A not very cozy welcoming to the new abnormal Looking back at America’s summer of heat, floods, and climate change. The United States is hardly alone in its share of climate disasters. 2022 wasn’t just a freak summer. Over the years, such extreme events are occurring in increasing frequency and intensity, magnifying the human and financial cost of these disasters.
“Climate change is sometimes misunderstood as being about changes in the weather. In reality, it is about changes in our very way of life.” – Paul Polman. The West is running out of water. Lake Mead and Shasta Lake are running dry and are projected the water supply is headed toward catastrophic failure. Entire cities like Las Vegas and Phoenix exist because of these waters. They sustain California’s agriculture, which is America’s breadbasket.
The U.S. is facing scorching heat in the summer of 2022 with more than two dozen states experiencing heat warnings and many Americans being exposed to temperatures higher than 90 degrees. The deadly weather is severe on its own, but it’s also a sign of what’s to come as the planet heats up due to climate change. A quarter of the U.S. will fall inside an extreme heat belt.
The megadrought in the Western U.S., the region’s worst in 1,200 years, is threatening America’s cattle heartland: withering pastures, wrecking feed harvests, and endangering a quintessential way of life. New data on heat risks forecast an “extreme heat belt” will emerge in large parts of the country by 2053.
As of August 8, 97.52 percent of California is in a state of “severe” drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, while 99.76 percent is in at least a “moderate” drought. This time last year, 95.56 percent of the state was classified as under “severe” drought.
Scientists have long warned that climate change will adversely affect weather patterns and living conditions around the world. These warnings are now turning into a painful reality. Worse, the range of possible outcomes has proven to be increasingly “fat-tailed”: extreme weather events such as heatwaves, severe storms, and floods are more likely than normal statistical distributions would predict.
California produces more than one-third of U.S. vegetables and three-quarters of domestic fruits and nuts.
The drought is echoing through beef supply chains, resulting in higher prices for consumers for at least the next two years – and likely be the last straw for many small family-run cattle herds that are a key part of the cattle industry.
What lies ahead are inevitably higher food prices and shortages.
Western Snowpack Has Shrunk by 23% Since 1955
Nowhere is the Southwest’s worst drought since the year 800 more evident than Lake Powell and Lake Mead, the pair of artificial Colorado River reservoirs whose plunging levels threaten major water and power sources for tens of millions of people. States along the Colorado River have missed a federally imposed deadline to develop a new water-sharing agreement, and the federal government announced Tuesday it will reduce water allocations, including nearly 25 percent in cuts to Arizona. There is no escaping the reality of climate change.
The big picture: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 600 people in the U.S. each year are killed by extreme heat, though other studies put the figure much higher.
A 2020 study looking at counties representing about 62 percent of the U.S. population found that in those alone, there were an average of 5,608 heat-attributed deaths each year between 1997 and 2006.
The Arctic is warming at a more rapid pace than previously thought — and four times faster than the world at large, according to research published in the journal Communications Earth & Environment.
Extreme heat kills more people each year in the U.S. than any other kind of natural disaster. A recent study found that more than a third of all heat deaths worldwide can be pinned on climate change. Parts of the U.S. are feeling the danger now.
Extreme heat uncovers lost villages, ancient ruins and shipwrecks
In an eerie twist, volatile weather and heat-induced drought are unearthing glimpses of lost archaeological treasures and forgotten history.
Blistering heat waves have smashed temperature records around the globe this summer, scorching crops, knocking out power, fueling wildfires, buckling roads and runways, and killing hundreds in Europe alone.
According to the National Interagency Fire Center, 96 large active fires have burned 690,030 acres in eight states so far this summer, mostly concentrated in areas spanning the Northwest, Great Basin, and Northern Rockies. Smoke from the fires has been compromising air quality.
The sudden shift from an abstract threat to reality has many people wondering: is climate change unfolding faster than scientists had expected? Are these extreme events more extreme than studies had predicted they would be, given the levels of greenhouse gases now in the atmosphere?
Every day, car tires produce vastly more particle pollution than exhaust. Tire particles contain a wide range of toxic organic compounds, making them subject to regulation.
A new poll in 2022 finds that the majority of households in the U.S. have been affected by extreme weather events, which have led to health and financial problems for some. some report serious health problems (24 percent) or financial problems (17 percent). Fourteen percent of them say that they’ve had to evacuate from their homes and 14 percent say that they’ve suffered damage to their home or property.
