大发快三app网址https://grist.orgWorking toward a planet that doesn’t burn, a future that doesn’t suckTue, 08 Dec 2020 15:32:38 +0000en-UShourly1https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.2https://grist.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/site-icon.png?w=32大发快三app网址https://grist.org3232 158772030大发快三app网址https://grist.org/politics/will-bidens-top-health-nominee-prescribe-a-better-climate/Tue, 08 Dec 2020 08:59:12 +0000https://grist.org/?p=493900Xavier Becerra, the first Latino attorney general of California, has been a thorn in the Trump administration’s side since President Donald Trump moved into the White House nearly four years ago.

Becerra and a battalion of Democratic attorneys general have taken Trump to task over health care, immigration, and much else, but time and again Becerra singled out the environment as his issue of choice, leading challenges against the administration’s assaults on the National Environmental Policy Act, 大发快三app网址regulations limiting methane emissions from oil and gas facilities, and California’s vehicle efficiency standards, among other things. He filed more than 50 lawsuits against the Trump administration over its handling of the environment.

Becerra is now set to hang up his boxing gloves and assume a much friendlier relationship with the White House. On Sunday, President-elect Joe Biden nominated him to head up his Department of Health and Human Services. If he’s confirmed by the Senate, Becerra’s first task will be to lead Biden’s national strategy to contain COVID-19. It’s a big job: Becerra will have to salvage the limited remains of Trump’s disastrous pandemic response, battle a vicious second wave of infections, and oversee the rollout of multiple coronavirus vaccines.

Once he’s done with that, Becerra could turn to an even trickier crisis: the public health effects of climate change. Last week, a major report in the medical journal The Lancet outlined the myriad ways in which rising temperatures and other consequences of climate change are worsening public health around the globe. The researchers found that heat, wildfires, infectious disease, livestock production, and other climate-related risks are straining healthcare systems already buckling under the weight of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the longer term, the report demonstrated that climate change threatens to undo the past 50 years of gains in global public health.

The Biden campaign hinted that it may be the first White House to address climate change as a public health issue. In the lead up to the general election, the Biden campaign unveiled a reimagined health department, proposing an “Office of Climate Change and Health Equity” modeled after the Office of AIDS Research established in 1988 by President Ronald Reagan. He also said he would establish a “Health Care System Readiness Task Force” that would “assess the current state of the nation’s health care system resilience to natural disasters and recommend strategies and investments to improve it.”

Becerra could go beyond those recommendations. On Monday, Evergreen Action, a climate policy and advocacy group started by former presidential campaign staffers for Governor Jay Inslee of Washington, unveiled five ways the department could help mobilize a national climate change response, some of which build on parts of the Biden campaign’s platform. “Biden’s choice of Attorney General Becerra signals that HHS is prepared to prioritize climate like never before,” the group said.

Evergreen Action suggests Becerra could use the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, a federal program aimed at helping low income families with energy costs, to help states pay for renewable energy projects, energy efficiency, home electrification, and weatherization. Such a directive would help low-income Americans through the economic fallout of the pandemic, the group says, by lowering energy bills. Becerra could also tap the National Institutes of Health, the largest public funder of biomedical research in the world, to fund more research into the consequences of rising temperatures on public health. The NIH currently spends less than 2 percent of its budget on climate-related research.

“The climate crisis is a threat multiplier set to exacerbate every existing public health disparity,” Evergreen Action’s report said. “HHS must treat climate like the health crisis that it is.”

There’s reason to believe Becerra will do just that, even without taking his lawsuits against Trump’s assault on environmental regulations into account. Becerra earned a 91 percent lifetime score from the League of Conservation voters for his more than two decades in Congress representing California.

In an interview with Grist earlier this year, Becerra said conservation was a virtue he learned as a byproduct of growing up in a working-class, Mexican-American household. In his home, turning off the lights, saving food, and cutting down on trash became second nature. “At the end of the day, you find that out of necessity you become really good stewards of the land,” Becerra said.

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline Will Biden’s top health nominee prescribe a better climate? on Dec 8, 2020.

493900Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) And Democratic House Leadership Hold News Conference On Trump's Rhetoric
大发快三app网址https://grist.org/fix/21-predictions-for-2021-climate-justice-forecast-trends/Tue, 08 Dec 2020 08:58:11 +0000https://grist.org/?p=493521

We’re all eager to put 2020 behind us. There’s no guarantee we’ll have easier days ahead — our nation is as divided as ever, the pandemic rages on, and the climate crisis is still, you know, a crisis. To put it simply: We’ve got work to do. But as this record-settingly terrible year draws to a close, Fix is taking a look at some of the bold climate and justice trends we see coming in 2021.

Our team asked 21 Fixers and climate celebs for their predictions, priorities, and plans. Artists, entrepreneurs, chefs, policy wonks, and community leaders of all stripes shared their visions for what could happen in 2021 — and what must happen, if we hope to solve the climate crisis. Read on for high-definition views of the world we could be living in a year from now, and real talk about how we get there. All responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Business & Tech

Buildings will go electric

Donnel Baird

“Buildings’ energy use contributes 30 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. That will change as more cities 大发快三app网址follow San Francisco’s recent ban on natural gas in new buildings. As we work toward electrification, I think the construction industry will make use of cold-climate heat pumps, which allow whole buildings to move off of fossil fuels in the same way Tesla can move cars off of gasoline. BlocPower will demonstrate that technology in 50 to 100 buildings in a pilot project in New York to show that we can take climate action while recovering from both the pandemic and the economic crisis by improving ventilation and creating jobs.

Joe Biden has stated in his climate policy that 40 percent of climate investments must benefit historically disenfranchised communities. Building electrification will play a key role in achieving that goal.”

Business & Tech

‘Sustainable’ fashion will actually mean something

Maxine Bedat

“We’ve been working on shifting the narrative from ‘sustainable fashion,’ which has become so overused as to be meaningless, to a conversation about what brands are specifically doing to reduce their impact. Our priority for the year ahead will be getting the leading brands to disclose their true environmental and social footprint. Without this, we’re playing a dangerous game of trust. We must clear up greenwashing in the year 2021 — if we cannot do that then we’re all stuck in the mud and can’t make the critical progress we need.

On the consumption side, the New Standard Institute is looking to change a cultural narrative. We’re working with celebrities and influencers to spread awareness about the impact of all of our clothing and normalize wearing clothes a reasonable number of times. Surveys today find that some people consider clothes old after only wearing them once or twice. That’s just insane.”


Artists will gain the recognition they deserve

Layel Camargo

“In the year ahead, I think we’re going to see more artists engaging in climate issues and centering environmental justice in their work. This trend has already begun — I look at how Black and brown people have used their voices to talk about racial issues in conversations about the environment and climate change. People are starting to realize that to survive the climate crisis and this political tension, which is all intertwined, we need to build up the cultural sector.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, there has been a major shift in both philanthropy and organizational focus toward digital engagement. That has led to arts and culture gaining the respect that they haven’t traditionally had, because social media is highly influenced by visual and mixed-media art. I hope organizations continue to build resources and infrastructure for the arts, and encourage commissions that both build a vision for the future and mirror the world we’re currently seeing so we can grow and amplify at a faster rate. That is what climate change will require us to do.”


The economy, the planet, and the workforce will win — together

Liz Carlisle

“I’m hopeful that newly deemed ‘essential workers’ may have more leverage to demand a living wage and reasonable labor protections. These may not sound like climate issues, but nearly all of the food-system practices that are most problematic from a climate standpoint hinge on having an exploitable workforce. Protect the workers and you have a prayer of protecting the planet.

The imperative of rebuilding the economy presents many opportunities to ‘build back better’ — there are a lot of big economic choices that have not been made yet, and the collective IQ around organizing and participating in the political process has leveled up dramatically. One concrete example: The Justice for Black Farmers Act, introduced by Senators Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren, would create an Equitable Land Access Service, backed by an $8 billion fund, and a Farmland Conservation Corps to ensure young people from all backgrounds can become regenerative farmers. This legislation is possible because of decades of dedicated activism, and it could be passed in 2021.”

Policy & Advocacy

Sustainability and equity will guide city planning

Chris Castro

“When you look at what the incoming administration is prioritizing and what the marketplace is telling us, I think we are starting to see the momentum that sustainability professionals have been waiting more than a decade for. I’m happy to say that we have committed the city of Orlando and our electric utility to net-zero carbon by 2050. If you had asked me a year ago whether we would get our utility — the 14th largest in the country — to commit to net-zero and early retirement of their coal-fired power plants, I would have laughed.

We also are about to hire our first chief equity officer. Ultimately, the climate crisis is a racial-justice crisis. Over the last two to three years, I’ve seen a change in tides of sustainability and resilience professionals doing the hard work of centering equity. Addressing those issues in parallel, through a comprehensive and holistic approach, is needed. And it’s a trend we’re beginning to see across the country.”


Local creatives will get a bigger spotlight

Linda Cheung

“Art Basel Miami Beach, an international art fair in Miami, was canceled this year. That was a blessing in disguise. Instead of flying in big names, the city is starting to appreciate and support the incredible artists in its backyard. I think that’s a trend that will continue, especially in the environmental space. Local artists know their communities best and can use the relationships they’ve built to engage their neighbors on climate action. Muralists in particular have an opportunity to reach audiences beyond the exclusive art world, capture people’s imaginations, and paint visions for a better future. Activists, governments, and businesses will want to tap into that and partner with artists to spread awareness about their work and build a rich local movement.”


We’ll grow strong regional food systems

Graham Christensen

“As global supply chains fracture and grocery store shelves dry up, consumer demand for local products is growing. Nebraska is seeing new energy around legislation that supports a decentralized network of meatpacking plants, which could help enforce worker safety, generate revenue for small ranchers, and strengthen regional marketplaces. With that comes more opportunities for regenerative agriculture, which cultivates soil health and draws down carbon.

But local, sustainable farming means so much more than that. It creates food security. It fosters relationships between rural and urban entrepreneurs. It connects consumers with farmers. It even protects clean water. I’m looking forward to all of those things coming to fruition now that public support is strong and we have an administration that’s willing to fight for them.”

Policy & Advocacy

We’ll see political support for climate action — from Republicans

Carlos Curbelo

“With Donald Trump out of the picture, Republicans will have more space to engage on climate. He was the greatest obstacle to progress over the last four years. Add to that the fact that there’s a new generation of Republicans entering Congress — young leaders, in some cases from progressive districts. It’s important for them to act, to show leadership on this issue and show their constituents that they have solutions.

For meaningful climate legislation to pass this year, the most important thing that can happen in the new few weeks and months is for the Biden administration to establish a healthy dialogue with Republican senators who have a history of working on climate. Big issues that require complex solutions will always need a minimum degree of support from both parties. Building trusting relationships would be a wonderful investment when it comes to accelerating bipartisan consensus on climate.”


Scientists will look toward the past to map out the future

Jeremy Hoffman

“I’m hopeful about the recent trend of recognizing that what’s past isn’t really past. For example, our January study showed that discriminatory housing policies put into place nearly a century ago echo as environmental-justice issues today. This, plus a renewed interest in mapping disproportionate impacts to inspire environmental-justice work, makes it clear that we have a roadmap to follow. Over the next year, we will continue to dig into historical patterns of climate and environmental inequity and find new ways to engage broader audiences.

I expect that more cultural institutions, including science centers like ours, will see their role shift in the communities they serve — moving toward becoming one of many neighborhood nexus points for information and democratic deliberation around climate action. This integration of climate action into public education and community engagement is an exciting and rapidly developing area.”

Business & Tech

Startups will help catalyze climate justice

Dawn Lippert

“Elemental Excelerator’s top priority is to help our 117 entrepreneurs bake equality into their startups’ DNA by encouraging them to examine whether diversity and inclusion are core to their hiring processes, their retention rates, and their supply chains. We’re asking them, ‘What does your product mean for the communities you work in? How do you ensure that you’re creating mutual benefit? Do you understand the unintended consequences of your technology?’

Over seven years, the cleantech startups in our portfolio have learned so much from working and building in their communities. We plan to share those experiences and scale up their technology — from underground power lines to using drones to assist with reforestation — to help industries move toward decarbonization. 2021 is bringing an unprecedented opportunity for clean technology to play a huge role in both climate action and social justice.”


Slow food will make a comeback

Tim Ma

“After COVID, I don’t think we’ll see a restaurant boom like we had over the past 10 years. But I’m hopeful that we’ll see more intentionality and purpose-driven business models that go beyond just feeding people and making money. In some ways, I think this slowdown was a healthy psychological and emotional shift for the industry.

When the pandemic hit, the availability of certain food products dropped off a cliff. One thing that did was shift us even more toward purveying from local suppliers because they didn’t stop, which was interesting. I saw that in a lot of places. We’ve seen a return of the farm-to-table idea that was popular 10 or 15 years ago. With all the faults exposed by COVID, I think people will continue to be more cognizant of the supply chain and pay even more attention to where their food and ingredients come from.”


People-friendly food policies will blossom

Katherine Miller

“The pandemic provided an opportunity for the industry to reflect on sourcing, worker benefits, systemic racism, and more. The work being done now will lead to wholesale changes from the fields to the halls of Congress. People will be looking beyond farm-to-fork labels, even natural or organic labels, and focusing on the people making their food, the strength of their communities, and the impact on the environment. This will drive increased participation in community-sourced agriculture, meat and animal shares, and even fish shares.

By the end of 2021, I want philanthropists to have stepped forward with $100 million to support a multiyear campaign to rebuild and strengthen our food system. That means removing the barriers that restrict localized food production and supporting more climate-friendly, people-friendly policies. The investment will pay for itself 10 times over and make the world a better — and more delicious — place.”


Conservation will be intersectional

Corina Newsome

“People are realizing that, to protect wildlife, we don’t just have to wall off huge sections of land in the middle of nowhere. We need to optimize every patch of green space, whether it’s in a forest or a city, for the health of our ecosystems and our society. We’ll see urban gardens, for example, that attract insects and birds but also strengthen food access for communities.

By meeting people’s needs, conservationists will engage new audiences that bring diverse perspectives. For years we’ve known that STEM is overwhelmingly white, male, and older, but I’m encouraged by the fact that private and public organizations are finally funding programs to help BIPOC and those from low-income backgrounds fulfill their dreams of being biologists or conservationists. We need all hands on deck to protect biodiversity.”

Business & Tech

We’ll be one step closer to guilt-free flying

Kevin Noertker

“The pandemic decimated commercial aviation, but times of crisis are when true structural change happens. I expect that federal agencies will want to play catch-up to European countries, which have been moving toward sustainable air travel for years. That means we will start to see more federal regulations on emissions and fuel efficiency, as well as investment in the development of electric and hydrogen-powered planes.

An electrified passenger airplane may seem wildly out there, but Ampaire just flew a six-seat hybrid-electric craft for 341 miles, our longest trip yet. Our planes are still in the development stage, but we’re continuing exciting pilot projects with NASA and the U.S. Department of Energy to complete test flights and mature our technology. Aviation is the final frontier of green transportation, and it isn’t far away.”

Policy & Advocacy

Climate and justice leaders will gain political power

Julian Brave NoiseCat

“I expect that the left flank of the climate movement will build its ability to persuade other parts of the Democratic party to do some of the things that we want. There have been instances of that recently, like the Sanders-Biden Unity Task Force. I want to take that example and continue scaling it up. Often, progressive policy work can feel like slow boring through hard boards. But occasionally we get breakthroughs and playing a small role in them is really exciting.

One of the biggest and most encouraging stories is the extent to which environmental justice has been mainstreamed. Two names that I’ve seen floated for chair of the Council on Environmental Quality come out of the EJ movement — Mustafa Santiago Ali, who ran the environmental justice part of the EPA, and Dr. Cecilia Martinez from the Center for Earth, Energy, and Democracy. Back in July, Data for Progress put out the Progressive Cabinet Project, a fantasy footballstyle roster for cabinet picks. We included 大发快三app网址Representative Deb Haaland as a nominee for Secretary of the Interior. I’ll be honest, at the time I didn’t think that any of our suggestions would go anywhere. But now it looks like Representative Haaland could be the next Interior Secretary and the first Native person to hold that job.”


Companies and countries will invest in nature

Shyla Raghav

“Stopping deforestation and increasing ecosystem restoration offer up to 37 percent of the emission reductions needed in the next decade to keep global temperature increases under 2 degrees Celsius. The challenge has been creating a business incentive for realizing that potential. Now, countries are setting biodiversity targets for 2030, and major companies like Walmart are promising to protect and restore millions of acres of land — likely due to organizing by grassroots activists and frontline communities. Conservation International is at a pivot point where we must design the financial instruments needed to implement those solutions and channel investments into key areas to ensure the biggest impact. I think we’re on the cusp of changing the economics of how the world uses land and making sure that forests are more valuable standing than they are cut down.”

