Green Drinks Miami at the Miami Seaquarium – December 7

Join GreenDrinks.org for Green Drinks on Thursday, December 7th at 6:30 PM at Miami Seaquarium!

Theme: The Marine Urban Ecology of Miami: Resilience, Adaptation, Conservation, and Restoration

During this month’s Green Drinks we will be collaborating with Rescue a Reef Program, Shark Research at University of Miami and The Coral Reef Futures Lab to feature University of Miami professors who will be discussing The Marine Urban Ecology of Miami: Resilience, Adaptation, Conservation, and Restoration.

Help us in welcoming Dr. Diego Lirman, Dr. Andrew Baker, and Dr. Neil Hammerschlag as our keynote presenters for the night!

This event is FREE!
FREE beer & wine will be provided at this event along with small bites to enjoy! (Must be 21+ to consume alcohol)

Register through Eventbrite to receive 2 FREE drink tickets!
Click here for Facebook Event page
Walk- in guests are welcome as well!

Event Details:

When: Thursday, December 7th
Time: 6:30 – 9:00 PM
Doors close at 7:00 PM
Where: Miami Seaquarium –
4400 Rickenbacker Causeway Miami, Fl 33149
Enter through gate to the right of the main entrance.

What is Green Drinks?

Green Drinks is an international initiative that brings like-minded environmentally friendly people together for a happy hour & discussion. Green Drinks is currently going on in over 70 countries around the world! Join us to contribute to the Green Movement!

Volunteer EcoAction Days in December

Connect with nature and get down and dirty at one of our monthly volunteer days! Join our naturalists in restoring the park and its natural areas with projects that include weed/invasive exotic vegetation removal, planting, mulching, and garbage clean-up. This program meets at the park Nature Center; please bring comfortable closed-toe shoes, insect repellent, work gloves, small hand tools, and protection from the sun. Long shirts/pants, water, hats, and sunglasses are highly recommended.

Hosted by Miami EcoAdventures and Miami-Dade Parks

Saturday, December 2, 2017 at 9 AM – 12 PM

Bill Sadowski Park
17555 Southwest 79th Avenue, Palmetto Bay, Florida 33157

Saturday, December 9 at 9 AM – 12 PM

Crandon Park
Key Biscayne, Florida 10473

Saturday, December 9 at 9 AM – 12 PM

Arch Creek Park Museum & Nature Center / Arch Creek Trust
1855 NE 135th St, North Miami, FL 33181

BBC News: First CO2 rise in four years puts pressure on Paris targets

Professor Corinne Le Quéré, Professor of Climate Change Science and Policy at the University of East Anglia and Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research

BBC News is reporting that, according to the Global Carbon Project, CO2 emissions are projected to rise in 2017 for the first time in four years. The main cause is attributed to increased coal use in China as their economy expands.

“Global CO2 emissions appear to be going up strongly once again after a three-year stable period. This is very disappointing,” said Professor Corinne Le Quéré. “With global CO2 emissions from human activities estimated at 41 billion tonnes for 2017, time is running out on our ability to keep warming well below 2 degrees C, let alone 1.5C.”

Professor Corinne Le Quéré from the University of East Anglia is the lead author of the report. The Global Carbon Project, which has been analysing CO2 emissions since 2006, confirms that carbon output has grown by about 3% per year in that period, but growth essentially declined or remained flat between 2014 and 2016. There was hope that we had finally reached the peak.

The most important element in causing this rise has been China, which is responsible for around 28% of the global total.

 

Another important factor in China has been lower water levels in rivers which have seen a drop in the amount of electricity made from hydro-power, with utilities turning to coal and gas to make up the shortfall.

 

US emissions have continued to decline but the fall has been less than expected. Higher prices saw a drop in the use of natural gas for electricity – with renewables and hydro-power picking up the slack.

 

Coal use has also grown slightly in the US this year, with consumption up about a half of one percent.

The latest figures indicate that in 2017, emissions of CO2 from all human activities grew by about 2% globally

Europe and India also saw lower than expected declines.

“The climate will not let us wait until 2020 when the Paris agreement comes into force,” said Nicaragua’s chief negotiator, Paul Oquist.
“Climate change is happening now and it’s vital that immediate actions to cut emissions become a feature of this summit.”

Indeed, climate change scientists warn that we need to reach a global CO2 peak before 2020 to avoid catastrophic global warming in this century.

