Category: Conservation and Preservation

Environmental Justice 101

Environmental Justice 101

Hello, again!

As I’m sure you know, our environment is not always maintained as well as it should be (or if you don’t, welcome to reality). There are many environmental impacts that affect us in our every day lives, which put our health at risk. I’m hoping, since you are taking the time to read this blog, you know that we should, and must, be more conscience of these impacts and make efforts to improve them. However, did you know these risks are unequally shared across race and class? Some of you may be asking yourselves now, “What do you mean, unequally shared?” or “What does race or class have to do with anything”. These are the questions I hope to answer for you. I also hope to give you a better understanding of the injustices that often get looked over and are not always brought to light by the media and/or politicians (which, face it, that’s where most of us get our news whether we like it or not).

Environmental Justice:

  • Things like hazardous plants, pollution, and contamination are disproportionately located in black and poor communities.
  • This spawned an area of research and social movement aimed at addressing these inequities: Environmental Justice.
  • It advocates that all people and communities, regardless of their race or class status, are entitled to a healthy environment, as well as equal protection of environmental laws and regulations.
  • Click here for the 17 guiding principles of environmental justice!
  • There are two main debates with environmental justice: race vs. class and the chicken and the egg.

“Race vs. Class Debate”

  • Debates whether race or class is a better predictor of “environmental bads”.
  • Answering this debate is complicated because race and class connected.
  • Poor racially concentrated communities are the best predictors.
  • This occurs wherever people have the least amount of power, called “the path of least resistance”.
  • Occurs in poor black communities, as well as poor white communities.
  • This rarely occurs in rich white communities.

“The Chicken and The Egg”

  • Debates whether the “environmental bad” or the people came first into a community.
  • This assumes only one form of discrimination: the environmental bad moving in.
  • If people move into a contaminated community, it is discrimination too because those of a lower socioeconomic status are often forced into them.
  • NIMBY (“not in my backyard”) is the act of rich white folks opposing environmental bads.
  • NIMBY acts concentrate these into marginalized communities!

I can’t stress to you enough how difficult it is for me to provide an introduction of environmental justice, alongside the two debates, in such a short blog! There are so many components to environmental justice that warrant their own blogs! In the coming months I plan on discussing many of these with you because it is a highly important topic to discuss, as well as a crucial component to environmentalism. In the mean time, I encourage each and every one of you to think about something in a community that negatively impacts the environment (power plant, factory etc.) around you. Then, ask yourself, where are these located?

Until next time!

Adam

 

 

 

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Looking to get involved? Environmentalism in Kentucky!

Looking to get involved? Environmentalism in Kentucky!

Hello, again everyone!

As many of you know, one component to Friends of Limestone’s mission is environmental awareness and education. As their environmental blogger, I like discussing environmental issues with you, such as conservation/preservation, environmental impacts of limestone extraction, sustainability, and even, more recently, recreation (have you visited any of those lakes yet?). This week I decided it might be interesting if we talked about other organizations, within Kentucky, that do environmental work. This way, if you are an environmental advocate, like myself, you can become more involved! Believe it or not, there are actually a lot of environmental organizations in Kentucky, so, I have decided to simplify it and include only three. Let’s begin!

Kentuckians for the Commonwealth

If you are from and/or live in Kentucky, you more than likely have heard about Kentuckians for the Commonwealth (KFTC)! This organization has been an established organization for 35 years in Kentucky. Their work focuses on grassroots building and empowering individuals to engage alongside their work. They currently have over 10,000 members and local chapters across the entire state! KFTC’s work focuses on four categories: coal and water, economic justice, new energy and transition, and voting rights. They advocate that social, environmental, and economic issues are related with one another, meaning we can’t talk about one area without talking about the others. However, let’s only talk about their environmental work for now.

  • They campaign and raise awareness of the impacts of coal mining in Eastern Kentucky.
  • They seek a just transition for Appalachia.
  • Lobbying for environmental policy is their game!
  • They campaign for moving Kentucky away from those nasty fossil fuels.
  • Sustainability initiatives of all types.
  • Join them!

Kentucky Environmental Foundation           

The Kentucky Environmental Foundation (KEF) was established in 1990. The organization was born out of opposition towards the disposal of chemical weapons right here in the commonwealth. They helped lead a grassroots movement focused on ensuring safe and environmentally responsible disposal methods. This campaign laid the foundations for the organization today! Today, they focus on a wide range of environmental research/education and getting folks together around environmental issues. So, what do they offer you?

  • An annual report detailing their work, as well as other highlights in Ky. Think of it as annual KEF 101.
  • A lot of information! They research and write countless reports on various issues.
  • A blog page discussing countless topics (they even have one discussing the chemicals in your furniture!).
  • A Mailing list so you can stay up to date on their work.
  • Check them out!

