SNAPSHOT: A Year of Climate Extremes

 
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2018 was another year of hell and high water as the extreme weather impacts predicted by decades of climate science and advocacy continued to accelerate. The rolling series of storms, floods, wildfires, severe heat, and drought produced a constant stream of headlines from around the world, making the human and ecological devastation of extreme weather one of the toughest but most important aspects of the climate change story.

The year opened with daunting but hardly surprising reports that an unstable global climate did record damage in 2017, with all the evidence pointing to the need for faster action on greenhouse gas reductions. Insurers warned of a $1.7-trillion gap in severe weather coverage over the next 10 years, while the U.S. National Institute of Building Sciences said investments in climate resilience pay off sixfold. In the run-up to a landmark report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in September, stressing the urgency of a 1.5°C target for average global warming, a small avalanche of studies and reports showed that the 2.0°C “guardrail” previously suggested by climate science would be insufficient to hold off severe impacts around the world.

While much of the news coverage of extreme weather focused on impacts in developed countries, governments and climate justice advocates continually reminded the rest of the world that the poorest countries and regions are almost invariably the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. As the 2018 United Nations climate conference in Katowice approached, the Climate Vulnerable Forum held a “carbon-free” virtual forum that demanded 1.5°C action for the world’s most vulnerable nations.

Severe Storms and Floods

At one time or another in 2018 just about every part of the world saw the extreme impacts of severe storms and flooding. While not every storm (or wildfire, heat wave, or drought) could be linked directly to the climate crisis, it’s settled science that climate change “loads the dice” for extreme weather events, making them more frequent and severe. The year also saw improvements in the science that allows attribution of specific events, pointing toward an emerging opportunity for litigation and liability focused on climate polluters.

The local impacts of severe storms and floods were chilling, and often heart-rending. A flash flood in Jordan in late October killed 18 people, most of them children and teachers on a school trip. A mudslide in Montecito, California, left 17 dead, 40 missing, and the immediate area looking like a First World War battlefield. An intense hurricane literally wiped a small Hawaiian island off the map, and Typhoon Mangkhut killed 64 in the Philippines before continuing on to southern China and Hong Kong, just a couple of weeks after another typhoon sent an empty fuel tanker careening into a bridge in Japan. Floods and landslides killed 200 people in Japan, even as the country missed an opportunity for a shift to renewable energy, and Fiji entered a frightening new era of extreme weather. Late autumn storms killed six people across northern Italy and flooded 70% of historic Venice.

In Canada, British Columbia endured heavy flooding in mid-May as it prepared for the approaching wildfire season. New Brunswick warned of possible municipal sewage contamination as floodwaters hit record levels, and a review of historical records showed the country’s weather getting wilder. One of a half-dozen tornadoes that suddenly hit Ottawa September 21 turned a beloved, wooded neighbourhood into a logging camp, and the Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-op pointed to the need and opportunity to build a more resilient, distributed local electricity system.

A Harvard University study concluded that 4,645 people died as a result of Hurricane María in 2017—73 times the official estimate from the U.S. government under Donald Trump—and hurricanes cost the Caribbean $3 billion in tourist revenue in 2017.

Boston confronted two “100-year storms” within weeks. Hurricane Florence bore down on North Carolina, a state that had previously tried to legislate sea level rise out of existence, eventually turning North and South Carolina into an archipelago until drenching floodwaters dissipated. The experience prompted North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper to set a 2025 deadline to reduce his state’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40%.

Less than a month later, a super-heated ocean boosted Hurricane Michael into a 250-kilometre-per-hour monster that churned through an impoverished part of the Florida Panhandle. Gaps in emergency response had some survivors worried that “they’re doing us like they did New Orleans.”

Fire and Heat

At mid-year, wildfires and heat emergencies were sweeping North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Eurasia, with the constant stream of news showing signs of finally burning climate denial to the ground.

Veteran climate hawk and meteorologist Eric Holthaus pointed to the firestorms sweeping much of the western United States as evidence that a new era of “fire tsunamis” has begun. “You can imagine standing in front of a tsunami or tornado and trying to stop it from destroying homes,” incident commander Ben Brack told the Denver Post. “A human response is ineffective.”

“The official term for the hellish meteorological event that hit La Veta [Colorado] is a ‘firestorm,’ a self-propelling explosion of flame generated by strong and gusty winds from a particularly intense fire over extremely dry terrain,” Holthaus explained. “When a fire gets hot enough, it can generate its own weather conditions and wind speeds can approach hurricane force, drying out the surrounding land.” U.S. firefighters got their first taste of a “fire tornado,” and a similar incident grabbed a responder’s hose and pulled it 100 feet in the air before letting go. “Sorry for the profanity,” wrote Vanderhoof, B.C., firefighter M.C. Schidlowsky at the end of an incident video on her Instagram feed.

A climate impact assessment pointed to wildfires as one part of the “apocalyptic threat” California faces if climate change is not brought under control, after an earlier assessment found that the state’s private utilities lost $20 billion in value after a prior round of blazes. Within months, both assessments were out of date, as the Camp Fire near Sacramento became the worst conflagration in California history, killing at least 85 people and destroying 14,000 homes.

British Columbia declared a(nother) state of emergency in late August in response to an epic wildfire season, as smoke from the province’s more than 600 fires worsened air quality in many parts of Canada. Analysts and activists connected dots between a year of severe climate impacts and energy policies destined to make the problem worse—including Ottawa’s decision to buy a leaky, 65-year-old pipeline from Houston-based Kinder Morgan.

An after-action review found that the emergency response to the Fort McMurray wildfire in 2016 largely neglected nearby Indigenous communities, even as it relied on some of them to shelter evacuees. Studies found that drought and heat make it tougher for forests to regenerate after a fire, that intense, repeat wildfires pollute rivers and threaten water supplies, and that homes destroyed in fires produce a disturbing spike in airborne toxic compounds. Fire, drought, and insect infestations were putting large swaths of the Canadian boreal forest at risk, and a new round of boreal mapping pointed toward future increases in all three.

Extreme Temperatures and Drought

Drought, extreme heat, and, sometimes, extreme cold showed that climate change is about a far wider range of localized effects than just “global warming.” The Washington Post captured a snapshot of the story at mid-summer: from scorching high temperatures in the Middle East and Southern California, to 51.3°C heat in Ouargla, Algeria, that set a record for all of Africa. North America set or tied temperature records in Montreal; Ottawa; Los Angeles; Denver; Mount Washington, New Hampshire; and Burlington, Vermont. A northeastern “heat dome” brought stifling temperatures above 100°F to Philadelphia, New York, and Washington, DC. While “no single record, in isolation, can be attributed to global warming,” the Post wrote, “collectively, these heat records are consistent with the kind of extremes we expect to see increase in a warming world.”

In Siberia, while actual weather observations are scarce, modelling put the temperature above 32°C July 5, more than 22°C above normal. “It is absolutely incredible and really one of the most intense heat events I’ve ever seen for so far north,” wrote meteorologist and blogger Nick Humphrey.

Record highs were recorded in Glasgow, Belfast, and Shannon in Ireland; Castlederg in Northern Ireland; Tbilisi, Georgia, and Yerevan, Armenia, in Eurasia; several locations in southern Russia; and in the Middle East in Quriyat, Oman. And experience in Iran showed that it didn’t take record high heat to trigger public protests, a violent response, and at least one strange burst of paranoia from a senior public official.

European cities were on track for more severe climate impacts. Studies linked a winter deep freeze across much of North America to climate change and found a strong correlation between Arctic warming and wacky winter weather, while a massive storm pushed temperatures at the North Pole 30°C higher than normal. The world’s oceans marked the warmest recorded temperatures in 2017.

Farmworkers in the United States were dying of heat-related illness, and 70 people in southern Quebec, most of them impoverished, died in a summer heat wave. An Omani fishing village endured a record 24-hour period in which the low temperature was 42.6°C, and a heat wave in Karachi, Pakistan, killed at least 65 people. A study found that 3.0°C average global warming would lead to a fivefold increase in heat waves in Africa. A sweltering summer left 72% of Britons concerned about climate change; Alaskans faced severe impacts due to surging Arctic temperatures; Colorado ski operators stood to lose billions of dollars due to warmer, drier winters; and an early snow drought was expected to cut reservoir levels, resulting in billions in costs across the western United States.