Policy & Advocacy

Electric cars will get a boost

Alvaro Sanchez

“California’s recent decision to ban the sale of new gasoline-powered cars by 2035 will catalyze conversations about how we transition to electric vehicles. Through executive action, President Biden could encourage the auto industry to deploy more electric cars on a faster timeline by adopting tighter fuel standards and other regulatory frameworks. If done with racial justice in mind, investing in electrification could reduce pollution in frontline communities and help folks recover from the pandemic recession while creating a more equitable, regenerative economy. But I think activists, not politicians, are going to push for that. For example, The Greenlining Institute will ramp up our transportation equity programs, including electric car-share programs in low-income neighborhoods and EV financing assistance, and pressure lawmakers to make sure new charging infrastructure projects employ Black and brown Californians.”

Policy & Advocacy

We’ll see recognition — and restitution — for Black leaders

Nathaniel Smith

“Many of the issues central to structural racism are becoming central to the climate-justice field, especially for philanthropists. Funders are beginning to understand the importance of frontline leaders and Black-led organizations. I expect more conversations about not only reconciliation, but also restitution. I’m seeing foundations trying to itemize the damage that past policies, disinvestment, and violence have had on Black and brown communities and putting a dollar amount on that. I am also, finally, beginning to see people understand the importance of the South in moving the nation forward. Joe Biden wouldn’t have won the nomination if it weren’t for Black voters in South Carolina, and he wouldn’t have flipped Georgia if it weren’t for Black voters. The spotlight is moving toward Southern leaders, and more funding will follow.”

Policy & Advocacy

Youth activists will be raring to go

Alexandria Villasenor

“2020 has been a year of preparation for the youth climate movement. Most of us were staying inside, so we had plenty of time for reading, learning, and sharing resources. Protesting also became experimental, with social media campaigns and shoe strikes that used symbolism rather than large gatherings.

Some of the best innovations happen when people are bored, and I think youth activists will use the knowledge and creativity we’ve gained to propel our movement forward. Next year, for example, we’re launching School Groups, which will help students learn about climate solutions and encourage their peers to take action. Joe Biden’s climate plan is the most comprehensive of any president-elect in history — but it’s on us to hold him accountable to make sure those solutions are actually implemented by recruiting more young people to our movement and, when it’s safe, taking to the streets in massive numbers.”

Policy & Advocacy

Climate and immigration justice will go hand in hand

Thanu Yakupitiyage

“I see a lot of opportunity for climate and immigration activists to work at the intersection of those issues and create a cross-movement approach to push the Biden-Harris administration to be bold. Climate activists need to support immigrant-rights activists in their endeavors, and vice versa.

One point of interest for me is asylum and refugee policy. The U.S. does not allow people fleeing their countries to gain asylum or refugee status based on climate impacts. I would love to see a coalition formed to change that. If we’re going to talk about holding polluters accountable and the role of countries like the U.S. in creating the climate crisis, we must create a framework around reparations. Reparations for Black, Indigenous, and people of color in the U.S. who already face internal migration because of the climate crisis, and also for people coming to the West because of the climate crisis who are being blocked at the borders. Climate, immigration, the Movement for Black Lives, and all other issues of justice have to work in coordination. That’s the only way that we win.”


The climate chorus will reach the masses — with more voices than ever

Jane Zelikova

“In 2021, it feels possible to move beyond hope and actually build an ambitious plan to tackle the climate crisis, then put that plan into action without the headwinds of the Trump administration. Media coverage has been increasing and more people are worried about climate change than ever before. I think 2021 is poised to be the year it goes mainstream. Newsletters like Hot Take and Heated and podcasts like How to Save a Planet (hosted by Fixer and marine biologist Ayana Elizabeth Johnson) are taking the issue to the masses while highlighting its intersections with racism, misogyny, and white supremacy. They also bring compassion, humility, and a focus on solutions. I hope to see these platforms grow their audiences and capacity in 2021 and a new diversity of voices joining the conversation.”

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline 21 Predictions for 2021 on Dec 8, 2020.

49352121 Predictions for 2021
大发快三app网址https://grist.org/climate/people-didnt-used-to-be-consumers-what-happened/Mon, 07 Dec 2020 08:59:24 +0000https://grist.org/?p=493657Thousands of years from now, an anthropologist might attempt to understand American culture by watching videos from Black Friday. In a typical scene, people known as “bargain hunters” gather outside Best Buy in freezing temperatures after their Thanksgiving meal to ensure they’ll be at the front of the line to snag a new TV the next morning. In the seconds after the doors open, a stampede sometimes pushes and shoves its way toward the season’s must-have gadgets and half-off laptops — occasionally resulting in 大发快三app网址injuries or even death.

This year’s holiday shopping weekend was a bit different, given the COVID-19 pandemic, but Americans remained undaunted in their ability to buy stuff. They spent a record-breaking $9 billion on Black Friday, a 21 percent increase over last year. Last week, Cyber Monday became the biggest online shopping day in U.S. history with $10.8 billion in purchases.

Reading the news, you might notice that Americans aren’t just “people” — they’re consumers, customers, and shoppers. These words seem to distill a person into a one-dimensional being whose central function is to purchase things. The English language is full of subtle reminders to shop til you drop, much of it born in the field of economics.

Underlying this vocabulary is a “fundamental story” that people are innately selfish, and that economic growth is good, no matter if it makes people better off or damages the environment, said Arran Stibbe, a professor of ecological linguistics at the University of Gloucestershire in the United Kingdom. The language of economics goads us into being more selfish than we would be otherwise, research shows. It encourages consumerism and everything it entails — the needless extraction of resources, carbon emissions from production and shipping, and a pile of waste that collects when people move onto new things. A study from 2015 found that household consumption is responsible for about 60 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, and between 50 and 80 percent of all land, material, and water use.

Simply reading the word consumer prompts people to act more selfishly. One study presented participants with a hypothetical scenario where they had to share a well with four other people during a water shortage. The researchers found that people who were labeled as “consumers” rather than “individuals” were less trusting of others and less likely to work together with others to deal with the crisis. Similarly, another study found that participating in a “Consumer Reaction Study” triggered a materialistic mindset that left people more preoccupied with wealth and status than those who took a “Citizen Reaction Study.”

“Change one word and you can subtly but deeply change attitudes and behaviour,” writes Kate Raworth in Doughnut Economics, a 2017 book that sought to develop a more sustainable model for economics.

One experiment, for instance, asked corporate executives to solve riddles that contained words like “profit,” “costs,” and “growth.” After the exercise, the executives had less empathy for their colleagues and worried that expressing concern for others would be seen as unprofessional.

The vast sum of money spent on holiday shopping so far this year left some unimpressed — sales were supposed to be even higher. So media coverage was filled with negative words. A Washington Post headline said that last weekend’s sales were “disappoint[ing],” and a sign that the economic recovery from the pandemic was “stumbling.” The article noted that high unemployment and rising coronavirus cases had put a “damper on consumer spending during the all-important shopping period” after Thanksgiving, framing the situation as if the main problem wasn’t the deadly pandemic or unemployed people, but the fact that those things impeded shopping. The long-term environmental impact of Black Friday and Cyber Monday was entirely ignored.

That’s not to single out the Washington Post; this framing is a norm, a default setting that’s resistant to change. “This story is so entrenched and embedded in our culture,” Stibbe said. “The media don’t realize that they are constantly spreading this damaging story.”

The roots of consumer offer the first hints of trouble. It traces back to the Latin consumere, meaning to destroy, devour, waste, or squander. From there, it’s only a slight leap to today’s definition: “a person who uses up a commodity; a purchaser of goods or services,” according to the Oxford English Dictionary.

In 2013, the British writer Owen Hatherley wrote that English had become a “peculiarly capitalist” language. That same year, researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, used Google Ngram — a tool that catalogues words and phrases in millions of books — to see how the language had changed over time. They found that the last two centuries had brought a remarkable increase in the use of words related to acquisition, like get, self, and choose. Meanwhile, people were using community-focused words like give less often.

This reflects a long history of regarding humans as homo economicus, rational beings in pursuit of their own selfish needs. Nineteenth-century thinkers like John Stuart Mill and William Stanley Jevons sought to simplify the complex behavior of people into what one critic called the “dollar-hunting animal.”

The term consumer grew in popularity over the 20th century, pushing aside the once-common citizen. Some of the word’s biggest critics have been, at least historically, the disparagers of capitalism: socialists. “It is clear why ‘consumer’ as a description is so popular,” wrote Raymond Williams, a Welsh socialist, in the 1961 book The Long Revolution. “[A] considerable and increasing part of our economic activity goes to ensuring that we consume what industry finds it convenient for us to produce. As this tendency strengthens, it becomes increasingly obvious that society is not controlling its economic life, but is in part being controlled by it.”

There are plenty of alternatives to consumer. The classic, of course, is the generic people. Citizen sounds promising, as it’s basically somebody who lives in a city and long carried a unifying sense of “we’re all in this together,” though the common legal use excludes non-citizens. Human has a sci-fi ring to it, seeming to imply that aliens might be out there somewhere.

Raworth writes that using words and phrases like neighbors, community members, and global citizens will be “incredibly precious for securing a safe and just economic future.” Stibbe, the ecolinguist, jokingly suggested using shopaholic.

To be sure, replacing the word consumer won’t change the underlying widespread assumption that economic growth is the top priority, Stibbe said. As a substitute for gross domestic product, some countries track “gross national happiness” — a measure of living standards, education, and mental and physical health. It was made famous by the South Asian kingdom of Bhutan, when King Jigme Singye Wangchuck first proposed the idea in 1972.

Stibbe suggests using language that directs people away from buying things, and toward spending time in nature and helping their communities — “all those things which would genuinely give some well-being, don’t cost anything, and don’t destroy the environment,” he said.

It’s not just ecolinguists who are searching for a new philosophy. The “degrowth” movement holds that governments should actively try to shrink their economies. “Post-growth” advocates, alternatively, would rather ignore growth altogether and focus on measures like happiness and well-being.

You can hear echoes of these ideas in speeches by Greta Thunberg, the 17-year-old Swedish climate activist. “We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth,” Thunberg told world leaders at a United Nations summit last year. “How dare you!”

“Growth is always going to sound good,” Stibbe said. “What we can do is stop talking about growth altogether, and start talking about well-being instead.”

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline People didn’t used to be ‘consumers.’ What happened? on Dec 7, 2020.

大发快三app网址https://grist.org/climate/how-climate-change-could-undo-50-years-of-public-health-gains/Mon, 07 Dec 2020 08:55:55 +0000https://grist.org/?p=493765It’s hard to remember, in the midst of a calamitous global pandemic, that people around the globe are healthier now than they were just a few decades ago. We’re smoking less, eating fewer trans fats, dying from cancer less frequently, getting vaccinated more, and living, on average, longer. The planet, however, is getting sicker. A landmark report published Wednesday in the medical journal The Lancet contains a stark warning: “A changing climate threatens to undermine the past 50 years of gains in public health.”

An international team of experts drew on decades of work on climate and health in order to demonstrate that rising temperatures and other consequences of burning fossil fuels are inextricably linked to every facet of human health. They looked at 43 indicators, things like heat, infectious disease, and drought, to track the health effects of the changing climate.

Lancet has produced an updated version of this report, called the “Lancet Countdown: Tracking Progress on Health and Climate Change,” every year since 2015. (The previous years it has published have coincidentally been the five hottest on record.) But this year’s report, the authors said, is “the most worrying outlook” they’ve ever published. The Lancet not only took a host of new climate-health risks into account, it also found that “a concerning number of indicators are showing an early, but sustained, reversal of previously positive trends identified in past reports.”

So, are we totally doomed? Let’s take a look at the biggest takeaways.

Heat-related mortality is on the rise

World map showing annual number of deaths attributable to heat by country
Reprinted from The Lancet, Watts et al, The 2020 report of The Lancet Countdown on health and climate change: responding to converging crises], Copyright (2020), with permission from Elsevier The Lancet

The researchers found that extreme heat led to nearly 300,000 deaths of people over 65 in 2018, representing a 54 percent increase over two decades. Heat led to nearly 19,000 additional deaths in the U.S.?

Wildfires are affecting larger areas of land and larger quantities of people

Map of change in number of days of exposure to very high or extremely high risk of wildfire
Reprinted from The Lancet, Watts et al, The 2020 report of The Lancet Countdown on health and climate change: responding to converging crises], Copyright (2020), with permission from Elsevier The Lancet

The researchers looked at daily wildfire risk in 196 countries from 2016 to 2019 and compared it to the period between 2001 and 2004. They found that 114 of those countries experienced higher wildfire risk in the second decade of the 2000s — and some 194,000 more people per year are exposed to wildfires around the globe.


The climate is becoming less compatible with human life, but more suitable for the transmission of infectious diseases like dengue, malaria, and Vibrio, a harmful bacteria that lives in some coastal waters. The global transmission potential of Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, two types of mosquitos that carry dengue fever, have increased 9 percent and 15 percent, respectively, since the 1950s. While conditions for malaria and Vibrio aren’t improving across the board, certain regions are becoming much more friendly to those two diseases. In the Western Pacific (the region that stretches from Mongolia down to New Zealand), for example, the conditions that allow malaria to spread increased 150 percent. In the Atlantic Northeast coast of the U.S., the coastline became 99 percent more suitable for the transmission of Vibrio bacteria.

Many city dwellers don’t have access to green space

Word map showing levels of urban greenness
Reprinted from The Lancet, Watts et al, The 2020 report of The Lancet Countdown on health and climate change: responding to converging crises], Copyright (2020), with permission from Elsevier The Lancet

Urban green spaces reduce exposure to air and noise pollution and heat, and they’re generally good for bringing down stress levels and reducing all-cause mortality. But only 9 percent of global urban centers had a “very high or exceptionally high degree of greenness in 2019,” according to the report. More than 156 million are living in cities with “concerningly low levels” of green space.


Graph of total deaths attributable to excess red meat consumption by WHO region
Reprinted from The Lancet, Watts et al, The 2020 report of The Lancet Countdown on health and climate change: responding to converging crises], Copyright (2020), with permission from Elsevier The Lancet

The ruminants we raise to eat — cows, sheep, and other herbivores in possession of a specialized stomach for fermenting plants — are responsible for 93 percent of total livestock emissions. In the long term, red meat is a serious contributor to climate change. In the short term, it’s a serious contributor to death. The report found a 72 percent increase in the global number of deaths due to red meat consumption between 1990 and 2017. High red meat consumption was responsible for nearly a million deaths in 2017.

Before you find a sand dune to bury your head in, take heart: The report demonstrates that addressing the climate crisis often saves two birds with one, err, strategy. Slashing emissions slows runaway warming and prevents excess heat-related mortality. Reducing red meat consumption can help countries preserve the health of their citizens and align their emissions with the targets laid out in the Paris Agreement. Investing in more urban green spaces fosters equity, improves health outcomes, and increases the number of trees sucking carbon out of the air. You get the picture.

The outlook includes some plainly positive trends, too. In 2019, 77 percent of global cities surveyed by the Lancet had developed climate change risk assessments. The use of electricity for road transport — for things like electric cars and buses —rose 18 percent in just one year between 2016 and 2017. The following year, the global electric vehicle fleet increased by a whopping 64.5 percent. And from 2018 to 2019, the proportion of newspaper articles on climate change and public health in 36 countries increased 96 percent.

Perhaps most importantly, the report notes that the COVID-19 pandemic, as devastating as it has been, has created the conditions for a rare moment of global reckoning. “2020 will probably be an inflection point,” the report says, “with the direction of future trends yet to be seen.” No time like the present to do our darndest to avert planetary collapse and preserve the well-being of our species!

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline How climate change could undo 50 years of public health gains on Dec 7, 2020.

493765Air Pollution In BangladeshWorld map showing annual number of deaths attributable to heat by countryMap of change in number of days of exposure to very high or extremely high risk of wildfireWord map showing levels of urban greennessGraph of total deaths attributable to excess red meat consumption by WHO region
大发快三app网址https://grist.org/energy/are-tides-and-waves-the-missing-piece-of-the-green-energy-puzzle/Sun, 06 Dec 2020 12:00:40 +0000https://grist.org/?p=493732This story was originally published by HuffPost and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

NEW YORK On a foggy October afternoon, a strange vessel chugged slowly through the East River’s mist toward Roosevelt Island.

It looked almost like it was upside down: three 16-foot rotors, attached on a triangular metal base, sat motionless atop the deck of the rusted barge. They resembled propellers but weren’t there to give the boat thrust. Instead, they’d be sent overboard, craned gingerly into the depths of the tidal flat that stretches from just east of Manhattan to the western shore of Queens. All you can see from the surface is a set of six bobbing white buoys, but about 30 feet down the turbines are harvesting the kinetic energy of tides to produce electricity.

