Recent News

Hurricane Ian was a powerful storm. Real estate developers made it a catastrophe.

‘Dredge-and-fill’ created thousands of homes vulnerable to storm surge.

A man wades through floodwaters from Hurricane Ian in Fort Myers, Florida, on September 29. RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP via Getty Images

A century ago, the coast of southwest Florida was a maze of swamps and shoals, prone to frequent flooding and almost impossible to navigate by boat. These days, the region is home to more than 2 million people, and over the past decade it has ranked as one of the fastest-growing parts of the country. Many of those new homes sit mere feet from the ocean, surrounded by canals that flow to the Gulf of Mexico.

When Hurricane Ian struck the region on Wednesday, its 150-mile-per-hour winds and extreme storm surge smashed hundreds of buildings to bits, flooded houses, and tossed around boats and mobile homes. Cities including Fort Myers and Port Charlotte were destroyed in a matter of hours.

These vulnerable cities only exist thanks to the audacious maneuvers of real estate developers, who manipulated coastal and riverine ecosystems to create valuable land over the course of the 20th century. These attempts to tame the forces of nature by tearing out mangroves and draining swamps had disastrous environmental consequences, but they also allowed for the construction of tens of thousands of homes, right in the water’s path.

“What this is basically showing us is that developers, if there’s money to be made, they will develop it,” said Stephen Strader, an associate professor at Villanova University who studies the societal forces behind disasters. “You have a natural wetland marsh … the primary function of those regions is to protect the inland areas from things like storm surge. You’re building on top of it, you’re replacing it with subdivisions and homes. What do we expect to see?” 09-30-22

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As Hurricane Ian makes landfall, Florida faces historic storm surge

The Category 4 storm pushed walls of water several feet high into low-lying cities from Sarasota to Fort Myers.

Bryan R. Smith / AFP via Getty Images

In the last century, only nine hurricanes with winds topping 150 miles per hour have made landfall in the United States. Hurricane Ian became the tenth on Wednesday afternoon, striking the coast of southwest Florida as a Category 4 storm. Ian submerged entire barrier islands, ripped houses apart, and pushed a huge wall of water toward a chain of seaside cities from Sarasota to Fort Myers. It will likely flood thousands of homes.

Just five days ago, Ian was a weak tropical cyclone in the southern Caribbean. The storm underwent a process known as “rapid intensification” as it entered the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea, strengthening to a Category 3 hurricane by the time it made landfall in western Cuba. Scientists have found that climate change may make episodes of rapid intensification more likely by raising ocean surface temperatures. At least six hurricanes underwent rapid intensification during the 2021 hurricane season, and at least 10 during the 2020 season.

More than 200 miles of the Florida coast, home to 2.5 million people, were under a mandatory evacuation order in the days leading up to the storm. On Wednesday morning, the National Hurricane Center predicted that parts of Charlotte County, where the hurricane made landfall just north of Fort Myers, could see between 12 and 16 feet of storm surge — enough to submerge almost all coastal land. 09-28-22

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‘A much-needed step’: The EPA creates a new environmental justice office

Ted Shaffrey / AP Images

The initiative will give hard-hit communities $3 billion to address pollution.

The Biden administration announced a new environmental justice initiative over the weekend, with $3 billion in block grants to go to communities and neighborhoods hard hit by pollution.

Michael Regan, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, said the new Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights will have a prominent role in the agency and will be made up of more than 200 current EPA staff members to be located in 10 regions and will be led by an assistant administrator to be named by President Biden and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

Regan, the first Black man to hold the position, made the announcement in Warren County, North Carolina, near the site of a protest against a toxic waste dump 40 years ago that civil rights leaders laud as helping to spark the national environmental justice movement. 09-28-22

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Tampa Bay isn’t safe from any hurricane — especially not Ian

The coastal region is severely flood-prone, even with smaller storms.

Tropical storm Ian turned into a hurricane on Monday, on course to make landfall in Florida later this week. As of Monday afternoon, the storm system was moving toward western Cuba with sustained winds of at least 100 miles per hour. Ian is expected to continue moving north and northeast, threatening towns along Florida’s west coast with dangerous storm surges, high winds, and heavy rains.

