Transforming the ‘coastal squeeze’ from climate change

first_imgAnalysts call it “the coastal squeeze,” but for plant and animal communities bordering urban and suburban seashores, another word could apply: extinction.Though the Earth’s seas have risen and fallen many times over the planet’s lifetime, the man-made changes occurring now and the larger ones anticipated in the near future are different, says Steven Handel, a visiting professor in landscape architecture at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. An ocean of concern Ups and downs of sea level The reason, he says, is because humans have built roads and houses and other hard, immutable structures along the coasts. And what people may view as scenic coastal roadways, the natural communities of plants and animals may experience as terminal barriers, blocking their migratory response to rising seas.“Can these [natural] zones migrate when behind these zones is us — our sidewalks, roads, homes, factories, power stations, and yuppies jogging?” Handel said. “There’s no open land here, no open soil for these higher [ecosystem] zones to move to. This is civilization. We call this problem the coastal squeeze.”But Handel, a plant ecologist who is visiting Harvard from Rutgers University, where he is distinguished professor of ecology and evolution, said all doesn’t have to be lost. Incorporating understanding of plant characteristics with smart design can produce alternatives that preserve natural communities and human use of a landscape endangered by sea-level rise that Handel said could — under pessimistic scenarios — top 31 inches by mid-century.About a dozen years ago, Handel became interested in how natural processes could be harnessed to improve degraded, damaged, and abandoned sites dotting city landscapes.He teamed up with landscape architects to transform the Fresh Kills Landfill in Staten Island and an all-but-abandoned former commercial port area near the Brooklyn Bridge. Both areas have been restored to their natural state and are habitats where native plants attract birds and other wildlife. And humans by the thousands also come to enjoy the park-like settings.Other projects Handel has been involved in include a site in Beijing that was restored in preparation for the 2008 Summer Olympics, and California’s Orange County Great Park, fashioned from a decommissioned Marine Corps air station.Handel spoke Tuesday evening at Harvard’s Geological Lecture Hall at an event sponsored by the Harvard Museum of Natural History (HMNH) and co-sponsored by the Association to Preserve Cape Cod. The talk was introduced by Jane Pickering, executive director of the Harvard Museums of Science and Culture, of which the HMNH is part, and by the association’s executive director, Andrew Gottlieb.Handel used several projects as examples of how smart design can transform landscapes. Some buttress existing sites against coming changes even as they incorporate natural features, by encouraging sand dunes on previously flat beaches, and planting native, salt-tolerant trees and grasses. Other plans concede that the sea is likely to reclaim certain areas, such as barrier islands and some coastal homes, and recommend moving residents inland and converting the endangered sites to day and recreational uses.The approach Handel described begins with accepting that the seas will rise. It takes projections for how sea levels will change familiar landscapes and moves forward from there, looking for opportunities such as inland water bodies and waterways that may soon be brackish, making them potential sites for future salt marshes. Newly engineered marshes can replace those drowned by the rising tide, buffer storms, and provide breeding grounds for fish and birds. Other opportunities lie in brownfields and abandoned sites that could be rehabilitated into places where communities meet the sea and around which fresh development can grow.Homeowners living near the coast can help as well, Handel said, by substituting traditional landscape plantings and mown lawns with natural coastal plantings, like beach plum and other species selected both for their beauty and because they’re native.“We want to tell people, ‘You’re 10 blocks from the bay, you’re part of the bay ecosystem,’” Handel said.Unfortunately, everything can’t be saved. Though in the past it’s been possible to rebuild coastal homes wrecked by storms, rising seas and stronger storms will make those projects less practical, forcing some homeowners to move. Even natural communities not bounded by human development may not be able to disperse seeds and adapt inland as fast as the seas come up.On Cape Cod, Handel pointed out that early maps show the land around its tip, near Provincetown, shifting even without the powerful forces unleashed by climate change, so that’s one place where more change can be expected. In addition, the Cape’s characteristic sand dunes will become even more vulnerable to erosion from the powerful surf.How those and other changes will unfurl is uncertain, but the fact that change is coming isn’t, he said.“The past is not prologue,” Handel said. “What we know from our youth and from today will not remain. That’s the one thing that we know for sure.” Melting ice, changing world Harvard program with Brazilian college gauges threats to cities from rising seas Mitrovica speaks on scenarios connected to gravitational effect Related Symposium spotlights the oceans and the unfolding effects of their warming last_img read more

