Author: Virginia Martin

Business Education Alliance: High-Level Skills and Education Needed to Meet Workforce Needs

Alabama faces a shortage of 200,000 highly skilled workers to fulfill industry job predictions by 2025 unless it aligns workforce development programs and collaborations between business and education with what employers will need, said the Business Education Alliance in a report released today.

As Alabama shifts away from an industrial-based to knowledge-based economy, the BEA report stated, 60% of the working population will need to attain college-level degrees or credentials to qualify for jobs in 2025. Data for 2017 showed that 43% of the Alabama workforce possessed a college degree or other post-secondary education. Read more.

Small Fraction of Students Qualify for Birmingham Promise Scholarship

For urban students interested in college, tuition can be a major barrier. So when it was announced recently that the Birmingham Promise would offer a full tuition scholarship to the University of Alabama at Birmingham, many praised the partnership as a way to give eligible Birmingham graduates a much-needed financial boost. But there’s just one problem: most students aren’t eligible to apply for the scholarship. Read more.

Local Effort Backs Carbon Emission Fee With Monthly Rebate to All Households

The most efficient way to combat climate change is to make fossil fuel use more expensive, an International Monetary Fund study found last October. The IMF also said sending the money from a tax or fee on coal and oil straight to citizens would blunt the economic disruption of that strategy. Read more.

McClintock, Hammett, Others Set for Feb. 8 Event on Climate Solutions

McClintock, Hammett, Others Set for Feb. 8 Event on Climate Solutions

A Feb. 8 event at the McWane Science Center on how to deal with the changing climate is scheduled to draw participants from multiple points of view, including energy industry heavyweight Seth Hammett, UAB polar researcher James McClintock and atmospheric scientist Katharine Hayhoe of Texas Tech University.

“Faith Meets Business: Climate Solutions for the Common Good” is billed as a community dialogue and will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. It is sponsored by the nonprofit Citizens’ Climate Education-Birmingham. Read more.

Caught Off Guard: The American Southeast Struggles With Climate Change

Reporters from Southeastern newsrooms hold leaders in their communities accountable for reducing carbon emissions and preparing for climate change-related emergencies.

Like hundreds of other cities, Louisville, Kentucky, is searching for a path to address climate change.

Mayor Greg Fischer has declared a climate emergency, proposed a climate action plan and set a goal of reducing citywide carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050.

To get there, however, Fischer needs the cooperation of the region’s electric utility, Louisville Gas and Electric Co., which depends on coal and, with its related companies, has committed only to cutting carbon emissions 70 percent from 2010 levels by 2050.

Even that more modest commitment, though, is now in doubt, based on recent comments by LG&E’s chief operating officer, Lonnie Bellar, at an energy conference last fall, dominated by coal interests. In discussing his company’s own carbon reduction plan, Bellar declined to make any promises about a clean energy future.

At the fall meeting of the Southern States Energy Board, an organization of Southern governors and lawmakers, Bellar said his company was planning for different carbon reduction options, “free of commitments.”

”We want to continue to provide energy to our customers at a low reasonable cost,” he said. “If that means coal it means coal. If that means some other resource, it means some other resource.”

Louisville illustrates a fairly common obstacle: communities with little control over the monopoly electric utilities that serve them.
Today, in Caught Off Guard, InsideClimate News and nine newsrooms across seven Southeastern states are publishing stories on the progress and problems their communities face in relation to climate change. The region lags behind others in renewable electricity and faces some of the biggest global warming threats in the nation.

In reporting their stories, the journalists found communities struggling with funding, or with a lack of political will, and the need for technological breakthroughs to meet climate change head on. Read more.

In West Alabama, Life Is Hard. Warmer Weather Forecasts Worse Problems. How Bad Could It Get and What Can Be Done?

The Black Belt already has more than its own share of problems, and warming temperatures aren’t making things easier for the residents.

Disease-causing organisms thrive in standing water during warmer weather, and in the Black Belt there’s plenty of that. The area’s soil doesn’t drain well because of the heavy clay, and the region has been beset with more extreme weather, flooding and sewer system overflows.

Scientists now are even predicting that the weather in the Black Belt, and in much of the state, will be too hot for the state bird — the Northern Flicker, or yellowhammer — to continue living here during the hottest months of the year.

The wood pellet factory trend is coming to the Black Belt, with promises of supplying much-needed jobs and helping to stabilize emissions of the heat-trapping carbon dioxide, but there are questions about whether either of those benefits will come to pass.

Farmers are taking many steps to make their operations consume fewer resources and create fewer environmental problems, but even many of them fear their efforts are too little too late.

BirminghamWatch recently probed problems caused in the Black Belt by the warming weather patterns and efforts to work on those problems. Read the full series:

In West Alabama, Life Is Hard. Warmer Weather Forecasts Worse Problems
Audubon Study Finds Warming Climate May Be Inhospitable to Alabama State Bird
Wood Pellet Plants in Job-Hungry Southern Towns Prompt Environmentalists’ Warnings
Cattle, Catfish and Cover Crops: Alabama Farms Play Role in Slowing Climate Change

Despite Pledges, Birmingham Barely Out of Gate on Energy Efficiency, Renewables, Sustainability

This story was written as part of a collaboration among InsideClimate News and nine media outlets in the Southeast.

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin promised in December to pivot toward prioritizing sustainability during the remaining two years of his term in office, moving toward fulfilling a pledge he made during his 2017 campaign.

“We’ve got a whole lot more environmental justice and sustainability issues to address within the next two years,” he said, “but we’ve laid the groundwork and foundation to address these environmental issues in our city.”

But for some, Woodfin’s administration — and Birmingham’s municipal government as a whole — has been frustratingly inert when it comes to environmental issues.

“The bottom line is, the city doesn’t have a strategy for addressing sustainability or environmental justice or climate change or anything related to those issues,” said Michael Hansen, executive director of Gasp, a Birmingham-based nonprofit focused on environmental justice advocacy. “The mayor campaigned on all of those issues, and several of the councilors talk about them from the daïs, but they don’t ever actually do anything about them.”

Birmingham’s lack of a clear sustainability plan has placed the city at a disadvantage compared to other cities nationwide. The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy’s 2019 city clean energy scorecard, for instance, ranked Birmingham as 72nd among 75 major cities in terms of sustainability efforts, saying the city “has substantial room to improve across the board” and should push toward codifying goals for clean and renewable energy “to jump-start its efforts.” Read more.

Caught Off Guard: The American Southeast Struggles With Climate Change

InsideClimate News

Reporters from Southeastern newsrooms hold leaders in their communities accountable for reducing carbon emissions and preparing for climate change-related emergencies. Read more.