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A Book of Interest

Eaarth:  Making a Life on a Tough New Planet
by Bill McKibben

Times Books - Henry Holt and Company, New York
253 pages (2010)

Bill McKibben is a prolific writer -- over 12 books and numerous articles -- with many publications concerned with environmental issues.  His first book, The End of Nature published in 1989, was the first book on global warming for a general audience.  In Eaarth, McKibben suggests ways to adapt to the new reality of a changed, and changing, Planet Earth.

The author encourages us to live more simply, and to conserve natural resources, and to be more efficient.  He urges a substantial reduction in the emissions of greenhouse gases from the current 393 to 350 parts per million.  This, of course, means we have to do a lot about fossil fuels i.e., burn less of them or control emissions of greenhouse gases more.

His "point throughout this book [is] that we'll need to change to cope with the new Eaarth we've created.  We'll need, chief among all things, to get smaller and less centralized, to focus not on growth but on maintenance, on a controlled decline from the perilous heights to which we've climbed."

McKibben's prescription for living on a changing Planet Earth is sobering.  It is a call to action to which we should respond.

Submitted by David Newton

Comprehensive Two-and-one-half day Wilderness Medicine Course Offered by North Alabama Sierra Club

North Alabama Sierra Club is offering a comprehensive two and one half day course July 6-8 that will teach you the wilderness medicine skills you need to handle backcountry emergencies. This course is recommended for those that lead backpacks or even remote day hikes where EMS is two hours away.

From the Patient Assessment System through traumatic, medical, and environmental emergencies, you'll experience a wide variety of topics designed to prepare you to act if an accident occurs. This is a 20 hour course over two days and one half days. The course begins at 6:00 p.m. on Friday with Adult CPR/AED certification and at 8:00 a.m. Saturday and Sunday and runs through 5:00 p.m. You will have both classroom time and hands on practice scenarios.

Practice scenarios may take place outside in various weather conditions; be prepared for inclement weather. Participants will have to pass both a written and a practical test.

Red Cross CPR certification is a prerequisite for this course. Successful completion results in a American Red Cross Wilderness & Remote First Aid certification valid for two years. The cost is $80 for Sierra Club members which includes both CPR/AED and WFA certification or for applicants possessing a current Adult CPR/AED the cost is $60 and training will be Saturday and Sunday.

For non Sierra Club members the cost is $100 or $80 if CPR certified. The additional $20 may be applied toward Sierra Club membership if so desired. Proof of certification must be provided in advance. Lunch will be provided onsite each day. A non refundable deposit of $25 payable to the NA Sierra Club guarantees you a slot. Final payment is due two weeks in advance. Please send payment to Tom Burley, 11112 Memorial Parkway M 3, Huntsville, AL 35810. For further information contact Tom Burley at or at 256 883-4267.

Dump Ban May Be Extended

(from Conservation Alabama) Last year the legislature upheld a work stoppage order issued by Governor Robert Bentley on new landfills in Alabama. This session, they may be extending that landfill moratorium another year.

Originally designated to end May 31, 2013, the landfill moratorium prohibits the Alabama Department of Environmental Management and other agencies to issue new landfill permits. The legislation also directs ADEM along with the Alabama Department of Public Health to study existing landfill regulations and to update the state’s solid waste management plan. Those efforts are expected to need more time than the existing moratorium will allow, so 20 legislators are seeking to extend the new landfill ban until 2014.

Conservation Alabama will continue to monitor this throughout the session. Follow the updates here: Conservation Alabama's blog Also, review the Conservation Alabama Hot List for important updates on Alabama's legislative activities.

Bragging Rights in North Alabama

The North Alabama Group is out of the gate at a fast run this year. Charlotte Buening, our Environmental Education Chair, got us off to a great start with her exhibit and environmental tips at the Heart of the Valley YMCA's Health and Wellness Fair January 21. In addition to introducing the Sierra Club, Charlotte promoted our BYOB (bring your own bag) campaign by passing out educational materials, discouraging one-time plastic bag use and offering green cloth bags as a viable option. There were 450 attendees at the fair!

Mirko Rakigjija, our former Group Chair and Chapter Delegate, is assisting the City of Huntsville as they develop their plan to become more energy efficient in their City buildings. Steve Jackson, our Program Chair, began our Thursday evening program series with Mark Kolinski, Wild South's Alabama Program Manager, followed in February by Mark Martin, the prosecuting attorney for the Tennessee Riverkeepers. And this month, we are on the water with River Keeper Nelson Brooks.

