Fungi Are Our Friends - Despite its poor public relations image, highlighted by the ‘bad guy’ role it played in the popular HBO series The Last of Us, fungi are both critical to life on earth and to reversing climate change. Underground, vast networks of mycorrhizal fungi are key to the regeneration of forests, rangelands, and organic crops. As ‘carbon brokers’ between plant roots and beneficial microorganisms, fungi are working to help sequester more than a third of the world's annual fossil fuel emissions, according to a new study. From yeasts to mushrooms, fungi can be found in nearly every habitat. They provide diverse sources of food and medicine. Certain fungi, including mushrooms, can clean up pollution like crude oil. Of the 100,000 fungal species identified by scientists so far, only about 200 are toxic to humans or crops. For more information about these hard-working heroes, see the Fungi Nexus.
Renewable energy battery plant to open on the site of old West Virginia steel mill - To bring economic and social renewal to areas of coal and steel country that have suffered for decades from loss of industry and factory closings, Form Energy has announced plans to build a new renewable energy battery plant on the site of a former steel mill in Weirton, West Virginia. The plant will produce an innovative battery type that uses iron, water, and air rather than lithium, which is much more complicated to procure. Form Energy is one of many projects accelerated by incentives from the Inflation Reduction Act, and working in partnership with the State of West Virginia provides above-average wages and excellent working conditions. The hope is that this project will be the start of the renewable energy industry working to revitalize struggling communities in Appalachia and beyond.
Community Carbon Credits in Fiji - The communities on the island of Venatu Levu in Fiji have united to create a community-based carbon credit operation protecting 4,120 of the last vestiges of their primary forest. The forest is home to hundreds of plants found only in Fiji, and nine mataqali (clans) composed of ~430 people stewarding the landscape through sustainable harvest and protection from the extractive industries that have transformed their surroundings into sugarcane plantations and deforested wastelands. The project has generated 15,000+ carbon credits annually since 2018, supporting local youth and women’s programs, ranger training, and a burgeoning cooperative honey business managed by each town. The project is vetted by Plan Vivo and managed by the Drawa Block Forest Communities Cooperative, founded by the community in collaboration with multinational NGOs to protect the land forever. The project is an inspiration in light of recent shortfalls of global carbon credit operations, and planning stages are already being implemented in neighboring Pacific Island nations.
Responding to Climate Migration - I spent a week in a border town in Texas this summer that ranked among the hottest cities during the unprecedented heat dome, volunteering in a shelter serving pregnant asylum-seekers. Having made that human connection and heard women's migration stories, I was deeply affected by recently released numbers by the aid agency Oxfam. They reported that chronic hunger is projected to rise by a third in the ten countries hit hardest by global warming, estimating there could be up to 216 million climate migrants at the global level by 2050. What kind of response does that information trigger? Research suggests reading some stories about the issue can provoke xenophobia and divert resources and attention away from efforts to reduce greenhouse gases. Our newly published Migration Nexus suggests ways our actions can shift the narrative and motivate the implementation of solutions during this period of great transition.