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:
Fusion Musician Sirintip made an entire album about climate change using things in her apartment like plastic trash and water jugs. Pretty weird – I have a whole piano in my apartment and when I try to make music, it sounds way worse than Sirintip’s.
GETTING DOWN TO CLIMATE BUSINESS:
🔌 Perhaps the major cornerstone of American climate policy is the move towards electrification, but so much of our current system is based on fossil fuels that it can be hard to picture what an electrified America will look like.. Now, the New York Times has “visualize[d] what the nation’s energy use might look like in 2050 if the United States were able to meet the president’s climate change goals, using technology available today or just over the horizon, while minimizing costs.” Their visuals take into account that we can’t just drive electric cars and cook on induction stoves if the energy used to power those things comes from gas or coal-fired power plants. There’s a lot of really cool images in there, and the images are actually slightly easier to understand than the average New Yorker cartoon.
🗽 Of course, electricification isn’t the only important step towards reducing our emissions. Using less is important to. And that’s why the push to develop passive buildings is more important than ever. Laws are popping up in places in the U.S. and the E.U. that require buildings to achieve zero emissions, which means keeping them airtight and insulated. I assume the window air conditioner I installed with painters tape meets that criteria.
⛑️️ We’ve talked a lot about climate migration in this newsletter, but even as populations are already starting to relocate within the United States due to extreme weather caused by climate change, victims of these disasters are facing discrimination and difficulty finding support to rebuild. Extreme climate events have become so commonplace that America’s disaster relief systems are struggling to help everyone affected. In turn, having to navigate the rules and regulations governing things like FEMA relief put added stress on families already struggling post-disaster. You know what they say, nothing heals the sting of personal loss quite like a mountain of paperwork.
💰️ Two advisors have recommended that BP investors oppose a climate resolution which asks the major oil firms to commit to absolute carbon emissions cuts by 2030. There’s been a lot of hope that activist investors might help guide these legacy polluters towards a more sustainable future, but this is the latest indication that it might take more than a guide. I suggest something more like a cattle prod.
🌳️ A several-thousand-year-old Aspen grove is dying in Utah as a result of human activity, and specifically, it’s the kind of human activity that increases animal activity. As humans killed predators like bears and wolves, their herbivore prey exploded. And Aspen saplings (which are all connected in one huge underground root system) are like a tasty buffet for the elk and deer whose populations have exploded without large carnivores around. Fortunately, there’s still time to save the large grove, known as Pando, if we act fast, but this underscores the importance of maintaining biodiversity even in ways that don’t seem directly related to the climate. Plus, without wolves, there would be nothing less to put on cool gas station tee shirts.
🔥 A fire broke out at an Indiana plastic plant, and while the fire itself is under control, potential health and environmental hazards from the site still exist. Chemicals like hydrogen cyanide, benzene, and VOCs were found in the air nearby, as well as asbestos were found in the air near the site. Man, I don’t know if there’s a GOOD way to find out you’ve got asbestos, but a massive plastic fire has to be one of the worst.
25: INCHES OF RAIN THAT FELL IN FORT LAUDERDALE THIS WEEKEND IN A 24 HOUR PERIOD (NYT)
$673B: MAJOR BANKS PROVIDED THIS MUCH FUNDING TO FOSSIL FUEL COMPANIES LAST YEAR (RAN)
Fast Casual But Make It Sustainable
Big news for me, personally: Chipotle is working on becoming even more sustainable. The brand made a name for itself thanks to its responsible food sourcing, and now it’s introducing an all-electric restaurant design that uses 100% renewable energy. Per their press release, “Chipotle is also launching a short film called ‘Human Nature,’ a new creative expression for the brand that explores how humans and nature can work together to Cultivate a Better World.” Now when I can’t get off the couch because I ate a burrito the size of my head, I can feel good knowing that I’ve done my part for the planet.