Roundup of Climate and Energy News: March 1
The Climate Action Alliance of the Valley (CAAV) is a non-profit, grassroots group of volunteers in the Central Shenandoah Valley. We actively work to educate our legislators and the public about the implications of the Earth’s worsening climate crisis. One way we do this is by producing “The Weekly Roundup of Climate and Energy News.” We are providing an excerpt from a recent Roundup in the hopes that more people will become aware of, and will want to act on, the risks we all face. For an archive of prior posts, visit the CAAV website.
Politics and Policy
A poll, conducted by Climate Nexus, the Yale University Program on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication found that climate change is the second-most important issue for Democratic voters in 26 states, behind only health care. The top two senators on the U.S. Senate energy committee unveiled a bipartisan energy legislation package, the American Energy Innovation Act, supporting renewable energy, efficiency measures, and nuclear power.
The Trump administration announced it will resume coal leasing on public lands. A federal judge in Idaho ruled that a Trump administration policy limiting public input on oil and gas leasing decisions was “arbitrary and capricious,” overturning the 2018 directive and voiding nearly 1 million acres of leases out West.
Climate change could become a “catastrophic” threat to global security, as people lose their livelihoods, fall ill, and battle over scarce water and food, a host of U.S. security, military, and intelligence experts warned in a report by the Center of Climate and Security. A new paper in the journal Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development reported that almost 60% of Americans support making fossil fuel companies pay for a portion of the damages to local communities caused by global warming.
Incoming UN special envoy on climate action, Mark Carney, has told banks and investors that every private finance decision must take into account climate change and how to decarbonize the world economy to net zero. The world’s financial services sector risks losses of up to $1 trillion if it fails to respond quickly to climate change and is hit by policy shifts such as the introduction of a carbon tax, a new report by consultants Oliver Wyman shows.
Virginia lawmakers have given final approval to legislation that will make the state a full participant in the Regional Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Initiative (RGGI), a multistate carbon cap-and-trade program. In an opinion piece in The New York Times (NYT), Justin Gillis brought us up to date on the status of the Transportation and Climate Initiative, which is patterned after RGGI and involves the same states, but with a focus on lowering GHG emissions from transportation rather than electricity.
In an opinion piece for the NYT, Australian physician Lisa Pryor wrote: “The question I have been asking myself is, what does it matter that I accept the science of climate change if I continue to live my life as if climate change were a hoax?” Ensia asked experts for three criteria that are good starting places for separating legitimate climate plans from false and hollow claims. JPMorgan Chase, the world’s largest financier of fossil fuels, has warned clients that the climate crisis threatens the survival of humanity and that the planet is on an unsustainable trajectory, according to a leaked report obtained by The Guardian. At Rolling Stone, Bill McKibben had an article entitled “How JPMorgan Chase Became the Doomsday Bank.”
Climate and Climate Science
New research published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters says the world’s major wind-driven ocean currents are moving toward the poles, potentially depriving important coastal fishing waters of nutrients and raising the risk of sea level rise, extreme storms, and heatwaves for some adjacent land areas. Climate change could add around $100 billion, or more than 20%, to the annual global cost of extreme weather events by 2040, Cambridge University said on Wednesday.
In a paper published in the journal Nature Climate Change, nearly two dozen Arctic experts described how over the last three years, Alaska’s northwestern coast has experienced a series of unusual climate-related changes. In 2014-2016 unusual warming of the northern Pacific, referred to as “the Blob”, led to widespread die-offs of sea birds, whales, and other sea mammals. Scientists are concerned there may be a repeat of the phenomenon this summer.
The Great Barrier Reef is still at risk of a widespread outbreak of coral bleaching despite a cyclone to the far west helping to temporarily cool stressed corals. Climate scientists have concluded that the recent bushfires in Australia were more catastrophic than any simulation of our changing climate predicted.
Jeff Berardelli, a meteorologist with CBS news, has prepared an excellent piece entitled “10 common myths about climate change – and what science really says.”
Dominion Energy plans to deactivate its two coal‑fired units at the Chesterfield Power Station, and Birchwood Power Partners announced plans to close its King George facility. The closures will take more than 1.2 GW of coal-fired energy offline. The Virginia State Corporation Commission has approved three battery-storage pilot projects proposed by Dominion Energy.
Researchers from Carnegie Mellon, Princeton, and Stanford Universities released a comprehensive study on the environmental, social, and economic impacts of industrial fracking on the Appalachian Basin. Their findings were summarized in Eos, a publication of the American Geophysical Union, a professional society.
Bill McKibben had a lengthy essay, “A Very Hot Year,” in The New York Review of Books.
A new book by Michael T. Klare, entitled All Hell Breaking Loose: The Pentagon’s Perspective on Climate Change looks at climate change from the perspective of people in the military. Alex Ward interviewed the author for Vox.
Greta Thunberg’s mother, Malena Ernman, had an edited extract in The Guardian from the family’s new book Our House Is on Fire: Scenes of a Family and a Planet in Crisis, which focuses on Greta’s “transformation from bullied teenager to climate icon.”
Joy Loving edited this Roundup, which was prepared by Les Grady, a Rockingham County resident and Member of CAAV’s Steering Committee.