Bank of the West's decision to not do business with fossil fuel companies is leading to threats of retaliation in Colorado, Wyoming and other fossil fuel states. The San Francisco-based bank said it would not support business activities that are "detrimental to our environment and our health."Read original story
Cities absorb, create and radiate heat, and there is a growing gap between residents who can afford to cool themselves and those who cannot. The Guardian looks at how this is playing out in cities around the world.Read original story
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, in California with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, argued that cutting down more trees is the key to stopping forest fires and claimed "this is not a debate about climate change." Environmentalists say his argument, peddled by Republicans in western states, focuses on pleasing the timber industry, not on curbing fires. A New York Times interactive shows three of California's largest fires ever are burning right now.Read original story
The Nature Conservancy has agreed to manage 124,000 acres along the St. John River between Maine and Quebec as a "carbon storage bank" for programs that allow companies to buy carbon offsets. The programs pay for the nonprofit landowner to manage the forests in ways that allow trees to grow longer and larger.Read original story
A small camp in Levering, Michigan, is the start of a new protest against Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline that goes under the Straits of Mackinac in the Great Lakes. The protesters, some of whom were involved in the Dakota Access pipeline protests, say they hope to build support to shut down the line.Read original story
Nearly two years after a state inspector discovered arsenic-laced coal ash seeping out of a landfill at a power plant in Western Kentucky, the state Energy and Environment Cabinet has negotiated a deal to clean up the pollution. Environmental activists have a lot of concerns about it.Read original story
The news we’ve been hearing the past weeks on climate has given many of us reason to despair; the draft IPCC 1.5C report makes it clear how difficult it is to stay within 1.5C without negative emissions and most recently a scientific article has suggested that feedback loops could shift the earth into a “hothouse” state.
This is also proving to be a year full of impacts that many of us have experienced ourselves – record heat in Pakistan and India during summer (April-June) resulted in approximately 4,000 deaths. Currently the whole northern hemisphere has spent these summer months struggling with high temperatures from Sweden to Canada, Japan to Algeria. And we are not only hearing about deaths in poor countries, but in wealthy countries such as Japan and S. Korea almost 200 people died due to the heat. We haven’t even mentioned the weather in the Southern hemisphere, such as the heat waves in January in South Africa and Australia.
It’s been a long time since I felt hopeless about the state of the climate. But I have felt the despair this boreal summer seeing the impacts that the hot weather is having here in Switzerland and the “hothouse” paper only made me feel worse. The Aare river in Bern, where I live, recorded its highest temperature ever, 23.8C, which is dangerously close to the upper limit that many freshwater fish species can handle. On a mountaineering tour, we did not need our crampons because the glacier had receded so much. While cycling through the countryside I have met farmers who are fearing that they will lose their whole crop for the year. What sealed my fear was a large article in the newspaper on the frontpage about farmers not being prepared to deal with climate change. Despite being one of the wealthiest countries in the world and priding itself on always being prepared, it has been caught off guard by climate change.
India is a chaotic country where you expect things to go wrong – I find it easier to deal with dire situations there, because it has been the norm so long. When something actually goes as planned, it is a nice surprise. But Switzerland? If the train is 1 minute late, there is an announcement, there is always a plan B.
I started working on climate change over 20 years ago and knew it was going to be for the long haul – it’s a complex problem that requires systemic change. And quite frankly, everything is in flux; when humanity solves one issue, another comes along. So, it’s been a long time since I felt despair, but one of those times was in Mumbai in 2005 when I was an active member of the “Ghar Bachao, Ghar Banao” movement (Save the home, build the home). The movement arose due to a large number of slum demolitions that were happening in Mumbai at the time, home to half of the city’s inhabitants.
We had hatched a plan to resist a slum demolition, but one of the slum dwellers turned out to be on the payroll of the mafia that controlled the slum; even before we could resist we were arrested. It just seemed futile – fighting the government was one thing, but taking on the mafia was on a new level and quite frankly, scary.
