And it’s barely getting started.


WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The cost of homeowners insurance in Florida is going through the roof. Residents who say they have never filed a claim are getting hit with huge rate hikes.

Steve Eppley of Boynton Beach received quite a shock this month from his homeowner’s insurance provider.

He was hit with a $1,000 hike in one year for a home he’s owned since 2006, and he has never filed a claim.

“I calculated it to be a 52 percent increase,” Eppley said. “It’s not fair. What they’re doing isn’t fair.”

What happened to Eppley isn’t uncommon.

Homeowners insurance companies across the state of Florida are giving bad news to their customers with rate hikes between 20 to 50 percent.

Tasha Carter, Florida’s Insurance Consumer Advocate, said as many as 90 companies operating in the state filed for rate hikes last year. 

Two primary reasons appear to be recent storm damage in the state and rising fraud.

South Florida Sun Sentinel:

Insurers, however, are subjecting American disbelievers to an expensive jolt of reality, raising the cost of homeowner insurance to cover the escalating risks associated with climate change. It matters not a whit that a particular property owner refuses to believe that spewing 38 gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year has disastrous consequences. Believe it. Deny it. Either way, the bill for living in a community vulnerable to the effects of global warming – especially coastal Florida – is coming due.

Nowadays, pretending the climate has not gone haywire requires a tenacious state of oblivion. Never mind that South Florida streets flood on sunny days; that the National Hurricane Center has turned to the Greek alphabet to name this season’s 25-and-counting tropical storms; that this summer’s wildfires burned through four million acres of California’s drought-parched woodlands; that a strange and frightening 100-mph derecho windstorm devastated close to a million acres of Iowa cropland in August; that nine of the ten hottest years on record occurred in the last decade; that 2020, so far, has sweltered in the highest temperatures in recorded history.

A declaration signed last year by 15,364 scientists from 184 countries warned, “Soon it will be too late to shift course away from our failing trajectory, and time is running out.”

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New York Times graphic


President Joe Biden this week is set to unveil details of a major infrastructure package that’s expected to include record spending on mitigating climate change and accelerating a nationwide transition to clean energy.

The president is expected to introduce up to $3 trillion in spending on efforts to boost the economy, including rebuilding aging infrastructure like highways, bridges and rail lines, and investing in technologies to reduce planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions.

Some of the policies on the table include:

  • Installing thousands of new electric vehicle charging stations
  • Funds to build energy-efficient homes
  • Constructing new electric power lines

The package may be split between two bills, starting with legislation that incorporates Biden’s Build Back Better agenda and supports his goal to achieve carbon-free power generation by 2035 and net-zero emissions by 2050.

The recovery plan will potentially involve installing thousands of electric vehicle charging stations and providing incentives to encourage Americans to purchase electric vehicles.

As a candidate, Biden vowed to establish ambitious fuel economy standards for gasoline cars to encourage a shift to electric vehicles. The transportation sector accounts for the largest share of U.S. emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, and could be the most difficult to decarbonize.

New York Times graphic
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California Issues 1st Rolling Blackouts Since 2001 As Heat Wave Bakes  Western U.S. : NPR

Orange County Register:

State agencies and electric utilities are scrambling to shore up power supplies in hopes of avoiding the rolling blackouts that left 800,000 California homes and businesses without power during a record-breaking heatwave last August.

That means gas-fired power plants could be called on more, instead of less, at a time when the state is trying wean itself from fossil fuels that produce greenhouse gases.

Already last year, state regulators extended the life of outdated gas-fired power generators in Huntington Beach, Long Beach, Redondo Beach and Oxnard, all of which had been scheduled to shut down at the end of 2020. And now, the state is considering a second extension for the Redondo Beach plant, which is currently scheduled to close at the end of this year.

