Earth Matters: Republican energy-transition saboteurs; Biden's eco-work; are EVs truly green? – Daily Kos

At Sierra magazine, in a no-paywall article, veteran investigative reporter Rebecca Burns writes on Climate-Science Deniers, Right-Wing Think Tanks, and Fossil Fuel Shills Are Plotting Against the Clean Energy Transition. Two or three paragraphs cannot do justice to her piece, but here are a couple anyway:
In order for the Biden administration to hit its goal of a 100 percent clean power grid by 2035, the nation needs to rapidly increase the rate of new wind and solar power installations. Hard-won federal policies like the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act put that target within reach. But at the local level, challenges are mounting. A report from Columbia University’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law identified nearly 230 local measures across 35 states that have been enacted to restrict renewable energy development. Matthew Eisenson, the report’s author, said these could amount to a “serious obstacle” to achieving US climate goals.
Many such measures bear the finger­prints of “wind warriors” who have reemerged in dozens of local fights to stymie the energy transition at key points. For more than a decade, climate deniers and fossil fuel interests have quietly cultivated ties with these activists, equipping them with talking points, legal muscle, model ordinances, and other tools to try to subvert renewable energy adoption. Now, from coastal hamlets in New York to rural farming towns in Ohio, residents supporting wind and solar in their communities are running up against the same barrier: a chorus of disinformation, much of it tied to, or even circulated directly by, fossil-fuel-backed groups waging an existential fight to preserve the status quo. […]

It should be no surprise that the fabricators of climate science denial are still hard at work using whatever tools they can muster to undermine U.S. efforts to address the climate crisis. If that means setting up a fake grassroots citizens group pretending to be worried about offshore wind turbines’ effects on whales, as Burns points out, they’ll happily do so even if none of them ever gave a thought to whale harm when it comes to offshore drilling for gas and oil, with all the potential for spills that damage entire ecosystems. Outright lying is their chief tool. In some states, they’ve taken that directly into legislation.
For example, in Arizona, bills have passed in both Republican-controlled houses that would ban public spending on climate action and restrict data collection. One of these would have to signed by Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs; the other would send the matter directly to the voters. Here’s Adam Aton at ClimateWire: 
All versions of the bill would bar any public entity — from the state to cities to universities — from advocating, planning or joining an association that promotes a sprawling list of policies. Any registered voter in the state would be able to sue a public entity to enforce it.
The legislation would prohibit spending public money to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; develop a climate plan; collect data on emissions; or seek to displace car travel with biking, walking or mass transit.
Meanwhile, from the ideological bunkers of the right, the Heritage Foundation’s manifesto-made-blueprint—Project 2025—calls for a withdrawal not only from the 2015 Paris Agreement, but also from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change treaty. Robin Bravender and Sara Schonhardt report:
“It would basically mean we’d just be thumbing our nose at the entire world,” said Alden Meyer, a senior associate at E3G who has followed global climate negotiations since they started.
“Pulling out of Paris is already bad enough because that’s the signature agreement under the framework convention,” he added. “But pulling out of the framework convention would be a higher level of insult because it would mean that we don’t think the whole topic of climate change is serious, and we don’t need to be part of any multilateral process to address it.” […]
The international response to a U.S. move to withdraw from the UNFCCC would be “overwhelmingly negative,” [former Clinton White House climate office Paul] Bledsoe added. “This could have really bad implications for U.S. security policy, economic policy and trade policy. You could see our allies begin to turn against us on these other issues.”
Trump could, as he did in when he occupied the White House, withdraw from the Paris Agreement if he were elected come November. But whether he could withdraw from the UNFCCC treaty without the Senate’s okay is a matter of legal dispute. 
On a whole range of issues, so very much depends on voters broadly ditching Republicans when they mark their ballots this fall. Name any issue—immigration, reproductive rights, the economy, national security, crime, rule of law, child labor, racism, democracy itself—and the vast majority of elected Republicans are gleeful over their dystopian proposals to stall or crush corrective measures.
