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

Reply32 Recommended

Opinion | Older Americans Fight to Make America Better – The New York Times

“. . . But the daily business of politics — the inside game — is very different from the sort of political movements that helped change the world in the ’60s. Those we traditionally leave to the young, and indeed at the moment it’s young people who are making most of the difference, from the new civil rights movement exemplified by Black Lives Matter to the teenage ranks of the climate strikers. But we can’t assign tasks this large to high school students as extra homework; that’s neither fair nor practical.

Instead, we need older people returning to the movement politics they helped invent. It’s true that the effort to embarrass Spotify over its contributions to the stupidification of our body politic hasn’t managed yet to make it change its policies yet. But the users of that streaming service skew young: Slightly more than half are below the age of 35, and just under a fifth are 55 or older.

Other important pressure points may play out differently. One of Third Act’s first campaigns, for instance, aims to take on the biggest banks in America for their continued funding of the fossil fuel industry even as the global temperature keeps climbing. Chase, Citi, Bank of America and Wells Fargo might want to take note, because (fairly or not) 70 percent of the country’s financial assets are in the hands of boomers and the Silent Generation, compared to just about 5 percent for millennials.”

Apocalypse When? Global Warming’s Endless Scroll – The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/03/arts/climate-change-doomsday-culture.html

Doomscrolling through social media can be seductive when it comes to the climate crisis: It signals that we care about big problems even as we chase distractions.

Image  Credit…Aleia Murawski and Sam Copeland for The New York Times 

“I can’t say precisely when the end began, just that in the past several years, “the end of the world” stopped referring to a future cataclysmic event and started to describe our present situation. Across the ironized hellscape of the internet, we began “tweeting through the apocalypse” and blogging the Golden Globes ceremony “during the end times” and streaming “Emily in Paris” “at the end of the world.” Often the features of our dystopia are itemized, as if we are briskly touring the concentric circles of hell — rising inequality, declining democracy, unending pandemic, the financial system optimistically described as “late” capitalism — until we have reached the inferno’s toasty center, which is the destruction of the Earth through man-made global warming.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT3h ago 

My first reaction to this story, is that it is very well written but not my cup of tea. I really like the comment by a reader named Bendy, “Is this a ‘Journalist Mistakes Twitter For Reality’ story? Everyone isn’t emotionally exhausted by the climate crisis. And it is not too big to comprehend.” I read and write about climate change and the sixth extinction every day, and it is not too late.

The corporate world has just woken up. Black Rock, with 13 trillion under management, has just made awareness and mitigation a requirement for their investors. I am currently recommending to everyone, including those reading this comment, to watch the five short documentaries, each about 11.5 minutes, called, Climate Emergency: Feedback Loops, by world scientists, many associated with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. They can be found at https://feedbackloopsclimate.com/, and to purchase and read “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster,” by Bill Gates, published in 2021.

We understand the problem, we know more or less what to do about it, and the great ocean liner of humanity is slowly turning around, but it could use your help, as well as mine. We can do this. We have to.

Opinion | Will Iván Duque Protect Environmental Defenders? – The New York Times

Blanca Lucía Echeverry and 

“At the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, President Iván Duque of Colombia carried out a charm offensive to convince the world he is an environmental champion who would protect his nation’s vast forets. He promised Colombia would be carbon neutral by 2050 and that, by next year, 30 percent of the country’s land and waters would be protected areas.

But back in Colombia, armed gangs are threatening and murdering community leaders and environmental activists who have been trying to protect Colombia’s forest from destruction by mining, lumber and oil companies. Morbidly, Colombia has emerged as the world’s deadliest place for environmentalists and others defending land rights. Global Witness documented at least 65 killings in 2020.”

Jeffrey Ball | The Developing World Is Falling Short on Emissions Reductions – The New York Times

Mr. Ball, a writer focusing on energy and the environment, is the scholar in residence at Stanford University’s Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance and a lecturer at Stanford Law School.

Nowhere is cutting carbon emissions more crucial than in the world’s emerging and developing economies, where the thirst for energy, and the output of carbon dioxide, is rising the fastest. New power plants there will lock in the trajectory of global warming for decades to come.

But here’s the big problem: Fifty-two percent of new power generation financed in those countries from 2018 through 2020 is on track to be inconsistent with the global goal of keeping Earth’s average temperature from surpassing 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. That’s the threshold scientists have said is crucial to stave off particularly disastrous effects from global warming.

The biggest foreign financiers of these projects were in Japan, China and South Korea. But significant funds have also been coming from banks, utilities and other companies in the countries themselves.