Environmentalists are at odds with regulators and utilities over how to address the shifting energy landscape. But both sides agree that more needs to be done to meet clean energy goals at a time of when the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant and several gas-fired plants are scheduled to close, climate change is increasing summer electricity demands, and the phasing out of gasoline cars and natural-gas buildings will boost year-round electricity needs.

Legislators are also becoming increasingly aware of the steep challenge ahead if California is to meet its targets of 60% green energy by 2030 and 100% by 2045.

“To meet our state’s goals, we must build six gigawatts of new renewable and storage each year … equivalent to powering approximately 4 million homes with clean energy every year,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein said in a March 19 letter to California Public Utilities Commission President Marybel Batjer. Feinstein called on the commission to let her know of its priorities for possible inclusion in any future federal infrastructure package, such as the proposal now being prepared by the White House.

But the more urgent concern is getting the state through the next couple summers.

The state’s “Final Root Cause Analysis” found the rolling blackouts on Aug. 14 and 15 resulted from a combination of increased demand, inadequate supplies, a now-fixed software glitch, the export of power to out-of-state utilities, gas-fired plants unable to run at full capacity and out-of-state suppliers with no energy left to sell to California.

It was a problem anticipated, in part, in a state readiness report for the summer of 2020 that was written by the non-profit, quasi-governmental agency known as CAISO, which coordinates 80% of power delivery in the state. The report noted that if a heatwave extended beyond California to neighboring states that sell energy to the Golden State, there would be risk of an electricity shortage.

In an effort to shore up supplies for this summer, the state Public Utilities Commission on Thursday, March 25, will consider a proposal that, among other things, calls for a 2.5% increase in the amount of energy procured by the state’s three major utilities, Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric, and Pacific Gas and Electric.

The plan also seeks to reduce demand at critical junctures by adjusting and increasing the possible number of “critical peak pricing” periods when utilities charge the most for electricity, and by allowing large commercial customers to pay a lower rate if they allow the utility to reduce the amount of power available when there’s a threat of blackouts.

But green-power activists oppose the proposal, saying there should be more emphasis on reducing demand and less on increasing supplies from existing sources.

“All of that gas burning is what we need to get away from, but instead we’re leaning into it,” said V. John White, executive director of the non-profit Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies. Along with the Sierra Club and other environmental groups, White’s organization wants strict limits on utilities procuring additional energy from gas-fired plants.

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As the White House slows down fossil fuel development on public lands and offshore, it’s ramping up renewable energy with a push to jumpstart the offshore wind energy business. Monday’s announcement is part of President Biden’s effort to fulfill the ambitious climate plan he campaigned on, including making the nation’s electricity sector carbon neutral by 2035.

As with much of Biden’s climate message, a key focus is on creating jobs. 

“President Biden believes we have an enormous opportunity in front of us to not only address the threats of climate change, but use it as a chance to create millions of good-paying, union jobs that will fuel America’s economic recovery,” said White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy in a statement before the announcement. 

The Interior Department plans to start selling leases later this year for a new “wind energy area” in the New York Bight, the relatively shallow waters between Long Island and the New Jersey coast.

study last summer by the research firm Wood Mackenzie showed that constructing offshore wind turbines there would support about 32,000 jobs from 2022 to 2030. It also found it would support about 6,000 permanent jobs.

The National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA), which represents offshore wind as well as oil companies, praised the announcement saying benefits will be felt across the country. “In areas like the Gulf Coast, you will find steel fabricators, heavy lift vessel operators, subsea construction companies, helicopter service providers and more who built their experience in the oil and gas industry but will be vital in building offshore wind,” said NOIA President Erik Milito in a statement. 

Louisiana’s governor has proposed developing wind energy in the Gulf.

Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland said the country needs to boost the offshore wind industry because “for generations, we’ve put off the transition to clean energy, and now we’re facing a climate crisis.” Scientists say most of the world’s fossil fuels will need to stay in the ground to avoid the worst effects of climate change. 