Verdant Energy’s East River project will generate just enough electricity to power 500 homes in the nation’s largest city, but it marks one of the first serious attempts in the United States to jump-start what could be a multibillion-dollar industry of tidal energy. More than a dozen states, including New York, have passed laws mandating zero-carbon electricity as a way to slow global warming. In a dense metropolis like New York City, there’s little space to glaze entire fields with solar panels or erect towering forests of wind turbines. And with the city’s last nuclear power plant set to close next year, it’s unclear how it will meet that goal with a meager mishmash of rooftop panels, battery storage and as-yet-unbuilt offshore wind turbines.

That problem isn’t unique to New York, and it’s propelling a new wave of interest in an age-old concept of tidal energy. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates that shifting tides and crashing waves could produce one-third of the United States’ electricity needs and roughly 10 percent of the European Union’s.

Costly supply chains and competition from other renewables and fossil fuels have frustrated the industry’s development for years, leaving behind a wake of bankrupt startups and fruitless experiments. Still, its advocates hope that growing interest and support from the incoming Biden administration could change that and New York’s experiment is just the start.

A shift in the tides

One of the 24 turbines of the La Rance tidal-turbine power plant in western France, November 28, 2012. THOMAS BREGARDIS / AFP via Getty Images

Standing on the eastern shore of Roosevelt Island, a quiet sliver of land in the middle of the East River, John Banigan a soft-spoken former investment banker with neatly combed blond hair and a natural fit for boat shoes and a polo shirt seemed antsy. His glasses kept fogging with the breath rising from his face mask. But it was the fog on the water that had disrupted the Verdant chief executive’s carefully laid plans.

That afternoon, the barge was supposed to arrive before 3 p.m., allowing a small armada of tugboats and cranes to hoist the turbines into the water and place them in a precise spot Verdant surveyed and measured for years leading up to this moment. The foggy weather delayed the effort by hours. But this project required patience. The company which Banigan said has raised $46 million, half from Canadian, Irish, and U.S.government grants, and half from private investors had already spent more than two decades designing turbines and assessing viable locations.

Now, at last, Banigan believes tidal power is poised for a breakthrough as countries scrambling to reduce climate-changing emissions look to generate an exponentially larger share of their electricity from zero-emissions sources. Tidal energy, he warned, doesn’t work everywhere. But until batteries become much smaller, cheaper and more efficient than they are today, producing power from the tides offers a dependable source of electricity to augment solar panels and wind turbines.

“You can’t predict when the sun’s going to shine and the wind’s going to blow,” Banigan said. “There are slack tides, but they’re predictable.”

Behind him, the four candy-cane smokestacks of the oil- and gas-burning Ravenswood Generating Station, one of New York’s dirtiest power plants, loomed as a visual reminder of what’s at stake in finding the right mix of clean alternatives to meet the city’s electricity needs.

In many ways, this nascent sector harks back to some of humanity’s earliest technologies. People have harnessed kinetic energy from the water as far back as the sixth century, when Irish monks rigged mills that used the flows from coastal inlets to grind grain. The United States built the world’s first hydroelectric dam in Appleton, Wisconsin, in 1882, and dams remain the globe’s top source of renewable power.

But it wasn’t until 1966 that the energy from high and low tides started generating electricity. That year, French authorities in the province of Brittany erected the Rance Tidal Power Station. The 2,461-foot barrage of 24 turbines, stretched across an estuary of the Rance River, was the first tidal energy project in the world.

Today it remains the second-largest ever constructed, which may say as much about the relative compactness of tidal projects as it does about how few have been deployed.

Over the past decade, global investment in solar and wind energy has routinely topped $200 billion per year, according to data from the energy research firm BloombergNEF. But marine energy investment all but evaporated after brief peaks in 2007 and in 2011, when South Korea completed the Sihwa Lake Tidal Power Station, the world’s largest tidal array, roughly four decades after the project was first proposed.

But 2019 signaled a new shift, when the tidal power startup SIMEC Atlantis Energy generated enough electricity from a project off the northern coast of Scotland to power more than 2,200 homes. Unlike the projects in France and South Korea, which are part of a singular, dam-like structure that mimics the design of traditional hydroelectric plants, the Scottish project was designed as an array of underwater turbines, somewhat resembling a wind farm.

That July, SIMEC Atlantis broke a record for what the company identified as “the longest period of uninterrupted generation from a multi-megawatt tidal turbine array ever achieved.” Last August, the company told the Securities and Exchange Commission that it was exporting more than 30 gigawatt hours of electricity to the grid.

But in that same filing, the firm reported a 47 percent increase in annual losses.

Costs remain high, and that looks unlikely to change until the tidal industry settles on a preferred equipment design. Arrays of rotors like those off Scotland or in the East River seem promising, and mimic the look and feel of windmills. But the size and shape of turbines, and how and whether to anchor them to the seafloor or float them on vessels, remain open questions.

Government support rolls out, government support rolls in

Part of the La Rance tidal-turbine power plant in La Richardais, western France, November 28, 2012. Thomas Bredardis / AFP via Getty Images

The flow of that money has been far less predictable than the tides themselves.

The United Kingdom, which has jagged coasts that offer a multitude of potential tidal resources, emerged as an early benefactor for tidal startups, offering generous payments for tidal energy fed onto the grid. But, in a show of how sensitive the industry is to small policy changes, the British government ultimately tweaked the rules to put tidal energy under the same category as offshore wind, a far more mature industry with an ironclad global supply chain and major corporate players already making money off turbines dotting the seas across Europe and Asia. Tidal energy couldn’t compete, the British Institution of Mechanical Engineers concluded last year.

“The U.K. experience demonstrates the impact of public policy,” said Alisdair McLean, executive director of the Offshore Energy Research Association. “Combining tidal energy and offshore wind almost killed the tidal energy industry in Scotland.”

The model for government support, he said, is in his native Nova Scotia. In 2009, the rural province on Canada’s eastern coast opened the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy on the Bay of Fundy, considered one of the most promising tidal energy resources in the world. The facility includes five underwater berths with four subsea cables running from the bay to a substation that processes the power generated at tidal sites. The province then agreed to pay a high premium of more than $400 per megawatt-hour of electricity produced, and the Canadian government made direct investments in the companies that set up shop there.

The U.S. has set up steep hurdles for companies hoping to operate here.Verdant submitted four telephone books’ worth of studies to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and ultimately required 23 permits from 14 different agencies to begin operating in the East River. Financial support, by contrast, has been more scattershot, coming from a handful of federal agencies, including the departments of Defense and Energy, and municipalities such as New York City. It hasn’t been enough.

“We need subsidies to make us competitive with other alternative renewable sources,” Banigan said.

The Biden administration has signaled its plans to increase federal research and support for clean energy technologies. But it’s unclear where marine energy might fall on that list of priorities.

Even more uncertain is the price batteries would need to reach to wipe out any demand for a costly but predictable new generating method. Batteries cost $1,100 per kilowatt-hour in 2010, and fell 87 percent to $156 in 2019, according to BloombergNEF data released last year. By 2023, the consultancy forecast the average price to hit about $100 per kilowatt-hour. Investment in the metals needed to make batteries, including cobalt and nickel, lag far behind growing battery demand, estimates from the energy research firm Wood Mackenzie indicate, suggesting there could be a bottleneck in the supply chain. But if battery prices continue to fall before tidal companies can garner enough public support and build an efficient supply chain, it could smother the industry.

“The benefit of predictable energy from tidal power becomes less powerful if solar-plus-battery or wind-plus-battery can provide the same predictability at a lower price,” McLean said. “That’s the challenge tidal energy faces: It’s got to get its costs down fast enough that it can continue to generate interest from policymakers.”

The marine energy sector might draw more interest once technology to convert waves into power becomes viable. Unlike tidal resources, which are mainly concentrated in the Northern Hemisphere or near small islands, waves could be harvested on virtually any ocean coasts.

“It’s promising because wave energy opportunity is even larger than the tidal opportunity by roughly an order of magnitude, especially on the U.S. West Coast,” said Levi Kilcher, the head of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s ocean energy resource research. “It’s really a large ocean and a lot of energy there, from the West Coast to the Alaskan Coast.”

But in the last few years alone, roughly 90 designs for wave technology have been tested, from buoys that sit atop oceans to devices that sit on the seafloor and produce power as waves squish an attached bag.

“The technology is lagging behind tidal,” said Andrea Copping, a researcher at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. “It’s very hard to do, so it’s just not as advanced.”

By the end of next year, Verdant plans to remove the test turbines in the East River and begin work on commercial models twice the size of those rotors. Banigan said the company would like to set up a manufacturing site somewhere in New York, possibly in the city, where advocates are pushing to repurpose industrial waterfront property in Brooklyn and the Bronx for clean energy manufacturing, or upstate, which would put Verdant closer to the Canadian market. But the first commercial projects the company has in the pipeline will be in northwest Wales, Banigan said.

However, Copping said the future of the industry looks brightest in East Asia.

“Between the Philippines and Indonesia, there are probably thousands and thousands of good sites and demand nearby if you run a cable from a tidal generator half a kilometer to shore,” she said. “Meanwhile Singapore is trying to set themselves up to be the supplier for all this technology in Asia. They really believe in it.”

Banigan agrees. Northern Europe, he said, is Verdant’s first stop. But in the mid 2020s, he expects the market in East Asia to bloom. By 2050, he predicted the tidal industry could generate $70 billion a year.

“We’re at something of a tipping point,”said Banigan, a former investment banker who joined the company after meeting a founder at a business event in Shanghai in 2011.“We see tremendous opportunity ahead.”

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline Are tides and waves the missing piece of the green energy puzzle? on Dec 6, 2020.

493732Canada Bay of Fundy
大发快三app网址https://grist.org/climate/from-alaska-to-california-the-climate-is-off-kilter-in-the-west/Sat, 05 Dec 2020 08:50:23 +0000https://grist.org/?p=493440This story was originally published by High Country News and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

In September, President Donald Trump visited fire-ravaged California and declared that the wildfires that had already burned across millions of acres were the result of forest mismanagement, not a warming climate. “When trees fall down after a short period of time, they become very dry — really like a matchstick. No more water pouring through, and they can explode,” he said. “Also leaves. When you have dried leaves on the ground, it’s just fuel for the fires.”

Trump is right about one thing: Global warming isn’t the only reason the West is burning. The growing number of people in the woods has increased the likelihood of human-caused ignitions, while more than a century of aggressive fire suppression has contributed to the fires’ severity. In addition, unchecked development in fire-prone areas has resulted in greater loss of life and property.

Yet, much as California Governor Gavin Newsom told Trump, it’s impossible to deny the role a warming planet plays in today’s blazes. “Something’s happening to the plumbing of the world,” Newsom said.“And we come from a perspective, humbly, where we submit the science is in and observed evidence is self-evident that climate change is real, and that is exacerbating this.”

The accompanying graphic includes a few examples of the evidence Newsom mentioned. But then, you only have to step outside for a moment and feel the scorching heat, witness the dwindling streams, and choke on the omnipresent smoke to know that something’s way off-kilter, climate-wise.

But during his September stop outside Sacramento, California, under a blanket of smoke, Trump merely grinned and shrugged it off, again asserting that scientists don’t know what’s happening with the climate. And, anyway, he said: “It’ll start getting cooler. You just watch.”

High Country News

  1. ?Lewistown, Montana, (70 degrees Fahrenheit) and Klamath Falls, Oregon, (65 degrees) set high-temperature records for the month of February.
  2. ?California had its driest February on record.
  3. ?In April, parts of southern Arizona and California saw the mercury climb past 100 degrees Fahrenheit for multiple days in a row, shattering records.
  4. ?Nome, Alaska, experienced its warmest May since record-keeping began in the early 1900s.
  5. ?Seven large fires burned across more than 75,000 acres in Arizona during May, and in early June, lightning ignited the Bighorn Fire in the Santa Catalina Mountains near Tucson, ultimately torching 120,000 acres. A week later, the Bush Fire broke out in Maricopa County and became the fifth largest in the state’s history.
  6. ?On July 10, Alamosa, Colorado, set a temperature record for a daily low (37 degrees Fahrenheit). Later that day, it set another record for the daily high (92 degrees).
  7. ?Phoenix, Arizona, set an all-time record for monthly mean temperature in July (98.3 degrees), only to see that record fall in August (99.1 degrees Fahrenheit). The temperature in the burgeoning city exceeded 100 degrees on 145 days in 2020 — another record.
  8. ?Westwide in August, 214 monthly and 18 all-time high-temperature records were tied or broken, including in Porthill, Idaho (103 degrees), Mazama, Washington (103 degrees), and Goodwin Peak, Oregon (101 degrees).
  9. ?By the end of October, Phoenix had experienced 197 heat-associated deaths — about five times the yearly average during the early 2000s.
  10. ?In Death Valley National Park, the mercury hit 130 on August 16, breaking the previous all-time record set in 2013.
  11. ?Across the Western U.S., hundreds of monthly and all-time high-temperature records were broken in August, including in several places in Idaho and Washington, where the mercury climbed above 100 degrees.
  12. ?Warm temperatures in Alaska caused ice on the Chukchi Sea to melt, leaving record-tying amounts of open sea.
  13. ?During monsoon season (June through August), Phoenix received just 1 inch of rain, or about 37 percent of average, and then received no precipitation at all in September or October.
  14. ?Grand Junction, Colorado, experienced its driest July and August on record. On July 31, lightning ignited the nearby Pine Gulch Fire, which grew to 139,000 acres, making it (briefly) the largest in state history, only to be eclipsed by the 207,000-acre Cameron Peak Fire in the northern part of the state.
  15. ?Colorado’s wildfire season was not only its most severe on record, but most of the fires also burned far later in the year than normal. In mid-October, when Colorado’s mountains would normally be covered with snow, the East Troublesome Fire west of Boulder tore through high-elevation forests and homes to become the state’s second-largest fire ever. Shortly thereafter, the Ice Fire broke out at nearly 10,000 feet above sea level in what was once known as the “asbestos forest” near Silverton, burning over 500 acres.
  16. ?A dry thunderstorm that generated more than 8,000 recorded lightning strikes hit Central and Northern California in late July, igniting multiple megafires. The resulting August Complex became the largest fire in state history, and together with the SCU Lightning Complex, the LNU Lightning Complex, and the North Complex fires, it burned across more than 2 million acres, destroyed 5,000 structures and killed 22 people.
  17. ?Smoke from California’s fires spread across the region, causing particulate matter to build up to levels that were hazardous to health and significantly diminishing solar energy output.
  18. ?In September, several fires were sparked in Oregon’s tinder-dry forests. Fueled by high winds, they went on to burn more than 1 million acres and 4,000 homes.
  19. ?In August the Rio Grande in New Mexico shrank to the lowest mean monthly flow since 1973. Other rivers in the region, including the Colorado, Green, and San Juan, ran at far-below-average levels throughout the summer.
  20. ?As of early November, Lake Powell’s surface elevation had declined by 35 feet since the same date in 2019, and summer hydroelectric output from Glen Canyon Dam’s turbines was 13 percent below the previous summer’s.

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline From Alaska to California, the climate is off-kilter in the West on Dec 5, 2020.

493440Death Valley Hits 130 Degrees
大发快三app网址https://grist.org/justice/how-can-we-heal-a-fractured-america-this-victorian-era-disease-detective-offers-clues/Fri, 04 Dec 2020 08:59:55 +0000https://grist.org/?p=493623More than 150 years ago, a renowned physician named John Snow walked the gritty streets of London’s working-class Golden Square neighborhood, not far from his office in the city’s Soho district, knocking on the doors of residents felled by the cholera epidemic. Why Soho was so hard-hit had vexed London’s health officials, but Snow, known today as the “大发快三app网址founding father of modern epidemiology,” used maps, public records, and his sleuthing skills to find the source of that devastating outbreak: contaminated water from a public water well pump on Broad Street. To find answers, he became an intrepid, Victorian-era medical detective who went door-to-door collecting information on residents’ water sources to determine how the deadly disease spread. (Steven Johnson recounts these steps in The Ghost Map, his book on the 1854 epidemic.)

It was no accident that Snow, the son of a coal yard laborer, was the person who made this breakthrough. Though he had reached the heights of British society as Queen Victoria’s anesthesiologist, as well as a respected surgeon and brilliant inventor, at his core he was a researcher who built bridges across disciplines and classes, notes Johnson. He was as comfortable in the Queen’s palace as he was on the bleak streets of Golden Square. Snow brought not just his insights as a working physician, but also the social connections he had with residents, his roots with the working poor, and his local knowledge of the streets that he canvassed. (The epicenter of the Golden Square outbreak was a mere six blocks from his home.) By examining the patterns of how people lived and died at the neighborhood level, Snow found solutions that were grounded in science, rather than superstitious moralizing.

