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:
Spanish composer Hache Costa has created an arrangement of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons to reflect the realities of climate change. His arrangement adds “prominence and drama to the summer concerto while shortening the other three.” The piece is also accompanied by images of climate havoc projected behind the musicians. The piece premieres next week on the global Climate Action Day, 300 years after the original was first composed.
GETTING DOWN TO CLIMATE BUSINESS:
🏛️ After a prolonged and painful election process, the US House of Representatives finally has a new Speaker, Rep. Mike Johnson from Louisiana. Unfortunately, Johnson’s views on climate are… not great. He opposed legislation to stop methane leaks and force companies to disclose their climate risks, voted to defund the EPA, and has repeatedly equated climate action with socialism. In fact, Johnson’s first big move as speaker was a bill that would take a big chunk out of the Inflation Reduction Act, which would eliminate tax incentives for homeowners to switch to energy-efficient appliances and eliminate a program that would help states craft eco-friendly building codes. Not to mention, it “slashes” funding for the Department of Energy’s energy efficiency and renewable energy office. This bill passed in the House, but fortunately for all of us, it’s not gonna make it through the Senate. Check, meet balance.
🇨🇳 Last week I told you a little about California Governor Gavin Newsom’s trip to China, and this week, it led to some early successes. On Thursday, China’s Environment Minister Huang Runqiu was positive on cooperating with California on climate issues “in carbon market investment, climate adaptation, environment law implementation and human-to-human exchange to strengthen cooperation and have a positive effect on China-US. environmental cooperation,” a continuation of a previous agreement. And on Wednesday, they also expanded their cooperation to include “offshore wind, advanced energy storage technologies and zero-emission vehicles.” Our countries still have a long way to go in terms of climate policy AND diplomacy, but this is a great step in the right direction. And a step in the right direction is way better than driving there.
🏅 Speaking of California, Los Angeles is hosting the 2028 Olympic Games and the question is: will the city use it as an opportunity to bolster climate policy? Local nonprofit Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator released its 2028 Clean Energy Roadmap this week, and it was endorsed by officials in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. If the plan works out, it could lower the city’s emissions by 15% by 2028. There are some major challenges to getting there, however. The city needs to install a ton of heat pumps in homes, remove gas infrastructure, and make a big switch to electric vehicles. And maybe the biggest hurdle of all will be getting people to drive less altogether and take public transit instead. You’d think a city that constantly complains about traffic would be more excited about getting out of their cars!
💰 The SEC is trying to move forward with reporting requirements for climate risks, first proposed a little over a year ago. These reports would include company emissions as well as “risks like physical damage and disruption from severe weather events in formal regulatory filings.” SEC chair Gary Gensler spoke at a Chamber of Commerce event this week believes the key to getting this kind of regulation passed needs strong legal backing, saying, “I think for … corporate America, a rule, if we are able to finalise it, it would be best if it’s sustained in court.” Sounds good to me, I’ll start warming up my gavel.
🧠 Climate anxiety is rapidly spreading, and it’s changing the practice of psychotherapy. While climate anxiety used to be a niche field, it’s now much easier to find a therapist to talk to about climate issues. One organization, the Climate Psychology Alliance North America, keeps a list of almost 300 “climate aware” therapists. The main challenge therapists face when helping clients process climate change is that therapy, historically, has been “individual-focused,” meaning that it sought to make internal changes to the patient’s mindset, thoughts, and habits. But climate change is a global problem, and you can’t use traditional techniques like challenging assumptions with evidence, because the evidence is that climate change is real and a serious problem. Instead, one of the emerging recommendations for climate therapy is validating clients’ feelings as a natural reaction to what’s happening. This also sometimes means therapists share their own anxieties with their clients – traditionally a big no-no in therapy. Shared experiences with my therapist sound good to me. I just hope she isn’t also having that dream where I’m naked in class on the day of a big test.
🚰 If you’ve been having anxiety about water, no need for therapy just yet, because there’s a little bit of good news: the health of the Colorado river is improving, and now, “a plan by California, Arizona and Nevada to voluntarily reduce water use should help keep the river basin on stable footing for the next few years.” This means that key reservoirs Lake Powell and Lake Mead are no longer at substantial risk of becoming critically low, and represents significant progress since the nadir in 2022. In May of this year, those 3 states proposed the cuts they’d be willing to make in exchange for $1.2 billion in federal money, and now it looks like the federal government is getting on board with the plan. If anyone at the government is reading this, FYI: I would also be willing to reduce my water consumption for $1.2 billion.
71%: PERCENTAGE OF AMERICANS WHO BELIEVE CLIMATE CHANGE IS CAUSING “AT LEAST SOME HARM TO PEOPLE IN THE US” (CNN)
25%: PERCENTAGE OF PLASTIC PRODUCTION SOME DEMOCRATS ARE CALLING TO BE REDUCED BY 2032 (GRIST)
Eat Your Veggies
Climate change is a global problem that requires large-scale solutions, but it’s always nice when you can do something yourself to trim your emissions a little bit. This handy article details a few dietary swaps that can help reduce your carbon footprint. They didn’t say anything about eating an entire bag of Halloween candy this morning, but I assume I’m OK to do that.