This is not new. It did not start when the Trump crime family captured the GOP. And, of course, climate change is on the list. The party has long shown itself profoundly hostile to any legislation designed to confront the current and future impacts of the climate crisis. Whether they win the presidency and majorities in Congress or not, the bulk of elected Republicans—at the national, state, and local level—are determined to do everything they can to sabotage even modest attempts to ameliorate the damage we are causing to the Earth’s systems that sustain us and millions of other species. But with ever-more dire climate and biodiversity news cudgeling us on a daily basic, it’s clear that whoever wins in November, climate hawks are going to have to step up their activism. 
Numerous studies have shown that fully electric vehicles emit far fewer carbon emissions over their lives than do vehicles that burn gasoline in internal combustion engines, including hybrids. Still there are critics who assert that the manufacture of EVs (especially batteries) emits much more carbon dioxide than the manufacture of internal combustion engine vehicles and hybrids and are thus worse for the environment rather than improving it. The Environmental Protection Agency is just one organization saying otherwise
Electric vehicles have zero tailpipe emissions, but still generate ample emissions associated with the manufacturing processes. To calculate the differences between life-cycle emissions of BEVs and ICE vehicles, BloombergNEF conducted an extensive 2021 study in the U.K., France, Germany, China, and the United States. It found:
The lifecycle CO2 emissions of medium segment battery electric cars produced in 2020 and used for 250,000 km would be between 18% and 87% lower than those of equivalent internal combustion engine vehicles in the five countries included in this report. The breakeven point is far sooner in France at 25,000 km, compared to 153,000 km in China. By 2030, all countries will see this emissions breakeven point occur far earlier.

A follow-up BNEF study confirmed these results. This time researchers substituted Japan for France among the countries it evaluated. As reported by Julian Spector and Dan McCarthy at Canary Media:
The key metric here is the break-even point, which measures how long someone needs to drive an EV before its lifetime emissions sink below those of a comparable combustion-engine vehicle.
For the typical EV made in the U.S. in 2023 — think a Tesla Model 3 — that payback happens after driving just 41,000 kilometers (25,476 miles). A typical American driver would hit that in 2.1 years. By 2030, this will take half as long because the grid will have gotten considerably cleaner.
Two years in the U.S. — that’s not that long in the life of a car,” said Corey Cantor, BNEF senior associate for electric vehicles and one of the authors of the report.

Recently, in its annual GreenerCar report, the nonprofit American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, gave the top award for greenest car to the Toyota Prius Prime, a plug-in hybrid. This contributes to the perception that EVs aren’t more environmentally sound. There’s a hitch to this premise, however. The theoretical operational emissions ACEEE calculated for the Prius Prime and other plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) don’t match the reality of how they’re used.
A 2020 study from the International Council on Clean Transportation found that most of the miles driven in a PHEV are “extra-urban driving,” where the vehicle’s gasoline engine is used. In their surveys, ICCT researchers learned that many PHEV owners do not charge their vehicles often enough to take full advantage of the batteries, which are typically only good for 30-40 miles of range. Consequently, in real-world driving, PHEVs’ electric motors are used for only half the expected amount of time. That makes their CO2 emissions two to four times higher than the theoretical calculations for how a PHEV could perform if it were invariably plugged in after being discharged.
In 2022, a study by Emission Analytics posited that EVs generate far more particulate emissions from friction of tires and brakes than do lighter ICE vehicles. That claim has been challenged by independent experts. As far as brake dust emissions are concerned this has been debunked because EVs use regenerative braking, which means not needing new pads for years. But particulates from tire wear is a problem, with a typical EV generating perhaps as much as 20% more particulates from tire wear as lighter ICE cars. This, however, has solutions. 
Gunnlaugur Erlendsson, founder and CEO of EV tire specialist ENSO, told James Morris at Forbes: 
“No tire will last forever, but we can make them a lot better than they are made today. Carmakers can engineer vehicles to reduce tire wear, they can make them less heavy, reduce the torque or change the size of the tire. However, while the tire on a new vehicle has been engineered with the OEM’s approval, there’s no control what happens in the aftermarket.”
”“The tire industry hasn’t moved at the pace that the electric vehicle industry needs it to,” says Erlendsson. “When tire makers sell tires to the carmakers, they make very little profit. They make almost all the profit in the aftermarket. Their version of growth is to sell more tires, so they don’t want them to last too long. Also, new cars are still a very small minority of all the vehicles we have on the planet. So even where we have high concentration of EV sales, such as Norway, they’re still only a small percentage of cars on the road.”
