Brazil Ejects Bolsonaro and Brings Back Former Leftist Leader Lula – The New York Times

“His (da Silva’s) election, however, will most likely be good news for the health of the Amazon rainforest, which is vital to the fight against climate change. Mr. Bolsonaro championed industries that extract the forest’s resources while slashing funds and staffing for the agencies tasked with protecting it. As a result, deforestation soared during his administration.

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Voters lined up to cast their votes during the presidential runoff election in Brasília on Sunday.
Credit…Dado Galdieri for The New York Times

Mr. da Silva has a much better track record on protecting the forest, reducing deforestation while president. He campaigned on a promise to eradicate illegal mining and logging and said he would push farmers to use areas of the forest that had already been cleared.”

Climate Pledges Are Falling Short, and a Chaotic Future Looks More Like Reality – The New York Times

“Countries around the world are failing to live up to their commitments to fight climate change, pointing Earth toward a future marked by more intense flooding, wildfires, drought, heat waves and species extinction, according to a report issued Wednesday by the United Nations.

Just 26 of 193 countries that agreed last year to step up their climate actions have followed through with more ambitious plans. The world’s top two polluters, China and the United States, have taken some action but have not pledged more this year, and climate negotiations between the two have been frozen for months.

Without drastic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, the report said, the planet is on track to warm by an average of 2.1 to 2.9 degrees Celsius, compared with preindustrial levels, by 2100.

That’s far higher than the goal of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) set by the landmark Paris agreement in 2015, and it crosses the threshold beyond which scientists say the likelihood of catastrophic climate impacts significantly increases.”

With Leaps and Bounds, Parkour Athletes Turn Off the Lights in Paris – The New York Times

“PARIS — After taking a few steps back to get a running start, Hadj Benhalima dashed toward the building, pushed against its wall with his foot, propelled himself upward and stretched out his arm.

At the peak of his leap, he flipped off a light switch, more than 10 feet off the ground. A click sound rang out, and the bright lights of a nearby barbershop went off instantly.

“Oooh,” his friends cheered, as Mr. Benhalima, a thin 21-year-old dressed all in black, landed back on the sidewalk. It was the second store sign he had turned off on a recent nighttime tour across Paris’s upscale neighborhoods. Many more would follow as he soared up and dropped back down across the city.”

Robert S. Young | To Save America’s Coasts, Don’t Always Rebuild Them – The New York Times

Dr. Young is a professor at Western Carolina University, where he directs the program for the study of developed shorelines.

“Hurricane Ian is the latest devastating hurricane to confirm that coastal areas are failing to keep rebuilt or new development out of highly vulnerable areas.

Local emergency managers know all too well which places in their communities should not be built back after a storm. But they are rebuilt, because the federal government and states provide multiple incentives to rebuild rather than to relocate. The assumption is that taxpayers will always be there to back up private investment after even predictable natural hazards.

Mantoloking, N.J., was a poster child in 2012 for Superstorm Sandy’s destructiveness. The barrier island that the borough sits on was ripped in half. Homes were destroyed. Even the areas of greatest destruction were rebuilt. We know it will happen again.

The money for such rebuilding comes largely through the public assistance sections of the 1988 Stafford Act. This legislation created the federal system of emergency response. When the president makes a federal disaster declaration for a county, aid dollars flow in with few strings attached.”

David Wallace-Wells | Progressives Should Rally Around a Clean Energy Construction Boom – The New York Times

Opinion Writer

You’re reading the David Wallace-Wells newsletter, for Times subscribers only.  The best-selling science writer and essayist explores climate change, technology, the future of the planet and how we live on it.

“The alliance that pushed the Inflation Reduction Act into law in August was always a somewhat fragile and ramshackle one: Green New Dealers and the coal-state senator Joe Manchin, carbon-capture geeks and environmental justice warriors, all herded together in the sort of big-tent play you get with a 50-50 Senate and one party functionally indifferent on climate.

