hayhoe and the female scientists will air on national TV and online in February.
The campaign also has a website featuring facts and resources, including links to books on talking to kids about climate and a form for contacting elected officials.
Mothers are the “sweet spot” for inspiring social change, said John Marshall, a veteran marketing executive and consultant and a founder of Potential Energy. Mothers Against Drunk Driving helped lower the legal limit for blood alcohol content in drivers. Moms Demand Action has lobbied for initiatives to prevent gun violence.
They are also disproportionately likely to say they are already concerned about climate change, making it easier to move them to act. “A dollar spent on a concerned mom goes a lot further than a lot of other segments,” Marshall said.
Said atmospheric scientist Dr. Melissa Burt, “You don’t have to be a climate scientist to want to protect the Earth,” she says. “And for Mia, I want you to know that I worked really hard to be a part of the change and to make it a better place for you.”
DEEPER DIVE: WaPo, ScienceMoms
“BOTTLE” INITIATIVE BREAKING DOWN PLASTICS
Let me tell you a little bit about one initiative on the forefront of plastic recyclables. It’s BOTTLE, which stands for Bio-Optimized Technologies to keep Thermoplastics out of Landfills and the Environment. Working in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy, as well as several national laboratories and universities across the country, BOTTLE’s mission is to “close the loop” on plastic recyclables. Using new bio-based chemistries and technologies, researchers have been able to develop scalable and cost-effective strategies to breakdown and recycle plastics.
Most recently, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a lab working in close partnership with BOTTLE, reported new sustainability benchmarks for plastics recycling and redesign. Now, both the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and BOTTLE experts will be able to compare their research to current manufacturing practices and better understand if their research can help save energy or reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
With more resources available for researchers spearheading single-use plastic, we look forward to the science to come.
Deeper Dive: BOTTLE, NREL
REPUBLICAN SENATOR FROM MONTANA WANTS TO PROTECT 17 RIVERS THAT RUN THROUGH IT
At a time of intense economic and political crosscurrents — here and in Washington — Senator Jon Tester (D) is pushing legislation to protect 336 miles of these rivers. He believes that his effort is more than a parochial concern, that the fate of streams and tributaries in the shadow of Yellowstone National Park matters to many Americans.
The approach is not novel. Tester’s proposed Montana Headwaters Legacy Act would place its 17 targets under a landmark federal law that over the past half-century has helped preserve the “outstandingly remarkable” features of more than 12,700 miles of wild and scenic waterways across the country. The safeguards can block dams, transmission lines and most anything else that would pollute the water or sully the view.
Tester is banking that clean rivers can be part of a recovering economy, that not all politics must end with a winner and a loser and that diverse interests can come together to protect the waters that drew many to Montana in the first place.
“Protecting rivers shouldn’t be a partisan issue,” agreed Scott Bosse, the Northern Rockies director for American Rivers, one of several conservation groups supporting the bill. “After all, no one remembers who supported a tax cut. They remember who protected the wilderness and the rivers they love.”
There is precedence for bipartisan support for protecting rivers here, noted Sara Guenther, a political science researcher at Montana State University. “But now we aren’t talking about one river. We’re talking about 17.” The work leading up to the proposed legislation began a decade ago when a coalition of conservation organizations led some 400 public meetings to ask Montanans what rivers they viewed most worthy.
“We rent this Earth from our kids,” he said in a recent interview. “It’s best we don’t screw it up.”
DEEPER DIVE: WaPo
CLOCK TICKING TO SAVE SHARKS AND RAYS FROM EXTINCTION
While this next story may not be ‘positive news’, media coverage has certainly helped shine a light on the detrimental effects of climate change. Which is good news because then we can do something about it!
Scientists are sounding the alarm for shark and ray extinction. Reported by the BBC, a new study published in Nature found the number of sharks in the ocean have plunged over 70% in the last 50 years and roughly three-quarters of the species studied are threatened with extinction. Following the study, scientists cited overfishing as a primary cause for the decline.
Sharks are key stone species and top predators. The risk of shark extinction is not only a concern for the species, but also for marine ecosystems that rely on sharks to balance the food chain. Around the world, scientists and conservationists are now calling on world leaders to take action and implement science-based fishing regulations.
In an interview with the BBC, one of the authors of the study Nathan Pacoureau said, “our study represents the first global synthesis of the state of these essential species at a time when countries should be addressing insufficient progress towards global sustainability goals. While we initially intended it as a useful report card, we now must hope it also serves as an urgent wake-up call.”
DEEPER DIVE: BBC, Nature