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:
Leonardo DiCaprio will fund scholarships and a climate education program at his former elementary school. And yes, I know this is the second week in a row with a Leo story. But if Martin Scorsese gets to use him over and over again, why can’t I?
GETTING DOWN TO CLIMATE BUSINESS:
💸 US Climate Envoy John Kerry testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee that “under no circumstances” will the US pay climate reparations to other countries affected by climate change. This testimony was a prelude to Kerry’s upcoming visit to Beijing for climate negotiations with Chinese officials. The panel, consisting mostly of politicians opposed to climate action, was conflating reparations with the much-discussed loss and damages fund discussed at COP27. The critical difference is that a loss and damages fund is non-compensatory and does not mean the United States would concede legal liability (and therefore open itself up to future lawsuits). Of course, this line of questioning was meant to confuse people – if they have Kerry on record saying the US won’t pay reparations, but we DO pay loss and damages, they can tell people that he lied. Of course, they’re the ones lying about his lying. It’s confusing. Sit down, I’ll draw you a diagram.
💰 While plenty of people are turning climate activism into a culture war issue, corporations are doing what they always do – trying to make money. Of course, if they can make positive changes in the world, that’s nice, too. Johnson & Johnson chairman Alex Gorsky said, “the way corporations can and should operate today…and affirms the essential role corporations can play in improving our society when CEOs are truly committed to meeting the needs of all stakeholders.” Gorsky wants to ignore the culture wars and focus on “balance and long-term, sustainable business performance.” Plus, any responsible entrepreneur has to make a business plan that reflects climate realities: flash flood, heavy rains, rising sea levels. No one wants their business to end up…. underwater.
🌱 Scientists have sent seeds to the International Space Station to make them more resilient to climate change! Apparently, the goal was “to induce genetic mutations in the seeds through exposure to cosmic radiation and microgravity, that could help develop resilient crops capable of thriving in the face of the escalating climate crisis.” Basically, that means that the unique conditions of space, like sun radiation unmediated by Earth’s ozone layer and more rapid temperature fluctuations, can help induce changes more quickly than on Earth. It’s great news for climate resiliency. Plus, can you imagine E.T. and Baby Yoga up in space farming? Adorable!
🚗 Part of fighting the climate emergency will be replacing our fleet of gas cars with electric ones. Unfortunately, unsold EVs are piling up on dealer lots. These unsold cars indicate consumer reluctance to commit to electric, perhaps because of range anxiety, pricing, or cultural forces. However, there are a couple caveats. This data doesn’t include Tesla, which sells directly to consumers. Also, many new EVs don’t qualify for the IRA’s rebate program, making them prohibitively expensive for a lot of consumers (more on that in the bonus section). To me, that doesn’t seem like demand for EVs is too low. It’s more likely that the prices are like me at my first Willie Nelson concert – way too high.
🌊 When we think about areas that will be hit hardest by climate change, places like Vermont don’t usually come to mind. But this week proved that even these relatively “safe” locales are at risk from climate chaos. Vermont invested in storm-proofing measures in 2011 after Hurricane Irene, but they didn’t hold up to this week’s nine-inch rainfall, which compounded other challenges the state faced this year, like Canadian wildfire smoke and ongoing drought. One director of planning said, “We shouldn’t be surprised that this [flood] happened. And it’s going to happen again. And again. And again after that.” At least one family (including their cat) had to be rescued from their home via helicopter. And in that classic, understated Vermont way, they called their harrowing escape “interesting for sure.”
🏂 We’re in the hottest, stickiest part of the year in New York, when my thighs are constantly stuck to something and my hair always looks bad. Naturally, I’m fantasizing about winter. Of course, thanks to the first el Niño cycle we’ve experienced in years, this winter will look a little different. It will impact different parts of the country in different ways – the southern third of the country will get more precipitation, the Pacific Northwest and Ohio Valley will likely be dry and warm. Fortunately, experts say that even though we’ll feel a change in this year’s weather patterns, a “historically strong” El Niño is unlikely. That’s good, because visions of Jackson Hole are the only thing that will get me through August.
90°F: RECORD SEA TEMPERATURE RECORDED IN THE FLORIDA KEYS THIS WEEK, POSING A RISK TO LOCAL CORAL REEF HABITATS (MSNBC)
0.5: INCREASED SUBTERRANEAN HEAT HAS CAUSED THE GROUND UNDER SOME CHICAGO BUILDINGS TO EXPAND OR CONTRACT BY THIS MANY INCHES (NYT)
Hot Tips To Stay Cool
There are multiple heatwaves across the globe right now, and not everyone is prepared. If you’re stuck in a heatwave without air conditioning, here are some tips to stay cool. Of course, if you want tips to stay the other kind of cool, throw on an old episode of Friends and steal their outfits. The 90s are back in a big way!