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, like me, you’re a mega-fan of the UK home construction show Grand Designs hosted by Kevin McCloud, then you’re going to love his new documentary series, The Great Climate Fight. As far as I know, it doesn’t feature anyone whose marriage fell apart because they decided to build an entire mansion out of mud, but it does tackle important climate issues (McCloud lends his architectural expertise to talk about difficulties getting sustainable construction approved) and lays the blame at the feet of those in power.
GETTING DOWN TO CLIMATE BUSINESS:
📉 Some experts are concerned that economists tasked with calculating the costs of global warming are using “economic models that are not fit to capture the full extent of climate damage.” One model recommended that the best way to “balance” the costs and benefits of climate policy is to allow the planet to warm to 3 degrees Celcius, a full degree higher than most scientists have warned will have devastating consequences for the planet. And these economic models need to be accurate because they influence policy – former President Donald Trump used them to justify replacing the Clean Power Plan with more energy from coal. Critics say these models rely on the assumption that after a shock, markets will find a new equilibrium. However, the “shock” of climate change doesn’t reset; it just continues to get worse. They caution that climate change will require new models and economic paradigms to accurately capture the impacts of a warming world. Scary stuff, but if they’re coming up with new economic models anyway, it does make me feel much better about never paying attention in my grad school econ class. None of that stuff matters now!
📣 Speaking of business, we’re all used to the concept of “greenwashing.” But now, business experts are cautioning companies against “green hushing,” or playing down a commitment to environmental goals for fear of negative backlash. New research shows consumers are more loyal to companies that protect the environment, and that young people in particular are willing to pay more for products that do less harm. So shout your company’s green commitments from the rooftops! Just make sure not to step on the solar panels while you’re up there.
💸 Marketers who care about the climate crisis are facing a conundrum: can they effectively sell their products without promoting the very practices that got us into this mess in the first place? While some advertisers believe (probably correctly) that they can have a significant impact on the climate by getting consumers to switch from emissions-heavy products to cleaner alternatives, like, electric cars or plant-based meat, others are concerned that by encouraging overall consumption, advertising cancels out any of those noble achievements. This is particularly true of the categories in which the world’s richest people spend more than anywhere else: flights and cars. It’s a tricky problem to solve, but I hope we at least get an eco-friendly reboot of Mad Men out of it.
🧊 U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres gave an interview on a melting glacier in Antarctica before COP28. Guterres emphasized the global nature of the problem of melting sea ice: in addition to destroying the Antarctic ecosystem, melting ice will cause worldwide sea level rise which will put communities underwater and change oceanic currents. He told reporters, “What happens in Antarctica doesn’t stay in Antarctica.” That’s why I always give my pre-COP interviews in Vegas.
🌡️ Tragedy struck a Taylor Swift concert in Brazil, as sweltering temperatures and lack of water access resulted in at least one death and several other hospitalizations before the singer cancelled her show. Although it’s hard to attribute any single extreme weather event to climate change, it seems pretty clear that this would have been nearly impossible before climate change. As heat waves become more severe, artists will need to adjust their touring schedules and become more accustomed to cancelling performances over safety concerns, especially in outdoor venues. And if you’re attending a concert that gets cancelled due to the heat, you can always watch old camera-phone concert footage on YouTube. I guess all those people recording at concerts are doing a public service!
🌳 But it’s not all bad news out of Brazil. In advance of COP28, they’ve proposed a “mega fund” for forest conservation, a particularly tricky issue in a country where preventing deforestation could have an economic impact on some of the poorest Brazilians. The details of the proposal are not yet public; however, it wouldn’t just benefit Brazil (home to the majority of the Amazon rainforest), but many rainforested countries around the world. Importantly, the fund would not put a value on rainforests for carbon sequestration purposes, which sometimes creates perverse incentives that actually limit the amount of protectable forest and are difficult to accurately calculate. These protective measures will also be coupled with incentives to re-plant deforested areas, which they’re referring to as the “Arc of Restoration.” It’s a pretty cool name for an environmental policy, and an even cooler name for a John Wick movie.
422.36: CARBON DIOXIDE PARTS PER MILLION RECORDED AT MAUNA LOA ONE WEEK BEFORE COP28, 5.06 PPM MORE THAN LAST YEAR (GUARDIAN)
2.9°C: NEW LONG-RANGE TEMPERATURE PREDICTIONS FROM THE UN — STILL TOO HIGH, BUT 0.6C LOWER THAN PREVIOUS ESTIMATES (PHYS.ORG)
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