Mr. Skink Goes to Washington

The Center for Biological Diversity is raising the alarm for the Florida Keys Mole Skink. The pink-tailed lizard lives along the shoreline in the lower Florida Keys. It is threatened with extinction by climate-induced sea level rise and encroaching development.

“The Florida Keys mole skink is one of the rarest and most mysterious of Florida natives. This small, five-inch-long lizard has shiny, armor-like scales, a pinkish-red tail and a brown body.” (photo courtesy: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission)

Center for Biological Diversity is Suing to protect the Florida Keys Mole Skink

Last Monday, the Center “filed a formal notice of its intent to sue the Trump administration for denying protection to the Florida Keys mole skink under the Endangered Species Act.”

Florida Keys Mole Skink is “a secretive animal, living under rocks, leafs, debris and washed-up beach vegetation called tidal wrack. It’s also the southernmost U.S. mole skink, found mainly in Dry Tortugas and the Lower Keys along Florida’s shoreline, living in sandy areas where it burrows deep for refuge.” (photo courtesy: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

[Monday’s] filing noted that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service denied the skink protection in October despite devastating threats from flooding caused by rising seas, which are expected to inundate nearly half the lizard’s coastal habitat and underground burrows by 2060 and accelerate through the end of the century. Along with climate change, the animal is also threatened by ongoing urban sprawl in the Keys.

 

“Without help the Florida Keys mole skink is definitely headed for extinction,” said Elise Bennett, a Center attorney dedicated to protecting rare reptiles and amphibians. “This little lizard’s only home, the Florida Keys’ sandy coast, is being submerged by rising seas and battered by increasingly intense storms. If we don’t curb greenhouse gas pollution, this lizard and so many other plants and animals will be lost forever.”

In April 2010, the Center for Biological Diversity filed a petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service “to list 404 aquatic species from the southeastern United States, including the Florida Keys mole skink, under the Endangered Species Act.” Despite initial positive reviews from the federal agency, the Center has had to file years of legal actions to move the petition along. Then, after violating a court-ordered deadline of September 30, 2017, the federal agency abruptly denied the Florida Keys Mole Skink any protection.

Colorful lizard stands to lose all remaining coastal habitat to sea-level rise by the end of the century

“Its populations are currently in sharp decline because of urban development in the past and sea-level rise now and in the future, which causes flooding that destroys its habitat. Human population has spurred development along the shoreline in the Florida Keys, destroying many of the nooks and crannies this mole skink calls home.” (photo courtesy: Jake Scott, Center for Biological Diversity)

Florida Keys mole skinks can be found in the lower keys in Monroe County, Fla., and are known from the Dry Tortugas. They live along the shoreline around 20 to 31 inches above sea-level in sandy areas where they burrow into the soil and use driftwood, debris and tidal wrack as cover. Although population size for the Florida Keys mole skink is unknown, they have been in steady decline, with one estimate concluding there are between six and 20 populations left.

 

Because they live on shorelines, Florida Keys moles skinks are imminently threatened by rising seas, which are projected to continue to rise 14 to 34 inches by 2060, and 31 to 81 inches by 2100. The decision to deny protections to the skink only looked at a 30- to 40-year timeframe, finding the species will lose at least half its range to sea-level rise during that time. The decision ignored available projections that reflect 100 percent habitat loss through the end of this century.

 

Due to the small number of remaining populations and their vulnerable island locale, these skinks are also at risk of sudden population crashes from extreme weather events fueled by climate change. In September storm surge from Hurricane Irma, one of the strongest storms ever seen in the Atlantic Ocean, inundated the Florida Keys.

The Florida Keys mole skink is protected under Florida’s Endangered and Threatened Species Rule. It is time that the federal U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service does the same under the Endangered Species Act.

Solar Glass + Solar Rooftops = 100% Electrical Power

“Because the materials do not absorb or emit light in the visible spectrum, they look exceptionally transparent to the human eye,” Richard Lunt, the Johansen Crosby Endowed Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at MSU. Photo by Kurt Stepnitz/Michigan State University

Or very nearly so, according to Richard Lunt at Michigan State University. With 5 – 7 billion square meters of glass surface, researchers estimate that “transparent solar technologies have the potential of supplying some 40 percent of energy demand in the U.S.” and a similar potential for rooftop solar energy production. Lunt, the Johansen Crosby Endowed Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at MSU, and one of the pioneers of the “transparent luminescent solar concentrator” technology believes:

“The complimentary deployment of both technologies could get us close to 100 percent of our demand if we also improve energy storage.”

