Some of the big storms actually bring more snow, but others cause major melting
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In the heart of coal country, the town of Rawlins will soon be home to one of the nation’s largest wind farms. But pride in the fossil fuel past remains a powerful force.
In short: Very green. But plug-in cars still have environmental effects. Here’s a guide to the main issues and how they might be addressed.
Senator Joe Manchin III, who oversees the confirmation hearing, said he would support Representative Deb Haaland, President Biden’s nominee to lead the Interior Department.
Community wood banks, like food banks, help people in need. Climate change is shaping their role.
The state’s widespread electricity failure was largely caused by freezing natural gas pipelines. That didn’t stop advocates for fossil fuels from trying to shift blame.
As the freak winter storm raged, historically marginalized communities were among the first to face power outages, experts say.
Regenerative grazing can store more carbon in soils in the form of roots and other plant tissues. But how much can it really help the fight against climate change?
My daughter’s lockdown achievement is that she does not let food go to waste. It’s reminded me that humans don’t have to leave a mass of trash in their wake.
The pollution-control gadgets are full of precious metals like palladium, and prices are soaring as regulators try to tame emissions. Crooks with hacksaws have noticed.
Shrinking and thinning of glaciers is one of the most documented signs of global warming caused by rising levels of greenhouse gases.
Ignoring the value of nature threatens humanity itself, according to a new British report on biodiversity and economics.
Momentum is shifting toward a clean-car future as more automakers end their legal efforts to block California’s tough fuel economy standards.
President Biden’s pick to lead the E.P.A. knows how to reach out to Republicans, but in a polarized Washington, some worry he doesn’t know how to fight them.
The administration plans to release $1.3 billion that was meant to help Puerto Rico rebuild after Hurricane Maria in 2017, and will remove restrictions on another $4.9 billion.
GM’s decision this week to phase out gasoline vehicles is the latest in a major shift that will mean drastic new demands on electric utilities. Here are four things that will need to happen.
Former environmental officials from both parties are pressing President Biden to counter deforestation in the Amazon, especially in Brazil.
So far, Joe Biden has been surprisingly progressive.
Off Georgia’s coast, the lush 26,000-acre Ossabaw Island had been in her family since 1924. She dedicated her life to keeping it out of the hands of developers.
The array of directives — touching on international relations, drilling policy, employment and national security, among other things — elevate climate change across every level of the federal government.
President Biden’s nominee to lead the Department of Energy would control powerful levers to promote clean-energy technologies, though that’s not the agency’s only job. Still, here are five possible steps.
As programs shutter and plastic use rises in the pandemic, a New York bill to get manufacturers to pick up the recycling tab could offer a solution.
The president is moving rapidly to address climate change, with some unlikely allies behind him and huge hurdles ahead — some in his own party.
The president will announce a suite of executive actions on Wednesday to combat climate change, two people familiar with his plans said, including a ban on new oil and gas drilling on federal land.
Emergency management officials aim to funnel up to $10 billion into preventing climate disasters. The plan “would dwarf all previous grant programs of its kind,” one analyst said.
President Biden has promised to reinstate more than 100 rules and regulations aimed at environmental protection that his predecessor rolled back. It won’t happen overnight.
The series of executive orders signed by Joe Biden on his first evening in office included a heavy focus on environmental regulations. Some of the high-profile actions had been signaled in advance—we’re back in the Paris Agreement! The Keystone pipeline’s been put on indefinite hold!
But the suite of executive orders includes a long list that targets plenty of the changes Trump made in energy and environmental policies, many of which will have more subtle but significant effects of how the United States does business. Many of those make major changes, in some cases by eliminating policies adopted during the Trump years, a number of which we covered at the time. So, we’ve attempted to take a comprehensive look at Biden’s actions and their potential impacts.
Environmental and energy regulations are set through three main mechanisms. The first is by specific laws, which would require the cooperation of both houses of Congress to change. Next are also more general laws, like the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts. These enable regulations to be put in place via a formal rule-making process run by the agencies of the executive branch. This process involves soliciting public feedback, incorporating economic considerations, and so on, a process that typically takes anywhere from eight months to over a year. Finally, the executive branch can set policies to cover details not spelled out by the law or the rule, such as how to handle things like deadlines and enforcement details.
The Transportation Department, which holds sway over planes, trains and automobiles, faces limits on how it spends money. Still, here are five possible steps.
President Biden’s decision to return to the climate pact fulfills a campaign pledge, but the United States has some catching up to do.
The massive shift to remote work due to COVID-19 has resulted in a huge reduction in emissions from vehicles and other sources, but it comes with costs of its own. A new study puts tentative carbon costs on the connectivity and data infrastructure that make working from home possible — and gives you an excuse to leave the camera off.
The researchers, from Perdue, Yale, and MIT, attempted to analyze the carbon, land, and water costs of internet infrastructure.
“In order to build a sustainable digital world, it is imperative to carefully assess the environmental footprints of the Internet and identify the individual and collective actions that most affect its growth,” they write in the paper’s introduction.
