For Tonga and other nations disproportionately impacted by the environmental crisis, cash is only a band-aid for a spiraling disaster.
While the ACCC, ASIC and a new senate inquiry begin to flush out greenwashing, we take a closer look at dodgy climate claims. Complaints and court cases are stacking up. Here’s what you need to know.
La Niña has ended and neutral conditions are now in play. Will El Niño come next, possibly by fall? Learn more about climate conditions here. The post La Niña climate pattern has ended. What’s next? first appeared on EarthSky.
As a warming planet brings economic tensions to a boil, following the money can reveal some critical stories. The post Exposing the Financial Costs of Climate Change – and Denial of the Climate Crisis appeared first on .
This piece was published originally by Capital & Main. Biting the Hand It hasn’t been the best season for the invisible hand, the 18th century principle that the market be left to its own devices free of government intervention.In August, President Biden took his right hand and applied his signature to the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) […]
As a warming planet brings economic tensions to a boil, following the money can reveal some critical stories
Past Presentation | A Climate of TRUST is the story of the scientists who developed the scientific prescriptions necessary for climate recovery, the attorney who figured out the legal basis for the right to a healthy atmosphere, and one of OUR CHILDREN'S TRUST's attorneys who is supporting these youth in court.
Now Playing | This film introduces Evangelical Christians working for action on climate change and the environment. They explain how they became passionate about the environment, their fears about the future of our planet, and how their passion is based on their deep faith and love for creation. They call on all other Evangelicals to join them.
If there’s one thing Thursday made clear, it’s that climate policy and controversy go hand in hand in California. Depending on whom you ask, the two major actions state regulators took Thursday are either indicative of California “leading the world’s most significant economic transformation since the Industrial Revolution” (as Gov. Gavin Newsom put it) or […]
These frontline birth workers already know how to assist during floods, fires, and earthquakes. They could be doing more.
Now Playing | The fossil fuel industry is building a global threat in the oil fields of West Texas. Miguel Escoto, who has lived close to this region his whole life, witnesses the industry’s villainy for the first time by viewing oil and gas site emissions through optical gas imaging cameras, becoming a stand-in for a world that has yet to grasp the gravity of the Permian Climate Bomb.
Victoria’s environmental regulator has been accused of allowing three coal-fired power stations to contaminate the air with millions of tonnes of pollution.
Two weeks ago, I promised this newsletter would have more to say about the emotional sustainability of climate coverage and climate activism—which seems to be a theme of late. In the wake of the most recent U.N. climate report, for example, several prominent voices in the climate space have returned to the question of how to frame climate news optimistically, so that people don’t feel too overwhelmed.In a world where fossil fuel executives, meat megacorporations, and the like possess vastly more wealth and power than activists, tone probably isn’t the primary challenge in climate communication, as Kate Aronoff argued last week. At the same time, it’s true that sustainability continues to have the reputation of being a lot of work. And that’s a fascinating conundrum—because despite the plethora of popular articles promising five, 10, 12, 20, 22, 40, 58, or 101 ways to live more sustainably and fight climate change, a lot of the easy answers about how to live more sustainably involve doing less.Four years ago, climate writer Mary Annaïse Heglar penned a classic essay at Vox about being tired of people confessing their environmental sins to her. Too often, she wrote, people feel they need to “convert to 100 percent solar energy, ride an upcycled bike everywhere, stop flying, eat vegan,” or else they’re bad environmentalists. “And all this raises the price of admission to the climate movement to an exorbitant level, often pricing out people of color and other marginalized groups.” Personal action isn’t irrelevant in the fight for a livable future, she wrote, but it’s not the best place to focus one’s efforts, particularly if people then get overwhelmed and stop at the personal—neglecting to vote for robust climate policies because they’re so busy trying to find a place to recycle those pesky plastic bags. A lot of people clearly feel sustainable living means doing more: taking more time to sort recycling or buying special reusable containers, sourcing clothes from thrift shops or researching the most sustainable varieties of seafood. A lot of people also want guidance about how to live more sustainably (how to have a more sustainable yard, for example, was one question I recently heard raised in a meeting) but feel intimidated by the amount of work it might require (killing off your grass and installing a bunch of native plants is pretty daunting for nongardeners).But let’s take that sustainable yard question as a good case study. Sure, there’s a case for killing off your grass, planting a meadow of native plants, as The New York Times recently urged to ward off the insect apocalypse, or even adding a frog pond, as Emma Marris suggested at The Atlantic. But if you’re not ready or equipped to do that, there really is one easy trick to make your yard more sustainable: Do less. Mow it less frequently—the estimates on emissions from gas-powered lawn mowers vary, but all of them are staggering (greater than a car operating for an equivalent amount of time), and longer grass is more hospitable to insects and other wildlife anyway. Apply pesticides or herbicides less frequently—the runoff is terrible for watersheds (in fact, that might be an easier way to help amphibians than installing a frog pond). If you’re in a water-strapped part of the country, water it less frequently.Greater effort doesn’t necessarily mean greater environmental friendliness. This holds for so many other things as well, like clothes shopping. Donating your clothing or looking for sustainably produced labels has some serious limits, as recent reporting on the deluge of unused clothing donations and greenwashing of the fashion industry has shown. The real way to dress sustainably, as a growing number of experts acknowledge, is simply to buy less. The real way to make your commute more sustainable may not be to spend hours researching and then financing the latest e-bike, but to work less—by pushing for a four-day workweek, as Kate wrote about last year. You’d think that this would be a popular “solution” in a world where people are always bemoaning how little time they have, how little cash they have, how bad inflation has gotten. Yet “do less” isn’t always what people want to hear. Perhaps that’s because “do less” has a hint of austerity to it or because doing less may require swimming against the flow of a culture obsessed with aesthetics. Try doing or not doing anything remotely unorthodox with your lawn in a neighborhood with a neurotic homeowners’ association, and see how that goes. (Although, that being said, this Maryland couple sued those bougie troglodytes and won, so there’s hope.) Buying fewer clothes means ignoring the pressure to engage in competitive social signaling.Yet it’s worth remembering that it’s precisely this culture of aesthetics over substance that the corporations driving climate change have relied on again and again: by championing the idea of a personal “carbon footprint” in the first place, to make people