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A Book of Interest

The Viral Storm: The Dawn of a New Pandemic Age
by Nathan Wolfe
Times Books/Henry Holt and Company, New York
291 pages (2011)

The title is enough to cause one take a look at this report from an accomplished biologist, academic (Stanford University), and entrepreneur.  A major focus of Wolfe's work has been early and as quickly as possible to study and mitigate disease pandemics in their places of origin.  In this book, he addresses questions of how pandemics begin, why there are so many of them, how to prevent them.

Initially, the author provides an overview of the huge category of creatures we call microorganisms.  He then discusses how humans have become vulnerable to pandemic diseases and where we appear to be headed with such matters.  Finally, he offers his view on the prevention of pandemics.

Wolfe's work has taken him to places where pandemics have been initially noticed and also to the premier laboratories that study and attempt to control the spread of contagious diseases.  He has become an advocate of the development of mechanisms to predict pandemics, which he believes will increase, rather than just attempting to responding to unanticipated outbreaks of disease with such as new drugs, vaccines, and behavior modifications.

Regarding the books objective, Wolfe writes:  "A storm is brewing.  The objective of this book is to understand this coming storm--to explore the nature of pandemics, to understand where they come from and where they are going.  But it will not paint a completely grim picture."  The use of the word "completely" is a bit unsettling, but Wolfe argues that we have new technologies, e.g., vastly improved communications, that will enable us to predict and prevent pandemics.

We should wish Wolfe and his colleagues well.

Submitted by David Newton

Alabama Water Rally--March 15-17 at Camp McDowell in Nauvoo, AL

Join us for our 15th annual conference!

Online registration is now open! For information about sponsorship, scholarships, River Hero nominations, this year's highlights, frequently asked questions, and more, click here.

Don’t Throw Away That Yogurt Cup!

Trying to eat healthy? Yogurt is a good choice, but the container is a #5 so it can’t go in your recycling bin. Same for cottage cheese and many takeout containers. You feel good for eating the yogurt but then you feel bad for throwing away more plastic. Well now there’s a place where you can take those cups for recycling, including the lids and #6 plastic cups. They will also take your used toothpaste tubes (?). Nexus Energy is taking these items for recycling at several locations around Huntsville along with plastic cheese wrappers and several other things you might not have thought about recycling like energy bar wrappers. Check out their web site for a complete list -

The South Parkway location is near the Allied Waste facility off Triana Blvd - which takes the corrugated cardboard and glass you can’t put in your blue bins.
Another fairly recent addition to the list of local recycling locations is Best Buy. They have always taken some items, but now will take pretty much any electronic gear – computers, monitors, routers, old mice, keyboards, speakers. Check their web site for Recycling under the Services tag.
And those screw-off plastic caps that are not supposed to go in your recycling bin? Take them to your local fire station and put them in the blue bins they have out front. Check the web site for the fire station closest to you.
There is a good list on the Green Coalition of Huntsville web site - Click on Where to Recycle.
Now if only all these recycling locations were in one spot so we could use less gas when we're trying to do good...
- North Alabama Sierra Club Editor


March 2013

Alabama Sierrans Participate in National Climate Change Rally

Several Sierrans from the Auburn-Opelika area attended the recent Forward On Climate Rally: Virginia O'Leary and Kirk Swiss, from Auburn, bought tickets on Greyhound and Carolyn Hunter, from Opelika, got a seat on the Sierra Club bus from Atlanta.

Pictured above, Carolyn Hunter (from Opelika) with two friends from Virginia, Stephen Bach, left, and Andy Wilson, right, at the foot of the Washington Monument. Thanks for representing Alabama! (If you participated, please email us your photos!)

Clean Energy and Climate Legacy 2013

Alabama Chapter Sierra Club and Mobile Bay Sierra Club are partners of 100-1000: Restore Coastal Alabama. We are excited to be participating in the next 100-1000: Restore Coastal Alabama project!
On Saturday, April 6, we will be building four reefs at Pelican Point, at the mouth of Weeks Bay in Fairhope, AL. (download the sign up form here) Volunteer Sign-up form can be filled out electronically and returned to We're hoping for 500 volunteers, but of course, we would love to see more!

We're looking forward to working with many great organizations and individuals on this project!!!! I hope Alabama Sierra Club members will come on down!!


Good Green Jobs Conference Next Month in D.C.

The outreach process has begun for the 2013 Good Jobs Green Jobs Conference, April 15-18, in Washington DC. This year's national theme is Let’s Get to Work: Climate Change, Infrastructure and Innovation. The conference shall kick-off with an opening plenary featuring Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune, followed by two days of workshops, and will conclude with a lobby day on Capitol Hill. There will be a number of panels bringing together an exciting mix of environmentalists, labor union leaders, and energy specialists. The event is an excellent opportunity to build coalitions around good jobs that are also good for the environment. Conference details can be found at

The Sierra Club is happy to announce that we will be sponsoring a delegation to attend the conference. We hope to bring a diverse group of Sierra Club members to this event. This year we are also happy to be coordinating with the Sierra Student Coalition to bring a number of youth leaders and activists to the conference to expand networking opportunities and build new alliances. Being a part of the Sierra Club’s sponsored delegation includes paid registration fee, lodging, and travel. We are working with a more limited budget than in years past. The state of Alabama is being offered two full scholarships to participate this year. Please contact Carol Adams-Davis, who is putting together a list of interested individuals, to find out more information and get involved, please contact Carol Adams-Davis, 702-496-5050 or email:
Looking forward to seeing you at the Good jobs, Green Jobs Conference!
Hope to hear from you, soon!

