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:
Jamie Lee Curtis appeared at this week’s Comic Con with a message of warning and of hope: “We’re fucking the world… There is a possibility of change, but we’re going to have to do it.” The actress was there to promote her new graphic novel, Mother Nature, which “centers on a young activist who is desperate to avenge her father’s death and believes an unscrupulous oil company is to blame. The woman eventually stumbles upon an experimental new extraction project that unleashes untold horrors.” Well, it’s no hot dog fingers, but it sounds pretty good!
GETTING DOWN TO CLIMATE BUSINESS:
🌏 The G20 climate summit was held in India this week, and while the nations present made progress on 64 of the 68 issues discussed, they did not ultimately reach an agreement that could help us stave off the worst of climate change. Some of the sticking points include aiming for peak emissions by 2025, moving to clean energy, and taxing carbon to disincentivize its use. Now, the agreements reached on other issues will be “passed on to country leaders ahead of a summit in New Delhi in September this year. It will be the group’s last chance to issue a joint statement on climate this year.” This feels like the international climate version of a mom saying, “You’d better stop by the time I count to three!”
⚔️ A 920-page blueprint for “demolishing” federal efforts to address climate change leaked this week. The plan, called Project 2025 has hundreds of authors, including former Trump administration officials and the Heritage Foundation, and is intended for any future GOP president to fully dismantle American climate policy, extending much further than the current administration’s accomplishments. It would “block the expansion of the electrical grid for wind and solar energy; slash funding for the Environmental Protection Agency’s environmental justice office; shutter the Energy Department’s renewable energy offices; prevent states from adopting California’s car pollution standards; and delegate more regulation of polluting industries to Republican state officials.” Jeez. I guess they decided it would be too cartoonishly evil to add “hunting man for sport.”
🏜️ One important way to fight climate change is sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere, but that alone won’t be enough to reverse climate change. A new study examining the consequences of CO2 emissions showed that continuing to pollute will contribute to desertification, which isn’t a process that will simply be reversed when we have the large-scale technology to scrub carbon out of the atmosphere. Desertification is responsible for food and water shortages and population displacement, which will similarly need to be addressed separately. However, this study isn’t necessarily cause for alarm – it’s simply a reminder that we can’t rely on future technologies to clean up after us, we have to stop emitting as much as we can right now. It’s a little like a hangover — even if you don’t have to work tomorrow, you’re REALLY going to wish you didn’t have that last round of tequila shots tonight.
🌡️ In the wake of nation-wide heat waves, President Biden announced on Thursday new actions to protect Americans from extreme heat. “Biden directed the Department of Labor to issue a hazard alert for dangerous conditions in industries like agriculture and construction… and the department plans to boost inspections in those sectors.” He also touted $152 million in drought-stricken western states to improve and add water pipelines. However, heat conditions are so intense that some leaders say more is necessary. “Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego called on Congress to give Biden the ability to declare extreme heat a disaster, which would enable cities like hers to tap into more Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funding.” And since doctors in Arizona are treating a spike of patients with severe burns from falling on hot pavement, “disaster” feels like the right word for this heat wave. At this point, you should do a Barbenheimer double feature just to spend 5 straight hours in an air-conditioned movie theater.
🔋 Last month’s bipartisan debt ceiling bill included permitting changes in the National Environmental Policy Act that would enable faster approval for both fossil fuel and clean energy projects, but now, the Biden administration has proposed adding climate and equity provisions to this review process. This includes pretty basic stuff, like “directing agencies to consider the impact of climate change on projects.” While this should be uncontroversial for anyone who cares about the planet, some politicians and pundits have criticized the provisions, saying they could “actually increase the number of frivolous lawsuits challenging environmental reviews.” I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that if you’re suing someone who made the planet unlivable, that’s the opposite of frivolous.
🐮 One major source of emissions that it’s been hard to address has been methane from cow waste. Beef is a major source of protein in the average American diet, and asking people to cut down on their beef consumption is usually treated with the kind of contempt usually reserved for Boston sports fans. But now, there’s good news – adding red algae to decomposing cow feces may help limit the release of methane by about 44%. Adding a “pinch” of the algae to regular cow feed could be a low-cost solution to the bovine methane bomb. I bet if you tell them it’s paprika, they won’t even notice.
101.19: SURFACE OCEAN TEMPERATURE IN DEGREES FAHRENHEIT REACHED IN THE WATERS OFF THE FLORIDA KEYS THIS WEEK (GUARDIAN)
200,000: WILDFIRES IN GREECE HAVE RELEASED THE SAME CO2 EMISSIONS IN JULY AS THIS MANY CARS IN A YEAR (EURO NEWS)
Heat Pumps and Smart Homes and Compost, Oh My!
Thanks to ongoing extreme temperatures, more people than ever are acutely aware of our changing climate. If you know someone trying to figure out how to be more sustainable in their own lives, here are some tips for homeowners to make their houses a little more sustainable.