[Apr 19-25 ‘21] Earth Week

Disinformation ecosystems, less frequent Saharan dust storms, 10 good and bad things we learned about the Earth since last Earth day and Shell has been planning for our current reality since the 90s.

  
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Welcome to this week’s edition of The Weekly Climate 🎉

References: [1], [2], [3], [4], [5] and [6].


‼️News you can’t miss

Here’s one important scary/bad (🙀), good (😻), interesting (😼) and fossil (💩) news item.

🙀 A Yale Climate Connections video discusses the rampant disinformation ecosystem that’s hurting everything we do as humans.

😻 Worsening climate change is causing Sahara dust storm to appear less frequently.

😼 Here’s 10 things (good and bad) that we’ve learned about the Earth since last Earth Day.

💩 New documents shows that Shell has been planning most of what’s happening right now since the 90’s. To use their business terminology, we’re in a scenario called “People Power”.


👩‍⚕️ Status: Climate & Science

Let’s look at how we’re doing this week!

[#earth] — A new study has shown that melting of the ice and glaciers has caused a shift in the Earth’s axis. This is due to the billions of tons of ice that are now distributed as melting water all around the globe. Since the 1980 the poles have shifted about 4meters in distance. Exactly what this means is unclear but it definitely demonstrates that humans are changing the planet on a massive scale.

[#icestorm] — An Inside Climate News case study looks at Galveston, Texas, which was hit hard by the heavy icestorms this February and the fact that these storms will become even more likely in the future. Rainstorms in the area contain 3x more water than they used to.

[#420] — On 4-20 day (google it) we just passed 420 ppm. We’re at 421.21 ppm CO2 in the atmosphere.

[#duststorms] — If you’re looking for some good climate news take a look at this. In June 2020 a gigantic duststorm named “Godzilla” was moving through Sahara. And if this was your regular run-of-the-mill climate news item you would expect me to write next that these things will happen more often due to climate change. But turns out the opposite is true! NASA has analyzed climate data and it appears to be the case that these storms will occur less as the planet heats up.


📰 The 7 Grand Challenges

⚡️Decarbonize Electricity

Clean electricity is the one do-or-die challenge we must solve.

[#investing] — IKEA announced last week that that they intend to invest 3.4B GBP in renewable energy by 2030. It’s a great example of how companies that aren’t even in the energy business can grab the opportunity that the climate crisis provides.

[#book] — Renowned Stanford professor Mark Z Jacobson has released a new book which is an extension of his work on figuring out how the world can go 100% renewable. It’s a fulltext book 450pages explaining all aspects of implementing renewable energy on the grid.

[#island] — The 🎧 Interchange podcast looks at a case study of how the small Atlantic island of Graciosa (close to the Azores) is going 100% renewable. But it wasn’t always like that. Before 2018 the island was heavily reliant on fossil fuels and in particular diesel generators. But that all changed.

[#iea] — The IEA published its Global Energy Review report 2021, which looks at how different sources of energy production have moved this past year. If you’re looking for data on the energy transition this would be one key place to look (but remember their historic love for fossil fuels).

🏘 Reduce impact of urban and rural areas

Lowering the impact of urban and rural areas.

[#urbanization] — The author Kim Stanley Robinson envisions what the future of cities is and looks at current trends. Both EU and US are targetting to make 30% of their landmass people-free. Which means that more people needs to move the big cities. In this article he dives into what that means.

[#electrification] — Grist provides a great overview of why we must electrify everything and why this is a crucial step in solving the climate crisis.

[#fashion] — OK here’s insane idea of the week. Solve all of the fashions industry problems with nuclear? Yes. There’s a project trying to do that. And it is facing quite some roadblocks. Everything from factory safety to just the general apathy and propaganda campaigns against nuclear. But it just might be one (not the one) solution to some of the fashion industry’s problems.

[#fashion] — It looks like the fashion industry is starting to realize that it needs to find sustainable sources for it’s products. So some major brands are beginning to invest in regenerative agriculture.

🛁 Clean non-electrifiable activities

Some activities we do today can’t be electrified, these must be cleaned some other way.

[#hydrogen] — A Japanese research team has invented a catalyst and a method that can increase the efficiency of clean hydrogen production from water by 30x.

🌳 Protect and grow nature

Nature is our ally, we must protect it and help it help us.

[#rainforest] — Brazil was one of the countries that stepped up to the plate in Biden’s call for international collaboration on solving the climate crisis. However, it came with a catch. Bolsonaro promises to stop torching the rainforest if he gets 20B$ to help in the conservation efforts.

🍽 Optimize food

Without the lower impact of food or drink the hero doesn’t work (modified old danish proverb).

[#foodsector] — This weeks 🎧 Energy Gang podcast dives into our ways of producing food and how to decarbonize. Highly worth a listen.

⚖️ Climate Justice

Without justice there’s no future.

[#solar] — An interesting obstacle is emerging in the strong push for solar and that is the fact that China is totally dominating solar panel manufacturing (as we highlighted in a previous newsletter). And there’s reasonable doubt about the working conditions of the workers in some of the factories.

