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PEOPLE: Ocasio-Cortez's chief of staff exits to push Green New Deal

ClimateWire News - Mon, 08/05/2019 - 6:41am
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's chief of staff is resigning to work at a nonprofit advocating for the Green New Deal, the New York Democrat announced over the weekend.

GLACIERS: Europe experiences 'absolutely exceptional' ice melt

ClimateWire News - Mon, 08/05/2019 - 6:41am
The sweltering heat wave that roasted much of Europe last month has since moved north, where it's wreaking havoc on the Greenland ice sheet. But while all eyes are currently trained on the Arctic ice, scientists are finding that Europe's coldest places have also suffered.

RENEWABLES: Giant turbines propel boom in wind energy

ClimateWire News - Mon, 08/05/2019 - 6:41am
The wind industry is growing, literally. American wind developers are installing increasingly large turbines, capable of generating twice as much power as their predecessors and opening up new areas of the country to wind development.

POLITICS: Al Gore: Damage from Trump can be undone

ClimateWire News - Mon, 08/05/2019 - 6:41am
MINNEAPOLIS — Al Gore is "trying not to pick a favorite" among the 24 Democrats seeking to unseat President Trump.

PEOPLE: Former Cato climate critic lands at pro-CO2 group

ClimateWire News - Mon, 08/05/2019 - 6:41am
A group that touts the benefits of carbon dioxide and is connected to the Trump White House has hired a prominent climate science critic to spread uncertainty among Washington lawmakers.

LAW: Climate liability is on the rise. Here's what it looks like

ClimateWire News - Mon, 08/05/2019 - 6:41am
Companies and federal agencies could be on the hook for rising insurance claims and fiduciary duty violations in the new landscape of climate-related liability, according to experts.

Persistent acceleration in global sea-level rise since the 1960s

Nature Climate Change - Mon, 08/05/2019 - 12:00am

Nature Climate Change, Published online: 05 August 2019; doi:10.1038/s41558-019-0531-8

Satellite altimetry shows global mean sea-level rise acceleration; however, sparse tide-gauge data limit understanding of the longer-term trend. A hybrid method of reconstruction for 1900–2015 shows acceleration since the 1960s, linked to increases and shifts in Southern Hemisphere westerly winds.

Publisher Correction: Reduced probability of ice-free summers for 1.5 °C compared to 2 °C warming

Nature Climate Change - Mon, 08/05/2019 - 12:00am

Nature Climate Change, Published online: 05 August 2019; doi:10.1038/s41558-019-0569-7

Publisher Correction: Reduced probability of ice-free summers for 1.5 °C compared to 2 °C warming

Throwing lifelines to job seekers after incarceration

MIT Latest News - Sat, 08/03/2019 - 11:59pm

It’s Wednesday morning and Brooke Wages is standing in front of a whiteboard, bouncing ideas off her startup partner Sarika Ram, a rising junior at Boston University, and writing out a game plan for the rest of the day. It’s early, but Wages is focused and energetic about the work ahead of her. You can tell that she is, to use one of her favorite phrases, killing the game.

Wages and her team have just finished interviewing formerly incarcerated individuals who are now seeking job training and placement through the team’s startup, Surge Employment Solutions, which aims to place people in well-paid, high-skilled trade jobs after they have served time in prison. Today Wages and Ram are planning out the next few months of their pilot program, during which they will start training their selected candidates for their future jobs. By November, the selected candidates will be working their new positions.

Wages is in the dual-degree master’s of business administration and master’s of public administration program at the MIT Sloan School of Management and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She founded Surge last year, along with Ram and rising Harvard University sophomore Amisha Kambath. The team has partnered with the Boston Mayor’s Office of Returning Citizens, the Massachusetts Parole Board, Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation, and Strive Boston in their outreach to formerly incarcerated citizens.

Her interest in this area began when she was an undergraduate at North Carolina State University. A mechanical engineering major, she also began to study inequality and the discrimination faced by citizens returning to the workforce after incarceration. Wages was particularly influenced by the late sociologist Devah Pager, especially her book “Marked: Race, Crime, and Finding Work in an Era of Mass Incarceration.” Pager’s research documents discrimination against ex-offenders in the job market and how this bias contributes to recidivism, particularly among black men.

Upon learning about these injustices, “I felt moved,” Wages recalls. “I felt like there was a fire inside to do this work.”

Taking action

After graduating, Wages started working as an engineer in the oil and gas industry, but she still found time to work with former inmates seeking employment. She volunteered with the National Alliance for the Empowerment of the Formerly Incarcerated (NAEFI) and attended reentry circles, which welcome a returning citizen back into a community and establish a support system. Through this work, she got to know people coming out of the prison system.

“[Discrimination against the formerly incarcerated] became more than just this appalling thing that I read about. It became someone’s life story. I really recognized how we had equal value, but I just, by the luck of the draw, happened to be born in a different place” than many of the former inmates she had been meeting through NAEFI, Wages says.

