The Environmental Journal of Southern Appalachia

Wolf Naegeli

OAK RIDGE WBIR channel 10 News 2-minute video highlighting a controversy that has been brewing for a decade.

Infographics and more details added May 5, 2022

Tree clearing would radically degrade the visual experience and take away shade crucial to enjoyment of a walk during increasingly hot weather

On April 4, TRISO-X LLC, a subsidiary incorporated last August by X-Energy LLC, disclosed plans to build a plant at Horizon Center to manufacture a new kind of “unmeltable” tri-structural isotropic nuclear fuel (TRISO) for high-temperature pebble-bed gas reactors. It will use uranium, enriched to less than 20 percent, to fabricate spherical, billiards-ball sized High-Assay Low-Enriched Uranium (HALEU) pebbles.

Horizon Center,

situated among sensitive natural areas, was designed as an upscale light-industrial and office park. Despite its fancy landscaping with sculpture gardens, it failed to attract the many buyers that had been anticipated when it was created a quarter century ago. A principal argument for its establishment was that Oak Ridge needed to attract more private enterprise to reduce dependency on Federal jobs.

Terragenics’ $38 million plant, which was built to manufacture implantable radioactive pellets to treat prostate cancer never went into full production and was abandoned in 2005. 2015, with Governor Haslam in attendance, Canadian CVMR promised 620 jobs, using the plant for it’s first U.S. production site and to move its headquarters to it from Toronto, too.

Friday, 22 April 2022 14:58

Maybe we should call it Ocean Day

Best Earth Day feature: We still know so little about so much that is vital to life on our planet

CBS News  Stunning midwater creatures of the deep sea

You have to endure a half-minute commercial to see this 6-minute report on the fascinating footage captured by a high-tech marine science project of the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Make sure to turn on full-screen viewing, if you can. Have you ever seen a bloody belly comb jelly?

We think you’ll agree it’s the most worthwile video you watched today.

Published in Water

AdvanceKnoxGibbsYou can still share your own ideas to improve and protect our community   Advance Knox

Updated again on May 4: Hundreds of ideas, complaints and comments, many of them with map locations, have been posted on the Advance Knox website.

As announced in Hellbender Press earlier, Advance Knox held a series of public input events across Knox County during its Ideas Week at the end of March.

If you missed those in-person gatherings and could not attend the virtual session, we hope you recorded your preferences and opinions online at the Advance Knox website.

You can now see what others had to say about your neighborhood and your favorite places.

And, even if you already participated, you may have had new ideas or important thoughts not recorded yet. Please let us know,

— what you treasure in Knox County

— what you miss

— what you think is most important to consider as the county keeps growing.  

The interactive facility to submit ideas will remain open online through May 10as suggested at the last Advisory Committee meeting.

Dry Hollow before the bulldozersDry Hollow before the bulldozers devastated it. This rural area is zoned agricultural except for the old commercial/light industrial cluster and the church area at right. The barn at the end of the church parking lot and the trees in the project area are already gone! The trees can grow back over time if Knox county commissioners make a wise decision.  Synthetic virtual oblique aerial view generated by Atelier N / Hellbender Press

More and much improved picture galleries

May 20: included new “Six on Your Side” report from WATE TV Channel 6 News

Massive residential development planned without regard for beautiful farmland, historic context and rich wildlife habitat — what’s at stake?

SOUTH KNOX COUNTY When you drive out of Knoxville on Chapman Highway toward Seymour and Sevierville, you see little more than ugly strip development. That bleakness is interrupted only when passing through narrow gaps in the ridges, which tend to focus your view even more on the heavy traffic. No notable pleasant vista until just before the county boundary at Shooks Gap! If you look to your left, across the slope of Berry Highland South Cemetery, you get a brief glimpse of Dry Hollow.

That is the only view I remember from my first drive on Chapman Highway after moving to East Tennessee in 1985. Then, we did not yet have so much urban sprawl that one hardly gets a feeling of having left Knoxville before crossing into Sevier County and momentarily passing through a corner of Blount County.

