Joseph Curtin | We Can Kick Our Coal-Burning Addiction. Here Are Some Ideas. – The New York Times

Dr. Curtin is the managing director for power and climate at the Rockefeller Foundation

“To avert worsening climate disasters, all sectors of the economy must be transformed by midcentury. But one task is more urgent than all others: the rapid phase-down of planet-warming emissions from coal-fired power plants in emerging economies.

The world’s leaders are failing badly in meeting this goal. Burning coal for electricity is the single largest source of global greenhouse gas emissions. Every year it accounts for about 10 billion tons of carbon dioxide — more than 70 percent of global fossil fuel emissions from electricity generation.

And we’re continuing to move in the wrong direction. Since 1990, the world has doubled its emissions from coal-fired power. There are now more than 6,500 plants. At least an additional 941 are planned. According to our calculations at the Rockefeller Foundation, combined, they would emit 273 billion tons of carbon dioxide if allowed to operate for their normal operational lifetime of about 40 years — which is equivalent to nearly eight years of all carbon dioxide pollution globally. These emissions would presage humanitarian crises that can scarcely be imagined for the world’s most vulnerable communities.

We need to stop building coal plants immediately and cut coal emissions in roughly half by 2030 to keep global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, above preindustrial levels. That is the upper limit for warming set by the United Nations to avoid escalating climate risks. We must also accelerate the replacement of existing coal plants with clean power, which will unlock the potential to decarbonize transportation, buildings and industry. Innovative political and financial solutions are emerging. The question is: Will we harness them?”

Opinion | The Global Indigenous Movement to Fight Climate Change – The New York Times

Ms. Falquez is a photographer and visual artist. Ms. Verde is a staff editor in Opinion.

“The natural resources that Indigenous peoples depend on are inextricably linked to their identities, cultures and livelihoods. Even relatively small changes in temperature or rainfall can make their lands more susceptible to rising sea levels, droughts and forest fires. As the climate crisis escalates, activists fighting to protect what remain of the world’s forests are at risk of being persecuted by their governments — and even at risk of death.

For decades Indigenous activists have been sounding the alarm. But their warnings have too often been ignored. So, they organized.

Indigenous peoples and communities, working in the Americas, Indonesia and Africa joined forces and together became the Global Alliance of Territorial Communities. They work to protect their rights and territories, amounting to nearly 3.5 million square miles of land across the planet.”

Gabriel Popkin | Are There Better Places to Put Large Solar Farms Than These Forests? – The New York Times

Mr. Popkin is an independent journalist who writes about science and the environment. He has written extensively about threats to trees and forests.

“CHARLOTTE COURT HOUSE, Va. — In Charlotte County, population 11,448, forests and farms slope gently toward pretty little streams. The Roanoke River, whose floodplain includes one of the most ecologically valuable and intact forests in the Mid-Atlantic, forms the county’s southwestern border.

On a recent driving tour, a local conservationist, P.K. Pettus, told me she’s already grieving the eventual loss of much of this beautiful landscape. The Randolph Solar Project, a 4,500-acre project that will take out some 3,500 acres of forest during construction, was approved in July to join at least five other solar farms built or planned here thanks to several huge transmission lines that crisscross the county. When built, it will become one of the largest solar installations east of the Rocky Mountains. Although she is all for clean energy, Ms. Pettus opposed the project’s immense size, fearing it will destroy forests, disrupt soil and pollute streams and rivers in the place she calls home.”

Patagonia Founder Gives Away the Company to Fight Climate Change – The New York Times

Gelles writes about the intersection of climate and the corporate world and has covered Patagonia for nearly a decade.

“A half century after founding the outdoor apparel maker Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard, the eccentric rock climber who became a reluctant billionaire with his unconventional spin on capitalism, has given the company away.

Rather than selling the company or taking it public, Mr. Chouinard, his wife and two adult children have transferred their ownership of Patagonia, valued at about $3 billion, to a specially designed trust and a nonprofit organization. They were created to preserve the company’s independence and ensure that all of its profits — some $100 million a year — are used to combat climate change and protect undeveloped land around the globe.

The unusual move comes at a moment of growing scrutiny for billionaires and corporations, whose rhetoric about making the world a better place is often overshadowed by their contributions to the very problems they claim to want to solve.

At the same time, Mr. Chouinard’s relinquishment of the family fortune is in keeping with his longstanding disregard for business norms, and his lifelong love for the environment.”

Thomas L. Friedman | Putin Will Make People Choose Between Heating or Eating This Winter – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“While some Russian soldiers in Ukraine are voting with their feet against Vladimir Putin’s shameful war, their hasty retreat doesn’t mean that Putin is surrendering. Last week, in fact, he opened a whole new front — on energy. Putin thinks he’s found a cold war that he can win. He’s going to try to literally freeze the European Union this winter by choking off supplies of Russian gas and oil to pressure the E.U. into abandoning Ukraine.

