“Climate Notes” highlights climate news that has caught our attention.
climate notes joe biden

Assessing the New Biden Climate Plan. Third Way has an overview; here’s an excerpt: “Vice President Biden’s new climate plan, released the week of July 13, has garnered a lot of attention. That makes sense. It proposes significant new investments in clean energy and climate infrastructure and clean energy innovation to drive our nation’s economic recovery from the pandemic-induced recession and to shock-proof our country from the worst impacts of climate change. Rather than a move to the left, as some have described it, the Biden plan is the appropriate response to a country with a $2 trillion shortfall in infrastructure investment. It would help revitalize a private sector that has shed 15 million jobs since February 2020, while the unemployment rate stands at 11% and 7 million more Americans have had their wages cut…”


climate notes light bulb

A Totally Green Electric Grid Will Dramatically Speed up Climate Action. Here’s an excerpt from Bloomberg Green: “The perfectly green electricity grid sought by Joe Biden isn’t the end of the fight against global warming. It’s the beginning. Today, 40% of America’s electricity comes from carbon-free sources. The Democratic presidential candidate has made getting that to 100% by 2035 a centerpiece of his $2 trillion plan to address climate change and create jobs. Getting there would take an enormous expansion of solar and wind capacity in the U.S., backed by mass adoption of energy-storage technologies and hanging onto existing hydroelectric and nuclear plants. Policy experts question the 15-year timetable for eliminating emissions from the electrical system, which would indeed be an immense challenge. About a quarter of all U.S. emissions today come from electricity production, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration...”


“A World With No Ice”. Why Inaction Must Be Confronted. Oh, there will still be ice, just less of it. Check out the video at Big Think: “Climate change is often framed as a debate that has split society down the middle and that requires more evidence before we can act. In reality, 97 percent of scientists agree that it is real and only 3 percent are skeptical. A sticking point for some is the estimated timeline, but as Columbia University professor Philip Kitcher points out, a 4-5 Celsius temperature increase that makes the planet uninhabitable is a disaster no matter when it happens. In this video, 9 experts (including professors, astronomers, authors, and historians) explain what climate change looks like, how humans have already and are continuing to contribute to it, how and why it has become politicized, and what needs to happen moving forward for real progress to be made…”


New Soil Models May Ease Atmospheric CO2, Climate Change. Here’s the intro to a story at Cornell Chronicle: “To remove carbon dioxide from the Earth’s atmosphere in an effort to slow climate change, scientists must get their hands dirty and peek underground. In an article published July 27 in Nature Geoscience, Cornell’s Johannes Lehmann and others wrote that scientists should develop new models that more accurately reflect the carbon-storage processes beneath our feet, in order to effectively draw down atmospheric carbon dioxide. Carbon’s journey into the soil is akin to a busy New York City rush hour. “Everything in the soil is bustling and changing all the time on a daily or hourly basis,” said Lehmann, professor of soil biogeochemistry and the lead author on the piece…”


It’s Not Just Siberia as Record Heat Spreads Across the Arctic. If only we had been warned, huh? Oh yeah, this was predicted 30-40 years ago. Gizmodo has the details: “Siberia has been hot and on fire. Perhaps you’ve heard? The relentless heat that’s buffeted the region has decided to expand to other parts of the Arctic, from Norway to Canada, with high-temperature records breaking over the weekend. A nearly all-encompassing heat wave has spread across the highest reaches of the globe. Weekend temperatures reached 71.4 degrees Fahrenheit (21.9 degrees Celsius) in Eureka, Canada, one of the northernmost settlements on Earth located on Ellesmere Island. Meanwhile, in Longyearbyen, a small town on the northern Norwegian island of Svalbard, it hit 71.1 degrees Fahrenheit (21.7 degrees Celsius) on Saturday. Both are all-time records for the two locations…”


Sultry Nights and Magnolia Trees: New York City is now Subtropical. In case you missed this at The New York Times (paywall): “…New species are thriving in the Metropolitan area, while those more associated with New England are slowly vanishing. This is because of rising temperatures, which are largely the result of human activity, including emissions from fossil fuels, according to the National Climate Assessment. New York City, after years of being considered a humid continental climate, now sits within the humid subtropical climate zone. The classification requires that summers average above 72 degrees Fahrenheit — which New York’s have had since 1927 — and for winter months to stay above 27 degrees Fahrenheit, on average. The city has met that requirement for the last five years, despite the occasional cold snap. And the winters are only getting warmer…”


It’s Been a Landmark Year for Investor Action on Climate Change. Here’s an excerpt from an explainer at The Los Angeles Times: “...Instead, in spite of the pandemic, 2020 has proved to be a landmark year for investor action on climate change, with significant resolutions being passed and investment pouring into sustainable funds. With regulators and clients increasingly calling for change, asset managers are broadening their remit beyond energy-intensive industries such as oil. Rather than drive investor attention away from climate change, the pandemic has cemented interest, with many investors fearing the economic fallout seen during the pandemic could be replicated if the world fails to halt global warming, said Mirza Baig, global head of governance at Aviva Investors…”

Photo credit: “A resolution calling on Chevron to disclose its lobbying on global warming passed this year.”(Chevron)


Inside Venice’s 50-Year Fight Against Deadly Floods. Here’s an excerpt from a harrowing (and apparently true) story explained by CNET: “…On July 10, all 78 gates were raised for the first time during a public demonstration, but the government is still anxious to reassure Venice’s citizens that the plan, which won’t be fully functional until the close of 2021, will work. Beset by corruption and delays, MOSE itself has become a problem. Critics say that the gates won’t be as effective as the government envisions and that they’ll have to be raised so frequently that Venice’s sewage will be trapped in the Lagoon, killing off its ecosystem.  “This is the death of Venice,” said Fabrizio Antonioli, a geologist at ENEA, a public sustainable development firm…”

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