Cape Town, South Africa, was on track to run out of water on April 22, until the imminent threat of Day Zero prompted residents to cut their per capita consumption by half.

Human Impacts and the Way Forward

Droughts and floods drove global hunger to a 10-year high, wiping out previous gains and prompting United Nations agencies to call for greater emphasis on climate resilience. A migrant caravan from Central America heading toward the United States was driven primarily by climate-induced drought, and millions around the world were being displaced each year by climate impacts, while the Trump administration scaled back its quota for incoming refugees. The poorest and most marginalized bore the brunt as air pollution killed eight million people per year, and many young adults faced a wrenching ethical dilemma as they weighed whether to become parents.

Analysis showed that the economic costs of climate change will hit hardest in India and the United States, placed the annual cost of unchecked sea level rise at $27 trillion by 2100, and stressed that compensation for loss and damage—the unavoidable costs that vulnerable countries and regions face due to climate disasters—must push beyond market-based measures like insurance.

Puerto Rico was in the midst of a major mental health crisis a year after Hurricane María, and Fort McMurray faced higher rates of depression, substance abuse, and post-traumatic stress after its 2016 wildfire. British Columbia unveiled a mental health plan for 2017 wildfire evacuees just as its 2018 wildfire season kicked off, and the overwhelming devastation from Hurricane Florence hit poor and rural North Carolinians the hardest. Australian farmers demanded practical solutions to the climatic changes they could see unfolding before their eyes, local solar installations pointed toward a better way to rebuild Puerto Rico, and a study found that a suite of urban solutions could free billions of people from climate impacts by 2050.

Media largely missed the memo on the urgency of the IPCC report on 1.5°C pathways, a new Canadian climate atlas showed that the crisis is real, and Texas fossils—without a trace of irony—sought federal government funding to protect their vulnerable, greenhouse gas-producing operations from climate change.

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Recent efforts by Big Oil to secure the legal right to expand so-called “chemical” recycling of plastics throughout the United States are being condemned by environmental activists as a (literally) poisonous shell game designed to keep fossils in business.

Wildfire Smoke Produces Immediate Harm, Likely Makes COVID Risk Worse, B.C. Study Shows

Wildfire smoke produces immediate harmful effects among British Columbians with respiratory or cardiovascular issues, poses a clear danger to diabetics, and could further exacerbate viral infections like COVID-19, according to new research recently published in the online journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Sea Level Rise Drives ‘Extraordinary’ Flooding on U.S. Atlantic, Gulf Coasts

The Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States have seen an “extraordinary” increase in high-tide flooding since 2000, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported in mid-July, a five-fold increase in frequency that is “damaging homes, imperiling the safety of drinking water, inundating roads, and otherwise hurting coastal communities,” the New York Times writes.

‘Entire Cities Are That Size,’ Scientist Says, as Canada’s Last Intact Arctic Ice Shelf Collapses

The Milne Ice Shelf on Ellesmere Island, the last fully intact ice shelf in the Canadian Arctic, has collapsed, after losing 40% of its area over a two-day span at the end of July, Reuters reports.

Heglar: Climate Crisis ‘Hurts Black People First and Worst’

Calls to “press pause” on climate action in order to fight racism more effectively simply further the whitewashing of a crisis that is systemically and inextricably linked to Black oppression, says writer and climate justice campaigner Mary Annaïse Heglar.

Trans Mountain Pipeline Loses Lead Insurer as Zurich Steps Away

Mammoth global insurance company Zurich has decided to abandon its role as principal insurer for the Trans Mountain pipeline when its coverage expires August 31.

Groundbreaking New Grid Model Would Eliminate up to 80% of U.S. Emissions by 2035

A new energy model is being hailed as the long-awaited technical manual for a Green New Deal in the U.S., a roadmap to the mass electrification that will allow the country to decarbonize its power grid by 2035.

Better Air Conditioning Standards Could Avoid Eight Years of Global Emissions by 2060

Global efforts to mandate the use of climate-friendly refrigerants and make cooling systems more efficient could avoid nearly eight years’ worth of carbon emissions, according to new research.

‘Agrivoltaics’ Pairs Grazing Sheep with Solar Arrays for Mutual Baaa-nefit

Solar developers and sheep farmers are being increasingly found in harmonious co-existence across the United States—and reduced fire risk, heightened community acceptance, and a shot at spectacular cost savings are three key reasons why.

https://pixabay.com/en/solar-energy-photovoltaic-panels-868663/

Canadian Climate Groups Urge ‘Green Strings’ on COVID Recovery Funding

As Finance Minister Bill Morneau prepared to release a fiscal update in early July, Canada’s leading environmental organizations called for “green strings” on Ottawa’s COVID-19 recovery funding package.

WMO Sees ‘Enormous Challenge’ to Hit Paris Targets as 1.5°C Warming Looms

There’s a one in five chance that average global warming will hit 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels in at least one of the next five years, and a 70% chance that at least one month will exceed that threshold, according to the latest in a series of annual climate updates released July 8 by the World Meteorological Organization.

Chicago’s 1995 Heat Wave Predicted ‘Baked-In’ Racism in COVID-19 Deaths

In a bitter echo of the disproportionate suffering seen during Chicago’s killing heat wave of 1995, Black residents of the city are now facing a similar onslaught from the coronavirus pandemic, an injustice owing to “baked in” structural racism, says a former chief medical officer for the Windy City.

Arctic Ice Loss to Bring Six-Metre Waves, More Coastal Erosion

An ice-free Arctic summer will bring surging ocean swells to northern seas by 2080—meaning community-battering coastal waves and six-metre mid-ocean monsters that will menace ship traffic.

Twitter Storm Greets Wilkinson Defence After Pandemic Produces 25% Cut in Tar Sands/Oil Sands Monitoring

Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson is pushing back on Twitter—and receiving a small Twitter storm in return—after The Canadian Press reported a 25% cut in the country’s environmental monitoring program for the Alberta tar sands/oil sands due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Harris Brings Record on Climate Action, Environmental Justice to Biden Presidential Ticket

Less than 24 hours after presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden chose Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) as his running mate in this fall’s election, the climate news wires were buzzing with recaps of her position on climate action, her record on environmental justice, and the likely outcome after the Biden-Harris campaign pushes the Trump administration out of office in November.

New Climate Migration Model Answers Looming Question: ‘Where Will Everyone Go?’

As the hallmarks of the climate crisis—heat, thirst, hunger, sea level rise, and conflict—send millions of frightened and desperate people into flight, migration experts are warning of an increasing reality for individuals and for nations: “Mobility is resilience.”

Nature-Friendly Economy Would Deliver $10 Trillion in Opportunities, 395 Million Jobs by 2030

A “fundamental transformation” in the direction of a nature-friendly global economy could produce US$10 trillion in annual business opportunities and a mind-boggling 395 million jobs by 2030, the International Institute for Sustainable Development reports, in a review of a recent report by the World Economic Forum.

Collapse of East Antarctic Ice Sheet Would Add 10 Feet to Sea Level Rise

Saudi Aramco Protects Shareholders After Profits Plummet 73%

No One Takes Responsibility for Massive Florida Methane Cloud

Spring Flooding Caused $522M in Damage in Fort McMurray

Manitoba First Nation Pans Nuclear Commission’s ‘Colonial, Inexcusable’ Behaviour

Sea Level Rise Threatens Hundreds of Toxic U.S. Superfund Sites

‘Giant Climate Hot Spot’ Drives Western U.S. Drought

Monster Storms in Argentina Hold Lessons for Future Severe Weather

Climate Drives Failing Dam at Zambia-Zimbabwe Border to ‘Brink of Calamity’

BlackRock Pushes Investors on Water Scarcity

Climate Crisis Demands Arctic Cooperation, Not Competition

50% Global Emissions Cut Would Avoid Severe Climate Impacts to Tropics

If governments across the world align their 2025 climate targets with the 1.5°C limit in the Paris Agreement, they can still halve the crushing GDP losses that will otherwise hit tropical economies by 2100, and significantly mitigate sea level rise and extreme heat events, Climate Analytics concludes in a new study.

Naming Heat Waves Like Hurricanes Would Boost Awareness, Experts Say

As triple-digit heat becomes commonplace around the world, public health experts and climate scientists are asking policy-makers to take a page from the handbook of hurricane preparedness—and give names to extreme heat waves. They hope the personification will drive home the fact that high temperatures kill.