While global sales of electric vehicles have grown significantly, EVs and hybrids, including plug-ins, made up just over 16% of new light-duty vehicles sold in the United States in 2023, with BEVs reaching 7.6% of sales. With the exception of the Tesla Cybertruck, most of these sales are of vehicles whose external design looks pretty much like the ICE cars they are meant to replace, though the best are more aerodynamic. But creative oddities are also appearing.
Micah Toll at Electrek makes note of e-commerce retailer Alibaba’s listing of strange Chinese electric vehicles. “It’s all fun and games to laugh and enjoy the weirdness, though it’s important to remember that China actually leads the world in real electric vehicles, too,” he writes. “But we’re not here for those boring things. We’re here to see a full-size bug-eyed electric bus shaped like a fish, and at the cost of a couple car payments in the U.S.” Made by the Xuchang Zhenda Machinery company, at just 920 kg (2,029 lbs), the fish-bus weighs less than almost any two-seater, is only 4.7 meters (15 feet) long. If you buy more than one, the price is just $3,590, but a single unit will cost $9,980. However, while it’s cheap, the fish-bus only goes about 20 mph, has a battery smaller than any plug-in hybrid, and is far from street legal in the United States. 
If that doesn’t suit you, perhaps Xuchang Zhenda’s electric pumpkin carriage is more to your likely. It can be had for $1,699. But, like the fish-bus, American traffic laws mean you’ll have to leave it parked it in your driveway or just drive around in the backyard.
If, on the other hand, you want a less weird but still customized, vintage battery electric vehicle you can drive on America’s roads, Kindred Motors has three choices for you, including this:
The second motor vehicle I owned was a light green 1962 VW microbus, like that one in the photo but without the clerestory windows. Paid $1,700 for it when it was 6 years old and had about 40,000 miles on it. Slow on the hills with only 46 hp. Brrrrrrr in the winter. But converted with a fold-up bed and table, it was a cheap camper. And now I could have a fully rebuilt and upgraded electric version from Kindred. The one in the photo is clearly a pre-’68 because it’s the split van, the model on which the side entrance opens like French doors, one in each direction. The ‘68 models switched to a single sliding door.
That machine could be mine for an insane base price of $199,000. That’s more than the most expensive, luxurious, conventional, mass-produced EV. Vintage car lovers with fat wallets can also get a 1950s Chevrolet pick-up turned into an EV for just $159,000, or a 1970ish Ford Bronco for $189,000-$199,000.
Ah, no$talgia.

The Biden administration is on the cusp of implementing the tightest-ever restrictions on tailpipe pollution from cars and light trucks. These won’t be as tough as previously proposed, but they still aren’t making automakers happy.
The final proposed rule from the Environmental Protection Agency will be issued in the next few days. The new standards it would impose are designed to cut emissions of carbon dioxide, soot, and smog-forming pollutants. To comply with the proposed mandates, the EPA calculates that electric models would need to make up roughly two-thirds of new car and light truck sales in 2032. Last year, fully electric cars and light trucks made up 7.6% of such sales.
The new rule would mitigate health effects and also help the United States reach its commitment via the Paris Agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030. Transportation is currently the largest source of U.S. carbon pollution, with light-duty vehicles alone producing 20% of the nation’s carbon footprint.
The EPA retreated somewhat from its originally proposed approach by making near-term restrictions less strict while keeping to the 2032 objective. But while the relaxed rule would prevent 1.5 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide from reaching the atmosphere between 2026 and 2040, an analysis by consulting firm ERM says it would also allow 171 million metric tons of emissions.
David Cooke, a senior analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists, told Bloomberg Green reporter  Jennifer A Dlouhy, “The rule doesn’t meet the moment” but does set “some guarantees around movement toward zero-emission vehicles nationwide. We will end up with more EVs on the road as a result of these rules than if we didn’t have them.”
