I’m a little behind on my intention to keep up with climate news, so quite a few of these links are from my Climate Change coursework this spring. It’s worth it to me to do some annotations; I’ll need to revisit this information again.
People and policy
“As climate denial falls out of fashion, what’s been called “climate delay” has taken some of its space. This is when people acknowledge the reality of climate change but seek to put off large-scale efforts to address it, sometimes redirecting responsibility for the climate crisis to consumers and emphasizing the downsides of urgent action.”
New York Times Magazine: Pollution Is Killing Black Americans. This Community Fought Back. (July 28). An incredible read, focusing on a particular community in South Philadelphia (Grays Ferry, where the refinery blew up last summer) and connecting the history of this neighborhood with racist housing policies, public health, and environmental issues.
“A study conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Center for Environmental Assessment and published in 2018 in the American Journal of Public Health examined facilities emitting air pollution along with the racial and economic profiles of surrounding communities. It found that Black Americans are subjected to higher levels of air pollution than white Americans — regardless of their income level. Black Americans are exposed to 1.5 times as much of the sooty pollution that comes from burning fossil fuels as the population at large. This dirty air is associated with lung disease, including asthma, as well as heart disease, premature death and now Covid-19.”
New York Times: Think this pandemic is bad? We have another crisis coming (April 15). This is an opinion piece by a climate policy expert which neatly encapsulates the intersection of climate policy, COVID policy, economic policy, and social justice.
The world on fire
Slate: The First Undeniable Climate Change Deaths (July 23). 1,000 deaths from a 2018 heatwave in Japan.
“This hesitance to connect local experiences to the global problem has haunted climate change researchers and activists for years. And much to their frustration, the direct link between climate change and a single weather event was, for a long time, an impossible thing to prove scientifically…. Attribution science is illuminating this formerly invisible link.”
The Guardian: Iceland holds funeral for first glacier lost to climate change (August 2019, old but makes for a compelling image)
BBC Radio: Indonesia’s new capital (January 25). Audio report of Indonesia’s plan to relocate its capital city, which is in danger from the rising sea.
Climate change and COVID-19
The Atlantic: How the Pandemic Defeated America (Sept issue). Includes a recap of the beginnings of this particular virus and its connection to climate change:
“Carlson said the biggest factors behind spillovers are land-use change and climate change, both of which are hard to control. Our species has relentlessly expanded into previously wild spaces. Through intensive agriculture, habitat destruction, and rising temperatures, we have uprooted the planet’s animals, forcing them into new and narrower ranges that are on our own doorsteps. Humanity has squeezed the world’s wildlife in a crushing grip—and viruses have come bursting out.”
Earlier in the spring, before cities began cautiously or incautiously reopening, the big question was: did the stay at home order cause a reduction in harmful emissions or not? It’s complicated, partly because there are a few different greenhouse gases with different sources. NASA offered a striking animation showing nitrogen oxide levels over 5 years (April 29). Nitrogen oxide is an emission associated with burning fossil fuels, especially automobile emissions; it reacts with other atmospheric gases in sunlight to create ground-level ozone, which is harmful to human health. Nitrogen oxide reduction was dramatic, which suggests that human behaviors like driving can have a big environmental impact. Grist reported that the world was still releasing 95% of its usual carbon emissions despite the lockdown (April 27). Carbon emissions have a myriad of harmful effects–carbon in the atmosphere traps heat, makes oceans more acidic, and harms human health. The carbon reduction was negligible, which suggests that the problem lies in infrastructure, like how we light and heat our homes. The New York Times reported (April 30) that while global greenhouse gas emissions went down 8% this year–the largest drop ever recorded–emissions would need to drop by another 8% every year from now until 2030 in order to curb the rising global temperature. At least this all offers some data points and perspective: human adaptation needs to be large-scale and structural to combat climate change.
Thwaites Explorer App (ongoing). Also called the Doomsday Glacier, Thwaites is one of the fastest melting glaciers in the world. This app explores some of the reasons why, and what research is being done around it.
NASA: Images of Change. Satellite photos with sliders to dramatize change over time in glaciers, flood zones, and arid zones.
I started a YouTube playlist to keep track of the climate-related videos I watched for class and for my written assignments.