30 years late, and only in the wake of horrendous climate-fueled disasters, but we’ll take it.

New York Times:

Conventional political wisdom says you don’t talk about climate change on the campaign trail.

That’s mostly because it’s a deeply polarizing issue. In a recent Pew Research Center survey, 72 percent of registered voters supporting Democrats in the upcoming midterm elections said climate change was a “very big” problem, compared with 11 percent of Republican voters.

That divide has led many candidates and the groups that support them, even those who favor addressing planet-warming emissions, to struggle with discussing the issue during election campaigns.

But that’s starting to change. Across the country, there’s been a small explosion of political ads about global warming.

In Nevada, the Democratic candidate for governor, Steve Sisolak, pledged in an ad to uphold the Paris Agreement. In Illinois, a Democratic candidate for the House, Sean Casten, assailed President Trump for calling climate change a “hoax.” And more than two dozen other candidates in tight races have released ads highlighting their views on climate change.

Environmental groups like the League of Conservation Voters also are spending millions of dollars on ads backing candidates who favor policies to address rising emissions.

“At the national level, it’s very clear it’s not going to be the issue that brings people to the polls,” said Anthony Leiserowitz, the director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication. But, he said, “It is an issue that is at least being talked about in some races, and that is new.”

For the most part, political analysts say, climate ads in this campaign involve one candidate attacking the global warming stance of another, or, by proxy, attacking the climate position of President Trump.

Case in point: this League of Conservation Voters ad assailing Representative Dana Rohrabacher, a California Republican, as “radically opposed” to fighting climate change. The ad superimposes the wildfires that raged through California this year with Mr. Rohrabacher declaration that “global warming is a fraud.” (above)

Some candidates prefer to talk about the potential economic benefits of addressing climate change, even if they don’t always use the phrase. The incumbent governor of Rhode Island, Gina Raimondo, for example, describes the state’s offshore wind farm and plans for solar developmentas part of a drive for “lower energy costs” and a “cleaner environment.”

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Follow the money, and the jobs.
Renewable energy makes so much sense, even deep red state conservatives can love it, even if it is good for the environment.

Washington Examiner:

Republicans used to deride so-called “green jobs” when former President Barack Obama promised to create millions of them with subsidies and loan guarantees. Mitt Romney, the GOP nominee for president in 2012, attacked Obama’s “unhealthy obsession with green jobs.” During a campaign stop in Colorado, he famously asked mockingly, “Have you seen those jobs anywhere?”

But now that those jobs exist — increasingly in rural, Republican-leaning states and districts — GOP lawmakers at the state and federal level are dropping the “green” moniker, and boasting of clean energy credentials ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. They are doing so even as President Trump has prioritized restoring coal jobs, of which there are half as many as solar.

“Republicans are seeing a huge number of big paying jobs being created in their districts and in their states,” said Dan Reicher, the Assistant Secretary of Energy in the Clinton Administration who was formerly Google’s director of climate and energy. “It’s the economic reality. It was inevitable they would come to this conclusion.”

The economic numbers are stark for clean energy, a category that supporters define as including jobs in solar, wind, energy efficiency, and electric vehicles.

There are now nearly 3.2 million clean energy jobs in America, and the industry employs more workers than the fossil fuel industry in 42 states and Washington D.C., according to the nonpartisan business group Environmental Entrepreneurs.

Solar panel installers and wind turbine technicians are the two fastest growing occupations in America, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says. California, unsurprisingly, has the most clean energy jobs, ranking first in solar and fifth in wind.

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trudeaucarbon

Toronto Globe and Mail:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took his climate-change battle to Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s backyard on Tuesday, unveiling a carbon-tax plan that would see 80 per cent of households in the province financially better off as a result of annual rebates to be paid in the spring.

Mr. Trudeau announced details of the program during a speech at Toronto’s Humber College − located in Mr. Ford’s riding − where he argued that the price on carbon emissions is a critical part of Canada’s commitment to the international effort to combat climate change and its dire impacts on people and the overall environment.

With an election due a year from now, the Liberal government is facing concerted attacks by Mr. Ford, federal opposition Leader Andrew Scheer and other conservative politicians across the country over the imposition of a carbon tax that they say is too burdensome and will do little to address global climate change.

