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Status quo won’t meet climate targets
Brad Plumer, 9- 8, 23, https://www.nytimes.com/2023/09/08/climate/paris-agreement-stocktake.html
Under the Paris Agreement, countries vowed to limit the rise in average global temperatures to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 Fahrenheit, above preindustrial levels and make a good-faith effort to stay at 1.5 degrees Celsius. Past that level, the dangers from intense flooding, wildfires, drought, heat waves and species extinction could become unmanageable, scientists have said. Earth has already heated up roughly 1.2 degrees Celsius since preindustrial times Countries are far from meeting those goals. Current climate pledges would put the world on track for a significantly more hazardous 2.5 degrees Celsius or so of warming by 2100, assuming nations followed through on their plans. In order to keep global warming at safer levels, global emissions would need to plunge roughly 60 percent by 2035, which would most likely require a much faster expansion of energy sources like wind, solar or nuclear power and a sharp decrease in pollution from fossil fuels like oil, coal and natural gas. The window for keeping warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the report said, is “rapidly narrowing.”
Status quo won’t solve climate
Reuters, 9-8, 23, https://climatechangenews.com/2023/09/08/un-report-climate-plans-inufficient-global-stocktake/, UN says more needed ‘on all fronts’ to meet climate goals
The world is not on target to curb global warming and more action is needed on all fronts, the United Nations warned on Friday, in the run-up to crucial international talks aimed at stemming the growing climate crisis. The Global Stocktake report, the latest warning from the U.N. about environmental perils, will form the basis of the COP28 talks in Dubai at the end of the year and follows months of terrifying wildfires and soaring temperatures. The UN report, culminating a two-year evaluation of the 2015 Paris climate agreement goals, distils thousands of submissions from experts, governments and campaigners. “The Paris Agreement has driven near-universal climate action by setting goals and sending signals to the world regarding the urgency of responding to the climate crisis,” it said. “While action is proceeding, much more is needed now on all fronts.” The UN report also calls on governments to scale up renewable energy and phase out all “unabated” fossil fuels, adding both are “indispensible” for a clean energy transition. Nearly 200 countries agreed in 2015 Paris to limit warming to no more than 2 Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and to strive to keep the increase to 1.5 C. While each country is responsible for deciding its own climate actions, they also agreed to submit to a progress report by 2023 to see what more should be done. More than 130 countries sent their submissions. The U.N. said existing national pledges to cut emissions were insufficient to keep temperatures within the 1.5 C threshold. More than 20 gigatonnes of further CO2 reductions were needed this decade – and global net zero by 2050 – in order to meet the goals, the U.N. assessment said. The report urged countries to cut the use of “unabated” coal power by 67-92% by 2030, compared to 2019, and to virtually eliminate it as a source of electricity by 2050. Low and zero-carbon electricity should account for as much as 99% of the global total by mid-century, and technological challenges holding back carbon capture must be resolved. The report also called for funding to be unlocked to support low-carbon development, noting that billions of dollars were still being invested in fossil fuels. “It serves up a bold to-do list for governments to limit warming to 1.5C and protect people everywhere from climate devastation,” said Tom Evans, policy advisor on climate diplomacy at British climate think tank E3G. Commitment was needed to phase out fossil fuels, set 2030 targets for renewable energy expansion, ensure the financial system funds climate action, and raise funds for adaptation and damage, he said. “Anything less will fall short on the necessary steps laid out in this report.” Sultan Al Jaber, who will preside over the Nov. 30-Dec. 12 summit in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), told Reuters the stocktake gave good direction, and urged states and private sector leader to come to COP28 with real commitments.
Climate change changes the weather and costs billions
Altschuler, 8-27, 23, Glenn C. Altschuler is the Thomas and Dorothy Litwin Professor of American Studies at Cornell University. He is the co-author (with Stuart Blumin) of “Rude Republic: Americans and Their Politics in the Nineteenth Century.”, The Hill, https://thehill.com/opinion/energy-environment/4172158-climate-deniers-are-entitled-to-their-own-opinions-but-not-their-own-facts/
In that spirit, and in the hope that it will change some opinions, here is a brief summary of facts about climate change and its effect on the lives and livelihoods of all Americans: 2023 is likely to be the hottest year on record, and possibly the hottest in 100,000 years. Virtually all climate scientists agree that human activities (i.e. the release of carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere) have warmed the surface of the Earth and ocean basins, and affected extreme weather events. Even if all 196 nations that signed the 2015 Paris Treaty reach their agreed upon fossil fuel emission targets (an unlikely outcome), global temperatures will rise more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels, a seemingly small but extraordinarily consequential increase. This year’s excessive heat has already resulted in 235,000 emergency room visits and more than 56,000 hospitalizations in the U.S., at a cost of more than $1 billion. The heat has also caused as much as $100 billion in reduced time and productivity on the job, a number that is likely to double by 2030. This summer, the temperature in Phoenix topped 110 degrees for 31 consecutive days, and failed to drop below 90 degrees for 16 consecutive days. Annual deaths attributable to the heat have quadrupled in Phoenix in the last decade. Although wildfires occur naturally, heat waves and droughts increase their frequency, length and severity. Wildfires accelerate climate change by releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The number of wildfires and the acreage they damage have increased 223 percent in the last 40 years. The price tag of the recent wildfire in Hawaii could reach $16 billion — and the death toll continues to mount. Wildfire smoke, which travels thousands of miles, affects breathing, and can exacerbate asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cardiovascular disease. If trends continue, wildfires will increase 50 percent by the end of the century. Rising temperatures, early snowpack melt and a longer dry season result in more frequent, severe and longer droughts. The megadrought in the American West, which has lasted for more than two decades, has made the region drier than it has been in more than 1,200 years, causing massive crop losses, water shortages and lower groundwater levels. Moreover, droughts help wildfires spread more easily. Climate change contributes to floods and droughts, albeit in different parts of the country. Warmer temperatures increase evaporation, put more moisture into the atmosphere and dramatically increase the amount of rain in many storms and hurricanes. In 2017, Hurricane Harvey dumped more than 60 inches of rain and caused an eight-foot storm surge in coastal areas of Texas. As sea levels rise, coastal flooding will increase significantly, perhaps by one foot by 2050, adding to the 4.3 million homes in Florida, California, South Carolina and Texas currently deemed at risk of being swept away. Some climate deniers, it seems clear, are willfully or invincibly ignorant. These people must not be allowed to prevent the rest of us from addressing a clear, present, extraordinarily well-documented and existential threat to the United States — and to planet Earth.
Warming kills trees ability to support photosynthesis
Dorany Pineda, 8-26, 23, LA Times, Tropical forests may be warming to a point where plant photosynthesis fails, study warns, https://www.latimes.com/environment/story/2023-08-26/global-warming-could-cause-leaf-photosynthesis-to-fail
Teeming with life and stretching across multiple continents, tropical forests are often called the “lungs of the planet” because of their ability to suck up climate-warming carbon dioxide and exhale oxygen — a process known as photosynthesis. But even as these critical ecosystems work with Earth’s oceans to help scrub CO2 from the atmosphere and give us air to breathe, tropical forests have long faced growing threats from fires, poaching and deforestation. Now, new research suggests that humanity’s unchecked burning of fossil fuels may pose an entirely new danger. In a study published recently in the journal Nature, scientists concluded that tropical forests could be drawing closer to the temperature threshold where leaves lose the ability to create life-sustaining energy by combining CO2, water and sunlight. “We have known for a long time that when leaves reach a certain temperature, their photosynthetic machinery breaks down,” said Gregory R. Goldsmith, a study co-author and assistant professor of biological sciences at Chapman University. “But this study is really the first study to establish how close tropical forest canopies may be to these limits,” he told reporters recently. Researchers said that a leaf’s ability to perform photosynthesis — and produce oxygen as a byproduct — is permanently lost above 116 degrees Fahrenheit and results in its death. New research discovered that some tropical leaves are already surpassing that critical temperature. Currently, only about 0.01% of all sun-exposed leaves in upper tropical forest canopies exceed that threshold in a typical year, researchers found. But their modeling warns that if nothing is done to curb global warming, that percentage will increase in the future, and rampant leaf death and tree loss could possibly occur if tropical forests warm an additional 7.02 degrees — give or take 0.9 degrees. “Photosynthesis typically starts to decrease at much lower temperatures than 116 degrees, but that is fully reversible,” said Martijn Slot, a study author and forest ecologist with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. “When conditions improve, photosynthesis resumes. Above 116 degrees, the damage is irreversible.” The paper’s conclusion comes at a time when researchers are scrutinizing the affects of extreme heat on California trees — along with drought, fire and disease. Many plants in some regions of the state are already reaching critical temperature thresholds, such as in the Mojave Desert, said Louis Santiago, a professor of physiological ecology at UC Riverside, who was not involved in the study. “We know many of our leaves out there are getting extremely hot and they’re not going to be photosynthesizing at those temperatures,” he said. There are also regions along California’s coast that are vulnerable to hotter weather, such as redwood forests. “These high temperature events are telling, because if there’s an increase, we would see periods where these coastal plants would not be able to photosynthesize,” Santiago said. In an effort to better understand the way temperature affects photosynthesis — and how close today’s tropical forests are to a potential tipping point — researchers turned to orbiting technology, and traveled to a number of evergreen jungles. Using a thermal instrument on the International Space Station called ECOSTRESS, researchers measured land surface temperatures across various tropical regions, including Brazil, Australia and Puerto Rico, between 2018 and 2020 to estimate peak upper canopy temperatures. They found that midday peaks averaged approximately 93.2 degrees during dry periods, but a small percentage surpassed 104 degrees. Next came the challenging task of climbing to the upper canopies of trees, painstakingly installing sensors on leaves to measure their individual temperatures, and later heating them with black plastic or portable heaters by an additional 3.6; 5.4; and 7.2 degrees to observe their response. They found that leaf temperatures — and the threshold for photosynthetic failure — did not increase in a linear fashion. Some leaves could fall into distress at lower air temperatures, depending on other factors such as drought. The reason for this is that when the atmosphere warms, most leaves cool themselves by releasing water — a process called transpiration. But when the air and soil are so dry that they can’t meet demand, a tree will eventually close the stomata, or pores, on its leaves to avoid losing precious water. Heat then accumulates in the leaf, and if it gets too high, metabolic function collapses and the leaf dies. This phenomenon was particularly concerning to researchers because it suggested that leaf temperatures could be higher than the measured air temperature — particularly at the top of a forest canopy where they are exposed to direct sunlight. “You heat the air by less than 2, 3 degrees [Celsius], and the actual upper temperature of these leaves goes up by 8 degrees [Celsius],” said Christopher E. Doughty, the study’s lead author and associate professor of ecoinformatics at Northern Arizona University. The death of a small number of leaves could have a profound cascading effect at higher temperatures, Doughty said. If enough leaves die, they reduce the cooling of an entire branch. If enough branches die, the entire tree can die. If enough trees die, a forest is imperiled. “Even though a small percentage of leaves are currently doing this ... our best guess is that a 4-degree C [7.2 Fahrenheit] increase in air temperature, and there could be some serious issues for certain tropical forests,” he said. Slot said that some tree species are better at withstanding heat. Prior studies indicate that canopy shape and certain leaf characteristics — such as size and thickness — make some trees better adapted to cope with hotter temperatures. How leaves are oriented, and the way sunlight and wind affect them are also important, but Slot said there was currently no way to measure those factors on a large scale. Santiago, who is also a researcher with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, said the findings were cause for concern. “The big question is: At what point would we see a large enough number of leaves stop doing this vital function and start having an effect on global carbon cycles? ... [T]he ramifications of this are huge.” While the authors emphasized the uncertainties within their study, if their findings are true, they wrote, crossing the 116-degree temperature brink “is within the range of our most pessimistic future climate change scenarios.” “The combination of climate change and local deforestation may already be placing the hottest tropical forest regions close to, or even beyond, a critical thermal threshold,” authors wrote. “Therefore, our results suggest that the combination of ambitious climate change mitigation goals and reduced deforestation can ensure that these important realms of carbon, water and biodiversity stay below thermally critical thresholds.” But with the world’s efforts to transition to renewable energy, Doughty said there is reason for hope. “I feel optimistic,” he said. “It doesn’t seem like we’re going to get to that point. But it is, of course, possible.”
