Weekly Headlines 8/13/21
California’s Dixie Fire Now the Second Largest Wildfire in California History (Axios, NPR, AP)
After growing dramatically over the weekend, the Dixie fire has now burned over 500,000 acres of land.
Air quality throughout the Western United States reached dangerous levels, with Denver and Salt Lake City having some of the worst air qualities in the World.
This new development caps an already horrific fire year around the globe, made possible through climate change caused heat and drought conditions. Wildfires are expected to continue worsening as the Earth continues to warm.
Key Ocean Currents that Regulate Global Weather patterns Showing Early Signs of Collapse (CNN, The Hill, Gizmodo)
The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, known as the AMOC, shows early signs in a new study (found here) of a collapse.
The AMOC regulates temperatures and weather patterns in the North Hemisphere by distributing energy from the equator towards the arctic. It is responsible for Europe’s moderate temperatures and includes the Gulf Stream.
Due to melting glaciers from Greenland, the ocean is becoming less salty meaning the surface level ocean water is lighter and is not sinking at as fast a rate; sinking salt water is a major driver of the ocean circulation.
If the AMOC collapses, North America and Europe would be driven into extreme cold, sea levels in the Eastern United States would rise and key Monsoon rains would be altered.
Senate Passes Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill and Partisan Budget Resolution (CNN, NYT, CNBC)
In a 69-30 vote, the senate passed a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill this week as well as a $3.5 trillion budget resolution in a 50-49 vote.
The bill, which would put money towards fixing roads, bridges, airports, and railways, modernizing power grids, and starting key climate projects (to name just a few), is a good start, but democrats look now to drafting a larger $3.5 trillion Social Policy bill.
This bill would be the largest federal spending on infrastructure in over a decade, and would no doubt be beneficial to almost every facet of the American economy.
So what does all this mean? Well, nothing for the time being - it is unlikely the house will vote on either infrastructure bill until the $3.5 trillion Social Policy bill is passed, and this is only the beginning steps in a long legislative process. Not enough for progressives and too much for centrists, it’s going to take a lot of work from the Biden Administration to see any real action. Speaker Pelosi has said the House will consider the budget resolution in late August.
Island Nations Face the Brunt of Climate Change, Worry About Extinction (BBC, NBC)
Rising sea level, increased extreme weather and other climate-induced disasters have left island nations and low income countries reeling, as climate change adaptation is slow moving due to a lack of funding.
Though 80% of developing countries have adaptation plans, the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) recently reported that at least $40 billion will be needed to successfully implement these plans, but only $5.9 billion was received in assistance funding from 2014-2018.
The recent IPCC report confirms that even if the global effort to stop carbon emissions is successful, the sea level will continue to rise, puting island nations at risk of flooding and destruction, at the minimum.
Biden’s Bipartisan Energy Bill Very Watered Down on Climate, Strong on Resilience (AP, NexusMedia)
The Senate this week moved to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill which, initially proposed by President Biden months ago, was very strong on climate action.
This updated bill is a good start, including a large budget for resiliency projects and clean energy growth, but falls far short on Biden’s climate campaign promises.
Included among the missing climate items were the civilian climate corps, a clean electricity standard and substantial funding for EV chargers.