In her engineering work, Wages was finding it difficult to find contractors for highly skilled trade jobs. Meanwhile, she was getting to know people having a hard time finding employment after their release. Taking these two contrasting experiences to heart, Wages founded Surge.

Wages emphasizes that Surge should not be characterized as solely a staffing company or a workforce development company. Rather, the startup assesses a client’s staffing needs, trains returning citizens, and places them in specific roles in the client’s company. The organization does not start training people unless they have a job secured for them first.

“We talk to the client, understand their needs and then develop a unique, personalized training program for that specific position,” she says. “That’s a business model that is not currently being used for the formerly incarcerated population.”

The team currently works out of the Boston University BUild Lab IDG Capital Student Innovation Center as part of the university’s Summer Accelerator Program. Surge also recently won $10,000 from the IDEAS Global Challenge from MIT’s PKG Center, which has also been crucial in funding the startup.

Among the classes in her Sloan program that have been particularly formative, Wages cites 15.S03 (Leading the Way: Perspectives on Advancing Equity and Inclusion), for giving her tools to create systems within her own business to promote equity and inclusion.

“The course provided me with a startup reference guide. We read and discussed the leading evidence-based diversity and inclusion research on topics such as hiring, pay, performance evaluation, identity bias, and harassment, to name a few,” she says. “Just as we acknowledge and address the bias reentering people face in the job market, we need to acknowledge our brain’s proclivity toward bias and build systems that help eliminate that.”

Forging relationships

Wages says much of her success has resulted from connections she has made through her extracurricular activities, such as The Educational Justice Institute (TEJI) at MIT, where she is a graduate fellow. TEJI has provided significant mentorship and support to Wages and her team.

Through TEJI, Wages was a teaching assistant for an “inside-out” class on nonviolent philosophy. The class, ES.114 (Non-violence as a Way of Life), taught by humanities lecturer Lee Perlman of the MIT Experimental Study Group, was based in a prison and comprised half undergraduate students and half incarcerated students. Because it was a discussion-based course, Wages says, all of the students in the class had the opportunity to share life experiences and understand different perspectives. She enjoyed facilitating that process and seeing the strong relationships it helped create among the students.

Wages also serves as the events chair for MIT’s Black Business Students Association and is a fellow at the Forté Foundation, an organization that empowers women in business. She has also gone on the FoundHers retreat for female entrepreneurs, where she connected with other women who have founded startups.

“[Brooke] is a great mentor,” Ram says. “She has lots of undergrads that she takes under her wing.”

Wages has also formed a strong bond with her team and stresses that Surge would not be possible without Ram and Kambath. The trio’s personal relationship is important to Wages, and the group often spends time together outside of work. They take art and dance classes together, for example, and they are prepping for an upcoming Indian movie marathon.

Wages can also be found at the dog park virtually every day, with her dog Grace. “She is the best. She is a chihuahua-heeler mix and all-black — all-black everything, that’s how we operate!” Wages jokes.

Above all of the personal and professional relationships that Wages has created in Boston, her connection to her Christian faith remains as one of the most important things in her life. She is particularly driven by one piece of scripture, in Hebrew 13:3: “Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.”

Marcus Karel, food science pioneer and professor emeritus of chemical engineering, dies at 91

MIT Latest News - Fri, 08/02/2019 - 4:10pm

Marcus “Marc” G. Karel PhD ’60, professor emeritus of chemical engineering, died on July 25 at age 91. A member of the MIT community since 1951, Karel inspired a generation of food scientists and engineers through his work in food technology and controlled release of active ingredients in food and pharmaceuticals.

Karel was born in Lvov, Poland (now Lviv, Ukraine) to Cila and David Karel, who ran a small chain of women’s clothing stores in the town. After war arrived in Poland in 1939, the family business was lost, relatives were scattered and disappeared, and the Karels spent the last 22 months of the war in hiding. After the war, Karel and his family eventually emigrated to the United States, where they settled in Newton, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston. Karel completed his bachelor’s degree at Boston University in 1955 and earned his doctorate in 1960 at MIT.

Before Karel started his graduate studies at MIT, he was invited by the head of the former Department of Food Technology to manage the Packaging Laboratory. Here he began his interest in the external and internal factors that influence food stability. In 1961, he was appointed professor of food engineering at MIT in the former Department of Nutrition and Food Science (Course 20), eventually becoming deputy head of the department. When Course 20 (then called Applied Biological Sciences) was disbanded in 1988, Karel was invited to join the Department of Chemical Engineering. After retiring from MIT in 1989, he became the State of New Jersey Professor at Rutgers University from 1989 to 1996, and from 1996 to 2007 he consulted for various government and industrial organizations.