But Balubhai, a resident of the slum reminded me that the struggle had to continue – we hadn’t any choice if we wanted to ensure that half the city who lives in slums would continue to have a home. Where would he go and what would he do if there wasn’t a movement? He also showed me all the ways in which we had made progress – we had delayed demolition of homes into two slums, we got media attention showing how the city gives away public housing plots to the mafia, and despite the presence of mafia in the slums people were joining the movement. In fact, we had seen a number of slum dwellers whose self confidence increased and felt comfortable demanding their rights.
That has stayed with me – if we give up, nothing can change; sure, maybe we need to rethink our strategy or tactics at times, but we do have agency and we can use crises to increase the size of the movement to be more powerful and effective. There is no ignoring the pain and suffering, but we can do something about it. And we must continue to see the beauty in life – it always amazed me that the slum dwellers continued with their lives, the movement was an important part, but not the only part; they continued to have babies, meet family and friends, and enjoy the rare moments of leisure they had. So I knew I had to keep on working on climate change and I forced myself to take joy in the flowers in my garden or hearing the birds while running.
When I saw that the “hothouse” authors were upset at the doomsday depiction of their scientific work by the media and explained that the recipe to prevent such a scenario is to get off of fossil fuels and transition quickly and fairly to 100% renewable energy, it also gave me renewed energy, because I knew what the climate justice movement has been demanding all along was on point and we do have a winning strategy that has resulted in many gains.
I know each person working on climate change falls into despair in response to different events and has their own way of dealing with it. We are working on an issue that is hard, scary and overwhelming all the time, but I hope each of you finds your way back to the reason you are doing this work and are able to find joy.
U.S. hurricane forecasters have some good news about this year's projected Atlantic storm season—though they say coastal residents shouldn't drop their guard just yet. The new forecast calls for a below-normal hurricane season, in part because they say there's a high chance El Niño will form.Read original story
There's a twist in the big settlement announced in California this week over one of the nation's largest natural gas leaks: It includes a program to pay for methane gas collection at a dozen of the state's dairy farms as a way to mitigate the leak's climate impact. The plan is drawing a mixed reaction, with some concerns that it could create new ways for methane to leak.Read original story
The Trump administration is expected to nominate Bernard McNamee to an open seat on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. He was an architect of the Energy Department's plan to subsidize coal plants; has worked for the Koch-connected Texas Public Policy Foundation, where he wrote this oped celebrating fossil fuels; and is a former staffer for Sen. Ted Cruz.Read original story
2018 is shaping up to be at least the fourth-hottest year on record, behind only the three previous years. The string of records is part of an accelerating climb in temperatures. Read more from ICN on how this summer's heat wave could be the strongest climate change signal yet.Read original story
Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, and his Republican challenger, Gov. Rick Scott, have taken turns blaming each other for the toxic blue-green algae blooms in the state, which have killed marine life and are threatening the tourism industry. The debate over this unfolding environmental disaster could be a pivotal part of one of the country's most closely watched Senate races.Read original story
As Toronto deals with the damage from an extreme rainstorm and flooding, scientists warn such storms will be more frequent and intense because of global warming. Ontario's new premier, Doug Ford, has been openly hostile to climate policies, vowing to pull the province out of a carbon trading partnership and cancelling hundreds of renewable energy contracts.Read original story
As California Lawmakers Grapple with the State's Fiery Future, Utility Company Liability Dominates the Discussion
While California lawmakers work on a plan to address the growing danger of wildfires, a battle is underway over utility companies' liability related to the blazes. Gov. Jerry Brown and some lawmakers want to ensure that high costs related to fires don't bankrupt the companies at a time when they need to be financially strong to help prevent additional fires.Read original story
At a meeting in Poland ahead of December's UN climate conference, Polish mining and industrial unions are urging the host country to push for exemptions for polluting industries. The meeting's co-organizer also gave a platform to a U.S. climate denier who claims CO2 buildup is good.Read original story
Central Asia's Aral Sea has been drying up, leading to a peculiar kind of tourist attraction for visitors who want to see the ecological crisis. The dry parts of the sea include an area where rusting ships rest on sand, and where a lighthouse is no longer next to any waves.Read original story