COVID-19 Update: Read about the most recent Sierra Club guidelines here.
Sierra Club Tennessee Chapter Voting Underway: Ballots to be received by December 15th! Get your ballots in the mail to vote for your Tennessee Chapter and local Group leadership. Keep in mind that ballots must be received by December 15th. Considering the increased volume of mail for the holiday season, a mailing date of no later than December 8th is recommended, sooner if possible! This year, the voting process is PAPER ONLY and must be mailed. See the November/December TennesSierran for ballots and mailing instructions. If you need help locating your Sierra Club membership number in order to submit your ballot contact Mac Post at
email@example.com. Exercise your democratic rights!
TVA's CEO, the highest paid federal employee, will not get a raise after rolling blackouts. "In a 6-3 vote, the TVA Board of Directors approved the measure at its quarterly board meeting Nov. 9 in Tupelo, Mississippi. At the same time, the board unanimously voted to give TVA's 10,000 non-executive employees almost all of their at-risk compensation, an end-of-year payout based on performance." Read more by Daniel Dassow - Knoxville News Sentinel - Nov. 10, 2023.
SAVE THE DATE: Tennessee Chapter Winter Retreat - January 19-21, 2024. Join fellow members of the Tennessee Chapter for the Chapter Winter Retreat at Cedars of Lebanon State Park. Activities include hiking, election of ExCom officers and committee chairs, planning for the year, live music, and eating, of course. Early bird pricing by January 10th. Scholarships available if needed. Registration here.
A Chapter Director is Coming!
A major goal of the national Sierra Club Board is to achieve minimum paid staffing in all Chapters. Their goal is four staff per chapter. Currently, Tennessee has one – Conservation Director, Scott Banbury. Most chapters of our size (medium) currently have two to four Chapter staff. The Tennessee Chapter is in the process of hiring a Chapter Director, with a goal of the Director starting in late spring of 2024. This is dependent upon the national Board approving the Chapter Funding Task Force recommendation at their December meeting. Assuming that approval, the 2024 Chapter Budget will likely include a third support position to be hired in late summer. Currently, Scott is overworked and the many active members are overloaded. Adding two full-time staff will greatly improve
the ability of the Chapter to work with all members to achieve the Chapter’s environmental goals.
Clean Up TVA activists rally before heading inside to comment before the TVA Board (Photo: Todd Waterman).
Sierra Club and Clean Up TVA Connect with TVA Board at Tupelo Board Listening
By Todd Waterman
On November 8th, Kent Minault, Brady Watson, and I traveled to Tupelo, Mississippi, where we joined others for a Clean Up TVA rally, then for commenting at a TVA Board "Listening Session." We advocated against TVA's planned methane gas plants and pipelines, urging instead renewables, storage, and energy efficiency. We also asked for increased transparency, and for CEO and employee bonuses that no longer incentivise fossil and nuclear but green energy. Then, promisingly, we spoke with two board members who agreed to ongoing meetings with us. Dave Flessner of the Chattanooga Times Free Press
wrote up our rally, as well as the Listening Session, and the next day's board meeting, at which members voted not to give CEO Jeff Lyash a raise, and three members suggested revisiting TVA's compensation structure. View more photos here from the TVA Listening in Tupelo with Clean Up TVA.
Take Action: Send a letterto tell the TVA Board: Stop fossil fuels, build solar instead!
Harvey Broome Group Opposes RV Park at Frozen Head State Park
By Jerry Thornton, HBG Chair
On November 16th, I and about a dozen other people, including ExCom member Dr. Melanie Mayes, voiced opposition to the State Parks Department’s plan to build an RV campground at the very entrance to Frozen Head State Park and Natural Area, in Rocky Fork Field, a favorite gathering place for local events, such as church picnics, volleyball games, and an annual Christmas gift-giving drive-through. We spoke at a public hearing on the park’s draft master plan. Officials in Nashville had snuck the RV campground into the park’s budget bundled with needed improvements to the existing primitive campground and picnic facilities. The improvements were presented as an “all or nothing” package, which is certainly not necessary. No one at the hearing spoke in favor of
the RV campground, and all agreed that it would be incompatible with the stated mission and purpose of the park. The State Parks Department accepted public comments on the plan through November 30th. HBG has filed formal comments, detailing reasons why the RV campground is a bad idea, while supporting other elements of the master plan.
Left: A Trillium blooms in Frozen Head State Park. Photo by Jerry Thornton. Right: "Frozen Head Waterfall," by Michael Hodge, CC BY 2.0 (photographed on Panther Branch Trail).
