Coral Defying The Odds

Corals in the waters of the Ras Mohammed National Park in the Red Sea near Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, home to one of the only reefs in the world that can tolerate heat. Sima Diab for The New York Times

Our thanks to Jenny Gross and Vivian Yee reporting from Egypt:

Attendees of the United Nations climate conference took breaks from negotiations to see the corals for themselves.Credit…Mohammed Abed/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

As warming waters devastate coral around the world, the sea’s stunningly colorful reefs have been remarkably resilient. But pollution, mass tourism and overfishing put them at risk.

SHARM El SHEIKH, Egypt — The vast majority of the world’s coral reefs are likely to be severely damaged in the coming decades if the planet keeps warming at its current rate. Continue reading

Fridays For Future @COP27

Fridays for Future protest calling for money for climate action at Cop27. Photograph: Peter de Jong/AP

If you wonder what our youth are up to, take a look at what the Guardian’s team of Fiona Harvey, with Adam Morton and Patrick Greenfield is reporting from Sharm el-Sheikh:

Cop27: EU agrees to loss and damage fund to help poor countries amid climate disasters

Change in stance puts spotlight on US and China, which have both objected to fund

A breakthrough looked possible in the deadlocked global climate talks on Friday as the European Union made a dramatic intervention to agree to key developing world demands on financial help for poor countries. Continue reading

New Fracking Science

A shale gas drilling rig in St. Marys, Pennsylvania. AP PHOTO / KEITH SRAKOCIC

We thought the science of fracking’s dangers was already sufficiently clear, and now this (read Jon Hurdle’s entire story at Yale e360):

As Evidence Mounts, New Concerns About Fracking and Health

Two decades after the advent of fracking, a growing number of studies are pointing to a link between gas wells and health problems, particularly among children and the elderly. Researchers are now calling for new regulations restricting where wells can be located.

Almost 20 years after the adoption of hydraulic fracturing began to supercharge U.S. production of oil and gas, there’s growing evidence of a correlation between the industry’s activities and an array of health problems ranging from childhood cancer and the premature death of elderly people to respiratory issues and endocrine disruption. Continue reading

Turning Around Brazil

Brazil's president-elect, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, at a rally in July.

Brazil’s president-elect, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, at a rally in July. ANDRESSA ANHOLETE / GETTY IMAGES

We can only hope the answer is yes:

With Lula Back, Can Brazil Turn the Tide on Amazon Destruction?

With his return as Brazil’s president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is promising to reverse the alarming rate of deforestation in the Amazon. But as he heads to key UN climate talks, his ambitious plans to achieve “zero deforestation” will need to find international support.

A forest fire burns near the author's home in Altimira, Brazil last month.

A forest fire burns near the author’s home in Altimira, Brazil last month. JON WATTS

The month before Brazil’s October 30 presidential election was the most brutal of Jair Bolsonaro’s term as president. Landowners rushed to illegally clear forest while they could rely on the impunity that had been a characteristic of the Bolsonaro era. From my home in Altamira, I could see flames on the other side of the Xingu River from a blaze large enough to generate its own lightning. Most other days in September and October, my asthmatic lungs tightened and the horizon was shrouded in haze as a consequence of the rushed burn-off. Continue reading

Nepal’s Community Forests

Note: Green areas show land that is mostly covered by trees, based on an analysis of satellite imagery. Source: Jefferson Fox, Jamon Van Den Hoek, Kaspar Hurni, Alexander Smith and Sumeet Saksena.By Pablo Robles

We have shared plenty of stories about Nepal, but until now no story about Nepal involving trees or forests. We welcome this one:

The community forests in Khairahani, Nepal, stretching over several tree-capped hills in March. Karan Deep Singh/The New York Times

An effort decades in the making is showing results in Nepal, a rare success story in a world of cascading climate disasters and despair

KANKALI COMMUNITY FOREST, Nepal — The old man moved gingerly, hill after hill, cutting dry shrubs until he was surrounded by trees that had grown from seedlings he had planted two decades ago. He pointed to a row of low peaks above the Kathmandu valley that were covered with dense foliage. Continue reading

Berms & Dunes & Native Knowhow

Old State Route 105 ends abruptly at the edge of the Pacific Ocean, after coastal erosion took out the road near the Shoalwater Bay Reservation in Tokeland, Wash.