In addition to identifying and scheduling speakers, Steve, (aka Chef Steve) prepared a scrumptious lunch for our March 3rd Basic First Aid/Outdoor Leader's Training. Tom Burley, a certified Red Cross First Aid Instructor and now our Outdoor Chair, provided an informative first aid course, adding his wit, humor and knowledge of the outdoors, to make it more memorable. Not to be outdone, Michael Stewart, our former Outdoor Chair extraordinaire, also provided an outstanding program in Outdoor Leadership. What a great team! The training was well attended by our Outdoor Leaders who have already spent several volunteer hours leading hikes, paddles, cave outings, etc, in addition to our new leaders and members from the Sierra Club Coosa Group. And this is only March!
- Sandy Kiplinger


April 2012

Alabama Adopts Significant Energy Codes for Buildings

With support by Conservation Alabama, the Sierra Club, and others, legislation (SB315) enacted in 2010 empowered the Alabama Energy and Residential Codes Board to adopt, for the first time, mandatory residential and commercial energy codes for the state and residential buildings for jurisdictions that had not implemented a residential building code prior to passage of the act.  On March 12, 2012, the board took a significant step when they unanimously adopted the 2009 International Residential Code (IRC) and 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC).

The new codes, which will take effect on October 1, 2012, will assure that every Alabama home built in areas without locally adopted building codes will be built to nationally recognized standards.  Further, the codes will promote energy efficient construction in every part of the state, saving homeowners and businesses on their utility bills.  Alabama was one of only a few coastal states in the nation that did not have statewide standards.

The Sierra Club appreciates the efforts of Conservation Alabama in helping to cause these codes to be adopted.  In time, all citizens of Alabama will recognize the importance of this work.

Sources include ADECA and the office of Alabama Representative Greg Wren!/groups/404593622901618/!/groups/124948314266227/

Download more information about the Coosa Valley Earth Day Event here

Download a pdf of all the cool posters created here.

“Celebrate Earth Day on Mobile Bay”
@ Earth Day Mobile Bay 2012
Sunday, April 22nd, at the Fairhope Pier
10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

On Sunday, April 22nd, thousands of South Alabamians will head to the beautiful parks at the Fairhope Pier in Fairhope, Alabama to attend the state's largest and most fun Earth Day festival. This all-day free event is filled with family-friendly fun, including live music, an environmental film festival, "Blessing of the Animals", and many memorable, and meaningful experiences to forever bond you and your family with Planet Earth and Mobile Bay. Download more information about Earth Day Mobile here.

Protect Forever Wild

On November 6, 2012, a major election will take place in Alabama. Of course there is the all-important presidential election, but Alabama voters will also be voting on the 20-year extension for the Forever Wild program. The Alabama Chapter of the Sierra Club is gearing up to help make sure this passes. Alabama Needs Forever Wild and the Sierra Club's members NEED to head to the polls and vote!

Since Forever Wild was first approved 20 years ago (by an overwhelming 83 percent of voters), Forever Wild has protected thousands of acres for the benefit of Alabamians. Some of the state's most visited natural areas, such as the Walls of Jericho in north Alabama and the Mobile Tensaw Delta in south Alabama, are open to the public because of Forever Wild. Many Sierra Club outings involve hikes or other activities on Forever Wild lands.

The Alabama Chapter of the Sierra Club is a member of the Protect Forever Wild Coalition, dedicated to the protection and reauthorization of Forever Wild funding. This coalition of conservation, environmental, hunting and angling, outdoor recreation, and business entities recognizes Forever Wild’s success in securing public lands for outdoor recreation for our citizens and protecting the ecological integrity of Alabama’s landscape. We are working to insure that Forever Wild is reauthorized for another 20 years.

You can help by publicizing the benefits of Forever Wild, and by voting in favor of Forever Wild reauthorization in the 2012 election.