Just Released: The Fifth National Climate Assessment. "The Fifth National Climate Assessment is the US Government’s preeminent report on climate change impacts, risks, and responses. It is a congressionally mandated interagency effort that provides the scientific foundation to support informed decision-making across the United States." Read the NCA5 Assessment here. There will be a series of public webinars through mid-March 2024 to highlight different chapters and discuss findings from the NCA5. A list of all webinars and topics can be found
Listen: NCA5 Companion Podcast. Along with the release of the Fifth National Climate Assessment, the U.S. Global Change Research Program is publishing a six-episode limited podcast series, hosted by NCA5 Director Allison Crimmins and featuring 25 authors and members of the NCA5 staff. It showcases the relevance of NCA5 findings in the daily lives of people across the country and shares insights from authors about the latest science behind climate-related issues in the U.S. and some of the efforts underway to build a more climate-resilient future. The series concludes with a
bonus episode featuring artists who participated in the NCA5’s national call for art, and the 24th U.S. Poet Laureate Ada Limón, who reads her poem written for the NCA5. Podcast episodes available here, or on popular listening platforms.
Inside the effort to make Memphis residents 'water literate' & expand their aquifer advocacy. "Much of the information on the Memphis Sand Aquifer can be complex, jargon-filled and completely inaccessible for Memphians without a degree in hydrogeology...But in a city like Memphis, which is the largest city in America that gets its entire supply of water from the ground — not lakes or streams on the surface — should the entry level for knowing the latest on the aquifer Memphians depend on daily be so high? Protect Our Aquifer, a nonprofit advocating the preservation of the Memphis Sand Aquifer, doesn't think it should be."
Read more by Lucas Finton - Memphis Commercial Appeal - Nov. 27, 2023.
Sierra Club's Holiday Shopping Guide for healthy and affordable home upgrades. If you're looking to increase efficiency at home, check out the Sierra Club's guide "to see if what you’re shopping for qualifies for the new residential energy efficiency tax credit created by the landmark climate and clean energy law President Biden signed last year—the Inflation Reduction Act. And before you go shopping, consider getting a home energy audit, which itself qualifies for a tax credit." Read more
by Xavier Boatright - Sierra Magazine - Nov. 22, 2023.
Illustration by Petmal/iStock
Health & Justice
Richest 1% account for more carbon emissions than poorest 66%, report says.
"The most comprehensive study of global climate inequality ever undertaken shows that this elite group, made up of 77 million people including billionaires, millionaires and those paid more than US$140,000 a year, accounted for 16% of all CO2 emissions in 2019 – enough to cause more than a million excess deaths due to heat, according to the report. For the past six months, the Guardian has worked with Oxfam, the Stockholm Environment Institute and other experts on an exclusive basis to produce a special investigation, The Great Carbon Divide. It explores the causes and consequences of carbon inequality and the disproportionate impact of super-rich individuals, who have been termed “the polluter elite."
Read more by Jonathan Watts - The Guardian - Nov. 19, 2023.
Deaths from coal pollution have dropped, but emissions may be twice as deadly. "Coal, the dirtiest of fossil fuels, is far more harmful to human health than previously thought, according to a new report, which found that coal emissions are associated with double the mortality risk compared with fine airborne particles from other sources. The research, published Thursday in the journal Science, linked coal pollution to 460,000 deaths among Medicare recipients aged 65 and older between 1999 and 2020. Deaths attributable to coal plant emissions among Medicare recipients dropped from about 50,000 a year in 1999 to 1,600 in 2020, a decrease of more than 95 percent, the researchers found."
Read more by Cara Buckley - New York Times - Nov. 23, 2023.
Segregation may affect your health, too. "Research shows low-income communities, where most low-income housing is built, have higher rates of asthma and shorter life expectancies. In Shelby County, neighborhoods are largely segregated by both race and income, thanks in large part to decades of intentionally racist housing policy and white flight. And while housing segregation is nothing new, it continues to harm low-income, Black children, according to experts. That’s because the neighborhoods themselves increase the children’s chances of suffering from poor health or dying at younger ages."
Read more by Jacob Steimer - MLK50.com - April 6, 2022.
South Shelby Landfill in southeast Memphis. TVA currently plans to relocate 3 million tons of toxic coal ash to South Shelby Landfill. In order to do this, "two-hundred and forty trucks...will drive through South Memphis every day for the next eight to ten years. Exhaust from diesel engines — which most industrial trucks run on — can lead to serious health conditions like asthma, respiratory illnesses, heart and lung diseases."
Read more by Chloe Hilles: "Long Burdened by a Coal Plant, South Memphis Residents Say No to Coal Ash in their Back Yard." Photo credit: Protect Our Aquifer.
Statewide environmental events listed chronologically.
Do you have an event you'd like publicized?
Send it to Enews.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tues. Dec. 12th from 7:00 - 8:30 pm - HBG Annual December Slide Show Program and Social. Bring food to share and your favorite photos of travel, outings, the environment, or other things of interest to the Group. Load your photos onto a flash drive, and arrive at least 20 minutes early so they can be loaded onto a laptop before the meeting. Please limit your presentation to 5 minutes or less. Mac Post, HBG Program Chair, will coordinate the presentations, so contact him in advance with any questions at email@example.com. No photos? No problem! Come anyway and share the goodies and socializing. All welcome!