“Nowhere in Snow’s writings on disease does one ever encounter the idea of a moral component to illness,” writes Johnson. “Equally absent is the premise that the poor are somehow more vulnerable to disease thanks to some defect in their inner constitution…. The poor were dying in disproportionate numbers not because they suffered from moral failings. They were dying because they were being poisoned.”

Today, as COVID-19 continues its deadly march across the world, the U.S. is emerging from a politically divisive election that gave few indications that the country can find the common ground needed to bridge its social differences in service of a common good. We’re a country at a crossroads, facing a reckoning on the heels of a nationwide movement for racial justice that has left much unresolved. Our immediate focus is rightfully on finding ways to effectively slow the spread of COVID-19, which has been disproportionately suffered by communities of color and the poor. Preventing such devastation in the future will require that we address long-standing economic and environmental inequalities facing these same communities. The larger question is whether we can, at last, bridge a geographic divide created by the legacy of segregation, which has resulted in our separate and unequal America.

Recent research by Jessica Trounstine, a professor of political science at the University of California, Merced, has found that the effects of segregation and local public policy decisions across the country have produced unequal access to basic city services and public works — a form of inequality that’s become embedded in the fabric of American cities. This inequality — where the haves and the have-nots are divided by street, by neighborhood, and by city, and where the poor and communities of color receive fewer and lower-quality public services — has in turn contributed to the racial political polarization of our country, according to Trounstine.

In her 2018 book Segregation By Design, Trounstine details how local public works in the early 1900s significantly reduced outbreaks of diseases such as cholera and typhoid fever. The infectious disease mortality rate dropped by 75 percent between 1900 and 1940, and part of that decline was due to the development of public water and sewer systems by local municipalities. These benefits were far from universal, however, and from the beginning low-income residents and communities of color received fewer of these types of services. Even when they did receive them, the services were of lower quality. “They were less likely to be connected to sewers, to have graded and paved streets, or to benefit from disease mitigation programs,” Trounstine writes.

These inequalities persist today, with some neighborhoods having access to clean water, ample green space with playgrounds, and functioning sewers, while others don’t. Segregation, both official and de facto, allowed for that unequal provision of public goods and services. Trounstine argues that local governments have deepened this divide by shaping residential geography through local land use policies, such as zoning laws. It’s what she calls “segregation by design.”

During the second half of the 20th century, as white flight left urban centers with a reduced tax base, those inequalities widened — and, with them, the politics of the advantaged and disadvantaged diverged, too. In advantaged places, Trounstine found that residents are politically conservative and vote at higher rates for Republican presidential candidates, favor lower taxes and limited spending, and see inequality as a result of individual failings. Ultimately, by regulating land use, planning, zoning, and redevelopment without taking into account the challenges faced by marginalized communities, local governments have deepened segregation along lines of race and class — a process that has benefited white property owners at the expense of people of color and the poor, Trounstine concludes.

The consequences of this divide have been far-reaching and long-lasting. Researchers have found that racial segregation influences a broad spectrum of factors that determine a person’s life outcome, leading to higher poverty rates, lower educational attainment, and higher rates of incarceration. Segregated neighborhoods become communities where this disadvantage compounds, leading to an entrenched inequality that is difficult to escape and is passed from each generation to the next, according to Harvard Professor Robert Sampson, who explores this in his book, Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect. Sampson concludes that this inequality can be broken through the type of structural intervention that governments are equipped to handle. History, however, has shown us that those with political power have failed to take action to eliminate these inequalities, leaving communities of color asking whether the American dream of equality for all will ever be within reach during their lifetimes.

Throughout his life, the writer James Baldwin questioned whether the United States would finally confront the hypocrisy of a democracy that was founded on principles of equality, but had in fact created a system that valued white lives above all other lives. At the height of the civil rights movement in the early 1960s, Baldwin cautioned his nephew of the perils ahead for him in a country that placed him in a ghetto, intending for him to “perish.” In his essay “A Letter to My Nephew,” which became part of his 1963 book The Fire Next Time, Baldwin decried the conditions into which his nephew was born: “conditions not far removed from those described for us by Charles Dickens in the London of more than a hundred years ago.” The 1960s was an era of violence and resistance to the calls for change — a dark moment in our history, as freedom fighters lost their lives in this battle for civil rights and equality. “I know how black it looks today for you,” Baldwin wrote his nephew. Yet despite all of his trepidations, Baldwin held out hope that we collectively could “make America what America must become.”

American writer James Baldwin poses during a portrait session held on September 23, 1985 in Saint Paul de Vence, France.
James Baldwin poses during a portrait session on September 23, 1985. Grist / Ulf Andersen / Getty Images

Time and again, we have been faced with those same choices Baldwin identified, but have failed to make the right choice. The U.S. is hardly alone in this regard. In 1843, Charles Dickens visited the industrial city of Manchester, England. Walking the streets he saw a polluted, poverty-stricken city that would later be dubbed the “chimney of the world” because of the coal-fired, smog-emitting factories that clouded its skies. The pollution was so thick that residents commonly suffered from rickets because the darkened skies prevented vitamin D-producing sunlight from piercing through, according to author Les Standiford. In his book The Man Who Invented Christmas Standiford explains how Dickens’ trips to Manchester informed his writing of A Christmas Carol.

At the time, Manchester’s laborers and their families lived in squalid districts with unpaved streets and without common sewers. Their poorly ventilated homes had dirt floors and lacked windows and doors. Part of what inspired Dickens to write A Christmas Carol was the sense of outrage he felt upon witnessing the destitution of the working class in Manchester and beyond. Dickens crossed social boundaries to bridge the divide in an unequal British society, and every holiday season we celebrate that spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood by recounting his tale of generosity and love toward others. Nevertheless, the disparities we allow to exist across America today tell a very different story about our society.

Nearly 200 years after Dickens walked the streets of Manchester, England, children living in another Manchester right here in the U.S. — this one a roughly six-square-mile working-class Latino enclave in east Houston, Texas — are so accustomed to looking up into the sky and seeing billowing grey smoke from the 19 nearby industrial facilities that they’ve come to describe them as “cloud-makers.” Despite research showing excessive levels of air pollution in Manchester, public officials have done little to hold polluters accountable.

“We have the proof here, but it’s like [elected officials] are blind. They don’t want to admit it,” said Juan Parras, the founder and executive director of Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (t.e.j.a.s.), an organization that provides residents with the tools to protect themselves and the environment through legal action, community awareness and education, and stronger government policies and regulations. Despite a lack of government action, t.e.j.a.s. plans to continue to amplify the findings of academic and scientific researchers who have found, for example, that the cancer risk in Manchester and an adjoining neighborhood is 22 percent higher than it is in the overall Houston urban area. “We have all the proof, the research, yet nobody wants to follow up on the recommendations,” said Parras.

The Valero oil refinery near the Houston Ship Channel, part of the Port of Houston, on March 6, 2019 in Houston, Texas
A Valero oil refinery in the Manchester neighborhood of Houston, Texas. LOREN ELLIOTT / AFP via Getty Images

Decades ago, environmental sociologist Robert Bullard’s groundbreaking research on the siting of landfills and polluting industries near communities of color in Houston led him to conclude that not only does a person’s zip code predict their health outcomes, but also that race is a more potent predictor than income of how pollution is distributed. Researchers have concluded that the best way to reduce these inequalities is by reducing residential segregation. One way to achieve this is by increasing political representation of the marginalized, the poor, and people of color. Trounstine found that, in urban areas where marginalized residents participated in politics and asserted power by voting or holding elected office, they received more public services and benefits from municipal governments,” “Where and when people of color had political voice, segregation and inequality were lessened,” she writes in Segregation By Design.

By reducing segregation, we can likewise reduce political polarization. Trounstine has found that the people we regularly interact with influence who we vote for, our views on policies, our political affiliations, and how we process information. “Simply put, segregation affects our social networks. And segregation affects tax rates, wealth acquisition, and educational opportunities, which in turn affects political preferences,” she writes. “Increasingly, people feel hostile toward those on the other side of the political aisle.”

Trounstine suggests that state governments are best-equipped to tackle this problem, given the authority that constitutions provide individual states to address public issues like preserving the natural environment, providing health care, regulating water, and caring for society’s most frail residents. “What is clear is that if we do nothing about this design, politics will continue to polarize, and inequality in wealth, education, safety and well-being will continue to worsen,” she writes. “Much is at stake.”

Recently updated maps from the 19th century have shown how pockets of poverty in Victorian-era London have persisted in contemporary London. Is there something to be gleaned from the way John Snow investigated the cholera epidemic of 1854? Johnson, the author of The Ghost Map, points out that the problems Victorian-era British residents faced are still relevant more than a century later. They too wrestled with the question of how a society could industrialize in a humane way. Snow’s insights came from a confluence of factors that together led to his breakthrough: his working-class upbringing, his dogged pursuit for answers, and his time spent questioning residents on the streets of his neighborhood. By doing this, he was able to see beyond the biases of his society and connect the dots between the plight of cholera patients and the broader social structure of society.

As we face our own 21st century Manchesters in the U.S., will we see beyond our own biases and dismantle the practices that have placed race and racism at the center of local policies? It’s clear that residents in communities with the least access to clean water, healthy air, and uncontaminated soil are the most susceptible to the ravages of COVID-19. Rebuilding a just America means redesigning cities and towns, cleaning up contaminated and polluted neighborhoods, and creating spaces where we can coexist, learn from each other, and discover solutions that will protect all lives from the ills that plague us, whether it’s coronavirus, environmental contamination, or poverty.

In an excerpt from his memoir, former President Barack Obama emphasizes the necessity of coming together to raise up the voices who will carry us forward and create a united America, one that fulfills its promise of equality and justice for all. “I’m convinced that the pandemic we’re currently living through is both a manifestation of and a mere interruption in the relentless march toward an interconnected world, one in which peoples and cultures can’t help but collide,” Obama writes. “In that world — of global supply chains, instantaneous capital transfers, social media, transnational terrorist networks, climate change, mass migration, and ever-increasing complexity — we will learn to live together, cooperate with one another, and recognize the dignity of others, or we will perish.”

In this world of instant connections and constant communication, perhaps we’ve overlooked the one element that can help us transform our divided America: understanding. The most dangerous disease is the one that robs us of the ability to empathize with others, to understand their situation and find a way to help, no matter what their station in life. That was the gift that John Snow carried with him every time he stepped out of his London home to help his patients. Sometimes, the deepest wounds require old-fashioned medicine, the kind that doesn’t come in a bottle — the kind that helps one see the world with compassion.

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline How can we heal a fractured America? This Victorian-era disease detective offers clues. on Dec 4, 2020.

493623a-tale-of-two-manchesters-2American writer James Baldwin poses during a portrait session held on September 23, 1985 in Saint Paul de Vence, France.The Valero oil refinery near the Houston Ship Channel, part of the Port of Houston, on March 6, 2019 in Houston, Texas
大发快三app网址https://grist.org/fix/doomscroll-no-more-these-climate-concerned-tiktok-stars-are-here-to-inspire-you/Fri, 04 Dec 2020 08:55:30 +0000https://grist.org/?p=493639TikTok is many things at once: A video-sharing app for teens to swap viral dance routines. An endless generator of comedic content. And more recently, a platform for political protest and debate among Gen Z, thanks in no small part to the users who claim they sabotaged a Trump campaign rally in June.

EcoTok, a collective of 17 U.S.-based TikTok influencers, stays away from partisan drama and embraces something its creators hope is more productive: environmental action. Launched in the spring by Las Vegas high school student Alex Silva, 18, who uses the handle EcoFreako, the group posts sometimes serious, but more often silly videos to a shared account — so far they’ve racked up 1.1 million likes among 173 videos. One offers tips on composting, while others celebrate Black environmentalists, tout the merits of biodiverse lawns, and call out politicians for failing to address climate change.

Creators range from so-called “moss bros” to sustainable beauty gurus and climate scientists, and they have over 78,000 followers. In October, the collective was enlisted to help promote Countdown, a TED-sponsored global climate-themed event.

Silva has been making TikTok videos about low-waste living since 2019. In April, amid the coronavirus lockdowns, he noticed an uptick in climate content. He wanted to help like-minded creators pool their followers and collaborate on ideas for funny, relatable videos that inspire young people, who make up the majority of the app’s 850 million users. “I want our audience to know that while we need to put pressure on corporations and governments to stop polluting, it’s important that individuals do our part for the planet, too,” Silva says.

Youth activist and Earth Uprising founder Alexandria Villase?or, 15, says she scrolls through TikTok all the time to de-stress, and loves that EcoTok uses the app’s massive viewership to grow the climate movement. “Social media is how you get more people involved. It’s how you reach other parts of the world,” Villase?or, a 2020 Grist 50 Fixer, says. “A lot of people don’t find protesting accessible, so online platforms are great for sharing creative ideas for other kinds of activism and for educating others.”

Fix asked these influencers to share their favorite videos — the ones that help cut through the pranks and memes to get to the heart of green matters.

Say no to styro


Comment when done! @ecofreako #environmentalism #intersectionalenvironmentalism #latino #ecotok #bipoc

? Hugh Hefner – ppcocaine

Since January, Silva and his high school environmental club have been campaigning to ban Styrofoam trays in his school district’s cafeterias. Here, he asks followers to sign the petition; in a follow-up video, he answers a commenter’s question about how students around the country can take up the same cause in their own schools. He has collected nearly 3,000 signatures so far.

Nobody’s perfect


#ecoconfessions from an environmental scientist who thinks that imperfect sustainability is actually perfect ?@thegarbagequeen

? follow if u used this sound – edits

Alaina Wood, an environmental planner in northeast Tennessee, is an expert in all things solid-waste disposal — and in easing people’s eco-guilt. She made this video to discourage people from thinking they need to be perfect environmentalists in order to make a difference — yes, even if you drive a lot. Or like long showers. Or buy the occasional picture frame from Amazon.

Talking trash


If you guys like this I’ll do a part 2?? @traashboyyy #plasticpollution #garbage #savetheoceans #litter #cleanup #fyp

? original sound – EcoTok

New York college student Henry Ferland, aka “traashboyyy,” films himself picking up litter in his neighborhood, often rating his unusual finds and completing challenges assigned by his followers — like picking up 20 pieces of trash for a fan’s 20th birthday. In this video for EcoTok, he tells viewers about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an island made of 1.8 trillion tons of discarded plastic and other trash and formed by swirling ocean currents. Trash Boy’s call to action? Reduce your own consumption and ask your local government to consider single-use plastic bans.

Glam goes green


I upcycled containers do you? #wegetit #vibewithus #ecofriendly #reducewaste

大发快三app网址? Watermelon Sugar – Harry Styles

Christine Lan is an actor in Montreal and runs her own zero-waste cosmetics company. She’s EcoTok’s resident beauty guru, giving tutorials for DIY makeup, like lip stain made from beets, and mascara made from charcoal and aloe vera. In the above video, Lan dispels the myth that living low-waste needs to be totally plastic-free, explaining how people can keep trash out of landfills by upcycling food containers, like Nutella jars, to hold their homemade beauty products.

What’s in a watt?


KWHs are transferred into greenhouse gases for reporting! @earthstewardess #energy #learnontiktok #climatechange #ghg

? original sound – EcoTok

In addition to spotlighting underrated Black women leaders in the climate movement, Doria Brown, a municipal energy manager in New Hampshire, makes energy efficiency less of a snooze fest by breaking down little-understood concepts. Here, she explains what a kilowatt hour really means — so that people can better understand what it takes to lower their carbon footprints.

If you want to dive head first down the EcoTok rabbit hole, check out the rest of their videos. And while you’re at it, pick up some litter — it’ll make Trash Boy proud.

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline Doomscroll no more! These climate-concerned TikTok stars are here to inspire you. on Dec 4, 2020.

大发快三app网址https://grist.org/food/1000-years-of-fake-meat-in-two-minutes/Fri, 04 Dec 2020 08:55:14 +0000https://grist.org/?p=493653View the video in your browser

We prepared six faux meat dishes from the past 1,000 years, ranging from mock lamb chops in 965 to the “bleeding” Impossible Burger in 2016.

Vegetarian goose “Recipes from the Garden of Contentment” (2018)
Translated and Annotated by Dr. Sean J.S. Chen
Based on: Yuan Mei, “Suiyuan Shidan ?@食?#8221; (1792)
Berkshire Publishing (Award: Best in the World – Translation – Gourmand International 2019)
Translator website

Mock lamb chops Science and Civilisation in China, Volume Six: Biology and Biological Technology
Part V: Fermentations and Food Science by H.T. Huang

There was no official recipe for the “Mock lamb chops,” as they were simply referred to as tofu. We marinated the tofu in soy sauce and pepper and then grilled them, topping them with cilantro.