Using a single metric is too reductive, they argue: carbon emissions are a useful metric, but it’s also important to track the sources of the power, the water cost (derived from what’s needed to cool and operate datacenters), and the theoretical “land cost” needed to produce the product. If it sounds a little hand-wavy, that’s because any estimate along these lines is.
“In any calculation of this type at this global scale, you need to make a lot of assumptions and a lot of the data that you need are missing,” said lead study author, Yale’s Kaveh Madani, in an email to TechCrunch. “But it is a good start and best we could do using the available data.” (Madani noted that a lack of transparency in the industry, rather than a lack of statistical and scientific rigor, is the greater hindrance to the study’s accuracy.)
An example of their findings is that an hour of HD video streaming produces up to 440 grams of Carbon Dioxide emissions — up to 1,000g for YouTube or 160g for Zoom and video conferencing due differing video quality. For comparison, the EPA says a modern car produces 8,887 grams per gallon of gas. If you’re taking an hour of video meetings a day instead of commuting 20 miles to work, you’re definitely in the green, as it were, by an order of magnitude or more.
But no one is arguing that the work from home shift or increase in digital consumption is a bad thing. “Of course, a virtual meeting is better for the environment than driving to a meeting location, but we can still do better,” said Madani.
The issue is more that we think of moving bits around as having marginal environmental cost — after all, it’s bits being flipped or sent along fiber, right? Yes, but it’s also powered by enormous datacenters, transmission infrastructure, and of course the wasteful eternal cycle of replacing our devices — though that last one doesn’t figure into the paper’s estimates.
If we don’t know the costs of our choices, we can’t make them in an informed way, the researchers warn.
“Banking systems tell you the positive environmental impact of going paperless, but no one tells you the benefit of turning off your camera or reducing your streaming quality. So without your consent, these platforms are increasing your environmental footprint,” Madani said in a Perdue news release.
Leaving your camera off for a call you don’t need to be visible for makes for a small — but not trivial — savings in carbon emissions. Similarly, lowering the quality on your streaming show from HD to SD could save almost 90 percent of the energy used to transmit it (though of course your TV and speakers won’t draw any less power).
That doomscrolling habit, already a problem, seems even worse when you think that every flick of the thumb indirectly leads to a puff of hot, gross air out of a datacenter somewhere and a slight uptick in the air conditioning bill. Social media in general doesn’t use as much data as HD streaming, but the rise of video-focused networks like TikTok means they could soon catch up.
Madani explained that, puff pieces writing misleading summaries of their research aside, the study does not prescribe any simple remedies like turning off your camera. Sure, you can and should, he argues, but the change we should be looking for is systemic, not individual. What are the chances millions of people will independently and regularly decide to turn off their cameras or lower the streaming quality from 4K to 720p? Pretty low.
But on the other hand, if the costs of these services are made clear, as Madani and his team attempt to do in a preliminary way, perhaps pressure can be applied to the companies in question to make changes on the infrastructure side that save more energy in a day with an improved algorithm than 50 million people would with conscious decisions that they faintly resent.
“Consumers deserve to know more about what is happening. People currently don’t know what is going on when they press the Enter button on their computers. When they don’t know, we can’t expect them to change behavior,” Madani said. “[Policy makers] should step in, raise concerns about this sector, try to regulate it, force increased transparency, impose pollution taxes and develop incentive mechanisms if they do not want to see another unsustainable, uncontrollable sector in the future.”
The change to digital has created some amazing efficiencies and reduced or eliminated many wasteful practices, but in the process it has introduced new ones. That’s just how progress works — you hope the new problems are better than the old ones.
President Joseph R. Biden Jr. brings with him the largest team of climate change experts ever assembled in the White House, and action on global warming is expected quickly.
Today, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia vacated the Trump administration’s attempt to take a minimalist approach to the regulation of carbon dioxide emissions. The ruling was a lopsided victory for the long list of groups opposing the Trump EPA’s approach, with the entire rule being vacated. Thus, the Biden administration will start unencumbered by its predecessors’ attempts to gut carbon dioxide regulations.
Some of the legal issues here date back to the Clinton administration, when states sued to force the EPA to regulate carbon emissions under the Clean Air Act. That issue was ultimately clarified by the Supreme Court, which, during the George W. Bush administration, ruled that carbon dioxide could be regulated as a pollutant as defined by the Clean Air Act. Early in the Obama administration, the EPA issued an endangerment finding for greenhouse gasses that provided the scientific rationale for regulations. Those regulations came in the form of the Clean Power Plan, issued during Obama’s second term.
While the Clean Power Plan completed the federal rule-making process, it was held up by lawsuits when President Obama left office. Trump issued an executive order that directed the EPA to replace the Clean Power Plan. The EPA’s eventual replacement, the Affordable Clean Energy rule (ACE), went well beyond simply ending or limiting the Clean Power Plan. Instead, ACE attempted to narrow the regulation allowed under the Clean Air Act by having states regulate each individual source of emissions, rather than regulating the state’s total emissions. As an added bonus, it also stretched out the timeline for states to bring their emissions into compliance.
The ruling strikes down weak rules for coal-burning power plants and gives the Biden administration a freer hand to impose tighter restrictions.