September 2021 Climate Change News

Dear Friends,

While it is always difficult to pare down the headlines we share with you, this month has been particularly challenging. From the deadly devastations of storms like Fred, Henri, and Ida to the flurry of activity leading up to the critically important United Nations climate conference starting next month, the news has been fast and furious.

The reality of climate change is setting in across the nation and around the world – thanks in part to the inescapable physical and economic costs that are becoming so apparent. But we are still divided on what we should do about it. Global leaders who recognize the magnitude of the challenge are facing tough choices, scrambling to implement policies that can both keep us safe and pass muster with their various constituencies.

The difficulty of transitioning is further exacerbated by the burgeoning global energy crises, as acute natural gas shortages and escalating prices harm people and economies across the world. There are many reasons for the shortage, but the public outcry could make it difficult for policymakers to deliver on carbon-reduction policies.

The next few months will be incredibly important, both on the domestic and international front, as nations and the international community wrestle with how to meet this challenge. Difficult choices lie ahead.

We can all help. Stay tuned, stay positive, and take action in a way that works for you and your family.

Wishing you well,
The C-Change Conversations Team

Notable Video

We loved this TED Talk about how fossil fuel workers and technology could help us lessen our climate risk by providing clean, geothermal energy all over the world. It seems fracking technology could enable us to dig deeper to capture the earth’s heat and transform it into energy we can use in many more places.

It reminds us, yet again, that there are many solutions unfolding, everyone must be invited to the table, and that we never know where tomorrow’s breakthrough may come. 

Watch the video.

News of Concern

Climate change has been almost everywhere this month, underscoring the stark truth that there is nowhere to hide. Hurricane Ida left nearly a million people without power in Louisiana and Mississippi amid hundred-degree weather that killed more than the hurricane itself.

Over 1,400 miles from Ida’s landfall, the storm dropped so much rain on New York and New Jersey that scores of people drowned in their cars and their homes. Tennessee also saw flash floods kill more than 20, while wildfires ravaged California – forcing thousands to evacuate Lake Tahoe – and yet another deadly heat wave took lives in the Pacific Northwest. All in all, the last few weeks have shown that the U.S. is not prepared [paywall] for our climate reality.

The millions who are directly affected by such climate-linked disasters are only part of the story. The economic fallout of climate change is also battering the finances of individuals, communities, and states far outside the direct line of fire … or the line of heat or water. In a game-changing move, the U.S. government is planning to pull back its subsidies for flood insurance policies in high-risk zones, setting the stage for premium increases for millions of homeowners, with potentially life-changing rate rises coming to tens of thousands. It’s a clear signal to those considering buying or investing in property at low-lying levels, but will hit those with nowhere else to go particularly hard.

Out West, a California moratorium has expired that protected fire insurance policies, putting their owners ‘at the mercy of the market.’ Millions more are at risk of losing policies this year as insurance companies and states try to retool a broken system that inadequately prices risk, leaving taxpayers to cover the real costs for people living in fire- and flood-prone areas. Change is unpalatable but a reckoning is clearly coming. And the cost won’t be measured by individual stress alone. Entire communities are facing insolvency [paywall] in the wake of climate-induced shocks, foretelling yet another body blow to small-town America.

If all this isn’t bad enough, the consensus of more than 230 medical journals is that a range of adverse human health consequences of climate change could be catastrophic if governments can’t manage to avert warming more than 1.5℃ above pre-industrial levels. This is particularly sobering since the United Nations warned this month that warming well above that limit is locked in – even if all the ambitious pledges to cut carbon are met by the global community. The UN says even if every country meets current emission promises, we will still experience a  ‘catastrophic’ rise in global average temperatures of 2.7℃ by the end of the century.

In defiance of that alert, Australia’s government declared the country would continue mining and exporting coal well beyond 2030. Coal, of course, emits more climate-warming carbon into the atmosphere than other fossil fuels. Australia is the second largest exporter in the world.

News of Hope

Clearly, there’s much that keeps us up at night. And yet, many key countries are moving faster and better to get a grip on the climate crisis in the runup to the next UN Climate Conference (COP26) that opens on October 31. While Australia seemingly wants to put its head in the sand regarding coal, this month China made a major announcement to stop funding coal plants around the world.