AI solves climate change
Aliza Chasan, 8-26, 23, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/artificial-intelligence-carbon-footprint-climate-change/, The Hill, Some experts see AI as a tool against climate change. Others say its own carbon footprint could be a problem.
As the use of artificial intelligence grows and societies ponder how to use the powerful tool to improve our lives, increase productivity and tackle our most pressing challenges, few have considered its effects on the environment. While some have highlighted the technology's potential to help tackle environmental challenges, others point out that we must first understand AI's own carbon footprint. Proponents of technological advances like cryptocurrency were quick to celebrate its potential to reduce carbon emissions, only to be refuted by wasteful practices like Bitcoin mining due to their enormous energy demands. But experts largely see AI as a positive development, with the United Nations Environment Program lauding it as a tool that could improve our understanding of our environmental impact and the effects of climate change. AI can be used to sift through large amounts of data, like satellite images researchers use to monitor climate change, said Sasha Luccioni, who works analyzing AI models for sustainability. With the help of AI, scientists can better model climate patterns, identify trends and make predictions so they can have a clearer understanding of climate change and effective mitigation strategies. Other potential applications include using artificial intelligence to conserve water, fight wildfires and even identify and recover recyclables. "There are a lot of really cool applications of AI in different sectors of climate change — everything from optimizing electricity grids to tracking biodiversity," Luccioni said. But some experts are looking at the carbon footprint of AI itself. For them, companies hoping to deploy AI should be transparent about its environmental impact and how they are addressing it. What is AI's carbon footprint and why is it worrying some environmental advocates? AI's overall carbon footprint is difficult to measure, but it starts with the computers it uses. The raw materials needed to create computer hardware are mined and "that can be really labor intensive and also environmentally expensive," Shaolei Ren, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of California, Riverside, said. Once developers have the hardware they need, training an AI model can consume a lot of energy. AI companies don't tend to share how much energy is used, but researchers have taken guesses based on the data available to them. One non-peer-reviewed study, led by Ren and other experts, estimates that training GPT-3, which powers a language model of ChatGPT, could potentially have consumed 700,000 liters of freshwater. The water used to prevent data centers from overheating is usually evaporated, which means it can't be reused. There's also the carbon emissions. Researchers at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst found the training process for a single AI model can emit more than 626,000 pounds of carbon dioxide. That's about the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions as 62.6 gasoline-powered passenger vehicles driven for a year. Carbon dioxide makes up the vast majority of greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to climate change by trapping heat in the atmosphere. After consulting these independent estimates, CBS News asked AI language models about the technology's carbon footprint. Bard, created by Google, said it was difficult to estimate accurately. ChatGPT, created by OpenAI, stressed that as an AI language model, it doesn't have a direct carbon footprint, but with an estimated 100 million monthly active users, there's a footprint connected to the electricity and computing resources needed to run the servers hosting and powering the model. (OpenAI did not respond to requests for comment for this story.) Microsoft, which has invested billions of dollars into OpenAI, declined to share estimates for the carbon footprint involved in developing AI tools. "AI will be a powerful tool for advancing sustainability solutions, but we need a plentiful clean energy supply globally to power this new technology, which has increased consumption demands," a Microsoft spokesperson said. "Microsoft is investing in research to measure the energy use and carbon impact of AI while working on ways to make large systems more efficient, in both training and application." Can AI tools be designed in an environmentally-conscious way? Training, deploying and running AI can be energy intensive, so companies should carefully consider the potential consequences while building the systems, said Junhong Chen, professor of molecular engineering at the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering and lead water strategist at Argonne National Laboratory. "When we design these types of systems, we have to be mindful of the potential negative consequences and try to minimize it from the beginning by design," Chen said. Research from Google shows that water-cooled data centers emit roughly 10% lower carbon emissions than air-cooled data centers. According to the Energy Department, data centers are one of the most energy-intensive types of building in the U.S., consuming 10 to 50 times the energy per floor space of typical commercial office buildings. They collectively account for about 2% of the total U.S. electricity use. When new sites are picked for Google data centers —largely decided based on proximity to users— the company will look into reclaimed and nonpotable water resources in the area, Ben Townsend, Google's head of data center sustainability, said. "Data centers are very similar to your personal computer. They require space, they require energy and they require cooling," Townsend said. There's also a balance to strike when it comes to energy grids, Ram Rajagopal, who leads the Stanford Sustainable Systems Lab, said. With the goals of decarbonization and resiliency in mind, AI can be used in the electricity system to reduce costs, scale up deployments and determine optimal plans for lowering the amount of greenhouse gas emissions, Rajagopal said. Still, as AI use becomes more common, the data centers currently handling AI tasks may not be up to snuff. "As this starts to scale up, you create a bottleneck in terms of the data centers and then you have to expand data centers, so the power consumption expands," Rajagopal said. How can AI help? Scientists are already using AI in many helpful ways. AI models can help researchers find ways to recycle and reuse water by identifying contaminants in water and figuring out the best ways to extract them, according to Chen, the professor of molecular engineering. It can also potentially be used to determine ways to reclaim those contaminants for other uses, he added. In one recent project, Google, American Airlines and Breakthrough Energy teamed up and used AI to piece together and sift through satellite imagery, weather and flight path data. The AI was used to develop maps to forecast contrails — the thin, white lines sometimes seen behind airplanes. The research can help pilots optimize flight routes so they can cut down on contrails, which account for roughly 35% of the aviation sector's global warming impact. planes, cutting down on aviation industry emissions. Artificial intelligence can also be applied to battery research to optimize lithium batteries, which are used by most electric vehicles, experts say. Several companies, such as AMP Robotics and MachineX, have developed AI tools to identify and recover recyclables with AI-guided robots. AMP Robotics has more than 300 AI systems deployed globally, a spokesperson said. The robots can, on average, pick up recycled materials up to two times as fast and with more consistency than humans. According to the company, AMP Robotics technology has helped avoid nearly 1.8 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, an impact equivalent to removing close to 375,000 cars from the road, by optimizing recycling efforts. Scientists in California are using AI to fight wildfires. AI connected to cameras can identify wildfires and detect smoke before they spread more widely. Cal Fire Battalion Chief David Krussow told CBS Sacramento the information on wildfire prediction is a "game changer." At the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, scientists are using AI to improve climate, weather and other earth system models. The United Nations Environment Program uses AI to help analyze and predict the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, along with changes in glacier mass and sea level rise. They hope to use the tool as a type of "mission control" for the planet, David Jensen, a coordinator with the team, has said. One U.N. tool, the International Methane Emissions Observatory, or IMEO, uses AI to monitor and mitigate methane emissions, a potent greenhouse gas which affects the earth's temperature. "Reducing the energy sector's methane emissions is one of the quickest, most feasible, and cost-effective ways to limit the impacts of climate warming, and reliable data-driven action will play a big role in achieving these reductions," Jensen said in a U.N. post.