feel guilty about their own lifestyles instead of questioning fossil fuel companies’ culpability; by marketing gas stoves as a lifestyle upgrade or plastics as convenient and more pleasant to use; by trend-churning to force seasonal purchases; and a multitude of other examples.If individual consumers are going to take on the task of fighting all this, perhaps the least they can do for themselves is—instead of adding 20 items to their to-do lists and shaming themselves for falling short—choose the path that saves them time and money, by rejecting the cult of aesthetics in the first place. There’s beauty in that too.Good NewsRenewable electricity generation surpassed coal in this country for the first time in 2022, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reports. Bad NewsOver a year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine catapulted heat pumps and home insulation to the top of the Western European political agenda—to save on winter fuel—an independent report has found that the United Kingdom only “stuttered further” in 2022 on its path to energy efficiency. The chair of the independent commission blamed insufficient funding and an overreliance on “low-stakes incremental changes” and called for bolder policies. “The risk of delay in addressing climate change,” he said, “is now greater than the risk of over-correction.”Stat of the WeekThat’s the degree to which stricter limits on fine-particulate-matter air pollution could reduce mortality rates among older Black and low-income people in the U.S, according to a new study. Read the New York Times write-up here.Elsewhere in the EcosystemThe Gospel of DisasterSlate has a pretty wild story this week about the Christian relief organizations that are stepping up to the plate to help communities recover from climate disasters when the Federal Emergency Management Agency fails to get the job done (unfortunately a frequent occurrence, due to persistent underfunding):The Christian relief organizations that have stepped in as first responders—with little oversight—are diverse, spanning from well-intentioned community churches with decades of goodwill to billion-dollar evangelical charities that use far-right outrage to fundraise and take advantage of disaster to spread their gospel.The overwhelming majority of these organizations’ on-the-ground volunteers serve out of genuine compassion. But some of the country’s largest disaster charities are helmed by far-right extremist leaders who encourage volunteers to make proselytization a main part of their mission, bragging in press releases about how many disaster victims “prayed to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.” For Samaritan’s Purse, that leader is president and CEO Franklin Graham, the evangelical titan who has called Islam a violent religion, compared trans people with pedophiles, and praised Vladimir Putin’s anti-gay policies, saying LGBT people will burn in “the flames of hell.”Read Nick Aspinwall’s story at Slate.This article first appeared in Apocalypse Soon, a weekly TNR newsletter authored by deputy editor Heather Souvaine Horn. Sign up here.
John Sterman brings workshops with management flight simulators to businesses working toward environmental sustainability.
Governments are ignoring calls to stop fossil fuel expansion—despite there being little time left to avoid the worst effects of global warming.
How wishful thinking hampers the clean-energy revolution
Activism isn’t only for the young. Many seniors are eager to join the climate movement — and they have the power to achieve key goals, says Bill McKibben. The post Elders Seek to Supercharge Climate Action appeared first on The Revelator.
Climate "doomism" — fatalistic messaging that nothing can be done to reverse climate change on a global scale — is easy to find on outlets like TikTok, where the baseless argument has gone viral in recent years. Why it matters: Organizations like Black Girl Environmentalist are challenging the misinformation that feeds the argument, which they say can lead to a loss of power for the communities bearing the brunt of climate impacts. Driving the news: Members of the nonprofit's leadership team were just recognized on Pique Action and Harvard Chan C-HANGE's "Climate Creators to Watch" annual list for their advocacy work engaging people on issues of climate and environmental justice. The backstory: In 2021, Wanjiku "Wawa" Gatheru founded Black Girl Environmentalist (BGE), which seeks to empower Black girls, women and non-binary peoples in climate action by facilitating increased representation within environmental disciplines. It began as an online space providing digital educational resources, mentorship and programming, but has since evolved into an in-person, community-based network, launching next month in eight cities across the U.S. and the U.K.Creating optimism and a sense of agency around climate solutions while diversifying how people think a climate scientist or activist should look like are some of BGE's tenets. What they're saying: "We want people to know that being in climate doesn't have to be all doom," says Gatheru. "It’s not too late and the concept of 'giving up' is a privileged one. Especially for so many already experiencing the brunt of the issue."A Kenyan-American climate storyteller, Rhodes scholar and former revolutionary power fellow at the Department of Energy, Gatheru led the creation of the state of Connecticut's first-ever food security assessment of a public higher-ed institution, which has since been cited in federal legislation. The 24-year-old founder says she's been in the climate movement space since she was 15, which was when she decided she'd dedicate her life to environmental justice."I've unfortunately come across in many of these spaces, a lack of prioritizing Black voices, and particularly Black girls, Black women and Black non-binary environmentalists," Gatheru tells Axios. "I was constantly asking the question: 'Where are we in these conversations?' I know on the ground we are here, we are creating solutions, as a means of survival, we've been doing environmental justice before environmental justice was a term, but we're not really here."Meanwhile: Arielle V. King, the group's programming director, says there's a demonstrated need for accessible resources that teach how the pursuit of racial and climate justice are "deeply connected."The disproportionate burden of climate change on communities of color and the lack of protection and over-policing of those same neighborhoods are connected through a legacy of systemic racism and environmental injustice, King tells Axios. "If I'm talking about prison abolition, if I'm talking about Black Lives Matter, or another Black person being slain by police, that is an environmental issue," says King."The same communities that are over-policed in this country are the ones that have the least amount of trees or access to fresh, affordable food." Zoom out: A 24-year-old environmental justice advocate and educator, King has been a host of the "The Joy Report" podcast, which spotlights climate solutions, and worked as an environmental justice staff attorney at the Environmental Law Institute. She grew up in Albany, New York's South End, in what she considers a "very environmentally overburdened community ... with the highest asthma rates, the lowest income rates, the highest levels of pollution, and the most limited access to green space."Up until recently, the area was a food desert. The bottom line: "So much of environmental stewardship, environmental leadership is grounded in the knowledge and lived experience of Black women and Black non-binary folks," King tells Axios."One of the most important parts of the environmental justice movement is the ability to create self-determination for those who have been most impacted by environmental harm, and allow people to have a say."