Meanwhile, Public Citizen published a new analysis that found 10 automakers and industry groups have spent $183 million lobbying to fight new restrictions on tailpipe emissions, arguing that the stronger standards would hurt profits. That’s a hoot given that in a period of marketing heavier gas guzzlers, the top five automakers—General Motors, Ford, Stellantis, Toyota, and Honda—have earned nearly $293 billion in combined profits since 2018, paid shareholders nearly $78 billion in dividends, and bought back from investors nearly $41 billion shares of stock, according to the analysis.
Opposing air pollution rules is not new for the automakers. As the Public Citizen analysis notes:
Over the years of proposed regulations, the industry has also peddled false narratives that regulations are unnecessary and harmful. This tactic was particularly pronounced during the development of the Clean Air Act of 1970. In arguing against EPA’s emissions rules, Ford, GM, and Chrysler (now Stellantis) invested in a public misinformation campaign. GM ran ads greenwashing its minor efforts to voluntarily reduce emissions to demonstrate why regulations were not only unnecessary, but a fuel penalty that was antithetical to saving fuel. Ford claimed Congress was being too aggressive, while Chrysler’s newspaper ads called the standards, “wasteful, unnecessary, and unrealistic.”
Commenting on the new analysis, Chelsea Hodgkins, senior electric vehicle advocate with Public Citizen’s Climate Program: “Automakers seem to have no shame. For decades, they’ve chosen to drag their feet on improving their cars to the maximum extent possible and instead chose to follow in Big Oil’s footsteps, to spread public misinformation and dissuade policymakers from taking strong action. These rules will save consumers money, protect the health of millions, and give us a shot at a livable future. Big Auto’s multi-million dollar lobbying efforts and corrupting influence are a direct attack on this progress and our democracy.”
Many coral reefs are dying. This one is exploding with life by Benji Jones at Vox. Globally, coral reefs, which underpin commercial fisheries and protect coastlines from storms, have declined by half since the 1950s, largely due to climate change. Spells of extreme marine heat break down the relationship between coral and a type of symbiotic algae that gives it both food and its vibrant colors. The coral turns white — a process referred to as bleaching — and can then easily starve to death. The reefs in Cambodia and in the broader East Asian region, however, appear to be bucking this trend. Surveys indicate that they haven’t declined in recent decades, perhaps because they’re more resilient to warming. Their secret to survival may ultimately help safeguard ailing reefs elsewhere. […] The secret to the reef’s survival may be in the diversity of its corals. East Asia has a huge number of coral species and a lot of genetic diversity within individual species. The more varieties of coral a reef has, the more likely it is that some of them may have slightly more or less tolerance to various stresses, such as high temperatures. During a bout of severe warming, some coral colonies may die off, but others can take their place, [said Matt Glue, a marine technical specialist at Fauna & Flora].
Many homes burned in the Texas wildfires weren’t insured, creating a steep path to recovery by Joshua Fechter at The Texas Tribune. Many Panhandle residents whose dwellings and possessions burned in the region’s ongoing wildfires may never financially recover for one simple reason: Their homes weren’t insured. “A lot of the people who have lost a home had no insurance,” Gov. Greg Abbott said at a Friday press conference. “So there are a lot of people in great need right now.” Texans pay some of the highest homeowners insurance premiums in the country. Increased risk of extreme weather events, at least partially driven by climate change, have driven up those costs. Growth in homeowners insurance rates here outpaced the rest of the nation last year, straining Texans’ ability to pay. In Texas, those without insurance are also more likely to be those who have a harder time recovering from disaster: lower-income households and rural residents. That means Texans without insurance face a steep—if not impossible—path to restore what financial well-being they had before a disaster strikes.
A Living Laboratory for Climate Takes Shape on NYC’s Governors Island by Stephen Lee at Bloomberg Green. On a small, leafy island near the Statue of Liberty, a crop of tech companies will soon fan out to install equipment and gadgets meant to make cities more sustainable. The first six pilot projects were announced for Governors Island on Monday, as part of New York City’s plan to turn the island into both a living laboratory where scientists and inventors can come tinker, and a launchpad for entrepreneurs to showcase their latest bright ideas. “Looking forward, we hope the island can be a jewel box for what a truly sustainable and adaptable urban environment can look like,” said Clare Newman, president of the Trust for Governors Island.  Central to those plans is the notion that the public should be able to see and interact with the technology. “We want to make sure that this work doesn’t happen just in labs; it doesn’t just happen in ivory towers,” said Maria Torres-Springer, New York’s deputy mayor for housing, economic development and workforce. “It happens in full view of, and in concert with, the public.” 
