Vol. 2, No. 3, February 2017
Air Pollution in India Kills
1.1 Million People Per Year

In a recently released study put together by the Boston-based Health Effects Institute, it was revealed that India is now surpassing China as the country with the worst air pollution in the world. As deaths caused by dangerous air particles (PM2.5) have stabilized in China in the past few years, they have soared to 1.1 million annually in India, with no signs of slowing down. The report, titled State of Global Air, also found that approximately 40% of PM2.5 can be attributed to the burning of coal, from industry use to power plants to home heating. As India industrializes, they are relying more and more on coal for power, which is certainly a large factor in their declining air quality.

However, China offers an encouraging sign - massive government investment in clean energy and important regulatory action has had a meaningful impact in decreasing air pollution and shifting away from coal. India is among the countries with the most ambitious Paris climate targets, with a goal of obtaining 60% of its electricity from non fossil-fuel sources by 2027. Achieving these goals will be crucial in halting the rise in deaths from air pollution.

Click here to read more. Click here too.
Boston in Danger of Rising Sea Levels
as Larsen C Breaks off of Antarctica

In 2000, scientists found that the global sea levels rose by 5.4 inches (13.7 cm) in just 100 years. It may not seem like much, but several places in Massachusetts and Connecticut held a whole other number, seeing a rise of over 10 inches (25.4 cm). There are natural climate factors associated with this sea level change, such as the continuing impact of the last ice age in the New England area. But human activity, primarily our high greenhouse gas emissions, seem to be having a more damaging effect as we see our ice sheets melting at such an alarming rate. Following Alaska, the Northeast region of the United States will be the most affected by sea level rise. The problem is so serious in fact, that the city of Boston, MA has already begun outlining city flood plans.

Images of how Boston will be impacted with flooding:

How Boston is preparing for climate change:

Sources: click here, and here.
Firefighter Perspective on
Historic Chilean Wildfires

Chilean President, Michele Bachelet, declared a state of emergency as catastrophic wildfires hit central and southern Chile in late January 2017. Battling more than 100 separate wildfires, with half still uncontrolled, Chile was struck with “the greatest forest disaster in our history,” said Bachelet.

“I had never encountered such a fire, the amount of destruction and desolation it has created is astounding,” said Tomas Gonzalez, volunteer and treasurer of the 18th Company of the Santiago Firefighters Corp. Gonzalez described his experience as both “physically and mentally demanding,” as he joined a group of 131 firefighters in efforts to aid the city of Constitución.

Most of Gonzalez’s exposures to wildfires have been relatively mild in comparison. Considering the 8-year long drought affecting the area, the unusually high temperatures combined with heavy winds has lead to “a very powerful mix for wildfires.” Gonzalez described the fires of this magnitude as a “very nasty environment to work in, due to the heat and risk associated with the weather.” 

The national government’s reaction “was very limited and late,” said Gonzalez. Because local firefighter companies “are not well equipped to fight something this size,” Chile has asked for foreign aid. Wildfires of this scope require, “large amounts of men and equipment as well as air support, for a coordinated effort to work efficiently.” Given the locations and the weather conditions of the wildfires, their size and direction can drastically change, which in “rural areas, with limited access, is very hard to control.” This demands more resources, which “we as a country lack in many ways.” 

Gonzalez claimed that the “amount of forest consumed and is still being consumed is a little over 1/3 of what gets consumed in a single year.” The damage made “could even take up to 30 years for the ground to recover.” The reforestation of the affected areas is crucial both on an environmental and economic level. Focusing on reforestation would “avoid erosion and desertification,” especially considering the drought conditions Chile has been confronting for years. 

Many of the communities influenced by these fires are at risk due to the high concentration of  “suspended particles and CO2 emanated from the wood set ablaze,” said Gonzalez. This poses several health risk factors on both human and wildlife populations alike in the area. Laura Bernstein, Chilean member of Northeastern’s Environmental Justice Research Collaborative explained, “when trees are burnt down, they release CO2, so burning down large forests like that will emit immense concentrations of CO2.” 

The economic consequences of these wildfires are concerning considering the “significant amount of time and money the affected areas will take to recover,” said Gonzalez. He further stated that large areas of devastated forests will negatively impact local wood and agricultural-based businesses. Additionally, Bernstein acknowledged Chile’s popularity for its renowned ecotourism, “could be highly affected by this incident.” 

Due to the multiple points of origin, Bachelet claimed, “we cannot dismiss the possibility that there might be an intentional component here.” According to BBC, 43 people have been detained for suspected arson. Gonzalez stated that “some of the fires we encountered were man made”, however the motives behind these allegedly deliberate incidents are still unclear. Gonzalez added that, “on several occasions, we had to go with military protection due gun fire in the area.” 

As noted in BBC, Bachelet stated that Chile has "practically exhausted its capacity to fight the blazes,” which lead to the request of planes and helicopters from the United States, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Peru. With nearly 593,000 acres of homes, farmland and livestock demolished, as well as record high temperatures and an ongoing drought, Chile faces many challenges ahead.

Click here to read more.  Link to video.
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What is NEJRC?

noun. [KNEE-jerk]

The Northeastern Environmental Justice Research Collaborative is a multidisciplinary research collaborative made up of scholars engaged in political ecology and environmental justice initiatives. Based at Northeastern University in Boston, the collaborative works on a wide range of local, regional, national, and international topics and issues. Professor Daniel Faber, a long-time researcher and advocate around environmental justice, serves as the Director.

Find more information here.

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NEWIN Water Pitch Night

Wednesday, February 22nd | 5:30-8:00pm


50 Milk Street 
Boston, MA 02110

Please join NEWIN and the local water industry startup community for an evening of water technology pitches and networking. The theme will be Recycling and Resource Recovery. The keynote speaker is Reese Tisdale, President of BlueField Research.

For more information, click here.


2017 Impact Summit: Building a Better Future

Friday, February 24th | 9:30-4:30pm

Gaylord Hotel and Convention Center

201 Waterfront Street
National Harbor, MD 20745

The ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit is an annual conference and technology showcase that brings together experts from different technical disciplines and professional communities to think about America’s energy challenges in new and innovative ways. Now in its eighth year, the Summit offers a unique, three-day program aimed at moving transformational energy technologies out of the lab and into the market.

For more information, click here.


Seminar: Designing for Flooding & Sea Level Rise

Tuesday, February 28th | 5:30-7:30pm

Atlantic Wharf

290 Congress Street Fort Point Room
Boston, MA 02210

This presentation provides an introduction to the design of buildings and other infrastructure for flooding. It will introduce FEMA Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs), building code requirements for SFHA zones, and the basic approaches for wet and dry floodproofing. It will also discuss the impacts of sea level rise and strategies for addressing sea level rise in building design and construction.

For more information, click here.


MIT Energy Conference 2017

Friday, March 3rd 9:00am - Saturday, March 4th 9:00am | Cambridge, MA

MIT's Energy Conference is the largest student-led energy conference in the U.S.A. 7 keynote speeches and 12 panel discussions More than 350 attendees at the Energy Showcase 2 networking lunches 1 VIP reception attended by speakers, executives and CEOs from the US and abroad.

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Copyright © 2017. Northeastern University: NEJRC, All Rights Reserved.

Contributors: Laura Bernstein, Ben Vanderlan, Nina Rossiter
Guest Contributor from Boston University: Isabella Morales (Firefighter Perspective Piece)
Edited by Laura Bernstein CSSH'19
Designed & Edited by Anna Driscoll CAMD'18

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