And as if vying to take the lead after years of American reluctance to act, President Biden announced that the White House will work with Congress to double the administration’s climate finance commitments to $11.4 billion by 2024. Equally important, he asserted that this will enable developed countries to keep a key commitment to the world’s poorer nations to mobilize $100 billion a year to support climate action in the developing world. The failure of developed nations to honor that pledge has been seen as a potential stumbling block for COP26.

More applause is warranted for the recent joint pledge by the U.S. and the European Union to slash emissions of methane – one of the world’s most potent greenhouse gases – by 30% over the next 10 years. Seven other countries have signed on, promising an important collective initiative to dial back the source of about a quarter of global warming to date.

On the domestic front, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a new rule to cut the use of  hydrofluorocarbons – a class of greenhouse gases that are hundreds to thousands of times more powerful than carbon dioxide and widely used in home refrigerators, air conditioners, and supermarket freezers. The bi-partisan support behind the plan to slash these super-pollutants is viewed as a major achievement.

Also this month, the Biden Administration announced that it will take immediate steps to protect Americans from extreme heat in the wake of a summer of lethal heat waves that killed hundreds of people around the country. Heat is the nation’s leading cause of weather-related deaths and the new initiative will involve multiple agencies.

Finally, we’re intrigued by news that the knowledge and technology behind the controversial practice of fracking (hydraulic fracturing) may power a shift to clean energy for oil companies and their workers.

Notable Graph

This graph speaks for itself, showing the number of disasters costing $1 billion or more per year. Scientists say the rapid escalation in the number and severity of weather-related disasters is due in large part to climate change.

Source: U.S. Global Change Research Program

Read More

Heat Waves, “Hot” Poles, and Why Greenland Used to be Warmer

Your questions answered. Here’s our latest Q&A with climate scientists.

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Two Sides of the Same Coin: Air Pollution and Climate Change

As a physician, I have seen firsthand the devastating health problems that air pollution can inflict: asthma attacks, strokes, heart attacks, lung cancer, and more.

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If You Think the Weather’s Wacky, A Neighbor Can Probably Explain

Many of us have causes we are passionate about. Reforming education. Protecting victims of domestic violence. Supporting the arts. Housing the homeless. Feeding the hungry.

All are worthy of our energy and consideration.

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July 2021 Newsletter

Dear Friends,

Happy Summer! Despite growing up in the Deep South where the weather can be scorching, summer is my favorite season. The long days and the hot stillness make it a time for reflection, reading, and just sitting still and being. The hectic pace and chaos of the “school year” slows.

But that quiet is fleeting. At C-Change, we are back on the road and I’m busy developing new Primers. Two of our presenters, Nancy Ylvisaker and Dallas Hetherington, have given in-person Primer presentations this summer, and I will in August – for the first time since February 2020 – with talks near the beaches of Long Island, New York and in the mountains of North Carolina. While at C-Change it feels like we are getting back to “normal”, Mother Nature is doing anything but. Record-breaking heat, devastating floods, wildfires, drought, and other extreme weather events made worse by climate change continue to cause loss of life, jobs, and property. As one friend complained to me recently, “It seems like climate change is everywhere and on the news every night.” Indeed.

But there’s good news on the climate front, too. The Washington Post’s interview with Rep. John Curtis (R-UT) [paywall] gives me hope. The founder of the Conservative Climate Caucus, which now has more than 60 Republican Members of Congress, holds many views that are aligned with ours: climate change is real and must be addressed; we can protect and even grow jobs as we reduce greenhouse gas emissions; we must do more as responsible stewards of the planet, protecting it for future generations; we must invest in the innovative technologies that show so much promise; and more. 

Why are we seeing this shift? In large part because younger voters are demanding it and the climate-fueled damage around us is so visible. The politics surrounding the issue is changing, and that is an important first step toward coming together to create meaningful and long-term solutions.

I hope you enjoy more good news below. As always, we welcome your feedback and questions.

Warmly,
Kathleen Biggins
Founder & President

New Primer Focuses on Health

Image courtesy of Dr. Howard Frumpkin, University of Washington

C-Change is launching a new presentation in September! We are eager to share it with new audiences and with those who’ve seen our original Primer. The “Health Primer” covers the basic science of climate change and how it is compromising the essentials of good health: physical safety and shelter, secure food sources, clean water, clean air, and our ability to manage diseases. We’ve scheduled two Health Primer presentations in September – for the Garden Club of Princeton and for Princeton Windrows, an independent living community. 

