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Build Back Better is crucial to boost climate action without leaving coal miners behind

Build Back Better is crucial to boost climate action without leaving coal miners behind

By Newsfeed


"Last weekend, Sen. Joe Manchin threw a wrench into discussions of the Build Back Better (BBB) Act by indicating he does not currently support its passage – imperiling the bill's future and delaying the urgent funding it would provide to support families reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic and take crucial climate action.

In response, the United Mine Workers of America (which represents, among others, West Virginia's coal miners) issued a statement noting BBB would provide critical support for workers as the inevitable decline of coal industry jobs continues, as well as create new opportunities for jobs in the clean energy-based economy, to which the world must transition quickly to prevent the worst impacts from climate change.

The U.S. coal industry has been declining for years; over the last decade, market forces such as low natural gas prices and rapidly expanding solar and wind energy (as well as the expanding use of automation in coal production) have turned coal mining into a shadow of what it once was. At the end of 2020, there were only 43,180 coal miners remaining in the United States, and communities from West Virginia to Montana to Kentucky are feeling the economic pain of coal's decline (as well as its lingering pollution). As these workers – many of whose families have spent years or even generations in this industry – look toward the future, they deserve assurance that they won't be abandoned by their employers and left with no economic opportunities.

But a transition that supports fossil workers and communities is not going to happen on its own. We need intentional policies that invest in these workers and communities.

The hundreds of billions of dollars of investment in clean energy and climate actions included in the BBB bill will be a net win for the economy and American jobs; the Economic Policy Institute projects that it will support 3.2 million jobs over the 10-year budgeting period. The BBB act would ensure that federal investments go to communities that disproportionately bear the burden of pollution and those that are dependent on the fossil fuel sectors that are in decline. "

We are already seeing what the collapse of the coal industry looks like when there are no protections in place – but it doesn't have to be this way. Among its massive other benefits, passing the BBB act will help manage this essential economic transition to create a zero-carbon world – without leaving coal miners and other workers behind.

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Build Back Better is crucial to boost climate action without leaving coal miners behind
The United Mine Workers of America highlighted how BBB would provide critical support for coal workers as the industry declines.
Rare ‘thunder bird’ fossil gives researchers clue to demise of Australian species of megafauna

Rare ‘thunder bird’ fossil gives researchers clue to demise of Australian species of megafauna

By Newsfeed


"Flinders University researchers may have discovered what ultimately led to the extinction of the last of Australia’s massive thunder birds, Genyornis newtoni.

The clue came with the discovery of a rare fossil. The find, by researchers at Flinders University, unveiled severe bone infections in several dromornithid remains mired in the 160 sq km beds of Lake Callabonna fossil reserve, 600km northeast of Adelaide.

At 230kg Genyornis weighed around five or six times as much as an emu and stood about two metres tall, but becoming stuck in the treacherous mud of the lake wasn’t the only concern facing the giant birds.

It appears some also had a painful disease, which lead researcher Phoebe McInerney says would have hampered their mobility and foraging.

“The fossils with signs of infection are associated with the chest, legs and feet of four individuals,” the PhD candidate said. “They would have been increasingly weakened, suffering from pain, making it difficult to find water and food.

“It’s a rare thing in the fossil record to find one, let alone several, well-preserved fossils with signs of infection. We now have a much greater idea of the life challenges of these birds.”

The study found about 11% of the birds were suffering from osteomyelitis.

Study co-author associate prof Lee Arnold dated the salt lake sediments in which genyornis was found, linking them with a period of severe drought beginning about 48,000 years ago.

At the time, the thunder birds and other megafauna, including ancient relatives of wombats and kangaroos, were facing major environmental challenges.

As the continent dried, large inland lakes and forests began to disappear and central Australia became flat desert.

With conditions worsening, associate prof Trevor Worthy believes food resources would have been reduced, placing considerable stress on the animals.

“From studies on living birds, we know that challenging environmental conditions can have negative physiological effects,” he said. “So we infer that the Lake Callabonna population of genyornis would have been struggling through such conditions.”

It now appears the effects of severe drought phases included high rates of bone infection, with weakened individuals more likely to become mired in the deep mud and die.

With no conclusive evidence to suggest Genyornis newtoni survived much past this time, it’s likely protracted drought and high disease rates contributed to its eventual extinction."

Link

Rare ‘thunder bird’ fossil gives researchers clue to demise of Australian species of megafauna
At 230kg Genyornis newtoni weighed around five or six times as much as an emu and stood about two metres tall
Puerto Rico’s shattered power grid could become a ‘big experiment’ for Biden

Puerto Rico’s shattered power grid could become a ‘big experiment’ for Biden

By Newsfeed


“A pair of hurricanes and an earthquake left Puerto Rico’s power system in tatters.

But now residents and clean-energy advocates see hope in the island’s effort to rebuild the electric grid — saying it could offer the rest of the nation a model for achieving President Joe Biden’s ambitions for a reliable power network free of greenhouse gas pollution.

First, though, the U.S. territory has to get past a pitched fight over the privatization of its power grid, as well as a debate on how to leverage billions in recovery dollars from the federal government.

The electricity network that serves 3 million people in Puerto Rico has long suffered from outages that experts blame on poor management and under-investment. And its transition to a cleaner, more reliable power system is off to a rough start.

Just six months into a 15-year contract to run Puerto Rico’s electricity transmission and distribution network, LUMA Energy is facing protests from residents who say blackouts have worsened, criticism from greens that it is moving too slowly to add renewable power and growing scrutiny from the territory’s legislature. That last dynamic reached a peak in November when lawmakers sought the arrest of the company’s top executive.