Though cautioning that Ian’s exact path is uncertain, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Hurricane Center placed Tampa Bay under a hurricane watch on Monday, with Hillsborough County and Pinellas County issuing evacuation orders for some areas soon after.

Officials are warning people in the Tampa area to take immediate action. “It’s time to stop looking on the internet and hoping that it’ll go away. It’s time to start acting,” Jamie Rhome, the National Hurricane Center acting director, told CNN. 09-27-22

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California’s 2030 ban on gas heaters opens a new front in the war on fossil fuels

The first-of-its-kind plan will purge gas from existing buildings, not just new construction.

Image Credit: Florida Solar Energy Center

California regulators voted unanimously last week to develop new rules that would effectively ban the sale of natural gas-powered heating and hot water systems, a first-in-the-nation commitment. The California Air Resources Board, or CARB, an agency that oversees the state’s climate targets and regulates pollution, passed the measure on Thursday as part of a larger plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions and comply with federal air quality targets.

Beginning in 2030, homeowners in California looking to replace their furnace or hot-water heater will only be able to purchase zero-emission appliances. Regulators expect this to primarily mean a switch to heat pumps — very efficient electric devices that can both heat and cool homes — as well as heat pump water heaters.

It will be the first legal mandate in the country designed to purge natural gas from existing buildings — in contrast with past policies aimed at stopping new developments from using the fuel.

“We are celebrating this historic win as California becomes the first state to end the sale of polluting fossil fuel appliances,” said Leah Louise-Prescott, a senior associate at the clean energy think tank RMI. “California’s leadership sets a clear example for other states to follow in their transition to a healthy, all-electric future.” 09-26-22

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Compared to oil and gas, offshore wind is 125 times better for taxpayers

A new report finds per-acre revenue from offshore wind blows oil and gas out of the water

Not only is offshore wind power better for the planet compared to oil and gas, it’s also better for taxpayers. That’s according to a new analysis from the Center for American Progress, a nonpartisan policy research institute.

“Americans are getting significantly more return on investment from offshore wind energy lease sales than they are from oil and gas lease sales” per acre, said Michael Freeman, a conservation policy analyst for the Center and author of the report.

Offshore leases are essentially patches of publicly-owned waters rented out by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management for energy production — a process governed by the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA. The money made from these leases goes to the U.S. Treasury Department, and, through public program funding, back into the pockets of taxpayers. 09-23-22

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The Senate just approved an international climate treaty, with bipartisan support

The Kigali Amendment sets a timeline for the world to phase down the use of powerful greenhouse gases called hydrofluorocarbons.

Scott Heins/Getty Images

The Senate has historically been the place where climate policy goes to die. Most climate bills garner zero Republican support, and Democrats haven’t had the 60 votes required to pass legislation since 2010. The recent Inflation Reduction Act was a unique exception — the bill’s $369 billion in climate and energy spending was pushed through with 50 Democratic votes under an arcane process called “budget reconciliation.”

But on Wednesday, the Senate flipped the script and voted to approve an international agreement designed to drive down greenhouse gas emissions. Sixty-nine Senators, including 19 Republicans, voted in favor of ratifying the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, which sets a timeline for the world to phase down the use of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs. (The Senate must approve international treaties by a two-thirds vote before the President can ratify them.)

“Ratifying the Kigali Amendment, along with passing the Inflation Reduction Act, is the strongest one-two punch against climate change any Congress has ever taken,” said Senator Chuck Schumer after the vote. 09-21-22

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Left Behind

What life is like for the last residents of Staten Island’s Oakwood Beach.

Signs on a vacant Oakwood Beach home warn away trespassers. Grist / Joaquim Salles

Less than an hour’s drive from downtown Manhattan, on the eastern shore of Staten Island, lies the neighborhood of Oakwood Beach. A decade ago, it was a tight-knit working-class community of roughly 300 homes. Bungalows and beach houses lined its quiet streets, boasting ample backyards, easy water access, and a calmness rare in a city like New York. Today, the neighborhood is unrecognizable, a barren landscape of empty lots and flooded streets. Almost everyone has left.