In case you are wondering, the image above (discussed in our Health Primer) is not rhetorical or decorative. Behind every green arrow there’s a body of solid evidence that supports the link between climate action and improved health. If you would like to schedule an in-person or virtual presentation of the Health Primer or our original Primer, please let us know.

Save the Date!

C-Change is thrilled that Mark Censits, noted wine and spirits entrepreneur, will be the featured speaker for our fall fundraiser. He is the founder and president of CoolVines, a New Jersey-based company that specializes in artisanal, hand-crafted, and responsibly and sustainably produced wines from around the world.
 
Extreme heat, drought, and wildfires – which not only can burn crops, facilities, and equipment but also taint grapes with smoke that has wafted from far away – are challenging even the most seasoned of winemakers. As new wine areas are opening up and old areas are losing their ability to grow the best grapes, it is a time of disruption and innovation, providing opportunities for the savvy connoisseur. Mark will share some of his favorite new wines and walk us through how climate change is impacting the wine industry.
 
The event will be held on September 19, 2021 from 5-7pm at The Watershed Institute in Pennington, NJ. For more information and if you would like to receive an invitation, contact us here.

Meet the Team

From Kathleen Biggins – I am pleased to introduce two more important team members who contribute so much to our work: Margaret Sieck and Tina Alt. 

Margaret Sieck was there before the beginning. We were driving back from a conference in Washington, DC together, discussing what we heard from a general and a business person warning that climate change posed significant risks for our geopolitical security and our economy. We were surprised because they definitely did not seem like green-leaning liberals, and yet they had laid out such dire outcomes. And we were concerned because we knew most of our friends and families had a different perspective – that climate change wasn’t real or if it was it would only impact far-off generations in far-off places – and we recognized it would be very hard, if not impossible, to change their minds. It felt so overwhelming, and for long stretches we drove back in silence, feeling defeated.

Fast forward to today and Margaret is a critical player in successfully changing those hard-to-influence hearts and minds. The skills she honed by working at national magazines make her a formidable and seasoned editor (I fondly call her the dragon lady!), and she is a very important part of our communications team. She edits our blogs, newsletters, and op-eds, lending a critical eye to the language we use and finding some of the images we choose to educate our C-Change “family.”

Margaret helps create and protect C-Change Conversation’s unique voice. We couldn’t do it without her!

Why I’m involved with C-Change:

I had worked over the years with each of the four founding members on different projects, all conservation-related, and knew they were a particularly remarkable, talented group. What skills could a retired sports editor (briefly the hockey editor at Sports Illustrated) lend to this enterprise? The talented people at Time Inc. taught me a lot about proofreading and copyediting, and I am happy to use those skills to polish our prose or amend our message as needed.

 
What have you learned about climate change that makes you hopeful?
I am hopeful that more and more people are turning to science and facts to help defend against what is a clear and present danger. I want my grandchildren (soon to number three!) to know that I worked to make a difference and deliver unto them a planet that is not burning up or awash in floods because people cared and acted.

Tina Alt is one of our jack-of-all-trades “can do” volunteers – moving seamlessly from supporting our Primer Presenter training program to helping run our development efforts. One of my favorite stories about her: we were in Tiverton, Rhode Island, and Tina was lying on the floor of the public library taking apart a recalcitrant and complicated technology system to make it accept my computer’s input so we could start the presentation. We had a restive and packed crowd and the library’s staff had been working on the problem for an hour. Tina was unflappable, and she saved the day.

Tina is like that – she is dauntless, organized, rolls up her sleeves and gets things done, and is great under pressure. She brings a fresh point of view and creative solutions. As a Physician’s Assistant, she has keenly focused on the science underpinning climate change and on how it will impact our personal health and health systems.

Tina approached us after hearing our Primer presentation at the Lawrenceville School, where her children were students. We are so glad she did! 
 
Why I’m involved with C-Change:
Through the Primer and our other educational programs, C-Change Conversations explains climate change in a clear way that follows logic and the science and makes it easy to understand why it is urgent to change our individual behaviors and call for change in government and corporate policies. I especially like how we emphasize that climate change is impacting our national security, jobs, and the economy and that this is an issue that transcends politics.