In the future, the administration wants to see a thriving offshore wind industry up and down the East Coast, in the Gulf of Mexico and along the West Coast. It’s setting a target of employing tens of thousands more workers to deploy 30 gigawatts of turbines by 2030. That’s enough to meet the demand of more than 10 million American homes for a year, according to the White House.

Also today, the Interior Department announced plans to complete reviews for at least 16 more areas where offshore wind could be developed by 2025. That will require new investments in ports, and new factories to build wind turbines and parts. The administration’s eventual goal is for the U.S. to generate 110 gigawatts of electricity offshore by 2050.

Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey all have their own plans for a domestic offshore wind industry. New Jersey announced in January plans for a “wind port” to supply projects along the East Coast.

Energy experts on Twitter applauded, but some noted a more ambitious goal is needed.

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What’s for breakfast? Funny you should ask.

Topic of the upcoming Yale Climate Connections video is, like, what the hell has happened to our consensus about reality, and has the 40 year campaign by the fossil fuel industry to denigrate science and fact had something to do with it?

To that end, I wanted to interview Amy Westervelt, who has done the research, in particular about some of the Fathers of modern PR and corporate mind manipulation – in this case, Edward Bernays and the American Breakfast.

Richard Gunderman in The Conversation:

The most interesting man in the world.” “Reach out and touch someone.” “Finger-lickin’ good.” Such advertising slogans have become fixtures of American culture, and each year millions now tune into the Super Bowl as much for the ads as for the football. 

While no single person can claim exclusive credit for the ascendancy of advertising in American life, no one deserves credit more than a man most of us have never heard of: Edward Bernays. 

I first encountered Bernays through an article I was writing on propaganda, and it quickly became clear that he was one of the 20th century’s foremost salesmen of ideas. The fact that 20 years have elapsed since his death provides a fitting opportunity to reexamine his legacy.

Bernays pioneered public relations

Often referred to as “the father of public relations,” Bernays in 1928 published his seminal work, Propaganda, in which he argued that public relations is not a gimmick but a necessity:

The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, and our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of…. It is they who pull the wires that control the public mind.

Bernays came by his beliefs honestly. Born in Austria in 1891, the year Sigmund Freud published one of his earliest papers, Bernays was also Freud’s nephew twice over. His mother was Freud’s sister Anna, and his father, Ely Bernays, was the brother of Freud’s wife Martha. 

The year after his birth, the Bernays family moved to New York, and Bernays later graduated from Cornell with a degree in agriculture. But instead of farming, he chose a career in journalism, eventually helping the Woodrow Wilson Administration promote the idea that US efforts in World War I were intended to bring democracy to Europe.

Having seen how effective propaganda could be during war, Bernays wondered whether it might prove equally useful during peacetime. 

Yet propaganda had acquired a somewhat pejorative connotation (which would be further magnified during World War II), so Bernays promoted the term “public relations.” 

Drawing on the insights of his Uncle Sigmund – a relationship Bernays was always quick to mention – he developed an approach he dubbed “the engineering of consent.” He provided leaders the means to “control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing about it.” To do so, it was necessary to appeal not to the rational part of the mind, but the unconscious.

Bernays acquired an impressive list of clients, ranging from manufacturers such as General Electric, Procter & Gamble, and the American Tobacco Company, to media outlets like CBS and even politicians such as Calvin Coolidge. To counteract President Coolidge’s stiff image, Bernays organized “pancake breakfasts” and White House concerts with Al Jolson and other Broadway performers. With Bernays’ help, Coolidge won the 1924 election.

Bernays’ publicity campaigns were the stuff of legend. To overcome “sales resistance” to cigarette smoking among women, Bernays staged a demonstration at the 1929 Easter parade, having fashionable young women flaunt their “torches of freedom.”

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Solar-battery systems may be useful for providing backup power during power outages. But many of the systems on the market today don’t pack enough punch to start up power-hungry air conditioner or pumps, or store enough power to run an entire home’s electricity load for more than a handful of hours at a time. 

