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Climate, Health and Equity

DATE POSTED

July 18, 2020


It’s a cruel, cruel summer

Written By: Matt James and Traci Siegel

Hot Topic: Extreme weather.

Record-breaking heat is gripping the Southwestern U.S. this month, exposing 300 million people to triple-digit temperatures for days on end and reaching all-time highs in some cities, including 110° in Roswell, NM, 121° in Palm Springs, CA and 128° in Death Valley, CA. At the same time, an unprecedented heatwave is spiking temperatures in normally frigid Siberia, which scientists say would not be possible in the absence of human-induced climate change.
 
Meanwhile, a report out this week confirms that five states experienced record days of flooding last year due to sea-level rise, and warns that U.S. coastal communities could experience up to 270 days of flooding each year by 2050 if planet-warming emissions continue.

This news comes as new data reveals that global methane emissions have now reached a record high. Scientists warn that if these emissions continue unabated, extreme weather events will increase in both intensity and frequency around the world—and curbing them will not be possible without strong leadership in all countries, including the U.S.
 
This week, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden unveiled his $2 trillion plan to put America back in the driver’s seat on climate. His proposal focuses on funding a transition to clean energy in the transportation, electricity and building sectors, and sets ambitious targets to create clean-energy jobs and eliminate emissions in the U.S. energy sector. The plan also emphasizes environmental justice, calling for the creation of an Environmental and Climate Justice Division within the DOJ and mandating pollution-level monitoring in communities near polluting facilities. These goals prioritize tackling climate change as an existential threat to humanity, with the goal of reversing the damage of the last four years and setting us back on a path to protecting humanity, biodiversity and the planet we call home.

Matt & Traci, GMMB

Health
Nearly 300 million people across a wide swath of the Southwestern U.S. have faced temperatures above 100 degrees this month as scientists warn that 2020 could become the hottest year on record. (Our Daily Planet, Los Angeles Times)
 
A new analysis revealed that recent, unprecedented heatwaves in Siberia would not have been possible without the effects of human-induced climate change from the burning of fossil fuels. (AP News)
 
According to a new report, communities in Texas, Maryland, Florida, South Carolina and Georgia experienced record days of coastal flooding last year, with such flooding expected to increase to 270 days per year by 2050 as planet-warming emissions accelerate sea-level rise. (Scientific American, EcoWatch)
 
More than 100 people across South Asia have died and hundreds of thousands more have been displaced as major flooding exacerbated by climate change sweeps across the region. (The New York Times)

Equity
The Trump administration has finalized a rollback of the National Environmental Policy Act, limiting the review process for industrial projects that disproportionately expose poor and minority neighborhoods to air pollution. (The Hill, The Washington Post)

Politics & Economy
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has announced a $2 trillion climate plan that emphasizes reduced emissions, the creation of jobs and strengthened infrastructure through a clean energy transition across all U.S. sectors. (The New York Times)
 
Fossil fuel companies in the U.S. are directing millions of dollars to executives even as they file for bankruptcy, ignoring requirements to fund the cleanup and restoration of polluting oil and gas wells. (The New York Times)
 
In its latest move to dismantle environmental protections, Mr. Trump’s EPA has announced that it will ease requirements for diesel engine makers to meet clean air standards, citing challenges from the coronavirus pandemic. (Bloomberg Law)

Action
Mayors from 40 cities around the world, including 14 in the U.S., have announced plans for a green recovery from the coronavirus that includes investments and job creation in the renewable energy sector. (Morning Consult)
 
More than a dozen U.S. states and the District of Columbia have now committed to ensuring that all heavy-duty vehicles sold within their borders are fully electric by 2050, with an interim goal of 30 percent all-electric sales by 2030. (The Verge)

Kicker
Need a new project to tackle during COVID-19? Check out this list for tips on greening your life, from food to fashion.

“The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.”

– Robert Swan, polar explorer and environmental leader