The time draws near. Those working in climate and environmental coverage can feel it approaching like the rumble of an oncoming train: Earth Day.The celebration on April 22 started with the best of intentions in 1970—part of a radical, nationwide movement that also helped establish the Environmental Protection Agency and extend the Clean Air Act. In recent decades, though, Earth Day has felt a bit more nebulous—and susceptible to cliché, pablum, window dressing, and corporate greenwashing. Reliably, at least one oil major each year uses the day to release some bonkers ad copy suggesting they’re environmentalists.TNR has published several pieces about this long-running trend, from Bradford Plumer’s short post in 2008 comparing the corporate co-opting of Earth Day to Christmas to Emily Atkin’s 2017 classic about Earth Day having become a “corny celebration of green living” mostly for white and privileged people, while low-income and minority populations face toxic air and water every day. Going forward, she wrote, “the onus is on the more privileged classes to change Earth Day from a feel-good exercise for well-off liberals to a day of mass activism to help the underprivileged, who have more immediate concerns than environmental injustice (let alone global warming).”Liza Featherstone struck a similar note in her plea last year to resurrect the radicalism of the original Earth Day. But on the optimistic side of things, she argued, we can point to the original as powerful proof of concept:If not for the climate crisis—which scientists and environmentalists warned about on that first Earth Day and the world has struggled and largely failed to address ever since—we’d probably view ’70s environmentalism as one of the most transformative social movements in history. That first Earth Day kicked off many of the important changes. As National Earth Day organizer Denis Hayes said in a 2020 interview, before that first Earth Day the Cuyahoga River was routinely on fire, breathing the air in major American cities like Pittsburgh and Los Angeles was like smoking two packs of cigarettes a day, and the bald eagle—America’s national bird—was in danger of going extinct. None of that is true today. Our waterways are also much cleaner, and fewer children suffer from lead paint poisoning in their homes (in fact, childhood lead poisoning has declined by 90 percent). The massive mobilization of Earth Day helped focus the general public’s attention on the environment, and in turn, that of politicians. Looking at this history tells us something that we need to know right now: We have solved pervasive and deadly environmental problems in the past, and we can do it again.As part of a series next week on the origin of various environmental culture wars, we’ll have more coverage of how, exactly, this moment of consensus fractured and climate policy got stuck in partisan deadlock. But in the meantime, as we gear up for a week that will doubtless feature its usual share of corporate shenanigans, it’s worth sparing a thought for what meaningful celebration might look like.Denis Hayes, the original organizer of Earth Day in 1970, offered five suggestions to Outside magazine’s Heather Hansman last year: Focus on the biggest, and ideally the most discrete, issue (that would be emissions); name a “clear enemy”; pinpoint specific political changes (as when Earth Day activists identified the “dirty dozen” congressmen in flippable districts who were blocking environmental policy); take the imperfect, passable policy over no policy at all; and give people a goal that doesn’t feel “hopeless.”Notably, none of these sound much like the program you’ll see if you visit EarthDay.org’s rundown for 2023. The official theme is “Invest in Our Planet”—a word choice evoking start-up culture, business-led solutionism, and so-called sustainable investment, none of which have performed all that well in recent years when it comes to reducing emissions. (In any event, the right is now engaged in all-out war on the entire idea that investment should be sustainable.) Under the heading “How to Do Earth Day 2023,” visitors are offered six ideas: “Climate Literacy,” “End Plastics,” “Plant Trees,” “Vote Earth,” “Global Cleanup,” and “Sustainable Fashion.”If Hayes is right, then for Earth Day to be effective again, it might need to choose one issue. It might need to be more explicitly political and less universally inoffensive. A useful Earth Day might not look like a product you can buy but a fight you can sign up for—and an affirmative vision of what winning the battle might look like.Good NewsWe don’t need the toxic and long-lasting chemicals known as PFAS to make things stain-resistant, a new peer-reviewed study finds. Furniture fabric that hadn’t been treated with PFAS held up just as well as untreated fabric. “PFAS on treated fabric can break off and end up in indoor air, attach to dust, or be dermally absorbed, and the pollution is especially a problem for homes with small children,” The Guardian’s report on the study notes. “The product is commonly applied to stain-resistant apparel and products for babies and children.” Find more information on what we know about the health effects of PFAS here and here.Bad NewsSea levels are rising more quickly than predicted along the southeastern and Gulf coasts, which might exacerbate the effects of hurricanes that make landfall there.Stat of the Week$14 billionThat’s how much the “collective market value of the biggest US [oil and gas] companies” fell in just three days when Ireland’s parliament voted to divest from fossil fuels, even though the value of the divestment itself (i.e., the value of the stocks in the sovereign wealth fund) was only about $78 million. That seems to indicate, according to a new study reported by the Financial Times, that divestment pledges and “viral divestment tweets” serve as important market signals.Elsewhere in the EcosystemThis Is How Fast Humans Have Changed the EcosystemThe forest of aspen trees known as Pando, in Utah, is actually a single organism, “perhaps the world’s largest living creature. It might also be the oldest living thing on the planet, having survived for over 10,000 years,” writes Faye Flam at Bloomberg. Each tree is a clone stem of the same plant, all connected by an underground network of roots. But now the organism is under threat:In the last 100 years, human activity has made growing new stems much tougher for Pando. The main threats, said Rogers, are deer and elk, as well as a few domestic cattle and sheep. Aspen grow fast, which makes their young stems tender and tasty to these herbivores, and so most are getting eaten before they have a chance of becoming a new tree. Areas that used to hold 200 adult stems now have just 50. “It hasn’t shrunk from the outside,” said [Utah State University biologist Paul] Rogers. “It’s thinning and collapsing from the inside.” The fact that it’s getting eaten isn’t the fault of the herbivores. Their populations exploded when, in the early 20th century, people decided to exterminate their main predators—wolves, bears and cougars. The impact of climate change is harder to predict, said Rogers. “We have these two opposing forces.” On the one hand, warming temperatures could shrink aspen habitat, pushing them to cooler, higher elevations. On the other hand, aspen thrive in fire.Read Faye Flam’s article at Bloomberg.
