“STOCKTON, Calif — Work began in the dark. At 4 a.m., Briseida Flores could make out a fire burning in the distance. Floodlights illuminated the fields. And shoulder to shoulder with dozens of others, Ms. Flores pushed into the rows of corn. Swiftly, they plucked. One after the other. First under the lights, then by the first rays of daylight.
By 10:30 a.m., it was unbearably hot. Hundreds of wildfires were burning to the north, and so much smoke was settling into the San Joaquin Valley that the local air pollution agency issued a health alert. Ms. Flores, 19, who had joined her mother in the fields after her father lost his job in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, found it hard to breathe in between the tightly planted rows. Her jeans were soaked with sweat.
“It felt like a hundred degrees in there,” Ms. Flores said. “We said we don’t want to go in anymore.”
She went home, exhausted, and slept for an hour.
All this to harvest dried, ocher-colored ears of corn meant to decorate the autumn table.
Like the gossamer layer of ash and dust that is settling on the trees in Central California, climate change is adding on to the hazards already faced by some of the country’s poorest, most neglected laborers. So far this year, more than 7,000 fires have scorched 1.4 million acres, and there is no reprieve in sight, officials warned.”
“. . . . The valley is abnormally dry in parts, and in drought in others. Dust swirls up from the fields like a genie. Many creek beds are parched. The rivers have been twisted and bent every which way to bring water from the north for the fields. Since mid-August, for over two weeks, daily high temperatures have ranged from 97 degrees Fahrenheit to 108″
Like most people in Miami, Mario Alejandro Ariza came from somewhere else.
He arrived from the Dominican Republic in 1993, just months after Hurricane Andrew had swept through Miami, taking what seemed to him like every leaf from every tree. He was 6 years old at the time. He didn’t like it one bit.
His mother had brought him, and love had brought her. She had married a stockbroker from Miami and then, when she needed to, reinvented herself from a stay-at-home mom to a spectacularly successful real estate broker in a city at risk of sinking into the sea.
Ms. Sengupta traveled to Catalonia to report this article.
TIVISSA, Spain — Forests are often hailed as a solution to climate change, as they were recently at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where business and political leaders announced an initiative to plant one trillion trees worldwide.
Even President Trump, without mentioning global warming, cited the effort Tuesday night in his State of the Union address.
But while forests are vital for swallowing up and storing carbon, currently absorbing 30 percent of planet-warming carbon dioxide, they are also extremely vulnerable in the age of climate disruptions.
In a hotter, drier, more flammable climate, like here in the Mediterranean region, forests can die slowly from drought or they can go up in flames almost instantly, releasing all the planet-warming carbon stored in their trunks and branches into the atmosphere.
That raises an increasingly urgent question: How best to manage woodlands in a world that humans have so profoundly altered? “We need to decide what will be the climate-change forest for the future,” is how Kirsten Thonicke, a fire ecologist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, framed the challenge.
A forest revival in Europe is forcing that discussion now.
“Ms. Thunberg, a climate activist known for speaking bluntly to power, rebuked the crowd for promises that she said would do too little: reducing planet-warming gases to net zero by 2050, offsetting emissions by planting one trillion trees, transitioning to a low-carbon economy.
“Let’s be clear. We don’t need a ‘low carbon economy.’ We don’t need to ‘lower emissions,’” she said. “Our emissions have to stop.”
Only that, she said, would enable the world to keep temperatures from rising past 1.5 degrees from preindustrial levels, which scientists say is necessary to avert the worst effects of climate change. She and a group of young climate activists have called on private investors and governments to immediately halt exploration for fossil fuels, to stop funding their production, to end taxpayer subsidies for the industry and to fully divest their existing stakes in the sector.
Thank you Greta Thunberg. Here is one of many good comments I endorsed:
Such an articulate and impassioned cry from a member of the generation who will be left holding the bag of climate crisis.
Nobody with the power to do anything will be alive when their inaction translates into an uninhabitable planet.
This isn’t a simple abdiction of reponsiblity. It’s wholesale abandonment of the powerless, the children who today see imending doom but lack the authority to stop it.
David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment
Thank you Greta and Somini and the NYT for this story. I hope Greta, that you can take a break soon, and go to college, or university, as it is often called. Taking some time for yourself wouldn’t muzzle you, and might be helpful.
I read somewhere, some souce like the NYT, that historians of science and engineering have noted that it takes about 50 years for any civilization to radically change from one major technology to another. If this is true, then it will be a stretch for the world to completely move off of fossil fuels by 2050.
Also, what the IPCC reported last fall, was according to their newest work, we have about 10 years to really change direction, and make dramatic progress. I don’t think they thought in ten years we could get to zero emissions, so they put in a more realitic goal.
Jonathan Watts wrote in the Guardian, on
“The IPCC maps out four pathways to achieve 1.5C, with different combinations of land use and technological change. Reforestation is essential to all of them as are shifts to electric transport systems and greater adoption of carbon capture technology.
Carbon pollution would have to be cut by 45% by 2030 – compared with a 20% cut under the 2C pathway – and come down to zero by 2050, compared with 2075 for 2C. This would require carbon prices that are three to four times higher than for a 2C target. But the costs of doing nothing would be far higher.