“Earth Protectors” Documentary Explores the Fight to Adapt to Climate Breakdown by Craig Thompson at Ecowatch. The seeds of Earth Protectors” were planted 10 years ago, when Anna de Carbuccia began her “time shrines” art and photography project. With this undertaking, she visited various locations around the world in order to document a vanishing planet, creating works of art while connecting with communities and their local climate challenges. The filmmaker documented the process behind making her art pieces, and parallel to her art project, she met who she called “earth protectors,” seven people who are fighting and adapting to the realities of climate breakdown. These people became major characters in her documentary. “It’s about their voice, the voice of that place through them,” she said. “That story of going there, and then meeting people who will help me—they all had a different story. I was so taken, I admired so much what they were doing.” In the film, viewers visit Siberia, the Himalayas, Xcalak on the Yucatán peninsula in Mexico, the United States, the Peruvian Amazon and Europe. At each stop, communities are faced with a different environmental problem. In the Upper Mustang region of the Himalayas, she explores a community dealing with the devastating impact of glacial melt, which forces the entire community to leave. In the forests of Siberia and the nearby Lake Baikal, massive forest fires are fueled by drought. “Seeing these things radicalized me. It made my story bigger than my own story,” said de Carbuccia. “It’s always the same issues, and they all have different approaches, but it’s the same kind of mindset. A big underlying theme of the film is to give to the viewer a sense of how much our planet is connected and interconnected.”
Blocking renewable energy is a top state legislative priority for network of pro-fossil fuels think tanks by Dave Anderson, Keriann Conway, and Jonathan Kim. The State Policy Network (SPN) announced on its website last month that it will focus on working with state lawmakers to prevent states from adopting wind and solar power in 2024. SPN is the national organization that serves as the central hub of a network of affiliated think tanks located in all 50 states, and is funded by right-wing and corporate donors that include fossil fuel interests. The network also includes associate groups like the Donald Trump-aligned America First Policy Institute and multiple organizations backed by Charles Koch, such as Americans for Prosperity. Koch is the billionaire CEO and chairman of Koch Industries, which operates in multiple sectors of the fossil fuel industry. His Stand Together Trust contributed $5 million in 2022 to SPN-affiliated think tanks and millions more to SPN associates like the American Legislative Exchange Council and Cato Institute, according to the Center for Media & Democracy.  
U.S. Cities Could Be Capturing Billions of Gallons of Rain a Day. From Wired. Your city is a scab on the landscape: sidewalks, roads, parking lots, rooftops—the built environment repels water into sewers and then into the environment. Urban planners have been doing it for centuries, treating stormwater as a nuisance to be diverted away as quickly as possible to avoid flooding. Not only is that a waste of free water, it’s an increasingly precarious strategy, as climate change worsens droughts but also supercharges storms, dumping ever more rainfall on impervious cities. Urban areas in the United States generate an estimated 59.5 million acre-feet of stormwater runoff per year on average—equal to 53 billion gallons each day—according to a new report from the Pacific Institute, a nonprofit research group specializing in water. Over the course of the year, that equates to 93 percent of total municipal and industrial water use. American urban areas couldn’t feasibly capture all of that bountiful runoff, but a combination of smarter stormwater infrastructure and “sponge city” techniques like green spaces would make urban areas far more sustainable on a warming planet.