LUMA, owned by Canada’s ATCO group and U.S.-based Quanta Services, has also become the target of an activist campaign seeking to revoke its contract, an effort that has drawn the attention of the House Natural Resources Committee, which is looking into whether the company is living up to its promises.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has $9.4 billion — the largest amount awarded in the agency’s history — allocated to restore and protect Puerto Rico’s power network from the type of disasters that have plagued it.

Renewable energy and consumer advocates say that money is best spent on putting solar panels on the roofs of every home on the sunny island, with the aim of creating a decentralized source of power generation. This could minimize the widespread blackouts that have occurred when storms damage the miles of power lines that run across rugged terrain from the oil-fired power plants that provide most of the island’s electricity.

Those plants are still owned by the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, the local government-owned utility being privatized that turned the grid over to LUMA and which most experts blame for years of poor management. Besides being plagued by blackouts, the grid is expensive: Residents on the island paid an average of 19.24 cents per kilowatt hour in 2020, nearly 50 percent higher than the average U.S. home.

A new coalition of clean energy, union and other organizations, Queremos Sol, is lobbying federal officials to intervene in the rebuilding to sharply expand the amount of solar energy on the island. It says such an initiative aligns with Biden’s plan to achieve 100 percent carbon pollution-free electricity nationwide by 2035, as well as his goals of transitioning away from fossil fuel infrastructure that has been primarily sited in low-income areas and communities of color.

“Puerto Rico is a very big test,”

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Puerto Rico’s shattered power grid could become a ‘big experiment’ for Biden
The crumbling electricity network that serves the island's 3 million people is at the center of a debate on renewable energy vs. fossil fuels — with billions of federal dollars at stake.
Fleeing global warming? ‘Climate havens’ aren’t ready for you yet.

Fleeing global warming? ‘Climate havens’ aren’t ready for you yet.

By Newsfeed


"Long-simmering speculations about where to hide from climate change picked up in February 2019 when the mayor of Buffalo, New York, declared that the city on Lake Erie’s eastern edge would one day become a “climate refuge.” Two months later, a New York Times article made the case that Duluth, Minnesota, on the western corner of Lake Superior, could be an attractive new home for Texans and Floridians looking to escape blistering temperatures.

“In this century, climate migration will be larger, and is already by some measures larger, than political or economic migration”

Link

Fleeing global warming? ‘Climate havens’ aren’t ready for you yet.
Climate migration is already underway. Here's how cities can prepare.
U.S. can get to 100% clean energy with wind, water, solar and zero nuclear, Stanford professor says

U.S. can get to 100% clean energy with wind, water, solar and zero nuclear, Stanford professor says

By Newsfeed


“A prominent Stanford University professor has outlined a roadmap for the United States to meet its total energy needs using 100% wind, water and solar by 2050.

The Achilles’ heel of a completely renewable grid, many argue, is that it is not stable enough to be reliable. Blackouts have become a particular concern, notably in Texas this year and during the summer of 2020 in California.

That’s where four-hour batteries come in as a way to generate grid stability. “I discovered this all just because I have batteries in my own home,” Jacobson told CNBC. “And I figured, oh, my God, this is so basic. So obvious. I can’t believe nobody has figured this out.”

Planning, of course, is also key to keeping the grid stable. “Wind is variable, solar is variable,” Jacobson said. “But it turns out, first of all, when you interconnect wind and solar over large areas, which is currently done, you smooth out the supply quite a bit. So it’s because, you know, when the wind is not blowing in one place, it’s usually blowing somewhere else. So over a large region, you have a smoother supply of energy.”

Similarly, wind and solar power are complimentary. And hydropower “is perfect backup, because you can turn it on and off instantaneously,” he said.

Direct link to PDF paper: https://web.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/Articles/I/21-USStates-PDFs/21-USStatesPaper.pdf

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“Don’t Look Up” is Cinematic Catharsis for the Climate-Concerned

“Don’t Look Up” is Cinematic Catharsis for the Climate-Concerned

By Newsfeed


“A big part of this movie’s brilliance lies in its indirect metaphor—a giant comet that no one on Earth, no matter how rich or mobile, can avoid. The Earth-destroying threat will arrive in six months. The comet becomes a wonderful vehicle for maligning the toxic political economy and mediascape that prevails today. In the world of Don’t Look Up—an only slightly more farcical version of the sphere we occupy—anyone who hopes to be listened to has to be media-friendly, bad news must be made light and digestible, and hard truths are immediately levied as ammunition for the partisan culture wars.

What I found most effective—and, in the wake of Joe Machin’s attempt to torpedo Build Back Better, cathartic—was McKay’s deft demonstration of how solutions to problems get deferred in favor of corporate profits. Enter Don’t Look Up’s true villain—a Musk/Branson mashup of a technocrat billionaire (played by Mark Rylance). A huge donor to the scandal-mired president, he’s able to dismiss government plans to launch missiles at the comet and instead push a private-sector effort to send a fleet of space drones that will “mine the comet for rare minerals and return them to Earth,” claiming that doing so will put an end to world hunger, nuclear threats, and somehow, biodiversity loss. (Yes, he and his wealthy investors stand to profit greatly from this risky venture.) Could this be a stand-in for carbon-capture, geo-engineering, and other glittery techno-fixes that stand to get rich guys richer? And without spoiling the ending, this film’s got spot-on allegories to climate bunkers and “Planet B,” too.

The movie does not offer solutions to anything it highlights. Rather, it ultimately lands like an extended riff on Chicken Little that attempts to show perhaps too many ways in which we as a species are hopelessly myopic when it comes to our capacity for collective action. Don’t Look Up is a different kind of disaster movie—the threat that’s really being highlighted isn’t something still to come, but rather the state of affairs as they now stand.”

Link

“Don’t Look Up” is Cinematic Catharsis for the Climate-Concerned
Inside the funniest and most deeply un-fun film you’ll watch this holiday