Thurs. Dec. 14th at 5:00 PM CT / 6:00 PM ET - Sierra Forum: Join the fight against the extinction crisis. With 40% of ecosystems in danger
, we are facing an extinction crisis. We need everyone to help protect our natural world. Join us to learn more about how you can be a part of the fight for a vibrant natural world. Learn about how the Sierra Club took action in the courts, on Capitol Hill, and in local communities to protect imperiled species, defend the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and advocate for the ESA to be fully funded. Come hear about the ways you can get involved in 2024! Register here for virtual forum.
Sat. Dec. 16th from 9:30 AM - 2 PM ET - HBG Outing: Help Save Dean's Woods from the Invaders! Dean's Woods is a jewel of biodiversity in South Knoxville now owned by the University of Tennessee. Its display of vernal flora in March, April, and May is unmatched this side of the Smokies! Unfortunately, it is being overrun by invasive weeds and non-native plants. Please join us in clearing out as much of these invaders as we can. You must be prepared for difficult outdoor work. Bring water to stay hydrated and tools such as pruners, mattocks, hand-axes, shovels, and saws and prepare to get down and dirty! Donuts will be provided! Event is weather permitting. Call (865)719-9742 or email (firstname.lastname@example.org
) Jerry for information and to sign up.
Mon. Dec. 18th at 1:00 PM CT - Ballot Counting for Sierra Club Tennessee Chapter and Group Elections. The Election Committee has a representative from each Group participating in the official counting. This is an open process and Tennessee Chapter Sierra Club members are invited to attend and observe the counting process. This will take place at Germantown Commons at 1327 5th Ave N, Nashville, TN. Parking is on the street so allow extra time to find a parking place.
Sun. Jan. 7th from 4:00 PM - 8:00 PM ET - Cherokee Group New Year's Event 2024. Join the Cherokee Group at Audubon Acres (900 N. Sanctuary Rd, Chattanooga, TN) for afamily-friendly gathering comprised mostly of merry-making and fun, with a little planning and dreaming at the end, including electing 2024 Cherokee Group officers. The dinner is potluck, so break out your favorite dish to share (vegan, vegetarian, and food sensitivities/allergies all considered). Not much of a cook or burned out from holiday chef duty? Come anyway and enjoy!
SAVE THE DATE: Conservation Education Day Feb. 27-28th. CED is your chance to join with other environmentalists to meet with your state legislators in Nashville to promote the passage of bills which preserve and protect our water, air and land, and to block those which would do it harm. There will be lobbying training and education on Tuesday evening, February 27, 6:00-8:00 pm in-person in Nashville and via zoom. Registration here.
Defenders Fund: Has It Slipped Your Mind?
By Susan Johnston
A number of you have made your contributions for the Defenders Fund, which is how we cover the cost of our lobbyist, Scott Banbury. Since Scott is the only full-time lobbyist for environmental issues for our state government, it is vitally important to keep him working!
Heartfelt thanks to those who have already contributed. If you haven't gotten around to it yet, know that any and all donations help. To add your own contribution to this very important cause, simply make a secure online donation here(this goes specifically to the Defenders fund) or mail a check payable to TN Chapter Sierra Club with “Defenders” in the memo line to:
TN Chapter Sierra Club, Attn: Defenders
PO Box 113
Powell, TN 37849
Tennessee Chapter Year-End Fundraising Appeal is Underway
By Mac Post, TN Chapter Fundraising Chair
This newsletter contains some good news in these challenging times for the environment, especially in Tennessee. Thanks to you, our Tennessee Chapter members and supporters, we are making progress.
We have launched our 2023 Year-End fundraising campaign. You will be getting a letter in the mail in the next couple of weeks asking you to make a donation detailing some of our recent successes and plans for next year. We simply cannot do this important work without you. Your support will make a real, lasting impact in the lives of Tennesseans on the front lines of pollution in our communities.
The Tennessee Chapter of the Sierra Club is a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)(4) organization. Contributions to the Defenders Fund are not income-tax deductible.
This month's featured species is: Mistletoe (order: Santalales)
Mistletoe naturally grows in ball-shaped clumps, hence the nickname "kissing balls," referring to the cheeky holiday tradition that may have started in 1500s Europe. Photo credit: Image by congerdesign via Pixabay.
There are over 1500 species of mistletoe. Phoradendron leucarpum, the eastern mistletoe native to North America, belongs to a distinct genus of the family Santalaceae.
Mistletoe is parasitic, meaning it derives nutrients from a host such as a tree (pictured above) or shrub. This is why mistletoe is evergreen, and it's also the reason that the genus name Phoradendron is Greek for “tree thief.” It can weaken its host, but doesn't usually kill it.
Mistletoe can parasitize other mistletoes as well, becoming a "hyperparasite" — a parasite that parasitizes other parasites.
Some mistletoe spread their seed as a result of birds gobbling them up and depositing waste. Others use the exploding berry technique, where water pressure builds up in the berry, resulting in an explosion that ejects seeds sometimes 20 feet away onto nearby branches. It can reach a velocity of up to 30 miles per hour!
The views expressed by contributors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Sierra Club.
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