Putin’s Kremlin predecessors used frigid winters to defeat Napoleon and Hitler, and Putin clearly thinks it’s his ace in the hole to defeat Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, who told his people last week, “Russia is doing everything in 90 days of this winter to break the resistance of Ukraine, the resistance of Europe and the resistance of the world.”

I wish I could say for certain that Putin will fail — that the Americans will outproduce him. And I wish I could write that Putin will regret his tactics, because they will eventually transform Russia from the energy czar of Europe to an energy colony of China — where Putin is now selling a lot of his oil at a deep discount to overcome his loss of Western markets.

Yes, I wish I could write all of those things. But I can’t — not unless the U.S. and its Western allies stop living in a green fantasy world that says we can go from dirty fossil fuels to clean renewable energy by just flipping a switch.”

“. . . .  But the most important factor for quickly expanding our exploitation of oil, gas, solar, wind, geothermal, hydro or nuclear energy is giving the companies that pursue them (and the banks that fund them) the regulatory certainty that if they invest billions, the government will help them to quickly build the transmission lines and pipelines to get their energy to market.

Greens love solar panels but hate transmission lines. Good luck saving the planet with that approach.”

David Lindsay: Yes and amen. Here is one of several good comments:

Bruce Rozenblit
Kansas City, MOSept. 13

Electrical engineer checking in. Mr Friedman is 100% correct on this one. The most fundamental component to a green energy future will be a massive buildout of our transmission system. No matter what the source of power, it is useless without a means to transmit it across the nation. Now I’m not talking about making our grid smart. I’m talking massive towers with 345 KV and even 500 KV lines. Lots of steel, aluminum and concrete arrayed all across the land. And no, we can’t put these things underground at such high voltages. This is a matter of national security. We built the interstate highway system as a matter of national security. We needed a way to transport weapons and material all over the place. We used eminent domain to acquire the land for the highways. We should do the same for these new transmission lines. A few ranchers cannot be allowed to block our energy security. Pay them a fair price for the land and build away. Most people underestimate how difficult an undertaking this is. Not only will it take years to build out, it will take years to design. Plans have to be drawn up and contracts let. We are talking about tens of billions of dollars in contracts for thousands of miles of transmission lines. And then there will be all the substations and control equipment to hook it all together and make it work. We have to spend the money to do this and the federal government should fund it, just like they did with the highways.

8 Replies436 Recommended

David Wallace-Wells | Bill Gates: ‘We’re in a Worse Place Than I Expected’ – The New York Times

Opinion Writer

“There are not many more contested abstractions in the contemporary world than progress. Are things getting better? Fast enough? For whom?

Those questions are, in a somewhat singular way, tied symbolically to Bill Gates. By objective standards among the most generous philanthropists the world has ever known, Gates is seen more and more by critics, in a time of intensifying income inequality, as a creature of the Pollyannaish plutocracy — with the billions given each year by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation perhaps more significant as a symptom of the world’s problems than a potential solution. Even a partial one.

In 2015 the United Nations established 17 sustainable development goals — measurable benchmarks of human progress that might guide a path “to end poverty, fight inequality and stop climate change by 2030.” Every year since 2017, the Gates Foundation has released a sort of progress report tracking key data points: poverty, malnutrition, maternal mortality and 15 more.”

This year, at the halfway point, how do things look? “Seven years in, the world is on track to achieve almost none of the goals,” Gates and his ex-wife, the foundation’s co-founder Melinda French Gates, write in the introduction to the latest report. On poverty, the goal was to eradicate extreme poverty, and since 2015, the percentage of the world living on less than $1.90 a day has fallen only to about 8 percent from just above 10 percent; on malnutrition, the prevalence of growth stunting in children under 5 is still above 20 percent; maternal mortality is more than twice as high as the standard set by the 2015 goals. “As it stands now, we’d need to speed up the pace of our progress five times faster to meet most of our goals — and even that might be an underestimate, because some of the projections don’t yet account for the impact of the pandemic, let alone the war in Ukraine or the food crisis it kicked off in Africa,” the introduction reads.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Is Bill Gates, who I admire so much, really ignorant of the importance of overpopulation to the climate crisis, or does the questioning of David Wallace-Wells just make Gates look impervious and out of touch with the elephant in the room, overpopulation. Probably the former, Gates is in denial about overpopulation. In his magnificent book, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, he ignores family planning and population control. These words do not exist in the index.
David Lindsay Jr blogs at InconvenientNews.net

Andrea Wulf | Friedrich Schelling’s Philosophy Can Help Us Through the Climate Crisis – The New York Times

Ms. Wulf is the author of “Magnificent Rebels: The First Romantics and the Invention of the Self.”

“As darkness settled over the small German town of Jena in the late winter of 1798, large groups of young men rushed to the town university’s biggest auditorium to listen to their new philosophy professor. They jostled for seats, took out ink and quills and waited. At the lectern, a young man lit two candles and the students saw him bathed in light.

There is a “secret bond connecting our mind with nature,” the professor, Friedrich Schelling, told the students. His idea, that the self and nature are in fact identical, was as simple as it was radical. He explained this by pointing to the moment when the self becomes aware of the world around it.