When Superstorm Sandy ravaged New York on October 29, 2012, Oakwood Beach was one of the hardest hit areas. A 14-foot storm surge, among the highest recorded in the city, swept across the neighborhood. Entire houses were lifted from their foundations and carried across the surrounding marsh. Three people died.

Low-lying and encircled by wetlands, Oakwood Beach had always been prone to flooding, but the devastation caused by Sandy was unprecedented. Rather than rebuilding and waiting for the next storm, residents decided they would be better off elsewhere.

In the months that followed, they successfully lobbied the government to buy out their homes. The state of New York, using federal grants from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, agreed to pay pre-storm prices for the destroyed properties, demolish them, and never redevelop the land. Residents would be out of harm’s way in the event of another disaster and armed with money to resettle elsewhere. In time, nature would retake the area, creating a natural barrier against future storms. The strategy, called managed retreat, is what some experts say is the only long-term solution for waterfront areas like Oakwood Beach in the face of extreme weather and sea-level rise.

Buyouts in the neighborhood started in 2013, the first in a series of post-Sandy retreat programs on the eastern shore of Staten Island. The vast majority of residents chose to participate, but a few did not. Some simply didn’t want to leave their longtime homes. Others felt they couldn’t afford to relocate in New York’s expensive housing market for what the state was offering.  09-21-22

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Schools are harnessing solar power in record numbers

The new solar array on the roof of the Downtown High School in San Francisco, California
Lea Suzuki / The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

Solar arrays offer cost savings and educational opportunities.

In 2014, two solar energy groups published a report finding that only about 3,750 U.S. schools — out of a total of roughly 130,000 — were generating electricity from solar panels. But that number is on the rise.

According to the fourth edition of the “Brighter Future” report, released last week by the clean energy nonprofit Generation180, the number of U.S. schools using solar power has more than doubled in the last seven years, reaching roughly 8,400 by the end of 2021. These so-called “solar schools” now account for nearly 1 in 10 public, independent, and charter K-12 schools and serve more than 6 million students nationwide.

Tish Tablan, director of Generation180’s Solar for All Schools program and lead author of the report, called the number “an incredible milestone.” As some schools build new rooftop and ground-based solar arrays, others are subscribing to community solar programs. In some cases, schools with solar panels are generating enough electricity to sell it back to their communities. Since 2015, American schools’ total solar energy capacity has nearly tripled to 1,644 megawatts — enough to meet the electricity use of all the households in a city the size of Boston, Denver, or Washington, D.C. 09-20-22

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‘Goliath is wobbling’: Louisiana court strikes blow to Formosa’s giant plastics plant

Members of Rise St. James protest Formosa’s proposed petrochemical complex. AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

Without air or water permits, the company will have to “go back to the drawing board.”

A years-long battle to stop the chemical company Formosa from building a massive petrochemical complex along the Mississippi River in southern Louisiana swung in favor of residents on Wednesday when a state district judge withdrew the air permits that the company needs to operate.

The Taiwan-based chemical giant first announced its plans to build the $9.4 billion petrochemical complex on a sprawling 2,400-acre site in St. James Parish in April 2018. If approved, the so-called “Sunshine Project” would have been one of the largest and most expensive industrial projects in the state’s history. Governor John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, celebrated it as a boon for economic development that would bring 1,200 new jobs to the region.

But the project encountered swift opposition from the local community.

