The Environmental Journal of Southern Appalachia
Rate this item
(1 Vote)

methane leaksBloomberg reports that methane leaks from the natural gas sector may be far worse than estimated by the EPA. While replacing coal-fired power plants with natural gas ones reduces air pollution it may not help at all with climate change because methane is 30 times more effective as a greenhouse gas than CO2.  Image source: Kayrros SAS

Report: Many utilities are not reducing carbon emissions despite public assurances to the contrary

KNOXVILLE Global greenhouse gas emissions must peak by 2025 and experience rapid and deep reductions to avoid a potentially catastrophic future, according to a new analysis by air-quality and climate advocates. Emissions must reach net zero by the early 2050s to limit warming to 1.5 degrees (C) in order to avoid the worst impacts of the climate crisis.

Many utilities and municipalities have acknowledged this dynamic, but the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy’s fourth annual “Tracking Decarbonization in the Southeast" report highlights that current utility resource plans are not in line with this overarching target. Obstacles to getting utilities on track that are discussed in our report include: increasing reliance on fossil gas, underutilizing energy efficiency, and placing limitations on popular technologies such as rooftop solar. There’s still a lot of work to do before any Southeast utility is on track to decarbonize.

Published in News
Rate this item
(1 Vote)

Spreading avens in bloom 9406109069Spreading avens are seen in bloom in the Appalachians. The endangered long-stemmed perennials survive in higher mountain elevations but their lack of space to move higher in elevation in times of climate change and warming further threaten the plant.  USFWS

It’s not just the coastlines that are recording climate change. Even the mountains of North Carolina are feeling the heat — including some endangered plants

“Atlanta reporter Dan Chapman retraced John Muir’s 1867 trek through the South, including the naturalist’s troubling legacy, to reveal environmental damage and loss that’s been largely overlooked.” This is an excerpt published by The Revelator from his book, A Road Running Southward: Following John Muir’s Journey Through an Endangered Land.

BOONE It’s a wonder anything survives the ice, snow, and winds that pummel the ridge, let alone the delicate-seeming yellow flowers known as spreading avens.

The lovely, long-stemmed perennials are exceedingly rare, officially listed as endangered, and found only in the intemperate highlands of North Carolina and Tennessee. They sprout from shallow acidic soils underlying craggy rock faces and grassy heath balds. At times blasted with full sun, but mostly shrouded in mist, the avens are survivors, Ice Age throwbacks that refuse to die. Geum radiatum is only known to exist in fourteen places, including hard-to-find alpine redoubts reached via deer trail or brambly bushwhacking.

Published in News
Rate this item
(1 Vote)

Southern Alliance for Clean Energy's fourth annual “Tracking Decarbonization in the Southeast: Generation and Carbon Emissions” report will be released Wednesday, June 22

Amy Rawe is communications director for Knoxville-based Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

KNOXVILLE The report examines power-sector generation and emissions throughout the Southeast, which is home to some of the biggest utility systems in the nation, including Duke Energy, Southern Company, NextEra Energy, and the Tennessee Valley Authority.

Many of these Southeastern utilities have been in the national spotlight for their professed commitment to decarbonization, but there are often inconsistencies between stated goals and resource plans.

Published in News
Rate this item
(1 Vote)

Reintroduction Assistant Kaylee Clayton, left, Jim Hill Fellow for Conservation Anthony Hernandez, center, and Reintroduction Biologist Teresa Israel cross a stream during a Southern Appalachian Brook Trout release.Reintroduction Assistant Kaylee Clayton, left, Jim Hill Fellow for Conservation Anthony Hernandez, center, and Reintroduction Biologist Teresa Israel cross a stream during a Southern Appalachian brook trout release. Tennessee Aquarium

Emblematic brook trout get a second chance at home in Southern Appalachian streams

Casey Phillips is a writer for the Tennessee Aquarium.

CHATTANOOGA A team from the Tennessee Aquarium, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and Trout Unlimited hiked along — and occasionally waded through — a pristine tributary of South Fork Citico Creek in Cherokee National Forest. 

 Navigating an obstacle course of tangled mountain laurel branches and moss-slickened boulders in late May, the team followed the stream as it gently descended through the Appalachian uplands. When a calm pool or shaded rocky overhang presented itself, they paused to dip their nets into five-gallon buckets filled with wriggling juvenile Southern Appalachian brook trout.

These little fish, raised to about two inches over six months, were the focus of more than six months of work at the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute and the impetus for the hours-long trek into the East Tennessee woods.

Published in News
Rate this item
(2 votes)

heat photoThomas Fraser/Hellbender Press

TVA sets record power day for June as region swelters and common sense degrades

This story was originally published by Hard Knox Wire.