Roofscapes, a startup founded by three MIT students, is planning to build green spaces on pitched roofs in Paris, to decrease temperatures while improving quality of life.
Exxon predicted climate change with 99% accuracy — in 1985.
This story was originally published by the Guardian and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration. Scientists have discovered a record number of dead fir trees in Oregon, in a foreboding sign of how drought and the climate crisis are ravaging the American west. A recent aerial survey found that more than a million acres of forest […]
California activists fought to frame climate change as an air quality problem. Now it’s federal law.
Just because the two powers have every reason to cooperate on the issue doesn’t mean they will.
Researchers have discovered that trees are growing in size as a result of carbon dioxide. It is well known that trees absorb carbon dioxide from...
If insurance executives cannot see any projected value created by an environmental, social and governance policy, maybe they need to reconsider their approach, a Bermudian climate risk expert has said.
According to new research, chances to see rainbows will rise in northern latitudes while falling in many tropical regions. According to a recent study conducted...
Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) leaves behind a legacy of climate disinformation, and a small army of pro-industry contrarians.
In the 1980s, a group of Exxon scientists predicted climate change with uncanny accuracy
California has climate action on the mind. This week state lawmakers, senior officials in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration and prominent environmental leaders are representing California at the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity in Montreal, Canada — an appearance that could make a splash on the world stage as Newsom continues to tout his climate […]
Electric cars alone can’t solve our emissions problem
Now Playing | "It's really hard being a fire family. Every day it's getting worse." -Brett, wife of Marin County Battalion Chief in California.Every day, Americans who live close to the land and sea face the dangers of climate change—from a firefighter in California, to a beekeeper in Arizona, to a climate refugee losing her home in Florida. The changing climate affects our food systems, water and way of life. These American families are in the trenches sacrificing everything while facing depression, PTSD, and suicide—collateral damage of a crisis unchecked. Award-winning filmmaker, Peter Goetz, captures America's faces and voices, shot in 2020 leading up to the presidential election. Goetz and the Biden campaign made history, producing the first national climate spot to run during a presidential election. But this film dives deeper into the American climate crisis to explore the lives of the people who are sounding the alarm, worried about their grandchildren’s future, asking, "If not us, then who?" This is a story of the resilience, perseverance, and ingenuity of the American people. Ever hopeful, they collectively take on a common enemy. As the young, Navajo solar visionary Brett Issac insists, "We've got to turn this train around before it's too late."
A weird paradox of modern life is that, although humans struggle to address big problems like climate change, we’re great at making our lives easier. While the planet has warmed steadily every year since 2000, it’s become exponentially simpler, in the twenty-first century, to get somewhere you’ve never been before, find information on any topic, or order lunch. Some malcontents may gripe that environmental breakdown is itself a huge hassle, but guess what? There’s an app for that too. Silicon Valley can’t fix the climate crisis, but having solved problems like food shopping, these captains of industry now seek to help us avoid the manifold inconveniences of the apocalypse.Now when you open Google Maps to plan your travels, the app warns you about bad air quality hot spots, as well as floods, wildfires, and hurricanes. The air quality and wildfire warnings are touted as “new” features on the app, although a company spokeswoman told me they were introduced last June. I write this from Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, where, today, Google Maps tells me the air quality is “acceptable,” though it could pose a “risk for some people, particularly those who are unusually sensitive to air pollution.” That doesn’t seem acceptable to me, but I suppose it’s all relative. A little to the south, in Flatbush, near Farragut Avenue, the map shows a green dot: Air quality there happens to be “good” today, posing no risk to anyone. I’m happy for the people who live or work near the corner of East 26th and Farragut, but there aren’t many other green dots on this map.There are no wildfires in my area today.There’s something absurdly dystopian about this, almost like a parody of our information-obsessed, crisis-riddled world. Information, delivered easily through our phones, is supposed to solve all kinds of problems now. Mass shooting? Google has an alert for that. Public transit system underfunded, contributing to planetary collapse? Google tells us how far we can travel by subway and how much it will cost to take a Lyft the rest of the way. I use the app for this often, and when I do, I can sense my anger and stress over insufficient government investment in transit ebbing; as Google seamlessly solves my practical problem, the bigger picture recedes from my view. Apps make us feel like savvy individuals winning at twenty-first-century life. We can do this. We can get to New Jersey. Maybe we can even avoid the pollution if we steer clear of Newark.Yet who is molding us into these hypervigilant individuals? Companies who are contributing to the crisis. Instead of becoming more adept at navigating climate collapse alone, we need to take collective action to prevent it. Google is not a reliable ally in this project, to say the least.While Google is hardly the worst corporate climate offender, its operations produce millions of tons of carbon emissions, and in 2019 The Guardian reported that the company had made large contributions to right-wing climate-denier organizations like the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the group that convinced Trump to abandon the Paris Agreement. In the most recent election cycle, Google’s PAC gave more than 40 percent of its House campaign donations to Republicans, a political strategy that anyone serious about preventing climate catastrophe might wish to rethink. And like all big tech companies, Google spends big on lobbying, talks big on climate, but spends only a tiny fraction of its lobbying efforts on climate policy. As recently as last June, Alphabet, Google’s parent company, opposed—and ultimately defeated—a shareholder resolution urging the company to evaluate whether its lobbying activities were aligned with the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming.To be fair, the flood warnings, which have been in place since 2018, save lives, as Google points out. It’s obviously better not to drive into lethal weather. And more encouragingly, in the long run, the data Google is gathering to create these warnings can help scientists and community groups who are working to address the crisis. The street-by-street air quality data, Google points out, can help inform solutions; for example, pollution concentrated in a spot where a freeway meets a bridge could inspire a road redesign or a crackdown on speeding in that spot. The warnings promote a culture of individual invincibility and information obsession. Google has also used its technologies to curb emissions, through “eco-routing,” for example, helping users to find travel routes with the lowest possible carbon footprint. These and other serious sustainability measures, including increased use of renewable energy, have come about partly because of pressure from the company’s own workers.Still, the message these warnings send is a worrying one: The apocalypse is upon us, but here’s an app to help you keep out of its way. The warnings promote a culture of individual invincibility and information obsession. Neither of these qualities will help us stop the climate crisis, and they may even foreclose political solutions: After all, if environmental crisis is something I can reasonably manage in my daily life, why take political action to stop it?Besides, information will not help everyone, and the implication that it can is dangerous. In this sense, the apps confirm environmental justice activists’ worst fears: that in lieu of curbing emissions, the well-informed, tech-savvy affluent will simply optimize their own lives and pull up the drawbridge while the rest suffer. Many people have no choice but to live in the most toxic parts of town, regardless of what Google says. If you live by a truck depot, or by the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, you cannot click away the daily assault on your respiratory system. Not everyone can afford to take a cab when the train doesn’t come. This app-based approach to the climate crisis treats survival as a series of consumer choices, but life is more precious than that. It deserves our collective attention.Most perilously, though, the new Google Maps warnings promote resignation: The climate crisis is happening, and all we can do now is work around it.
