[Jul 5-11 ‘21] The heat keeps rolling in

Heatwaves heating up, “crying” Shell CEO, 60 years review of climate science and failed EU biofuel policies.

  
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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.

🙀 Heat waves are already wreaking havoc in the Northern Hemisphere

😻 Shell’s CEO is “crying”

😼 Here’s a review of 60 years of climate science pointing at all the sings we missed or ignored.

💩 10 years of failed EU biofuel policies has wiped out forest the size of the Netherlands


👩‍⚕️ Status: Climate & Science

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

[#heat] — A new report reveals that climate change made the recent heat waves in the US and Canada (which smashed heat records by more than 5C) 150x more likely and thus urges the world to first of all curb carbon emissions (obviously) but also start adapting to these extreme temperatures. The Oregon declared the heat wave a “mass casaulty” event, which is usually only used on things like mass shootings. More than 500 people have died on the West Coast as a result of the heatwave. And more may still die as more than 180 wildfires have been started in Canada alone as a result of the heat wave. But humans are not the only one that suffers. It is estimated that more than a billion of seashore animals might have been cooked to death in the heatwave. And as if all this weren’t enough California is expected to be hit by another heatwave, where temperatures in Sacramento Valley is expected to reach 45C and in Death Valley up to 50C.

[#nordic] — But not only Canada and the US suffers from heatwaves, the Northern most part of Lapland also endured a heatwave that for the lattitude is extreme. 34.7C was registered which is the hottest since 1914. The heatwaves in North America and Norway are connected as the heatwave there is likely to have caused the one in Norway.

[#june] — The month of June was the hottest ever for North America (by 0.15C) beating June in 2012 and the 4th hottest globally. It’s similar for many countries. For New Zealand for instance, despite a polar blast last week, the country has experienced the hottest June ever by more than 2C. Individual heat records were beaten in 24 locations around the country.

[#climatescience] — When you read this article, knowing what we know now, you really start to wonder if it’s just in our nature not to solve the climate crisis. This article dives into all the signs and warnings of climate change through the 20th century that we ignored / missed. There’s quite a lot of them.


📰 The 7 Grand Challenges

⚡️Decarbonize Electricity

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

[#energystorage] — Just in case you didn’t think wind turbines were green enough, here’s a new project that are looking to use end-of-life windturbine materials in a gravity based energy storage system.

[#solar] — This Bloomberg article looks at the state of solar and looks at the many pathways that solar has to become even cheaper. From optimization in production processes to more powerful materials like perovskite.

[#fossil] — The numbers are in. US fossil fuel consumption fell by 9% in 2020. This is the lowest level in 30 years. And yes, it was due to COVID, but still..

🏘 Reduce impact of urban and rural areas

Lowering the impact of urban and rural areas.

[#eu] — This is so damn embarassing and dissapointing. EU has fined a group of the largest auto-makers (VW, BMW, Daimler, Audi and Porsch) in EU over 1B$ for collaborating to stop clean emissions technology. Daimler only got a smaller part of the fine because it revealed the collaboration.

[#repair] — It looks like Biden may be signing a new executive order that targets people’s right to repair. This will enable shops and/or people themselves to repair their equipment and especially devices such as smartphones and tablets that are notoriously known for being near impossible to repair.

[#energystorage] — Between 2010 and 2020 the US produced over 76GWh of batteries for use in plug-in electric vehicles (i.e. both full EVs and plug-in hybrids). 76GWh is roughly enough to power Ireleand for one day. Of these 76GWh Panasonic / Tesla are producing the most.

[#fashion] — Here’s a question: What is best for the climate, buying or renting clothes? I must admit that I thought renting by a longshot but in a new study the authors have calculated that due to the increased amount of transportation per clothing item renting clothes is actually the worst you can do for the climate when it comes to fashion. Although this still feels a bit equivalent to saying that you shouldn’t buy an EV because you’re charging it with fossil gas or coal in some places. You should still by an EV, but you should buy it because or electricity supply has to become clean in the coming years. Same with transportation, it has to become clean. And once emissions from transportation costs gets to zero then I bet renting clothes is better. Still an EV might stay with you 5-10 years, where as your clothes probably shorter. So this does make the argument for buying an EV (although it is charged with fossil gas) better than renting clothes because it is transported more right now. Nothing is black and white here…

🌳 Protect and grow nature

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

[#ocean] — When organisms in the ocean die they sink to the bottom, but on the way don they consume oxygen under the surface of the ocean. When lots of organisms die this creates so called marine oxygen minimum sites, which emit a lot of N2O. About 25% of the global N2O emissions comes from the oceans. 

[#wildfire] — Cyprus has requested help from surrounding nations in tackling the country’s worst wildfire, which is currently burning more than 50 square km, which although teeny tiny compared to some of the US west coasts mega blazes, is still very destructive for the people living there obviously. 

[#biofuel] — Since EU’s biofuels law was introduced in 2010 it has wiped out forests the size of Netherlands. 80% of all biofuels produced in the EU is using virgin vegetable oils, meaning oils produced from foodcrops such as rapeseed, soy or palm oil and thus directly competes with agriculture for land use. 

[#animals] — Here’s an interesting side-effect of climate change: Some birds, mammals and fish are getting smaller. Sizes of animals have been studied for a long time and now we’re seeing consistent evidence that some species are getting smaller and it’s due to climate change. It seems likely that the evolutionary trait that are being expressed here is that smaller body size in many cases means lower temperature.

