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Almanac Archive for Feb, 4, 2021

The Conservation Almanac

Save the Date: April 17, 2021
Though details are still in the works, we are excited to announce that the Earth Day Beach Clean-Up will be returning as an in-person event, Saturday, April 17, from 10 am to noon.  We are currently planning three socially-distanced options so that everyone will be able to find a safe way to get outside and help protect our Island's ocean environment. It won't be quite like the "good old days" but we're going to give it our best try!

Photo: Can you guess the year of this Earth Day Beach Clean-Up?

Food Waste at the Super Bowl

No, this isn't a story about half-eaten chicken wings and neglected pizza crusts. If you're watching the game this Sunday, keep an eye out during the second quarter for what must surely be the most expensive message ever aired in the service of reducing food waste. The "teaser" available online doesn't offer much detail, but apparently the Vineyard's own Amy Schumer will be featured walking through a fridge filled with mayonnaise (Ed. note: Eww), before transforming into a magical winged creature (Ed. note: Awesome.)

Food waste is in fact a very serious issue. According to national non-profit ReFED, 35 - 40% of all the food grown in the USA is never eaten. That's both an unconscionable waste when many remain hungry, but also one of the most important drivers of climate change. Growing food emits carbon, whether it's eaten or not, at every step from the farm to the truck to the store. But when it's wasted it emits even more through incineration or decomposition in a landfill. Because of this, Project Drawdown has determined that reducing food waste could be the single most important thing (or the third, depending on the method) that can be done to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.

VCS is part of the Island-Wide Organics Committee, which is working toward reducing and better managing our local food waste.
Tonight: Second Public Hearing on Plastic Grass
The second in a series of at least three public hearings on one of the most controversial proposals to come before the MV Commission in years - the expansion of the High School's athletic facilities, including an artificial turf field - is tonight (Feb. 4) at 7:00. The meeting will last approximately three hours and, with the applicant having described their plans in detail at the previous hearing, will now focus on testimony from community groups and the public.  To attend the meeting via Zoom click here; for other alternatives see the MVC calendar. Speaking slots have already been assigned and there will be no time for additional public input tonight, but if you would like to submit written comments or speak at the next hearing (and we encourage everyone to do so), please contact Lucy Morrison at the MVC.

VCS has long been opposed to the installation of artificial turf playing fields on Martha's Vineyard, and we have submitted testimony in opposition to this proposal. Please see the previous edition of the Almanac to read more about our position.

As the Seas Encroach, Hopeful Signs on the Horizon

Two days ago, a storm surge coinciding with an extreme high tide inundated the south shore of our Island. Two days before that, on the opposite side of the country, Highway 1 spectacularly collapsed during a heavy rain (photo at right, see more here). Some will argue that these incidents are not solely due to climate change, and they would be technically correct. But, as we like to say, this is what climate change looks like. Get used to it.

Despite these weather events, it is hard not to be hopeful now for climate progress, in light of events occurring on the other pages of the newspaper. As has been widely reported, the Biden administration wasted no time in reversing fossil fuel friendly executive orders, as well as issuing new ones aimed at creating clean energy jobs.

But important signs of progress are also coming from the corporate world. On Friday, General Motors made the surprise announcement that by 2035 they would be selling only electric automobiles.  Make no mistake, this isn't being done for altruistic reasons. GM does not have a history as a climate-friendly company, and current CEO Mary Barra has essentially been a weather vane on the issue. While Trump was president, Ms. Barra pushed for worse fuel economy standards (opposing the very standards GM had advanced during the Obama administration!). Then, immediately following this November's election Ms. Barra and GM reversed course again, turning toward improving fuel efficiency.

The takeaway is that GM's announcement is so important not because they are doing the right thing, but because of what it signals: a publicly-traded corporation believes that doing the right thing will  maximize shareholder value in the future. That is a very bright sign indeed.
The Vineyard Conservation Society is a non-profit membership organization dedicated to preserving the environment of Martha’s Vineyard through advocacy, education and the protection of the Island’s land and water.

Copyright © 2021 Vineyard Conservation Society, All rights reserved.

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