We have often thought consulting those who have been on the land longest is a good idea, so this story is heartening:

Native American tribes are competing for the first federal grants designed to help move communities away from high water and other dangers posed by climate change.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is building a dune to protect the Shoalwater Bay Reservation.

SHOALWATER BAY INDIAN RESERVATION, Wash. — The van carrying tribal officials veered off the coastal highway, away from the Pacific and onto a dirt path hidden by cedar and spruce trees. After climbing an old logging road, it emerged into a clearing high above the Shoalwater Bay Indian Reservation, half a square mile of oceanfront that’s disappearing fast.

The tribal leaders want to relocate to the remote hilltop where they were standing, despite its uneven terrain. “If you can believe it, this is the most suitable land we have for building,” said Quintin Swanson, treasurer of the 471-member tribe. Moving up the mountain could cost half a billion dollars, he said.

As climate change gets worse, tribes like Shoalwater Bay are being squeezed between existential threats and brutal financial arithmetic. Consigned to marginal land more than a century ago by the United States government, some tribes are now trying to relocate to areas better protected from extreme weather yet lack the money to pay for that move. Continue reading

A Decade Of Reading Yale e360 & A Monday Perspective

The Philadelphia skyline and Benjamin Franklin Bridge reflected in the Delaware River. PAUL BRADY / ALAMY

Monday mornings often have had their own theme in these pages. Fresh perspective to start the new work week on a new track. So here is my Monday morning contribution. For a brief history to immerse you in the bleak dark, I could send you here; but not today.

Following is an article that does something different, and more difficult to find recently. A look at five decades’ accomplishment on one environmental issue in one country, and a takeaway worthy of the photo above: complex, but inspiring. Our thanks as always after a decade relying on Yale e360 for environmental stories, and advocacy; in this case also for introducing us to Andrew S. Lewis, who will now be on our radar:

The Clean Water Act at 50: Big Successes, More to Be Done

Sparked by the 1970s environmental movement, the Clean Water Act — which marks its 50th anniversary this month — transformed America’s polluted rivers. The Delaware, once an industrial cesspool, is one of the success stories, but its urban stretches remain a work in progress.

Steve Meserve (second from right) is a fourth-generation shad fisherman who operates the Lewis Fishery, the last commercial shad operation on the Delaware. ANDREW S. LEWIS

When Steve Meserve’s great-grandfather, Bill Lewis, started the Lewis Fishery in 1888, it was one of dozens of commercial outfits scattered up and down the Delaware River that seined for American shad during the spring spawn. At the time, the Delaware’s shad fishery hauled 3 to 4 million of the hard-fighting fish from the river and its tributaries every year. But, soon enough, Lewis discovered that he had gotten into the business just as the river — along with the species it supported — was entering a period of catastrophic decline. Continue reading

Previously Unheralded Climate Policy Good News

(David McNew / Getty)

Robinson Meyer‘s newsletter this week is the most positive in its history, so if only for that read it and click the banner above to sign up:

America’s Climate Bill Looks Even Better Than Before

Late last month, analysts at the investment bank Credit Suisse published a research note about America’s new climate law that went nearly unnoticed. The Inflation Reduction Act, the bank argued, is even more important than has been recognized so far: The IRA will “will have a profound effect across industries in the next decade and beyond” and could ultimately shape the direction of the American economy, the bank said. Continue reading

Really, England?