100 Days of Action to Stop Climate Disruption

President Obama said it himself during his inaugural address yesterday: To ignore the threat of climate change would be to "betray our children and future generations. The path toward sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition. We must lead it."

It's up to all of us to make sure the president can set America on the right path with bold climate solutions and clean energy innovation -- starting on day one of his second term. Climate disruption is solvable if President Obama and the federal agencies he leads take bold action.

Get involved in National Sierra Club's 100 Days of Action to Stop Climate Change campaign from now through Earth Day.

One-Sided Keystone XL Poll Tells the Story Big Oil Wants You To Hear

After a weekend during which tens of thousands of Americans took to the streets to oppose the Keystone XL pipeline and demand solutions to the climate crisis, the American Petroleum Institute (API) is touting a one-sided poll they claim shows Americans supporting the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline.

However, a closer look at their poll questions unveils a biased survey which failed to equip respondents with the basic facts of the project before asking them to form an opinion. Instead, API crafted a poll to ensure they got the types of answers they were looking for by totally ignoring the environmental and economic realities of the toxic pipeline from Canada.
You can see the questionnaire for yourself here (PDF). And you'll notice that poll respondents are presented with all types of arguments for the pipeline, but not a single argument against Keystone XL. In fact, the survey doesn't even mention the words "tar sands" at all. Without the proper context, people who had never heard of Keystone XL before could easily associate the pipeline with conventional oil - not the toxic, more carbon-intensive tar sands oil that Keystone XL would transport. Furthermore, there is no mention of the grave risks Keystone XL poses. API's survey ignores any discussion of possible oil spills, drinking water contamination, or climate-disrupting pollution - just to name a few. (read the full article on the Sierra Club website here.)

Launching the Cahaba Blueway”

A Cahaba River Society Headwaters Program
Thursday, March 7, 2013
ArchitectureWorks, 130 Nineteenth Street South
Birmingham, Alabama 35233

5:30 – 6:00 p.m., Nibbles and networking
6:00 – 7:30 p.m., Program and conversation

Do you share a dream that more people can come to the Cahaba for recreation and renewal, and that more people love the River and help to protect it?

Do you believe the Cahaba has great potential to link together the unique natural, historic and cultural assets of our communities, to enrich our lives and help our communities reach their potential?

Come to the next Cahaba Headwaters event and learn about the possibilities for a local/state/national collaboration to turn this dream into reality: a series of well-designed, accessible, low impact public recreation sites up and down the Cahaba River, linked with trails, cultural, historic & other tourism attractions in Cahaba communities.


Alison Bullock. Community Planner, Chattanooga Field Office, National Park Service ~ Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance

The NPS RTCA Program has selected the Cahaba Blueway as a partnership project, and Alison is our RTCA resource. She will share the elements needed to develop a quality water trail project based on the National Water Trails designation standards and best management practices from other successful water trail projects.

Matthew Leavell, RA, LEED AP, Project Manager, Alabama Innovation Engine

Matt will invite you into the Cahaba Blueway visioning, story-telling, planning and design now in its early stages. Paul Freeman of The Nature Conservancy in Alabama will also share the Blueway progress TNC is leading.

Discussion to follow: What’s your vision for a Cahaba Blueway? How can we get there?

Climate Rally Reverberates from Sea to Shining Sea

Thank you.

Thank you to the nearly 50,000 who attended the Forward on Climate Rally at the Washington Monument, the thousands at 20-plus solidarity rallies across the country, and the more than one million online activists who stood up and spoke out to tell President Obama that this is the time to lead. This truly was the largest climate rally in U.S. history.

Sierra Club President and Executive Director Arrested in Peaceful Pipeline Protest

Washington, D.C., police arrested Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune, Board of Directors President Allison Chin, and 46 other climate-crisis activists outside the White House on February 13 for engaging in an act of peaceful civil disobedience -- the first in the Club's 120-year history. Others arrested included founder Bill McKibben, longtime civil rights leader Julian Bond, and Waterkeeper Alliance founder Robert Kennedy, Jr.

The protest was an announcement to President Obama and other leaders that it is vital to take immediate action to combat climate disruption and slash fossil-fuel pollution. The action was national news for days afterward.

Don't Give the Cold Shoulder to Low-Income Americans

During President Obama's inauguration speech, he spoke about the bedrock American value of providing every citizen with a basic measure of security and dignity. The government's Weatherization Assistance Program is a remarkable success story that has made one million low-income families more comfortable and secure by making their homes more energy-efficient and lowering their annual utility bills by an average of $437.

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.

Sierra Club Outings

Spring is here!! It may be cold; it may be warm. It's time to get out! 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>>>