⚖️ Climate Justice

Without justice there’s no future.

[#lawsuit] — The Australian federal court have ruled that the Australian government must do more to protect young people from harm of the climate crisis, thus echoing a lot of similar lawsuits in the recent years. The, excuse my english, f-ed up Environment Minister of Australia has decided to appeal the decision, I mean WTF.

⬇️ Engineered drawdown and geoengineering

Protecting our planet and species one way or another

[#utilization] — A Berlin startup called “Made of Air” has produced a carbon negative thermoplastic from waste from farms and forests. The plastic is made of 90% carbon and thus effectively stores 2 tonnes of CO2 per 1 ton of plastic. What’s even more interesting about this technology (to me at least) is that it’s created from biochar. Made of Air has teamed up with H&M to use the plastic to produce carbon negative sunglasses (assuming that the glass, logistics etc still keeps it carbon negative of course).

[#removal] — Carbon Engineering and BeZero launches an online platform where customers can pay to have a certain about of CO2 removed from the air by Carbon Engineering’s direct air capture process. The CO2 will then be injected into suitable rock formations where it will be sequestered by mineralization.

📦 Other / catch-all

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

[#malaria] — A new study has found that 8B people could be threatened by malaria and dengue by 2080 (assuming the world adds another 4.5B people in the period up to that) and most of that increased risk comes from — you guessed it — climate change.

[#attitude] — A global survey has determined that there’s a small majority who still believes we have time to avert climate disaster. One might wonder whether these people watch the news, because it would seem that we have climate disasters all over. IMO this survey seems to show nothing more than that people have no clue about what the risks are. And the explanation appears to be in the demographics because it’s mainly those above 55 who believes we have still time (even though the climate disasters were here last week). So if you are over 55 - thank you for even more so for reading this newsletter and go tell your friends (also if you’re under 55 😉).

[#siliconvalley] — Here’s an interesting post on Forbes that discusses Silicon Valley’s love-hate relationship with cleantech. In early 2000s cleantech boomed, which then died in 2011. Only now to re-appear. In 2020 17B$ was invested in to a little over 1000 companies.

[#climatefinance] — The Multilateral Development Banks committed over 60B$ to climate investments in 2020. About 70% of the money goes to climate mitigation efforts like solar and such and 24% goes towards climate adaptation. This sounds good but the number I wanna see is what this number is compared to fossil fuel investments, otherwise it’s a bit meaningless. 


⭐️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.

[#germany] — The person in line to replace Angela Merkel has said that EU joint CO2 targets must not hurt German industry. Obviously in a climate crisis this is an idiotic statement. But frankly I rather like the honesty here, than the greenwashing game that most politicians are running 😒.

[#uk] — It has been revealed that the UK government met with top fossil fuel execs ahead of COP26 from Exxon, Shell, BP, Chevron and Equinor in Texas where the fossil fuel majors lobbied hard for fossil gas as a key solution to the climate crisis which everyone (except fossil fuel majors and politicians) knows it isn’t. Apparently the UK politicians have bought it. 

[#france] — The French government were planning on enshrining fighting the climate crisis into it’s constitution but disagreement between branches of governments on exact wording have so far put that to rest.

[#canada] — A new report has revealed that the Canadian government has funneled 18B$ in subsidies to the fossil fuel majors to build 3 pipelines in the country since 2018. This is an outrageous amount of money in a climate crisis and in a global attempt at stopping additional fossil fuel expansion.

🛡 Adaptation

Adapting our civilization to the coming climate crisis is vital. Here we cover various ways that is happening (or isn’t).

[#chicago] — A look at one massive adaptation challenge taking place in Chicago. The city was built on a svamp next to Lake Michigan and climate change is making the lake swell higher and drain lower than before thus challenging the infrastructure of Chicago on multiple levels.

[#rainfall] — To no big surprise our greenhouse gas emissions are influencing global rainfall. It is important to understand how we affect these precipitation patterns, as this will allow us to plan how to use our water in the best way and plan adaptations to reduce risk of flooding and water scarcity.

[#pavement] — Here’s the latest in “adaptech” (technology for climate adaptation”) and it’s a sunscreen for your pavement! It has been proven to lower temperature of streets. The exact contents is a trade secret but it’s based on titanium oxide, which is also in regular sunscreen, white paint and pharmaceuticals.

⛽️ 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.

[#oiltrains] — DesmogBlog reports that the Exxon tapes from last week also revealed details about how Exxon are working against regulations for oil trains such as the one that killed 47 people in Canada in 2013.

[#firstdog] — This “First dog on the moon” cartoon is saying things at they are. Except for one thing: It’s not “humans” that are doing it, it’s mostly the fossil fuel industry and the agricultural industry. But apart from that it’s pretty spot on. How come we’re sentencing an activist to 8 years in prison for sabotaging one pipeline when the fossil fuel industry is lighting the ocean on fire and literally making our world burn. It makes no sense and it’s realizations like these that I must admit sometimes get’s me 😢. This other “First dog on the moon” is more funny.

[#conoco] — The fossil fuel industry have long been known for being extremely good at propaganda and for getting their message out on social media. This article on gizmodo dives into some of the recent trends in fossil fuel company Conoco’s social media activities and strategies. If only the good gals/guys were as good. 

[#shell] — The CEO of Shell is crying. He warns the world that forcing Shell to cut it’s oil and gas production fast as a result of the recent court ruling will put Shell in a “valley of death” of which he believes it won’t be able to recover. Buhu. Just go away already.


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 👋