One conspicuous cost of the compromise reached was a promise made by Senator Chuck Schumer to Manchin on what was vaguely called permitting reform: a catchall phrase referring to a whole host of efforts to cut red tape and ease the rollout of energy infrastructure. After weeks of speculation and intracoalitional debate, the text of the compromise was released on Sept. 21. By Sept. 27, the coalition had fallen apart, with Manchin somewhat abruptly pulling what had become known as the side deal from a must-pass budget resolution.

This was seemingly a victory for the progressive caucus, activists and environmental justice groups, which opposed the agreement as a fossil fuel handout, and another mark of a growing climate rift on the left in the aftermath of what was widely hailed as the most significant decarbonization bill passed into American law. (Nothing breaks a partnership like success, I guess.) But it also suggests an obvious next step for the left side of the now fractured climate coalition: its own alternative permitting reform bill, focused on building more electric transmission lines and streamlining regulatory approval for clean energy projects (without allowing for more fossil fuel infrastructure or the stampeding of frontline communities).

Bolsonaro Outperforms Polls and Forces Runoff Against Lula in Brazil’s Presidential Election – The New York Times

Jack Nicas, The Times’s Brazil bureau chief, has covered the country’s presidential race since last year.

“RIO DE JANEIRO — For months, pollsters and analysts had said that President Jair Bolsonaro was doomed. He faced a wide and unwavering deficit in Brazil’s high-stakes presidential race, and in recent weeks, the polls had suggested he could even lose in the first round, ending his presidency after just one term.

Instead, it was Mr. Bolsonaro who was celebrating. While the challenger, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, a former leftist president, finished the night ahead, Mr. Bolsonaro far outperformed forecasts and sent the race to a runoff.

Mr. da Silva received 48.4 percent of the votes, and Mr. Bolsonaro 43.23 percent, with 99.87 percent of the ballots counted, according to Brazil’s elections agency. Mr. da Silva needed to exceed 50 percent to be elected president in the first round.

They will face off on Oct. 30 in what is widely regarded as the most important vote in decades for Latin America’s largest nation.”

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.”

Gina McCarthy: Businesses No Longer See Climate Action as Driving Job Losses – The New York Times

Ms. McCarthy is the outgoing national climate adviser and the former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

“This week, as the world’s leaders gather in New York for the U.N. General Assembly, the United States will deliver a message many thought was not possible: We are going to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030, and zero them out by 2050.

Over the past 20 months as America’s first-ever national climate adviser, I have witnessed a paradigm shift: The private sector no longer sees climate action as a source of job losses, but rather as an opportunity for job creation and economic revitalization.

It’s a striking shift after four years of the Trump administration, which threw science out the window and backed out of the Paris climate agreement. In 2020 the future seemed grim. But today, states and companies across the country are running toward a clean energy future. How did what was once considered impossible become not just feasible, but at the core of America’s manufacturing and economic resurgence?

In my early days as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, auto dealers were predicting that shifting to cleaner cars meant vehicle costs would skyrocket and sales would drop, while the autoworkers and steelworkers talked about plant closings and layoffs. Even very early on in the Biden administration, when labor was fully engaged and squarely at the table, the old paradigm that cleaner standards meant job loss was hard to break. And unions worried that a big shift to electric vehicles could pose a fundamental threat to their workers.”

David Lindsay: Good news for a change. Here is one of my favorite comments:

Erik Frederiksen
Asheville, NC 6h ago

It has been obvious for a long time that the costs of not transitioning our energy sector are far higher. From the Nobel Laureate Yale economist William D. Nordhaus, the man who first came up with the idea in the 70s to avoid raising global temperature 2°C above preindustrial times: “the expected loss from certain risks such as climate change is infinite, and standard economic analysis cannot be applied.” Infinite one might ask? What price to put on coral reefs which are centers of oceanic biodiversity and supply half a billion people with protein, or ice sheets which hold the fate of most of our large cities, or Arctic sea ice which restrains global temperature, or permafrost which restrains global temperature, or the northern polar jet stream which affects weather where billions live, or deep ocean circulation which supports global biodiversity? https://cowles.yale.edu/sites/default/files/files/pub/d16/d1686.pdf

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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.

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