⬇️ Engineered drawdown and geoengineering

Protecting our planet and species one way or another

[#solargeoengineering] — Michael Mann and an Oxford Professor named Ray Pierrehumbert wrote a comment in the Guardian attacking solar geoengineering as a climate solution. The argue that even the thought of doing it is a big problem because it takes focus and money away from what we really should be doing: Stopping greenhouse gas emissions. 

[#offsetsremoval] — Here’s an article about the difference between carbon offsets and carbon removal. Which are very different. And it also examines the case for carbon removal.

[#CCS] — Techcrunch (and Exxon 😒) looks at the state of startups working in the carbon capture, removal and sequestration field. There’s some interesting one’s in there such as Charm Industrial, which converts biomass into an oil-like substance and inject that underground hence locking it away forever (hopefully).

📦 Other / catch-all

All the other stuff that I couldn’t fit into any of the other categories, than the other category.

[#activism] — A new documentary highlights what’s like being a climate activist. And just the article about the move alone makes me want to join the nearest XR chapter.

[#economy] — Just in case you need another argument to act on climate change, here’s one for you. 23T$. That’s how much the world economy will be cut by climate change by 2050 on our current path.

[#guide] — A great visual introduction to kids or anybody who hasn’t really sat down and understood the scale of the problem we’re facing and what’s causing it. It’s a little doom and gloomy at places, but I love the way it takes that and shows what an amazing opportunity this crisis also is.

[#guide] — In the same line as the kids article this one takes a grown up approach. If you have anybody border climate denier or climate apathetic send them this. It’s a great in-depth article that explains all the basics of climate change.

[#disinformation] — Here’s a video on Yale Climate Connection that discusses the rampant “disinformation eecosystem” that are affecting people globally. How sites like Facebook fuels it and how it makes people oppose action on anything from COVID to climate change. The video features prominent experts and journalists on this topic such as Emily Atkin and Amy Westervelt. It is seriously scary.


⭐️Special Topics

🎩 Global and local policy

We have a special interest in covering the major global and local policies regarding climate, whether good or bad.

[#biden] — Biden held a climate change change summit last week which urged the big economies and big emitters to increase their ambitions. The US did no pledging to reduce emissions by 50% by 2030. Other countries were more modest and/or unspecific. This Vox article goes in detail on the summit and lists 4 winners and 4 losers at the summit.

[#uschina] — The U.S. and China published a joint statement based on a meeting between the countries two special envoys where they appear to join forces in addressing the climate crisis. Very important, but also just words so far. Looking forward to see some action!

[#canada] — All countries in the developed are increasing their emissions year after year. But if you for some reason only look at territorial emissions i.e emissions done within each individual country and not emissions that countries are “responsible for” due to trade etc then Canada is the only developed country whose terrioritial emissions have increased since the Paris Agreement. Why? They insist on harvesting their dirty oil sands

[#nuclear] — Last week I bitched about how the EU commision was kicking the can down the road on whether nuclear should be included in their definition of clean energy. And right now it looks like it will include it anyway. Good news.

⛽️Major Carbon Emitters

We have a special interest in covering the moving of the major carbon emitters as these are the key roadblock to climate action.

[#us] — In a new article series CarbonBrief looks at the major emitting countries and what they’re doing to stop emitting. This one goes into detail about the US. It’s deliciously detailed and a highly recommended read for this week. 

[#china] — A new study confirms that China’s 2060 pledge is consistent with the 1.5C goal. However, we’re still lacking crucial details as to how China will achieve those pledges. But its good to know that if they manage to do it 1.5C is within reach. And it’s not a small task. China will need to reach 90% carbon emission reduction by 2050.

[#shell] — This is disgusting. A new report has been unearthed written by Shell which examines in great detail what the company should do in case of two scenarios. One where growth in energy demand continues on abated and a so called “people power” scenario where-in an uprising of NGOs and activists causes major disruptions in fossil fuel markets. They have been planning what we’re seeing now since the 90s (at least)!

[#fracking] — An in-depth look at a dieing industry, fracking, and how the companies engaged in it become increasingly desperate for getting rid of the poorly performing assets. It’s essentially a game of fools, where investors are buying up the assets in the hope that a bigger fool will come around and buy it from them.

[#bitcoininfluencers] — This is sad. Jack Dorsey and the CEO of ARKInvest has written a white paper wherein they argue that all we need to do to solve the climate crisis is just to turn on all our devices all the time and use as much power as we possibly can all the time. That will then encourage more renewables to get on the grid. And thus the climate crisis has been solved. Oops I see I made a mistake there. Replace “devices” with bitcoin mining rigs. It’s laughable and frankly crazy dangerous that big time influencers such as these two engage in this kind of pseudoscience. This article tears the white paper to pieces. Oh and the side note in the article about the small fact that “mining bitcoin is not very clean” right now? Read this article. Apparently 1/3 of the bitcoin mining network was taken down due to a coal power plant failure in China. 

[#greenwashing] — After DeSmog recently uncovered how the fossil fuel industry are increasingly using their non-existent green credentials in their marketing campaigns ClientEarth have filed lawsuits against many companies in the fossil fuel industry for deceptive advertising. Read the great work of their PR groups here.


That’s it for this week folks! Remember if you’re feeling down, angry or sad from some of the news in this newsletter one cure is to act. And one way you can always act that also happens to be one of the most powerful things you can do is to talk about it. That also works if what you just read made you hopeful or happy btw.

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See you all next week 👋