Rachel Tucker & Kara Lindsay Sing Green Girl Bluegrass for New Wicked Studio Session

first_img Wicked Are your hearts leaping in a giddy whirl yet? Following a soulful take on “Defying Gravity” with Aaron Tveit, Rachel Tucker has again gone #OutofOz for a Wicked studio session. This time, Tucker, who currently plays Elphaba at the Gershwin Theatre, paired with her co-star Kara Lindsay to perform a new, folksy rendition of “I’m Not That Girl.” Check it out below, and be on the lookout for more #OutofOz videos from your favorite gravity defiers and hair tossers in the future (which, if you haven’t heard, is unlimited). View Comments Related Shows from $95.00last_img

Report: Solar prices have more room to fall

first_imgReport: Solar prices have more room to fall FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Utility Dive:A new analysis from Greentech Media (GTM) Research estimates solar bids becoming as cheap as $14.07/MWh through 2022, assuming a perfect storm of desirable financing and technology advances.While that is an extremely low and aspirational price in today’s market, the report warns that the rate of cost declines is beginning to slow, particularly in more mature markets. But rapid declines will still likely be seen in developing areas.NV Energy proposed a portfolio of projects that currently has the lowest-priced solar — a 300 MW power purchase agreement at $23.76/MWh for 25 years, with the Eagle Shadow Mountain solar project.The industry has been playing the solar limbo for years now, as prices rapidly plummeted in response to economies of scale, new technology and experience.NV Energy’s proposal made waves by coming in below a $24.99/MWh contract signed earlier this summer in Arizona. And there is talk that a Tri-County Electric Cooperative deal in Oklahoma resulted in even lower wind prices than the NV Energy solar deal.The addition of storage is also helping bring down solar prices in some areas. In January, Xcel Energy received a median bid price of $21/MWh for wind-plus-storage projects and $36/MWh for solar-plus-storage projects. That beat out the $45/MWh price for a solar-plus-storage project hit last year in a PPA between Tucson Electric Power and NextEra Energy.More: How low can solar prices go? GTM predicts under $15/MWh in 2022last_img read more

Pit Stops: April

first_imgApril 9Tallulah Fest: Long Creek, S.C.Join us April 9th in Long Creek, South Carolina for some of the Southeast’s most classic whitewater paddling and hum-dinging. Boaters, rafters, and river lovers alike will find themselves stitched amongst an enthusiastic river-loving community!LOAPMeetUp_2016_1April 10Meet-Up #1: Chattooga River Clean-Up: Long Creek, S.C.After a weekend of foot stomping and stout crushing, meet Jess and Adam at the Blue Ridge Outdoors Tent/Van for a shuttle to the Chattooga River to cleanup some of the more heavily impacted sections of the river. The first 25 participants that sign up will receive a pair of Farm to Feet socks and also the satisfaction that comes from giving back!!April 15—17Down by Downtown: Roanoke, Va.Square dancers and marathon runners of all ages are invited to join Jess and Adam at the 2016 Down by Downtown Music Festival held in beautiful Elmwood Park, downtown Roanoke. Down by Downtown is held in conjunction with the Blue Ridge Marathon kicking off the morning of Saturday April 16th. Catch a show at the Elmwood Park Amphitheater, Friday and Saturday, as well as at multiple venues through out town.LOAPMeetUp_2016_2April 16Meet-Up #2: Hike for the Stars: Roanoke, Va.If you’re not participating in the Blue Ridge Marathon, and not too exhausted from a night of dancing, come join Blue Ridge Outdoors and Walkabout Outfitters for a hike to the infamous Mill Mountain Star! Meet us at Elmwood Park at the Blue Ridge Outdoors and Walkabout Outfitters booths (site 10) at 8:15am if interested.April 30Meet-Up #3: TBD: Fayetteville, W.Va.Join us with Waterstone Outdoors in the New River Gorge for a day of play and an evening of rocking out!April 22—24Tuck Fest: USNWC, Charlotte, N.C.This three-day event will be sure to leave you exhausted. No matter what your calling to the outdoors may be, Tuck Fest has it. Come join us at the U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, N.C., for a bike riding, trail running, and eddy catching good time.Have questions? Email for more information on any of these events or meet-ups! We want to hang out! That’s part of the reason why we hit the road in the first place. Check back on our blog and social media handles regularly for updates on when and where we’ll be near you, but in the meantime, browse through our April schedule for event presences and meet-ups this month.last_img read more