“The colossal legacy of Hanford, which now accounts for two-thirds of all high-level radioactive waste in the country, is fraught with calamity–a lingering wreckage with little sign of being remediated anytime soon, if ever.”—Joshua Frank, in his 2022 book, “Atomic Days: The Untold Story of the Most Toxic Place in America”
Climate Scientists’ Claims Deserve More Scrutiny from the Media by Dennis Meredith  at Undark. When journalists write about a research advance, they often contact a scientist not involved in the work for an independent opinion of its validity. It’s good journalistic practice. But in climate science, what if there are concepts widely accepted by scientists that turn out to be of the emperor’s-new-clothes variety — that is, accepted fictions? Or, what if the truth of a claim lies beyond the expertise of climate scientists, in the realms of technology, economics, or politics? My conclusion from more than a half century of experience as a science communicator at six universities — working with both scientists and journalists — is that journalists too often accept many such claims without subjecting them to the healthy skepticism and rigorous analysis that they would of, say, claims by politicians or lawyers. […] Journalists’ failure to recognize climate scientists’ agenda means that they have put them on a pedestal, one which turns out to be a house of cards. The shortcomings of climate scientists — professional, psychological, and cultural — have led the researchers to downplay the truly dire state of the planet’s climate. This downplaying has contributed to the failure to persuade the public to support the vast revolution in the global energy system needed to avoid climate catastrophe. […] Two prime examples of emperor’s-new-clothes climate concepts promoted by scientists are the target limits on global temperature rise and the prospects for renewable energy to replace fossil fuels.
The Week in Climate Hearings: Fire Blossoms by Brad Johnson at his Hill Heat substack. Thanks to the trillion-dollar fossil-fuel juggernaut that every year pumps billions of tons of greenhouse pollution into the air and sea and hundreds of millions of dollars into the coffers of politicians, think tanks, media organizations, lobbyists, and lawyers in Washington D.C., the cherry trees of Washington D.C. are on track to have one of their earliest peak blooms in history this year. As the biggest wildfire in Texas history continues to smolder, Congress [held] two hearings on the growing fossil-fueled wildfire threat [last] week. Clocks across the United States (except for most of Arizona) were turned back an hour, in a collective assault on our health and safety, increasing strokes, heart attacks, cancer, depression, suicides, accidents, and medical errors. As Hill Heat reported two years ago, Daylight Saving Time is grossly misaligned with the solar day, chronically disrupting circadian clocks.
How to Maintain Hope in the Face of Climate Chaos by Elizabeth Waddington at Treehugger. It can be easier to maintain hope if we remember that we are not alone. Connections forged with others can often help us to remember that we do not need to struggle on our own. Connection and cooperation help us to cope, and boosting personal resilience—our ability to cope—can help us to make sure that we recognize and acknowledge small victories as well as setbacks and to see the positive in any situation. Hope is not the same as blind optimism, remember. Hope implies a chance that something can happen or that something can be achieved, not a certainty. Hope is fragile. Maintaining it can often be a challenge. But it is something that we can cultivate and nurture, like a seed that can grow into something so much more.
The Conservative Climate Caucus Is Nonsense by Kate Aronoff at The New Republic. Every few months, a major publication will publish a story profiling Republicans who are reportedly “evolving” on climate change—meaning shifting from hard-core climate denial to an acknowledgment of objective reality. Sometimes, these pieces will report that these Republicans support a carbon tax. Others look at GOP tree-planting plans. This quarter’s version—running in both Politico and the The Wall Street Journal—focuses on another familiar topic: a caucus with the word “climate” in its name. That the House’s three-year old, 82-member Conservative Climate Caucus has virtually nothing to show for itself doesn’t much matter. There are Republicans who are saying the word “climate”; apparently, that’s newsworthy enough. […] What are members of the purportedly “growing Republican movement to engage on climate issues,” per the Journal, up to? Conservative Climate Caucus member Bill Huizenga is plotting to strike down the Securities and Exchange Commission’s recently finalized climate disclosure rules using the Congressional Review Act. He’s also taken $348,800 from PACs linked to energy and natural resource interests since first coming to Congress in 2008. North Carolina Congressman Patrick McHenry—another caucus member—similarly announced a pair of hearings to probe “this disastrous rule,” as he called it. Since his first run for Congress in 2004, McHenry has accepted $616,750 from PACs linked to the energy and natural resources sector.