St. James is perched on a bend of the lower Mississippi River in a region known as “Cancer Alley” for its concentration of plants that spew cancer-causing chemicals. Numerous large industrial facilities already operate in the parish. A ProPublica investigation in 2019 found that the air around Formosa’s proposed site already contained more cancer-causing pollution than 99.6 percent of industrialized areas of the country. If the complex was to be built, the analysis estimated, the level of cancer-causing industrial pollution in some parts of the parish could more than triple.  09-16-22

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Banning Gas Cars Is Good, but It’ll Take More to Save the Planet

People must both drive less and switch to electric vehicles to reduce carbon emissions enough to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

Los Angeles officials may periodically close a new bridge to car traffic, making it safer for pedestrians and cyclists to travel through the neighborhood.Photograph: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

When a California pollution regulator voted last month to approve a rule banning new gas-powered car sales in the state by 2035, its officials were hailed as climate heroes. With good reason too: The move will reduce emissions by nearly 400 million metric tons between 2026 and 2040, the state calculates, preventing an estimated 1,300 deaths from heart- and lung-related ailments. The ban is the first such move in the US and among the most aggressive climate regulations in the world. It underscores the Golden State’s position as a powerful proving ground for environmental policy. What’s more, an auto industry already excited about electrification seems to have taken the whole thing in stride. Experts say the goal should be well within reach, too; after all, more than 16 percent of new cars sold in California this year were zero-emission.

That’s the good news. Here’s the bad news: California still has lots of work to do, because electrifying cars alone won’t be enough to stave off the worst of climate change. In a draft report released this summer, the state’s Air Resources Board turned to another policy needed alongside banning gas cars: reducing the number of miles that Californians drive every year. “Even with improvements in clean vehicle technology and fuels,” the agency wrote, “it is still necessary to reduce driving to meet state climate and air quality commitments.”

The state has committed to driving less because, for one thing, it’s going to take a while for all California cars to become zero-emission. Despite new purchases and old cars getting scrapped, the average age of cars on US roads keeps increasing—today, the average is more than 12 years. Existing gas-powered cars will stick around long after they’re banned from new car lots. Plus, there are plenty of emissions associated with cars and driving that don’t come out of a tailpipe, including manufacturing the vehicle in the first place, and the stuff that cars drive on. Building and maintaining just one lane-mile of highway creates some 3,500 tons of carbon emissions, according to one analysis. 09-16-22

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Left Out to Dry: Wildlife Threatened by Colorado River Basin Water Crisis

Lost in much of the coverage of the region’s water woes is the ecological crisis caused by prolonged drought, climate warming and development.

The drought’s ‘bathtub ring’ of Lake Mead at the inlet for Hoover Dam, May 2022. Photo: Don Barrett (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

In the Colorado River basin, our past has come back to haunt us.

We’re not just talking about the dead bodies emerging from the drying shoreline of Lake Mead. The river’s water crisis has caused the nation’s two biggest reservoirs to sink to historic lows.

It’s a problem of our own making — in more ways than one.

The Colorado River Compact, signed a century ago, overallocated the river’s water. Experts have long warned that nature can’t continue to deliver the water that the government has promised to farms, cities and towns.

A drying West, warmed by climate change, has now made that shortage impossible to ignore.

For years demand has outstripped natural flows on the river, and some states and Tribes have already taken cuts to their allocations. Additional conservation measures were expected as the seven U.S. states that share the river — Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, Arizona, California and Nevada — have been working on hammering out a new deal. The region’s more than two dozen federally recognized Tribes have also been fighting for a seat at that table and a hand in the river’s management. But the deadline for a revised agreement between all the parties came and went this summer with no resolution in sight.

To say there’s a lot at stake would be an understatement.

Some 40 million people rely on the 1,400-mile-long river in the United States and Mexico, including in many of the West’s biggest cities. It also greens 5 million acres of irrigated agriculture.

But that’s come at a cost. Long before cities and industrial farms emerged, the river supported diverse mountain and desert ecosystems, providing refuge and resources for countless animals and plants.

Many of those species now struggle to survive the cumulative pressures from drought, climate warming and human developments. And they remain an overlooked part of the region’s water crisis. 09-12-22

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‘I just want my people out here’: Black-led groups in Detroit are cultivating access to nature

A growing number of initiatives in Detroit are working to redefine outdoor activities as acts of liberation.