The release of a new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change this week has provoked a new round of discussion about how best to talk about the dire crisis it describes. Climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe says it’s important to project hope and emphasize solutions. Fear, she told CBC Radio, “causes us to freeze rather than take action.” The outlet opted for a perhaps overzealous headline: “Climate change fear can be paralyzing. But you can spur action through hope, says scientist.”Along similar lines, Hannah Ritchie—lead researcher for the think tank Our World in Data—argued at Vox this week that doomerism is counterproductive. “I don’t want to talk about whether pessimism is accurate. I want to focus on whether it’s useful,” she wrote. “We need optimism to make progress—yet that alone isn’t enough. To contend with environmental crises and make life better for everyone, we need the right kind of optimists: those who recognize that the world will only improve if we fight for it.” Ritchie isn’t the first to question whether shouting apocalypse is either a good strategy for fueling action to reduce emissions or the right way to understand the problem. But the terms of the climate communications debate have always been fuzzy. What action is being spurred? What is being fought for? And who is guilty of all this bad messaging? Fixating on finding the perfect tone for climate communication mistakes messaging and mindset for a theory of change.On one hand, it’s understandable that climate advocates would think about the best way to communicate about climate change. On the other, fixating on finding the perfect tone for climate communication mistakes messaging and mindset for a theory of change. Getting off fossil fuels requires replacing the lifeblood of capitalism on a stunningly quick timeline, and replacing it with alternatives just now coming into their own. Doing that isn’t so much an issue of pessimism or optimism but of political economy. To wrap your head around this gargantuan challenge—let alone start to do something about it—the socialist lens, which focuses on the material conditions of a problem, offers some useful insights. The reason there is now a “rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all,” per the latest IPCC report, isn’t because some ill-defined mass of climate-concerned people has been insufficiently hopeful in public. It’s because the people who want to pass adequate climate policies have significantly less power and money than the people who want to obstruct such policies.The right has long called climate change a leftist Trojan horse to overthrow capitalism. The anti-capitalist left, though, has been a relatively marginal force in the fight against climate change as long as there’s been one. Global warming emerged as a headline-grabbing issue in the 1990s at the zenith of neoliberalism, amid the collapse of the USSR and what many saw as the triumph of capitalism. Market forces were thought to be the cure for whatever might ail people and the planet. Leading environmental nongovernmental organizations accordingly pushed for market-based solutions like emissions trading as the primary fix for global warming, believing that governments and corporations could align around sufficiently business friendly solutions. The world was thought to look something like economic models whose basic units were perfectly rational individuals searching to optimize for their best interest: If the individuals who happened to run countries or fossil fuel companies could be persuaded that climate policy was in their best interest, then they would support it. Environmentalists, therefore, sought to enlighten world leaders and corporate executives about supposedly win-win climate measures behind closed doors and through awareness-raising campaigns. Marxist concepts like class conflict and historical materialism were comparatively unfashionable, even (many thought) dangerous. History, after all, had ended.Yet the fossil fuel companies working to sabotage early climate talks in the ’90s saw things in starkly material terms. Policies to reduce greenhouse gasses threatened their business model. Naturally, they sought to protect that business model. They did so by spreading disinformation about climate change and lobbying to stop governments from doing anything meaningful about it. As the industry’s own scientists compiled internal reports about the reality of rising temperatures—and their companies’ contributions to it—they funded advertising and advocacy pushes designed to stop national and global emissions-reduction efforts in their tracks. “An estimated rise in water level, due to global warming, of 0.5 meters may be assumed,” Mobil Oil engineers wrote in 1996 about their Sable field gas project, jointly owned with Shell and the Canadian Exxon subsidiary Imperial Oil. A year later, a joint investigation by the Los Angeles Times and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism’s Energy and Environmental Reporting Project subsequently found, Mobil Oil placed ads in the Washington Post and New York Times fearmongering about the Kyoto Protocol, a precursor to the Paris Agreement: “Let’s face it: The science of climate change is too uncertain to mandate a plan of action that could plunge economies into turmoil,” the ad stated. “Scientists cannot predict with certainty if temperatures will increase, by how much and where changes will occur.”Ritchie’s basic premises seem right. There’s no case to be made for resigning ourselves to the climate crisis; every tenth of a degree of warming prevented saves tens of millions of lives. People paralyzed by anxiety about climate change aren’t well-suited to fight it. But it’s not clear who or what is supposed to make some critical mass of people more optimistic, or what they are supposed to do when they become that way. Ritchie notes in her Vox piece that she has adapted her “framework for bringing about societal change” from right-wing billionaire Peter Thiel’s entrepreneurial bible, Zero to One. As Thiel does, she taxonomizes people along axes of changeability (“changeable” or “not changeable”) and optimism (“optimistic” or “pessimistic”). The ideal people, according to this framework, are optimists who see the future as changeable but who aren’t complacent that it will happen on its own. Among these “people who move the world forward” are those developing various low-carbon and environmentally minded technologies. There’s a problem, though, with interpreting this people-evaluating matrix as an empirically grounded roadmap to societal change. Innovations she cites, like cultivated meat and new kinds of solar panels, may well be important. But the positive outlook credited with inspiring them probably won’t convince either fossil fuel executives or governments whose public budgets and development paths still depend on fossil fuels to phase out oil and gas.Consider last week’s debate over the Summary for Policymakers of the new IPCC report, a shortened version subject to line-by-line edits from governments; this one is a hotly contested 22 pages. Those talks stretched two days beyond what was initially scheduled. Per the International Institute for Sustainable Development’s Earth Negotiations Bulletin—the sole media outlet allowed in the room—poorer country delegates who could not change their flights left before the proceedings ended. Meanwhile, richer countries, whose delegates could change their flights, and who have the most to lose from a rapid transition away from fossil fuels, argued for more cautious language about phasing them out. Per the IISD report, delegates from Saudi Arabia—where roughly half of GDP flows from hydrocarbon revenues—consistently pushed for language that would give oil and gas a longer timeline. According to the Thiel quadrant system, the Saudi Arabian delegates—like their counterparts in privately run fossil fuel companies like Exxon—might be changeable pessimists, looking out for their own as they fight to extract the last barrel of oil. Would adopting a more positive outlook change their stance on climate policies that would render the core of their economy irrelevant? No. Life doesn’t play out exactly along the lines of vulgar Marxism. But a Marxist, materialist lens isn’t a bad tool to have in the box—and likely a good deal more helpful than trying to manage people’s feelings so they can become cleantech entrepreneurs.