What have you learned about climate change that makes you hopeful?
There are many possible ways to reduce carbon in the atmosphere, even though current technologies are expensive and not yet 100% successful. It reminds me a little bit of cancer – when curing cancer used to be a dream and now for many kinds of cancer, it is a reality. I also am hopeful because I know there is also a lot we can do in our own lives that are small adjustments that will significantly reduce our carbon footprint.

From Massachusetts to Missouri, Primers Draw a Crowd

Our climate change Primer has been in demand this spring and summer, both virtually and in person. Pictured here is Dallas Hetherington, presenting in July at an event in New Jersey hosted by the Mantoloking Environmental Commission and the Mantoloking Yacht Club.

After his talk, an audience member wrote, “Loved it! Climate change is quite a multifaceted topic, and I found the presentation to be very digestible. I especially appreciate the highlight of business contribution to the climate crisis, in that it’s important to remind folks that voting matters (individuals can only have so much power in holding businesses accountable, and we need to do so through policy/legislation).” In June, Dallas also presented the Primer (virtually) to his Chi Phi, Rho fraternity brothers.

Other recent events include Catherine Sidamon-Eristoff and Nancy Ylivsaker presenting the Primer virtually to the Lenox (MA) Garden Club, Kathleen Biggins and Joan Schiller presenting (also virtually) to The Study Group in St. Louis, and Nancy presenting in person to the St. Louis Women’s Club.

Help Us Fill the Primer Schedule

In 2021, we’ve presented the Primer 27 times to nearly 1,200 people! Would you like to schedule a talk for your employees, associations, and community groups? The Primer provides audience members with the scientific facts and language to talk about the issue with others. We welcome the opportunity to present to anyone interested in a fair and balanced approach to climate change, including people who do not think climate change is a significant threat, along with those who are already concerned.

Our current August-October Primer schedule includes in-person presentations to:

  • Rolling Rock Club, Liognier, PA
  • Bridgehampton Club, Bridgehampton, NY
  • Linville Book Club, Linville, NC
  • The Garden Club of Princeton, Princeton, NJ
  • Blowing Rock Country Club, Blowing Rock, NC
  • American Public Works Association, St. Louis, MO
  • Princeton Windrows, Princeton, NJ
  • YPO (Young Presidents Organization), Linville, NC
  • Minnetonka Garden Club, Minnetonka, MN

Read More

June 2021 Climate Change News

Dear Friends,

“Disruption” was the word-of-the-month for June. C-Change Conversations sees a warming globe as the biggest disrupter of all, with cascading effects from droughts and wildfires to disasters that are both economic and social in nature.
 
This year’s shockingly early extreme weather events are a case in point. After record temperatures and drought last year, the Western United States was again in the grip of an unprecedented heat wave by mid-June – barely the start of the 2021 hot season. It’s premature to blame climate change definitively. After all, mercury typically spikes in the summer. But with the Olympic Track and Field trials disrupted when the temperatures on the track measured 150 degrees in normally cool Eugene, Oregon, clearly something else was going on. To put it mildly, as NPR did, this is “not your average heat wave.”
 
The good news is that forces across the economy are responding with large and small disruptions of their own aimed at securing human safety, well-being, and economic opportunity. This month, we’ll brief you on a few big disruptive developments and also spotlight some mid-sized innovations with potential for big, positively disruptive payoffs.
 
As ever, we hope you’ll pass along anything you find interesting. And, of course, use the information to enrich your own conversations about climate change with friends, family, business associates, and community and political leaders.


Warmly,
The C-Change Conversations Team

Notable Quote

“We find that millions are at risk … not years in the future, but this summer.

–   Brian Stone, Jr., Georgia Institute of Technology professor and co-author of a study [paywall] on the growing danger of blackouts that coincide with extreme weather
 

News of Concern

Behind the sizzling headlines about blistering weather is a disturbing pattern of ever longer, broader, and hotter American heat waves. And while we don’t know exactly how climate change is contributing to the intense heat in the Pacific Northwest, we do know it is having at least some impact.
 
Similar weather patterns, of course, are now being felt world-wide with direct and long-term implications for life-sustaining resources that will affect us all – but some of us sooner than others. The Northern Triangle nations of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras – with high populations of subsistence farmers – have endured drought five out of the past ten years. The resulting food insecurity is considered a key factor in pushing some 300,000 migrants north to the United States each year [paywall].
 