 

“Highly transparent solar cells represent the wave of the future for new solar applications. We analyzed their potential and show that by harvesting only invisible light, these devices can provide a similar electricity-generation potential as rooftop solar while providing additional functionality to enhance the efficiency of buildings, automobiles and mobile electronics.”

I have been watching this technology since at least 2013 with the announcement of a public-private partnership between a company called New Energy Technologies, Inc. and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. But as Lunt noted in 2014, these solar glass & coatings were not clear.

No one wants to sit behind colored glass,” said Lunt “It makes for a very colorful environment, like working in a disco. We take an approach where we actually make the luminescent active layer itself transparent.

At the time, the solar conversion efficiency of Lunt’s solar glass was not quite 1% (compared to approximately 7% for the tinted luminescent solar concentrators). Now, however, conversion efficiencies for the transparent luminescent solar concentrator is over 5%.

Although transparent solar technologies will never be more efficient at converting solar energy to electricity than their opaque counterparts, they can get close and offer the potential to be applied to a lot more additional surface area, he said.

 

Right now, transparent solar technologies are only at about a third of their realistic overall potential, Lunt added.

 

“That is what we are working towards,” he said. “Traditional solar applications have been actively researched for over five decades, yet we have only been working on these highly transparent solar cells for about five years. Ultimately, this technology offers a promising route to inexpensive, widespread solar adoption on small and large surfaces that were previously inaccessible.”

“It opens a lot of area to deploy solar energy in a non-intrusive way,” Lunt said in 2014. “It can be used on tall buildings with lots of windows or any kind of mobile device that demands high aesthetic quality like a phone or e-reader. Ultimately we want to make solar harvesting surfaces that you do not even know are there.”

For more information:

SOLAR ENERGY THAT DOESN’T BLOCK THE VIEW – August 19, 2014

TRANSPARENT SOLAR TECHNOLOGY REPRESENTS ‘WAVE OF THE FUTURE’ – October 23, 2017

Emergence of highly transparent photovoltaics for distributed applications – December 21, 2016 (subscription required)

Frost Science Museum Awarded Grants Aimed at Improving Miami’s Coastal Resilience

Frost Science was just selected by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Wells Fargo as one of eight non-profit organizations nationwide to receive a grant aimed at increasing community capacity to plan and implement coastal resilience projects and improve the ability of urban coastal communities to adapt to sea level rise.

Resilient Communities 2017 Grant

Virginia Key Beach (photo courtesy: Marc Averette via Wikimedia Commons CC 3.0)

In October, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and Wells Fargo announced $2 million in grants to eight nonprofit organizations engaged in community efforts to “prepare for future impacts associated with sea level rise, water quantity and quality, and forest conservation”.

By taking advantage of natural features like wetlands, resilient shorelines, urban tree canopies, natural forests and healthy upstream watersheds, communities can accrue quality of life benefits today, enhance fish and wildlife resources, and help prepare for foreseeable resilience challenges.

Miami’s Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science was awarded $287,749 from the Resilient Communities grant, and raised matching funds of $392,7111, for the project to restore a total of 17 acres of coastal wetlands at three different public sites, including City of Miami’s Virginia Key.

Wells Fargo and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation launched the “Resilient Communities Program” this year as a 4-year initiative…

… designed to prepare for future environmental challenges by enhancing community capacity to plan and implement resiliency projects and improve the protections afforded by natural ecosystems by investing in green infrastructure and other measures. The program will focus on water quality and quantity declines, forest health concerns, and sea level rise. The program will emphasize community inclusion and assistance to traditionally underserved populations in vulnerable areas.

“Five Star and Urban Waters” 2017 Grant

Aquarium at Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science (photo: Melanie Dawn Molina Wood, all rights reserved)

This announcement comes on the heels of another announcement earlier this month that Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, in partnership with Overtown Youth
Center, Palmer Trinity School, and others, have been awarded a Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Program 2017 Grant for East Greynolds Park Mangrove Habitat Restoration.

The grant help help restore “3.44 acres of degraded mangrove habitat critical to native fauna, including the endangered American crocodile and West Indian manatee, at Greynolds Park in Miami-Dade County. The grantee and project partners will engage 400 volunteers to restore natural ground elevation by removing large invasive plants and replanting native saltwater wetland plants, enhancing public green spaces and mitigating against coastal erosion.

