A local community tries to convert the site of an old coal mine into a solar farm. Africa marks its first year polio free. And investigations into the declining population of land snails may reveal troubling implications about our planet's ecosystem. Here at Earthy Thursday we do our best to bring you informative and useful news about the Earth and the sciences. All this and more for the Pagan News Beagle!

One downside to reducing fossil fuel consumption is that it can have a negative impact on employment, eliminating jobs that are now obsolete. But can that be avoided? A small community in Arizona is working to do just that, converting an abandoned coal mine into a solar farm while simultaneously providing "green jobs" to combat transition-created unemployment.

Could regular skin cells be transformed into neurons? According to this article from Gizmodo, it seems neuroscientists have successfully done just that. Read more to learn how the technique, using "chemical cocktails," might aid doctors in treating illnesses like Alzheimer's.

Polio, a deadly and debilitating disease which has been practically eliminated throughout most of the Western world, also disappeared from Africa last year as a result of concerted vaccine efforts. But could Africa's polio-free status be at risk? According to this article from The Guardian, violent conflicts which interfere with access to medicine could reverse the progress made.

So far the U.S. has largely been free of climate change-induced migration, in part because the effects of climate change are concentrated in the oceans. Is that be about to change? This piece from PRI takes a look at a community of Alaskan Natives who could be the first Americans forced to relocate because of global warming.

You may have heard for some time that we are on the edge of or even experiencing a major extinction event. So just how bad is our situation? Studies of land snails in Hawaii suggests it may be more dire than you think.

Top image by Julien Harneis