“At the first moment, when I am conscious of the external world, the consciousness of my self is there as well,” he said, “and vice versa — at my first moment of self-awareness, the real world rises up before me.” Instead of dividing the world into mind and matter, as many philosophers had done for centuries, the young professor told his students that everything was one. It was an idea that would change the way humans think about themselves and nature.

To me it seems that we sometimes forget that we’re part of nature — physically of course, but also emotionally and psychologically — and this insight is missing from our current climate debates. As a historian, I have looked at the relationship between humankind and nature, and I believe that Schelling’s philosophy of oneness might provide a foundation on which to anchor the fight for our climate and our survival.”

David Lindsay: Great essay, and comments. Here are two of many:

K. Kong
Washington7h ago

Indigenous populations understood our relationship with nature, but Western societies took the Bible’s call for man to have “dominion” over nature literally. We didn’t respect it. But the so-called primitive cultures saw a spirit in life in all things, and themselves as part of it. It took philosophy too long to figure out these pre-Christians, as well as the Native American populations today, had it right.

4 Replies73 Recommended
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Che Beauchard
Lower East Side 4h ago

Many of the comments to this article voice complaints that Mr. Wulf did not mention an appropriate Bible passage, or Buddhist or Hindu scripts, or indigenous practices, or earlier philosophers like Spinoza when speaking of Schelling’s proposal concerning the unity of each of us in nature. But Mr. Wulf wasn’t writing about all of history and all religious and cultural ideas. He wrote about how Schelling provided a contrast with the predominant ideas of the the of the Enlightenment and the early science that was developed at that time. He was concerned with the foundations of modern attitudes and Schelling’s response against that. The modern era began with the proposal that nature is inert and mechanical, and Schelling was responding to that modern attitude. Ancient religions clearly were not responses to modernity, and thus were unmentioned. Ideas have to be invented over and over. Many, if not most, of them are invented again and again in the day dreams of children, who later forget them when the adult world seems uninterested. For Mr. Wulf to write about how this one German philosopher stood in opposition to the modern attitude that separates us from the rest of nature did not require him to write about every antecedent to modern thought. Many comments seem to be offended by Mr. Wulf writing what they already believe in, which is that we are not separate from nature. Chill. No need to fight with someone with whom you agree.

5 Replies52 Recommended

It Was War. Then, a Rancher’s Truce With Some Pesky Beavers Paid Off. – The New York Times

 

Einhorn and Wylie visited northeastern Nevada and walked across a huge beaver dam, very carefully, for this article.

“WELLS, Nev. — Horace Smith blew up a lot of beaver dams in his life.

A rancher here in northeastern Nevada, he waged war against the animals, frequently with dynamite. Not from meanness or cruelty; it was a struggle over water. Mr. Smith blamed beavers for flooding some parts of his property, Cottonwood Ranch, and drying out others.

But his son Agee, who eventually took over the ranch, is making peace. And he says welcoming beavers to work on the land is one of the best things he’s done.

“They’re very controversial still,” said Mr. Smith, whose father died in 2014. “But it’s getting better. People are starting to wake up.”

As global warming intensifies droughts, floods and wildfires, Mr. Smith has become one of a growing number of ranchers, scientists and other “beaver believers” who see the creatures not only as helpers, but as furry weapons of climate resilience.”

The Sustainable Development Agenda – 2015 –  United Nations Sustainable Development

17 Goals for People, for Planet

The Sustainable Development Goals are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and improve the lives and prospects of everyone, everywhere. The 17 Goals were adopted by all UN Member States in 2015, as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which set out a 15-year plan to achieve the Goals.

Today, progress is being made in many places, but, overall, action to meet the Goals is not yet advancing at the speed or scale required. 2020 needs to usher in a decade of ambitious action to deliver the Goals by 2030.

A Decade of Action

With just under ten years left to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, world leaders at the SDG Summit in September 2019 called for a Decade of Action and delivery for sustainable development, and pledged to mobilize financing, enhance national implementation and strengthen institutions to achieve the Goals by the target date of 2030, leaving no one behind.

The UN Secretary-General called on all sectors of society to mobilize for a decade of action on three levels: global action to secure greater leadership, more resources and smarter solutions for the Sustainable Development Goals; local action embedding the needed transitions in the policies, budgets, institutions and regulatory frameworks of governments, cities and local authorities; and people action, including by youth, civil society, the media, the private sector, unions, academia and other stakeholders, to generate an unstoppable movement pushing for the required

Source: The Sustainable Development Agenda – United Nations Sustainable Development

California Approves a Wave of Aggressive New Climate Measures – The New York Times

“California took some of its most aggressive steps yet to fight global warming as lawmakers passed a flurry of new climate bills late Wednesday, including a record $54 billion in climate spending, a measure to prevent the state’s last nuclear power plant from closing, sharp new restrictions on oil and gas drilling and a mandate that California stop adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere by 2045.”