[Dec 28’20-Jan 3’21] Hope and fear
Welcome to this weeks edition of The Weekly Climate 🎉
Happy new year! 🚀 I hope you didn’t drink as much wine as I did, but if you did power to you! I was in charge of bringing wine to our small new years party (safely within our COVID-circle of course) and I’m happy to report that I did manage to drink most of the wine myself. And boy, am I a good wine-shopper 🍷. Too good for my own health apparently. 🥴
So I’m therefore also excited to bring you the first issue of the Weekly Climate of 2021! 🎉 2021 is a year that can only be better compared to 2020. All of us know and hope that at least. Seneca, one of the famous stoic philosophers, said in his letter number 5 to Lucilius that “Cease to hope and you will cease to fear”. Hereby reminding us that hope and fear is closely intertwined. So if you want to not feel fear it’s important that you don’t put too much value on hope. This is also one of the reasons why I have a hard time being hopeful on this newsletter. Some people may interpret that as being negative. Instead it’s just the opposite — it is merely a recognition of what hope also brings along with it: Fear. Not being hopeful though in a time that I guess to some degree objectively can be quantified as hopeful seems odd. So what must we be instead? The stoics (and buddhists a like btw) say that we must live in the now. As the famous stoic philosopher king and roman emperor Marcus Aurelius says: “Remind yourself that the past and future hold no power over you”. Enjoy that at this moment in time things are looking up. And then prepare and act as if the worst were to happen.
If you haven’t already read my x-mas issue from last week (which know a grand total of maximum 22 of you did, no shaming just stating the statistical facts here as reported by Substack) you should at least take a look at the funny anti-Exxon ad posted at the very top of it. I promise you it is a good way to start the New Year.
‼️News you can’t miss
Trying a new way to segment this one by dividing news your can’t miss into different sections all symbolized by cat emojis of course: Hereby giving you one scary/bad (🙀), one good (😻), one interesting (😼) and one fossil fuel industry (💩) news item.
🙀 A new study is showing that large part of the ground on the Earth is literally sinking mostly due to groundwater depletion and it seems likely that sea level rise will exacerbate this problem.
😻 7 major EU truck makers have decided to stop making diesel trucks by 2040 a full decade before prior plans.
😼 A detailed look at two fertilizer plants, one in Uzbekistan and one in the US. One of them emits as much nitrous oxide as 430.000 cars. Guess which one.
💩 Exxon is trying to downplay a Bloomberg article I also highlighted last week about how they hid emissions from investors and the public. And they’re doing this by buying ads on SoMe’s in yet another propaganda play.
👩⚕️ Status: Climate & Science
Let’s look at how we’re doing this week!
[#siberia] — If there’s anything good about the permafrost melting (which let’s agree there really isn’t) then it’s probably the fact that more and more pristine preserved corpes of long extinct animals keep popping up. This time a well-preserved ice age wooly rhino has been found in Siberia.
[#glaciers] — Glaciers are disappearing all over the world and now scientists have developed a way to produce artificial snow in order to protect glaciers from the harsh sunlight. Basically, it’s a way to artificially induce snowfall in an area.
[#sinking] — A new study published on New Years Eve has determined that the Earth in many place are literally sinking due to for instance depletion of ground water. This is expected to influence 635 million people around the world.
[#hawaii] — A beautiful, scary and detailed look at Hawaii’s disappearing beaches. Property owners in Hawaii are now forced to build seawalls to keep the water out. Looks really scary and one can only wonder how long time before these people will have to leave.
[#disasters] — A new report has found that the 10 most destructive climate change fueld weather events in 2020 cost the world 140B$. I wonder how much it will be in 2021.
📰 The 7 Grand Challenges
Clean electricity is the one do-or-die challenge we must solve.
[#grid] — Greentech Media reviews 2020’s must read stories about the grid edge, i.e. stuff like distributed energy resources (DER), energy storage and more. And they also gather the must read solar stories from 2020 in another post.
[#wind] — A detailed look at GE’s monster wind turbine and the impact it has on the wind industry. The turbine can output 13MW, which is enough to power a small town.
[#fusion] — 2020 saw a number of promising developments in the fusion space. Fusion is expected to be a miracle energy generation technology, but is it really the answer to the climate crisis? Best case scenarios says the first fusion reactor will produce power by the end of this decade.
🏘 Reduce impact of urban and rural areas
Lowering the impact of urban and rural areas.
[#hydrogen] — New York Times dives deep into the promises of hydrogen. They interview a guy who have built a house that is entirely powered by hydrogen. I must admit that I can understand hydrogen in applications that require high power density and therefore can’t carry batteries. But powering a house with hydrogen must seem like a total waste of clean energy. Why not just power the house directly with electricity generated by the clean energy instead of having to waste a bunch of it creating the hydrogen? I feel like they didn’t really address this in this article...
[#buildings] — 70% of New York City’s emissions come from buildings. While new and energy optimized materials are being used to construct new skyscrapers in the city, the real problem is it’s aging buildings. A couple of current projects aim to change that in which entire facades of existing buildings are replaced with a new and energy optimized one.