Protose Battle Creek Cookbook

Further reading:
Vice News The origins of fake meat are rooted in Chinese cooking

Smithsonian Magazine History of the mock meat craze at the beginning of the 1900s

NPR How the battling Kellogg Brothers revolutionized American breakfast

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline 1,000 years of fake meat in 2 minutes on Dec 4, 2020.

493653 meat_alt_wp
大发快三app网址https://grist.org/temperature-check/listen-how-beyonce-issa-rae-and-other-black-women-lead-on-the-environment/Fri, 04 Dec 2020 08:45:17 +0000https://grist.org/?p=493667

Host Andrew Simon and co-host Yessenia Funes start off the sixth installment of Temperature Check—Grist’s new podcast on climate, race, and culture—by considering what climate justice will look like on a global level and the implications of John Kerry as the pick for climate envoy.

Later on in the episode, Simon and guest Dr. Chelsea Mikael Frazier discuss Black feminism, the work of Octavia Butler, and how Black women have always led on protecting the environment.

Host Andrew Simon is Grist’s director of leadership programming and founding editor of the Grist 50, an annual list of emerging climate and justice leaders. Previously a senior editor at Fast Company and ESPN, Andrew is also the author of Racing While Black: How an African-American Stock Car Team Made Its Mark on NASCAR.

Co-host 大发快三app网址Yessenia Funes is the climate editor for Atmos, a new climate and culture magazine. She was previously the environmental-justice reporter at Earther/Gizmodo. In her work, Funes covers the intersection of race and the environment.

Guest Dr. Chelsea Mikael Frazier is a Black feminist ecocritic—writing, researching, and teaching at the intersection of Black feminist theory and environmental thought. As founder and chief creative officer at Ask An Amazon she designs educational tools, curates community gatherings, gives lectures, and offers consulting services that serve Black Feminist Fuel for Sustainable Futures. She is also a faculty fellow in the Cornell University Department of English and in the fall of 2021 she’ll begin her tenure-track appointment as an assistant professor of African American literature.

Her scholarship, teaching, and public speaking span the fields of Black feminist literature and theory, visual culture, ecocriticism, African art and literature, political theory, science and technology studies, and Afrofuturism.

She is currently at work on her first book manuscript—an ecocritical study of contemporary Black women artists, writers, and activists.

You can listen to the sixth episode of Temperature Check on Grist, and subscribe to the podcast on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. New episodes will drop weekly.

Useful links from the episode:


Dr. Chelsea Mikael Frazier’s Twitter: @Amazon_Scholar

Dr. Chelsea Mikael Frazier, “Black Feminist Ecological Thought: A Manifesto,” Atmos, Oct. 1, 2020

The Frontline Newsletter

Dharna Noor, “John Kerry’s Past Embrace of Fracking Could Create a Climate Disaster Abroad,” Earther/Gizmodo, Nov. 24, 2020

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline 大发快三app网址Listen: How Beyonc , Issa Rae, and other Black women lead on the environment on Dec 4, 2020.

493667Chelsea Frazier
大发快三app网址https://grist.org/fix/hes-fighting-for-your-right-to-repair/Thu, 03 Dec 2020 15:22:06 +0000https://grist.org/?p=493606If every American extended the life of their cell phones by an average of just one year, the carbon savings would be akin to taking 636,000 cars off the road.

That’s according to a recent study by Nathan Proctor, who leads the right-to-repair campaign at the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. Proctor, a 2020 Grist 50 Fixer, is at the forefront of a growing movement of consumers, repair techs, mechanics, farmers, and others who want to fix their computers, cars, combines, and other things — but too often cannot thanks to restrictive user agreements, complex software, and proprietary tools.

Proctor says those barriers feed into our pervasive throwaway culture. When the battery in your phone can’t last more than a few hours or the hard drive in your laptop calls it quits, it often seems easier and more cost effective to invest in a new one rather than pay hundreds of dollars to refurbish it. That’s how thousands of kilotons of toxic e-waste end up in landfills worldwide. Holding on to your gear just a little longer could help the planet in other ways, too. Building and using smartphones, laptops, and televisions will, by one estimate, produce 8 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.

This goes beyond gadgets. Farmers often can’t tinker with their tractors and must pay dealerships to make repairs. Car owners and independent mechanics can’t access the data needed to diagnose problems and correct them. And even during the pandemic, overburdened hospitals have waited weeks to repair ventilators. Proctor is recruiting a coalition of stakeholders to raise awareness about their struggles and advocate for laws that will force companies to share the information and tools necessary for DIY fixes.

Fix talked to Proctor about his movement’s momentum, why he thinks right-to-repair is resonating across the political spectrum, and why mending your own stuff means reclaiming your freedom. His comments have been edited for length and clarity.

‘They fight you, then try to co-opt you, then you win’

Nathan ProctorRight-to-repair is an idea whose time has come. Consumers understand that they pay more when they don’t have choices. You shouldn’t have to throw away an $800 phone because the battery is bad when you can fix that battery in six minutes with a $25 part. It’s just common sense.

The companies that make our stuff have gone too far, and their actions are mobilizing more people to fight back. Last month, Apple was fined $113 million by a group of state attorneys general for “batterygate,” the 2017 software update that throttled iPhone batteries and forced users to buy new models. John Deere has made headlines for restricting farmers’ ability to repair their own equipment. These incidents are infuriating the public and leading to antitrust action in countries around the world.

The Australian government just announced that it’s launching a right-to-repair task force. The European Union, Canada, and South Africa are building their own coalitions. Nine years ago, the Netherlands started holding free repair community events where people would get together with broken stuff and fix it. At the same time, a group in California, called the FixIt Clinic, formed with the same concept. Thousands and thousands of similar groups are popping up.

Not to be overly self-congratulatory, but I think that’s due in part to the fact that the U.S. Public Interest Research Group is running a good campaign. We’re working relentlessly to keep the conversation going, and we’re building a network of people with diverse political perspectives, from repair-shop owners to farmers. We recently recruited 500 biomedical repair technicians, people who work mostly in hospitals to fix ventilators, to challenge the fact that manufacturers are blocking repairs in the middle of a pandemic. That kind of organizing work gives you a basis to tell accurate, compelling stories about what is happening in the world.

Companies are changing their practices to try and head us off — and they wouldn’t do that if our movement wasn’t forcing their hand. Apple, for example, has an independent repair program now, which gives consumers a fraction of the freedom that comprehensive right-to-repair legislation would, to try to ameliorate their concerns. There’s an old saying in the labor movement: “First they laugh at you, then they ignore you, then they fight you, then you win.” But in my experience, after they fight you, they try to co-opt you, because they know that you’re close to winning.

Not bipartisan, but transpartisan

In November, Massachusetts passed a ballot measure that will force car companies to allow independent dealerships and mechanics to access repair data. That was a big victory — and even more legislation is in the pipeline. Thirty-two states have filed legislation related to right-to-repair. At the national level, New York Representative Yvette Clarke and Oregon Senator Ron Wyden filed a bill in August that would eliminate barriers to fixing ventilators and other medical equipment. My inbox constantly fills up with lawmakers trying to get their bills passed, and our legislative coalition grows exponentially every year.

I think that’s because right-to-repair isn’t a bipartisan issue, it’s transpartisan.

I once worked with a Republican lawmaker who told me, “As a Libertarian, I think the sole role of government is to protect personal property. And companies are undermining property rights in this country.” Progressive Democrats, on the other hand, support the movement because electronic waste and the manufacturing of new products involves all kinds of harm to human rights and the environment.

If you like democracy and freedom, then you should like right-to-repair. I believe average citizens should have the power to fix things — not just because it’s their right, but because people are smart. We should make it easier for them to take matters into their own hands, for the sake of our collective future.

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline He’s fighting for your right to repair on Dec 3, 2020.

493606Nathan ProctorNathan Proctor
大发快三app网址https://grist.org/ask-umbra/the-buy-nothing-gift-guide-that-will-get-you-through-2021/Thu, 03 Dec 2020 11:06:53 +0000https://grist.org/?p=493554If you’re one of those people 大发快三app网址who have been looking forward to the winter holiday season all year and takes special joy in the act of curating the most perfect, unforgettable present for each of your nearest and dearest, congratulations! It’s your time. But I also understand if you’re not really in the mood to put together a gift list: Even in years that aren’t torn to pieces by a global pandemic, December can come with its own emotional weight. And as for 2020, well … you know.

Last December, I put together a gift guide with 79 climate-friendly, mostly material recommendations, many of which still apply to our new COVID-tainted reality. But this year, there’s something about buying or even making objects that doesn’t feel as meaningful as it normally might; it’s been a lonely year in which a lot of comfort has been derived from objects in lieu of people, and unsatisfyingly so.

Generally speaking, we spend all year at Grist reminding people that one of the best things you personally can do for the climate is to only buy what you need and make use of what you have, to prevent the influx of unnecessary products and the propagation of consumerist ideals into your daily life. And then the holidays come around and you panic and express-ship a 40-percent-off cashmere sweater to your mom because that’s what you do at Christmas!

But eschewing unnecessary shipping and manufacturing doesn’t mean you need to squash your giving instincts. On the contrary, we need connection more than ever to get us through the days and months ahead. To that end, we put together 12 ideas — one for each month of the coming year — to help you share more kind acts and experiences with people in your life. This gift list doesn’t require the opening of a single online shopping cart, refuses to abide by the idea that presents are just for December, and will hopefully make you and the people around you genuinely happier.

It doesn’t require much, though I have suggestions if you are able to set a little money aside every month. Of course, that part is completely optional and only suggested for those who are able to do so. And I’ve even included a bonus action you can take this month to help you get prepared.

December 2020

If you are anything like me, you buy some kind of planner or journal at the beginning of every year and then keep up with it for exactly four days. Tragic. Well, this year you can fill up the first day of every month with your plan to execute each of the following suggestions, and you can even track how well you followed through them if you want. But you don’t have to! Anyway, that is your only assignment for the end of 2020. Please don’t buy the planner on Amazon.

January 2021

I think it’s apropos to kick off the new year with a general gesture of goodwill and generosity toward everyone, which is why I’m recommending donating what you can to a local mutual aid fund, which is a cash reserve for a community to distribute to households in need.

No matter what kind of stimulus plan Congress passes (probably) this month, a lot of people have needed a lot of help for way too long and will for the foreseeable future, so giving cash to funds that are directly distributed to people in need is very, very timely. Here’s a more in-depth argument for the effectiveness of mutual aid programs, if you need to be convinced.

Struggling cash-wise yourself? Take care of yourself; it’s gonna be a hard winter. But if you have a car or a reliable way to transport things, mutual aid funds often need people to deliver goods to families, so you could contact yours and see if they need an extra set of wheels.

Set aside: Nothing or whatever you want — you already donated this month!

illustration of a piggy bank being smashed by a hammer


The winter months of 2021 are more or less guaranteed to be hard, so sign up for a volunteer service that makes regular calls or runs errands for the elderly. Getting Harold on the horn every few days just to make sure he has someone to talk to might not be the sexiest Valentine of all time, but it might be more appreciated than the standard ones. Another useful bit of intergenerational information exchange: You could teach seniors how to text to be able to keep in touch with the younger people in their lives, and it’s also a more reliable form of communication in the event of a disaster.

Set aside: $29. A dollar a day for the shortest month — with Leap Day!.


There’s a very real possibility we will still be grappling with lockdown measures and social distancing in March, aka the emotional trough of the winter (because yes, March is still winter). You’ve slogged through at least three months of cold and gray and little light, probably in a great deal of solitude, and yet the light at the end of the tunnel refuses to approach.

Everyone has that friend or family member who has had a really, really hard pandemic.

Voil : March has four weeks, and each one can be devoted to sending that person a little message of care via a different medium. It’s 2021(!), so take your pick: phone, text, Zoom, letter, postcard, flower delivery, singing telegram, FaceTime, Voice Memo, a phone snapshot of a Post-It, etc. Whatever it is, send a message that’s heartfelt and lets the person know you really care about them and want them to be happy.

Set aside: $3.14, $31.40, or $314, whatever you can afford, in honor of Pi Day. What! I was in Math League.

Animation of a sad woman who becomes happy as she gets messages
Grist / Amelia Bates


Do you know someone who has been craving some real outdoor time but simply doesn’t have the means — a personal vehicle, a nearby bus line, or money to rent a car — to get out into the woods? Consider paying for a rental for a weekend or, if you have a car, acting as (mask-wearing, COVID-tested) chauffeur for a regional hike of their choice. They may ask you to join them for the hike itself, or they may not! After all, solo time in the woods is deeply therapeutic and good for the brain!

Set aside: $22, for April 22, which is Earth Day. What! This is an environmental magazine!


Adopt a teen! Not, like, legally unless you’re ready for that. Even if we have a vaccine by this point in 2021, most kids will still be reeling from the transition to or from remote classwork, and, unfortunately, finals wait for no pandemic. Offer what you can to help the youths in your life — be they a sibling, a friend’s kid, or a neighbor — study for finals: the promise of snacks or a nice incentive to get them through, even just offering to sit with them outside or over Zoom while they study. Or if your calculus skills are still up to par, consider hosting some regular remote study sessions.

Don’t give teens any more reason to believe that older generations have spectacularly let them down, because the whole climate crisis thing is a pretty strong argument for their side.

Set aside: $18.86, for the year of the first May Day to commemorate the labor movement.


I had parents in mind when I thought of this month’s act of giving, but it can apply to any older family member with whom you have a close relationship and who can receive photos or videos on their phone. Send the recipient of your choice a photo, short video, or even just an audio recording of some minor detail of your day every day this month. Don’t post that content anywhere else on your social feeds. In the era of nonstop-updated Instagram stories, sharing these little vignettes of your life with just one person can feel uniquely intimate and special.

Set aside: $21.28, for the number of hours and minutes of daylight on the summer solstice in Nome, Alaska!


One summer when my dad was traveling a lot for work and my mom was working full time, she commissioned my 11-year-old brother Jesse to organize a week of “Jesse Camp” to keep 5-year-old me occupied. This was a big time commitment, even for an 11-year-old, and I imagine most of the readers of this column have full-time jobs. But I would still challenge you to take the kid(s) of a sibling or cousin or friend for an afternoon or weekend (pod restrictions permitting) and do the same. Parents have been under A LOT of stress these past few months, and anything you can do to give them a break in childcare will be so much appreciated.

Some ideas from Jesse Camp, circa 1994: long nature exploration walks in a local park, drawing sessions, the construction of Lego cities, racing each other on Big Wheel versus on. foot. Still remote? Offer to put on a 20-minute play of their favorite book or teach them the choreography for “Rain on Me” over Zoom.

Set aside: $2.45, $24.50, or $245, in honor of America’s 245th birthday. Wow! Looking… alright for your age, baby.

animation of a woman readiing a book to a child over zoom
Grist / Amelia Bates


We’ve talked a lot about parents, kids, and elders here, but your horny single friends matter too. Look. If you’ve been single during the pandemic, you know it’s been a long and bizarre stretch. Whether you, reader, are yourself single or partnered or it’s complicated, but I’m asking you to take on the role of matchmaker and offer to set a (willing) friend up on a date that won’t drive them to finish a bottle of Pinot Grigio before 9 p.m.

August is the sexiest month — hot, languid, not a lot of obligations — so please help out a friend who’s endured the least sexy year in modern history. And then — just a little extra effort! — organize the date for your friend yourself; save them a lot of wearying back and forth. Don’t be shy: You know your friends better than any apps and you want to see them happy. So channel your inner matchmaker, Yenta!

Set aside: $7.00, in the spirit of the 1955 Marilyn Monroe film The Seven Year Itch — the sex-starved theme of which also describes the lockdown experience for millions of people.


At some point, most of us have declared: “Boy, if I only had the free time, I’d do (this one thing).” But while coronavirus forcibly dealt most of us a hefty hand of free time, it also came with some serious existential angst, societal upheaval, and for many, a fairly potent cocktail of isolation and depression. Not the best recipe for productivity or creativity! But it’s really hard to finish a creative project without being accountable to anyone but yourself.

So be the person your loved one needs to be accountable to their DIY dreams: Set up a schedule to check-in with them, and deadlines (if they’re into those). You could even offer to cook for them or run errands or support them in whatever way they need to have the time and headspace to finish the thing they’ve longed to finish.

Set aside: $11.14, in honor of the day (November 14) that Ruby Bridges became the first Black student to desegregate a Louisiana elementary school in 1960.


Fall is a good time to get to know your neighbors better, and not just because it’s election season. Political scientist Robert Putnam has written at length about how the collapse of neighborhood ties in the U.S. has hurt civic engagement levels, which are key to any kind of political change. So yeah, the block-level relationship-building does come in handy for local-level climate organizing, but it’s also just good practice.