Oil and Gas Companies Want You to Think They Care About Women — but It’s Just PR by Ellen Ormesher, Emily Gertz, Kathryn Clare and Cartie Werthman at DeSmog. In a video posted to Shell’s LinkedIn page, a woman named Kimberly says to the camera,“Unconscious bias shows up everywhere, in all forms, and it is more prevalent than any of us would like to admit.” In the supercut of Shell employee testimonials that follow, a woman named Jane declares that “still too often, women are expected to be grateful for the opportunity to prove themselves,” and a man named Kevin admits that “when you’re part of the majority, a lot of the time you overlook it.” Shell’s post, which bears the hashtags #InternationalWomensDay and #PoweringProgress, is the latest in a long tradition that sees the world’s fourth-largest oil and gas company pump out communications capitalizing on International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 8. It’s certainly not the only oil major that uses IWD to polish up its public image. […] But this particular flavor of PR smoke and mirrors by the fossil fuel industry is especially questionable, since the evidence is growing that endemic sex discrimination is making climate change harder on women and girls than on men, particularly in countries with high levels of gender inequality.
Why We Gave Up on the Future by David Wallace-Wells at The New York Times.  In America, now, we are living at “the end of the future,” the historian Steve Fraser wrote this month in Jacobin, surveying the country’s political landscape and finding it pretty exhausted. You can see the gloom in poll after poll documenting Americans’ declining faith in their country, its politics and its future. But the phenomenon is probably more visible on the vocal margins than at the dour median, with vocal “doomers” about A.I. and climate change, long Covid and Covid vaccines, fertility levels and the “woke mind virus,” among other sources of panic. And there is now another emerging archetype: doomers about doomerism, who believe that pessimism is a kind of social poison, and that bleak visions of the future have probably already curdled our culture and its prospects, and may consign future generations to worse outcomes still. For some, hoping to jump-start a new age of technological optimism, all this pessimism looks like a maddening kind of a puzzle. The world is wealthier than it has ever been, they point out, and by many measures it is also “better,” in aggregate if not for everyone. So why are people feeling so grim about the future that they’re tempted to retreat into visions of the past? The intuitive explanations could fill a book, and do fill the endless scroll of social media: gridlocked and gerontocratic politics, yawning income inequality and the claustrophobic housing crunch, the continuing climate crisis and the unabating epidemic of gun violence and rising rates of overdose. To that list, Fraser adds some structural history and social shortfalls characteristic of what he calls “a developed country undergoing underdevelopment”: stalled life expectancy, crumbling infrastructure, the return of child labor. (He doesn’t really discuss the rollback of reproductive rights, though that is one major reason many Americans feel shoved back into the past.)

Reevaluating the Role of Fossil Gas in a Decarbonizing Grid by Steve Clemmer at the Union of Concerned Scientists. Fossil gas power plants currently provide the largest source of electricity generation and capacity in the United States. To meet our climate goals and reach net zero emissions by 2050, most studies show that we need to dramatically reduce gas use for generating electricity, heating homes and businesses, and running industrial processes. But gas power plants have also played an important role in helping to maintain the overall reliability of the electricity grid by meeting peak power demands, such as on hot summer days when people turn on their air conditioners. However, as we replace fossil fuels with clean electricity for heating and transportation to meet our climate goals, these peak demands will increasingly shift to the winter in many parts of the country. In addition, recent extreme weather events have shown that gas plants aren’t as reliable as utilities and grid operators have been assuming, especially during the winter.  And this problem will only get worse as the impacts of climate change become more frequent and severe. While it’s clear we need to rapidly reduce gas generation to help limit the worst impacts of climate change, it’s less clear how much fossil gas capacity we actually need to maintain reliability in a future decarbonized grid. It’s worth delving into because it has some important implications for our clean energy future.
People Hate Daylight Saving. Science Tells Us Why • Getting off fossil fuels is hard, but this city is doing it—building by building • Solar geoengineering proposal withdrawn at UN summit Record-Smashing Heat in the World’s Oceans, Explained The US Saw Record Percentages Of Heat Pump & Electric Water Heater Sales In 2023 Arizona’s Health Department Adds Chief Heat Officer ”Litigation terrorism”: the obscure tool that corporations are using against green laws How China Became the World’s Leader on Renewable Energy EPA announces stricter rules to prevent chemicals incidents FBI sent several informants to Standing Rock protests, court documents show • EPA’s hard-fought climate rule for cars expected next week 


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