Ecological Disaster in the Making as Oil Slick Spreads Off Mauritius Coast

With a bulk carrier leaking tonnes of fuel off its southeast coast and rough weather at risk of tearing the Japanese-owned vessel apart, the Indian Ocean island nation of Mauritius declared an environmental emergency and local residents “stuffed fabric sacks with sugar cane leaves Saturday to create makeshift oil spill barriers,” The Associated Press reports.

India Coal Mining Plan Endangers Ecologically Sensitive Forests, Indigenous Way of Life

India’s plan to boost an economy ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic and reduce its dependence on expensive coal imports is producing a moment of deep peril for the Hasdeo Arand, a biodiverse, ecologically sensitive forest in the state of Chhattisgarh, as the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi sets its sights on the five billion tonnes of coal beneath the surface.

‘Agrivoltaics’ Pairs Grazing Sheep with Solar Arrays for Mutual Baaa-nefit

Solar developers and sheep farmers are being increasingly found in harmonious co-existence across the United States—and reduced fire risk, heightened community acceptance, and a shot at spectacular cost savings are three key reasons why.

Multiple Freeze-Thaws Contributed to Gogama, Ontario Oil Train Derailment

Ocasio-Cortez Looks to Block Pipelines with U.S. Budget Bill

Abandoned North Sea Wells Produce Major Methane Releases

Seven Ukrainian Coal Towns Plot Joint Transformation

Neighbours Protest Nuclear Pellet Plant in Peterborough

Vancouver Turns to Heat Mapping to Cool Warmest Parts of the City

Boston-Area Study Finds Big Racial Disparities in Tailpipe Pollution

Oilfield Services Giant Schlumberger Cuts 21,000 Jobs

Musk Opposes New Stimulus After Winning Big in Earlier Round

Ohio Evangelicals Try to Move Legislators on Clean Energy

Air Conditioning Demand Could Drive Record Oil Use in Saudi Arabia

Thawing Permafrost Threatens Russia’s Plans for Far North Expansion

Extreme Rainfall in Korea Likely Triggered by Climate Change

Slipping Glacier Forces Evacuation of Italian Alpine Valley

Climate-Driven Weather Will Make a Congested Commute Worse

Battery-Makers Face Looming Lithium Shortage

Clean Energy Can Drive Sustainable Ocean Mining: WRI

‘Entire Cities Are That Size,’ Scientist Says, as Canada’s Last Intact Arctic Ice Shelf Collapses

The Milne Ice Shelf on Ellesmere Island, the last fully intact ice shelf in the Canadian Arctic, has collapsed, after losing 40% of its area over a two-day span at the end of July, Reuters reports.

Photo Essay on Global Heat Waves Documents ‘Inequity at the Boiling Point’

Athens. Houston. Nigeria. The Dry Corridor. Lucknow. New York. Just a few of the many places around the world where rising global temperatures are combining with the pre-existing cruelties of social inequity to malevolent effect.

Weekend Tour Kicks Off Six-Week Push to Delay Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion

More than 200 people signed up for a series of socially-distanced, small-group weekend tours of a conservation area in British Columbia, followed by a round of “know-your-rights training”, as campaign organizations prepared for a critical six weeks in their bid to halt construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

Groundbreaking New Grid Model Would Eliminate up to 80% of U.S. Emissions by 2035

A new energy model is being hailed as the long-awaited technical manual for a Green New Deal in the U.S., a roadmap to the mass electrification that will allow the country to decarbonize its power grid by 2035.

Canadian Forecasters Urge Atlantic Coast to Prepare for Record Hurricane Season

In the wake of alarming news from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that 2020 may well be the most active hurricane season in history, Canadian meteorologists are warning the public and policy-makers to get ready for a one-two punch of pandemic and wild weather.

Global Sports Sector Bears Climate Responsibility and Risk

The sports sector is playing against the clock when it comes to its greenhouse gas emissions impact and vulnerability to the climate crisis, according to a new report from the Rapid Transition Alliance. 

‘Tree-to-Toilet Pipeline’ Prompts Charge of ‘Greenflushing’ as NRDC Grabs Syndicated TV Spot

The Natural Resources Defense Council’s campaign against destruction of Canada’s boreal forest got a big boost last week with a syndicated TV spot on CBS This Morning.

Two Months of Arctic Wildfires Exceed Scandinavia’s Annual Carbon Emissions

Mauritius Faces Environmental Crisis from Big Coastal Oil Spill

Rapid Glacier Loss Will Affect Regional Water Availability in Alberta

Tropical Storm Isaias Destroys Outdoor Dining in New Jersey

Great Lakes Water Temperatures Hit Three-Decade High

Heavy Rains Could Bring La Ronge, Saskatchewan Dam to Point of Failure

California Looks to Include Climate Planning in Utility Rates

UK Turns Attention to Natural Flood Prevention

WRI: New Start-Ups Show Future of Mobility is Micro

Study Links Trade to Global Hunger, Climate Adaptation

Heat Tolerance of Red Sea Coral Raises Hopes for Adaptation

Muttitt Paper Sets Principles for Managed Fossil Phaseout

UK Grid Could Go Carbon-Negative by 2033

New Innovators Make Sure COVID Plastic Boom Isn’t Forever

Architecture Can Support Pandemic Adaptation

Budget Cut for Tar Sands/Oil Sands Monitoring Raises Health Concerns for Nearby First Nations

Indigenous communities in northern Alberta and the Northwest Territories say they’re losing faith in federal and provincial environmental monitoring in the tar sands/oil sands, after The Canadian Press revealed earlier this week that this year’s field research program will sustain a funding cut of about 25%.

Dakota Access Pipeline Dodges Immediate Shutdown, Still Faces Environmental Review

The owner of the Dakota Access pipeline has dodged an order to immediately shut down operations, but will still have to undergo a full environmental review, after an appeal court overturned a judge’s order in early July that the line must cease operations within 30 days.

Child Health Gains Emerge as ‘Side Benefit’ from Northeastern U.S. Climate Program

Fifteen years after the launch of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a climate initiative in 10 northeastern U.S. states, researchers have discovered some critical side benefits to reducing CO2 emissions: fewer preterm births, healthier babies, fewer cases of asthma, and possibly fewer cases of autism.

Austria, Paris, and Tokyo Studies Find No Link Between Transit, COVID-19 Clusters

Several new studies from around the world have found no link between public transit and infection clusters of COVID-19. That means using transit is likely not a high-risk activity for transmission—thanks to social distancing protocols, masked riders, rigorous cleaning, and excellent ventilation systems.

Second Pandemic Wave Will Drive Oil Farther Down

Wuhan Declares Red Alert as Flooding Disrupts Supply Chains

Indigenous Off-Diesel Efforts Need Better Support: Pembina

New York City’s Managed Retreat Has Already Begun

Some Tree Planting Does More Harm Than Good

Climate Change Drives African Heat Waves

Landowner Mounts Court Challenge to Adani Power Plant

Twitter Storm Greets Wilkinson Defence After Pandemic Produces 25% Cut in Tar Sands/Oil Sands Monitoring

Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson is pushing back on Twitter—and receiving a small Twitter storm in return—after The Canadian Press reported a 25% cut in the country’s environmental monitoring program for the Alberta tar sands/oil sands due to the coronavirus pandemic.

5,757 ‘Tiny Earthquakes’ in B.C.’s Peace Region Were Mostly Caused by Fracking

Oil and gas fracking operations in British Columbia’s Peace region were by far the main cause of 5,757 “tiny earthquakes” between 2017 and 2019 that would have gone unrecorded if researchers hadn’t been looking for them, according to a study published last month in the journal Seismological Research Letters.

Racial Inequities Must Be Solved in Tandem with Climate, U.S. Campaigner Stresses

While she credits Joe Biden’s effort to address racial inequities in tandem with the climate crisis, climate policy analyst Rhiana Gunn-Wright is urging the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee to more fully grasp the depths to which the latter trauma is rooted in the former—lest neither ever be solved.

U.S. Fossils’ Plastic Recycling Plans Increase Toxic Pollution, Deliver Industry Lifeline

Recent efforts by Big Oil to secure the legal right to expand so-called “chemical” recycling of plastics throughout the United States are being condemned by environmental activists as a (literally) poisonous shell game designed to keep fossils in business.