Climate change disproportionately impacts poor, minority communities because their bond rates for adaptation are higher
JAKE BITTLE & SIRI CHILUKURI, 8-26, 23, Mother Jones, How the “Black Tax” Reinforces Poverty, https://www.motherjones.com/environment/2023/08/how-the-black-tax-keeps-many- black-communities-poor/
When cities need to raise money for roads and water lines, they have a few options. They can raise taxes, for instance, or charge fees for city services. If that isn’t enough, though, they can also issue bonds, borrowing on a $4 trillion credit market to pay for new construction projects they can’t afford otherwise. These municipal bonds function like loans that banks and investors make to local governments, and they’re an essential tool for filling out city budgets. “This is how your sewage gets funded, this is how your water gets funded, this is how public schools and public services are funded,” said Matthew Wynter, a research professor of finance at Stony Brook University. MOTHER JONES TOP STORIES But a growing body of research shows that this credit market is also helping perpetuate systemic racism. When Black towns and cities try to borrow money on the bond market, they pay higher interest rates than their white counterparts. A paper published last week in the science journal PLOS One finds that this “Black tax” amounts to as much as $900 million per year in the United States. These higher borrowing costs can prevent these towns from pursuing much-needed infrastructure upgrades, or push them toward default and bankruptcy if they fall behind on interest payments. While racial bias is accounted for in the municipal markets, climate change isn’t, according to the new research. Erika Smull, lead author of the paper and a research analyst at Breckinridge, an investment management company, said that both the racial bias she found and climate change represents, “two huge systemic risks to not just the [municipal] market, but kind of everything about the United States.” The inequality in the bond market perpetuates a cycle of debt and disinvestment in Black communities, but it also has huge implications for environmental justice and climate resilience. If local leaders can’t raise money to protect water lines and prepare for floods, their constituents will end up reliant on decaying and vulnerable public infrastructure. “Race should certainly not affect the pricing of municipal bonds,” Smull told Grist. A growing body of research published in recent years has illuminated the role that municipal bonds have played in deepening racial inequality. Destin Jenkins, a historian of capitalism at Stanford University, has written that segregated white suburbs benefited from high credit ratings which entrenched municipal wealth in the period after World War II. Conversely, he argues, investors punished Black towns for their shoddy infrastructure and lack of access to capital. When bond rating agencies like Moody’s assessed the creditworthiness of cities, they would penalize Black towns for racial inequality that persisted from slavery. “Bond rating analysts participated” in the process of segregation, Jenkins writes, “by insisting that their ratings were reflections of objective economic conditions.” Even towns with a low percentage of Black residents suffered from what one political scientist called the “black tax”, wherein areas with a higher percentage of Black residents are unfairly penalized for nothing else but their demographics. “What we’re talking about is a reinforcing cycle of penalizing poor communities that are already poor.” Wynter, along with two colleagues, Ashleigh Eldemire and Kimberly F. Luchtenberg, co-authored a paper that delved into the issue of municipal bonds and racial discrimination. They found that even after controlling for all other variables, municipalities that were more racially diverse were offered municipal bonds with higher bond insurance rates and a lower credit rating, which led to higher interest rates and put the cities in a worse financial position. “It’s much harder for municipalities that are racially diverse, to raise funding or to raise capital, especially when it’s expected that minorities might be the beneficiaries of those services,” said Wynter. “So we know that racial discrimination can affect the way that a municipality is able to access the credit market.” One important point Wynter spoke to when discussing why racial discrimination persists in a relatively mundane part of the financial markets was geography. Because in-state bond investments are exempt from both state and federal taxes, many investors have pre-existing prejudices against communities of color within their own state’s bond market. “The counties, the cities, and counties, and municipalities with high percentages of Black residents pay more, even though there’s nothing to really kind of show that they are riskier,” said Wynter. Smull also emphasized the role of implicit bias that people working to issue and rate bonds have could play a role in disparities between the types of municipal bonds offered to white and Black cities and towns. “They’re unaware that they hold that bias,” said Smull “And they just associate a city that is predominantly Black with images that have been curated in their mind over time.” Most of these images, said Smull, are the types of negative stereotypes that have been persistent in the American imagination. This includes the idea that it might be a risk to invest in a town with a higher percentage of Black residents, this is despite the fact that the credit risk might be the same for a white and Black town but their rating could be lower. David Dubrow, an attorney with Arent Fox Schiff and an expert on municipal finance, says this racial inequality on the bond market can trap Black cities in a cycle of disinvestment. “What we’re talking about is a reinforcing cycle of penalizing poor communities that are already poor,” he told Grist. “The impact on the community is higher taxes and less money for social services, because [the city is] spending more on paying interest on borrowing money.” The difference of a few percentage points in the interest rate of a bond can add up over the course of decades, placing a huge financial burden on cities. In a recent article, Dubrow’s firm estimated that because Milwaukee has a lower credit rating than other cities of its size, the city would pay an extra $477 million to borrow money on a 30-year bond. More than 40 percent of Milwaukee’s residents are Black. Catherine Coleman Flowers is familiar with the lack of services that can follow decades of divestment and lack of access to resources. Flowers, who authored the book Waste: One Woman’s Fight Against America’s Dirty Secret, has spent a lot of her time working on sewage access in rural parts of Alabama, specifically in Lowndes County where for decades residents were unable to access sewage and often had to rely on “straight pipes” from their homes to dispel sewage, often only a few yards away from the entrance to those homes. Sewage and waste disposal is one of the main services that municipalities can provide but without adequate access to funding, they cannot maintain the upkeep needed to continue to provide basic services, or in some cases provide them in the first place. Flowers, who has helped raise awareness of substandard waste and sewage services, says that these problems arise when cities lack the resources to invest in new infrastructure. The racial tilt of the municipal bond market is a key factor that contributes to this lack of resources. “A lot of the poor communities remain poor because the formula is written in such a way that it doesn’t allow them to even get in the game,” said Flowers. Advertise with Mother Jones In many cases, when they can’t raise taxes or garner more money through bonds, cities are forced to resort to harsh and punitive measures to maintain their revenue and avoid default. The city government of Baltimore, for example, has imposed strict punishments on water customers in order to maintain revenue for the municipal water system. According to one estimate, the city shut off water deliveries to 42,000 customers in 2016 alone. “You’ve got to help think…all the ways that a rule might unintentionally hurt some groups.” In the worst cases, a downward financial spiral can push cities toward bankruptcy. Earlier this year, for instance, the water utility for the city of Prichard, Alabama descended into crisis. The Prichard Water and Sewer Board provides drinking and sewer water to about 20,000 people in a predominantly Black suburb of Mobile, but the utility had long been facing financial headwinds. Thanks to leaks and holes in decades-old service lines, the utility loses more than half of all the water it purchases, which has left it unable to make ends meet. Prichard’s median household income is less than half of the national average, and the board couldn’t raise rates on already struggling customers. Instead, it patched the financial hole by issuing a $55 million municipal bond to a bank called Synovus Bank, borrowing money to pay for infrastructure upgrades, but in December and January, the board missed two payments on the bond. One board member warned that the utility could default. A few months later, in June, Synovus sued the board and demanded it resume payments, accusing the utility of financial mismanagement. Many local officials in Black towns and cities are wary of ending up in a situation like the Prichard water board, and they avoid the bond market out of a concern that they’ll end up with debt they can’t sustain. Advertise with Mother Jones “I would say that debt service is an issue, because once you have that debt on your books, you know, you’ve got to pay it,” said Darryl Greene, the treasurer for the city of Inkster, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. “If you don’t have the necessary revenue stream to cover all of your major expenses in addition to covering the debt, you’re going to struggle.” Inkster has a population of about 25,000, and about 67 percent of residents are Black. A decade ago, in the aftermath of the Great Recession, the state of Michigan declared that the city was experiencing “severe financial stress” in the face of declining revenue, but its budget has recovered somewhat since then. Greene says the city has had success using bonds for small construction projects, but he believes that increasing tax revenue is a more sustainable way for the city to grow than tapping the bond market. A neighboring city called Highland Park, also majority Black, has been teetering on the brink of bankruptcy for most of this year as it struggles to keep up with rising water costs and payments to bondholders. Flowers says that climate change will compound the impacts of discrimination in the municipal bond market. As worsening droughts and floods cause more damage to roads, water pipes, and sewer systems, towns will need even more money to maintain public services. If Black cities and towns can’t access the capital they need on the bond market, their infrastructure will decay even further.
Rainforest offsets fail to solve climate change
Jones & Hockley, 8-24, 23, Julia P G Jones, Professor of Conservation Science, Bangor University, Senior Lecturer in Environmental Economics & Policy, Bangor University, 8-24, 23, Worthless’ forest carbon offsets risk exacerbating climate change, https://theconversation.com/worthless-forest-carbon-offsets-risk-exacerbating-climate-change-211862
In early 2023, the Guardian published an article suggesting that more than 90% of rainforest carbon offsets are worthless. These credits are essentially a promise to protect forests and can be bought as a way to “offset” emissions elsewhere. Verra, the largest certifier of these offset credits, said the claims were “absolutely incorrect” but the story still shook confidence in the billion-dollar market. Soon after, Verra’s CEO stood down. The claims in the Guardian article rested heavily on analysis which had been published as a preprint (before peer review). Now the research has been fully peer-reviewed and is published in the journal Science. It shows unequivocally that many projects which have sold what are known as REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation) credits have failed to reduce deforestation. REDD+ projects aim to slow deforestation (for example, by supporting farmers to change their practices). They quantify the carbon saved through reducing deforestation relative to what would have happened without the project, and sell these emission reductions as credits. Such REDD+ credits are widely used to “offset” (that is, cancel out) emissions from companies (who may use them to make claims that their operations are carbon neutral) or by people concerned about their carbon footprint. For example, if you were planning to fly from London to New York you might consider buying REDD+ credits that promise to conserve rainforest in the Congo Basin (with added benefits for forest elephants and bonobos). Offsetting your return flight would appear to cost a very affordable £16.44. However, while previous analysis showed that some REDD+ projects have contributed to slowing deforestation and forest degradation, the central finding from the new study is that many projects have slowed deforestation much less than they have claimed and, consequently, have promised greater carbon savings than they have delivered. So that guilt-free flight to New York probably isn’t carbon neutral after all. The finding that many REDD+ carbon credits have not delivered forest conservation is extremely worrying to anyone who cares about the future of tropical forests. We spoke to Sven Wunder, a forest economist and a co-author of the new study. He told us that: “To tackle climate change, tropical deforestation must be stopped. Forests also matter for other reasons: losing forests will result in loss of species, and will affect regional rainfall patterns. Despite the evidence that REDD+ has not been delivering additional conservation, we cannot afford to give up.” Deforestation could simply move elsewhere Carbon credits also face other challenges, one of the biggest being “leakage” or displacement of deforestation. Leakage may occur because the people who were cutting down the forest simply relocate to a different area. Alternatively, demand for food or timber that was fuelling deforestation in one place may be met by deforestation elsewhere – perhaps on the other side of the world. Another problem is ensuring that the forests are protected in perpetuity so that reduced deforestation represents permanent removal of carbon from the atmosphere.