Water supplies and essential food production are obviously the most critical vulnerabilities in the agricultural sector, but climate disruption is also affecting cash crops and products such as chocolate, coffee, wine, and beer. And, in a sign of the times, even salmon are struggling against drought. California’s Fish and Wildlife Service is planning to truck 17 million Chinook salmon downstream from their hatching areas in the Central Valley because their regular water routes to the sea have already dried up or become too heated for the fish to migrate on their own.
 
It turns out that NIMBYism thrives in unexpected corners. Local residents and environmental activists – who otherwise support clean energy – are disrupting utility-scale solar projects [paywall]. Their concerns – including aesthetics, landscape preservation, and endangered species – show that vexing tradeoffs on the road to carbon neutrality remain.
 
And in the category of not seeing eye to eye, we’re sorry to see a face-off brewing between Democratic municipal governments and Republican state legislatures over natural gas in private homes. As a growing number of towns and cities around the nation enact laws to prohibit or discourage gas-fueled cooking and heating, a growing number of states are passing laws to prohibit such legislation. The outcome of the battle may disrupt the utility industry and reshape domestic demand for natural gas [paywall].


News of Hope

The aforementioned face-off notwithstanding, the big news in partisan politics in June was the tiny crack in the polarization around climate change. Nearly one-third of congressional Republicans just launched the Conservative Climate Caucus, and others are readying to unveil climate policies of their own.
 
And in boardrooms and shareholder meetings, more and more of America’s investor heavyweights are pushing the climate agenda. “Wall Street senses a new climate [no pun seemingly intended] and is positioning itself accordingly,” writes Tim Quinson in Bloomberg. Hurrah! Black Rock and Vanguard, for example, are vocally happy to back shareholder initiatives to disrupt the status quo at companies like Exxon and beyond, though we observe a robust dose of risk analysis at play in their calculations, also.
 
June saw several disruptive legal and policy initiatives at the national and state levels. Let’s start with Belgium. In a landmark ruling, a Brussels court has declared the country’s failure to meet its climate targets breached the European Convention on Human Rights. It’s the latest legal victory against governments that have broken climate promises and could have international implications.
 
In more news from Brussels, the 27-nation European Union is reportedly preparing to impose levies on imported goods with high levels of “embedded” carbon such as steel, cement, and aluminum. The idea is to penalize countries with lower standards for carbon reduction as the EU tightens its own environmental rules and shoots for climate neutrality by 2050.
 
Closer to home, the state of California’s insurance regulator is endorsing sweeping changes to discourage new house construction in fire-prone areas [paywall]. The proposed changes are a bit wonky but important, with potential for disrupting the state’s real estate market and becoming a model for other states where climate change is making home insurance a lynchpin issue.

Finally, we’ll leave you with this: ecocide” has been defined by a panel of 12 legal scholars from around the world as a new, international crime with intended equivalence to genocide. Although the declaration carries no legal weight at this point, it envisions prosecutions before the International Criminal Court in the Hague and is considered an important milestone in the campaign to prosecute individuals and companies responsible for severe and widespread or long-term environmental damage, such as extensive deforestation of the rainforest or the Chernolyl nuclear accident.

 

Notable Innovations

Carbon utilization – aka “carbontech” – is gaining momentum and even profitability [paywall]. Carbontech is a catch-all phrase for commercial products made with CO2 emissions captured from power plants or other sources. By one estimate, the international market for carbontech products could be nearly $6 trillion.
 
Researchers at the University of Cambridge have found a way to replace single-use plastics with a plant-based material they are calling “vegan spider silk.” The process reportedly is scalable, energy-efficient, and results in a “plastic-like free-standing film” which can even be composted at home.
 
And if that doesn’t excite you, how about solid-state batteries? As elusive as pixie dust, this long-promised technology could, among other things, double or triple the range of electric cars and reduce recharging times to a fraction of current requirements. Multiple companies are working on them, which means we should finally see solid-state batteries on the market in the next few years.

 

Notable Graph

According to Climate Central, summers are getting hotter, and not just in the Pacific Northwest. In the past 50 years, 74% (179) of the 242 cities analyzed recorded an extra week or more of days with above-normal temperatures. The top 30 cities with the greatest increases, all recording a month or more of additional days above normal, were concentrated in the southern United States – particularly in the Southeast and Texas.

