September 23, 2020
The Warming Climates of the Arctic and the Tropics Squeeze the Mid-latitudes, Where Most People Live
For humans, the mid-latitudes are Earth's climate sweet spots, where much of civilization, including cities and key food production areas, have developed. But those zones are increasingly being pummeled by climate change from both the north and south. Melting Arctic ice sends extreme winter storms from the north, while the expanding tropics press the mid-latitudes from the south.
Trump Likely to Veto House Clean Energy Bill as Fight Over Ginsberg Replacement Intensifies in Senate
The White House on Monday said the president's advisors would recommend he veto a comprehensive House clean energy bill, and progress on a similar measure in the Senate, the Energy Innovation Act, may continue to stall following the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The House's legislative package was scheduled for a vote this week.
Environmentalists have welcomed the pledge by China's leader, Xi Jinping, to speed up reductions in emissions in the world's top-polluting nation and reach carbon neutrality by 2060. While the ambitious goal could significantly help slow global warming, experts are expressing concern over the lack of detail coming from China so far, raising doubts over whether the goal is achievable.
Beta weakened to a tropical depression on Tuesday as it crawled inland along the Texas coast south of Houston, unleashing heavy rains, flooding streets, and forcing emergency workers to rescue dozens of people. Flooding was heaviest in south Houston where water levels nearly submerged cars on the road, Reuters reports.
Germany, which is Europe's largest economy, is planning stricter controls to ensure it reaches targets in its expansion of renewable energy sources, Reuters reports. The latest draft of the country's targets includes annual quotas for solar, biomass and onshore and offshore wind. Those quotas are to be regularly checked in each of Germany's 16 federal states.
September 22, 2020
A "crazy year" in the Arctic has resulted in the second-lowest extent of sea ice in the region, scientists said Monday. Researchers with the National Snow and Ice Data Center said the minimum was most likely reached on Sept. 15, with 1.44 million square miles of ocean covered in ice. Only 2012 has had a lower minimum, with the 14 lowest ice years occurring in the past 14 years.
With nearly 7,900 wildfires that have consumed more than 3.4 million acres and claimed 26 lives in California, some residents are now considering leaving the state entirely as the blazes continue to rage and fill the skies with hazardous smoke, CNN reports. One Oakland resident who's considering a cross-country move to New York told CNN he's just "tired of this being normal."
The effects of climate change since 2000 will slow U.S. economic growth slightly over the next 30 years, adding another drag on an economy that continues to struggle from the coronavirus pandemic, the Congressional Budget Office said in a new report. The agency projected that on net, climate change will reduce national GDP by an average of 0.03 percent annually from 2020 to 2050.
Robert Rivas joined the California Assembly two years ago to fight for farmworkers. Now, as the new chair of the state's Agriculture Committee, where he'll lead a $54 billion industry convulsed by Covid-19, he plans to do just that. "From his youth in farmworker housing to the present, he has been prepared to be chair of this committee," said California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon.
General Electric, one of the world's largest manufacturers of coal-fired power plants, announced Monday it would no longer build such facilities. It's a remarkable exit that will have far-reaching consequences on the coal industry as more and more utilities are increasingly shifting away from coal-fired generation.
Liberal activists have launched a campaign to pressure Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden to reject advisers with any ties to fossil fuel companies should he win the election. Last week, more than 60 deep-pocketed donors asked Biden to commit to a moratorium on all new coal, oil and natural gas development—and to select advisers who are "free from fossil fuel influence."
The European Commission hopes to cut carbon dioxide emissions from the aviation industry by up to 10 percent by making flight paths more direct and reducing delays due to congested airspace, Reuters reports. In 2019, "zig-zagging" routes and delays cost the bloc $7.1 billion and pushed out more than 11 million tons of carbon dioxide, the Commission said.
Over the decades, the Kolls have watched their cabin—a sanctuary for the family that has been the site of two family weddings—on Minnesota's Lake Shamineau slowly disappear underwater. The lake is about 7 feet higher than when they moved in, the Kolls say, and has swelled about 3 feet in the past decade, swallowing the old shoreline that's now at least 20 yards out into the lake.
September 21, 2020
The death this weekend of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a champion of women's rights and one of the Supreme Court's most liberal justices, could leave a lasting imprint on American environmental policy as the Trump administration scrambles to replace her. Known for her work on gender and sexual rights, her legacy also helped establish the nation's first-ever authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
In 2016, Jacob Abel voted for Donald Trump, but he doesn't plan to this year. A determining factor in his 180-degree-turn? Climate change. Like Abel, a growing number of young Republicans are expressing frustration with the party's lackluster responses to the issue. If enough climate-concerned GOP youths don't vote for Trump, they could shift the party's environmental positions.