This planning season, think long and act short

first_imgMany of our well-laid-out action plans for 2020 and beyond have been derailed, deconstructed, or delayed. Credit union leaders are experiencing big career-defining moments and, in many ways, some of us are in crisis management mode. Credit union leaders can’t escape crises. While we can’t always avoid them, we can lead our teams through them, preparing and planning for a changing future. It’s times of crisis when leadership is needed most.Prioritizing during pandemicsCrisis situations urgently demand our attention and quick response – even if it means delaying a previously scheduled action item or making changes to existing structures or processes.Our teams – protecting and supporting our teams is the most important crisis-management focus for any credit union leader. This protection begins with having the right PPE, social distancing, and working remotely when possible, but it expands beyond to include other factors that may be negatively impacting our staff. Employees are addressing childcare, education, quarantine, reduction of income (partner), loss of life, illness, fear, depression, and more. Credit union teams need empathy, flexibility, resources, and encouragement.I encourage credit union leaders to consider this question: “If your employees were to rate your response to their needs during this period of crisis, how would they rate you?”Our members and communities – as a movement, this is an area where credit unions have visibly been the most effective. Credit unions truly became “Financial First Responders” in many ways, including financial counseling, credit flexibility, emergency loans, PPP loans, and skip-a-pay deferments. Credit union leaders have also been highly visible in their communities, supporting community-wide issues that address hunger, housing, and employment. Besides meeting the immediate needs of the vulnerable, these leaders are improving their brand, which will last long after the crisis is over. People are slow to forget those who helped them through a rough spot.Our business models – credit union leaders have jumped in to adjust to and manage very high deposit growth to protect capital and income. Collection efforts have been ramped up with greater oversight and earlier member contact to address and find solutions to emerging financial problems.Savvy credit union leaders are also using short-term pandemic impacts to seize long-term opportunities. For example, limited branch access during the pandemic has forced some “resistant” members to migrate from member-facing to technology services. It’s exposed “gaps” in existing digital technology and remote service strategies, and redundancy in branch platforms. This is leading to increased investment in digital strategies and scaled-back investment into branch access. Branches are closing or reassigning branch staff to other areas. The pandemic forced many “reluctant” credit union leaders to embrace remote work, and these short-term changes will have a lasting impact on many of the ways we operate in the future.Keep your eye on futureThe world we operate in has changed significantly in a very short time. The impact of these changes is still unfolding and collectively will influence our future direction and action plans.Scenario-planning is a must, and given the current crisis, pandemic scenarios should be included in the forward-thinking analysis to identify changing member views, needs, wants, etc. Of course, economic recovery scenarios need to be high focus now as well. The scenario that does materialize will greatly influence our level of success.While credit unions leaders are acting short, they should be thinking long and considering how the current crisis will change the long-term outlook. A sample of these important strategic questions include:“How will these potential changes align with our purpose, vision, mission, and values?” “Which pandemic and/or economic scenarios are most likely and what are the potential near and long-term impacts of each scenario?”“With additional pressure on earnings during 2021 and 2022, what are our Plan A and Plan B to ensure we meet member needs, generate earnings, and maintain capital?”Why it mattersStrategic planning should be a continual process, during good times and bad. Credit union leaders who use strategic planning to make critical decisions are better able to pursue opportunities during the crisis. And leaders who rely on strategic planning during this crisis are more confident about their prospects for near-term results.During these dynamic times, leaders are encouraged to lean into strategic planning and assertively prioritize and prepare for changing employee, member, community, and credit union operational needs. 10SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Scott Butterfield Scott is the Principal of Your Credit Union Partner, PLLC.Your Credit Union Partner (YCUP) is a trusted advisor to the leaders of more than 100 credit unions located throughout … Web: Detailslast_img read more