With winter weather just around the corner, people tend to need a little more help — cold! Sadness! Weird and arduous household chores! Consider setting up a neighbor email chain (like NextDoor, but less racist) where your neighbors can keep in touch. And be proactive about making those connections in real life too: This can be as simple as raking a neighbor’s leaves, or taking their trash to the curb, or clearing out their gutters a la Tim Riggins in Friday Night Lights … minus the seduction.

Set aside: $6.66, $66.60, or $666. Honor your inner goth.


I’m an advice columnist, not a psychic, so I have no clue what Thanksgiving is going to look like in 2021. What I do know is that you know at least one person who will have a complicated holiday, and you can be there for them. Take some weight off of Thanksgiving Day itself by scheduling simple, safe, and drama-free weekly get-togethers between the two of you. This will help November feel less like “the month when all the emotional weight of the holidays sets in” and more like “the month I’m spending more time with my friend.”

Set aside: $16.21, to commemorate the year of the first Thanksgiving, which was actually kind of a disaster, much like Thanksgivings in the era of a pandemic.


And now we have come full circle. Remember all that cash you set aside this year? You now get to donate it to the cause of your choice, or to a loved one who you know could use it. Even if it’s not a strictly environmental cause, you can take some solace in the fact that your acts of kindness didn’t require buying into our consumerist culture.

That’s it. 2021 is done, and hopefully it was a hell of a lot better than 2020.

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline The buy-nothing gift guide that will get you through 2021 on Dec 3, 2020.

493554Umbra_Gift_Guide_Feat-Imgillustration of a piggy bank being smashed by a hammerAnimation of a sad woman who becomes happy as she gets messagesanimation of a woman readiing a book to a child over zoom
大发快三app网址https://grist.org/politics/these-climate-bills-could-get-past-mitch-mcconnell-stabenow-senators-whitehouse/Thu, 03 Dec 2020 09:00:27 +0000https://grist.org/?p=493534Americans won’t be getting a Green New Deal as a late Christmas present, or even a carbon tax. Barring a Democratic sweep of a Senate runoff election in Georgia, Republicans will hold on to the Senate, effectively eliminating the odds of large-scale climate legislation passing anytime soon.

The last time Senator Mitch McConnell led Republican senators under a Democratic president, he rebuffed President Barack Obama’s attempts at bipartisan cooperation and stuck to a strategy of blocking any bill that Democrats wanted during Obama’s two terms. That’s why many climate advocates have focused their attention on what President-elect Joe Biden could do without the help of Congress.

But there’s lower-profile legislation in the works that McConnell has no incentive to block — efforts to clean up oceans, boost clean power, and support carbon-capture technology. Senators have already introduced half a dozen bipartisan climate bills, most of which are sitting in committee, and a couple are on the calendar to get their hearing on the Senate floor. None of these bills, to be sure, is revolutionary: You probably won’t hear progressives trumpeting this environmental legislation on Twitter, or conservatives on Fox News warning that it will lead us to destruction. But the fact that these bills aren’t swept up in the culture wars means that they have a strong shot at passing after a new Congress convenes next month. And they could make a significant dent in emissions. Call them stealth climate bills.

For decades, Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan thought that farmers and foresters would benefit by embracing climate action. When farmers capture carbon dioxide, it makes their soil richer. And she thought timber growers might embrace a carbon price since it would pay them for something they already do: Turn atmospheric carbon into wood. But for the most part, these people weren’t interested — until recently.

“I tried for years to get the attention of people in agriculture and forestry,” she said. “Now I’m having wonderful conversations with farmers in Michigan who are interested not only in carbon markets and carbon sequestration, but also putting up solar panels on excess land, and integrating wind power.”

Stabenow has witnessed a similar shift in the Senate. Over the years she snuck little seeds of climate action into the Farm Bill when it came up every five years, funding carbon-farming demonstration projects and reforms to allow farmers to grow soil-protecting cover crops. But she had to scrupulously avoid mentioning the two words that were to Republicans what sunlight is to vampires: “Because if we had said the words ‘climate change’ we would not have been able to get bipartisan support,” Stabenow explained.

Republicans are no longer so skittish, she said. Stabenow is working with Republican Senators Deb Fischer of Nebraska, John Thune of South Dakota, Mike Braun of Indiana, and Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, variously, on a trio of bills aimed at bringing carbon markets to farming and forestry. The most important of these three bills, The Growing Climate Solutions Act, would tell the Department of Agriculture to figure out which practices reliably remove carbon from the atmosphere, then set up a market allowing growers to make money for doing those things. There’s no longer a need for subterfuge: Republicans have begun putting their names on a bill explicitly aimed at climate change.

“The folks who used to come to the floor and rail about Chinese hoaxes and fake science — all that has been shut up,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat from Rhode Island. ”We are just not hearing any of that nonsense any longer.”

Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I. and Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.
Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I. and Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich. Photo By Tom Williams / CQ Roll Call

Whitehouse has searched high and low for ways to make climate action bipartisan. He has his name on The Growing Climate Solutions Act and has Republican allies working with him on another five bills. One would help manufacturers squelch greenhouse gas emissions, another would create a federal program to get carbon dioxide out of the air, a third would pay nuclear power plants for producing carbon-free electricity to keep cheap gas plants from crowding them out of the market, and the fourth would protect and expand the best carbon-capturing ecosystems on the planet: mangrove forests, kelp beds, and sea-grass marshes. Finally, there’s a bill with eight Republican co-sponsors that would help anyone capturing greenhouse gas use to use their carbon dioxide to build new stuff.

When it comes down to a final vote, these bills will need more than just a handful of climate-curious Republican senators to pass. But that should be no problem, Whitehouse said. He’s already succeeded in getting four other low-profile climate bills passed into law under President Donald Trump. Most people haven’t heard of these — they really are stealth bills. One created a tax credit for carbon capture, another set up an initiative to support the next generation of nuclear power plants, and another大发快三app网址 instructed the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to “get off its butt and set up a separate path for next generation technologies,” Whitehouse said. “I used to describe the problem as trying to get a Tesla through a carburetor inspection.” The fourth set up a research program for the U.S. Navy to start making fuel from captured carbon.

All of these efforts passed with not only Republican support but also with near-unanimous votes in both the House and Senate in 2018.

Both Whitehouse and Stabenow acknowledge that these smaller bills, while helpful in the fight against climate change, aren’t enough. What they would really like to do is put a price on carbon, either through a tax or some kind of carbon market. And most Republicans still oppose making fossil fuel companies pay for their pollution.

“I think of it a little as trench warfare,” Whitehouse said. “As trenches become increasingly indefensible or preposterous to defend, Republicans fall back to a more acceptable trench. They have fallen back in several stages now, and it’s left a fair amount of room in the parts of the field they have abandoned. But they are still hanging on pretty hard. It’s not like the battle is over, they are just defending a much smaller trenchline.”

To activists, These bipartisan bills may look like a limp consolation prize. Still, sometimes stealth policy can make a big difference, said Ted Nordhaus, director of the environmental think tank, The Breakthrough Institute. He points out that, despite Trump’s best efforts, greenhouse gas emissions continued falling over the last four years at about the same rate that they had fallen under Obama’s administration.

“That was driven by 30 years of federal policy that no one paid attention to,” Nordhaus said. Research on fracking and super-efficient gas turbines made natural gas cheap and helped put coal companies out of business. Research that led to the development of LED light bulbs slashed electricity demand. And the tax credits that helped make wind and solar power affordable led to a renewable energy boom.

“All that is due to policies that were pretty damn uncontroversial,” Nordhaus said. “In my view, the quiet climate policy will prove much more effective over the long run. You just muddle through: It’s never the grand gesture, never the sweeping change people imagine.”

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline These climate bills could get past Mitch McConnell, 2 senators say on Dec 3, 2020.

493534Glum Mitch McConnellSens. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I. and Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.
大发快三app网址https://grist.org/climate/the-planet-is-broken-u-n-leader-says-in-state-of-the-climate-report/Thu, 03 Dec 2020 08:59:20 +0000https://grist.org/?p=493568As if we didn’t have enough reasons to hate 2020, the United Nations just offered one more. On Wednesday, the U.N. and the World Meteorological organization released a report on the “state of the climate” and surprise, surprise it looks bleak. The year from hell is on course to be the third warmest on record, viruses are jumping out of nature to attack us, and the world has already warmed 1.2 degrees Celsius since pre-industrial times.

“To put it simply, the state of the planet is broken,” said U.N. Secretary-General Ant nio Guterres, in a speech at Columbia University. “Humanity is waging war on nature.”

The report lays out some of the most devastating and shocking effects of climate change over the past year. Heavy rain and flooding overwhelmed large areas of Africa and Asia, searing heat surged across even the coldest regions of the globe (a town in the Arctic circle recorded a temperature of 100.4 degrees in June), and the Atlantic Ocean spawned a record 30 named storms.

And even though humanity pumped slightly less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere this year as a result of the COVID-19 lockdowns, the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere continues to rise. The report says that the three largest contributors to global warming carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide all reached new heights in 2020.

While governments have offered big promises for how they’re going to combat the crisis, those pledges have yet to turn into action to match the scale of the problem. “Climate policies have yet to rise to the challenge,” Guterres said. “Emissions are 62 percent higher now than when international climate negotiations began 1990.”

According to another report released by the U.N. Environment Program and its partners, eight of the largest producers of fossil fuels (including the United States, Australia, India, and China) are planning to increase their production of coal, oil, and gas by 2 percent annually. That’s despite the fact that fossil fuel production needs to fall by 6 percent per year over the next decade to keep warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Those eight countries account for 60 percent of the world’s overall fossil fuel supply, and if they follow through on their energy plans most of which were in place before the pandemic we can kiss the 1.5-degree goal goodbye. The report also shows that, despite widespread calls for recovery from the coronavirus pandemic to be “green,” the world’s richest countries (the G20) have committed much more stimulus money to producing and consuming fossil fuels ($233 billion) than to boosting green energy ($146 billion).

The numbers paint a dark picture, but the situation isn’t hopeless. Guterres said that countries need to start backing their promises with action before the next major climate meeting in Glasgow a year from now. “Every tenth of a degree of warming matters,” he said.

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline ‘The planet is broken,’ UN chief says on Dec 3, 2020.

大发快三app网址https://grist.org/justice/why-did-epa-air-monitors-fail-to-detect-an-oil-refinery-explosion/Thu, 03 Dec 2020 08:55:10 +0000https://grist.org/?p=493541In the summer of 2019, an explosion shook the largest oil refinery on the East Coast. Smoke filled the sky above the south Philadelphia neighborhood home to the plant. It was later reported that about 600,000 pounds of hydrocarbons burned in the incident. More than 5,000 pounds of hydrofluoric acid, a dangerous chemical that can cause blindness, burns, and other injuries, was also released into the air.

And yet no evacuation order was issued to the surrounding communities. City officials issued a temporary shelter-in-place warning, while also assuring residents the air was safe. To the network of air quality monitors in Philadelphia, which are operated by the city and feed data into the Environmental Protection Agency’s national air monitoring system, the air looked about average — no blip in the data.

According to a new bombshell report by Reuters, that phenomenon is frighteningly common.

“The government network of 3,900 monitoring devices nationwide has routinely missed major toxic releases and day-to-day pollution dangers,” Reuters reporters Tim McLaughlin, Laila Kearney, and Laura Sanicola wrote. Ten of the biggest refinery explosions of the past decade? Tiny, toxic particles that filled the air, entered people’s lungs, and resulted in thousands of hospitalizations? If you were simply looking at the EPA’s air quality data, none of it ever happened.

In the case of the Philadelphia refinery, the closest EPA air quality monitor to the incident was simply not operating the morning of the explosion — it was programmed to collect data only every six days. The same thing happened in Richmond, California, in 2012, when there was an explosion at a Chevron refinery. The closest EPA air quality monitor only took samples every 12 days. That day? No dice.

But intermittent monitoring wasn’t the only issue Reuters uncovered. Some of the network’s monitors aren’t actually capable of detecting the tinier particles that form when toxic chemicals like benzene and other hydrocarbons involved in the refining process burn. This “fine particulate matter” can enter the bloodstream and cause all kinds of medical problems, including lung and heart disease. Reuters reported that 120 million Americans live in counties with no EPA system to detect these particles. For example, residents of Superior, Wisconsin, a city of 27,000, had no way to know what they were breathing in after an oil refinery exploded in 2018 and blanketed the city in black smoke.

The federal air quality monitoring network’s failures aren’t just an issue during disasters — they also form the backbone of the Air Quality Index. If you’ve ever checked your weather app on a humid summer day, or after a nearby wildfire, and it warned you that the air quality was at a dangerous level, that’s thanks, in part, to the EPA’s air quality monitors. People with preexisting health conditions rely on those warnings to stay safe. Data from these monitors also inform air quality permits for new industrial facilities, helping to determine whether an area is perhaps already too saturated with polluting facilities to invite in a new one.

Researchers and current and former regulators told Reuters that the system’s shortcomings are due to poor funding, poor placement of monitors, and faulty or inadequate technology. Corbett Grainger, an environmental economics professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, led a study on monitor site selection, and found that in some cases state regulators were choosing to place monitors in areas with cleaner air, which helps industry avoid regulatory consequences for exceeding pollution standards.

The EPA declined to comment on that study, and denied that its system had problems with accuracy or reliability. “We are confident that the monitoring network provides data that allows decision-makers — states, public health officials, etc. — to make informed decisions on public health,” and permitting, the EPA told Reuters in a statement.

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline Why did EPA air monitors fail to detect an oil refinery explosion? on Dec 3, 2020.

大发快三app网址https://grist.org/energy/natural-gas-or-methane-americans-see-a-big-difference/Wed, 02 Dec 2020 08:58:47 +0000https://grist.org/?p=493448What would you rather have powering your stove: natural gas or methane?

They’re basically the same thing, but according to early findings from research published on Tuesday by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, it’s probably safe to assume that most Americans would prefer natural gas because it simply sounds nicer. After all, it’s “natural.”

In the survey, Democrats and Republicans rated their positive and negative feelings in response to one of four phrases: natural gas, natural methane gas, methane, or methane gas. The researchers found that people strongly preferred the natural version, no matter their politics.

Methane and natural gas are often used interchangeably, but they aren’t perfect synonyms. Methane, or CH4 in chemistry class, is a colorless, odorless, and highly flammable greenhouse gas. Natural gas is primarily methane, but it also contains small amounts of ethane, propane, carbon dioxide, water vapor, and other compounds.

If you don’t like either name, you have plenty of other fun synonyms to choose from. The Trump administration’s Department of Energy once rebranded natural gas as “freedom gas.” Environmental advocates sometimes prefer “fracked gas” or “fossil gas.

These competing terms are an example of how vocabulary is fracturing along political lines, becoming more politically loaded and polarized, much like NASCAR, Starbucks, and Trump Hotels. Reframing a term changes how we think about it, as the linguist George Lakoff has argued. Republicans, with the help of messaging wizard Frank Luntz, have historically been savvier at tailoring phrases to promote their ideals, although Democrats have been catching on in recent years. That’s part of the reason why Trump voters and Biden voters sound so different from each other now. They don’t just believe different things; they almost speak different languages.

Natural gas, however, seems to appeal across party lines. In the recent Yale survey, researchers asked respondents to list three words or phrases that came to mind when they heard certain words. Seeing the phrase natural gas made people think of words like energy, clean, fuel, and cooking. In contrast, methane conjured thoughts of cows, greenhouse gases, and climate change. “These findings indicate that the terms used to communicate about this fossil fuel can have dramatically different effects,” a news release about the research concluded.

It’s a sentiment that marketers for the oil and gas industry have understood for a long time. Fossil fuels are regularly rebranded, whether it’s “clean coal” or “ethical oil.”

You might guess that the term natural gas was invented as a marketing ploy, too. But it appears that the name simply arose to help differentiate it from its alternative, artificial gas. “Unlike many products that are first produced naturally and later duplicated synthetically, the manufactured gas industry preceded the natural gas industry as a going energy concern,” David A. Waples writes in the history book The Natural Gas Industry in Appalachia. Manufactured gas came out of 17th- and 18th-century experiments involving charcoal, animal bladders, and candles and was used for lighting, heating, and cooking.

So it might just be luck that gas came to be seen as “natural.” Some 76 percent of Americans view natural gas favorably, substantially more than for oil (51 percent) or coal (39 percent). While conventional wisdom once held that natural gas is a “bridge fuel” to a renewable-powered future, some now argue burning existing gas reserves would lock in dangerous levels of carbon dioxide emissions and endanger international goals to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees C above pre-industrial levels. That’s not to mention the health effects of burning natural gas: Gas stoves, for instance, pollute homes and increase the risk of respiratory problems, cardiovascular disease, and premature death.