212 Deaths Make 2019 the Most Dangerous Year for Land and Environmental Defenders

2019 was the deadliest year on record for land and environmental defenders world-wide, with the NGO Global Witness documenting 212 killed—more than four per week—in its annual report issued last week.

Scarcity of Pollinators Reduces Crop Yields, Quality in U.S. and B.C.

A scarcity of both wild bees and their domesticated cousins is limiting crop yields and quality, according to a recent collaborative study of farms across the United States and British Columbia. The province’s lucrative blueberry crop is being particularly hard hit by the scarcity of pollinators, the researchers found.

Pandemic and climate crises unmask inequalities

A chorus of world leaders has declared we’re all in the same COVID-19 boat. In response, U.K. writer Damian Barr tweeted, “We are not all in the same boat. We are all in the same storm. Some are on super-yachts. Some have just the one oar.”

Activists Urge Toronto to Build Green Recovery Through COVID Relief

Indigenous Communities Pay the Price for Massive Russian Oil Spill

Quebec Manufacturers Nab Contract for Electric Garbage Trucks

UK Will Routinely Hit 40°C by 2100

Women See Worst Effects of Climate Displacement, Migration

How Humanity Unleashed a Flood of New Diseases

Ikea Flatpacks Ukraine Forests

DeSmog Probes Fossils’ Tree-Planting Promises

Changing Water Supplies Affect Hydro Output in U.S. Pacific Northwest

Mississippi River Farmers Look to Nature-Based Flood Mitigation

Wilkinson Orders Federal Environmental Assessment for Vista Coal Mine Expansion

Environment and Climate Minister Jonathan Wilkinson is earning praise for ordering a federal environmental review of the proposed Vista coal mine expansion near Hinton, in the Rocky Mountain foothills of Alberta, reversing an earlier decision after facing intense pushback from the Louis Bull Tribe, the Stoney Lakoda Nation, and Ecojustice.

Houston Flood Protection Funding Prioritizes Disadvantaged Neighbourhoods, Generates Status Quo Pushback

After years of being left without flood protection—with all support earmarked for the coastal properties of the wealthy—Houston’s low-lying neighbourhoods have found champions in policy-makers determined to prioritize the protection of those who would face a more difficult recovery. But not everyone appreciates this application of environmental justice.

Landmark Economic Analysis Shows 5:1 Return on Protected Area Investments

The most comprehensive cost-benefit analysis ever on nature protections has found that the economic, ecological, and spiritual benefits of protecting 30% of the world’s marine and terrestrial ecosystems will outweigh the costs by a factor of at least five to one.

Hundreds Dead, Millions Affected as Extended Bangladesh Monsoon Combines with Cyclone Recovery, Pandemic

Hundreds of people are dead and millions have been affected as Bangladesh faces its longest period of monsoon flooding in decades, while South Asia simultaneously scrambles to recover from a cyclone that itself arrived on the heels of the coronavirus pandemic.

Australian Bushfires Killed or Displaced Nearly Three Billion Animals

The devastating Australian bushfires in late 2019 and early 2020 killed or displaced nearly three billion koalas, kangaroos, and other wildlife, three times more than previously estimated, according to a new report by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

McKinsey Predicts Florida Losing $30B in Home Values in 10 Years

EU Green Plan Leaves Details, Responsibility to Member States

Latina Mothers at Greatest Risk as U.S. Study Links Gas Flares to Premature Birth

Ottawa Could Face ‘Massive Dump’ of Nuclear Waste Under New Federal Guidelines

Cities Put More Emphasis on ‘Food Forests’

U.S. Sierra Club Looks Back to Founder John Muir to Confront Its Racist Past

COVID Forces Hawai’i Hurricane Shelters to Take Temperatures at the Door

No-Fly Campaigners Decry Cancellation of Eurostar Ski Train

Heat Waves, COVID Mean Higher Power Bills

Wood Burning Leaves Poor Chilean Town with World’s Worst Air

Dam Delay Gives Critically Endangered Indonesian Orangutans a Reprieve

New $1.7B Danish Green Fund Shows Investors Still Interested

Overheated U.S. Cities Face Misery as Pandemic Closes Summer Cooling Centres

Pandemic closures and fears are causing acute suffering for the millions of impoverished American households who, lacking air conditioning, typically escape summer heat in public buildings like libraries or cooling centres. Now, public health professionals and climate resilience experts are speaking up.

Decaying Tanker off Yemeni Coast a Human and Marine Disaster in Waiting

As a rusty, crude-filled oil tanker moulders off the coast of Yemen, the health and well-being of 1.6 million Yemenis—and of the country’s marine biodiversity—hang on the swift resolution of a standoff between UN environmental inspectors and the rebel group that controls the region.

Montreal Reports 14 Heat Wave Deaths

TC Energy Pushes Ahead with ‘Pipeline to Nowhere’ in B.C.

North California Wildfire Leaves Two Firefighters Injured

Amphibians’ Climate Vulnerability Compounded by Heat, Water Shortages

New Study Shows Microplastics in Food, Water, Air

U.S. Farmers Raise Big Stink Over Burger King’s Cow Fart Ad

Doug Ford Ontario government

Auditor General to Probe Ontario Recovery Package for Environmental Rights Violations

The Doug Ford government in Ontario passed its economic recovery legislation last week despite warnings from Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk the massive omnibus bill could violate the province’s Environmental Bill of Rights. Now an opposition MPP is asking the AG to investigate.

Plastics in America Are a ‘Story of Environmental Racism’

The story of plastics in America is a story of environmental racism, with Black and Indigenous communities both far more likely both to purchase and use plastics, lack access to recycling, and live in hot zones for waste incineration that exposes them to a slew of harms, writes urban sustainability campaigner Chante Harris in a guest post for Anti-Racism Daily.

73% in B.C. Support Just, Sustainable Transition

The majority of British Columbians support a more just, sustainable transition into a post-pandemic economy, according to online poll results released last week by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

P&G Carbon Reduction Target Applies to Less Than 2% of Its Global Emissions

Procter & Gamble has committed to “neutralizing” its direct emissions by 2030, using offsets to realize half of the cuts. But that tepid effort will leave more than 98% of its annual emissions, produced in supply chains and product use around the world, spilling up into the atmosphere unchecked, Bloomberg Green reports.

Rising Temperatures Endanger Water, Crops in India

U.S. Investment Giant Devises Incentive to Protect Great Barrier Reef

Lockdown Limbo Becomes ‘Nightmare’ for UK Flood Vicims

Massive Ethiopian Dam Could Produce Open Conflict with Sudan, Egypt

Warming Water More Hazardous to Fish than Scientists Thought

Trans Mountain Pipeline Loses Lead Insurer as Zurich Steps Away

Mammoth global insurance company Zurich has decided to abandon its role as principal insurer for the Trans Mountain pipeline when its coverage expires August 31.

New Study Projects 2.6 to 3.9°C Warming if Humanity Lets Atmospheric CO2 Double

A new study has narrowed the range of likely answers to one of the oldest questions in climate science: how much average global warming to expect if humanity doubles the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It rules out both the high- and low-end estimates in past calculations, placing the “equilibrium climate sensitivity” window between 2.6 and 3.9°C.

Better Air Conditioning Standards Could Avoid Eight Years of Global Emissions by 2060

Global efforts to mandate the use of climate-friendly refrigerants and make cooling systems more efficient could avoid nearly eight years’ worth of carbon emissions, according to new research.

Group Proposes Cargo Bikes, 21 Kilometres of New Cycling Paths, for Toronto’s Finch West Area

A non-profit in Toronto is pushing for a 21-kilometre network of off-street cycling paths between the Jane-Finch area and Rexdale, to relieve volume on Finch West’s crowded bus lines and make cargo bikes a realistic option for nearby businesses.

New Wave of COVID Hits Texas Oil Refineries

U.S. Coal Utilities Face Water Shortages

Alpine Glaciers Shrink 20% in 20 Years

Coral Reef Survival Depends on Sea Surface Temperature

Africa’s Inclusive Recovery Depends on Renewables

EU European Union

EU Treats Climate as ‘Pawn in Bigger Negotiation’, Adopts World’s Greenest Stimulus with Too Little Enforcement

Just a day after declaring it a “mission impossible”, leaders of 27 European countries finalized a COVID-19 recovery plan and seven-year budget worth €1.8 trillion, with nearly one-third of the total set aside for climate measures but reduced funding to key climate initiatives and only limited “green strings” to prevent investments in polluting industries.

