Climate news that has caught our attention.
Biden Highlights Climate Action and JOBS! In First Joint Session Speech: Climate Nexus provides headlines and links: “President Biden touted his administration’s efforts to grow the American economy and create jobs by addressing the climate crisis in his first address to a joint session of Congress Wednesday night. “For too long, we have failed to use the most important word when it comes to meeting the climate crisis,” Biden said. “Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. For me, when I think about climate change, I think jobs.” Biden touted opportunities for engineers and construction workers to increase home and building efficiency, for union electricians to install EV charging stations, and for farmers to pull carbon from the atmosphere. Biden also emphasized opportunities for the manufacturing sector. “There is simply no reason why the blades for wind turbines can’t be built in Pittsburgh instead of Beijing,” he said. “No reason. None.” Biden touted his convening of a climate summit last week to spur global efforts to fight climate change. He also said hurricanes were one of “the root[s] of the problem” pushing Central Americans to flee their home countries, but did not link the worsening hurricanes to climate change.” (Speech Transcript: New York Times $, Washington Post $; Coverage: AP, New York Times $, Washington Post $, Wall Street Journal $, E&E $, E&E $, E&E $)
The Climate Solution Actually Adding Millions of Tons of CO2 Into the Atmosphere. ProPublica has the story – they team with MIT Technology Review to take a deep dive into programs that attempt to reduce CO2 emissions, do they work or is the system being gamed? Here’s an excerpt: “…This design also incentivizes the developers who initiate and lead these projects to specifically look for forest tracts where carbon levels stand out above these averages — either due to the site’s location within a region, its combination of tree species, or both. CarbonPlan estimates the state’s program has generated between 20 million and 39 million credits that don’t achieve real climate benefits. They are, in effect, ghost credits that didn’t preserve additional carbon in forests but did allow polluters to emit far more CO2, equal to the annual emissions of 8.5 million cars at the high end. Those ghost credits represent nearly one in three credits issued through California’s primary forest offset program, highlighting systemic flaws in the rules and suggesting widespread gaming of the market…”
Explainer: Will Global Warming “Stop” As Soon as Net-Zero Emissions are Reached? Carbon Brief helps to set expectations – and what a lovely problem to have, by the way: “Media reports frequently claim that the world is facing “committed warming” in the future as a result of past emissions, meaning higher temperatures are “locked in”, “in the pipeline” or “inevitable”, regardless of the choices society takes today. The best available evidence shows that, on the contrary, warming is likely to more or less stop once carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions reach zero, meaning humans have the power to choose their climate future. When scientists have pointed this out recently, it has been reported as a new scientific finding. However, the scientific community has recognised that zero CO2 emissions likely implied flat future temperatures since at least 2008. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2018 special report on 1.5C also included a specific focus on zero-emissions scenarios with similar findings...”
John Kerry Calls on Scientists to Lead Fight Against Climate Change Denial. Note to self: climate scientists have been doing this for over a generation now. Thomson Reuters Foundation reports: “Widespread mistrust of science and disputes over basic facts, tied to growing political polarization and disinformation campaigns, are undermining efforts to tackle climate change globally, U.S. climate envoy John Kerry warned. During a virtual summit organized by the Nobel Foundation and major science academies this week, Kerry said building greater public understanding and agreement on the world’s “existential” challenges was crucial to addressing them. “We have to establish a baseline of truth or we can’t build consensus in a democracy,” he said. “Paid-for denial” about climate change by big polluters and political disregard by some governments of scientific warnings about COVID-19 risks are “costing us enormously”, he added...”
Climate Tipping Points May Have Been Reached Already, Experts Say. CBS News has the story; here’s the intro: “Through decades of research, and now lived experience, it has become clear that the impacts of climate change will have drastic and far-reaching consequences on our planet. And while some of those consequences are predictable — like more extreme weather, sea-level rise and loss of biodiversity — the pace at which these unfold and their eventual severity hinge on what happens with key linchpins in the climate system, called tipping points. A tipping point is a threshold or point of no return in the climate system that once passed can no longer be reversed. Passing a tipping point does not necessarily mean immediate, drastic consequences, but it does mean those consequences become unavoidable, and over time the impacts may be dramatic…”
Glaciers Are Melting More Rapidly, Risking Floods and Droughts. Bloomberg Green has the story: “The world’s glaciers are shrinking at a faster rate than before, with densely-populated parts of Asia at risk of flood and water shortages if the trend continues. That’s the conclusion of a new study by ETH Zurich and University of Toulouse researchers, who found the world’s ice fields lost 298 gigatons of ice per year from 2005 to 2019, a 30% increase in the rate of retreat compared with the previous five years. Glaciers in Alaska, the Alps and Iceland are among those disappearing at the fastest pace. “The situation in the Himalayas is particularly worrying,” said Romain Hugonnet, one of the study’s authors, adding that swathes of India and Bangladesh could face water stress during dry periods when major rivers like the Ganges and Indus are mainly fed by glacial runoff…”
Anne Arundel Follows Annapolis – Sues Oil and Gas Companies Over Climate Change. Expect more cities and states to turn to litigation in the months and years ahead. Here’s an excerpt from Capital Gazette in Annapolis, MD: “Anne Arundel County is following Annapolis by suing more than two dozen oil and gas companies over their role in contributing to climate change. The county Office of Law filed a lawsuit Monday against some of the biggest names in the fossil fuel industry — ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP, Shell and others — to hold them financially responsible for what it calls the “costs and consequences” of climate change and attempts to cover up the truth about its impacts on the environment…”
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