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Montgomery Group Loses Longtime Friend

On Dec 23, Fred Shaw died unexpectedly of a heart attack. He was 71 and a long time Sierra member and an avid hiker and traveler.

A Book of Interest

Lost Antarctica:  Adventures in a Disappearing Land
by James McClintock
Palgrave Macmillan, New York
231 pages (2012)

Unaccountable Book Cover

This book is part memoir, but mostly a report on the impact of climate disruption the author has witnessed in and around Antarctica over the last 30 years.  His message:  The impact of climate change has been, and continues to be, substantial.

McClintock became a member of the faculty of the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 1987, where he is currently Professor of Polar and Marine Biology.

The author asserts that major components of the environment of Antarctica, e.g., icebergs, sea ice, ice shelves, glaciers, winds, ocean currents, are "all subject to change.  When considered collectively, they portray a dynamic ecosystem undergoing remarkable transition in a relatively short period of time.  These incredible changes affect the myriad of Antarctic marine organisms that over the millennia have adapted to survive in one of the world's most stable locations.  Some of these organisms may adapt, but the vast majority of species here have become so finely tuned to their surroundings that they don't have much wiggle room."

About twice the size of Australia, Antarctica is very cold, dry, and windy, but the sea around it teems with a surprising diversity of life -- from very small phytoplankton to blue whales, Earth's largest animal.  Partly because of the isolation and rather stable environment, some of these life forms "have extraordinarily long lifespans when compared to most temperate and tropical counterparts."  McClintock describes the relationships of many of these species, and how they are being affected by rapidly warming temperatures, especially in western Antarctica, including the 1000 mile long Antarctic Peninsula, which extends toward South America.

The author concludes with these pensive questions:  "What sort of a world, I wonder, will future generations of Antarctic scientists find when they come to this remarkable place?  And when they gaze over this landscape, will  they be reminded how this place, this peninsula, these ecosystems, served as a wake-up call to jump-start the technological, societal, and political paths to a sustainable planet?"

Submitted by David Newton


January 2013

Our Need for Solar Energy

In the last couple of years, we've had drought in the South, tornadoes in the South and Midwest, floods in the Mississippi River basin, hurricanes Irene and Sandy in the East, wildfires in the West, and thousands of high temperature daily records across the U.S.  Munich Re, the largest reinsurance company, stated North America has experienced almost a five-fold increase in weather disasters over the past three decades, and such events will continue.

What to do?  Increased use of alternative sources of energy will help.

Using job creating incentive funds Alabama voters approved in November, production facilities for solar energy equipment could become a reality.

Installations utilizing solar energy are already operational at the Lee County Justice Center, the Opelika City Hall, and at Ft. Rucker.  If Alabama law makers would modify the tax structure, solar equipment and installation would be more attractive for builders and consumers.

The production of solar energy in Alabama would create manufacturing and installation jobs and also improve human health by reducing air and water pollution.  It could also help reduce the frequency and severity of the weather events mentioned above.  We really ought to get on with it, without delay.

End of Year Video from National Sierra Club


Green Resource Center for Alabama issues 5th annual Green Progress Report and “Top 12 for 2012” Green List

Report highlights the year’s important moments in making Alabama a greener place to live and work

A new report by the nonprofit Green Resource Center for Alabama ( ) outlines some of the most important environmental developments in 2012 on the path toward making Alabama a “greener” state. The 5th annual GRCA Green Progress Report recaps some of the most significant events in 2012 related to improving Alabama’s environment, reducing energy use and waste, and protecting the state’s natural resources.

“The 2012 Green Progress Report highlights nearly 100 environmentally pro-active and beneficial projects and activities and for the first time features a “Top 12 for 2012 Green List,” said Susan Barron, GRCA board president.  “This year, Alabama made significant environmental progress with passage of the Forever Wild Constitutional Amendment and the RESTORE Act,” added Barron. “While many environmental challenges remain, it is very encouraging to see these once in-a-generation environmental achievements along with an incredible number of green activities and success stories occurring in all corners of the state.”

The Forever Wild Land Trust Program, which garnered the most votes of any candidate or ballot measure during the November 2012 general election, is widely considered one of the most successful conservation programs in Alabama history. The RESTORE Act, which received bi-partisan support in the U.S. Congress, will redirect future fines to be paid by the parties responsible for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, to restore the ecosystem, communities and economy in the Gulf.

Other accomplishments making the Green Progress Report’s Top 12 for 2012 Green List include:

12 World-Changing Inventions from 2012

From solar soccer to poop power, these amazing eco inventions of 2012 promise to make the world a better place.

Check out our list of 12 world-changing inventions and get inspired by the innovators, young and old, with the vision and initiative to build a greener future. (from National Sierra Club)

2013 Alabama Sierra Club Work Plan

Now that we have been successful in our joint Forever Wild campaign, it is time for us to undertake another statewide campaign. National Sierra Club is offering limited staff support in developing a statewide plan if it is in line with one of National campaigns. Bob Hastings, Peggie Griffin, and Margo Rebar were given the task to consider several options: Beyond Coal; Clean Energy; Protecting Water.

After discussion and after considering the emphasis of several retreat speakers on water issues in Alabama, we settled on a campaign to convince the state to adopt a water management plan which includes good protection for environmental flow of streams throughout the state. Alabama Rivers Alliance (ARA) has been working on this issue for a decade or so. We propose that Alabama Sierra Club work with the ARA coalition to educate our citizens and officials about the importance of a management plan and to influence the language included in the management plan to protect natural water flows which protect species. By way of background, Alabama is the only state without a statewide management plan which puts our state at a great disadvantage in our "water war" with Georgia and in encouraging clean industries, improving agricultural practices, protecting our drinking water supplies, and providing protection for species diversity.

Thank You, President Obama!

The 23-million-acre National Petroleum Reserve in western Alaska is the largest undisturbed area of wildlands in the United States, home to a dizzying array of wildlife -- half a million caribou, countless migratory birds, thousands of walrus, and many polar bears.

Tens of thousands of Sierra Club members, activists, and supporters have urged the Obama administration to make sure that the most important wild areas of this reserve will be protected from Big Oil, and Interior Secretary Salazar recently confirmed that 11 million acres will be set aside.

This is great news! Send the Obama administration a message to let them know we support their efforts to protect the special places of Alaska's western Arctic.


Congratulations to Sierra Club Louisiana for its role in helping in getting the state public service commission to pass an energy efficiency standard.

Sierra Club Gulf States Rep Jordan Macha says this standard will save consumers money, reduce dependence on fossil fuels, and help you lose weight. Ok, two out of three ain't bad. Way to go, Louisiana!

Message from Sierra Club Hitched

Unless we are able to dramatically reduce the carbon pollution that is disrupting our climate, superstorms like Sandy will become the new normal.

President Obama, Congress and state leaders must get to work to advance our transition away from the dirty energy sources that fuel climate disruption and fast track construction of a clean energy future. Here are some talking points that might come in handy.

Sierra Club Outings

Winter is Here! Spring must be just around the corner!! 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>>>