And areas on the map above that appear to be cooling during summer months? Those areas are still warming overall, but most of their warming signal shows up in winter. There is no definitive answer about the summer warming hole across the Upper Midwest/Northern Plains, but as Climate Central Meteorologist Sean Sublette wrote recently, “The early reasoning behind the cooling signal in the northern Plains is likely related to land use – there is now a greater coverage of corn and soybeans in the hotter months.  Colloquially known as ‘corn sweat,’ the plants give off more moisture from their leaves … which leads to more evaporation, which has a cooling effect (like when you get out of a pool). But this is an area of active research.” To learn more, read Summer Climate Change in the Midwest and Great Plains due to Agricultural Development during the Twentieth Century (2019).

Read More

Hurricane Predictions? Water Cycles? Delayed Glacial Period? and More

The latest Q&A with our climate science advisors explores hurricane forecasts, the difference between water cycle and water table, whether we could be headed toward a glacial period, and more.

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Review of “Unsettled”

Written by a prominent academic and science policy-maker, “Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What it Doesn’t, and Why It Matters” contends that man-made climate change is indeed occurring, but points out several inconsistencies between what climate science says and what the public perceives.

Read More

May 2021 Climate Change News

Dear Friends,

In May we saw remarkable steps in the fight against climate change from such unexpected corners that the possibility of a tipping point in climate action can’t be ruled out. If that sounds like a hesitant ‘hallelujah,’ it is. Without doubt, there’s cause for celebration. From the boardrooms of Houston to the courtrooms of the Hague, an unlikely collection of shareholder activists, investors, and environmental litigants scored a series of big wins that – separately and together – were hailed as game-changing developments against business as usual.
 
But countervailing winds are blowing, too. For example, we’re tracking the fallout of
a letter from the treasurers of 15 U.S. states to the Biden Administration, threatening to pull the states’ assets from financial institutions that agree to decarbonize their lending and investment portfolios.
 
Helping our readers sort through stories like these is exactly what C-Change Conversations was created to do. We hope our resources educate and inspire you to talk more about climate change, especially with elected officials, and encourage everyone you know to listen to the evidence and heed the logic that some of the world’s most hard-headed business leaders see clearly.
 
The tides
are turning. Let’s not allow this progress to be too little, too late.


Warmly,
The C-Change Conversations Team

Notable Quote

“China is not the only perilous threat to our nation. We are regularly warned of the consequences of climate change. Many of us take the only actions we know how to take: turning down thermostats in winter, buying energy-efficient vehicles, separating our trash. Politicians pass small-bore measures to appease progressive voters. Being more attuned to political advantage than to actual impact, politicians shy away from committing to remedies that have the potential to slow the warming: putting a price on carbon, carbon border adjustment tariffs, nuclear power and direct carbon capture. These, too, would require investment, sacrifice and political courage.”

– Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT), writing in the Washington Post

News of Hope

May 26th saw a veritable hat trick of three portentous scores against the sluggish response of big oil – ExxonMobil, Shell, and Chevron, specifically – to climate change. Stunning defeat [paywall] is how some news outlets described ExxonMobil’s face-off with activist investors in their campaign to elect new board members dedicated to steering the oil and gas giant toward a more climate-friendly stance. The revolt is evidence of the growing strength and willingness of Wall Street firms to push CEOs toward greener policies.
 
On the same day, a Dutch court issued
a landmark decision [paywall] compelling the oil titan Royal Dutch Shell to cut carbon emissions 45% by 2030 – far faster than previously planned. The case was filed by seven activist groups on behalf of more than 17,000 Dutch citizens claiming the company’s business model endangered their lives and human rights. The plaintiff’s lawyer called it a ‘turning point in history’ that could set a precedent in other jurisdictions around the world.
 
And then, an astonishing 61% of
Chevron shareholders voted in favor of a resolution to not only lower its own emissions but also, remarkably, to cut the emissions generated by the users of Chevron’s products.
 
Also from within the industry, the conservative
International Energy Agency issued its own roadmap for achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. This report,  like  other roadmaps we’ve told you about, concludes that net-zero emissions are achievable and, strikingly, that no new fossil fuel supplies will be needed to meet global demand beyond those being tapped today.
 