Additional information is available at

What Your Sierra Club Outdoor Leader Would Like You to Know

Guidelines for enjoyable Sierra Club outings:

  1. Arrive a few minutes early at the designated meeting place so we can leave on time.
  2. If we're going to travel, arrive with a full and not empty gas tank.
  3. Consider ride-sharing. It's not only cheaper but lessens our carbon footprint.
  4. In order to participate on our outing, you will need to sign a Liability Waiver.
  5. When you sign-in, under emergency number, please write in the name and phone of the person you want contacted by emergency responders or a hospital, not 911
  6. The Outdoor Leader is in charge of the outing and is the decision maker when it comes to proceeding, changing or turning back due to trail/river conditions, weather or other circumstances. He/she wants you back safely.
  7. We go out and stay together as a group. There is an early sign-out in the unusual circumstance that you don't want to stay with our group.
  8. We are concerned for your health and safety, and those of the group. Know your capabilities so you can have a pleasurable outing. We write our description and rate the difficulty of the outing, but contact the Outings Leader for more information to help you decide if you should participate.
  9. Bring enough water/food for the outing, dress appropriately for the type of activity/weather, and bring the right shoes/boots and required gear. Again, contact us if you need more information.
  10. Keep your dog on a short leash. Not all hikers or wildlife are dog lovers.
  11. And at the end of the outing, thank the leader who has just volunteered his or her entire day (or evening).
    - Sandy Kiplinger

Scrap Tire Under Fire

(from Conservation Alabama) In the endless search for more money in Alabama, one of the Alabama Department of Environmental Management’s most successful environmental programs is coming under fire.

The Scrap Tire Commission was created in 2003 after a study showed that more than five million scrap tires were produced annually in Alabama, another four to five million scrap tires were being shipped to Alabama annually, and 14 to 20 million scrap tires were either stockpiled or disposed of illegally. A $1 fee is assessed per tire sold in the state to support the program to clean up stockpiles, better enforce scrap tire disposal and cut down on illegal dumps, and create recycling opportunities for the scrap tires. ADEM, on behalf of the Scrap Tire Commission, has removed millions of scrap tires from more than 50 sites throughout the state.

Despite the success, Representative Jim Barton, R-Mobile has singled out the program through legislation he introduced last week that would redirect the $1-per-tire fee from the Scrap Tire Fund to the state’s General Fund. He’s also introduced separate legislation that would redirect at least a portion of a litany of special earmarked funds back into the General Fund. Both bills have been assigned to the House Ways and Means General Fund Committee.

Conservation Alabama will continue to monitor this throughout the session. Follow the updates here: Conservation Alabama's blog Also, review the Conservation Alabama Hot List for important updates on Alabama's legislative activities.

Buttahatchie Bluffs Wildflower Walk

West Alabama Sierra Club goes on a wildflower walk!

An Update on Monthly Meetings from North Alabama

In February, the speaker for the monthly North Alabama Sierra meeting talked about protecting the rivers of Tennessee as an attorney for the Tennessee Riverkeepers. On Thursday, March 15, Nelson Brooke, a Riverkeeper for the Black Warrior River, talked about his job monitoring the river. As Riverkeeper, Nelson patrols and photographs the Black Warrior River and its tributaries from the land, water, and air, looks for pollution problems, responds to citizen complaints, researches and analyzes polluters' permits, collects pollution samples for laboratory analysis, educates the public about the beauty of the river and threats to it, works to empower stakeholders throughout the watershed, advocates compliance with environmental laws, works on finding solutions to pollution problems, and is a spokesman for the Black Warrior River watershed. Nelson runs the Riverkeeper Patrol Program and coordinates with the Legal Program when appropriate.

At the meeting April 19, Dr. Doug Phillips, host of Discovering Alabama will speak.
The North Alabama Sierra Club meets at 6:30pm the third Thursday of every month at the Huntsville Madison County Public Library. The library is in downtown Huntsville on Monroe St. just off Governor's Drive. Everyone is invited to attend.

What Should the Sierra Club Do on the Natural Gas Issue?

We're looking for your best ideas on what the Club could do on the Natural Gas issue. To this end, we've launched a Web site for submitting these ideas.

It's quite simple to use:

1. Go to
2. Enter your idea, or have a look around at existing ideas.
3. Once you enter an idea, you'll be asked to sign in - you can do this with either an email address or using your Facebook or Google (Sierra Club addresses work) credentials as a single-sign-on solution. Your ideas won't appear on these social networks - the buttons are only there to make login easier.
4. As a signed-in user, you can comment on existing ideas, or vote on them if you agree. This gives everyone a better idea of what the community feels is important.
5. You can have 10 votes or comments per month. This restriction will hopefully constrain ideas so that the best are elicited.
6. Note: This forum is 'open'. This is the only way we can accommodate the entire community.

Sierra Club Outings

Spring is Here!! Take a great hike! Or just enjoy gathering with friends to discuss environmental issues! Come join us on the trail or just out for a stroll down the mountain! more>>>