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:
Retired NBA star Rick Fox founded a company that aims to use special concrete to sequester CO2, and he just built his first house using the stuff in his hometown in the Bahamas. I say “retired NBA star Rick Fox,” but if you’re like me, you actually know him as “Party Down client Rick Fox.”
GETTING DOWN TO CLIMATE BUSINESS:
🇨🇳 California Governor Gavin Newsom is headed to China this week with climate goals in mind. Among his scheduled activities is a visit to the Guangdong province, where industrial areas have become EV hubs. Specifically, he’ll visit the city of Shenzen, where the whole bus fleet is electrified, to discuss ways to incentivize and speed up a similar transition back in America. He also plans to visit an offshore wind facility to learn more about China’s rapid renewable installation. While the US and China can often seem at odds in terms of climate action (not to mention geopolitically and economically), visits like this are an important way to encourage both nations to continue to expand climate action. It’s like having an accountabilibuddy for your workouts. Except these accountabilibuddies are the 5th and 2nd largest economies in the world.
🚓 Greta Thunberg was detained by London police during a climate protest outside an oil & gas conference. Protesters linked arms to block entrances to the conference, and they successfully caused two high-profile oil & gas traders to miss the event entirely. I applaud their success! Though admittedly, I wouldn’t mind if protesters blocked me from having to attend a work event…
⛄ This winter might be a “wildcard,” thanks to a combination of an always-unpredictable El Niño year and the impacts of unprecedented climate change. Ultimately, “if temperatures are cold enough over land, the heavy [El Niño] precipitation could fall as snow.” But that’s a big “if.” 2023 is thus far the warmest year on record, which could change this pattern. On top of that, “no two El Niño events are exactly alike.” Despite all the variables, scientists are cautiously predicting a winter of mild temperatures and heavy snowfall. So if you’re a climate activist, it’s time to start preparing yourself to hear people saying, “So much for global warming!” after each blizzard.
🛢️ In recent newsletters, I’ve told you a lot about insurers’ reluctance to cover homes in flood-prone areas. But as this piece in The Atlantic points out, it’s still pretty easy to get insurance in these same areas as long as you’re a fossil fuel company. In fact, large insurance companies are financial behemoths that not only insure new fossil fuel projects, but also re-invest a substantial portion of their profits into fossil fuels. Of course, this funding to expand fossil fuels is only exacerbating the problems that make these insurance companies reluctant to insure homes. So if you’re having trouble getting insurance, I guess the easiest solution is simply to turn your house into an oil company.
✨ The EU is cracking down on harmful microplastics, and they just hit their shiniest target yet: they’ve officially banned glitter. Banning glitter and a handful of other products is an important step towards the EU’s goal of cutting microplastic pollution by 30% by 2030. But if you’re a little bit extra, don’t worry: biodegradable glitter is still allowed. Great news for European drag queens.
✈️ Historically, airlines have relied on carbon offsets (often of dubious efficacy) to meet climate pledges. But now, they’re shifting focus to sustainable fuels. The idea is these fuels will be “produced with sources like crop waste that emit little to no carbon dioxide on balance.” These fuels will be hugely expensive, but with demands for flights skyrocketing, the aviation industry needs to make strides on decarbonizing right away. Of course, it’s too early to tell is these fuels will actually deliver on their promises — the reason we started using ethanol in our fuel is that we were growing way too much corn and had to find something to do with it, and that’s its own climate problem. But I’m choosing to be optimistic about sustainable aviation fuels, because I’ve still never been to Japan, and that would be a pretty long walk.
$50M: BLOOMBERG PHILANTHROPIES LAUNCHED AN INITIATIVE WORTH THIS MUCH TO HELP CITIES ADDRESS ISSUES INCLUDING CLIMATE CHANGE (FORTUNE)
121: WATER LEVELS IN THE AMAZON RIVER WERE RECORDED AT THEIR LOWEST LEVEL IN THIS MANY YEARS (NBC)
Picasso’s Green Period
The Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas has put on a huge exhibit that aims to help people visualize climate change. The exhibit is interdisciplinary — the museum recruited climate scientists and activists to write the wall labels for the art, which places the visuals in a scientific context for the viewer. See? Art degrees and STEM degrees don’t have to fight.