And remember the ‘Texas freeze’ this winter? Some state lawmakers responded to the deadly storm and the catastrophic failure of the Texas power grid by falsely blaming windmills. Legislation has even been introduced to
target the renewable industry with added charges and responsibilities. But it appears economics may trump politics, as a new report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts Texas is on track to rival California as the state with the most utility-scale solar. A full one-third of large solar facilities planned for the next two years will be in the Lone Star State.

News of Concern

While we are hopeful that the surge in shareholder and investor awareness will spark more positive steps in climate action, scientists continue to deliver warnings that 7 of the earth’s climate systems may each be reaching a tipping point – and possibly faster than predicted. Also in May, the Environmental Protection Agency released a report [paywall] that delivered alarming evidence that the U.S. and the world have moved into unprecedented climate territory.
 
Unfortunately, there are plenty of people who prefer to look the other way (like the aforementioned
consortium of state treasurers). Another example: commercial agriculture enterprises in some 23 nations that haven’t lived up to commitments on deforestation. Governments and corporations promised more than seven years ago to stop clear-cutting the tropical forests so critical to global climate. In that time, however, an area more than twice the size of California has been stripped of its trees – representing a 50% increase in the rate of deforestation.
 
Meanwhile the world’s top meteorologists have
upped the odds to over 40% that global warming will exceed the limits set by the landmark 2015 Paris agreement within the next five years. The repercussions – including crop failures, flooded cities, and more disease – are increasingly predictable. In fact, insurance giant Swiss Re has put a price tag on the economic losses [paywall] we can expect by 2050 from climate change at an eye-watering $23 trillion or 11-14% of global economic output. The company’s conclusions might influence how the industry prices insurance and directs its investments in the coming years.
 
The human costs of climate change are very real and very now. The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre reports that
extreme weather displaced some 30.7 million people in 2020. That’s about three times more than the number of people forced to move by conflict and violence.

Notable Graph

Surprising fact: heat kills more people than all types of weather hazards, including hurricanes and tornadoes. Roughly 12,000 Americans die of heat-related causes annually, according to research by scientists at Duke University. Hotter summer temperatures can contribute to poorer air quality and heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses. Baby boomers and older individuals are especially hard hit by summers that have grown hotter because of climate change. So, in addition to doing what you can to curb greenhouse gas emissions, please be extra careful this summer, and check on elders who are alone in sweltering weather.

Read More

Another Way to Honor Our Military

Armed Forces Day

“We face all kinds of threats in our line of work, but few of them truly deserve to be called existential. The climate crisis does. No nation can find lasting security without addressing the climate crisis.”
– U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, April 23, 2021

Today is Armed Forces Day, when we celebrate men and women serving in the U.S. military. Across the country, there will be parades, speeches, and other tributes to our service members.
 
As we honor them, we should remember that climate change is making their jobs more difficult and dangerous. Our military leaders are warning that we need to embrace climate action now to keep our troops safe. Here are their key points:

  • Climate change is causing more conflicts. As climate change disrupts food and water sources, more areas are becoming less habitable – and conflicts over these basic resources are growing. These conflicts often exacerbate human migration and increase terrorism. This will continue to worsen as we move into mid-century and disruptions become more acute.
     
  •  It will be more difficult (and expensive) to train soldiers and keep them safe. Climate change makes temperatures higher and water resources less dependable, which makes it harder, and downright dangerous, for our soldiers to operate in many areas of the world. In addition, hotter, drier conditions at many of our training grounds make it dangerous to practice with live ammunition because of the risk of starting wildfires.
     
  • Billions of dollars of damage to military bases here and abroad has been incurred by rising sea levels and extreme weather events made worse by climate change. Even once we protect the bases, the cities near them are also threatened by sea level rise and must be built up so that personnel can get from their homes to the bases when needed.
     
  • Our soldiers and National Guard will be called on more often for humanitarian help both at home and around the world as floods, hurricanes, and wildfires are made more damaging and dangerous by climate change.

“This has to be everybody’s fight,” says Ron Keys, a retired Air Force general. We hope you will watch and share his video explaining why our military cares about climate change.
 
So please, support our troops and raise your voice. Thanks for helping us keep the conversation going.
 
Warmly,
The C-Change Conversations Team

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