Deadly Jasper Park Bus Rollover Could Be Linked to Glacial Retreat

In the wake of last weekend’s fatal rollover of an Ice Explorer tour bus near the Athabasca Glacier in Alberta’s Jasper National Park—the cause of which remains under investigation—a Canadian glaciologist is pointing to the risk of venturing or dwelling near icefields that are shifting and shrinking.

Monsoon Flooding Displaces Nearly Four Million in Nepal, Northeast India

Flooding and mudslides triggered by pounding monsoon rains have sent nearly four million people in Nepal and India’s northeast regions fleeing for their lives. Nearly 200 have been killed so far with many more missing, and the level of threat remains high

Judge Quashes Trump’s Methane Regulation Rollback as Global Emissions Hit All-Time High

In a decision last week, a U.S. judge called a halt to the Trump administration’s bid to roll back methane regulations enacted by President Barack Obama, just a couple of days after scientists reported global methane emissions hitting record highs in 2017.

Unchecked Emissions Would Mean No Polar Bears by 2100

If a business-as-usual approach to the climate crisis continued and global emissions kept rising beyond 2040, the polar bear would vanish from the Earth by 2100, unable in an overheating world to hunt the seals it needs to survive.

South Korea Fails to Adopt Net-Zero Deadline with New Green Investment Plan

South Korea stepped back from setting a deadline for phasing out its greenhouse gas emissions last week is it unveiled a ₩42.7-trillion/US$35-billion plan to invest in renewable energy and environmental infrastructure.

Offshore Leak Shuts Down Hibernia Oil Platform Off Newfoundland

Private Land Buys Speed Up Tropical Deforestation

Mexican State Fossil Pemex Reveals 207 COVID Deaths So Far

Indigenous Lens Points Toward Better Environmental Decisions

Resilience Concerns Drive 44% of Businesses to Consider Microgrids

California Explores Microgrids as Wildfire Management Tool

Investors See Agroforestry as Climate-Friendly Money-Maker

Indiana Firm Touts Regenerative Farming

$2.7-Trillion in Ecosystem Investments Would Generate 400 Million Jobs: WEF

A yearly investment of US$2.7 trillion in ecosystem health would reap an annual 400 million jobs and $10 trillion in returns through 2030, according to a new report from the World Economic Forum, prompting the study authors to urge policy-makers to make restoration of the devastated natural world a cornerstone of all pandemic recovery efforts.

Wilkinson Sets End-of-July Deadline to Decide on Vista Coal Mine Review

Environment and Climate Minister Jonathan Wilkinson has given himself until the end of this month to decide whether to order a federal environmental assessment of a controversial expansion plan for the Vista coal mine near Hinton, Alberta.

Mayors Urge Recovery Based on Green Jobs, ‘15-Minute’ Cities

Green job creation, support for essential workers, investment in green industries, and funding for building retrofits, transit, pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, and “resilient public services” are cornerstones of a green and just recovery program released Wednesday by C40 Cities.

Building Back Better Could Prevent 112,000 Premature Deaths, Canadian Doctors Say

Meeting Canada’s climate targets could prevent 112,000 premature deaths between 2030 and 2050 due to air quality improvements alone, but achieving those gains will depend on the investments governments make today, according to new modelling released by the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment.

Downtown St. John’s, Newfoundland Goes Car-Free for COVID-19

Pandemic-weary residents and business owners in St. John’s, Newfoundland are getting used to a newly-refashioned pedestrian-only downtown, and many of them hoping the changes will be permanent, though accessibility advocates warn the current street closure plan is unfriendly to people with mobility issues.

Sea Level Rise Drives ‘Extraordinary’ Flooding on U.S. Atlantic, Gulf Coasts

The Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States have seen an “extraordinary” increase in high-tide flooding since 2000, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported earlier this week, a five-fold increase in frequency that is “damaging homes, imperiling the safety of drinking water, inundating roads, and otherwise hurting coastal communities,” the New York Times writes.

Accelerated Harvest Takes Down European Forest at ‘Alarming’ Rate

Tree Planting Binge Threatens Ancient Grasslands

Inupiat Adapt to Alaska Warming

Indiana Solar Farm Will Make Place for Pollinators

Tropical Plants Could Face Mass Die-Off by 2070

Bunker Oil Spill Forces Hundreds to Evacuate in Philippines

Ontario’s Bruce County Gears Up to Fight High-Level Rad Waste Dump

Goats, Sheep Clear Unwanted Brush for Alberta Air Force Base

With U.S. Fossils ‘Hurtling Toward Bankruptcy’, Execs Get a Payout While Abandoned Wells Leak Methane

With U.S. fossils “hurtling toward bankruptcy at a pace not seen in years,” companies are already abandoning unprofitable oil and gas wells or leaving them untended, the New York Times reports, producing an immediate, new source of climate-busting methane and a longer-term environmental mess for taxpayers to clean up.

Chicago’s 1995 Heat Wave Predicted ‘Baked-In’ Racism in COVID-19 Deaths

In a bitter echo of the disproportionate suffering seen during Chicago’s killing heat wave of 1995, Black residents of the city are now facing a similar onslaught from the coronavirus pandemic, an injustice owing to “baked in” structural racism, says a former chief medical officer for the Windy City.

Open Letter to Wilkinson Urges Environmental Assessment for Vista Coal Mine Expansion

A group of 47 Canadian environmental, Indigenous, health, civil society, and faith organizations issued an open letter this week calling on Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson to order an environmental assessment for Coalspur Mines Ltd.’s plan to expand its Vista mine near Hinton, Alberta.

Coal-Dependent Jakarta Sees Air Quality Worsen During Lockdown

In a reversal of a trend seen in other major cities in Southeast Asia, Jakarta’s air quality actually got worse during the traffic-squelching pandemic lockdown. Air quality experts are largely blaming the dozen coal plants that supply the Indonesian megalopolis with power—while killing tens of thousands of city residents annually and delivering poor birth weights to thousands of babies.

http://tcktcktck.org/2011/09/climate-solutions-for-africa/

Climate Resilience Efforts Must Include Local Needs, Local Wisdom, WRI Says

Less than 10% of international climate funding is currently earmarked for local efforts to build resilience. This dynamic needs to change, says the World Resources Institute, and the power of context-specific action, local leadership, and embedded knowledge can make it happen.

Siberian Wildfires Release 59 Mt of CO2 in June as Brazil Gets Set for Deliberate Burning

With temperatures up to 10°C warmer than normal, and dry soils that are ideal for wildfires, the Siberian Arctic released an unprecedented 59 megatonnes of carbon dioxide in June and became a predictor for an unusually warm summer around the world.

Rocky Mountain Photo Archive Shows ‘Huge Change’ in Alpine Region

A massive photographic archive of Canada’s Rocky Mountains extending back to the 1880s has revealed that treelines in the range have advanced up the mountains by as much as 250 metres.

Climate Will Disrupt Food Chains So Much More than COVID

COVID is ‘Fire Drill’ for Climate Impacts: UN Global Compact

California Emissions Drop Could Cut Funding for Healthy Soil Programs

World’s Biggest Spice Company Aims for Greener Farms, Fairer Profits

Dakota Access Pipeline Continues Accepting Oil After U.S. Judge Orders Shutdown

The company behind the intensely controversial Dakota Access Pipeline isn’t explicitly defying a court order. But nor was it reported to have taken any steps last week to comply with Judge James Boasberg’s ruling that the line must shut down within 30 days, after failing to meet environmental assessment requirements.

Alberta Storm Sends Hailstones the Size of Tennis Balls at 80-100 Kilometres Per Hour

The hailstorm that hit southern Alberta last week, smashing windows and destroying farmers’ crops, was the most severe on record and the fourth-worst natural disaster in Canadian history, causing an estimated C$1.2 billion in damage, CBC reports.

Arctic Ice Loss to Bring Six-Metre Waves, More Coastal Erosion

An ice-free Arctic summer will bring surging ocean swells to northern seas by 2080—meaning community-battering coastal waves and six-metre mid-ocean monsters that will menace ship traffic.

Brazil’s Amazon Destruction Puts World’s Biggest Trade Deal at Risk

A year after it was finalized, a massive free trade deal between the European Union and Mercosur, a South American trade bloc comprising Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay, is in peril, as stakeholders recoil from Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s transparent willingness to lay waste to the Amazon.