Federal funds aimed at helping agriculture address the impacts of climate change must not be raided to fund agriculture as a whole, Democratic senators say. The move comes as Congressional Republicans suggest defunding agricultural conservation programs entirely. “I strongly oppose any measures that would essentially cannibalize Inflation Reduction Act conservation funding in order to pay...
Gen Z isn’t getting the education we need to survive and adapt to a climate-changed world.
Patrick Cosgrove says little will work in the face of corporate greed, government inaction and rampant consumerismHelena Echlin writes that sensible methods of climate activism didn’t work (Why I stopped arguing about the climate emergency and tried the silent treatment instead, 22 May), so she became a member of Red Rebel Brigade, a silent climate activist performance group, and now feels that she is doing something useful.But how does she know if she is? Ryanair has just reported that it’s heading for a bumper year of selling cheap flights. Is dressing up in red having any effect on those air passengers? Of course not. Little if anything works in the face of corporate greed, government inaction and material desires that drive rampant consumerism. In the UK we have been cushioned from massive environmental disasters. Even when one happens, I seriously wonder if the penny will drop. Continue reading...
“With climate change, it’s always easier to say, not in my backyard,” said Zach Weston, referring to the ease of dismissing what can’t be seen in your own immediate surroundings. But for Weston, CEO of the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology, climate change is already apparent in his backyard: The backyard rink he’s built and maintained in his Ontario home for the last seventeen years is getting harder to keep running as winter temperatures become more volatile and unpredictable.Backyard rinks are common across the colder parts of North America; the combined membership of just two backyard rink Facebook groups totals over 70,000. Built from scratch in people’s yards or elsewhere in the community, these rinks provide not only a place for keen skaters to practice and have fun, but often act as hubs of neighborhood activity. Over the last ten years, Rob McLeman, professor of environmental studies at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Canada, has been running a program called RinkWatch that engages backyard rink makers and users in measuring ice and weather conditions. It’s a volunteer, citizen science project, meaning data is recorded by non-professional scientists, instead relying on everyday people to supply crucial information. Participants are located across the U.S. and Canada, including cities like Chicago, Milwaukee, Grand Rapids, Montreal and Toronto.The results help identify the key temperature thresholds for a skateable rink (the colder the better) as well as creating climate models which can help predict the future of outdoor skating conditions. “The number of days each year cold enough to skate is expected to decline in coming decades because of human-induced climate change,” reads the RinkWatch website.When it comes to backyard rinks, the instability, unreliability and unpredictability of our weather and temperature makes it increasingly hard to plan rink construction and maintenance. These changeable conditions tend to lead to shorter skating seasons, though this can fluctuate year on year. Notably, in 2020, RinkWatch released a report showing that the number of quality skating days had declined in all of the Original Six NHL cities (Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Montreal and New York). These findings fall in line with other signifiers of global warming that show how the changes to our climate mean our ecosystems can no longer host our current biodiversity, maintain our weather systems and, ultimately, allow humans to survive.A lot of work goes into making a backyard rink—which, in addition to their community value, are vastly safer than local ponds in these changing conditions. “When I was a kid back in the 70s, we just waited till the ground froze and covered over in snow, then we’d pack that down with our feet, get out the hose, flood over the top of it and wait for it to freeze,” McLeman explains. “The problem is if you do it that way, and you get a warm day in January, it all melts away and you have to start over again.” These warmer days are now becoming so common that people have had to resort to a different method instead, laying out a large tarpaulin sheet held between vertically-mounted wooden boards, then filling it with water and letting it freeze over. Over the last ten years, McLeman has noticed increasingly variable weather. “You might get a really cold winter, and then three or four relatively mild ones, and then another cold one. Then within the winter itself, you get a lot of variability in terms of temperatures: in mid-January or mid-February you’ll have an unexpectedly warm day where it goes up to eight or nine degrees Celsius, which causes rinks to flood or melt down.”Despite his dedication to the project, McLeman is not naïve about the fact that melting backyard rinks is not the worst nor the most important result of a warming planet. Nevertheless, these rinks could be a window into broader issues. Much as with ski season and other winter sport projections, looking at the way changing weather affects the length and quality of the North American skating season offers data that highlights a wider problem. As many governments struggle to build support for more robust climate policy, community skating reports can have a special political function: Backyard rinks act as a microcosmic reminder of what’s at stake in real terms. The climate crisis will affect our lives in many different ways, ranging from lethal or life limiting to just small alterations—but with it being such an existential crisis, often discussed with heavy-handed, scientific jargon, finding ways to break it down and understand it in more piecemeal ways can be hugely helpful.Aric Dodd has run his neighborhood rink in Saskatoon alongside his full-time job as an operations manager for the last fifteen years. Based in the grounds of the local high school, the rink is available for anyone in the community to skate on. Most commonly, it’s used to play shinny, an informal, relaxed version of hockey. As with many makeshift rinks, Dodd’s is a hub for intergenerational socializing. “It’s a way to get people together. We’ll have our hockey teams there and we’ll get the barbecue out and serve hot chocolate—it’s just something to get us out of the house in the winter.”