Heat and Melting Ice
Global warming is causing glaciers and ice sheets to melt. Nearly 1 in 3 Americans experienced a weather disaster this summer. The expanding reach of climate-fueled disasters, a trend that has been increasing at least since 2018, shows the extent to which a warming planet has already transformed Americans’ lives. The American West is in the hottest and driest 23-year period in at least 1,200 years. The frequency of extremely hot weather and record temperatures and rainfall has increased around the world as a result of global warming, according to an international research project. Extreme heat kills more Californians every year than any other extreme weather event.
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) declared 2021 was one of the planet’s seven hottest years since records began. It was a year of weather extremes. The year was about 1.11℃ above pre-industrial levels—the seventh year in a row that the average global temperature rise edged over 1℃. The WMO report echoes two separate official US analyses released last week that found 2021 was the sixth hottest year on record, tied with 2018.
Arctic temperatures soared to an unprecedented 100 degrees in 2020. 2021 experienced a tornado that is the longest one on record in the United States in a month in which tornadoes do not usually occur. Many of these events were exacerbated by climate change. Scientists say there are more to come – and worse – as the Earth’s atmosphere continues to warm through the next decade and beyond.
Heat-related deaths are occurring in regions that typically have milder climates, according to a University of Washington study published in August 2022 in the journal Atmosphere.
Global warming is causing more frequent and longer heatwaves. Extreme heat causes crop losses, power failures, and school closures, and will test the “limits of human survivability.”
Based on the number of greenhouse gases humans have already added to the Earth’s atmosphere, the world is already guaranteed to experience 5 feet of sea-level rise in the coming decade. The first country to be swallowed up by the sea will be Kiribati, a small nation on a Pacific atoll. 64 percent of Americans live in places that experienced a multi-day heatwave in the past three months of 2021. Mountain glaciers hold less ice than previously thought – it’s a concern for future water supplies but a drop in the bucket for sea-level rise.
Environmental threats are among our greatest risks by likelihood and severity of consequences. This has been brought home by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic severe storms, fires, hurricanes, coastal storms, and floods. The eight worst wildfire weather years on record happened in the last decade. The rise in pollutants from forest fires in the Western states is reversing a decade of clean air gains in the U.S., according to a new study from the National Center for Atmospheric Research.
Extreme winds, topography, and vegetation influence the severity of mega-fires.
The climate crisis is turning the Arctic green. In northern Norway, trees are rapidly taking over the tundra and threatening an ancient way of life that depends on snow and ice. The changes ahead may also bring the beginning of the end – a final termination – for many glaciers north and south,
When it comes to measuring global warming, humidity, not just heat, matters in generating dangerous climate extremes, a new study finds. Researchers say temperature by itself isn’t the best way to measure climate change’s weird weather and downplays impacts in the tropics. But factoring in air moisture along with heat shows that climate change since 1980 is near twice as bad as previously calculated. The energy generated in extreme weather, such as storms, floods, and rainfall is related to the amount of water in the air. So a team of scientists in the U.S. and China decided to use an obscure weather measurement called equivalent potential temperature — or theta-e — that reflects “the moisture energy of the atmosphere.”
Climate change has destabilized the Earth’s poles, putting the rest of the planet in peril. These warm conditions are catastrophic for the sea ice that usually spans across the North Pole. This past summer saw the second-lowest extent of thick, old sea ice since tracking began in 1985. Large mammals like polar bears go hungry without this crucial platform from which to hunt. Marine life ranging from tiny plankton to giant whales is at risk. The Greenland Ice Sheet Shrunk for 25th Year Straight in 2021, Report Shows.
Biden has told the nation “We can’t wait any longer to deal with the climate crisis. “We see it with our own eyes and it’s time to act.”
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said “Floods in New York are a reminder of what is at stake if we do not build resilient infrastructure while meeting the climate crisis. “American transit doesn’t just need repairs, it needs upgrades to withstand the climate challenges of the 21st century.”
Trapped under Earth’s permafrost – ground that remains frozen for a minimum of two years – are untold quantities of greenhouse gases, microbes, and chemicals, including the now-banned pesticide DDT. As the planet warms, permafrost is thawing at an increasing rate, as reported by the Environmental News Network. A paper published earlier this year in the journal Nature Reviews Earth & Environment looked at the current state of permafrost research. Along with highlighting conclusions about permafrost thaw, the paper focuses on how researchers are seeking to address the questions surrounding it.