Record North Atlantic warming now, further warming could collapse ocean currents
Elias Thorson, 8-14, 23, https://www.arctictoday.com/unprecedented-temperatures-in-the-north-atlantic-ocean/, Arctic Today, Unprecedented Temperatures in the North Atlantic Ocean,
A recent study by the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), claims that ocean temperatures in the North Atlantic have entered uncharted waters, with July being the warmest on record. According to the C3S, the North Atlantic was 1.05°C above average in July with unusually high temperatures developed in the northwestern Atlantic, with marine heatwaves developing south of Greenland and in the Labrador Sea. Scientists worry that temperature increases could lead to a collapse in ocean currents. Photo: The Copernicus Climate Change Service “We just witnessed global air temperatures and global ocean surface temperatures set new all-time records in July. These records have dire consequences for both people and the planet exposed to ever more frequent and intense extreme events,” said Samantha Burgess, Deputy Director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service. “Even if this is only temporary, it shows the urgency for ambitious efforts to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, which are the main driver behind these records.” The unprecedented warming is creating serious concern in the scientific community. A study published earlier this month, by Danish scientists Peter and Susanne Ditlevsen estimated that a warming North Atlantic and Greenland ice melt could cause the collapse of the The Atlantic meridional overturning circulation around the middle of the 21st century.
Warming from climate change here, must adapt
Hill, 8-25, 23, ALICE HILL is David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment at the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of The Fight for Climate After COVID-19, Foreign Affairs, The Age of Climate Disaster Is Here: Preparing for a Future of Extreme Weather, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/world/age-climate-disaster-here-extreme-weather
The planet has broiled this summer, with July winning the unwelcome title of the hottest month since records began, in the nineteenth century. Indeed, climate scientists think that it was possibly the hottest month in the past 120,000 years. Given the rapid pace of climate change, however, July offered merely a taste of the heat to come. In 2015, world leaders established a goal to keep average global surface temperatures from rising 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial temperatures in order to avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change. In July, global temperatures breached that critical ceiling, if only briefly. Nearly 5,000 local heat and rainfall records were broken in the United States alone; globally, the number exceeded 10,000. And scientists anticipate that 2023 will clock in as the hottest year on record. Although climate scientists have long predicted an increase in such extreme weather events, some have recently expressed alarm at the sheer speed at which the climate is changing. The sudden explosion of record temperatures carries a warning for humans: adapt or die. The scale of the climate catastrophes suffered throughout this year reaffirms that it is no longer sufficient for governments and policymakers to focus on mitigation—in other words, developing strategies to reduce harmful pollutants emitted into the atmosphere, including carbon dioxide and methane. The world must also pay more attention to adaptation, upgrading infrastructure and policies to withstand extreme weather. If governments and societies do not make adequate preparations, the damaging impacts of climate change will crush lives, livelihoods, and communities across the globe. The 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28) under the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change, scheduled for late November through early December in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), provides a crucial moment for nations to finally give adaptation equal billing with mitigation on the international climate agenda. This year’s COP could herald an inflection point for climate efforts; with weather catastrophes still raging around the planet, governments should be galvanized to take more radical action than they have at previous summits. ADAPT OR PERISH Heat statistics alone, as shocking as they are, do not tell the whole story of climate impacts. Higher temperatures mean bigger floods, hotter and longer heat waves, more destructive wildfires, deeper droughts, and more intense storms. And the severity and longevity of this summer’s high temperatures are startling. For 31 days in a row, Phoenix, Arizona, recorded temperatures above 110 degrees Fahrenheit, heating pavement to the point that people’s—and pets’—skin burned on contact. Temperatures reached 122 degrees Fahrenheit in southwest Iran, forcing the government to declare public holidays because it was simply too hot to work. In August, the much-anticipated Boy Scout Jamboree in South Korea was cut short, with hundreds of teens falling ill from heat. With warmer, wetter conditions allowing mosquitos to flourish, the worst recorded outbreak of Dengue fever has swept Bangladesh, leaving hundreds dead and medical providers overwhelmed. Smoke from Canadian wildfires, which razed territory the size of Greece, forced millions of Americans and Canadians indoors to avoid respiratory illness. Fueled by gale-force winds, wildfires devastated the Hawaiian island of Maui, killing at least 114 people, laying waste to the historic town of Lahaina, and driving locals into the ocean to escape the flames. Extreme precipitation has also left a trail of destruction this summer. New Delhi had half a foot of rainfall on a single day in July; deadly mudslides and flash floods followed. In normally dry Beijing, another July storm dumped the heaviest rainfall in 140 years, four times the city’s average rainfall for the entire month of August. And amid a severe heat wave across Europe in late July, Italians witnessed hail that approached the size of cantaloupes, with one stone measuring almost eight inches, the largest ever recorded in the continent. These events come at a high human and economic cost. Homes destroyed, schooling disrupted, and supply chains broken. And it is humans who have inflicted such suffering on ourselves; the heat that devastated Europe and the southwestern United States this summer would have been “virtually impossible” in the absence of the burning of fossil fuels by humans, according to an analysis by World Weather Attribution, a nonprofit that analyzes data to determine how climate change influences extreme weather events. This causal link holds true across the globe; the record-breaking heat in China was 50 times more likely because of human-caused climate change, also according to the World Weather Attribution. Until now, political leaders, corporations, and scientists have largely focused the climate-change discussion on cutting harmful pollution from the burning of fossil fuels. The other side of the challenge—adaptation, or preparing for catastrophic weather events like those witnessed this summer—has remained “under-resourced, underfunded and often ignored,” according to the chair of the United Kingdom’s Climate Change Adaptation Committee. Adaptation efforts—for example, elevating buildings to avoid flooding, restoring natural infrastructure such as mangrove forests to buffer sea-level rise, and investing in electric grids that will perform under extreme conditions, be they heat, cold, or drought—have remained modest even as climate-related disasters have worsened. In 2022, the UN concluded that without increased attention, the scale of climate-related disasters could outstrip existing adaptation efforts.
Adaptation too complex to define and implement
Hill, 8-25, 23, ALICE HILL is David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment at the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of The Fight for Climate After COVID-19, Foreign Affairs, The Age ofClimate Disaster Is Here: Preparing for a Future of Extreme Weather, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/world/age-climate-disaster-here-extreme-weather
In addition to setting the goal of capping warming at two degrees Celsius (and preferably below 1.5 degrees), the 2015 Paris accord established the Global Goal on Adaption, aiming to “enhance adaptive capacity, strengthen resilience and reduce vulnerability to climate change.” In the years since, policymakers have paid more attention to adaptation efforts, but their work has run into complications. Because the impacts of climate disasters are often felt locally, solutions must be tailored to local conditions, rendering the replication of large-scale blueprints for adaptation more complex. Measuring progress in adaptation is also more challenging than in mitigation; it is easier to calculate the amount of carbon not emitted into the atmosphere, for instance, than the amount of flood damage that has been averted. Given these hurdles, global adaptation objectives remain vague. Although states have worked to establish and implement adaptation goals after COP26, these discussions have stalled because of fundamental disagreements regarding targets, definitions, and finance terms. This year’s COP aims to adopt a framework that more clearly states a global strtegy for climate adaptation.
US not investing in climate adaptation
Hill, 8-25, 23, ALICE HILL is David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment at the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of The Fight for Climate After COVID-19, Foreign Affairs, The Age of Climate Disaster Is Here: Preparing for a Future of Extreme Weather, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/world/age-climate-disaster-here-extreme-weather
Revving up adaptation efforts is crucial. No country has adequately prepared for climate change, even those that have already made significant investments in this area. The Netherlands, for instance, is a standout leader for adaptation. With more than a quarter of the country already sitting below sea level, it has invested in preparing for worst-case scenario flooding. Yet even the Dutch were caught off-guard by this summer’s record-breaking heat, as 39,000 people died during a three-week heat wave in June—five percent more than expected in that period. China’s efforts to turn 80 percent of its urban areas into “sponge cities”—cities designed to increase the absorption and reuse of rainfall—by 2030 were no match for this summer’s floods. Widespread flooding, including in the Beijing area, exposed the inadequacy of China’s flood-prevention efforts, with nearly a million people forced to evacuate. In the United States, the number of so-called billion-dollar disasters, or disasters costing more than a billion dollars each, has ballooned from six in 2002 to 18 in 2022. In the first seven months of 2023 alone, the United States has experienced 15 such disasters. Despite the escalating destruction, the U.S. government has failed to develop a national adaptation strategy, making it an outlier among developed nations; most developed countries, including Australia, Canada, Japan, and those in the European Union have embraced such strategies as essential tools for managing climate risk.
