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April 2022 Monthly Headlines

United Nations to Draft Plastic Pollution Treaty by 2024 (AP, Reuters, Yale360)

  • UN negotiators came to an agreement earlier this month to create a legally binding treaty to end plastic pollution by 2024.

  • The agreement will cover the entire lifecycle of plastics; production, use and disposal.

  • Included in the agreement is a possibility for a full ban on single use plastics, signaling a stern approach to the growing issue.

State of Union Speech Touches on Climate Action (Associated Press, Insider, CNN)

  • Earlier this month, Biden addressed the nation in a State of the Union speech that touched on Russia, COVID, inflation and climate change.

  • The climate portion of his talk focused on the infrastructure law and the jobs that will go along with updating the country’s outdated infrastructure, including his national network of EV charging stations.

  • By passing portions of the unsuccessful Build Back Better Act, Biden claimed that families could save $500 per year through tax credits, clean energy production and EV price reductions.

  • However, not all parties were satisfied as climate groups continued to call on the administration for further climate action.

Climate Impacts Include Pond Hockey, Pregnant Women and the Iditarod (19thNews, AP, Anchorage Daily)

  • Among other obvious impacts, climate change has already begun impacting our daily lives for those of all ages and demographics.

  • The most recent IPCC report included a section on how climate change is dangerous for maternal and fetal health; primarily extreme heat and natural disasters.

  • Meanwhile, warmer temperatures have led to a drop in lake ice around the country and less than ideal conditions for winter traditions such as the Iditarod.

Extreme Weather, Drought, Flooding and Heat Now Widespread (The Guardian, AP, Reuters, New Humanitarian, The Hill)

  • Both the Arctic and Antarctic have seen temperatures 50°F or more above average in unprecedented heatwaves.

  • The Great Barrier Reef has been observed in yet another mass coral bleaching event and scientists are not sure if it will survive this one.

  • Meanwhile, a tropical cyclone in Mozambique has impacted 400,000 while a four year drought and deforestation are turning Madagascar farmland unusable.

  • If these headlines sound like you are reading a doomsday scenario, you’re correct (and these are just the ones I decided to include).

New Report Sets Date on Oil Extraction Deadline (Thomas Reuters Foundation, The Herald, The Guardian)

  • In order to stop global warming from reaching the 1.5 degree Celsius threshold, wealthy countries must stop oil and gas extraction by 2034.

  • The Russian invasion on Ukraine has only strengthened these conclusions. In an energy independent world, reliant upon modern grid technologies and renewable solutions, we would not have faced the massive scramble for alternative fuels.

Lake Powell Drops to Record Low Levels (The Colorado Sun, AP, Arizona Republic)

  • Water levels at Lake Powell dropped to their lowest point ever since the lake was considered full in 1980.

  • The ongoing drought has pushed water levels to just 35 ft above the minimum required for hydropower production that supplies power to 5 million customers.

  • Lake Powell’s crisis impacts the entire Colorado River watershed, with emergency water releases from upstream dams harming residents and putting stress on the downstream Lake Mead, which is just 14 ft above a critical water shortage level.

Warming Winters with Less Snowpack Harms Fight Against Wildfires (AP, Climate Signals)

  • Each winter, controlled burns in the American West are crucial to fighting wildfires during the fire season.

  • Snowpack allows teams to use controlled fires to reduce the fuel density on forests and reduce a firestorm’s explosive potential.

  • However, warmer and shorter winters, combined with less snow has made this task more complicated and less effective.

The Pacific Northwest gets Drenched… Again (Washington Post, Axios, Climate Signals)

  • No, I did not copy and paste that headline. Regions in the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia received six inches of rain in two days to start off the month, adding to a total of nearly 50 inches since November. This led to a number of flood warnings and concerns over landslides in the area.

  • Australia has also fallen victim to high precipitation and flooding with nearly 20,000 people forced to evacuate their homes.

  • Climate change increases the amount of ocean evaporation and increases the amount of water vapor that can be held in the atmosphere, leading to conditions which have been seen over and over again in the PNW these last few months.

An Unlikely Combination: Climate Change and Love (The Hill)

  • Data from the dating app OKCupid has shown that the number one deal breaker is denial of climate change.

  • Out of 250,000 users surveyed, 90% said it was important for their match to care about climate change; that is more than any other single issue.

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