Take it as a sign that natural doesn’t necessarily mean “good for you,” no matter how nice it sounds. Americans love “natural” potato chips, but they’re still just deep-fried potatoes.

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline ‘Natural gas’ or ‘methane’? Americans see a big difference. on Dec 2, 2020.

大发快三app网址https://grist.org/politics/how-bidens-treasury-secretary-pick-could-shape-u-s-climate-politics/Wed, 02 Dec 2020 08:55:50 +0000https://grist.org/?p=493467President-elect Joe Biden has a to-do list longer than a CVS receipt, but the very first thing he is expected to do once he is officially the president of the United States — besides rejoining the Paris Agreement — is launch a multipronged effort to revive the American economy.

In a throwback to 2009, when President Obama put then-Vice President Biden in charge of overseeing the largest clean energy investment in U.S. history, Biden has said he aims to make bringing down greenhouse gas emissions a central component of his administration’s economic stimulus plan.

Combining economic stimulus and climate action was a tall order in 2009. If the Senate remains in Republican control, it’ll be an even bigger lift in 2021. That’s where Biden’s cabinet comes in. On Monday, Biden announced his nominee for U.S. Treasury secretary: Janet Yellen, who served as the first-ever female chair of the Federal Reserve under Obama.

The secretary of the Treasury doesn’t just oversee the department that prints the nation’s money, pays its bills, and collects its taxes. If confirmed, Yellen, 74, will be a key Biden adviser, guiding the federal budget and shaping tax and spending policies. She will also be in charge of distributing congressional stimulus spending. That means Yellen stands to play a major part in executing Biden’s climate goals.

“The Secretary of the Treasury and the Treasury Department are crucial to the success of the administration’s efforts to move the U.S. and global economy to a low-carbon trajectory and to protect the economy from climate change shocks,” a trio of leading economists wrote in a policy recommendation memo for a group called the Climate 21 Project in mid-November.

Yellen is uniquely qualified to help Biden deliver on his economic agenda, and she has long acknowledged climate change as a risk to global financial stability. She was vocal about that risk when she served as the 18th Chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers under President Bill Clinton from 1997 to 1999. And she talked about the issue later in her career, as chair of the Federal Reserve from 2014 to 2018, and now as a distinguished fellow at the Brookings Institution.

So what does that mean in terms of what Yellen might accomplish as Treasury secretary? Perhaps most notable foreshadowing came in 2017, when Yellen co-founded a nonpartisan, international think tank called the Climate Leadership Council (CLC). The CLC advocates for a price on carbon that starts at around $40 a ton and increases 5 percent every year. The money generated by the tax would be returned to Americans each year in the form of a quarterly check in order to offset the costs of increased energy prices. The CLC also advocates for a border-adjustable tax on imports that would penalize carbon-intensive products and reward energy-efficient companies. In exchange for putting a price on carbon, the CLC says the government should do away with some existing federal emissions regulations. The proposal is regarded suspiciously by some progressive climate groups, not least of all because oil companies like ExxonMobil and Shell were quick to sign on as “founding corporate members” of the plan. But the proposal is exactly what you’d expect a bipartisan bunch of economists and former secretaries of state to come up with.

A paper that Yellen recently coauthored said that “carbon prices alone are not enough,” a good sign for climate advocates who hope she’ll use the full powers of her position to push for emissions reductions beyond a carbon tax if confirmed. Evergreen Action, a climate policy and advocacy group started by former Jay Inslee campaign staffers, says there are a handful of steps the Treasury secretary could take to mobilize national climate action. She could formally recognize the financial risks posed by fossil fuels and apply “enhanced prudential standards” to fossil fuel companies, which would allow the Federal Reserve to rein in fossil fuel investments on the basis of protecting financial stability. Yellen could also lead the charge on establishing a national green bank to help private companies invest in sustainable infrastructure. Yellen could even pressure international financial institutions, like the World Bank, to divest from fossil fuels.

But the fact that Yellen has been thinking seriously about putting a price on carbon bodes well for carbon tax advocates, too. Carbon taxes have fallen out of favor in recent years, as efforts to pass such measures stalled out in Congress and failed at the state level. On the campaign trail, Biden rarely talked about a carbon tax, preferring instead to focus on a green stimulus plan that proved to be quite popular with voters. But Biden could change his tune if Yellen is confirmed.

“I do see Republican support, and not only Democrat support, for an approach that would involve a carbon tax with redistribution,” Yellen told Reuters in October. “It’s not politically impossible.”

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline How Biden’s Treasury secretary pick could shape US climate politics on Dec 2, 2020.

大发快三app网址https://grist.org/energy/plugging-abandoned-oil-wells-carbon-offsets/Tue, 01 Dec 2020 08:59:38 +0000https://grist.org/?p=493358Bobby Wright says the seed of the idea was planted about a year and a half ago when he and his dad, Bob, were out on his grandparents’ ranch in Carter County, Oklahoma. Wright’s grandfather, Troy Lewellen, once grew pecans and raised cattle on the ranch, but at 83, he was retired and wanted to tie up any loose ends in his affairs. And sitting on his property, about a quarter of a mile from his house, were some very loose ends: three old oil wells.

One was still in operation with a pumpjack attached. The other two hadn’t been touched in years. They looked like rusty old pipes sticking out of the ground. A few feet away from one were three large tanks with oil still pooled inside. If any leaked out, it would run down the hill and into a nearby lake. Lewellen wanted the whole mess cleaned up. So he called his grandson and son-in-law, who work in the oil and gas industry helping companies acquire leases and negotiate with landowners.

Lewellen was lucky — the company that owned the wells on his property were still in business. Wright and his father worked with state regulators to get the company to plug the two idled wells with cement and remediate the property. But old wells are everywhere in southern Oklahoma, and Wright and his dad knew that other landowners might not be as lucky. They might have uncapped wells and old equipment on their property, abandoned by companies that went bankrupt long ago. “They have no recourse to have anyone other than the state to come in and clean it up,” Wright said.

Photo of Troy Lewellen inspecting an abandoned oil well
Troy Lewellen inspects an abandoned well that sits within the flood zone of a lake on his ranch. OAP Fund

In that case, a landowner might be waiting a long time. The state currently has just over 800 wells on its list of plugging projects, according to a spokesperson for the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, the state agency that regulates the oil and gas industry, and more than 12,000 more on its list of “orphaned” wells. (In Oklahoma, that term refers to abandoned wells that could technically be “adopted” and pumped again — but the spokesperson said “many of them” are fated to move over to the state’s plugging list.) In 2019, the state plugged just 138 abandoned wells.

This isn’t just a problem for Oklahoma. There were more than 50,000 wells on state cleanup lists across the country in 2018, and states estimated there were somewhere between 200,000 to 750,000 more abandoned wells that weren’t in their records. If you include wells that are “idle,” meaning they may still have an owner but haven’t produced any oil or gas in years — and are at risk of getting thrust into state hands if their owners go bankrupt — the count reaches around 2.1 million, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

When wells are left unsealed, they can become pathways for oil, gas, or briny water to migrate into groundwater and soil. The equipment is a hazard for wildlife, livestock, and unsuspecting humans. But increasing attention is being paid to another risk — an unknown number of unplugged wells leak methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, 86 times more effective at heating up the planet than carbon dioxide over the first 20 years it’s in the atmosphere. At high enough concentrations, methane carries a risk of explosion, and it’s often accompanied by other chemicals that are dangerous to human health, like benzene, a known carcinogen linked to leukemia and low birth weights.

A photo of Bob Wright, Bobby Wright, and Troy Lewellen
Bobby Wright, center, poses with his father, Bob, left, and his grandfather, Troy Lewellen. OAP Fund

After helping Lewellen, the Wrights became interested in the problem of abandoned wells — which started to look, to them, like an opportunity. Plugging them was something they had the skills and contacts to facilitate, if they could raise the money to do it. It would also be a way for them to give back to their community and the environment after careers working in oil and gas. In April, they filed for nonprofit status. But they weren’t the first. At least two other nonprofits, Native State in Texas and the Well Done Foundation in Montana, both also founded by oil and gas industry insiders, have formed in the past year with the same mission. The Wrights named their organization OAP Fund, short for “Orphaned and Abandoned well Plugging Fund.”

“In hindsight,” Wright said, “maybe we should not have put it as ‘fund.’ That tends to make people think we already have the money.”

Money is at the heart of the abandoned wells problem. The number of wells has already ballooned far beyond what state budgets and manpower can handle, and experts say it’s on the verge of multiplying. “The numbers are staggering,” Greg Rogers, a senior advisor at the financial think tank Carbon Tracker, told Grist. “There’s no war chest at the corporate level or the state level to pay for that.”

There’s interest in bankrolling solutions at the federal level, but it’s unclear whether the money will ever come through. In July, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would provide states with $2 billion over five years to create jobs plugging abandoned wells. Its approval came with almost no Republican support, and the legislation has since stalled in the Senate.

In the meantime, the Wrights and others like them are searching for other funding streams to support their mission — and they’re trying to figure out whether there may still be ways to extract value from the holes themselves.

Close up photo of abandoned oil well
About a quarter-mile from Troy Llewellen’s house on his ranch were three old oil wells — two of which, including this one, were abandoned. OAP Fund

Curtis Shuck used to be president of an oilfield services company in North Dakota. But it wasn’t until he had left the industry to start his own consulting firm that he got his first glimpse of the abandoned well problem. He was visiting farmers in Toole County, Montana, trying to source grain for the Port of Northern Montana — an inland logistics hub where trains and tractor-trailers exchange goods and machinery — when he learned that they were dealing with hazardous old oil equipment left behind on their land.

In 2019, Curtis Shuck, a former president of an oil field services company, founded the Well Done Foundation to plug abandoned wells. Well Done Foundation

“This is not right at any level,” he thought. So last fall, Shuck started the Well Done Foundation with the goal of raising money to plug wells. Knowing some of them were leaking methane, he thought he might be able to fund the projects, at least in part, through the carbon market. That thinking led him to Eric Ripley at the American Carbon Registry.

The American Carbon Registry, or ACR, is a nonprofit that develops standards for carbon offsets and maintains a list of accredited projects. Companies or individuals looking to neutralize their contribution to climate change can purchase credits through the registry, helping to fund projects that reduce emissions, like forests that are managed to store more carbon, or dairies that capture the methane from their manure pits. Ripley, ACR’s director of industrial programs, had already been thinking about abandoned wells before connecting with Shuck. He wasn’t convinced that the potential revenue from carbon credits — which are tied to the amount of methane a project mitigates — would be enough to cover the cost of the project itself. But Shuck’s nonprofit, mission-based model changed that math, since Shuck could raise the rest of the required funding through donations. “The carbon finance piece could just be one leg of a stool to get these projects financed,” Ripley said.

photo of truck pulling large oil tank
A large truck removes the tank at Big West Anderson #3 well in Toole County, Montana. Well Done Foundation

Now ACR is developing a new methodology that will standardize the way abandoned well projects can participate in the registry, enabling the Well Done Foundation, OAP Fund, and others to sell credits through it. Well Done has already plugged three wells in Toole County through a mix of early fundraising success and some out-of-pocket spending by Shuck. But he has ambitions to expand to other states, and thinks the carbon offset market could be a game-changer. “We’re hopeful that by this time next year we’ll be out there doing our thing under a carbon finance program,” Shuck said. “Our vision is to be able to do this at a much larger scale.”

How useful the carbon offset program will be in addressing the scale of the problem is unclear. The cost of plugging an oil or gas well varies, but states report average costs between $3,500 and $80,000 per well. (Wright said the average cost of plugging in Oklahoma is around $25,000.) Shuck’s goal is to raise $30,000 per well in Montana, which includes the cost of remediating the land afterward. These numbers are for mostly older, shallower wells — there’s little data on the cost of plugging modern shale wells, where the holes tend to be deeper and may even cut horizontally under the earth. Based on a small handful of plugging reports for deeper wells in Wyoming, Ohio, and Australia, Carbon Tracker found that costs grew exponentially with well depth.

Wright’s father told Grist he knew of a recent plug job in Oklahoma that ended up costing $800,000. “Each well is kind of a one-off,” Bobby, or the younger Wright said. “You don’t know what’s going to happen down in the hole until you get in it.”

Photo of man standing in front of abandoned oil well taking samples
Well Done Foundation volunteer Chris Steuer collects emission data from well Anderson #7 in Toole County. Well Done Foundation

You also don’t know how much methane is coming out of the hole until you measure it — and that’s what will determine the amount of funding Shuck or others might be able to raise through carbon credits. Many projects won’t be eligible, since not all abandoned wells leak methane. Of those that do, many are emitting at such low rates that they wouldn’t generate enough credits to make sense as an offset project. Ripley said the best candidates will be the abandoned wells that researchers call “super emitters.” About 16 percent of leaks account for 98 percent of emissions from abandoned wells, according to one study.

Based on published emissions data and current offset prices, Grist estimates that the credit sales from even the largest emitters may only generate a few thousand dollars. However, Ripley told Grist that based on unpublished field data, ACR believes it’s possible some wells could be worth tens of thousands.

Scientists Grist interviewed for this story agree that it’s possible there are much larger emitters out there that they haven’t discovered yet. Mary Kang, a leading researcher on abandoned wells who is also helping ACR develop its offset methodology, told Grist that there are only about 600 published measurements of methane from abandoned wells in the U.S. and Canada. Considering there are millions of wells nationwide, “You can see how small that sample is and how likely it is that we might be missing some information,” she said. There are not yet any published measurements from Texas or Kansas, states that are home to a large percentage of the nation’s abandoned wells.

A carbon offset program could create a market-based incentive to find the wells that are the worst emitters and plug them up. It could also prove to be a boon for science, helping to scale up monitoring of abandoned wells and improve greenhouse gas emissions models. And despite its limited application, there’s hope that it might also help stanch the tide of new abandoned wells ending up on state plugging lists to begin with.

photo of volunteers with trucks plugging abandoned oil well
The Well Done Foundation team plugs the Anderson #7 well in Toole County. Well Done Foundation

Originally, Brett Bennett’s plan for Native State, the Texas-based nonprofit, was to create a “Drill One Plug One” campaign. The idea was that companies that were actively drilling in a community could donate to plug abandoned wells in that same community, as a way to give back. Bennett currently works as vice president of an oil and gas operating company. In his mind, abandoned wells should not be the legacy that the industry leaves behind. He wants it to lead on fixing the problem. “One of our tag lines is, ‘Texas has been good to us, let’s return the favor,’” he said.

But just when he was starting to engage with companies about Drill One Plug One, COVID-19 hit. The downturn in the industry made that model unviable, at least for now. Bennett is still optimistic that it could work, but in the meantime he’s also worried about the problem getting worse. He said he’s watched as, even before the pandemic, the state plugging program essentially treaded water, plugging wells at about the same rate new ones were being added to the list, and never chipping away at the total.

Technically, oil and gas companies are required by state and federal law to plug their own wells after they’re done pumping them. Thousands of the uncapped wells sitting around predate those rules, and the number continues to grow due to several major flaws in present-day regulations. When a company applies for a permit to operate a well, state and federal laws require that it put up a deposit, or bond, to ensure there’s money to eventually plug the hole and remediate the land. But the companies pay so little upfront that the bonds don’t incentivize cleanup or come close to covering the costs of plugging. For many operators, it’s easier to let their wells sit idle, leaving open the distant possibility that they might decide to pump them again, or sell them to another operator, than to pony up the rest of the cash to plug them. Rules vary, but many states allow operators to keep their wells idle without plugging them for years.

One of two things can happen next: The company might go bankrupt. Or the company might eventually have more “idle” wells than producing ones, making it basically impossible to earn enough revenue to cover the costs of plugging. Either way, the state ends up on the hook. In a recent overview of the issue, Carbon Tracker found that reduced demand for oil and gas due to the COVID-19 pandemic has led companies to temporarily idle tens of thousands of wells. They predict that because the transition to cleaner sources of energy is also speeding up, many of them will never be reactivated. The number of abandoned wells could be on the verge of exploding.

Perhaps the most obvious regulatory solution, and one that environmental advocates are pushing, is for governments to increase bond requirements. However, that would likely only apply to new leases. Daniel Raimi, a senior research associate at the nonprofit think tank Resources for the Future, said it’s possible new bonding rules could be applied retroactively, but that efforts to do so could get tied up in court.

As far as preventing the explosion of new abandoned wells that Carbon Tracker warned about, Raimi said he was interested in an approach California is testing to get companies to plug more of their idled wells. In 2016, the state adopted new regulations requiring operators either to pay an annual fee for each of its idled wells or instead to adhere to a management plan requiring them to plug a certain percentage of them each year. During the first year the rules were in place, about 7 percent of the state’s idled wells were plugged, and 76 operators opted to follow management plans, out of more than 1,000 operators with idled wells.