Sierra Club

You may be thinking “Wait, is he talking about the Sierra Club, the oldest national environmental organization founded by John Muir on May 28, 1892 that currently has over 2.4 million members? They are based out of Oakland, California!” If you are thinking this then you are correct…you also know a lot about the Sierra Club! I am impressed! Did you know the Sierra Club operates right here in Kentucky, as well? You didn’t?? They have a local chapter in Whitesburg, Ky (The Cumberland Chapter) and many other groups scattered across the state. So what can the Sierra Club do for you?

  • A lot of information! I mean a lot.
  • Membership and action
  • Community
  • Recreation
  • Many programs!
  • Go visit their page!

I know, I know, I didn’t even scratch the surface of environmental organizations in Kentucky. I hope this discussion has sparked your interest to join an organization and/or find some information that is useful for you. Is there an organization I missed that you believe should have been on here? Let me know!

Until next time,

Adam

Meet a Friend of Limestone, Dr. Alan Fryar

Meet a Friend of Limestone, Dr. Alan Fryar

It’s hard to be more of a friend to limestone than Dr. Alan Fryar, Associate Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Kentucky.

Dr. Fryar’s specialty is understanding how water moves through karst, a special kind of landscape formed by the dissolution of limestone. He has studied it across the Bluegrass region. One study performed in Woodford County compared a spring under UK’s Animal Research Center with another in downtown Versailles. He has also researched sinkholes and “telling people where to and where not to build from an engineering perspective.”

This extensive understanding of karst makes him one of the Bluegrass’ top experts on the natural foundation on which our Commonwealth stands.

He explained that Kentucky’s limestone gives it a unique geographic difference. “The Bluegrass region is sort of a dome of limestone.” Dr. Fryar noted that this limestone had an immediate effect on how Kentucky grew and evolved.

“It has to do with historical settlements,” he noted. “People settled in areas where limestone was fundamental.” The Falls of the Ohio and the unique properties of central Kentucky’s soil are both thanks to limestone and attracted settlers.

Dr. Fryar’s interest and knowledge about karst and Kentucky’s history with limestone has led to a hobby of speaking to the landscape’s role in bourbon distilling. He’s been interviewed by several journalists and authors about the role of limestone in Kentucky’s unique industries.

He notes that “interesting coincidences” led settlers to the industries that remain the cornerstones of Kentucky’s cultural and economic identity.

“Bourbon is what people started distilling because the ingredients were available,” Fryar notes. The limestone water that came from natural springs across the Bluegrass was a key ingredient. It isn’t a coincidence that Royal Spring, Kentucky is where Elijah Craig began making whiskey in 1789.

It turned out that the high pH of limestone water is ideal for promoting fermentation, and it naturally filters out impurities like iron that alter the taste. This made water from the Bluegrass region the perfect ingredient for the earliest bourbon distillers.

While limestone water is not essential to bourbon production at this point, it has created a myth around the spirit. “I think that’s where the concept of terroir comes in, where it’s not just physical factors, but it’s also what the consumer perceives as the place, the origin of the spirit that gives it value,” he told Louisville Public Radio in 2013.

Even his students have gotten into the act of studying the relationship between geology and distilling. One of his UK graduates now works as an environmental compliance officer for a major name in Kentucky bourbon.

Dr. Fryar is helping the public understand the geological reasons behind bourbon’s rise in Kentucky. That makes him a great Kentuckian and a true Friend of Limestone.

Limestone, Extraction, and the Environment

Limestone, Extraction, and the Environment

Let’s talk about Limestone.  Limestone is a sedimentary rock and the leading stone extracted and processed in the United States.  Out of all stone mining in the U.S., limestone accounts for roughly 42%.  It is extremely functional, as it is primarily used in the construction industry.  However, it has many uses!

You interact with limestone on a daily basis and you may not even know it.

  • It is used to make the paper you just wasted after trying for the 100th time to operate the office copier.
  • The plastic bag you used to carry a pack of gum out of Kroger.
  • The glass jar of outdated pickles in the back of your refrigerator.
  • The paint on your wall…and, if you did the paint job, possibly on your floor too.
  • The carpet in your house that you keep forgetting to vacuum.
  • The overly priced bottle of water you purchased at Speedway.
  • The food in your 4 for 4 at Wendy’s.

Let us not forget the horses and mint juleps we like to watch/drink on Derby Day!

Have you ever wondered how we extract it? Probably not, so here we go.  The majority is mined through a process called surface mining (some extraction is done through underground methods).  Surface mining mines from the top down, not the bottom up.  In respect to limestone, the process is referred to as quarrying.  Quarrying involves the removal of earth and stone piece by piece with heavy machinery and small explosives.   The end result is a large open pit (quarry).  Once completed, the stone goes to a processing plant.

You may be thinking, “oh, yeah, that’s what those giant holes in the earth are called!”.  Have you ever thought about the environmental impacts from “those giant holes in the earth”? Again, probably not.

