Hey climate heroes! Welcome to The Climate Roundup, where we round up the change, er the news about climate and the environment. As part of the Gen E community, we thank you for making climate action part of everyday life. (Reading this newsletter counts!)
In Pop Culture:
If you live in NYC, there are a few environmental exhibits to check out that could definitely be made into a climate-crawl of sorts. Start at MoMA for Emerging Ecologies: Architecture and the Rise of Environmentalism. Next head down to Chelsea to Poster House for We Tried to Warn You! Environmental Crisis Posters, 1970–2020, then end the crawl in SoHo to see The Climate Museum’s new home. Extra points if you keep the crawl alive by hitting some bars to either drown your sorrows or to get those creative juices flowing thanks to all the inspo you’ll have to save the world.
GETTING DOWN TO CLIMATE BUSINESS:
🥵 It’s official: 2023 was the hottest year on record. Temperatures rose 1.48°C above preindustrial times, which is awfully close to the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C threshold which the world promised to keep temperature rise below. Remember the days when 1.5 or even the Paris Agreement were just random numbers and words? The future sure got here fast. Let’s hope the version of the future where we’re back to safe levels of atmospheric carbon and proper temps across the four seasons (remember those too?!) gets here even faster. While I’m at it, I’ll throw in a request for a future where the Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup for the first time since before what feels like preindustrial times.
🏭 The Department of Energy is currently reviewing “whether regulators should take climate change into account when deciding whether a proposed gas export project meets the national interest”. Historically, new liquefied natural gas (LNG) project reviews have focused on the economic impact of the export industry, and not on the climate impact. It might seem obvious that the climate impact of fossil fuel projects should be assessed before permits are issued (spoiler alert: their climate impact is bad, very bad, and the US promised to transition away from, not towards fossil fuels). But proponents of expanding the industry argue it’s a matter of foreign policy and national security (see: how the Russian invasion of Ukraine upended the energy market). One thing we can expect from whatever the outcome of the DOE review: we’ll be hearing a lot more about this topic as the election wars heat up.
💨 For the first time in Europe, wind power generated more electricity than coal. And thanks to wind-friendly policies in the EU, wind’s share of electricity generation should continue to climb this year and beyond.
🍼 If you were on the fence about putting down the (plastic) bottle, perhaps a new study will get you off the sauce. By now we’ve all heard about microplastics, but it’s their evil cousin, the nanoplastic, that may be even worse for our health, as the nano’s smaller size allows them to enter our bloodstream and cells. Due to newly developed technology, scientists are now able to study the previously undetectable nanoplastic’s presence in bottled water, for example. They found that on average, there are 240,000 plastic fragments found in your average one liter bottle of water, and 90% are of the nano variety. We are literally drinking plastic. How is the single-use plastic bottle [or insert any food & bev product] still a thing?!
🦑 Norway has become the first country to allow for seabed mining exploration. The decision opens up the portion of the Norwegian Sea between Norway and Greenland to the potential for commercial mining of minerals currently used to make batteries. In a country that made bank extracting oil and gas from the sea floor, Norway is looking to diversify its revenue stream as the world moves away from fossil fuels. There is much opposition to the idea of mining the deep sea for minerals – the environmental consequences could be devastating for marine life. Let’s hope the battery innovators come up with a scalable, sustainable alternative for battery materials before we set in motion what feels like a huuuuge mistake.
75K: MILES OF NEW HIGH-VOLTAGE LINES NEEDED IN THE US TO HIT OUR GOAL OF A ZERO-CARBON GRID BY 2035 (CANARY MEDIA)
1.9%: US EMISSIONS FELL BY THIS MUCH IN 2023, WHILE GDP GREW BY 2.4% (RHODIUM GROUP)
Plug It In at CES
At CES, the annual Vegas tradeshow that showcases new innovation and trends within consumer electronics, climate tech was a trend in itself, as several products across a range of categories were designed for a climate-friendlier future. In many cases this translates into the electrified versions of everything from grills to RVs. And who doesn’t love another opportunity to see some concept cars? Honda’s two new EVs are futuristically fun, as they should be! According to Bloomberg, companies are taking a different approach to how they promote these new products. Instead of leading with the climate benefits, “companies are focused on marketing their products as making life easier, more comfortable or just more fun.” Because that’s exactly what our climate-friendly future will be. Yes, really!