Global Meat Industry Facing Emissions Reckoning

Currently reeling from the radical readjustment of global eating habits that has accompanied the pandemic, the international meat industry is facing another near-future reckoning with those determined to hold it to account for its high greenhouse gas emissions. 

E-Bike Popularity Muscles Cars Off European Roads

Europe’s shift to bicycles and e-bikes is accelerating as lingering concerns about coronavirus meet with a heightened environmental consciousness—a trend of planet-friendly progress that is being aided by supportive government policies.

David Suzuki Foundation Fellow Brings Power to the People

A member of the Lubicon Cree First Nation, Melina Laboucan-Massimo has a master’s degree in Indigenous governance and is the founder of Lubicon Solar and Sacred Earth Solar and co-founder of Indigenous Climate Action. She’s also the host of Power to the People, an exciting new series on APTN that explores the renewable energy revolution empowering Indigenous communities throughout Canada and around the world.

Ecosystems Will Produce More Methane as Atmosphere Warms

Pacific Islands Navigate ‘Converging Shocks’ from Pandemic, Cyclone

Muggier Weather Threatens the Most Vulnerable in Jacksonville, FL

Poverty, Then Pandemic Threaten Electricity Access: IEA

Non-Profit Teaches Small-Scale Farming to Calgarians

Pirates Kidnap Nine Crew from Oil Tanker Off Nigeria

WMO Sees ‘Enormous Challenge’ to Hit Paris Targets as 1.5°C Warming Looms

There’s a one in five chance that average global warming will hit 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels in at least one of the next five years, and a 70% chance that at least one month will exceed that threshold, according to the latest in a series of annual climate updates released yesterday by the World Meteorological Organization.

Ontario’s Talk of Housing Near Transit a ‘Trojan Horse’ for Rolling Back Environmental Protection

Recent announcements on transit-oriented development, affordable housing, air conditioning in long-term care homes, and even education policy are shaping up as a screen for the Ontario government’s latest attempt to scale back environmental protections and clear the way for unrestrained, decidedly unsustainable development, critics say.

Ecojustice lawyer Fraser Thomson

In Conversation: Canada Mustn’t Allow Vista Coal Mine Expansion Without Environmental Assessment, Thomson Says

Fraser Thomson is a lawyer with Ecojustice and a member of the legal team working to stop the Vista mine expansion.

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Up to $6.7 Billion in U.S. Pandemic Relief Handed to 5,600 Fossil Companies

Environmentalists and accountability watchdogs are crying foul over revelations that more than 5,600 fossil companies have taken billions in federal coronavirus aid earmarked for small businesses.

PTSD is the Invisible, Life-Threatening Injury for Wildland Firefighters

An excellent article by Mark Betancourt in High Country News describes the upheaval that occurred in Brown’s life, how he tried to deal with it, and how the government’s system for treating on-the-job injuries failed.

Mountains of Pandemic Food Waste Become New Methane Source

Ocean Acidification Could Wipe Out Arctic Ocean Shellfish

McDonald’s Pulls Plug on Beyond Meat Experiment

COVID May Boost European Demand for EVs

New Surge of Climate-Driven Landslides Hits Japan

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Canadian Climate Groups Urge ‘Green Strings’ on COVID Recovery Funding

As Finance Minister Bill Morneau prepares to release a fiscal update today, Canada’s leading environmental organizations are calling for “green strings” on Ottawa’s COVID-19 recovery funding package.

Louisville, Kentucky Op Ed Declares Healthy Neighbourhoods a Human Right

As life expectancies in Louisville’s poorest—and largely Black—communities sink to war-zone levels, health officials and urban policy experts are excoriating the mayor of the Kentucky city for pinning the blame on lifestyle choices rather than environmental degradation and systemic racism.

Global Development Banks’ Recovery Plans Must Omit Fossil Funding, Advocates Say

When 450 global development banks with their hands on US$2 trillion in public funds meet in November to chart their contribution to the pandemic recovery, they must declare an end to international financing for fossil fuels, three leading finance and development advocates argue in a post this week for the Thomson Reuters Foundation. 

Extreme Summer Weather Sweeps Southern U.S. States

Climate change is delivering a miserable—and dangerous—early summer to residents across the southern United States, including “staggering” heat in Miami and a trio of massive wildfires currently burning in the Santa Catalina mountains in southern Arizona.

Small Modular Reactors Raise Nuclear Waste Risk, Distract from Real Climate Solutions

The rise of “small” nuclear reactors (SMRs) raises serious concerns about radioactive waste disposal and is ultimately a distraction from real climate solutions, according to two separate analyses published days apart in New Brunswick and Saskatchewan, two of the three provinces that have been touting the technology.

SolarAid Raises $300,000 for Remote Clinics in Malawi and Zambia

London, UK-based international charity SolarAid has raised more than US$300,000 to supply thousands of free solar-powered devices to medical professionals fighting the coronavirus pandemic at health clinics and isolation centres in rural Malawi and Zambia.

147 Dead as Climate Change Sparks Lightning Strikes in Northern India

Guatemalan Forests Fare Better with Community Control

Women Play Key Role in Averting COVID Famine in Sub-Saharan Africa

Electric Cars Save Lives, Canadian Hospitals Conclude

De-Damming Turns Maine River Into ‘One of the Best Nature Shows’

Shell Faces Oil Spill Pollution Lawsuit in Nigeria

Air Pollution, Dust Reduce Solar Panel Output

Diesel Generator in Whitehorse Exceeds Local Noise Standards

Flooding Forces Michigan Towns to Save What They Can

Study Shows Energy Costing More for Black American Households

Black American households continue to pay substantially more for energy than whites, pointing to yet another injustice radiating outwards from generations of racial segregation and discriminatory housing policies and lending practices.

Wildfire Smoke Produces Immediate Harm, Likely Makes COVID Risk Worse, B.C. Study Shows

Wildfire smoke produces immediate harmful effects among British Columbians with respiratory or cardiovascular issues, poses a clear danger to diabetics, and could further exacerbate viral infections like COVID-19, according to new research recently published in the online journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

South Pole Warms Three Times Faster than Global Average

The South Pole may be the coldest place on Earth, but it has been warming at three times to global rate over the last 30 years, according to new research published last week in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Drought Forces Puerto Rico to Limit Water Access During Pandemic Response

Still far from recovered from its ravaging by Hurricane María in 2017, Puerto Rico is now struggling under drought conditions, with water woes made worse by financial straits that have prevented its state utility company, PREPA, from dredging critical reservoirs on schedule.

Sea Level Rise May Push U.S. Banks to Reject 30-Year Mortgages

2050 View Foresees Hyper-Local Cities with More Bikes, Less Smog

Perrotta Considers Role of Public Health in Responding to Climate

Supreme Court Dismisses Indigenous Appeal of Trans Mountain Re-Approval

The Supreme Court of Canada has dismissed a bid by three British Columbia First Nations to appeal the federal government’s re-approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline.

Judge Reopens Line 5, Gives Enbridge a Week to Report Safety Test Results

A county judge ruled Wednesday that Enbridge Inc. can reopen its troubled Line 5 pipeline in Michigan, despite technical concerns about possible structural problems with an underwater section of the line and mounting public skepticism about both the pipeline and its operator.

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Australian Lobby Group Points to One Million Jobs in Green Recovery Plan

Countering Canberra’s fossil-backed call for a gas-powered pandemic recovery plan, the Australian lobby group Beyond Zero Emissions has mapped a solar- and wind-powered path to the swift creation of one million green jobs across the energy, manufacturing, and building sectors.

‘Immense National Effort’ Needed to Mitigate Rise in Canadian Flooding

With country-wide floodwater emergencies and extreme weather events like Calgary’s recent $1-billion hailstorm foreshadowing far worse to come, experts are calling for the creation of a “robust 21st-century strategy on water.”

Puerto Ricans Are Skeptical After Canadian Firm Joins Consortium to Deliver Local Grid Services

While a Canadian utility company celebrates its part in a 15-year consortium deal to modernize and operate Puerto Rico’s hurricane-ravaged power grid, the contract award is landing poorly with local electrical engineers, environmentalists, and union leaders who’ve been advocating for a more distributed grid, and are criticizing what they see as a lack of transparency in the selection process.