By Somini Sengupta Photographs by Charlotte de la Fuente
March 25, 2019, 189
COPENHAGEN — Can a city cancel out its greenhouse gas emissions?
Copenhagen intends to, and fast. By 2025, this once-grimy industrial city aims to be net carbon neutral, meaning it plans to generate more renewable energy than the dirty energy it consumes.
Here’s why it matters to the rest of the world: Half of humanity now lives in cities, and the vast share of planet-warming gases come from cities. The big fixes for climate change need to come from cities too. They are both a problem and a potential source of solutions.
The experience of Copenhagen, home to 624,000 people, can show what’s possible, and what’s tough, for other urban governments on a warming planet.
The mayor, Frank Jensen, said cities “can change the way we behave, the way we are living, and go more green.” His city has some advantages. It is small, it is rich and its people care a lot about climate change.
Small, shy, survivor of crippling depression, Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish girl skipping school to shame the world into addressing climate change, drew a parade of fans one Friday in February on a frozen square in Stockholm.
Six Swiss students had traveled 26 hours by train to seek her support for their petition for a tougher Swiss carbon emissions law. An Italian scientist told her she reminded him of his younger, activist self. A television news crew hovered around her. Women from an antismoking group came to give her a T-shirt.
Greta nodded, whispered, “Thanks,” posed for pictures. Made exactly zero small talk.
All this attention, she said out of earshot of the others, is great. It means “people are listening.” But then, a knife-blade flash of rage revealed itself.
“It’s sometimes annoying when people say, ‘Oh you children, you young people are the hope. You will save the world’” she said, after several grown-ups had told her just that. “I think it would be helpful if you could help us just a little bit.”
Aaron Davis, a British botanist, has spent 30 years trekking across forests and farms to chronicle the fate of one plant: coffee.
He has recorded how a warming planet is making it harder to grow coffee in traditional coffee-producing regions, including Ethiopia, the birthplace of the world’s most popular bean, arabica. He has mapped where farmers can grow coffee next: basically upcountry, where it’s cooler. He has gone searching for rare varieties in the wild.
Now, in what is perhaps his most disheartening research, Dr. Davis has found that wild coffee, the dozens of varieties that once occurred under forest canopies on at least three continents, is at risk of vanishing forever. Among the world’s 124 coffee species, he and a team of scientists have concluded, 60 percent are at risk of extinction in the wild. Climate change and deforestation are to blame.
It matters because those wild varieties could be crucial for coffee’s survival in the era of global warming. In those plants could lie the genes that scientists need to develop new varieties that can grow on a hotter, drier planet.
“HANOI, Vietnam — Coal, the fuel that powered the industrial age, has led the planet to the brink of catastrophic climate change.
Scientists have repeatedly warned of its looming dangers, most recently on Friday, when a major scientific report issued by 13 United States government agencies warned that the damage from climate change could knock as much as 10 percent off the size of the American economy by century’s end if significant steps aren’t taken to rein in warming.
Central to that transformation: Getting out of coal, and fast.
And yet, three years after the Paris agreement, when world leaders promised action, coal shows no sign of disappearing. While coal use looks certain to eventually wane worldwide, according to the latest assessment by the International Energy Agency, it is not on track to happen anywhere fast enough to avert the worst effects of climate change. Last year, in fact, global production and consumption increased after two years of decline.”
Filipinos fled their homes in Marikina, part of the Metropolitan Manila region, during a flash flood in August. CreditCreditFrancis R Malasig/EPA, via Shutterstock from NYT
“Torrential rainfall lashed Japan in July. A cloudburst in August submerged entire villages in south India. In September, Hurricane Florence burst dams and lagoons, with coal ash and pig waste spilling into the waterways of North Carolina. On the other side of the planet, a typhoon walloped the Philippines and ravaged the country’s staple crop, rice.
Climate scientists can’t say where or when the next big storm will hit, but all the evidence points to this: Global warming is bringing the planet into an era of wilder, more dangerous rains with ruinous and long-lasting consequences.
“Where it rains, it’s raining heavier,” said Raghu Murtugudde, a professor of Earth systems science at the University of Maryland who edited a recent book on extreme weather in the tropics. “It’s the classic loaded-dice analogy.”
The dice, he said, are “throwing up some numbers more often” in the form of extreme weather. How? The greenhouse gases humans have already injected into the atmosphere have heated up the planet and now pack so much moisture into the air that they heighten the risk of more extreme precipitation.”
David Lindsay: Bravo Somini Sengupta. Based on her article above, please join environmentalists like myself in funding a Blue wave to clean the Augean Stables, which in now represented by the Republican controlled U S Congress and Presidency. The easiest way to support science based progressives is to donate to the DSCC.org, the DCCC.org, or political funding groups like Emily’s List.
“KOLKATA, India — I wanted to glimpse the future in the city where I was born. So, this summer I returned to India for a firsthand look at the way climate change is affecting Kolkata.
I spent the first seven years of my life in this delta city, close to where the Ganges pours into the sea. In my memory, it was a city of steam and sweat, rice and fish, of languid, muggy afternoons. A city of water. Lots and lots of water.
On this trip, in the era of global warming, I found a city at profound risk.”