The Lake District national park. Councils can apply for zones in national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty, sites of special scientific interest and green belt land. Photograph: Ashley Cooper/Getty Images

National parks, one of those rare great ideas, were never as safe as we might have hoped, anywhere. They need protection from liberalization, not indulgence in the very things we protected those spaces from in the first place:

Investment zones could be allowed in England’s national parks

Documents show zones with ‘liberalised’ planning laws could get go-ahead even in the most environmentally protected areas

Investment zones with “liberalised” planning laws to accelerate development could be designated within national parks and in the most environmentally protected areas of the UK, government documents reveal. Continue reading

Pushing Decarbonizing Technology Via Industrial Policy

The NLMK mill in Portage, Indiana, which uses a furnace powered by electricity and produces steel from recycled scrap. SCOTT OLSON / GETTY IMAGES

Thanks to Yale e360:

Beyond Biden’s Climate Plan, a New Industrial Revolution Is Needed

The new U.S. climate plan is historic and will pump billions of dollars into advancing the transition away from fossil fuels. But a more far-reaching, innovative approach is needed to push forward the radically new technologies that will be required to decarbonize the economy.

Workers guide a hydrogen-powered truck, part of Anglo American Plc’s NuGen carbon-neutral project, during a moving demonstration at the Anglo American Platinum Ltd. Mogalakwena platinum mine in Mogalakwena, South Africa, on Friday, May 6, 2022. Anglo American unveiled the worlds biggest green-hydrogen powered truck at a platinum mine in northeast South Africa where it aims to replace a fleet of 40 diesel-fueled vehicles that each use about a million liters of the fossil fuel every year. Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

For all the great news in the Biden administration’s massive new climate spending plan, the hardest work of transforming the economy to stop global warming lies ahead. That’s because nearly all the money in the $369 billion plan will be spent on technologies that American companies already know how to deploy, such as solar farms, making buildings more efficient, and developing networks of electric vehicle charging systems.

Doing a lot more of the same will undoubtedly bring down emissions faster. But deep decarbonization requires a transformation of the American economy that will demand a much more active effort to push the technological frontier and build new industries so emissions can be driven to zero. Continue reading

The New Climate War Book Tour Optimism

If you are wondering where the hope comes from, read Eric Schwartzman’s article at Yale Climate Connections:

Climate scientist Michael E Mann PhD, author of The New Climate War signs his book for winemaker Ross Halleck of Halleck Vineyard in Sonoma County, California.

Scientist Michael Mann expresses hope during West Coast book tour

University of Pennsylvania climate scientist says he remains optimistic despite daunting challenges and continued concerns about ‘false’ climate solutions.

CORTE MADERA, CALIFORNIA – Don’t believe the climate crisis doomsayers: We can still achieve a 50% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030. But we have to elect lawmakers with the political will to enact meaningful climate legislation. The atmosphere is warming significantly, just as Exxon Mobil scientists were predicting back in 1982. Continue reading

Really, World Bank?

We knew there were still agents of climate skepticism, and even deniers, in important positions of influence. But the person trusted to lead the World Bank is among the last we would expect to be one of them. Really. Read about it in Bill McKibben’s newsletter:

The Global Banker Who’s Not Sure the Globe is Warming

Biden’s Easiest Climate Call Ever is to Ditch David Malpass

Some essential climate tasks are hard and expensive and take years.

And a few could not be easier. President Biden needs—now—to get rid of David Malpass as the head of the World Bank. Continue reading

Really, Washington Post?

Before we compromise further on planet earth, the question Really? is often a good place to start. Let’s be sure our revered journalists and the publications they work for call apples as apples, and oranges as oranges, says Bill McKibben:

A pipeline is not a windmill

Rally Thursday Against Manchin’s Dirty Deal–and Do Some Lobbying in the Meantime!

The Washington Post, which has done remarkable climate reporting in recent years, had a less successful story in this morning’s paper. Continue reading

England’s Green And Pleasant Land

Solar farm in Wroughton, England. Planning permission for 23 solar farms has been refused across England, Wales and Scotland between January 2021 and July 2022. Photograph: Chris Gorman/Getty Images

Nature gets disrupted even by the most sensitively planned green solutions. Here is a parallel story to yesterday’s, with solar replacing wind and England replacing Western USA, illustrating the challenges facing renewable energy:

Exclusive: Projects which would have cut annual electricity bills by £100m turned down

Solar farms are being refused planning permission in Great Britain at the highest rate in five years, analysis has found, with projects which would have cut £100m off annual electricity bills turned down in the past 18 months.