ERAFP updates SRI charter to reflect diversification, ‘urgency’ of issues

first_imgFrance’s €25bn civil service pension scheme has revised its socially responsible investment (SRI) charter to “more forcefully” take into account “changes in the extra-financial environment”, such as climate change and the fight against tax evasion.The pension fund’s board of directors first approved an SRI charter in March 2006.Announcing the revision today, ERAFP said that, since then, its investments had diversified and that its SRI approach had expanded – via the adoption of shareholder-engagement guidelines, for example.It said “conditions have also changed since 2005”, with some issues having become “even more urgent”. “The spirit of the charter remains unchanged but has been supplemented by mention of ERAFP’s role as an active shareholder through a policy of shareholder engagement based on formally defined guidelines, more forceful follow-up of controversies and measurement of the effective impact of the ESG criteria,” it said.The latter aspect – impact measurement – is about being able to measure the “effective impact over time of the ESG selection criteria in the context of the ‘best in class’ approach, shareholder engagement and progressive reduction of the carbon footprint of ERAFP’s investment portfolio,” according to ERAFP.It also said the diversification of its investments meant it felt the charter’s principles needed to be articulated “at operational level according of the specific characteristics of the various asset classes and regions”.An extract of the board’s October 2016 decision to revise the charter states that “breaches of or complicity in breaches of recognised international standards by issuers” should “cease”.It adds that the board of directors “stresses its desire to encourage the organisation in which it invests to implement a constantly improved management of their impact on society and the environment”.“In particular,” it says, “it is in this sense that, in the event of failure of these attempts to influence, that exclusions may be decided.”last_img read more

UK workers face mandatory pension contribution increase

first_imgHowever, some experts have warned that the increase could prompt a spike in the number of people opting out of their pension scheme.Vince Smith-Hughes, retirement expert at Prudential, said: “Many young people say they do not have the spare cash to save and there is a danger that the increase in contributions leads to more people opting out.“It’s important to remember that responsibility for saving for retirement has shifted from government to individuals over recent times and the best approach is to save as much as you can as early as you can.”Catherine Doyle, head of defined contribution pensions at Newton Investment Management, called for the government to review the balance between employer and employee contributions.She added: “The stark fact remains that, while the industry acknowledges that significant progress has been made, the elephant in the room remains that individuals are still woefully unequipped to fund an increasingly lengthy retirement period.“While contribution rates are hugely influential in building up a decent-sized pot, so is having an investment strategy that delivers solid, long-term returns. As pot sizes grow, attention may well turn to what is under the bonnet of default strategies, particularly in the context of increasingly volatile equity markets and the need to maintain opt-out rates at low levels.”Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), released yesterday, showed that overall membership of workplace pensions had grown from 67% to 73%.However, nearly half of those contributing to a private sector pension paid in less than 2% of salary, the ONS found.Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, welcomed the improved coverage but argued that employers were “putting in the bare minimum”.However, a separate survey from Royal London found that nearly four out of five firms said they considered pension provision an important benefit to offer new and existing employees.Employers in Royal London’s survey also said they would be prepared to facilitate automatic increases to contributions whenever basic pay rose. Two-thirds (66%) backed this, while 62% said they would match any such increase. Millions of UK workers will see their pension contributions increase from next week as part of the latest stage of the country’s auto-enrolment programme.From 6 April, the minimum contribution for staff automatically enrolled into a workplace pension scheme will rise from 2% to 5%. This is made up of 3% from the employee and 2% from the employer.Employees can pay less if their employer’s contribution brings the total payment into the scheme to 5% of salary.Minimum contributions will increase again from 6 April 2019, to 5% for employees and 3% for employers.last_img read more