“Escaping outdoors is a unique experience, and it does make me sad to think that generations who will come later won’t be able to experience that.”Zach Weston, who’s built and maintained his backyard rink in Ontario for around seventeen years, says the same. “In the winter time people get cooped up in their houses and stay indoors. What I really love about having a rink is it gives us a meaningful purpose to get outside, enjoy it and embrace winter.” During the pandemic, when inside mixing was banned, the rink became especially important to local kids desperate for something to do and somewhere to go. “It would not be uncommon on any given night of the week to have 15-20 kids all playing hockey outside in my in my yard,” Weston says.Dodd and Weston are both longtime RinkWatch participants. They’ve been submitting data from their rinks for many years, predominantly for the same reasons: to keep track of conditions, to better understand how long the skating season lasts and help decide whether it’s worth all the effort to make the rink each year.However, Weston is also motivated by his concern for climate change and figured that taking part in RinkWatch might encourage his kids to become more aware of the issue. “Certainly, there are bigger and more important consequences to climate change than the loss of outdoor rinks,” he says. “But I think what Rob is really signaling here is that they’re kind of like the canary in the coal mine warning. I’m privileged enough to know that I’ve got access to indoor arenas, I can play hockey fifty-two weeks of the year. But escaping outdoors is a unique experience, and it does make me sad to think that generations who will come later won’t be able to experience that.”Losing these rinks means losing a way of life. A slight increase in temperature will render skating seasons shorter and shorter, or even totally unskateable, while not yet affecting the hostility of the winter. These central points of community activity, intergenerational socializing, and joy in difficult times are all at risk of disappearing. And these disappearing traditions, which all involved acknowledge are nowhere near as devastating as the destruction the Global North has already wreaked on the majority world, point to a more disturbing truth: while we resist changing anything about the way we live, everything about our lives is set to change.
The Climate Funders Justice Pledge (CFJP) has mobilized $120 million in funding from major climate donors, the group tells Axios.Why it matters: The new milestone demonstrates the growing recognition that minorities and low-income residents tend to suffer the most from climate change, including extreme weather events such as heat waves and flash floods.It also signals growing momentum behind climate justice as a pillar of work in the climate space among major donors.Background: The effort was launched by the Donors of Color Network two years ago to help steer more resources toward groups run by, and focused on, communities of color.In addition to the funding, two major climate philanthropies — the Kresge Foundation and Pisces Foundation — have now exceeded the pledge’s target to devote at least 30% of their climate funding to such groups.Zoom in: The total number of pledge signatories is now up to 33, with the Wallace Global Fund committed to being transparent about how much money it is steering to organizations led by members of communities of color, which is the first stage of the pledge.Despite the $120 million, most philanthropic dollars are still going toward other climate change work.According to a CFJP statement, only 1.3% of dollars committed to U.S. climate philanthropy goes to such groups, despite a recent influx of new money into the climate space via organizations like the Bezos Earth Fund.What they're saying: Abdul Dosunmu, who leads the pledge work for the Donors of Color Network, told Axios the goal of the pledge is aimed at strengthening the climate movement and allowing it to benefit those who are most affected.“Ultimately, the communities that are closest to the problem, and therefore closest to the solution, are the furthest away from the resources,” he said.Between the lines: “This is not your grandmother's Sierra Club, this is a very different kind of movement that combines on the ground modeling of different kinds of behaviors, that involves advocacy, it involves different tools for engaging in public policy and decision-making,” said Rip Rapson, Kresge Foundation president and CEO, in an interview. “And so it's really putting all your players on the field in a way that I think even five or six years ago, wasn't the case," he added.He said since Kresge took the pledge in 2021, the organization has pledged $30 million to $35 million toward organizations working on climate change and led by underrepresented groups.For example, Kresge is working with community groups in East Detroit to address chronic flooding issues.Rapson noted that climate change is inextricably linked to other complex systems, such as public health, housing and economic development; previous silos between these issues are “eroding,” he adds.The bottom line: Dosunmu told Axios that his group’s philanthropic advocacy efforts are making headway, but have a long way to go. “We are really trying to radically change conditions on the ground for BIPOC-led environmental justice organizations,” he said, adding that “$120 million is really just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what is possible.”Kresge, Pisces and the Schmidt Foundation now meet or beat the pledge's 30% funding threshold, per the CFJP.
How to follow the heat to the next disease; and how following the science got a researcher in trouble. The post The Climate Crisis Is a Health Crisis appeared first on .
Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate slammed world leaders Tuesday who persist in backing new fossil fuel projects as other activists held a symbolic human and environmental rights protest and called for financing for vulnerable nations suffering devastating impacts of climate change.
The nonprofit Environmental Working Group says the government's biggest farmland conservation programs don't prioritize "climate-smart" practices.
The University of Florida is hosting a Hackathon in collaboration with IBM that began Sep. 13 until Nov. 29. Teams will present technology solutions to address one of six environmental challenges, including power consumption and agriculture.
