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:
Rainn Wilson, star of The Office and the new Weird Al biopic, Weird, paired with the sustainability group Arctic Basecamp to post this video on his Twitter page to promote their work at COP27. Unfortunately, the plan was to change his name on social media to “Rainnfall Heat Wave Extreme Winter Wilson,” but due to the new Twitter owner’s rules, he wasn’t actually able to do that. It’ll be interesting to see what melts down faster: the Greenland ice sheet, or Twitter under Elon Musk.
GETTING DOWN TO CLIMATE BUSINESS:
🌍 President Joe Biden spoke at COP27 and his message was simple: we’ve changed, baby. America was facing criticism that we, frankly, deserved — we’ve talked a big game about climate action, but have been an “unreliable partner” in the past. Biden was there to tout the US staying on track to hit its climate goals by 2030, and instead of the vague platitudes of yesteryear, offered specific promises for timelines and goals. Not to mention, he was there on the heels of passing the biggest climate bill in American history. He also “laid out U.S. plans to invest more in climate adaptation efforts in Africa, contribute to cutting methane emissions, support Egypt’s clean energy transition and back initiatives to reduce the carbon pollution of heavy-emitting sectors like shipping.” And it sounds like delegates from the other countries were cautiously optimistic. Emphasis on the “cautiously.” They’ve heard promises before, so they’ll believe this action when they see it. In the words of one of Biden’s presidential predecessors, “fool me once, shame on… shame on you. Fool me… you can’t get fooled again.”
💸 Also at COP27, 11-year-old Indian climate activist Licypriya Kangujam loudly amplified the demand for rich countries like America to compensate developing countries like hers for loss and damages incurred due to climate change. And she had some choice words for the speakers at the conference: “Our leaders keep giving beautiful speeches… They keep blaming each other for climate change and fail to take up collective efforts.” Oooh! She might only be 11, but she’s throwing shade at a 9th-grade level.
🖼️️️ Speaking of climate activism, more art has been targeted to raise awareness of climate policy. This time, several climate activists attempted to glue themselves to Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” in Norway. Like the previously-targeted works, this one was protected by glass and did not sustain any damage. Video of the activists recorded them saying, “I scream for people dying” and, “I scream when lawmakers ignore science.” Wow. When I was their age, I just screamed for ice cream.
🛩️ On Thursday, more than a dozen climate protestors, including climate scientists, were arrested at private airports in the United States for disrupting operation of private jets. These private jets are a major contributor to climate change and have faced increased scrutiny (including in this newsletter!) due to their disproportionate impact on the climate. American protestors were joined by 13 other protests at private airports in 12 countries. I commend their actions! Both because of their climate impact, and also because billionaires should occasionally have to sit on the tarmac for way too long with no updates or refreshments, just like the rest of us.
🗺️ The new Hex Interactive map in the UK lets voters see how climate impacts where they live. Georgia Willits, a PhD student at University College London created the interactive map that allows users “to see how much temperatures have risen in the last century and how much more they will go up by 2080,” and connects it with policy decisions from their local elected officials. That lets voters make an educated choice for candidates who will not make their neighborhoods even warmer. Aside from being devastating for the planet, who wants to drink a spot of tea on a hot day?
🇸🇳 Al Jazeera did a wonderful photo profile of Senegal’s Modou Fall and his efforts to curb plastic pollution by wearing a daily uniform made of plastic trash. His organization, Clean Senegal (or Sénégal Propre, if you’re a francophone), promotes plastic reduction and re-use. If you’ve seen stories about turning plastic waste into bricks and benches, that’s them. His anti-plastic crusade has earned him the nickname “Plastic Man.” Plastic Woman, of course, refers to any woman in Hollywood. (Also, if you’re interested in Senegal or you just like cool movies, you gotta watch Atlantics on Netflix. Not strictly climate-related, but hey, I write the newsletter! What I say goes!)
9: THE WORLD HAS THIS MANY YEARS BEFORE CROSSING THE 1.5 DEGREE THRESHOLD, ACCORDING TO NEW RESEARCH (THE HILL)
€8BN: THE SUMMER DROUGHT COST GERMANY ROUGHLY THIS MUCH DUE TO LOW WATER LEVELS ON THE RHINE (CNN)
I’m Leaving On A (Sustainable?) Jet Plane
I always take news about sustainable technologies that are magically going to save us with a big pinch of salt (like, a fistful of salt), but I’m going to keep my eyes on Air Company, who have started developing biofuel for airplanes that would theoretically significantly lower emissions from air travel. The company plans to grow cotton (which pulls carbon out of the atmosphere), mix it with water, and then distill it down in the same way you’d distill liquor (which the company already produces as part of their trials). Since it’s not pulling fossil fuels out of the ground, it should be climate-friendlier than traditional jet fuel. Of course, this raises a lot of questions: Where are they going to get the land to produce cotton on such a massive scale? How are they going to get water for it when almost all of the United States is in a drought? And most importantly, what does Air Company plan to do about people who take their shoes off on the plane?
Thanks for reading! – Nicole