[#trucks] — Seven of EUs largest commercial truck makers (Daf, Daimler, Ford, Iveco, Man, Scania and Volvo) have agreed to end sale of diesel engineed trucks by 2040. The seven companies will instead switch to hydrogen fuel cell or battery-electric based vehicles. This move allows them to achieve their zero-emissions target a decade before planned.
🛁 Clean non-electrifiable activities
Some activities we do today can’t be electrified, these must be cleaned some other way.
[#shipping] — Company Norsepower are developing a type of sail that will increase fuel efficiency of big cargo ships. The sail is called a “rotorsail” and will be deployed on a bulk carrier for the first time.
[#fertilizer] — A look at two fertilizer plants: One in Uzbekistan and one in the U.S. The Uzbek one is supported by Germany and captures 98% of nitrous oxide emissions from the process. Where as the US only captures 25%. In 2019 the US plant released over 6000 tons of nitrous oxide, which corresponds to the emissions of 430.000 cars.
🌳 Protect and grow nature
Nature is our ally, we must protect it and help it help us.
[#bioengineering] — A team of scientists are looking to develop new plant species that can sequester more carbon in the soil than other plants potentially boosting the Earth’s natural carbon sinks.
[#birds] — Remember the mass die-off of song birds across the US this year? A new study has linked the death of the birds to starvation fueled by climate change fueled freak weather events.
[#dolphins] — Dolphins are dying from a skin disease that is the result of sea water being mixed with freshwater. And, you guessed it, this problem has been linked to climate change.
🍽 Optimize food
Without the lower impact of food or drink the hero doesn’t work (modified old danish proverb).
[#wine] — It’s one week after New Years so if you’re like me you can probably start to think about alcohol again. Here’s a look at how winemaking in California is impacted by climate change and what winegrowers are doing to fight it.
[#meatless] — Vox looks at the raging meatless meat market. 2020 saw a lot of competition in the space, which is likely going to be good for consumers and climate alike. The article goes as far as concluding that meatless meat is going mainstream.
⚖️ Climate Justice
Without justice there’s no future.
[#plastic] — A new study has determined that flooding of rivers spread and hereby worsens pollution from plastics hereby endangering human and animal health further. In Bangladesh a low intensity flood can cause plastic pollution to increase 40x.
[#migration] — A new study has found that the underlying cause of why people are migrating from the Marshall Islands is because of climate change despite the fact that the people that are migrating don’t think about like that.
[#mozambique] — Here’s a portrait of an African country in the claws of a climate change fueled cyclone and how the country two years after are still struggling to rebuild.
[#pipeline] — A look at a new pipeline carrying dirty tar sands fossil fuels through Minnesota and how it impacts native and non-native communities alike.
📦 Other / catch-all
All the other stuff that I couldn’t fit into any of the other categories, than the other category.
[#iceland] — If you ever wondered what Iceland’s net-zero plans look like, take a look at this beautiful picture series in which Iceland’s innovations to reach net-zero are portrayed.
[#ancestor] — Grist reviews Roman Krznarics new book: “The Good Ancestor” which really sounds like a very good new years read that perhaps can push somebody to actually be a better ancestor. It’s on my reading list for 2021.
[#greenbonds] — If you ever wondered how green bonds worked this post on Forbes provide a good overview of the history as well as how this financial mechanism work which is used to support green projects.
[#2020] — Desmog looks at a few climate stories that big media seemed to miss. An interesting read to see what big media decided to ignore.
🇺🇸 U.S. Presidential Election
We have a special interest in covering the U.S. Election as Bidens actions may or may not give the world hope in a world that’s starved for it.
[#fossiltrump] — A look at how Trump tried his best but ultimately failed to derail one of the most important climate reports in the US.
[#aviation] — The EPA just defined the first ever airline pollution standard in the US. And they’re exactly the same as the rules from ICAO which airlines are required to follow anywhere. Great work!
[#biden] — An opinion piece in the New York Times claims boldly that Joe Biden takes climate change seriously. And yes it looks really good. But, I don’t know, I can’t help relate it to our own situation here in Denmark where a change of government also spurred people to write things like this and yet we have seen so little action that it’s scary. I guess it’s good to have hope…
⛽️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.
[#ad] — Cambridge, Massachusetts becomes the first city to post climate change warning stickers on fuel pumps at gas stations. What a brilliant idea.
[#strandedassets] — Shell has stranded another 3.5-4.5B$ worth of assets. This is just the latest in a string of stranded asset declarations this past year. In total the fossil fuel industry stranded over 110B$ in assets last year. This article also outlines who stranded what.
[#propaganda] — Last weeks newsletter (which almost nobody read, due to x-mas I hope 😅) included a big reveal by Bloomberg in which Exxon (and the rest of the fossil fuel industry) was taken with their pants down hiding climate impacts from the public and investors. This week Exxon is bombarding twitter with propaganda claiming the opposite of the Bloomberg article.
[#climatedenial] — A post by a wellknown climate denier got a lot of attention just before X-mas. His post “No Joe we’re not in a climate crisis” fired on all the classic climate denial cylinders and this article in the cleantechnica picks it apart and shows us why crap like this is dangerous.
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 👋