Move over, locavores: A slew of new labels — from "climavore" to "reducetarian" — reflect the trend of people eating with sustainability in mind to reduce their climate "foodprint."Why it matters: Food manufacturers, restaurants, and supermarkets are racing to cater to the zeal for lower-carbon eating choices, which has people eschewing plastic packaging, ingredients flown in from afar, and foods that are environmentally damaging to produce.While there's plenty of disagreement about what to avoid, top villains include faves like red meat, chocolate, avocados, sugar, and — gasp — coffee.The "eat local" mantra is being replaced by the notion that what you eat is more important — since transportation is sometimes just a small part of your meal's carbon footprint.Driving the news: Terms like "climatarian" are getting newfound attention from corporate America as young consumers gravitate toward what they perceive as "green" diets."By 2030, our routine food choices will be climate-directed," advises a report from consulting firm Kearney. "The companies that mobilize now will win the future of food."Restaurant chains like Just Salad, Chipotle, and Panera Bread are putting "carbon labels" on their foods — and, in the case of Just Salad, adding a "climatarian" filter on its app.Supermarket chain Fresh Market is among the many food prognosticators that declared "climatarian eating" a top trend for 2023.What they're saying: "If you walk into your local Stop & Shop in the middle of January, those blueberries have been traveling for 10 days and probably started out in Ecuador," says Paco Underhill, an environmental psychologist and author of the forthcoming book "How We Eat.""There's a nascent movement, particularly anchored in younger people, that is recognizing that," he tells Axios.How it works: Climavores' rules "are not hard and fast," instead allowing "a level of flexibility, based on the preferences of those who partake," per Fresh Market's report."Participation can include everything from eating pasture-raised to buying more local and organic ingredients, to reduce carbon emissions from transport to eating a plant-based diet with crops that are good for soil."Climatarianism is "less defined by ingredients," and more by "food choices based on climate impacts, practicing climate-conscious eating based on a series of dietary trade-offs intended to benefit the planet."There's a dizzying nomenclature affiliated with climate-conscious eating, with meaningful yet hard-to-parse differences."Sustainatarians" eat some meat but filter their diet through an environmental lens.So do "climatarians" and "climavores," who tend to be concerned — as one manifesto put it — "not only about the origin of ingredients, but also about the agency that those ingredients have in providing responses to human-induced climatic events." "Reducetarians" try to eat less meat for reasons ranging from animal welfare to their health or the environment. "They might be concerned about biodiversity loss, fresh water availability, or food justice — or trying to save money," Brian Kateman, president and co-founder of the Reducetarian Foundation, tells Axios.What's trending: "Regenivore" is the latest and hottest eating label, the New York Times recently reported."A new generation wants food from companies that are actively healing the planet through carbon-reducing agriculture, more rigorous animal welfare policies, and equitable treatment of the people who grow and process food," per Times ace food writer Kim Severson.Yes, but: Eyebrows must be raised about the amount of greenwashing involved in corporate efforts to embrace climatarianism. "All food products suffer from greenwashing, including pet food," asserts Earth.org, an environmental news and data platform. The most common examples: Promoting a product as "organic" or "made from real ingredients" when it's actually from a factory farm or uses genetically modified ingredients.Class-action lawsuits have been mounting against the labeling and claims made by food companies.The European Union is cracking down on "misleading climate claims on packaging and in advertisements," focusing on phrases such as "climate neutral" and “100% CO2 compensated,” Bloomberg reported last week.Reality check: Despite the mushrooming number of calculators that help people gauge their carbon footprints, truly adhering to a climate-conscious diet takes work and restraint.While "Meatless Monday" and other such efforts have their adherents, it's unclear how big a sacrifice most people are really willing to make — like steering clear of mozzarella from factory-farmed cows or shunning almonds because they're water-intensive.The big picture: There are all kinds of vertigo in the food world over best practices — as encapsulated by the epic news of the closing of Noma, a Copenhagen restaurant sometimes considered the best in the world.On one hand, Noma fetishizes local ingredients and foraging, serving "grilled reindeer heart on a bed of fresh pine, and saffron ice cream in a beeswax bowl," per the Times, which broke the news of the closing.On the other hand, Noma was accused of exploiting workers and using less-than-humane tactics in the pursuit of fine dining.What's next: Climate-based eating "might be in its infancy" but will gain steam as younger consumers "increase their concern for the planet," Fresh Market's report predicts.The bottom line: The opacity of farming and food manufacturing procedures can make it hard to determine the provenance of one's meal or its true carbon footprint, but it may be true that every little bit helps.Jennifer's thought bubble: Throwing a dinner party has never been more of a minefield, with everyone's diet to consider (Noom? Vegevore? Ketogenic?). Best to check with your guests in advance.
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Past Presentation | Fossil fuel emissions from human activity are driving up Earth’s temperature—yet something else is at work. The warming has set in motion nature’s own feedback loops which are raising temperatures even higher. The urgent question is: Are we approaching a point of no return, leading to an uninhabitable Earth, or do we have the vision and will to slow, halt, and reverse them? Subtitled in 23 languages and narrated by Richard Gere, Climate Emergency: Feedback Loops is a series of five short films, featuring twelve leading climate scientists, that explores how human-caused emissions are triggering nature’s own warming loops. We submit the five shorts to your festival (total 57:44) for screening of any or all of the films. The film series had its official launch with the Dalai Lama, Greta Thunberg and world-renowned scientists in a webcast, “The Dalai Lama with Greta Thunberg and Leading Scientists: A Conversation on the Crisis of Climate Feedback Loops. ”While scientists stay up worrying about this most dangerous aspect of climate change, the public has little awareness or understanding of feedback loops. Climate change discussion at all levels of society largely leaves out the most critical dynamic of climate change itself. It is urgent we remedy this. The first film in the series, Introduction (13:09), provides an overview of the feedback loop problem. The four other short films explore important climate feedback mechanisms: Forests (14:10), Permafrost (10:55), Atmosphere (8:45) and Albedo (10:35).Greenhouse gases from fossil fuels, such as carbon dioxide and methane, are warming the planet. This warming is then setting in motion dozens of feedback mechanisms, which then feed upon themselves, as well as interact with each other and spiral further out of control. These processes are rapidly accelerating climate change. An example of a climate feedback loop is the melting of the permafrost. In the Northern Hemisphere, permafrost makes up nearly 25% of the landmass. As heat-trapping emissions warm the Earth, this frozen tundra is melting. As it does, large amounts of carbon dioxide and methane are released, which further warm the planet, melting more permafrost in a self-perpetuating loop. Human activity kicks off these feedback loops, but once set in motion, they become self-sustaining. The danger is that this process reaches a tipping point beyond which it is extremely difficult to recover. This is why it is urgent to reduce greenhouse gas emissions so we can slow, halt and even reverse these feedbacks and cool the planet.