Frost Science opened in downtown Miami at Museum Park on Biscayne Boulevard in May 2017, taking over for the original Miami Museum of Science next to the historic Vizcaya, where it had been since 1960. The Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science features a new state-of-the-art planetarium, the 500,000 gallon 3-level Gulf-Stream Aquarium, and multiple exhibit rooms throughout the 3-building, 6-level complex. And with it’s rainwater collection system, passive cooling, rooftop solar, and other green building & design features, Frost Science expects to achieve LEED-Gold certification. I think they should get LEED points for being awarded these coastal resiliency grants, too!

Chipping Away at Our National Parks

Biscayne National Park, in South Florida, is the world’s largest marine park with 95% of its area under water (photo credit: NPS photo by Shaun Wolfe)

Scientific America has an excellent (albeit disheartening) article written by Dana Hunter up at their website:

The Trump Administration’s Effect on National Parks

How are our national parks faring under the Trump administration and its Republican Congress? Let’s take a look at the latest actions, and you can decide for yourselves.

The report goes on to detail five areas where the current administration is harming the national treasure it is charged with protecting on our behalf:

  • The Trump Administration is Determined to Shrink National Monuments
  • The Trump Administration’s Proposed Budget Slashes National Park Funding
  • The Trump Administration is Muzzling the National Park Service
  • The Trump Administrations is Silencing NPS Climate Change Experts
  • The Trump Administration is Overturning Sensible NPS Regulations

As she writes, “It’s been a hard summer for our public lands.” I highly recommend the full article:The Trump Administration’s Effect on National Parks

Our public lands deserve better. Contact your member of Congress today and demand they support the National Park Service and protect our national monuments.

Compost Happens! Free Workshop Saturday, July 8

Home composting of yard waste and select kitchen waste takes materials that could wind up in a landfill and converts it into compost, a useful product for our South Florida gardens. It also avoids the energy and carbon emissions associated with transportation of this material to a centralized final disposal site. Anything that was a plant can be composted.

Want to learn how to compost? Master Gardener Terri Stephen will teach you how to make organic soil from your own kitchen and yard waste.

University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, in cooperation with Miami-Dade County’s Department of Solid Waste Management hosts FREE home composting workshops throughout the year. Here’s the next one:

When: Saturday, July 8, from 9:00am – 10:30am
Where: Thalatta Estate, 17301 Old Cutler Rd, Palmetto Bay, FL.
RSVP: 305.259.1245

It’s Summer Time Miami!

A summer-time PSA from the folks over at EnergyStar.gov: Is it time for a new EnergyStar pool pump?

ENERGY STAR certified pool pumps save money, save energy, and protect the climate. See how much your pool pump could be costing you in energy bills, learn when it might be time for new pool pump, and get the benefit of all the available savings when you choose ENERGY STAR.


Make a Savings Splash with a New Pool Pump

Alice Wainwright Park – Connecting People to Nature on World Environment Day

Today is World Environment Day, so let’s celebrate Alice Wainwright Park.

Alice Wainwright Park is located just south of the entrance to the Rickenbacker Causeway on the northern edge of Coconut Grove along Brickell Avenue. The 28-acre waterfront park & nature preserve showcases a tropical hardwood hammock. This stand of trees is a remnant of the Brickell Hammock, the “world’s northernmost tropical climate forest“.

The Brickell Hammock was a High Hammock, an extensive sub-tropical “jungle” that grew along the elevated bluff that extended along Biscayne Bay from Downtown Miami south to Coconut Grove and Cutler. This elevated bluff was formed by marine life and was the oldest land in southeast Florida. It was forested by seeds brought in by high tides over the land, and there were more varieties of trees found here than in any other section of the state.

The elevated bluff, also known as “Silver Bluffs”, is a small section of the oolitic limestone Miami Rock Ridge that stretches from northeast Miami-Dade to the Upper Keys. The Miami Rock Ridge formed a barrier between Biscayne Bay and the interior part of South Florida, “establishing a geological basin that facilitated the development of the Everglades“.

The park, named for the first woman elected to serve on the City of Miami Commission, is a like a secret gem in the city and one of my favorite places to reconnect with nature.

World Environment Day

World Environment Day is the United Nations’ most important day for encouraging worldwide awareness and action for the protection of our environment. Since it began in 1974, it has grown to become a global platform for public outreach that is widely celebrated in over 100 countries.

The 2017 host country is Canada, and the theme is “connecting people to nature” – “get outdoors and into nature, to appreciate its beauty and its importance, and to take forward the call to protect the Earth that we share.”

From your backyard to your favorite national park, nature is closer than you think. It’s time to get out and enjoy it.