Infrastructure is already affected: Thawing permafrost has led to giant sinkholes, slumping telephone poles, damaged roads, and runways, and toppled trees. More difficult to see is what has been trapped in permafrost’s mix of soil, ice, and dead organic matter. Research has looked at how chemicals like DDT and microbes – some of which have been frozen for thousands, if not millions, of years – could be released from thawing permafrost.
The risk of infectious diseases is now ranked at Number One, while in 2020 it came in 10th place. Regardless of where COVID-D came from – passage from animals to humans or in a laboratory, we can expect new variants like Delta and Omicron named a “variant of concern” and new diseases, like the Havana Syndrome. COVID-19 is spreading to animals. 15 species in the U.S.—including cats, dogs, tigers, lions, hyenas, hippos, and white-tailed deer— have contracted the virus that causes COVID-19 so far. Might it spread to animals we use for food?
The U.N. climate summit, known as COP26 this year, brings officials from almost 200 countries to Glasgow to haggle over the best measures to combat global warming.
The American West has spent the last two decades in what scientists are now saying is the most extreme megadrought in at least 1,200 years. In a new study, researchers also noted that human-caused climate change is a significant driver of the unprecedented drought parching the U.S. Southwest since 2020. They found the drought would not have reached its current punishing intensity without the extremely high temperatures brought by human-caused global warming. destructive conditions and offered a grim prognosis: even drier decades lie ahead.
As part of their analysis, the team compared observations of precipitation and temperature across six southwestern states—Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah—for the 20-month period from January 2020 through August 2021. Many areas in the region experienced three successive “failed” wet seasons; the 2019-2020 winter wet season, the 2020 June-August North American monsoon, and the 2020-2021 winter wet season were all below average. The cumulative precipitation for the 20-month period was the lowest on record, dating back to 1895. That left almost the entire western half of the contiguous United States in some level of drought at the end of August. 2021. Drought in the breadbasket states of the midwest.
Lake Powell, the country’s second-largest reservoir and a key source of water and power for much of the West, is more parched than ever. In March 2022 month, the lake dropped below 25% capacity, the federal government said and has also lost 7% of its total potential capacity since 1963.
California has adopted drought rules outlawing water wasting, with fines of up to $500. In an effort to discourage wasteful water practices such as hosing off driveways or allowing irrigation water to run down streets, California water officials have imposed new drought rules for cities and towns throughout the state.
Water Shortages Rise to Crisis
Farmers use a majority of our groundwater, but corporations like Nestle and Coca-Cola in making their products, and companies like Google, who use billions of gallons of water a year to cool their servers.
We drink water to survive, to make food, to bathe, to wash our clothes, and use the bathroom. Every time you flush the toilet, it uses at least a gallon of water — and that’s an efficient model. Older toilets use six or seven gallons.
We already pay for our water. Besides all that is sold in stores, if you live in a house, you have a water bill. If you live in an apartment, it’s factored into your rent.
Pure, clean drinking water will become one of the most valuable assets on earth worth more than oil. Imagine if the only way you could afford water was from public fountains and restrooms.
Groundwater accounts for nearly half of the domestic and agricultural water supply in the United States. Our current consumption of water vastly outstrips the water table refill rate, and demand is only expected to increase in the coming decades.; every nation on Earth is scrambling for freshwater reserves. The United States is not alone in this problem. The more groundwater we use, the less there is. This is because surfaces on the ground from which water has been extracted settle and close spaces once occupied by groundwater.
In 2018, Cape Town came perilously close to ‘Day Zero’ that is, four million city inhabitants would have been left without water. Now another city, Nelson Mandela Bay, is facing acute water shortages and risks approaching its own Day Zero.
In increasingly dry western Kansas, underground water makes everything possible. Irrigation for crops. Stock water for cattle. Drinking water for towns. In increasingly dry western Kansas, underground water makes everything possible. Irrigation for crops. Stock water for cattle. Drinking water for towns. The Ogallala Aquifer provides 70-80% of the water used by Kansans each day. But the aquifer is drying up at an accelerating rate. Aquifer water levels across western and central Kansas dropped by more than a foot on average this past year. That’s the biggest single-year decrease since 2015, according to the Kansas Geological Survey’s annual report.