U.S. Dominican Nuns Raise $130 Million for ‘Holistic’ Climate Solutions Fund

Five years after Pope Francis delivered his acclaimed encyclical calling for environmental and climate justice, 16 congregations of Dominican nuns in the United States are collaborating with Morgan Stanley to create their own US$130-million climate solutions fund.

Trump’s Mount Rushmore Fireworks Plan Risks Virus Spread, Wildfire

Canada’s Green Recovery Must Include Resilience Planning

Families Line Up for Water Overnight as Bulawayo, Zimbabwe Faces Drought

New Solar Panel Design Produces Pure, Potable Water

‘Green Snow’ in Antarctica Pulls Carbon Out of the Air

Pandemic Spawns Buy-Local Movement Online

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Line 5 Pipeline Faces Tuesday Court Date After Judge Orders Temporary Closure

A county judge in Michigan has ordered Calgary-based Enbridge Inc. to shut down its troubled Line 5 pipeline through the Straits of Mackinac between Lakes Michigan and Huron until a hearing tomorrow can review the state’s request for a temporary injunction against the 67-year-old line.

Heglar: Climate Crisis ‘Hurts Black People First and Worst’

Calls to “press pause” on climate action in order to fight racism more effectively simply further the whitewashing of a crisis that is systemically and inextricably linked to Black oppression, says writer and climate justice campaigner Mary Annaïse Heglar.

Heat, Pollution Put Black Mothers at Greater Risk of Poor Birth Outcomes

A sweeping review of birth outcomes in the U.S. since the early 2000s has found that exposure to extreme heat and air pollution during pregnancy brings increased risk of delivering pre-term, low weight, or stillborn babies. And Black mothers are suffering more from these effects than white mothers.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extraction_of_petroleum

Indigenous Leaders Warn They May Be Left Out of Abandoned Well Cleanup Fund

Indigenous leaders are concerned their communities may be left out as Alberta, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia begin spending C$1.5 billion in federal funds to clean up abandoned oil and gas wells left behind by deadbeat fossils.

Ontario Cancels Nuclear Waste Storage Plan Near Lake Huron Shoreline

Ontario Power Generation has pulled the plug on a multi-billion-dollar effort to store hazardous nuclear waste in underground vaults at the Bruce Nuclear Generating Station in Kincardine, near the Lake Huron shoreline.

Indonesian Anti-Poverty Program Reduces Tree Loss by 30%

Thirteen years into an Indonesian anti-poverty program that delivers cash payments to poor citizen living in forested areas, experts are cautiously celebrating strong evidence that alleviating poverty—even without qualifications that require conservation work—helps arrest deforestation.

Arizona Blaze Approaches Mega-Fire Status

NJ Builds Resilience with New Waste-to-Energy Microgrid

Bipartisan Soil Bill Reaches U.S. Senate

Nicaragua Grazes Beef on ‘Stolen, Deforested’ Land

Updated New Jersey School Standards Highlight Climate

Five FCM Case Studies Track Cities’ Response to Water System Risks

Chevron Anti-Racism Tweet Sparks Accusations of Hypocrisy

Colossal fossil Chevron’s recent “Black Lives Matter” tweet has sparked a fierce debate among Black Americans about what it means to have Big Oil speaking out against racism, even as its emissions and shareholder-beholden profit model lay waste to Black communities at home and around the world.

38°C Heat in Siberian Town Sets New Record Above Arctic Circle

The northeastern Siberian town of Verkhoyansk is believed to have set an all-time high temperature record above the Arctic Circle Saturday when thermometers soared to 38°C/100.4°F. The town is located 4,800 kilometres north of Moscow, has been keeping temperature records since 1885, and normally sees an average June temperature of 20°C/68°F.

U.S. Survey Shows Rising Concern Over Climate Health Risks

The past six years have left many more Americans believing the climate crisis brings increasing risk of physical harm from severe storms, flooding, heat waves, wildfire, pollution, allergies, and insect-borne disease. And far more Americans are also becoming more aware of the toll climate change is taking on mental health.

Climate and Conflict Could Displace One Billion by 2050

While data remains scarce on the multiple causes driving current and future migrants to flee their homes, a new report points to the frightening conjunction of climate, water resources, and conflict could find one billion people in search of safety by 2050.

Michigan Goes to Court, Calls for Independent Review After Enbridge Partly Reopens Line 5 Pipeline

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is asking a judge to shut down Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline, less than a week after a company repair crew reported “significant damage” to an anchor support on the line’s eastern portion under the Straits of Mackinac.

$20-Billion East African Pipeline to Displace Thousands of Farmers, Risk Massive Oil Spill

A US$20-billion pipeline project in East Africa is set to displace thousands of small farmers and endanger key wildlife habitat and coastal waters—in spite of the risk of an environmental disaster on the scale of the Exxon Valdez oil spill and increasingly unsteady markets for fossil fuels.

Mediterranean Emerges as Climate Hot Spot

Dakota Access Pipeline Developer Leaves Behind Trail of Spills

New York Riverkeeper Takes Aim at Gas Plants

Nigerian Health Centres Turn to Solar to Respond to COVID Crisis

Agriculture Can Be Front and Centre in Canada’s Natural Solutions Plan

Environmental Justice Drives Chicago’s New Chief Sustainability Officer

California Scrambles to Add Microgrids Before Wildfire Season

Antarctic Ice Melt Holds Clues to Future Sea Level Rise

Church Groups Link Peace-Building to Climate Adaptation

B.C. Dramatically Overestimates Old Growth Forest, Faces Climate Impacts Without Better Protection

British Columbia is dramatically overestimating the size of productive old growth forests that have all but vanished across the province, according to an independent science report that warns of serious climate impacts if remaining forests aren’t protected.

U.S. Academics #ShutDownSTEM to Fight Ivory Tower Racism

It took George Floyd eight minutes and 46 seconds to asphyxiate at the hands of a violent police officer. Now Black environmental justice groups, along with science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) scientists of all races, are banding together to fight the slower but no less murderous suffocations being delivered by systemic racism.

Declaration for Resilience Urges ‘New Normal’ for Canadian Cities

Canada’s urban planning experts, along with leaders in the public, private, and non-profit sectors, have signed on to the 2020 Declaration for Resilience in Canadian Cities, urging policy-makers at all levels to create a “new normal” that makes affordability, sustainability, climate-friendliness, and equity the four cornerstones of any pandemic recovery plans.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extraction_of_petroleum

Abandoned Wells Emerge as Massive, Largely Unmeasured Methane Risk

The United States is emerging as a focal point of one of the larger problems arising from oil and gas production: the leaky wells left behind when fossils abandon them rather than cleaning up the health and environmental mess they’ve created.

Standard Climate Models May Understate GHGs from Permafrost Melt by 14%

Standard climate models may be underestimating greenhouse gas emissions from thawing permafrost by missing one of the key pathways for carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere, according to new research published earlier this month in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Dogs Will Need Protection from Extreme Heat, Just Like Humans, Study Shows

Very large dogs, dogs older than 12 years, and breeds with flat faces and wide skulls will be most susceptible to heat-related illness, and purebred dogs will likely be at higher risk than crossbreeds, as the impacts of climate change accelerate, according to new research published last week by the journal Nature under its Scientific Reports imprint.

Week 25, June 22: Climate Adaptation and Preparedness

Because of humanity’s failure to reduce and re-absorb our carbon pollution, and the continuing accumulation of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere, the climate crisis will continue to worsen and become costlier every year.

U.S. Court Upholds Oil Lease Cancellation Outside Glacier National Park

Michigan Dam Disaster Shows Climate Impact on Infrastructure

Europe’s Fast-Growing Mini-Forests are Denser, More Biodiverse

Climate Models for Upcoming UN Report Show ‘Incredibly Alarming’ Risk of Runaway Warming

The climate community and the general public are in for some “incredibly alarming” worst-case scenarios as modelling for the United Nations’ next major climate risk assessment takes shape, with about a quarter of the new research showing a sharp increase in the amount of global warming that would be expect if atmospheric carbon levels doubled from pre-industrial levels.

Extreme Arctic Temperatures, Siberian Wildfires Driving Up CO2 Emissions

Last week’s 30°C temperatures in the Arctic Circle have observers fearing a repeat of 2019’s devastating summer of apocalyptic wildfires. 

Navajo, Pueblo Nations Stand Up Against Fracking Plans

As the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) contemplates expanding fracking operations in northern New Mexico, the Navajo and Pueblo peoples who have lived there for centuries are fighting back, fearing the destruction of sacred artifacts as well as serious public health risks to communities already ravaged by COVID-19.

