Climate Action Alliance of the Valley weekly news roundup: July 5
The Climate Action Alliance of the Valley (CAAV), 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. Here is an excerpt from a recent Roundup; full Roundup is on the CAAV website.
Special Event: Chautauqua Institution
The theme at the online Chautauqua Institution this week was climate change. Start a 90-day free trial at https://assembly.chq.org/; learn this summer’s events. Locate “Assembly”, then “Weekly Themes”; click on “Climate Change” for the video library. Enjoy the Chautauqua experience virtually.
Politics and Policy
Carbon Brief updated its tracker of government “green stimulus” measures in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Preliminary findings from a study by 14 research groups showed that as of 1 July, more public money commitments in response to COVID-19 went to fossil fuels than to cleaner energies in the U.S. and several others. The 36-country International Civil Aviation Organization postponed the date airlines must start paying for carbon credits to offset a portion of their climate impact.
Climate reporter Emily Atkin described the actions of the natural gas industry trying to defeat the all-electric housing plan of San Luis Obispo, CA.
Executive director of the International Energy Agency said “The message is very clear: in the absence of much faster clean energy innovation, achieving net-zero goals in 2050 will be all but impossible.” House Democrats’ “Climate Crisis Action Plan” gives a blueprint for moving the U.S. toward net‑-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. At Vox, David Roberts discussed its twelve policy “pillars”. House Democrats passed a $1.5 trillion green infrastructure plan to increase funding to repair the nation’s crumbling roads and bridges while setting aside funds for broadband, schools, and hospitals. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said, “Naturally this nonsense is not going anywhere in the Senate.” Ireland’s new coalition government has set an ambitious goal to deliver steep greenhouse gas emission cuts every year to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. The former U.S. Special Envoy for International Energy Affairs argued the international community must be prepared to manage the fallout from the collapse of oil and gas prices on countries that depend on the industry for a large percent of their income.
The Yale Program on Climate Change Communication has new maps comparing Democrats’ and Republicans’ views on aspects of climate change. The president of Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship argued that conservatives should follow President Reagan’s example when faced with destruction of the ozone layer—listen to the scientists, weigh all the facts, and choose to act. Top House Republicans are backing a climate policy framework, the “American Climate Contract”, outlined by the American Conservation Coalition, a conservative youth climate group.
Climate and Climate Science
CBS News Meteorologist and Climate Specialist Jeff Berardelli has examined clouds and why they are so complex. Climate scientist Zeke Hausfather provided an explanation of how the rise and fall of atmospheric CO2 levels influenced the ice ages.
Climate change will make it much harder for tropical plants around the world to germinate, with temperatures becoming too hot for the seeds of 20% of them by the year 2070. A new study found that with medium-level climate change, by the end of the century the world’s oceans, rivers, and lakes will be too hot for about 40% of the world’s fish species in their spawning or embryonic life stages.
A potentially historic heat wave is expected to hit more than two-thirds of the continental U.S. in the first several weeks of July. Northeast U.S. is the fastest warming region among the contiguous 48 states. Examination of temperature reconstructions during the Holocene Epoch (the last 12,000 years) revealed Earth started cooling about 6,500 years ago, but all has been erased by the warming since 1850.
An exhaustive report by the First Street Foundation shows that nationally there are at least 6 million households unaware they’re living in homes that have a 1% chance of flooding each year, with the chance increasing each year due to climate change. Scientists said the South Pole is one of the most rapidly warming places on Earth, with surface air temperatures rising since the 1990s at a rate three times faster than the global average.
Dan Gearino took issue with Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette’s Harrisburg, PA, Patriot-News op-ed about coal. Two more utilities, in Arizona and Colorado, are moving to accelerate closure of coal plants and replace them with renewable energy backed by batteries, joining a broader push in both states to shift to more cost-effective clean energy.
In 2020 thus far, solar, wind, biomass, and hydroelectric generation together produced 55.8% of Germany’s electricity. German lawmakers have finalized plans for the country’s long-awaited phase-out of coal as an energy source, making them the first major economy to phase out both coal and nuclear energy. Battery manufacturer Varta will receive $338 million of German government funding to develop large format lithium-ion cells.
Utilities transitioning away from coal are starting to view the creation of a natural gas “bridge” to renewable energy as an unnecessary step. The assumed useful life of utility-scale solar projects now averages 32.5 years, up from 21.5 years in 2007, thereby helping lower their levelized cost of energy. More than 500 residential energy storage batteries will be aggregated into a virtual power plant by utility Portland (Oregon) General Electric.
The UK business secretary gave the green light to the 1.8 GW Norfolk Vanguard windfarm project, over 40 miles off the Bacton coast of England. Dominion Energy and its partner Ørsted have completed installation of the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind pilot located 30 miles off Virginia Beach.
Norwegian oil firm Equinor plans to build a plant in Britain to produce hydrogen from natural gas in combination with carbon capture and storage, so-called blue hydrogen. With the EU set to announce its long-term hydrogen strategy in mid-July, one question is: Should blue hydrogen be excluded? China has developed its latest draft of regulations governing storage and transportation of hydrogen for powering vehicles. The Economist published a very clear-eyed evaluation of the potential role of hydrogen in a carbon-free economy.
In her “Climate Curious” column, the Washington Post’s Sarah Kaplan addressed the link between climate change and racial justice. The Economist has a new series of “The world if” articles, focusing on climate change. Each of the eight pieces is fiction, “grounded in historical fact and real science”.
An Inside Climate News video addresses the idea that access to nature and outdoor recreation are critical, underappreciated environmental justice issues.
Australian filmmaker Damon Gameau’s film 2040 has been called the “most upbeat documentary about climate change” in several years. It is available for pay-for-view streaming until the end of July.
How two nuns helped Southern Co. wake up to climate change.
Compiled by Les Grady, CAAV Steering Committee