During his academic career at MIT and Rutgers, Karel supervised over 120 graduate students and postdocs. Most of them are now leaders in food engineering. Several of his trainees from industry are now vice presidents of research and development at several companies. Along with his engineering accomplishments, Karel was known for his ability to build and manage successful teams, nurture talent, and create a family environment among researchers.

Karel was a pioneer in several areas, including oxidative reactions in food, drying of biological materials, and the preservation and packaging and stabilization of low-moisture foods. His fundamental work on oxidation of lipids and stabilization led to important improvements in food packaging. Also, when NASA needed expertise to design food and food systems for long-term space travel, it was Karel’s work that formed the platform for many of the enabling developments of the U.S. space program. MIT Professor Emeritus Charles Cooney relates, “When the solution to an important problem required improved analytical techniques, he pioneered the development of the techniques. When the solution required deeper insight into the physical chemistry of foods, he formulated the theoretical framework for the solution. When the solution required identification of new materials and new processes, he was on the front line with innovative technologies. No one has had the impact on the field of food science and engineering as Marc.”

Karel earned many recognitions for his work, including a Life Achievement Award from the International Association for Engineering and Food, election to the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering, the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT)’s Nicholas Appert Medal (the highest honor in food technology), election to the Food Engineering Hall of Fame, several honorary doctorates, and the one of which he was most proud: the first William V. Cruess Award for Excellence in Teaching from the IFT. The first edition of his co-authored book, "The Physical Principles of Food Preservation," is considered by many to be the "bible" of the field of food stability.

Karel is survived by his wife of almost 61 years, Carolyn Frances (Weeks) Karel; son Steven Karel and daughters Karen Karel and Debra Karel Nardone; grandchildren Amanda Nardone, Kristen Nardone, Emma Griffith, and Bennet Karel; sister Rena Carmel, niece Julia Carmel, and great-nephew David Carmel; Leslie Griffith (mother of Emma and Ben); nephew James Weeks Jr., and niece Sharon Weeks Mancini.

Funeral arrangements were private. A celebration of Karel’s life will take place later this year. Memorial contributions may be made to the American Red Cross.

HURRICANES: Michael claims reach nearly $7B; 14% unresolved

ClimateWire News - Fri, 08/02/2019 - 6:46am
Florida officials say insured losses in the state from last year's Hurricane Michael have reached nearly $7 billion.

ELECTRIC VEHICLES: Indonesia plans auto rules overhaul to form EV hub

ClimateWire News - Fri, 08/02/2019 - 6:46am
Indonesia is planning a slew of incentives for electric car manufacturers and drivers to help bolster a sector that has already lured investment from Toyota Motor Corp. and SoftBank Group Corp., according to a draft government strategy seen by Bloomberg.

BRAZIL: Bolsonaro promises 'real data' on deforestation rates

ClimateWire News - Fri, 08/02/2019 - 6:46am
Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro promised new data on deforestation rates Wednesday, days after telling foreign journalists that numbers showing sharply increased rates of deforestation were "lies."

OREGON: State senator's email threats during walkout triggered fear

ClimateWire News - Fri, 08/02/2019 - 6:46am
An Oregon state senator's threats against the Senate president and the state police on the eve of a walkout by Senate Republicans in June sent a wave of fear through the Capitol.

CAR RULES: Rollback threatens auto jobs in swing states — report

ClimateWire News - Fri, 08/02/2019 - 6:46am
The Trump administration's rollback of Obama-era clean car standards could prevent automakers from adding thousands of new jobs in states that backed Donald Trump in the 2016 election, according to a new report.

CAMPAIGN 2020: Inslee super PAC would be empty if not for these 7 people

ClimateWire News - Fri, 08/02/2019 - 6:46am
A super political action group supporting Democratic Washington Gov. Jay Inslee's run for president has raised about $2.1 million this year, nearly all of it from seven people.

OCEANS: Climate change drives global debate on seafloor mining

ClimateWire News - Fri, 08/02/2019 - 6:46am
Climate change and the growing popularity of electric vehicles are lending a new urgency to a 25-year-old international body's efforts to mine metals from the ocean floor.

WHITE HOUSE: Trump and Putin talked about wildfires, not climate

ClimateWire News - Fri, 08/02/2019 - 6:46am
As the Arctic burns, President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the wildfires scorching Siberia that many scientists describe as a sign of climate change.

ARCTIC: Historic Greenland melt is 'glimpse of the future'

ClimateWire News - Fri, 08/02/2019 - 6:46am
Greenland is in the midst of one of its strongest melting events on record, as a major heat wave — the same one that scorched much of Europe last month — grips the Arctic.

EPA: Career staff fueled blitz on climate models — ex-official

ClimateWire News - Fri, 08/02/2019 - 6:46am
The Trump administration's line of attack against the National Climate Assessment came from career staffers who worried that the report's findings would undermine their modeling work, a former senior political official told E&E News.