Continue reading

Almost Missed

I have missed plenty of good articles, books and other sources of news and analysis that relate to our goals with this platform. When I am late to see something important, like the book to the right, no regrets. Especially when it comes to my attention through an essay like this one by Daniel Sherrell:

The Democrats’ climate bill is a historic victory. But we can’t stop here

Passage of the Inflation Reduction Act filled me with joy and rage, relief and apprehension, exhaustion and vigilance. We must celebrate, but also mourn, rage and organize

I was at a Mets game when news broke that the climate bill had enough votes to pass in the Senate. It was the bottom of the eighth, and Edwin Díaz had just struck out the heart of the Braves’ lineup. The crowd at Citi Field was feeling good. Everyone could sense a win was at hand.

I read the push notification then sat there stunned for several minutes, watching the Mets clinch the game, waiting for the world-shaping news to register. Continue reading

Save Our Sequioas

Photo by AP Photo/Noah Berger

Our thanks to Lindsey Botts for this story:

Can the Save Our Sequoias Act Match Up to Its Name?

Dozens of conservation groups push back against a pending forestry bill

As the Washburn Fire last month threatened to scorch the Mariposa Grove of giant sequoias in Yosemite National Park, discussions about how to protect the iconic trees heated up. While most people agree that the trees are treasured monuments that need to be preserved, there is considerable disagreement about how best to do that. Continue reading

McKibben Smiles

Illustration of a smokestack windmills and trees.

Illustration by João Fazenda

When Bill McKibben is frustrated, you know it. Much less frequently you can find evidence of his ability to take a deep breath and sense some progress, however modest, so enjoy it when it comes, and try to smile:

Barbados, Leadership & Climate Action

Sargassum seaweed, which thrives in warming oceans, is overtaking a beach in Barbados. Credit: Erika Larsen/Redux, for The New York Times

The region is likely to bear disproportionate challenges from climate change and this island is not taking it lightly. We appreciate the effort described in this story by Abrahm Lustgarten, published by ProPublica:

Until the recent completion of an infrastructure project, Kenneth Blades was able to keep only part of his farmland watered. Credit: Erika Larsen/Redux, for The New York Times

Barbados Resists Climate Colonialism in an Effort to Survive the Costs of Global Warming

Across the Caribbean, soaring national debt is a hidden but decisive aspect of the climate crisis, hobbling countries’ ability to protect themselves from disaster. One island’s leader is fighting to find a way out.

Late on May 31, 2018, five days after she was sworn in as prime minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley and her top advisers gathered in the windowless anteroom of her administrative office in Bridgetown, the capital, for a call that could determine the fate of her island nation. Continue reading

Unwanted Plastic Renaissance

A worker at a hospital in Kathmandu, Nepal, readies bags of Covid-19 waste for treatment, December last year. Photograph: Prakash Mathema/AFP/Getty Images

The plague of plastic has zombie-like revivification capabilities:

How the plastic industry turned the pandemic to its advantage

With its products proving indispensable to combatting Covid-19, the plastics business is reinvigorated. What will it take to bring this major polluter to heel?

There are only two reasons that the plastics industry will change, a polymer scientist once told me: war or legislation. Continue reading

McKibben On The Supreme Court’s EPA Ruling

Photographs by Mitch Epstein

When you have found an explainer reliably clear on complicated but important issues, keep reading their essays:

The Supreme Court Tries to Overrule the Climate

A destructive decision in West Virginia v. E.P.A.

Credit where due: the Supreme Court’s 6–3 ruling in West Virginia v. E.P.A. is the culmination of a five-decade effort to make sure that the federal government won’t threaten the business status quo. Lewis Powell’s famous memo, written in 1971, before he joined the Supreme Court—between the enactment of a strong Clean Air Act and a strong Clean Water Act, each with huge popular support—called on “businessmen” to stand up to the tide of voices “from the college campus, the pulpit, the media, the intellectual and literary journals, the arts and sciences, and from politicians” calling for progressive change. Continue reading

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