That’s how Generac Power Systems sees it, at least. Since its entry into the solar-storage market last fall, the U.S. natural-gas backup generator giant has focused on systems with extra oomph, compared to competitors Tesla, Sunrun and LG Chem. While that extra power and capacity has come at a higher cost, Generac has been dropping prices to match competing systems in recent months, analysts say. 

On Monday, Generac unveiled the latest version of its “whole-home solar power solution,” which includes a revamped PWRCell battery with more power and capacity than before, along with technology to simplify its off-grid operations and maximize its backup potential at the household circuit level.

There’s a gap between what the customers want and what they’re being delivered” in the solar-storage field, Russ Minick, head of Generac’s clean energy business unit, said in an interview. A typical installation requires significant work to rewire critical loads and replace household electrical panels to provide reliable backup power, which can add several thousand dollars to the final price. 

The new PWRCell automatic transfer switch, set for release in late August, eliminates much of this work for installers. “Whatever they’re doing today for whole-home backup power, it will cut back enormously on labor costs [and] on total expense,” Minick said. 

Besides disconnecting from the grid during power outages, the automatic transfer switch can manage up to four household circuits, and smart management modules can be installed on up to eight more. The hardware monitors power frequency to shut down loads when the total draw is exceeding system capacity, with the homeowner pre-selecting which should shut down first and which should be kept on as long as possible. 

Yahoo Finance:

Shares of Generac Holdings Inc. GNRC have returned 203.8% in the past year compared with 160.3% growth of the industry. Currently, the stock carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) and has a VGM Score of B.

This Waukesha, WI-based company delivered a trailing four-quarter earnings surprise of 24.2%, on average. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for its current-year earnings has been revised 2.1% upward over the past seven days.

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Nicolas Kristof in the New York Times:

The Rev. Rick Joyner is a famous evangelical leader who has called on Christians to arm themselves for an inevitable civil war against liberals, who he suggests are allies of the devil.

But this is the awkward part: His five children would be on the other side of that civil war, as he and his kids all acknowledge. Just as America is torn asunder by politics and polarization, so is the Joyner family. The Joyners love each other, are there for each other — and despair for each other.

“He talks about Democrats being evil, forgetting that all five of his kids vote Democratic,” said his eldest, Anna Jane Joyner, 36, a climate change activist and podcast host (her father has suggestedthat climate change is a Communist conspiracy). “Who is he asking his followers to take up arms against? Liberal activists? That’s me.”

She worries that his far-right rhetoric may get people killed, so she feels a responsibility to challenge him. “I think it’s completely possible that some of my dad’s followers could pick up guns and cause violence because they think they’re defending the country,” she said.

Sam Joyner, 26, a ceramic artist and the youngest of the siblings, was also blunt about their father: “He’s causing harm in my view, and he’s being incredibly irresponsible.”

“I think what he does is morally wrong, but I love him,” added Ben Joyner, 28, a filmmaker. “I don’t want to hurt him, but when he’s spreading dangerous ideas, it gets complicated.”

I called Pastor Joyner to ask if his children frustrate him as much as he does them. “It’s about even,” he said dryly, and he seemed proud of them but pained that while he has won over vast throngs of strangers who see him as a modern prophet, he can’t persuade some of the people he cares most about. None of the children identify as evangelical, and all deplore his politics.

“One of my goals as a parent was to raise strong, independent children,” he said. “But I think I overshot the runway.”

The minister, 71, conceded that in the civil war he expects to break out soon, “we would be on opposite sides.” But he hastened to add that he doesn’t plan on exchanging rifle shots with his children. “I hope my kids don’t get involved in the violence, but it’s coming,” he said.

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Emily Atkin’s Heated newsletter is a treasure.
We had a wide ranging conversation just before I sucked down the singularity of the Texas Blackout debacle.
She has an important role in the upcoming Yale Climate Connections video.