Detroiter Ian Solomon began building a deep relationship with the outdoors while attending college in Arizona for broadcast journalism. He’d never been in a place with such access to mountains and nature before, and he quickly fell in love.

But during his forays into the wilderness, he often felt like he was entering predominantly white spaces. He soon began to see the outdoors as a privilege to which other Black and Brown people should have access. His efforts led him to launch Amplify Outside, one of several initiatives emerging from Detroit to help eliminate obstacles to people of color accessing nature.

According to a study by the Outdoor Foundation, 72 percent of outdoor participants in 2020 were white. Black and Hispanic Americans are both underrepresented in outdoor recreation activities, and just 38 percent of Black Americans ages six and over participated in 2020, down from 40 percent in 2019.

There are important reasons for this, according to Solomon. “A lot of our history as being Black Americans in the outdoors is kind of negative – you think about slavery and lynching,” he says. “There’s a lot of access barriers for Black people outdoors, but sometimes it’s just as simple as we don’t know where to go and we didn’t know this was an option.”

The disconnect with nature for Black and Brown people goes beyond access. Scholar Carolyn Finney, author of “Black Faces, White Spaces,” notes that Black Americans’ relationship with the outdoors and the environment has historically been dictated for them. 09-14-22

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‘Forest bathing’ or hiking a trail can make you feel better

Negative ions caused by crashing water can elevate our feeling of well-being, and so, apparently, can walking in the woods.

The Hammock Hills trailhead. Photo: C. Leinbach/Ocracoke Observer

A growing number of studies show that when people are exposed to negative ions — electrically charged particles that occur when air is under the influence of energy sources such as crashing waves or waterfalls — they feel better, owing to negative ions raising the brain’s serotonin (happy hormone) levels.

Apparently, forest trees can also impart beneficial substances.

According to an April 2021 New York Times article, in the 1980s, researchers in Nagano, Japan, found that the practice of spending time in forests lessens stress, boosts immunity and lowers blood pressure.

Subsequent studies showed that soaking up the forest environment reduces cortisol (the body’s primary stress hormone) and activates the parasympathetic (self-healing) nervous system.

According to some reports, breathing in phytoncides, the aromatic oils released by trees, can increase the number of the body’s natural killer cells (a type of white blood cell crucial to the immune system that can limit the spread of microbial infections and tumors).

So “forest bathing” has become a thing, especially in Japan, where it is called Shinrinyoku and where nature therapy has ancient roots.

For a recent article on forest bathing, visit www.japanesegarden.org based in Portland, Oregon.

You don’t need to get naked, put on your swimsuit or get wet during a nature “bath” because you’re bathing in the energy and clean air while walking in the woods. 09-13-22

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These red states don’t want climate targets — but they do want green jobs

How Georgia and other Republican-led states are trying to benefit from the clean manufacturing boom.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp speaks at a campaign event in May. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

On a sweltering Friday this summer, a who’s who of Georgia political and business figures gathered under a large tent on a dusty expanse of vacant land outside of Savannah, sipping champagne. They were waiting for the governor to confirm the week’s exciting rumor: Hyundai was going to build electric vehicles here.

“It is my great honor to officially announce that Hyundai Motor Group will build their first dedicated electric vehicle manufacturing plant right here in this good soil in Bryan County,” Governor Brian Kemp, a Republican, announced to whoops and cheers.

He went on to boast that 20 EV-related projects had come to Georgia since 2020, promising thousands of jobs and billions in investment. The state has actively pursued these companies, offering billions in tax breaks and other incentives to lure Hyundai, electric truck and SUV maker Rivian, EV battery maker SK Innovation, and others to Georgia. Kemp called the state “the unrivaled leader in the nation’s emerging electric mobility industry.”

And it’s not just EVs. Solar panels have been made in Georgia since Suniva was founded out of Georgia Tech in 2008, and the industry has expanded in the last few years. The solar manufacturer Qcells opened a plant in 2019 and announced an expansion this year, and last year NanoPV announced another plant in the state. 09-12-22

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Oil companies say they’re going green, but their investments tell another story

A new report finds that Big Oil spent $750 million last year on climate-friendly marketing.