As oil prices plunge and concerns about climate change grow, BP, Royal Dutch Shell and other European energy companies are selling off oil fields, planning a sharp reduction in emissions and investing billions in renewable energy. That's not the case for American oil majors Chevron and ExxonMobil, which are doubling down on oil and natural gas investments, The New York Times reports.
Colorado voters concerned about the climate are siding with Democrat John Hickenlooper over GOP incumbent Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, seeing him as a better alternative to achieving stronger climate action. This story is part of our Senate 2020 series, which focuses on the climate records of candidates in 11 key races in the November elections that will determine the future of U.S. climate policy.
Maine Sen. Susan Collins has the strongest pro-environment voting record among Senate Republicans, but lacks support from big environmental groups, which disapprove of her votes supporting President Trump. This story is part of our Senate 2020 series, which focuses on the climate records of candidates in 11 key races in the November elections that will determine the future of U.S. climate policy.
We are most gratified to announce that the Society of Professional Journalists' Deadline Club in New York named ICN's Anna Belle Peevey, Neela Banerjee and Adrian Briscoe as the winners of its award for reporting by independent digital media for "American Climate," our documentary series exploring how people across the country are dealing with climate change.
European planemaker Airbus unveiled three designs it's studying to build hydrogen-powered aircraft as it races to bring a zero-carbon passenger plane into service by 2035, Bloomberg reports. Hydrogen gas, which doesn't produce greenhouse gases when burned, is becoming an increasing area of focus for Airbus as it evaluates technologies for emission-free air travel.
September 18, 2020
As wildfires leave the West with some of the worst air quality in the world, it poses a major threat to people with asthma and other underlying health conditions who face greater risk of serious Covid-19 complications, health experts say. "At the levels of air pollution we're seeing in the northwest now, it's a matter of concern for everyone," a spokesperson for the American Lung Association said.
A new study reaffirms that contrail clouds—those straight, wispy white markings of a plane's path through the sky—produce more global warming than carbon dioxide emitted by the flights. Activists hope the finding will help spur the aviation industry to act more urgently to reduce their emissions as governments work to rebuild their pandemic-hit economies.
A court has temporarily halted an Environmental Protection Agency rule that rescinded Obama-era standards for methane emissions from the oil and gas sector, preventing the rollback from taking effect for the time being. Federal judges issued a procedural pause on the rule while the court decides on further action, but said the order doesn't reflect a judgement on the rule's merits.
The world must get to net-zero carbon emissions by mid-century, and can make it happen at a price that is relatively small in global terms—$1 trillion to $2 trillion per year—according to a new report from a think tank that includes BP, Shell and other big businesses. While researchers have long called for net-zero emissions by mid-century, the message could be better received coming from oil majors.
Battered by heat all summer, Arizona voters may be poised to elect Democrat Mark Kelly for the Senate, if polls hold true. Kelly has pledged to fight climate change, while GOP incumbent Sen. Martha McSally hasn't. This story is part of our Senate 2020 series, which focuses on the climate records of candidates in 11 key races in the November elections that will determine the future of U.S. climate policy.
President Trump has made dismantling federal climate policies a centerpiece of his administration. A new analysis from the Rhodium Group looks at the cumulative effects of those rollbacks and found that they add up to a lot more planet-warming emissions, The New York Times reports.
September 17, 2020
Almost 600,000 homes and businesses were without power across the Deep South on Thursday as residents picked through the sodden destruction wrought by Hurricane Sally. The storm, now downgraded to a tropical depression, threatens to bring a foot of rain to parts of Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia as it moves north, authorities said.
Smoke from the wildfires in the West is spreading across the United States and has even reached Europe, according to the European Union's Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service. Satellite images show the smoke hovering above the United Kingdom and moving into Northern Europe, a nearly 5,000 mile journey. With it could come years of lasting health impacts, our reporting found.
Faced with the twin climate crises of historic wildfires and spiraling insurance costs, California on Wednesday laid out new rules to make insurance more affordable in fire-prone areas, The New York Times reports. But the changes could backfire, experts say—pushing insurers to stop offering insurance in those areas and further imperiling communities on the front lines of climate change.
Google has pledged to have zero carbon emissions 24/7 by 2030. What does that mean? California is accelerating its efforts to boost electric vehicle sales in the state. And Volkswagen has introduced the ID.3, the EV that could change the market. All that in the latest Inside Clean Energy by Dan Gearino.