Counterplan – Climate adaptation
Hill, 8-25, 23, ALICE HILL is David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment at the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of The Fight for Climate After COVID-19, Foreign Affairs, The Age of Climate Disaster Is Here: Preparing for a Future of Extreme Weather, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/world/age-climate-disaster-here-extreme-weather
Effective adaptation agendas need to go beyond seeking financing to outlining how to reduce devastation. The past summer has demonstrated that there are a few key areas that demand urgent attention—and for which effective adaptation strategies would go a long way in building resilience to extreme climate events. First, governments should build up early warning systems. The statistics speak for themselves: just 24 hours’ notice of a coming disaster can result in 30 percent less damage. Early warning and improved forecasting save lives, as Bangladesh has shown. When Cyclone Bhola hit present-day Bangladesh in 1970, up to half a million people lost their lives. In the past five decades, Bangladesh has created an early warning system consisting of improved meteorological forecasts, widespread communication efforts and impending storm updates, and a system of cyclone shelters, including some that double as schools. These measures have reduced cyclone-related deaths by over a hundredfold. Investments in more accurate forecasting could likewise reduce heat-related deaths. At COP27, the UN started to address the challenge by launching an early warning initiative calling for an investment of $3.1 billion from 2023 to 2027. The UN can build on its previous work at COP28 by ensuring timely implementation of warning systems and expansion of meteorological services worldwide with a particular focus on Africa, which lags far behind in forecasting capabilities. Second, countries should work to enhance cross-border response capabilities. Climate-related disasters are often international, making coordinated disaster response essential. Neighboring governments have already proved willing to collaborate in the event of a crisis; when flooding devastated Slovenia in early August, amounting to the country’s worst-ever natural disaster, France and Germany sent materials including prefabricated bridges to aid the Slovenian response. Similarly, the EU sent firefighting planes to Cyprus as it was being ravaged by wildfires, and Greece shared flame retardant. NATO has also set a good example, taking the lead on institutionalizing cross-border cooperation for disaster response in the face of growing climate risk that could affect member states’ security. In 2022, it deployed 40 aircraft, including firefighting planes and helicopters, to suppress fires in Greece, and this year it established a center for climate change and security to refine response strategies in Montreal, Canada. But thus far, such cross-border efforts have been piecemeal, and more coordination is needed to ensure that adequate supplies, personnel, and knowledge are shared. Third, policymakers must commit to closing the insurance protection gap: the difference between what needs to be insured against climate disasters and what is actually covered. Of the $360 billion in global losses caused by extreme weather in 2022, insurance covered only 39 percent. That means the bulk of losses had to be absorbed by individuals, governments, and philanthropies rather than insurance companies, putting the onus of recovery on the public sector and straining community resources. Insurance payouts speed recovery and relieve families of having to make devastating choices in the wake of major natural disasters, such as pulling children out of school to put them to work or selling precious assets such as seed and livestock to relieve economic duress. Promising insurance solutions bankrolled by philanthropy and government aid are beginning to emerge around the world. These innovations include establishing regional risk pools in the Caribbean and Africa and low-cost heat insurance for women in India to make up for wages lost when searing temperatures make work impossible. States must build on these innovative insurance policies as climate risk evolves. Policymakers could, for instance, expand the availability of policies that provide money in advance of a storm so that people can invest in flood protections or that offer incentives for investments in reducing community-wide disaster risk, such as making homes more fire resistant. The United States faces a particularly acute insurance challenge. Over the past few years, many property insurers have withdrawn coverage in areas that are more prone to climate-fueled disasters, such as California and the Gulf Coast. As homeowners’ insurance coverage shrinks, demands for the U.S. government to step in will grow. There is a precedent for the U.S. government to intervene in the disaster insurance market; over 50 years ago, after private insurance pulled out of the flood insurance markets following massive flooding along the Mississippi River, the federal government created the National Flood Insurance Program, an initiative that continues to operate heavily in the red. Today, the U.S. government can improve on such programs by establishing a commission to identify ways to ensure adequate insurance coverage at a price people can afford. This commission could also look to other examples of national isaster insurance programs, such as France’s so-called Nat Cat scheme, which guarantees all French citizens compensation for damage caused by natural disasters. Money alone will not prepare communities for weather of historic extremes. Fourth, governments must shift the paradigm for natural disasters to prioritize risk reduction over disaster recovery. By requiring structures to be more durable, local and national governments can help people get back to their lives faster once disaster strikes. In the United States, for instance, for every dollar spent on stronger building codes, $11 is saved in disaster recovery costs. Conversely, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, wildfire-prone countries spend up to six times more on fighting wildfires than on reducing their risk before they occur. As wildfires driven by climate change grow bigger and hotter, prevention, rather than recovery, will become more critical. One way to drive greater investment in proactive measures would be to tie risk reduction efforts to federal dollars. For example, the United States could adopt something akin to a disaster deductible—meaning that communities that fail to invest in risk reduction by permitting development in flood-prone or fire-prone areas would receive less post-disaster government assistance than those who sought to reduce risk ahead of time with improved land use and building practices. Fifth, countries must collaboratively invest in enhancing global food security, which is increasingly threatened by extreme weather. About 42 percent of the world’s calories come from rice, wheat, and corn. Yields of these crops will likely fall as temperatures rise and extreme events become more frequent, such as the flooding in Pakistan in 2022 that left a third of the nation underwater, wrecking its rice and cotton crops. To shore up its defenses against widespread hunger, the world could increase investments in the development and distribution of climate-resilient seeds and less water-intensive crops. States must also work to diversify supply chains, to ensure that if one agricultural hub suffers, alternative sources of food are available. States have an added incentive to address food security, as doing so would likely enhance overall security; as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres put it, “If we don’t feed people, we feed conflict.”
Human-driven climate change is the cause of this year’s climate change
Rachel Frazin, 8-12, 23, https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/4149620-climate-change-is-driving-higher-temperatures-not-a-volcanic-eruption/, Climate change is driving higher temperatures. Not a volcanic eruption
Climate change is the major driver of this year’s extreme temperatures, not the eruption last year of an underwater volcano near Tonga in the Pacific Ocean, scientists tell The Hill. While the eruption of the volcano may be an aggravating factor, the scientists say it is not having the impact attributed to it by conservative commentators who have downplayed the role of climate change. Scientists told The Hill the eruption should not be used to undercut the influence of climate change on this year’s heat waves. “It’s probably fair to say that the influence of [the volcano] on this year’s extremes is quite small,” said Stuart Jenkins, author of a paper that discussed the eruption. The paper, published in the scientific journal Nature Climate Change, said the eruption increases the likelihood of temporarily exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming — a milestone the UN’s climate panel has said the world should avoid to prevent the worst impacts of climate change. Jenkins told The Hill in an interview this week the eruption could cause warming of about 0.04 or 0.05 degrees Celsius, which he described as a relatively small amount. “This eruption will probably have a small positive influence on global temperatures,” Jenkins said. “Because of our proximity to this defined 1.5-degree temperature threshold set out in the Paris Agreement, that four-hundredths, five-hundredths of a degree of peak warming actually does get you tangibly closer, temporarily, to that 1.5-degree limit.” However, he said climate change and El Niño are the main drivers of the extreme heat we’re seeing around the world. “The first and the most important is the long-term global warming influence of human activity, the second most important probably is the El Niño event that has been building over the last year,” Jenkins said. Other experts agreed. “The big story is not the volcano and it’s not really the El Niño … it’s global warming,” said NASA climate scientist Josh Willis. Holger Vömel, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, meanwhile, said that at this point, it’s too soon to say whether the volcano is a factor in the heat waves. “It’s probably too soon to say that definitively. It’s certainly possible,” he said. But he said even if the eruption is playing a role, it should not be used to undercut the role of climate change. “Hypothetically speaking, if the volcano does warm the surface, it adds to our man-made global warming that we already have,” Vömel said. But if you spend time listening to some conservative pundits, you would think the eruption was the main cause of the heat — which the scientists who spoke to The Hill said was false. Radio host Erick Erickson has repeatedly bashed the media for ignoring the volcano and focusing instead on the changing climate. “The American press corps is willfully misrepresenting the present heatwave as part of their ongoing narrative related to climate change,” he tweeted last week. He later tweeted out a “theory” that the volcano was the cause of this summer’s extreme heat and claimed it was being used by “climate alarmists to advance their agenda.” In a Substack post this week, he criticized the media for covering climate change and repeated his claim that the volcano was the cause of the heat waves. Matt Walsh, a conservative commentator with The Daily Wire, opened a recent episode of his show by discussing the volcano and casting doubt on the influence of climate change. “They’ve spent months fueling panic over a heat wave, linking it to our SUVs and air conditioning units while saying nothing at all about the volcanic eruption that we know is raising the global temperature,” Walsh said. “The media is lying about the scope of the warming and also lying about the cause of the warming to whatever extent the warming is actually occurring.” Contacted by The Hill, Walsh said “I’m not going to entertain questions from Volcano Deniers,” in an emailed statement shared by a spokesperson. Erickson, meanwhile, publicly responded to The Hill’s request for comment in a post on Substack. He cited press coverage of the paper finding that the warming could temporarily push the planet over the 1.5-degree threshold — even though the paper’s author told The Hill climate change should get the majority of the blame. He also cited other reports discussing the water being sent into the stratosphere. He also doubled down on his denial of climate change’s influence, writing, “I reject the media’s facile premise that climate change fuels/drives/causes extreme events.” In addition, Erickson criticized this reporter for fact-checking him and for covering the impacts of climate change — which he labeled as “climate alarmism.” The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a preeminent climate authority from the United Nations, determined in 2021 based on the body of available evidence that climate change was “unequivocally” caused by human activity. Burning fossil fuels is the main driver of climate change, though other human activities such as agriculture are also major contributors to the problem.
Climate change spreads disease, will kill 250,000 (PF impact) between 2030 and 2050
Zoya Teirstein, 7-18, 23, https://projects.apnews.com/features/2023/climate-change-disease-animals-warming-earth/index.html?user_email=4b362dca3a25016d3027a716c162f7dfb7861c8086b76bc6b08859d9a5239b41&utm_medium=Morning_Wire&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_campaign=MorningWire_July20_2023&utm_term=Morning%20Wire%20Subscribers
Across the planet, animals — and the diseases they carry — are shifting to accommodate a globe on the fritz. And they’re not alone: Ticks, mosquitos, bacteria, algae, even fungi are on the move, shifting or expanding their historical ranges to adapt for climatic conditions that are changing at an extraordinary pace. These changes are not happening in a vacuum. Deforestation, mining, agriculture, and urban sprawl are taking bites out of the globe’s remaining wild areas, contributing to biodiversity loss that’s occurring at a rate unprecedented in human history. Populations of species that humans rely on for sustenance are dwindling and getting pushed into ever-smaller slices of habitat, creating new hotspots for diseases to jump from animals to humans. Meanwhile, the number of people experiencing extreme repercussions of a warming planet continues to grow. Climate change displaces some 20 million every year — people who need housing, medical care, food, and other essentials that put strain on already fragile systems that are growing ever more stressed. All of these factors create conditions ripe for human illness. Diseases old and new are becoming more prevalent, and even cropping up in places they’ve never been found before. Researchers have begun piecing together a patchwork of evidence that illuminates the formidable threat climate-driven diseases currently pose to human health — and the scope of the dangers to come. “This is not just something off in the future,” Neil Vora, a physician with the nonprofit Conservation International, said. “Climate change is here. People are suffering and dying right now.” Research shows that climate change influences the spread of disease in a few major ways. To escape rising temperatures in their native ranges, animals are beginning to move to higher, cooler elevations, bringing diseases with them. That poses a threat to people living in those areas, and it also leads to dangerous intermingling between animal newcomers and existing species. Bird flu, for example, has been spreading with greater ease among wild animals as rising seas and other factors push nesting bird species inland, where they’re more likely to run into other species. Diseases that jump between species tend to have an easier time eventually making the leap to humans. Warmer winters and milder autumns and springs allow carriers of pathogens — ticks, mosquitos, and fleas, for example — to remain active for longer swaths of the year. Expanded active periods mean busier mating seasons and fewer casualties over the cold winter months. The Northeastern United States has seen a massive proliferation of Lyme disease-carrying black-legged ticks over the past decade, with warmer winters playing a decisive role in that trend. ./ Erratic weather patterns, such as periods of extreme drought and flooding, create conditions for diseases to spread. Cases of cholera, a water-borne bacterial disease, skyrocket during the monsoon season in South Asian countries when flooding contaminates drinking water, especially in places that lack quality sanitation infrastructure. Valley fever, a fungal-borne infection caused by spores that grow in the soil in the Western U.S., proliferates during periods of rain. The severe drought that tends to follow rain in that part of the world shrivels the fungal spores, which allow them to more easily disperse into the air at the slightest disturbance — a hiker’s boot, say, or a garden rake — and find their way into the human respiratory system. These climate-driven impacts are taking a serious toll on human health. Cases of disease linked to mosquitos, ticks, and fleas tripled in the U.S. between 2004 and 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The threat extends beyond commonly recognized vector-borne diseases. Research shows more than half of all the pathogens known to cause disease in humans can be made worse by climate change. The problem compounds as time goes on. The World Health Organization estimates that between 2030 and 2050, just a handful of climate-related threats, such as malaria and water insecurity, will claim a quarter of a million additional lives each year. “I think we've drastically underestimated not only how much climate change is already changing disease risks, but just how many kinds of risks are changing,” Colin Carlson, a global change biologist at Georgetown University, said. He noted that while connecting the dots between tick-borne illnesses and climate change, for example, is a relatively straightforward scientific endeavor, the scientific community and the general public need to be aware that the impacts of global warming on disease can also manifest in less obvious ways. The COVID-19 pandemic, he said, is an example of how quickly disease can move through global populations and how deeply complicated the public health response to such threats can get. “I think there's a lot more to worry about in terms of epidemic and pandemic threats,” he said. The world has the tools it needs — wildlife-surveillance networks, vaccines, early-warning systems — to mitigate the impacts of climate-driven disease. Some of these tools have already been tried on a local scale to great effect. What remains to be seen is how quickly governments, NGOs, medical providers, doctors, and the public can work across borders to develop and deploy a global plan of action.