Knox County offers opportunities for public participation in the overhaul of planning guidelinesKnox County offers opportunities for public participation in the overhaul of planning guidelines  Knoxville-Knox County Planning

Framework for growth in Knox County

Advance Knox is a comprehensive planning process initiated by Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs “to guide growth, land use, transportation, economic prosperity, and quality of life.”

The process is intended to result in a new Knox County general plan and subsequently shape revisions of the sector plans. Together, that set of major plans establishes criteria for further plans by Knoxville-Knox County Planning, such as local area and annual plans, as well as timing and implementation specifics for the Knox County portions of the Regional Transportation Planning Organization’s Long Range Regional Mobility Plan.

At each 90-minute Ideas Week event, you’ll learn about the process through idea generation and map-based activities. It’s a chance to share what’s important to you.

— Sunday, March 27 – 1:30 p.m. at Gibbs Middle School

— Monday, March 28 – 5:30 p.m. at Hardin Valley Middle School or Carter High School

— Tuesday, March 29 – 5:30 p.m. at West High School or Northshore Elementary School

— Wednesday, March 30 – 5:30 p.m. at Powell High School or South Doyle Middle School

Knoxville-Knox County General Plan 2033, adopted in 2003, established the framework for the current sector plans and was amended with the Knoxville-Knox County Park, Recreation and Greenways Plan in 2010.

Thursday, 30 December 2021 17:56

Toward a new age of enlightenment

David Zinn Sprig Life emergingThis photograph of ephemeral chalk street art by David Zinn is symbolic for life reemerging after a catastrophe (of being paved over) or for people coming out from lockdown.
In 2022 the Living Sustainably Program of the Foundation for Global Sustainability
will launch a pilot project to engage citizen volunteers
in grassroots initiatives for community resilience, sustainability and global solidarity.

 

At this time a year ago, we were hopeful 2021 would bring an end to the pandemic.

The final week of 2020 saw the counts of new cases decline markedly in the United States and worldwide. Except for scientists and medical professionals, few understood yet the risks posed by variants of the virus that causes COVID-19. It wasn’t until May 2021 that the World Health Organization (WHO) started naming major variants for Greek letters.

Not every change brought about by the pandemic had purely negative consequences

Learning from what is going wrong may help us avoid deleterious outcomes of other global crises.

Published in Voices

A live video stream was featured at the top of this article while “Rotty Top” was blooming, July 29-31, 2021.
Another article includes details about that particular plant and the event.

The corpse plant at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville has not bloomed in 20 years

The titan arum (Amorphophalus titanum), native to Sumatra, is remarkable for several reasons.

It is more often referred to by colloquial names, such as corpse flower, rotting corpse plant or carrion plant, because of the strong distinct odor it releases to attract pollinators when it flowers.

No other species of flowering plant has an unbranched inflorescence, or flower-bearing reproductive part, as large as titan arum. Unbranched means that all flowers grow from a single stem; a gigantic one in this case. A record height above corm (underground storage tuber) of 10.5 ft was measured at Bonn Botanical Gardens in June 21, 2013. 

When an inflorescence has many small flowers on a fleshy stem and is initially enclosed by a leaf-like sheath, botanists call it a spadix and its sheath a spathe. Even after the spathe has opened, the flowers are hard to see because they are so small and near the bottom of the stem. In the absence of a balcony above, viewers would have to be on a ladder to peek down into the narrow part of the spathe. It’s not the flowers that are spectacular — it’s the overwhelming size, overall shape and sheer beauty of the plant!

Carrion beetles and flesh flies are titan arum’s pollinators. It has evolved unparalleled capacity to attract them. While flowering, it heats up the tip of the spadix to the range of mammalian body temperatures, which not only helps volatilize the odors to entice insects from far away, but may be sensed by some of them to further indicate proximity of food. The plant has opened the spathe like a wide cocktail glass to show its inside surface. The deep red color and texture could buttress the illusion of a big chunk of carrion.