Extinction Rebellion activists protest greenwashing at a demonstration in Amsterdam on November 27, 2021. Ana Fernandez / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images

The biggest oil companies remain mired in the business of selling fossil fuels, but their marketing is all about going green.

Well over half of Big Oil’s advertisements promote the message that they have embraced clean energy and emissions reductions, and other such “green claims,” according to a new report from InfluenceMap, a think tank based in London. Researchers found that BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell, and TotalEnergies spent an estimated $750 million last year to promote a climate-friendly image — and the report calls that “a conservative estimate.”

Yet at the same time, the report found that all five companies were on track to increase oil production by 2026. Together, these companies spend only about a tenth of their investments on pursuits they consider “low-carbon.” Shell had the widest gap between its words and actions: While the company touted its carbon-cutting efforts 70 percent of the time, it only put 10 percent of capital expenditures toward low-carbon investments. The companies have also recently lobbied governments to weaken renewable energy policies and further the production of fossil fuels.

To understand what message oil companies were sending to the public, InfluenceMap’s researchers analyzed more than 3,400 social media posts, press releases, blog posts, and other communications from oil companies last year. They found that 60 percent contained environmentally-friendly messages, while only 23 percent promoted oil and gas. The most popular message was about adopting clean energy, followed by publicizing their efforts to reduce emissions. Many oil companies have a plan to zero out their emissions by 2050 — though their plans often fail to account for the emissions from the fossil fuels they’re selling. 09-09-22

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America’s electric utilities spent decades spreading climate misinformation

Utilities knew about climate change as early as the 1960s and misled the public in order to continue turning a profit.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

America’s electric utilities were aware as early as the 1960s that the burning of fossil fuels was warming the planet, but, two decades later, worked hand in hand with oil and gas companies to “promote doubt around climate change for the sake of continued … profits,” finds a new study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

The research adds utility companies and their affiliated groups to the growing list of actors that spent years misleading the American public about the threat of climate change. Over the past half decade, oil companies like BP and ExxonMobil have had to defend themselves in court against cities, state attorneys general, youth activists, and other entities who allege the world’s fossil fuel giants knew about the existence of climate change as far back as 1968, yet chose to ignore the information and launch disinformation campaigns. Recent investigations show the coal industry did something similar, as did fossil fuel-funded economists.

But while the role Big Oil played in misleading the public has been widely publicized, utilities’ culpability has largely flown under the radar. So researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara began collecting and analyzing public and private records kept by organizations within the utility industry. 09-07-22

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Parched California prepares for first-ever Colorado River cuts

An emerging deal would cut water deliveries to Southern California — but fall far short of federal demands.

David McNew / Getty Images

Officials in California are closing in on an agreement to give up a significant portion of the water the state gets from the Colorado River, bowing to an emergency demand made by the federal government earlier this summer.

Executives from two large water districts in the Golden State, which service the Los Angeles metropolitan area and the agriculture-heavy Imperial Valley, told Grist that they’re making progress on negotiations to leave roughly 10 percent of the state’s Colorado River water allocation in reservoirs next year, or at least 100 trillion gallons. The officials indicated that they may reach a deal as soon as this month, and said they believe other states will follow suit with cuts of their own, helping the federal government achieve its goal of stabilizing the Colorado’s two drought-wracked reservoirs, Lake Powell and Lake Mead.

But the deal under discussion falls far short of what federal officials have demanded: Water managers who spoke to Grist indicated that states will likely be able to cut water usage by around half of the minimum conservation target set by federal officials in June. Furthermore, many of the deal’s details are still unclear, including the size of contributions from states besides California.

Nevertheless, the agreement would be transformative for the Golden State, which has never before faced any cuts to its share of the river. If it holds, the agreement could force new water restrictions across the Los Angeles metroplex and reduce the nation’s supply of winter vegetables like lettuce and asparagus. It’s the latest sign that the climate-fueled megadrought in the West is forcing major changes to how the region uses water. 09-06-22

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Unplugged: Why utilities are more likely to disconnect Black, Latino, and Indigenous households

Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Extreme weather leaves millions of Americans with power bills they can’t afford.