Climate change causes poverty
LUIS FELIPE LÓPEZ-CALVA|JULY 11, 2023, Why climate action is critical to reducing poverty and what it means for policy tradeoffs, https://blogs.worldbank.org/developmenttalk/why-climate-action-critical-reducing-poverty-and-what-it-means-policy-tradeoffs
Lifting people out of poverty requires helping households to acquire and use capital-- financial, physical, human, social, and natural—and ensuring that they earn a good return from it. Poor households are often engaged in livelihoods that rely on the use of natural capital, such as farming, pastoralism, or fishing. Climate change, and the increase in temperature, rainfall extremes and storms that it brings will have a big impact on the ability of poor people to earn incomes. Unfortunately, these changes are projected to have a bigger impact in places where there is more poverty. This is not the only reason why climate change is particularly challenging for poor households. The lack of capital that accompanies life in poverty also makes hazards more costly. Poor people live in houses that are badly protected from weather extremes. They often live in remote locations, where the prices of the goods are more likely to be impacted by local weather events. They are more likely to struggle to manage losses to income or assets through savings, access to credit or insurance. They are more likely to hold physical assets that can experience climate damages that financial assets. They are less likely to be covered by social insurance. Actually, they cope with shocks in many cases by depleting the stock of the few assets they hold, which turns temporary shocks into permanent losses. “Hazard, exposure, and vulnerability” – a framework to help identify key policy actions Our new policy brief sets out why reducing the impact of climate change on poor and vulnerable households is essential to hastening poverty reduction. This requires policies that reduce hazards, limit exposure and minimize vulnerability, as outlined in the framework that is used to understand the physical impacts of climate change (Figure 1). The probability distribution of hazards can be altered through emission reduction policies such as carbon taxes, or initiatives that bring more immediate changes in local weather conditions such as increasing tree cover.
Arctic warming triggers methane release and circular warming
University of Cambridge, 7-6, 23, Research shows shrinking Arctic glaciers are unearthing a new source of methane, https://phys.org/news/2023-07-arctic-glaciers-unearthing-source-methane.html
As the Arctic warms, shrinking glaciers are exposing bubbling groundwater springs which could provide an underestimated source of the potent greenhouse gas methane, finds new research published in Nature Geoscience. The study, led by researchers from the University of Cambridge and the University Center in Svalbard, Norway, identified large stocks of methane gas leaking from groundwater springs unveiled by melting glaciers. The research suggests that these methane emissions will likely increase as Arctic glaciers retreat and more springs are exposed. This, and other methane emissions from melting ice and frozen ground in the Arctic, could exacerbate global warming. "These springs are a considerable, and potentially growing, source of methane emissions—one that has been missing from our estimations of the global methane budget until now," said Gabrielle Kleber, lead author of the research who is from Cambridge's Department of Earth Sciences. Scientists are concerned that additional methane emissions released by the Arctic thaw could ramp-up human-induced global warming. The springs the researchers studied hadn't previously been recognized as a potential source of methane emissions. Kleber spent nearly three years monitoring the water chemistry of more than a hundred springs across Svalbard, where air temperatures are rising two times faster than the average for the Arctic. She likens Svalbard to the canary in the coal mine of global warming, "Since it is warming faster than the rest of the Arctic, we can get a preview of the potential methane release that could happen at a larger scale across this region." Glacier cave on Svalbard, Norway formed by large volumes of glacial meltwater that flows through it during summer. During winter, an extensive proglacial icing forms at its mouth and extends across the entire floodplain in front of the glacier, which is visible through the cave opening in the picture. Credit: Gabrielle Kleber Professor Andrew Hodson, study co-author from the University Center in Svalbard said, "Living in Svalbard exposes you to the front-line of Arctic climate change. I can't think of anything more stark than the sight of methane outgassing in the immediate forefield of a retreating glacier." Previously, research has centered on methane release from thawing permafrost (frozen ground). "While the focus is often on permafrost, this new finding tells us that there are other pathways for methane emissions which could be even more significant in the global methane budget," said study co-author Professor Alexandra Turchyn, also from Cambridge's Department of Earth Sciences. Hodson added, "Until this work was conducted, we didn't understand the source and pathways of this gas because we were reading about studies from completely different parts of the Arctic where glaciers are absent." The methane-delivering springs they identified are fed by a plumbing system hidden beneath most glaciers, which taps into large groundwater reserves within the underlying sediments and surrounding bedrock. Once the glaciers melt and retreat, springs appear where this groundwater network punches through to the surface. The researchers found that methane emissions from glacial groundwater springs across Svalbard could exceed 2,000 tons over the course of a year—which equates to roughly 10% of the methane emissions resulting from Norway's annual oil and gas energy industry. This source of methane will likely become more significant as more springs are exposed, said Kleber, "If global warming continues unchecked then methane release from glacial groundwater springs will probably become more extensive." Glacier cave on Svalbard, Norway. Credit: Gabrielle Kleber Glacial groundwater springs aren't always easy to recognize, so Kleber trained her eye to pick them out from satellite images. Zooming in on the areas of land exposed by the retreat of 78 glaciers across Svalbard, Kleber looked for tell-tale blue trickles of ice where groundwater had leaked to the surface and frozen. She then traveled to each of these sites by snowmobile to take samples of the groundwater at locations where the ice had blistered due to pressurized water and gas build up. When Kleber and the team profiled the chemistry of the water feeding these springs, they found that all bar one of the sites studied were highly concentrated with dissolved methane—meaning that, when the spring water reaches the surface, there is plenty of excess methane that can escape to the atmosphere. The researchers also identified localized hotspots of methane emissions, which were closely related to the type of rock from which the groundwater emerges. Certain rocks like shale and coal contain natural gases, including methane, produced by the breakdown of organic matter when the rocks formed. This methane can move upwards through fractures in the rock and into the groundwater. "In Svalbard we are beginning to understand the complex and cascading feedbacks triggered by glacier melt—it seems likely that there are more outcomes like this which we have yet to uncover," said Kleber. "The amount of methane leaking from the springs we measured will likely be dwarfed by the total volume of trapped gas lying below these glaciers, waiting to escape," said Hodson, "That means we urgently need to establish the risk of a sudden increase in methane leakage, because glaciers will only continue to retreat while we struggle to curb climate change."
World will hit 1.5 degree increase in warming in 5 years, but we could still stop a permanent increase
Fiona Harvey, 5-17, 23, https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/may/17/global-heating-climate-crisis-record-temperatures-wmo-research, The Guardian, World likely to breach 1.5C climate threshold by 2027, scientists w
The world is almost certain to experience new record temperatures in the next five years, and temperatures are likely to rise by more than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, scientists have warned. The breaching of the crucial 1.5C threshold, which scientists have warned could have dire consequences, should be only temporary, according to research from the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO). However, it would represent a marked acceleration of human impacts on the global climate system, and send the world into “uncharted territory”, the UN agency warned. Countries have pledged, under the 2015 Paris climate agreement, to try to hold global temperatures to no higher than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, after scientific advice that heating beyond that level would unleash a cascade of increasingly catastrophic and potentially irreversible impacts. Prof Petteri Taalas, the secretary general of the WMO, said: “This report does not mean that we will permanently exceed the 1.5C specified in the Paris agreement, which refers to long-term warming over many years. However, WMO is sounding the alarm that we will breach the 1.5C level on a temporary basis with increasing frequency.” Global average surface temperatures have never before breached the 1.5C threshold. The highest average in previous years was 1.28C above pre-industrial levels. The report, published on Wednesday, found there was a 66% likelihood of exceeding the 1.5C threshold in at least one year between 2023 and 2027. New record temperatures have been set in many areas around the world in the heatwaves of the past year, but those highs may only be the beginning, according to the report, as climate breakdown and the impact of a developing El Niño weather system combine to create heatwaves across the globe. El Niño is part of an oscillating weather system that develops in the Pacific. For the past three years, the world has been in the opposing phase, known as La Niña, which has had a dampening effect on temperature increases around the world. As La Niña ends and a new El Niño develops, there is a 98% likelihood that at least one of the next five years will be the hottest on record, the scientists found.
