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’re looking for a little climate fun for the whole family, Disney’s Strange World released in theaters this week, and The New York Times describes it as “‘Journey to the Center of the Earth’ reborn as an intercultural fantasia that takes aim at the climate crisis.” A climate message and a way to get out of the house after being stuck with relatives all week? Sounds like a win-win.
GETTING DOWN TO CLIMATE BUSINESS:
⚖️ Greta Thunberg, along with hundreds of other young climate activists, marched to Stockholm to file a lawsuit against the Swedish state for its failure to take action on climate change. This is just the latest in a series of court challenges to state inaction on climate change; public groups have sued governments in the Netherlands and France, and a group of Portuguese youths took 33 countries to the European Court of Human Rights over climate claims. It’s a good strategy. We need to speak to government bureaucracies in a way they understand: by drowning them in paperwork.
🌾 Back in America, climate lobbyists are hoping to include major provisions for regenerative agriculture in the half-trillion dollar farm bill currently being negotiated in Congress. They’re hoping to push for regenerative agriculture, a farming practice that helps sequester carbon, improve soil health, reduce agriculture’s reliance on fossil fuels, and improve our water supply. It sounds great, but I’ll admit, I’m a little skeptical. There isn’t really a common definition of “regenerative agriculture,” and it’s hard to measure how much carbon is actually sequestered, which makes it hard to know how much money those farms should get (although technological advances are improving the ability to measure carbon sequestration). Don’t get me wrong: we absolutely need to make major changes to the farm bill, and this is a huge opportunity to fix a major contributor to climate change. But before we celebrate, let’s keep an eye on this one. Good advice for farm bills and for suspicious cans of peanut brittle.
⚡Decarbonization is an important worldwide goal for avoiding international conflict, but as it turns out, it might cause it, too. As countries around the world transition their militaries away from fossil fuels, developments in things like semiconductors could conceivably give a country a wartime advantage. Let’s hope we don’t turn our decarbonization arms race into a literal arms race.
🌧️ Water recycling technology designed to recycle water in spacecraft is now being employed to help the drought conditions in the American West. You can read more about how it works here. By 2035, Los Angeles plans to recycle 100% of its wastewater for potable reuse. Now, you might be on the fence about drinking wastewater, but as someone who lives in Los Angeles, I can assure you that I would pick just about anything over what currently comes out of my tap.
🏠 As climate change makes extreme weather events more and more common, millions of homes are in jeopardy, and the increasing frequency of these events means that those homes will be harder to insure. Unfortunately, federal protections designed to help families who have suffered a major loss from a weather event might be preventing them from doing what makes the most sense: moving to a less risky area. One expert “sees flood buyouts as part of an economic development plan. Disasters are costly. Avoiding damage frees up funds for other purposes.” Advice I’m going to heed the next time I go to Vegas.
🏭 And finally, a little bit of good news: premature deaths due to air pollution are falling in the EU. Wow! Just imagine how much air quality would improve if we could get the French to stop smoking!
4X: POLARIZATION AROUND CLIMATE ON SOCIAL MEDIA HAS INCREASED THIS MUCH SINCE 2015 (NATURE)
50M: KILOGRAMS OF ABANDONED PLASTIC FISHING GEAR SCIENTISTS ARE TRACKING WITH GPS (NATURE)
Hidden Holiday Plastic
As you’re getting started with your holiday shopping, you might want to rethink those gift cards for your hard-to-buy-for friends. Gift cards are full of PVC plastic, which is toxic and impossible to recycle, and it’s turning into a big problem. But don’t worry! You still have options. Digital or paper gift cards are good alternatives. And hey, let’s be real – no one’s ever going to complain about simply receiving cold hard cash.
Thanks for reading! – Nicole