The federal levy will apply in four provinces − Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and New Brunswick − whose governments have declined to adopt their own plans for carbon pricing. Canadians elsewhere will be covered by provincial plans, either a direct tax or cap-and-trade system, and those governments must determine what to do with the revenue.

canadacarbonfee

Ottawa estimates that the average Ontario household will pay $244 in direct and indirect costs next year, and will receive $300 under the “climate-action incentive,” for a net benefit of $56. In Saskatchewan, the average family would pay $403 in carbon-tax costs and receive $598 in rebates. In Manitoba, the costs will be $232 and the rebate $336. In New Brunswick, the breakdown is $202 and $248.

The amounts vary from province to province because each jurisdiction has a different reliance on fossil fuels, and therefore a different amount of revenue per person that will be generated from the tax. The payments in each province − which will increase as the price per tonne rises − will be based on the number of people in a household and paid to one tax filer.

Meanwhile..in Washington State..

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A large area of warm water in the northern Pacific, nicknamed “the Blob”, hung around for a few years, exacerbating the California drought of the past decade. I covered it in this 2015 video.

Now it’s back – and we’re just starting to appreciate the damage it’s doing.

New York Times:

The underwater forests — huge, sprawling tangles of brown seaweed — are in many ways just as important to the oceans as trees are to the land. Like trees, they absorb carbon emissions and they provide critical habitat and food for a wide range of species. But when climate change helped trigger a 60-fold explosion of purple urchins off Northern California’s coast, the urchins went on a feeding frenzy and the kelp was devoured.

kelp2

“It would be like one of those beautiful deciduous forests turned into a desert,” said Gretchen Hofmann, a professor of marine ecology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “But in the matter of five years.”

The dangers extend far beyond this inlet: Kelp forests exist along the cooler coastlines of every continent but Antarctica. And they are under threat both from rising ocean temperatures and from what those warmer waters bring.

The story of the kelp’s disappearance is the story of an interwoven food system breaking down, and in the process threatening people’s livelihoods. Some of the first people to sound the alarm about the purple urchins, Dr. Catton said, were commercial red urchin harvesters.

One of them is Gary Trumper, who has harvested red urchins for more than 30 years. Red urchins, larger than purple urchins, are commercially viable because people eat them — or more specifically, their gonads. The delicacy is better known to sushi aficionados as uni.

But the growing purple urchin population outcompeted the red urchins for the available kelp. Without kelp, the red urchins starved.

That cut the value of Northern California’s commercial red urchin fishery from $3.6 million in 2013 to less than $600,000 in 2016. Many harvesters have moved on. “It’s probably 10 or 15 guys left doing it in the harbor,” Mr. Trumper said, sitting in a bar near the slip in Fort Bragg where he docks his boat. “But there used to be probably 100.”

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beans

The low-hanging musical fruit.

Atlantic:

Helen Harwatt is a researcher trained in environmental nutrition, a field focused on developing food systems that balance human health and sustainability. She’s interested in policy, but realistic about how much progress can be expected under the aforementioned leadership. So she and colleagues have done research on maximizing the impacts of individuals. As with so many things in life and health, that tends to come down to food.

Recently Harwatt and a team of scientists from Oregon State University, Bard College, and Loma Linda University calculated just what would happen if every American made one dietary change: substituting beans for beef. They found that if everyone were willing and able to do that—hypothetically—the U.S. could still come close to meeting its 2020 greenhouse-gas emission goals, pledged by President Barack Obama in 2009.

That is, even if nothing about our energy infrastructure or transportation system changed—and even if people kept eating chicken and pork and eggs and cheese—this one dietary change could achieve somewhere between 46 and 74 percent of the reductions needed to meet the target.

“I think there’s genuinely a lack of awareness about how much impact this sort of change can have,” Harwatt told me. There have been analyses in the past about the environmental impacts of veganism and vegetarianism, but this study is novel for the idea that a person’s dedication to the cause doesn’t have to be complete in order to matter. A relatively small, single-food substitution could be the most powerful change a person makes in terms of their lifetime environmental impact—more so than downsizing one’s car, or being vigilant about turning off light bulbs, and certainly more than quitting showering.

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Lots of comments on the recent post on wooden skyscrapers – here’s some further info.