Why is it even rarer to see titan arum fruit in a botanical garden?

Outside the equatorial region, botanical gardens cannot cultivate many corpse plants due to their size. The typical interval between blooms is five to twelve years.

The actual flowers last one day only. Female flowers bloom first. One or two days later the male flowers bloom. This normally prevents self-pollination. As these plants bloom so rarely, chances are slim to have viable pollen on hand for artificial pollination.

Published in Creature Features

As Hellbender Press reported in April, the Tennessee Valley Authority plans to phase out its use of coal. And as we mentioned in an action alert, TVA is conducting a scoping process pertaining to the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for retirement and replacement of the Kingston Fossil Plant. TVA is preparing similar EIS for its other remaining coal-fired power plants as well.

Although TVA lists "construction and operation of solar and storage facilities" in these scoping documents as an alternative for replacement of coal as the power source, it has made no secret of its belief that construction of gas-powered combustion turbines (CT) and natural gas pipelines to feed them will be the best solution to replace the outdated generation capacity.

Unlike other power utilities, TVA has been making it more difficult, financially unattractive or impossible for distributed renewable energy, storage and even efficiency projects to get realized, according to proponents of renewables and some of TVA’s local power distribution partners. TVA also reneged on its agreement with other utilities to make large amounts of wind power available to the Southeastern United States through the Plains & Eastern Clean Line high-voltage direct-current power line project.

Below, we reprint the statement submitted by FGS during the public comment period for the Kingston Fossil Plan Retirement.

(Hellbender Press is a self-funded project of FGS).

 

The Foundation for Global Sustainability urges TVA to truly step up to the challenges of climate change

The action alternatives in the dockets for the replacement of TVA’s coal fired power plants are shortsighted and most disappointing.

As a quasi-federal entity with a de-facto monopoly over a vast area of our nation, the Tennessee Valley Authority should strive to spearhead, exemplify, and not only meet — but exceed — most of the federal goals for decarbonization.

By basing plans primarily on data of historic trends — unquestioningly projected into the future — TVA is apt to commit yet another horrendous miscalculation; it is prone to saddle itself with even more stranded assets.

Addressing the climate change crisis

Rarely a month passes without scientific discoveries of natural feedback mechanisms that aggravate the consequences of climate change. Signs that Earth’s natural life-support systems are approaching tipping points are multiplying.

At the same time that uncertainty about prevailing conditions over the lifetime of infrastructure investments is growing, technologies are evolving at an increasing pace. Many private-sector corporations have already realized that time-proven business practices are no survival strategy.

What’s called for today is more nimble management. TVA needs to focus on cooperative, adaptive planning for more flexible, responsive operations.

A multitude of smaller investments that seek to attack problems from a diversity of facets will have greater probability of success than monolithic huge investments that are hard to revert, abandon, or repurpose.

We encourage TVA to take a step back, to first look at what it can do to help improve the sustainability and resilience of our regional and local economies and of its large, small, and individual customers, WITHOUT investments that lock in carbon emissions for decades.

Although we welcomed, appreciated, and supported TVA initiatives such as Energy Right, Green Power Switch and Generation Partners, one has to admit that in the larger context they amounted to little more than public relations Band-aids.

Distributed renewable energy generation and storage

It is high time for TVA to stop stonewalling renewable energies.

The promising potential of widely distributed renewable energy generation and storage to minimize transmission losses and to boost community resilience is still largely untapped. It lends itself to easily manageable, quick turn-around, incremental projects that can readily be evolved and fine-tuned as new conditions, greater insights, and better technologies emerge.

People in TVA’s service areas are no less likely to welcome and personally invest in solar energy and storage than the people of Germany have done, despite getting far less sunlight in their northern latitudes than we enjoy here; if only TVA relaxes its severe restrictions and abandons its adversarial stance.

We call upon TVA to embrace, as major planning objectives, environmental sustainability and efficiency from energy generation all the way through end use.

Sincerely,

Wolf Naegeli, PhD
President
Foundation for Global Sustainability