Each week, we’ll share some of our staff’s recommended local, national, and international stories. Check these articles out for news and context related to sustainability, human health, climate, environmental justice, and the economy!
Ecosystem Restoration in Cities
Yale Environment 360 interviewed urban ecologist Eric Sanderson who researches the ecological history of New York City. He discussed the impacts of climate change on urban landscapes and how reintroducing historical ecosystems could mitigate the impacts. Sanderson talks about the importance of giving up urban land to allow natural ecosystems to reform, and he mentions that every problem that New York City is facing has already been solved by ecosystems in the past. He stresses the importance of redesigning urban landscapes, opening up ponds and streams that run under NYC, and introducing tax policies that encourage the protection of urban ecosystems.
Stronger Protection for Endangered Species
Due to climate change and biodiversity loss, many habitats are shrinking and disappearing. The US Fish and Wildlife Service announced that the Biden Administration reversed a Trump-era rule that limited the definition of habitats for endangered species. The Trump Administration’s rule limited protection to where an endangered species could currently live, whereas Biden’s new rule will expand protections to where species could someday live. This rule will help to protect any ecosystem that can sustain endangered species in the US, whether the species is living there now or may migrate there in the future.
Federal Funding for Safe Water
The EPA announced last week that they will be releasing four new water health advisories for PFAS, which are dangerous chemicals found in drinking water. Biden’s new infrastructure bill set aside $1 billion (out of $5 B) to address water contamination and PFAS, specifically focusing on small and disadvantaged areas. The EPA hopes to extend this rule to similar dangerous chemicals, like PFOA and PFOS, which are found in many household goods.
How to Meet the US’s Climate Goals by 2030
The Biden administration has committed to a 50 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030. In order to achieve this benchmark, emissions must be reduced from various sectors, including those in transportation and energy production. Agriculture, industry, and buildings also need to "shift to low- and zero-carbon energy sources to meet the 2030 goal.” To create change through the policy route, states and the federal government need to put policies in place to reach the climate goals they have set for themselves. This may be through subsidies, incentives, and taxes, but states will have to choose which option works best for their citizens.