Climate Action Alliance of the Valley: Climate, energy news roundup for Aug. 2
Climate Action Alliance of the Valley, a non-profit, grassroots group of volunteers in the Central Shenandoah Valley, produces The Weekly Roundup of Climate and Energy News to inform legislators and the public.
An excerpt from a recent Roundup follows; full Roundup is on the CAAV website.
Politics and Policy
Oliver Milman discussed “How the global climate fight could be lost if Trump is re-elected.” The DNC added new climate change provisions championed by progressives to its 2020 policy platform. Seven Republican senators sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) urging him to consider policies in future COVID-19 relief and recovery proposals to bolster the clean energy sector. From now to Nov 4, when the U.S. is set to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, The Guardian U.S. will publish a series of stories about the many impacts of the climate crisis.
The EPA’s inspector general’s office said it will investigate whether the reversal of Obama-era fuel efficiency standards violated government rules. President Trump announced that export authorizations for liquefied natural gas will go through 2050, signing four permits for pipeline and rail transport of fossil fuels. New research concluded the social cost of carbon should start at $100-$200 per ton of CO2 pollution in 2020, increasing to nearly $600 by 2100, higher than the range of $1 to $6 adopted by the Trump administration. A federal court determined the Trump administration’s interim social cost of methane carbon was less scientifically rigorous than the version it replaced.
Jillian Goodman interviewed Rhiana Gunn-Wright under the title “Want to Fix the Climate Crisis? Start Listening to Black People.” Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) introduced a companion bill in the Senate to the 2020 House bill “Environmental Justice for All Act”. Daisy Simmons addressed the question “What is ‘climate justice’?” A meta-study, reviewing almost 700 studies, revealed environmental injustice remains rampant worldwide. Former associate administrator in EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice, Mustafa Santiago Ali, wrote about impacts of environmental racism on people of color in the U.S.
A report estimated the U.S. can create 25 million jobs if it moves on from fossil fuels and electrifies the economy by 2035. A working paper found that since 2005, 41 states and Washington, D.C., increased their GDPs while reducing their carbon emissions. Climate Analytics climate policy analyst Claire Fyson addressed “Who should be responsible for removing CO2 from the atmosphere?”—arguing international and inter‑generational equity considerations have a strong effect on which countries bear responsibility for CO2 removal.
Climate and Climate Science
Scientists emphasized how swiftly changes are occurring throughout the Arctic, with major portions warming at a rate of 1.8°F (1°C) per decade for 40 years, constituting an “abrupt climate change event.” Eastern Siberia’s Batagay megaslump is a time capsule of ancient climates and ecosystems. Glaciers in the Himalayas are melting more rapidly.
This year, torrential rains along the Brahmaputra River in Bangladesh have submerged at least a quarter of the country, inundating nearly a million homes and affecting 4.7 million people. A new paper found “The climate is much more predictable than we previously thought,” but models don’t capture that predictability.
Scientists demonstrated a direct relationship between climate warming and carbon loss in a peatland ecosystem. Peatlands hold more soil carbon than is stored in the world’s forests; their degradation and CO2 and methane release is of great concern. Around 1,900 square miles of Amazonian rainforest have already burned this year. A raging fire is threatening Argentina’s major wetland ecosystems.
On our present path of greenhouse gas emissions, by 2100 sea level rise will have caused $14.2T in lost or damaged assets globally. Extreme coastal flooding during the next 20 years could pose a risk to 876 hazardous waste sites from a low rate of sea level rise and 918 sites from a moderate rise.
Record high temperatures have been plaguing the Middle East, with the mercury soaring to extreme levels. Baghdad surged to its highest temperature ever recorded on July 28: 125.2°F (51.8°C). Norway’s Svalbard archipelago saw a record high of 21.7°C (71.1°F) July 31.
The Washington Post analyzed how far we must go to eliminate CO2 emissions from electricity generation by 2035, with excellent graphs for each state.
Scientists discovered a new material that could capture more CO2 emissions from industrial sources than other materials, thereby helping natural gas‑fired power plants and other industries meet increasingly stringent carbon emissions rules.
Shell and Dutch utility Eneco will build a super-hybrid offshore wind farm with a floating solar facility, short-duration battery storage, and green hydrogen production. The Japan Wind Power Association aims to expand the country’s offshore wind power installed capacity to 10 GW in 2030 and 30‑45 GW in 2040. Renewable sources met a record 50.2% of Germany’s power consumption in January to June.
Researchers projected battery packs for electric vehicles (EVs) will cost less than $80 per kilowatt-hour by 2025, making the cost of an EV equal to or less than that of a comparable gasoline vehicle. Panasonic will boost the energy density of its “2170” battery cells by 20% in five years and commercialize a cobalt-free version “in two to three years”. Chinese carmaker Kandi announced it is bringing its EVs to the U.S., making them the cheapest in America — starting at $12,999 after federal tax credit.
2019’s U.S. coal production fell to the lowest level since 1978. Cracks are appearing in utility support for using natural gas as a bridge fuel to a low‑carbon future. NextEra Energy is closing its last coal-fired power plant and investing in a $65M Florida pilot using a 20 MW electrolyzer to produce 100% green hydrogen from solar power.
Dominion Energy and Duke Energy have not decided what to do about the land they gained control over for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Dominion Energy announced a reorganized executive leadership team, including a new CEO.
Climate scientist Michael Mann opinion piece asserted we need collective action and systemic change, which require that we vote.
MIT climate scientist Kerry Emanuel “dust jacket blurb” endorsed Michael Shellenberger’s controversial book, Apocalypse Never. Emanuel felt compelled to write a “half essay/half book review.”
Two recent studies shed light on major news outlets’ long-term indulgence in climate skepticism and the recent impact of improved climate coverage in TV meteorology.
The Guardian’s Environment editor Damian Carrington placed climate change deniers into four categories, explaining why they should all be ignored.
Two new studies explored why so many people resist accepting climate change facts, offering insight into how to talk to them in a way that might be more compelling.
Former New York Times climate reporter Kendra Pierre-Louis will launch a podcast on climate change solutions.
Compiled by Les Grady, CAAV Steering Committee.