Warming impacts inevitable and warming beyond 2.4 degrees is inevitable
Scott Dance, 1-6, 23, Washington Post, A new climate reality: Less warming, but worse impacts on the planet, https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2023/01/06/climate-change-scenarios-extremes/
Scientists pointed to recent signs of societies’ fragility: drought contributing to the Arab Spring uprisings; California narrowly avoiding widespread blackouts amid record-high temperatures; heat waves killing tens of thousands of people each year, including in Europe, the planet’s most developed continent. It’s an indication that — even with successful efforts to reduce emissions and limit global warming — these dramatic swings could devastate many stable societies sooner, and more often, than previously expected. “We see already that extremes are bringing about catastrophe,” said Claudia Tebaldi, an earth scientist at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash. “The question is: How are we going to possibly adapt and lower the risk by turning the dial of what we can control?” … The latest forecasts suggest Earth’s ever-thickening blanket of greenhouse gases has it on a path to warm by more than 2 degrees Celsius by 2100 — a threshold scientists and policymakers have emphasized as one that would usher in catastrophic effects. That is despite efforts to keep warming below 2 degrees Celsius through the global treaty known as the Paris agreement, signed at a U.N. climate change conference in 2015. An October report from the United Nations found that if countries uphold even their most aggressive pledges to reduce output of climate change-inducing greenhouse gases, the planet would warm 2.4 degrees Celsius (4.3 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century.
Status quo renewables adoption is slowing warming
Scott Dance, 1-6, 23, Washington Post, A new climate reality: Less warming, but worse impacts on the planet, https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2023/01/06/climate-change-scenarios-extremes/
One scenario laid out in a 2014 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report and called “business as usual” — predicting global emissions and warming without any policy intervention and continued adoption of coal-fired power — had suggested global temperature would rise as much as 5 degrees Celsius of warming above preindustrial levels by the end of this century. The likelihood of such sustained and rapid warming now appears remote. “I think that’s good news,” Tebaldi said. Dangerous new hot zones are spreading around the world Climate scientists credit the rapid adoption of renewable energy — solar and wind power accounted for 1.7 percent of global electricity generation in 2010, and 8.7 percent of it in 2020. The world is set to add as much renewable energy generation in the next five years as it did in the past two decades, the International Energy Agency predicted in a report released this month.
Sea levels will rise even if warming is limited to 1.5 degrees
Daisy Dunne, 1-5, 23, Carbon Brief, Half of world’s glaciers to ‘disappear’ with 1.5C of global warming, https://www.carbonbrief.org/half-of-worlds-glaciers-to-disappear-with-1-5c-of-global-warming/
Half of the world’s glaciers – frozen reservoirs holding three-quarters of the global water supply – could “disappear” by the end of the century under 1.5C of warming, a study concludes. Even if the world is successful in meeting its most ambitious climate goal of 1.5C, glaciers could lose a quarter of their total mass by 2100 – raising global sea levels by 90mm. The world is not currently on track for 1.5C. The research finds that country promises made at the COP26 climate summit in 2021, which could lead to 2.7C of warming, would cause “the near-complete deglaciation of entire regions” including central Europe, western North America and New Zealand. If global warming reaches 4C, 83% of the world’s glaciers could disappear, the study adds. As well as providing most of the world’s freshwater, glaciers support unique ecosystems and are considered sacred in many parts of the world. The research, published in Science, is the first to examine the likely fate of all 215,000 of the world’s glaciers using high-resolution modelling. Speaking to Carbon Brief, a leading glaciologist not involved in the study described the “sobering” findings as “the most comprehensive and rigorous analysis of future glacier trends to date”. Disappearing deities Glaciers are slow-moving rivers of ice which play a key role in supplying freshwater to nearly every world region. For many communities, from the Peruvian Andes to the Nepalese Himalayas, glaciers are also considered the home and physical manifestations of the gods – holding significance far beyond material value. Human-caused climate change is already causing widespread glacier decline, with the rate of loss accelerating in the last two decades. The new research uses advanced models to project changes to all of Earth’s 215,000 glaciers from 2015 to 2100 under a wide range of scenarios – from a future where global warming is successfully kept at 1.5C to a world where temperatures hit 4C. The results say that, if warming is kept to 1.5C, 49% of glaciers could disappear entirely by 2100 – with “at least half” of such losses occurring before 2050. Glaciers are also projected to lose a quarter of their mass, causing sea levels to rise by 90mm. At 4C, 83% of glaciers could be lost. At this level of warming, glaciers are projected to lose 41% of their mass, raising sea levels by 154mm.
Methane is 80X as potent as CO2 and stays In the atmosphere for a shorter period; action to reduce methane emissions has an immediate impact on climate change
Robert Lea, 12-31, 22, Space.com, NASA sensors could help detect landfill methane from space to help limit climate change, https://www.space.com/nasa-mapping-methane-from-space-climate-change
In comparison to carbon dioxide, methane is pound for pound 80 times more potent in trapping heat in the atmosphere. Unlike carbon dioxide, however, methane doesn't last as long in Earth's atmosphere and has a lifetime of decades rather than centuries. This means that significantly reducing methane emissions could have an immediate effect in slowing atmospheric warming.
Climate change increases the spread of disease as a result of vector changes
Jeff McMahonSenior Contributor, 12-31, 22, Forbes, Guess Who’s Loving Climate Change: Mosquitos And The Pathogens They Carry, https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffmcmahon/2022/12/31/guess-whos-loving-climate-change-mosquitos-and-the-pathogens-they-carry/?sh=1b1ce08174aa
The number and range of mosquitoes has boomed across North America in recent years, and with it, the number and range of mosquito-borne diseases. Ticks and fleas are following their lead.
“Between the period of 2004 to 2016, the number of diseases caused by these insects— mosquitoes, ticks and fleas—has nearly tripled during this time period, and it is continuing to grow since then,” said Karen Holcomb, a biologist at the Center for Disease Control’s Division of Vector-Borne Diseases.
Since 2004, there has been a steady, then dramatic, rise in the number of cases of diseases carried ... [+]NOAA
Those diseases include:
- flu-borne typhus for fleas;
- West Nile virus, dengue, malaria and chikungunya for mosquitos;
- lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, babesiosi, anaplasmosis, erlichiosis for ticks.
“There's a large number of diseases that these insects can transmit to humans, and climate has a big impact on vector-borne diseases, because it largely impacts where these vectors can live and how fast they can replicate.”
Scientists use the word “vector” for organisms that transmit diseases or parasites from one animal or plant to another. Climate change supports vectors in several ways, Holcomb said:
- As temperatures rise, mosquitos, ticks and fleas can develop faster, producing larger populations.
- At higher temperatures, viruses also spread faster, increasing the risk of infection for humans who get bit by an infected insect or animal.
- As temperatures rise, the habitat for these species expands.
“So for example, for mosquitoes as it rains more we get more water standing around that the mosquitoes can lay their eggs in,” she said in a recent seminar hosted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, “and therefore we get larger populations of mosquitoes in different locations, and with the potential to transmit their diseases to humans overall.”
Some super cold days don’t prove the earth isn’t warming; Arctic warming is pushing polar winds into more moderate climates, and that doesn’t offset warming on the net
Scott Dance, 12-23, 22, Washington Post, Scientists say Arctic warming could be to blame for blasts of extreme cold, https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2022/12/23/climate-change-impact-cold-weather/
The data is clear: Rising global temperatures mean winters are getting milder, on average, and the sort of record-setting cold that spanned the country Friday is becoming rarer. But at the same time, global warming may be altering atmospheric patterns and pushing harsh outbreaks of polar air to normally moderate climates, according to scientists who are actively debating the link. Drastic changes in the Arctic, which is warming faster than anywhere else on Earth, are at the center of the discussion. Shifts in Arctic ice and snow cover are triggering atmospheric patterns that allow polar air to spread southward more often, according to recent research. “We’ve seen the same situation basically the last three years in a row,” said Jennifer Francis, senior scientist at the Woodwell Climate Research Center in Massachusetts. “Here we go again.” But understanding any link between planetary warming and extreme cold remains a work in progress. Many climate scientists still emphasize that even if frigid air escapes the Arctic more often, that air will nonetheless become milder over time. The debate started with a research paper Francis co-authored in 2012. It gets revived whenever an extreme-cold event creates headlines, such as in 2021, when Texas’s energy grid was overwhelmed by a storm that killed 246 people. Francis’s research hypothesized that Arctic warming was reducing the contrast between polar and tropical temperatures, weakening the jet stream, a band of strong winds in the upper atmosphere that helps guide weather patterns. A weaker jet stream would allow weather systems to more easily swing from the Arctic down into mid-latitude regions that typically have temperate climates.
Political capital link: Political opposition to providing more climate funding to developing countries
Ben Adler, 11-24, 22, Spending bill leaves out most of the climate change funding Biden sought, https://news.yahoo.com/spending-bill-leaves-out-most-of-the-climate-change-funding-biden-sought-232329331.html
The Senate passed the $1.7 billion omnibus spending bill Thursday, averting a government shutdown, but climate change activists are upset that a key promise of President Biden’s won’t be included in the package: $11.4 billion in climate aid per year to developing countries. In a September 2021 speech to the United Nations General Assembly, Biden pledged to increase U.S. assistance to low-income nations for combating climate change through building their clean energy economies and adapting to the dangerous effects of climate change, such as sea level rise, to $11.4 billion. Biden later moved his request to Congress up to 2023 — the fiscal year currently under consideration — including $2 billion the U.S. already owes the Green Climate Fund, a U.N. initiative that distributes climate financing. But, despite Biden’s fellow Democrats holding slim majorities in both houses of Congress, the spending package includes just $1.057 billion for international climate change aid. That is “only $900,000 more than the previous year’s already woefully short amount,” climate policy experts at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) lamented in a blog post on Wednesday. A pledging conference of the Green Climate Fund in Paris, Oct. 25, 2019. (Pascal Rossignol/Reuters) Congressional Democrats had sought $3.4 billion for global climate programs this year, but Republicans blocked what Republicans on the Senate Appropriations Committee called “radical environmental and climate policies.” “Congress just bankrolled an $857 billion defense bill but failed to provide a single penny to meet our commitments to the Green Climate Fund — a step that would truly help us defend our country and our planet from chaos and instability,” Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., said on Twitter. As Bloomberg News observed, “with Republicans taking control of the House in January, the fiscal 2023 budget was seen as the last best chance for Biden to fulfill his commitment.”
Fossil fuel demand increasing now
Javie Blas, Bloomberg,1 1-24, 22, Washington Post, Energy Security Ousts Climate Change in 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/energy/energy-security-ousts-climate-change-in-2023/2022/11/24/5ef944b4-6bbd-11ed-8619-0b92f0565592_story.html
For now, fossil fuel demand is going up, with oil, gas and coal likely to set new consumption records in 2023. As long as that’s the case, the world will be heading in the wrong direction.
