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:
It’s impossible not to be charmed by Ted Danson, and you’re in luck, because he just gave a new interview about his work with the organization Oceana. Danson helped launch the organization, originally called the American Oceans Campaign, in 1987, and their work has protected millions of square miles from destructive fishing. Sounds like someone is trying to make Earth into the good place.
GETTING DOWN TO CLIMATE BUSINESS:
🎉 Let’s start with some good news! If you’re a regular reader of this newsletter, you’ve heard about the Montana youth climate lawsuit. And this week, they won! The judge in the case ruled that “the state’s failure to consider climate change when approving fossil fuel projects was unconstitutional.” Montana produces a bunch of coal and gas, so requiring consideration of climate in the approval process will be an important way to limit the expansion of fossil fuel projects in the state. Chalk one up to the meddling kids!
💪 And Montana officials won’t be the only ones taking climate into consideration.The EPA now considers climate change as one of its priority enforcement areas. Enforcement is going to focus on two major climate problems: methane emissions, which come mainly from oil and gas production sites and landfills, and illegal use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), commonly found in refrigerants. Last month the Senate finally confirmed a new top EPA enforcement official, who is “hoping to change the trajectory with more staffing and stepped up efforts.” I find that “stepping up efforts” is generally a good policy when it comes to planetary disaster.
💰 We should all be celebrating the one-year anniversary of the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, but you know who should REALLY be celebrating? Climate tech startups. The IRA allocated $400 billion for clean energy products, and now, “private investment into climate tech startups is on track to match, and likely surpass, the government’s funding, particularly as investors feel secure in a growing market for such technologies.” Maybe more importantly, investment from the IRA largely goes towards established firms, but the private capital that will hopefully match it is more likely to go to smaller firms and startups, which can “offer auxiliary services to larger industries.” Think of them like the food carts that line up outside after a concert. They get to make a little income, the venue doesn’t have to provide food, and I get to eat a giant churro under the guise of “supporting a small business.”
🏢 I’m sure you’ve heard about all the post-pandemic troubles with commercial real estate: as companies shifted to remote work or folded altogether, fewer people needed offices, and even after the pandemic, workers didn’t really come back. And now, climate change is here to compound those problems, because, as we’ve seen with home insurance, commercial properties are becoming more difficult and expensive to insure in the face of climate threats, particularly in flood-prone areas like Miami or New York. Man, I already didn’t want to go back to the office and now you’re telling me they won’t even reimburse me if my laptop gets all soggy??
🏘️ As Maui begins the slow process of assessing the damage and rebuilding after its devastating fires, concerns are springing up over “climate gentrification.” A pre-existing housing crisis already priced many Native Hawaiians out of homes on their own island, and now, the concern is even more expensive properties constructed by predatory developers will all but eliminate any hope they had of living in a safely-constructed house in a less risk-prone area. One expert called the risks extremely high because of “the very high land values and the intense level of trauma and the people who are unscrupulous who will come in to try to take advantage of that.” You can learn more about the terrible way mainlanders have taken advantage of the Hawaiian people in the documentary The White Lotus Season 1.
🚰 On Thursday, the EPA released new data showing that around the country, drinking water serving 26 million Americans is contaminated with “dangerous levels of toxic chemicals.” These chemicals are primarily perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), which were supposedly phased out of production by 2015 but linger in our water systems. Huh. I guess my cousin who exclusively drinks Mountain Dew was on to something.
47%: A NEW STUDY ON FOSSIL FUEL LOBBYING SHOWS THAT THIS PERCENTAGE OF BRITISH MPS FALSELY BELIEVE THEIR CONSTITUENTS WOULD OPPOSE ONSHORE WIND (THE GUARDIAN)
40%: THE PERCENTAGE OF US EMISSIONS CREATED BY JUST THE RICHEST 10% OF AMERICANS, PROMPTING CALLS TO TAX CLIMATE-POLLUTING INVESTMENTS (CNN)
America’s New Pastime
Professional sports and the climate have lots of overlap: the tennis US Open had to introduce new rules about extreme heat, MLB postponed games due to poor air quality from Canadian wildfire smoke, and the Sochi winter Olympics were barely able to scrape together enough snow to hold their events. But sports also contribute to climate change: transporting teams and gear, excessive waste at stadiums, etc. But now, the industry is taking notice and making more sustainable changes. Nothing yet on my pitch to change the name to the Green Sox, but I’ll keep fighting for it!