Man seeks euthanasia to end his sexuality struggle

first_imgBBC News 9 June 2016Family First Comment: More slippery slope…..“Psychiatrist Caroline Depuydt, who works at the Clinique Fond’roy psychiatric hospital in Brussels, prefers to encourage patients to seek further treatment. “We always have something that could work. Time, medication, psychotherapy – something that we must try and keep going with that. And the psychiatrist must give hope to the patient that it’s never finished,” she says.”A gay man in Belgium is trying to end his life because he cannot accept his sexuality. He told the Victoria Derbyshire programme he wanted to be granted euthanasia on the grounds of extreme psychological suffering.Sébastien has thought carefully about the moment he hopes his life will come to an end.“The moment when they put the drip in my arm – I’m not worried about that,” the 39-year-old explains. “For me, it’s just a kind of anaesthesia.”Sébastien, whose name we have changed to protect his identity, is from Belgium – where euthanasia has been legal since 2002.There were 1,807 confirmed cases of euthanasia in 2013, the most recent year for which figures are available.The majority of cases are elderly people suffering from terminal illnesses including cancer – only 4% were suffering from psychiatric disorders.‘Permanent suffering’For Sébastien, or anyone else in Belgium who seeks euthanasia as an option, it is not as simple as asking a doctor and being granted a lethal injection.The law states that patients must demonstrate “constant and unbearable physical or mental suffering”.In psychological cases, three doctors must agree that euthanasia is the right option.Nevertheless, Sébastien remains determined to pursue it.“I have always thought about death. Looking back on my earliest memories, it’s always been in my thoughts. It’s a permanent suffering, like being a prisoner in my own body,” he says.“A constant sense of shame, feeling tired, being attracted to people you shouldn’t be attracted to – as though everything were the opposite of what I would have wanted.”There is widespread public support for the euthanasia law in Belgium and the number of approved cases has risen year by year since it came into effect in 2002.In 2014, the law was amended to allow euthanasia for terminally-ill children.But there is debate among the medical profession about whether it should be an option for people who are mentally ill.Psychiatrist Caroline Depuydt, who works at the Clinique Fond’roy psychiatric hospital in Brussels, prefers to encourage patients to seek further treatment.“We always have something that could work. Time, medication, psychotherapy – something that we must try and keep going with that. And the psychiatrist must give hope to the patient that it’s never finished,” she says.“It’s a very difficult law, it’s a philosophical and ethical question, very deep and there is no one good answer.”READ MORE: up with family issues in NZ. Receive our weekly emails direct to your Inbox.last_img read more

Mayweather and Pacquiao arrive in Las Vegas

first_imgBoxers Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao arrived in Las Vegas on Tuesday and participated in rallies attended by fans.The showdown between the two top fighters, which has been years in the making, is expected to smash pay-per-view records, both in terms of buys and revenue. For the crowds at the rallies, it is most likely the only chance to see the fighters ahead of the much-anticipated bout.The MGM Grand Garden Arena, which has a capacity of 16,800, will be packed with big names with only 500 tickets offered for sale to the general public.Undefeated Floyd Mayweather was welcomed by the Southern University marching band and thousands of fans, while Pacquiao greeted a smaller crowd of about a thousand.last_img

2 persons fall in sting op

first_imgFifteen sachets of suspected shabuvalued at around P150,000 were seized from 53-year-old Araceli Soliza and39-year-old Errol Vargas, a police report showed. Antidrug operatives of the TalisayCity police station staged the entrapment operation which led to the arrest ofthe suspects around 4:30 p.m. on Friday.  Aside from suspected shabu, a P1,000cash, a P300 marked money and two cellphones were recovered from them, thereport added.   BACOLOD City – Police nabbed two drugsuspects in a sting operation in Barangay Zone 10, Talisay City, NegrosOccidental.  The suspects were detained and chargedwith violation of Republic Act 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Actof 2002./PNlast_img