The Eco News Roundup brings stories and commentary about issues related to climate change, renewable energy and the environment.
State governments are not just acting for, and among, themselves, but they are essentially brokering international treaties with foreign governments. Just since early June, when President Trump announced his withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement, a dozen states representing a third of our population created the U.S. Climate Alliance, which has pledges from Mexico and Canada to collaborate. Co-founder of the Alliance, California Gov. Jerry Brown, wasted no time raising climate issues with China’s President Xi Jinping when he visited Beijing last month, laying the groundwork for state-to-nation agreements and mutual assistance to achieve shared goals.
States are partnering with cities and other stakeholders, too. Nine states have joined together with thousands of cities, companies, and educational institutions to form “We Are Still In” (referring to members’ intentions to fulfill the commitments made in the Paris agreement) and a recent meeting of mayors in Miami was highlighted by more than 300 cities representing 65 million people pledging to be “Climate Mayors” and setting out ways they will help the U.S. comply with the Paris deal in local fact, if not in federal policy.
Newly released documents related to its Rover pipeline give weight to critics who call Energy Transfer Partners a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.”
The state of Florida is threatening to stop cooperating with a team of independent scientists that monitors progress on Everglades restoration for Congress.
Scientists for the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report to Congress about the $16 billion state and federal effort to clean up water pollution and restore water flows to the famed River of Grass.
The group in December warned that the effects of climate change could require adding more water storage alternatives to Everglades restoration plans.
State officials have objected to the group’s findings, saying the committee shouldn’t be suggesting changes that could lead to more studies and delays of Everglades restoration projects.
A new study by MIT climate scientists, economists, and agriculture experts finds that certain hotspots in the country will experience severe reductions in crop yields by 2050, due to climate change’s impact on irrigation.
The most adversely affected region, according to the researchers, will be the Southwest. Already a water-stressed part of the country, this region is projected to experience reduced precipitation by midcentury. Less rainfall to the area will mean reduced runoff into water basins that feed irrigated fields.
Production of cotton, the primary irrigated crop in the Southwest and in southern Arizona in particular, will drop to less than 10 percent of the crop yield under optimal irrigation conditions, the study projects. Similarly, maize grown in Utah, now only yielding 40 percent of the optimal expected yield, will decrease to 10 percent with further climate-driven water deficits.
Tourists flood the area of Madrid’s “Museum Mile” — a stretch of the huge, eight-lane Paseo del Prado thoroughfare that’s home to Spain’s most renowned art museums. It’s smoggy and crowded with all the traffic.
At the CaixaForum, an arts foundation, people pause. It’s what’s on the outside of this museum, rather than what’s inside, that’s halted them: a giant vertical garden with more than 15,000 plants from 300 native species — begonias, yucca plants, ferns — coating an entire outer wall stretching the length of a city block.
Fueling U.S. Forward, the Koch-funded campaign to “rebrand” fossil fuels as “positive” and “sustainable,” has released a new video attacking the Dirty Secrets of Electric Cars, signaling a possible strategic pivot from straightforward fossil fuel cheerleading to electric vehicle (EV) and clean energy bashing.
The video and accompanying Dirty Secrets of Electric Cars web page feature blatant factual errors, misleading statements and glaring omissions (all of which will be debunked thoroughly below), while essentially attacking electric cars for using the same materials needed to manufacture cell phones, laptops, defense equipment and gas-powered cars, and which are even a critical component of the very oil refining processes that form the foundation of the Koch fortunes.
The first rule of advocating for climate change-related legislation is: You do not talk about “climate change.” The term has become so polarizing that its mere mention can cause reasonable people to draw seemingly immutable lines in the political sand.
“In some ways, it functions as what we would call a ‘dog-whistle’,” said UC Santa Barbara political science professor Leah Stokes, referring to a term or statement that while innocent-sounding enough to most people, encodes deeper and more specific meanings to certain audiences. And it’s true: For many conservatives, the idea of enacting climate change-related renewable energy policies is fraught with fears of economic loss and major lifestyle changes. For many liberals, on the other hand, notenacting such policies is fraught with fears of economic loss and major lifestyle changes. It’s a tug-of-war that began at the start of the century and continues today.
Elon Musk, the billionaire co-founder of electric car giant Tesla, has thrown down a challenge to the South Australian and federal governments, saying he can solve the state’s energy woes within 100 days – or he’ll deliver the 100MW battery storage system for free.
On Thursday, Lyndon Rive, Tesla’s vice-president for energy products, told the AFR the company could install the 100-300 megawatt hours of battery storage that would be required to prevent the power shortages that have been causing price spikes and blackouts in the state.
Thanks to stepped-up production out of Tesla’s new Gigafactory in Nevada, he said it could be achieved within 100 days.
With its bright colors, anthropomorphic animal motif, and nautical-themed puzzle play mat, Dr. Kimberly Noble’s laboratory at Columbia University looks like your typical day care center—save for the team of cognitive neuroscientists observing kids from behind a large two-way mirror. The Neurocognition, Early Experience, and Development Lab is home to cutting-edge research on how poverty affects young brains, and I’ve come here to learn how Noble and her colleagues could soon definitively prove that growing up poor can keep a child’s brain from developing.
Feeling hopeless about a situation is cognitively associated with inaction. Instead of being defeatist, look to climate change heroes who are leading the way
At BPI Campus our Progressive Agenda is:
1. People matter more than profits.
2. The earth is our home, not our trash can.
3. We need good government for both #1 and #2.
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