McCarthy: Merging Climate, Racial Justice Concerns Would Deliver Just, Green Recovery

Reducing carbon pollution and averting the worst impacts of climate change is an essential part of the fight for racial justice, Ottawa-based policy advisor and former Globe and Mail energy reporter Shawn McCarthy writes in an opinion piece for iPolitics.

Climate May Double Risk of Breadbasket Failures

Firefighters Douse Flames Near South California Solar Plant

Solar Means More Pollution from Lead-Acid Batteries for Some Developing Countries

Government Stimulus Packages Lock In Fossil Growth, Squander Opportunity for Green Recovery, Global Assessment Warns

Too many governments are squandering the opportunity to build a green recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, directing dollars to technologies that will lock in their dependence on fossil fuels, the Paris-based REN21 Secretariat warned yesterday with the release of its Renewables 2020 Global Status Report.

85 Spills in 67 Years: Groups Call for Indigenous-Led Probe into Aging Trans Mountain Pipeline

After a history of 85 spills along the 67-year-old Trans Mountain pipeline, the federal and British Columbia governments must launch an “independent, Indigenous-led expert investigation” into the line’s safety and integrity, a group of Indigenous leaders and environmental groups say in a release issued yesterday by Stand.Earth.

Shift to Electric Buses Emerges as ‘Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunity’ for Canada

With more than 425,000 electric buses on the roads world-wide, four Canadian manufacturers with customers across the continent, and transit agencies in Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, and Laval adding the vehicles to their fleets, there’s still time for the country to hop onboard a growing international trend, Clean Energy Canada concludes in a report issued this week.

Transit Agencies, Advocates Sort Out Safety in the Age of COVID

Despite serious concerns that fears of coronavirus infection will drive commuters out of mass transit vehicles and into their cars, there’s an emerging body of knowledge on how cities can deliver a safe commute—and evidence that some communities are keeping their transit systems free of COVID clusters.

Time to ‘Drop the Hammer’ on Canadian Rail Companies as Oil Trains Keep Derailing

Broken track has led to seven major derailments of crude oil trains in Canada since the tragic Lac-Mégantic disaster of 2013. Now, revelations that Canadian Pacific’s Saskatchewan line is in bad shape have experts urging Transport Canada to become a more aggressive regulator of the country’s rail system.

Racial Injustice Casts Shadow Over Clean Energy Boom

America’s clean energy sector could have a bright future, pushing down electricity costs, cleaning up emissions, and potentially supporting hundreds of thousands of new jobs for years to come—but if all Americans are to benefit, much work needs to be done to address injustice in the sector, say industry observers.

Climate Impacts of Hurricane Harvey Pegged at $67 Billion

In a finding that could radically alter future calculations of the social cost of carbon, researchers say new methods of event attribution have now pegged the share of damages from Hurricane Harvey that were caused by global warming at 74.4% of the US$90-billion-plus total—much higher than previous estimates of 22%.

U.S. Supreme Court Ruling Opens Door for Atlantic Coast Gas Pipeline

The companies building the US$8-billion Atlantic Coast gas pipeline from West Virginia to North Carolina and Virginia will be allowed to tunnel beneath the storied Appalachian Trail, following a 7-2 ruling Monday by the U.S. Supreme Court.

PG&E Pleads Guilty to 84 Deaths in 2018 Camp Fire

Mammoth California utility PG&E pleaded guilty yesterday to 84 charges of involuntary manslaughter, and was expected to acknowledge each victim by name, after sparks from its equipment set off the 2018 Camp Fire, the biggest wildfire in state history.

Unilever Vows to ‘Zero Out’ Emissions by 2039, Put Climate Labels on 70,000 Products

Consumer goods giant Unilever NV has vowed to “zero out” its operating emissions—and those of its suppliers—by 2039, and to keep itself accountable by labelling emissions information on each of its 70,000 products. 

Indigenous Fracking Protesters Shocked as RCMP Watchdog Finds No Bias in 2013 Raids

Western U.S. Sees Rise in COVID Cases as Wildfire Season Looms

COVID Forces Colorado Campaigners to Put Off Anti-Fracking Ballot Measure

IEEFA Reports Problems with Post-Hurricane Power Contracts in Puerto Rico

Harness Avalanche of Data to Address Climate Causes, Impacts, C40 Cities Urges

Urban Density Delivers What Communities Need in a Crisis

New Charleston, SC Development Will Destroy Wetlands, Worsen Flooding

Regenerative Ocean Farming Could Deliver Food, Bio-Products

Burnaby Opponents Point to 190,000-Litre Trans Mountain Spill as Wake-Up Call for Future Hazards

Opponents of the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline are pointing to a crude oil spill at the Sumas pump station in Abbotsford, British Columbia Saturday as a wake-up call for what could happen if the expanded pipe is extended all the way to Burnaby, B.C.

Yeampierre: No Climate Justice Without Racial Justice

The exploitative calculus that drives climate change is a mirror to the rapaciousness of slavery—and climate activists who still can’t see the connection between climate justice and racial justice need to wake up, says long-time climate justice activist Elizabeth Yeampierre.

Brazil Becomes Key Battleground in Accelerating Global Deforestation

The destruction of the Amazon rainforest accelerated by 55% in the first four months of 2020 compared to the previous year. Brazil’s answer? Slash the budgets for ecosystem and climate protection—and double down on the notion that the military is the best defender of the forest.

Emissions Show ‘Surprisingly Rapid’ Rebound as Pandemic Lockdowns Ease

Global greenhouse gas emissions are going through a “surprisingly rapid” rebound as pandemic restrictions begin to lift, according to an update to the Global Carbon Project research that previously tracked a 25% reduction in output at the height of the lockdown.

‘Teal Deal’ Could Tap into Oceans for Climate Change Mitigation

As the window for climate action narrows, experts in marine science and economics are calling for a new “Teal Deal” that embraces the enormous potential for clean energy that lies in the world’s oceans—along with positive side benefits such as decarbonizing shipping, supporting marine fisheries, and restoring coastal habitats.

Rogue Russian Mining Company Blames Permafrost Thaw for Biggest-Ever Arctic Oil Spill

Vladimir Putin’s rage over the world’s biggest-ever Arctic oil spill may end up triggering long-overdue environmental reforms, with speculation mounting that a stalled 2018 environmental protection bill might actually pass in the wake of the disaster.

Week 24, June 15: Ecological Restoration

We face an ecological as well as a climate emergency. Because of our human influence, Earth is in the midst a mass extinction crisis: up to a million species are threatened with extinction, many within decades.

Gulf Coast Chemical Plants Aren’t Ready for Increased Flood Risk

120 Permit Violations Make Coal Plant Indiana’s Worst Water Polluter

New Mexico Issues Safety Warning Ahead of Record Heat Wave

Midwestern U.S. Tribes Turn to Land, Traditions for Climate Adaptation

Ontario Farm Community Frets About Taking ‘Forever’ Nuclear Waste

Americans Look to Composting for Food Security, Economic Justice

Local Authorities in Germany Get Interested in Climate Adaptation

UK Climate Scientists Wants More Computing Power for Better Forecasting

Indigenous Campaigners Face Higher Risk of Criminalization, Violence

Environmental activism is an increasingly dangerous vocation, with a high risk of criminalization, incarceration, and extreme—sometimes fatal—violence, especially for Indigenous activists. Now, a recent comprehensive study from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona is revealing the depth of both the danger, and the imbalance in who faces it.

Future Looks Lean for Single-Use Plastics Despite COVID-19 Boost

Though single-use plastics have rebounded sharply since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the poor optics of producing a product that is neither biodegradable nor recyclable may foretell lean times for the materials down the road.

Study Suggests Relief for Some Small Island States as Coral Reefs Adapt to Rising Seas

Coral reefs may be adaptable enough in the face of sea level rise to protect some of the vulnerable small island states at risk of disappearing beneath the water, according to new research published this week in the journal Science Advances.

Pandemic Produces New Efforts, Wider Paralysis on International Climate Action

The economic and logistical paralysis resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic has produced a mixed picture for global action on the climate crisis, with countries, cities, businesses, and others scrambling to accelerate action under the Paris Agreement but some of the key commitments under the 2015 accord facing serious obstacles.