Bennett noted that oil companies are starting to make commitments to reduce their methane emissions to net-zero, citing Occidental Petroleum’s recent pledge to get to net-zero, which will create more of an incentive for firms to get some of these idled, methane-emitting wells off their books. He’s also optimistic that the carbon market could help stem the flow of wells falling into state hands.

photo of what used to be an abandoned oil well
A marker denotes the spot of Anderson #7, an old oil well in Toole County, Montana, that was plugged by the Well Done Foundation. Well Done Foundation

Ripley told Grist that ACR’s offset standards will primarily target older wells that have already become a government liability. But he said it’s also considering ways to include some subset of idle wells that still have a solvent operator associated with them. This option would be reserved for those wells that have been idle for years, and operators would likely have to transfer ownership to an entity like Native State that would plug them right away.

“I fully expect to get some degree of criticism for this,” Ripley said. That’s because the potential standards impinge on a slippery rule for carbon offsets called additionality: When you purchase a carbon credit, the idea is that you’re making up for your own emissions by reducing them somewhere they wouldn’t otherwise be reduced. But if the project you’re paying for is something that would have happened anyway — say, because the government says it’s supposed to — then no new reduction is being made.

But to Ripley, governments are falling woefully short, demonstrating that they’re simply not requiring these wells to be plugged in a timely manner, and leaving them to potentially emit methane for decades. “I think people have to look at this realistically and say, ‘Do you want to achieve methane mitigation, or do you want the status quo?’ This is where the environmental community needs to ask itself a question about, ‘Do we want the perfect to be the enemy of the good?’”

The rules and standards for ACR’s new carbon offset program for abandoned wells will go through a public comment period, followed by a peer review by academic and industry experts, before anyone can sign on. Ripley expects it to be ready by next June.

For now, Bennett and the Wrights are exploring any and every potential solution for the wells. Both spoke about the possibility of repurposing some wells to tap into geothermal energy, the latent heat beneath the earth’s surface, to generate electricity. Bennett said there may also be a way to turn wells into energy storage systems, which will be needed to store excess solar and wind energy that can then be fed back into the grid when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing. Some companies are developing novel ways to store energy by pumping water underground at high pressure, and then releasing it back to the surface to spin a turbine and generate electricity later.

photo of oil battery storage tanks
Oil storage tanks, also known as “tank batteries,” linger on Troy Lewellen’s property. OAP Fund

While the technology to retrofit abandoned wells for the energy transition may be years away, groups like Native State and OAP Fund could work with landowners and oil companies to help researchers and start-ups gain access to abandoned and idled wells for demonstration projects. Amy Townsend-Small, an assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati who studies abandoned wells told Grist that access is a major barrier for scientists to learn more about them. And there’s still so much we need to learn about abandoned wells that could help inform solutions — like how many there are, a better understanding of the risks they pose, how much methane is coming out of them, and how effective plugging them with cement actually is.

For Bobby Wright, that’s part of what drives him to work on this problem. “Not just anybody’s going to be able to walk in and know how to go about doing what we and the Well Done Foundation and Native State are trying to do,” he said. “It takes people that are within this industry, that have an understanding of not just the technical aspects of it, but of how the industry works, to get it done.”

It’s unclear how much of a dent groups like OAP Fund will be able to make on the abandoned wells problem, but one thing is clear: If they do manage to raise enough money to get started, there’s enough work to last a lifetime.

“The scale of this problem is what I think doesn’t get translated real well sometimes — people just can’t really wrap their head around it,” Wright said. “Even if all of us were doing 100 or 200 or 300 or 500 wells a year, we’re still not gonna … you know, my grandkids could be doing this.”

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline The government can’t keep up with abandoned oil wells. Can these industry insiders help? on Dec 1, 2020.

]]>493358Abandoned-Oil-WellsPhoto of Troy Lewellen inspecting an abandoned oil wellA photo of Bob Wright, Bobby Wright, and Troy LewellenClose up photo of abandoned oil wellphoto of truck pulling large oil tankPhoto of man standing in front of abandoned oil well taking samplesphoto of volunteers with trucks plugging abandoned oil wellphoto of what used to be an abandoned oil wellphoto of oil battery storage tanks大发快三app网址https://grist.org/climate/two-bezos-backed-projects-will-help-track-down-missing-emissions/Tue, 01 Dec 2020 08:55:59 +0000https://grist.org/?p=493363In February, Jeff Bezos took to Instagram to announce a new project: The world’s richest person would spend $10 billion of his then$130 billion net worth to “save Earth.” A slew of think pieces followed — where would the money go the furthest?

Not in building solar farms, a solar energy analyst 大发快三app网址told the Atlantic; the sector already had more than enough capital chasing after it. What about in political organizing to get smart climate policies passed by Congress? Or in research and development to scale up solutions that are too expensive right now, like long-duration batteries that will help the electric grid smooth out the variability of renewables?

Bezos finally named the recipients of the first $791 million from the fund last month, and a large chunk of the money went to a climate solution that pundits hadn’t seen coming: two projects that will reveal where greenhouse gas emissions are coming from, and how they are changing over time.

“If no one invests in that, then we’re basically flying blind in trying to tackle climate change,” said Craig Hanson, vice president of food, forests, water, and the ocean at the World Resources Institute (WRI), which was one of the two beneficiaries.

WRI is using about half of its $100 million donation from Bezos to build software that can track the emissions impact of land-use changes, like when wetlands are cleared or new forests are planted, using satellite data. The other beneficiary, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), will use part of its $100 million from Bezos to launch a new satellite called MethaneSAT that will identify and monitor sources of methane emissions in real time. The data collected by both projects will be available to the public for free.

Science isn’t flying entirely blind on either of these metrics, but the data lacks granularity. There are scientists studying the carbon that’s sucked up and released by forests, grasslands, and other natural systems, and other researchers studying land-use change via satellite, but there’s not yet a tool that brings the two together to create a monitoring system that’s global in scale, according to Hanson. Researchers have found methane leaking all along the oil and gas supply chain, and shown that it’s much more than what’s reflected in the Environmental Protection Agency’s greenhouse gas inventory — at least 60 percent higher, according to research by EDF. But they don’t know exactly where it’s coming from, and neither do the companies operating the infrastructure.

Better understanding carbon fluxes in our natural systems is essential to getting climate change in check, especially as nature-based solutions like reforestation and storing more carbon in the soil are scaled up in the coming years. Hanson said WRI’s monitoring system will identify what’s actually happening — where forests are growing or shrinking, where wetlands are being cleared — and help determine where to prioritize interventions. It will also help to illuminate a phenomenon called “leakage,” which is when a change in one area, like converting farmland to forest, can lead to the creation of farmland elsewhere on the planet, essentially canceling out the benefit. To that effect, the tool will help hold governments, companies, and NGOs accountable by measuring whether their nature-based initiatives are actually working.

EDF’s methane satellite will fill a similar gap. Just last week, more than 60 oil and gas companies, including BP and Shell, signed on to an initiative to track and reduce methane not only from their own operations but from partner companies’ as well. (No American companies joined.) They’ll have to report their emissions based on measurements taken from their actual equipment, rather than based on engineering estimates, which is how they have done it in the past (and which is why the EPA’s numbers are off). Mark Brownstein, senior vice president of energy at EDF, said MethaneSAT could be used both to help companies report their emissions and to track whether they are keeping their promises.

Some companies intentionally vent gas at the surface of wells because it can be cheaper than capturing it, but some states are trying to curtail that practice, and MethaneSAT could identify rulebreakers. But a lot of the methane from the oil and gas industry is leaked unintentionally, and methane leaks are hard to find. The gas is invisible and odorless, and leaks can occur pretty much anywhere from oil and gas wells to pipelines to power plants. They occur because of equipment malfunctions, poor maintenance practices, or because a facility just wasn’t designed to minimize methane emissions, explained Brownstein. And in the near term, while much of the world will still run on oil and gas, the leaked methane will continue to add up.

“It’s driving a lot of the warming that we’re experiencing right now,” Brownstein said, “and is fundamentally fixable.”

Methane doesn’t last long in the atmosphere — it breaks down after about 10 years into carbon dioxide and other gases. But it’s a much more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2, so much so that over the first 20 years after it’s released, it has about 86 times the effect that CO2 does on global average temperatures. Cutting methane emissions would have relatively immediate benefits.

“If we got all of our methane emissions to zero tomorrow, global temperatures would fall a bunch, maybe 0.3 or 0.4 degrees [C],” or 0.5 to 0.7 degrees F, said Zeke Hausfather, a climate scientist at the research nonprofit the Breakthrough Institute who’s not involved with MethaneSAT. Global average temperatures have risen by about 1 degree C (1.8 degrees F) since 1880.

Research has shown that a small number of leaks are responsible for the vast majority of methane emissions from gas infrastructure. And it’s in the interest of gas companies to fix them, since they are losing money on lost product. The challenge is finding those “super emitters.” There are time-intensive ways to do it, like attaching sensors to cars or drones and following the path of gas pipelines or flying over oilfields. But there’s no global, continuous, real-time monitoring system in place — the gap that EDF aims to fill with MethaneSAT.

Brownstein said EDF’s goal is to launch the satellite in 2022. The data it collects will enable anyone to zero in on where large sources of emissions are coming from — in many cases down to the company responsible — and to see how they are changing over time. Interested parties will be able to track whether reductions are being made and climate promises are being kept.

Brownstein said on-the-ground measurements will still be important in major oil- and gas-producing areas like the Permian Basin in Texas, where the field is so crowded with operators that it would be impossible for MethaneSAT to attribute a leak to a particular company.

For that reason, it’s not a silver bullet. But Hausfather said the satellite will be a great tool to have, especially when combined with stricter regulations on methane emissions that the Biden administration is likely to try to enact. “You can do a lot through policy to reduce leakages in the natural gas system,” he said. ”We just haven’t as a society done a particularly good job with that so far.”

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline 2 Bezos-backed projects will help track down missing emissions on Dec 1, 2020.

大发快三app网址https://grist.org/energy/how-new-york-is-trying-to-build-lots-of-renewables-fast/Mon, 30 Nov 2020 08:59:29 +0000https://grist.org/?p=492539President-elect Joe Biden will face myriad hurdles, many of them political, in fulfilling his campaign promise of steering the U.S. toward 100 percent clean electricity by 2035. But setting aside the challenge of getting climate legislation through a potentially divided Congress, the goal implies an additional miracle will occur — the construction of lots and lots of infrastructure, very fast.

Getting permission to build skyscraper-sized wind turbines or football fields worth of solar panels and connect them to the power grid can be an arduous process, involving studies, environmental reviews, and approvals from various agencies, not to mention navigating local laws and community opposition. New York state, which is required under an ambitious climate law passed last year to procure 70 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030, is trying to figure out how to speed all of this up without sacrificing environmental protection or trampling over local control. While New York is still early in this process, its experience may offer lessons that the Biden administration, and other state governments, can take cues from in the future.

In April, New York passed legislation intended to accelerate wind and solar development by streamlining the permitting process through a new Office of Renewable Energy Siting. This was its second attempt to do so — in 2011, the state legislature passed the Power New York Act, which was also supposed to simplify the regulatory process for renewable energy.

But even after the 2011 law went into effect, obtaining a permit for a new utility-scale project still took between 5 and 10 years, according to Anne Reynolds, the executive director of the New York Alliance for Clean Energy, a coalition of clean energy businesses and nonprofits. She said the process lacked standardization — every project proceeded as if the state had never permitted a wind or solar facility before. It was overseen by a board made up of people from multiple agencies who were hard to get into the same room and often disagreed with one another. It didn’t accommodate quickly-advancing technologies — if, for example, a developer wanted to switch to new, larger wind turbines midway through the process, altering its permit took forever.

“It was terrible, really,” Reynolds said. “There were plenty of projects that died because it took too long.”

Developers also faced well-organized opposition, particularly from residents of rural, upstate areas who worried about noise pollution and risks to wildlife, or felt solar panels and wind turbines would ruin the scenery and decrease property values. These claims were sometimes accompanied by resentment that projects were being built to satisfy the energy demands of the more populous downstate region and New York City. Some towns passed temporary moratoriums on wind and solar farms. Between 2011 and 2018, only two utility-scale projects were certified by the state approval board out of 42 that began the process (three withdrew their applications).

The New York Association of Towns, which represents town officials, opposed the new legislation because it allows projects to proceed without following certain local laws or ordinances if the state siting office finds those laws to be “unreasonably burdensome” in light of the state’s energy targets. Sarah Brancatella, legal director for the association, said local governments have not been obstructionists to renewable energy development.

“We’re not clamoring for coal to come back,” said Brancatella. “These are large-scale projects, they are going to have a significant impact on the community where they’re sited, and it’s just about having those who actually live in the area have a meaningful say in the process.” Moving forward, the association would like to see the Office of Renewable Energy Siting articulate a clearer standard for what “unduly burdensome” means so that local legislators understand which kinds of laws would be preempted.

The new Office of Renewable Energy Siting is responsible for developing uniform regulations and standards that all large-scale renewable energy projects will be subject to. In September, it released a draft of those standards, with criteria developers will have to meet for things like noise, species protection, wetland protection, and minimum distances between renewable infrastructure and property lines and roads. Previously, conditions for each of these were decided on a case-by-case basis.

The standards will reduce uncertainty for developers, but Reynolds thinks they’ll also give communities more clarity about what to expect. In the past, she said, residents would ask how loud a proposed wind farm was going to be, and the developer wouldn’t be able to answer, because it was going to be decided later on through the permitting process. “And then it just didn’t go well from there,” she said, “because the community members would be like, ‘They’re not even telling us how loud it will be.’ And then four years would go by and everyone would hate each other, and then you’d get a permit.”

This month, the siting office is hosting a series of public meetings to take feedback on the new standards, and community fears — many of which are based in misinformation — are on full display. At a virtual public hearing for the Buffalo area, one resident worried about eminent domain. But the proposed regulations specifically say that renewable generators will not be entitled to eminent domain. Another attendee posited that building renewable energy upstate would not serve to reduce statewide emissions due to transmission constraints that would prevent it from being utilized for at least 10 years. Reynolds acknowledged there were constraints in the grid, and that there might be a few times a year when all of the power generated by new projects doesn’t get used, but said the claim was exaggerated.

“That’s not a reason not to build renewables; it’s a reason to invest in the transmission system,” said Reynolds, “which the state of New York is doing on a parallel track pretty aggressively as well.” The New York Public Service Commission, the state agency that regulates utilities, recently adopted new rules to speed up the development of transmission lines, and approved a transmission project to be developed by the New York Power Authority that it says will unlock 950 to 1,050 megawatts of clean energy.

Another question raised in the Office of Renewable Energy Siting’s public meetings was why the state needed to put projects in rural areas when there were plenty of brownfield sites available. (A brownfield is a site that had been previously developed.) New York is prioritizing development of these sites through a new “Build-Ready” program established through the April legislation, but Reynolds said there aren’t enough to meet its target. Many brownfields are in urban centers and aren’t ideal for energy development. “You wouldn’t want to cover half the city of Buffalo with solar panels — you’d want to redevelop it with affordable housing and businesses and hotels,” she said.

To address these misunderstandings, Clarke Gocker of People United for Sustainable Housing (PUSH) Buffalo, a nonprofit organization that develops sustainable, affordable housing and advocates for socially just economic development, said that the state has a role to play in giving communities the tools and information they need to assess renewable energy projects that come to town. He also pointed to the importance of another aspect of New York’s new law, one that requires that state regulators create a community benefits program that will require the owners of major wind and solar farms to provide some benefit to the community hosting its project. In September, the Public Service Commission proposed that utility customers in host communities receive a credit on their bill for the first 10 years a project was in operation, distributed evenly out of a fund based on the size of the project. The proposal leaves open the possibility for communities to negotiate further benefits with developers, like payment into a conservation fund, or improvements to local parks or roads.

Gocker advocated for a wider definition of community benefits that includes jobs and training. As a Rust Belt community, Buffalo has lost a significant amount of economic activity, and PUSH sees renewable energy as an industry that could help build back community wealth. “We don’t want the investment the state’s making to flow exclusively to private developers,” he said. As part of its “Build-Ready” program, the state is already planning to assess the need for workforce development, particularly in environmental justice communities, and create job-training programs if needed. PUSH also wants to see the state assess opportunities for community-owned renewable projects.

The public comment period on the proposed regulations and standards is open until Monday, December 7, and they are set to be finalized by April of next year.

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline How New York is trying to build lots of renewables, fast on Nov 30, 2020.