If not conducted properly quarrying can have negative environmental impacts.  These include:

  • The removal of trees, vegetated areas, soil, and habitat loss required for many species to live.
  • Contamination of local water sources.
  • Acid mine drainage
  • The use of large amounts of water.
  • The creation of wastewater.
  • Air and soil pollution from heavy machinery.

All pose negative health risks for humans, non-animal species, and nature.

In a previous blog I discussed the importance of conservation and preservation.  Another crucial component is sustainability.  Sustainability is a principle that seeks to maintain the balance for both future and present species/generations.  If we are unable to find and maintain this balance, future generations will feel the impacts.  Limestone extraction is not immune.  Alongside practicing conservation and preservation to our limestone reserves, we also need to make certain our extraction methods are sustainable for our present and future generations, as well as the natural environment…and for the 4 for 4 at Wendy’s!

 

Best,

 

Adam

Meet Our Environment Blogger!

Meet Our Environment Blogger!

Hello everyone! My name is Adam Sizemore. I am from Morehead, Kentucky; a small town located in the Appalachian region of our great state. Even though I do not currently live there, I have lived in Kentucky my entire life and Appalachia has always been important to me.

I moved to Louisville in the summer of 2014 to continue graduate school at UofL. Prior to that summer, I completed both my undergraduate and Masters degrees at Morehead State University. There I became focused on studying environmental issues. 

There isn’t a specific moment I remember becoming interested in environmental matters, but it stretches as far back as Elementary School.  In the 4th grade, I entered a Kentucky conservation-writing contest where I imagined “00H20” (double-oh-H20), a secret agent who gave citations to people with outdated and environmentally unfriendly appliances, water faucets, and toilets.

Maybe I was just a little too obsessed with James Bond; I wonder where that paper is now…

Anyway, my environmental focus has shifted greatly since then! At Morehead State, I was extremely interested in our food system and its impacts on our environment. Now, I am focused on environmental issues in Appalachia; especially coal mining in Central Appalachia. I am currently researching how members of Martin County, Ky overcame a dam failure that released over 300 million gallons of coal waste into the community in the fall of 2000.

Being an advocate for the environment is something that I am passionate about in my career, as well as my personal life.  My wife and I are expecting our first child this November and the well being of our planet for future generations is something that will always be crucial to me.  I am excited to discuss environmental topics, as well as continue to learn more with each of you each month!

“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”-Jane Goodall  

The Importance of Conservation and Preservation

The Importance of Conservation and Preservation

Author: Adam Sizemore

Editor’s note: As Friends of Limestone gets going, we will be outlining each of the four pillars of our work as well as our focus issues. This is the first part of our four part series on our work. 

Conservation and Preservation, often used interchangeably, are contrasting methods used to protect the natural environment. However, they share the similar goal of ensuring a sustainable future.  Conservation efforts support environmentally appropriate uses of nature required for human life.  Regulating daily bag and possession limits for anglers is one example of a conservation method created to not only conserve, but to hopefully improve the overall fish population in each body of water.   This creates a stable balance between consumption and the reproduction of fish.  Preservation efforts focus on protecting nature from use all together.  Wildlife preserves prohibiting actions like logging, mining, fishing, and/or hunting are examples. Both methods are vital for the protection of our natural environment.

It is through conservation and preservation efforts that we recognize our critical connection to the natural environment.  Resources provided by the natural environment enhance our society, as well as, our economy.  However, the use of these resources must remain balanced and address environmental sustainability, economic security, and a healthy environment for all.  Strengthening our conservation and preservation efforts is one path in establishing this harmony in Kentucky.  See below for a short list of some Kentucky’s conservation and preservation efforts.  

Kentucky Conservation and Preservation Facts:

  • Kentucky is a southeastern state consisting of 120 counties brimming with natural resources contributing to its economy, history, culture, and overall society (Kentucky Department of Environmental Protection)
  • There are 1,100 miles of commercially assessable waterways (Kentucky Department of Travel)
  • There are 12.7 million acres of commercial forest land (Kentucky Department of Travel)
  • Kentucky has an abundance of minerals and byproducts such as coal, stone, natural gas, and petroleum (Kentucky Department of Travel)
  • Kentucky’s available land supports a strong agricultural system  (Kentucky Department of Travel)

 

  • Conservation:
    • Kentucky provides assistance to conservation districts (121 in total) in implementing sustainable methods seeking to conserve Kentucky’s natural resources (Division of Conservation)
    • Roughly 95% of land in Kentucky is privately owned meaning conservation efforts rely heavily in the hands of Kentuckians (Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources)
    • Kentucky hires Conservation Educators (CE’s) that promote conservation through schools, summer camps, and programs (Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources)
  • Preservation:
    • Kentucky establishes state nature preserve systems that give present and future generations the benefits of natural areas (Kentucky State Nature Preserved Commission).
    • As of 2016, the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission (KSNPC) has established 63 preserves totaling 28,022 acres providing habitats for a diverse range of plants and animal species, as well as, providing areas for scientific research and appreciation of our natural environment (Kentucky State Nature Preserved Commission)