On a Pacific Island, Russia Tests Its Battle Plan on Climate Change – The New York Times

“SAKHALIN ISLAND, Russia — Sixteen wind turbines are slated to go up amid the winding coast and wooded hills of this Russian island in the Pacific, creating a wind park bigger than any that currently exists in the vast reaches of the country’s Far East.

The clean energy generated by the new wind park will go toward mining more coal.

Russia is scrambling to retain the wealth and power that come from selling fossil fuels to the world, even as the Kremlin increasingly acknowledges climate change to be a human-made crisis that the country needs to do more to address.

Last week, President Vladimir V. Putin said Russia would stop adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere by 2060. It was a remarkable reversal since Mr. Putin has long dismissed climate science and many in his country see international efforts to combat global warming as part of a Western plot to weaken Russia. His announcement comes two weeks before world leaders are set to converge in Glasgow for a pivotal U.N. climate summit.

But it’s unclear if Russia is sincere in its new pledge. Russian energy experts and government officials acknowledge the moves are largely driven by economics, with the European Union’s plans for tariffs on heavily polluting countries threatening exports from Russia, the fourth biggest among nations in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. Some elements of Russia’s plans have prompted skepticism, including a heavy reliance on forests as a tool to absorb carbon dioxide.”

 

Peter Coy | ‘The Most Important Number You’ve Never Heard Of’ – The New York Times

Opinion Writer

“There’s a good reason climate change is called the policy problem from hell. Several good reasons, actually, but let’s start with a big one: Fighting climate change forces society to spend real money today to reap benefits that will occur over hundreds or even thousands of years. We’re not set up to be that farsighted, either financially or mentally.

Ideally, we would know precisely how much damage each ton of greenhouse gas emissions does to the environment (we don’t). We would know how much each dollar of economic output contributes to emissions, now and in the future. We would know how quickly the population and the economy will grow, including how rich we’ll all be in the future. Does it make sense for us to deprive ourselves today in order to make the planet more habitable for our great-great-grandchildren? If you answer yes, how much should we tighten our belts — a little or a lot?

Trying to answer such questions is “totally ridiculous and no one in their right mind would attempt to do it,” James Stock, a Harvard University economist, said on Sept. 9 at a virtual conference put on by the Brookings Institution.

Ridiculous, yes, but also essential, as Stock recognizes. There is no alternative. Stock moderated a session on a new paper that attempts to calculate the social cost of carbon — that is, the economic harm done by each incremental ton of carbon dioxide. That paper, which draws on the wisdom of the world’s top experts in economics, climatology and other fields, aims to inform the Biden administration, which has promised to announce its own calculation of the social cost of carbon in January.”

Court Blocks a Vast Alaskan Drilling Project, Citing Climate Dangers – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — A federal judge in Alaska on Wednesday blocked construction permits for an expansive oil drilling project on the state’s North Slope that was designed to produce more than 100,000 barrels of oil a day for the next 30 years.

The multibillion-dollar plan, known as Willow, by the oil giant ConocoPhillips had been approved by the Trump administration and legally backed by the Biden administration. Environmental groups sued, arguing that the federal government had failed to take into account the effects that drilling would have on wildlife and that the burning of the oil would have on global warming.

A federal judge has agreed.

In her opinion, Judge Sharon L. Gleason of the United States District Court for Alaska wrote that when the Trump administration permitted the project, the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management’s exclusion of greenhouse gas emissions in its analysis of the environmental effects of the project was “arbitrary and capricious.””

Margaret Renkl | I Don’t Want to Spend the Rest of My Days Grieving – The New York Times

Ms. Renkl is a contributing Opinion writer who covers flora, fauna, politics and culture in the American South.

“NASHVILLE — Sometimes I remember how I tried to comfort my children when they encountered a setback or were disappointed that a dream they were nurturing had not yet come true.

“Life’s a long process,” I would say, echoing my father’s reassurances. “There’s still time.”

But that was long ago, when I was still young enough to believe those words of comfort. Now my father is gone, and my mother too, and I know that life is not at all a long process. Life is the glint of light on rushing water, a flash of lightning. Life is a single wink from a single lightning bug.

How brief is the season of “splendour in the grass,” as the poet William Wordsworth put it, and surely summer is the time that brings such lessons closest to home. The dog days of August crisp the spring-green underbrush to crackling tinder. The children trudge back to school under a blistering sun. We wonder: What has become of the languorous summer we longed for back in the sadness of winter? Where did the endless, grass-fragrant days go?”