KNOXVILLE City residents this week joined scores of others around the world — from the Southwest United States to the Indian subcontinent — sweltering through late spring with eyes toward a summer that portends to be very hot.

Whether directly attributed to climate change or not, the heat waves are causing untold misery in locations across the Northern Hemisphere, straining power grids to the brink and causing a sharp rise in heat-related illnesses. 

Knoxville Utilities Board asked this week that consumers curtail their electricity use by setting their thermostats a little higher and holding off until night on energy-sucking tasks like doing laundry or running the dishwasher. That request was met in many cases with derision and unsubstantiated claims that charging electric vehicles had overburdened energy infrastructure.

So exactly how hot is it in East Tennessee and how bad is it going to get?

Published in News
Rate this item
(3 votes)

Suttree LandingRacers of all stripes assembled Saturday for Cheers to Clean Water boat races on the Tennessee River. Keenan Thomas/Hellbender Press

Cheers to Clean Water celebrants race, learn and scrub the river at Suttree Landing Park

KNOXVILLE Beneath the sound of a beckoning banjo, partiers and athletes alike paddled the shores of Suttree Landing Park, picking up trash as they floated down the Tennessee River.

The fifth Cheers to Clean Water Celebration on Saturday (June 11) featured 4k- and 8k-kayak races, a cleanup in and around the Tennessee River, and a central gathering area punctuated by booths for land- and water-based advocacy organizations.

“It’s both on water and on land, cleaning up this section of the Tennessee River,” AmeriCorps member Madison Moore said on Saturday from the park. “After the boating is over, they’ll come down here for the celebration, where we have a whole bunch of other vendors that are helping us make this day a possibility.”

The celebration promotes the importance of maintaining and cleaning major waterways like the Tennessee River.

Rate this item
(1 Vote)

6-minute video about what to do if you see a black bear

Smokies officials say euthanized bear was overweight and seeking human food

GATLINBURG Great Smoky Mountains National Park wildlife biologists and park rangers responded to Elkmont Campground on Sunday (June 12) after a peculiarly large black bear injured a toddler and her mother sleeping in a tent.

Wildlife biologists captured the responsible bear, and it was euthanized Monday, June 13, according to a news release from the park service.

“The bear weighed approximately 350 pounds, which is not standard for this time of year, suggesting the bear had previous and likely consistent access to non-natural food sources,” said Lisa McInnis, resource management chief.

Published in News

UTK has quite the collection of earthly remains

Editorial cartoon depicting Charles Darwin as an ape 1871

WBIR: UT got good bones

KNOXVILLE The University of Tennessee boasts an incredible collection of animal skeletons — from hummingbirds to bison, according to a story from WBIR. It’s among the largest such assemblages in the country. (There are also skeletons at the Body Farm, but that’s a different story).

The skeletons are part of the UT Anthropology Department’s Vertebrate Osteology Collection.

“We have over 12,000 vertebrate specimens in our collections. So that’s 12,000 skeletons of individual animals,” Dr. Anneke Janzen, an assistant professor in UT’s Anthropology Department, told WBIR.

The collection includes skulls and skeletons ranging in size from small bats to bison. It also includes skulls of dolphins, ostriches and alligators.

“Beyond just being able to identify bones and identify different species based on tiny bone fragments, I think students have a much greater appreciation for, you know, the diversity of animal life out there and much greater appreciation for animals in our backyards as well,” Janzen told WBIR.

The collection is available for analysis by professional researchers, and parts can be seen by the public during the annual Darwin Day at the university. 

Published in Feedbag
Rate this item
(2 votes)
EMDFlocation

Editor’s note: As reported in Hellbender Press, the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM) was reprimanded by the Southern Environmental Law Center for neglecting its duty to follow guidelines and proper procedures mandated by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Of immediate concern was OREM’s pretext and information — or specifically lack of pertinent information — released ahead of the public meeting on May 17, 2022 about its project for a new “Environmental Management Disposal Facility” (EMDF).

Published in News
Rate this item
(2 votes)

284114AC 1DD8 B71C 0722E2E4CA635D1FOriginalA radio-collared bull elk is seen at rest in Cataloochee Valley.  Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Please don’t feed or get attacked by the animals

This story was originally published by The Conversation.

Millions of Americans enjoy observing and photographing wildlife near their homes or on trips. But when people get too close to wild animals, they risk serious injury or even death. It happens regularly, despite the threat of jail time and thousands of dollars in fines.

These four articles from The Conversation’s archive offer insights into how wild animals view humans and how our presence affects nearby animals and birds — plus a scientist’s perspective on what’s wrong with wildlife selfies. 

Page 1 of 22