Geoengineering causes floods and disease
Victor Gangermann, 11-23, 22, Scientists Increasingly Calling to Dim the Sun, It's no longer science fiction, https://futurism.com/scientists-calling-dim-sun-geoengineering
That kind of bleak outlook has more and more researchers turning to investigate geoengineering as a potential last resort. Just like particles released by a massive volcano — previous eruptions have been shown to lead to dropping temperatures — injecting aerosolized sulphur dioxide into the stratosphere could have similar results. While there's consensus among experts that there's a good chance these particles could actually shade and cool the surface below, we're only starting to understand the possible side effects, particularly on a global scale. For instance, temperature fluctuations could kick off extreme weather, such as flooding, in unexpected locations around the world. An increase in local reservoirs could even allow for disease like malaria to spread, as The New Yorker reports. Then there's the fact that one country's geoengineering efforts could have vast and potentially disastrous political ramifications as well. "We believe there’s no governance system existing that could decide this, and that none is plausible," Frank Biermann, a political scientist at Utrecht University, told the magazine. "You’d have to take decisions on duration, on the degree — and if there are conflicts — ‘we want a little more here, a little less here’—all these need adjudication." In short, it's a highly contentious idea that simply may not ever get off the ground as it would require everybody to sign off on it. For instance, the one time scientists actively attempted to try out the idea, it was shut down almost immediately, with activist groups writing a letter that even famous environmentalist Greta Thunberg signed. Despite the opposition, world leaders are becoming increasingly desperate as they stare down the barrel of a climate catastrophe of unprecedented proportions.
Great Power Competition blocks effective China-US cooperation on climate change
Khorammi, 11-22, 22, Nima Khorrami is a research associate at the Arctic Institute, The Diplomat, Can China and the US Cooperate on Climate Change?, https://thediplomat.com/2022/11/can-china-and-the-us-cooperate-on-climate-change-2/
The geopolitics of technology and technological innovation, on the other hand, can be explored from two standpoints: a system-level perspective, which considers technological innovation as a power booster, and a post-modern or critical lens, which highlights how states exercise power, and exert influence, via standardization and/or agenda setting. With regard to the former, suffice to say that modern-day diplomacy and warfare are only possible thanks to the technological strides of the recent past. Whether it is shuttle diplomacy, digital diplomacy, remotely operated drones, or the use of virtual reality as a more cost-effective alternative to traditional training regiments for pilots, it is indisputable that the conduct of both war and diplomacy is directly linked to technological advancements. What stands out in this context is that there is a strong technological element in any nation’s ability to project power and defend its vital national security interests. As Mark Leonard has put it, “power and influence are formulated at the intersection of technology and geopolitics.” Regarding the latter, it is a commonly acknowledged observation that one who sets the standards gets to rule. More precisely, one can exercise significant influence if rules of conduct or parameters of responsible behavior are based on, or rooted in, its norms and values. Hence, it ought not to be surprising that the United States has been alarmed by China’s more hands-on approach to agenda-setting practices at international forums or Chinese tech companies’ fast expansion into other markets. Washington worries that the more Chinese tech products are used around the globe, the easier it becomes for China to export its values and set the rules of the game. The Nexus of Technological Cooperation and Environmental Cooperation To realize the link between technology and climate change, one needs to look no further than Beijing’s and Washington’s own action plans for tackling and coping with the adverse effects of environmental degradation and a fast-warming planet. Both countries have assigned strategic importance to technological innovation and the up-skilling of their labor markets in their battle against the looming climate crisis and their push toward the creation of green economies. Strategic technologies deemed critical for addressing and mitigating the effects of climate change can be divided into two groups. On the one end of the spectrum, there are the technologies that can harness the so-called clean sources of energy such as plants, geothermal heat, or the sun. On the other end are technologies that are essential to the energy industry because they can make traditional forms of energy not just cleaner but also more efficient. Cases in point include coal gasification, carbon capture and storage, and integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) technology. In addition, there are technologies that are situated in between the two groups mentioned above. One group comprises technologies necessary for both making material production processes greener and increasing materials’ life cycles and efficiency. The other group includes space-related technologies and AI. The effects of climate change can be more comprehensively understood once states develop the capabilities to process larger sets of satellite data more frequently. Doing so requires advances in satellite technologies as well as machine learning so more data can be processed within a considerably shorter timeframe. Is Cooperation Possible? From a global good perspective, China and the United States must put aside their strategic differences and seek to maximize cooperation on climate change. This is so because the climate crisis presents a global threat and hence dealing with it calls for global efforts. However, the problem today is that China’s and the United States’ strategic priorities do not align. In spite of their common identification of climate change as a pressing national and global security threat, their national interests in outdoing one another for global supremacy make it difficult for the two to work hand-in-hand in addressing the climate crisis. While the prospect of an all-out war between the United States and China remains marginal, it is nonetheless abundantly clear that the two are locked in a technological cold war, as evident in their aggressive decoupling efforts. Fueled by what Alex Capri has described as techno nationalism, Chinese and U.S. behaviors are best described as “mercantilist-like.” This view ties a nation’s national security, economic competitiveness, and socio-political stability to technological advancement. Emboldened by its impressive economic growth, China now seeks recognition for its governance model, claiming that it outperforms Western liberal democracy on a number of key indicators. The United States, for its part, is determined to withhold such recognition. Hence, while Chinese diplomats are drumbeating the virtues of their model and courting developing countries to follow the Chinese path, U.S. officials are trying to counter those efforts by highlighting the normative shortcomings of the Chinese model, such as lack of respect for human rights and individual privacy. This rivalry ought not to be surprising. After all, leadership and ongoing innovation in the technologies of the fourth industrial revolution will certainly confer critical economic, political, and military power. This is why both countries have devoted large sums of capital to finance R&D on such technologies and, in the process, have developed a zero-sum view on each other’s progress, whereby gains by China are taken as a loss for the United States and vice versa. This trend was most vividly on display at the confirmation hearing for Lloyd Austin, Biden’s secretary of defense. Austin stated that he would maintain a “laser-like focus” on sharpening the United States’ “competitive edge” against China’s increasingly powerful military and described Beijing as “the most significant threat going forward” for the United States. However, what makes strategic compartmentalization highly unlikely is the fact that China-U.S. technological competition is not confined to the innovation race alone. Rather, it includes a fierce, and fast-intensifying, rivalry over the establishment of regulatory frameworks for the development and governance of new technologies, which pits two entirely different value systems against one another. One can see a clear manifestation of this unfolding normative contest in China’s Global Initiative on Data Security as well as its recently updated Personal Information Protection Law, which aims to counter the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, and the U.S. proposal for the establishment of a G-7 AI Pact as well as its revitalization of the Wassenaar Arrangement. Conclusion Throughout the history, nations have sought technological superiority in order to strategically outmaneuver their rivals and exercise power and influence beyond their immediate borders. Therefore, the current state of technological contestation between China and the United States ought not to be surprising. Nor should be their inability to co-invent the technologies deemed essential for combating climate change and collaborate on the scaling-up of such technologies. Technological knowhow and technology transfers are viewed as instruments of leverage and influence, which China and the United States could utilize to tilt other states into their own spheres of influence. This tendency could lead to further division and an unfortunate return of Cold War mentality to global politics. More broadly, the two superpowers are unlikely to be able to separate climate change from the grander strategic context of their bilateral relations simply because the valuational distance between their governing models has widened as the power gap between them has shrunk. China, in fact, made this clear on the eve of Kerry’s trip to Tianjin last year, when Foreign Minster Wang Yi dismissed the idea of splitting climate from other policy issues. Technological cooperation for tackling climate change would only become possible if Beijing and Washington manage to set up a high-level committee to regulate their technological rivalry; that is, to set the basic rules for ultimately arriving at a consensus that neither will seek to inflict a high-tech attack on the other. As long as this set up is missing, the prospect for their technological cooperation on other fronts, including climate change, will remain illusive.
Status quo not enough – need binding commitments and carbon pricing
Fint, 11-22, 22, Alex Flint is the executive director of the Alliance for Market Solutions and former staff director of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources., The Hill, Climate change is a conservative issue
World leaders and environmentalists alike were just in Sharm El Sheikh lamenting this reality during the United Nations Climate Change Conference. Much like previous conferences, they also touted progress despite the United Nations’ recent assessment that countries’ commitments to fight climate change are failing. Sadly, while we are beginning to experience climate change’s harmful impacts, the worst consequences will burden future generations. So, we cannot let the cheers for incremental efforts, such as the Inflation Reduction Act, drown out the persistent warnings from scientists that the seas are still rising. Astute conservatism calls for being prepared for the future. Currently, our future is an average global temperature increase of 6.4 degrees Fahrenheit and sea-level rise of 30 inches by 2100. Some will argue that these are merely estimates, but that is not an excuse to ignore them. To a true conservative, those estimates are the baseline that should guide our preparation — we might even want to plan for a slightly worse scenario, just in case. Of course, we can change the baseline by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. (After all, conservatives are not fatalists.) But that is going to require policies more effective than $386 billion in subsidies. And the effort must be global, not isolationist. Instead,. we should channel Margaret Thatcher, who appealed for nations to address climate change and for “worldwide agreements on ways to cope with the effects of climate change.” She would likely agree that subsidies and voluntary commitments pursuant to the Paris Agreement are not adequate, that we need conservative solutions like a price on carbon and binding global commitments
Renewable development strengthens China and the West against the developing world, undermining development
Mark Temnycky, 11-22, 22, Mark Temnycky is an accredited freelance journalist covering Eastern Europe and a nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center. He can be found on Twitter @MTemnyck, Will Renewables Dominate Great Power Competition?, Will Renewables Dominate Great Power Competition?
The book is divided into four parts. The first introduces alternative energy as a socio-political, techno-economic, and ideological megatrend. Mirtchev argues that renewable energy correlates with the rise in global demand for energy, economic growth, and technological advancements. Ethical and societal pressures from environmental groups have pushed for the use of alternative energies instead of fossil fuels. These trends have resulted in growing concerns for energy security and it has become a prominent issue for world leaders. In the second section, Mirtchev examines old and new great power rivalries and how they relate to alternative energy. Currently, the members of OPEC+ have control over the world energy market. This quasi-cartel dictates the price of oil but the pursuit of renewable energy by countries and companies would weaken OPEC+’s control. It would strengthen the power of
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