Over 20 million households in the US have unpaid electricity bills. But it’s not just inflation that is putting them behind; it’s also our increasingly extreme weather.

Blistering temperatures over the summer led many to keep their air conditioning on longer than they might normally. And now that winter is on the horizon, the cost of heating adds to the stress.

“There’s no relief in sight,” said Mark Wolfe, executive director of the National Energy Assistance Directors Association, or NEADA, which monitors the effectiveness of federal utility assistance programs. “All signs point to another expensive winter.”

And for many of the nation’s struggling families, this means dealing with service shut-offs, deciding whether to “heat or eat,” or continuing to incur debts to utilities that will eventually have to be paid. 09-06-22

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National Wildlife Day 2022: 10 Quotes To Celebrate Nature


National Wildlife Day is celebrated annually on Sept. 4 to raise awareness about plants and animal species in the wild.

The day was founded in 2005 by animal behaviorist and philanthropist Colleen Paige, according to the official website.

The main objective of this day is to educate people about the need to preserve and rescue endangered animals.

Here are some quotes, courtesy Good Reads, to celebrate wildlife:

1. “Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” – Frank Lloyd Wright

2. “The hope of the future lies not in curbing the influence of human occupancy – it is already too late for that – but in creating a better understanding of the extent of that influence and a new ethic for its governance.” – Aldo Leopold

3. “The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.” – Rachel Carson

4. “We need to understand ourselves as biological creatures at one with the diverse of all life. When we can truly see this unity and interdependence, we will find nature to be forgiving, generous and resilient.” – Kenny Ausubel

5. “Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.” – Albert Einstein 09-04-22

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The most influential calculation in US climate policy is way off, study finds

Carbon emissions cost society at least three times more than the government’s official estimate.

Jens Schlueter/Getty Images

The United States doesn’t have any federal laws that say electric utilities have to switch to carbon-free power. We don’t yet have any national rules mandating the sale of electric vehicles or plans to phase out oil and gas drilling. Despite years of talk about a tax on carbon, we don’t have that either. What we do have, when it comes to regulations that address climate change, is a decidedly duller but still effective tool called the social cost of carbon, or SCC.

The social cost of carbon is a dollar amount that approximates the cost to society of adding — or the benefits of not adding — 1 metric ton of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. It is underpinned by scientific models that look deep into the future to estimate what that CO2 will mean in terms of lost lives, reduced crop yields, and damage caused by rising seas. The government uses this number as one of several key metrics to evaluate the costs and benefits of policies that affect greenhouse gas emissions, like fuel economy standards for vehicles or oil and gas leasing plans. It makes decisions that increase carbon output look a lot more expensive than those that do the opposite.

But perhaps not expensive enough. A new study published in the journal Nature on Thursday found that the social cost of carbon should be more than three times higher than the $51 dollar figure the Biden administration currently uses. 09-01-22

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School’s out: As temperatures rise, some students sent home because of lack of AC

David Mercer / AP

Many American school are not prepared for “heat days.”

School is back in session and teachers have more than lesson plans on their mind: outdated classrooms with little or no air conditioning makes teaching during heat waves near to impossible.

Columbus, Ohio teachers went on strike this past week, citing cooling systems in need of repair. In Clayton County, Georgia, elementary and middle schools are without proper cooling and hundreds of HVAC repairs need to be made to prevent, in some cases, hot air blowing out of vents and making classrooms inhospitable to students. The Baltimore City Public School system dismissed students at two dozen schools without air conditioning early this week as the city braces for a heatwave.

Classrooms are becoming hotter and hotter as global temperatures rise to extreme levels. These rising temperatures have a detrimental effect on how students learn and fixing them will cost millions of dollars, becoming a point of contention for educators. More and more schools are operating without proper cooling systems or need repairs since roughly 30 percent of all the nation’s schools were built between 1950 and 1969. 09-01-22

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