Water is moving away from dry regions towards wet regions, causing droughts to worsen in parts of the globe while intensifying rainfall events and flooding in others. In other words, wet areas are getting wetter, and dry areas are getting drier. Because around 80 percent of global rainfall and evaporation happens over the ocean, while land gets drier, the oceans get fuller. In dense cities, only around 20% of rain actually infiltrates the soil. Instead, water drains and pipes carry it away.
In addition to obvious consequences like crop and sanitation failure, groundwater depletion can lead to disastrous social conflicts and even war. Between 2007 and 2010, drought in Syria drove millions of rural people into cities, where tensions quickly mounted and civil war ensued. Competition among nations for freshwater will only intensify.
There is a worldwide movement that seeks to restore water’s natural tendency to linger in places like wetlands and floodplains instead of tightly confining rivers with levees, putting buildings or parking lots where water wants to linger so it can be used, or erecting dams. In China, the idea of giving water space has been elevated from a fringe concept to a national mission.
Scientists are using the geological record of the deep sea to discover that past global warming has sped up deep ocean circulation. This is one of the missing links for predicting how future climate change may affect heat and carbon capture by the oceans. More vigorous ocean currents make it easier for carbon and heat to be “mixed in.”
Microscopic marine organisms called plankton use this dissolved carbon to build their shells. They sink down to the seabed after they die, sequestering the carbon. These sedimentary deposits are from the Earth’s largest carbon sink.
Maps indicate that over the last 13 million years as the earth progressively cooled and developed expanding inland ice caps, sediment breaks gradually became less frequent—a tell-tale sign of deep-sea circulation becoming more sluggish.
At the same unusual flooding is afflicting communities around the nation.
91% of Pennsylvania schools that tested drinking water found lead in their water—only 9% of the schools removed it. EWG researchers collected and reviewed results from water contaminant tests conducted by water utilities and regulators from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. After combing through the data from almost 50,000 water systems serving tens of millions of American households, the researchers found sweeping drinking water contamination from numerous pollutants such as arsenic, lead, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), radioactive materials, and pesticides.
Since the 1960s, the extent of an open ocean with low oxygen has increased by roughly the area of the European Union. More than 500 low-oxygen sites have been identified in coastal waters. These “dead zones” can cause mass killings of fish and are contributing to climate change. The problem starts on land with chemical pollution.
Compared to the previous (2019) update to the database, which identified 268 chemicals in America’s water utilities, the new database added 56 new chemicals. These substances are new PFAS or emerging pollutants, such as pesticides and radioactive material, that are currently monitored by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the agency’s Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule. However, these substances have yet to receive any legal limits, thwarting the water systems’ impetus to tackle the contamination, according to EWG.
Currently, the EPA regulates more than 90 contaminants in drinking water, a fraction of the agency’s inventory of more than 85,000 chemicals that fall under the Toxic Substances Control Act. The EPA’s Office of Water has not added any new substances to its regulated list since 2006.
Even for substances that are regulated by the EPA, their “legal limits were set based on outdated science,” Uloma Uche, an environmental health scientist at EWG who helped construct the tap water database, told EHN.
“We are not being exposed to just one contaminant when we’re drinking water,” said Uche. “We’re being exposed to multiple contaminants.”
The EPA’s water regulations “assure that public water systems are monitoring and taking actions to achieve meaningful reductions to human health risks from contaminants in accordance with the Safe Drinking Water Act,” an EPA spokesperson told EHN. The agency also “has evaluated a number of unregulated drinking water contaminants” under the Safe Drinking Water Act and is taking actions to update its regulations, said the spokesperson.
Consumers can enter their ZIP code into the tap water database and see a report of toxic contaminants in the area’s drinking water as well as safety assessments put together by EWG scientists. In many areas, various dangerous contaminants have been uncovered in water samples, although they were still in compliance with federal health-based drinking water standards.
Although your water is below the legal limit, that doesn’t necessarily mean it is safe from contaminants.
Exposure to air pollution is linked to the increased severity of mental illness. The most comprehensive study of its kind., involving 13,000 people in London, found that a relatively small increase in exposure to nitrogen dioxide led to a 32% increase in the risk of needing community-based mental health treatment and an 18% increase in the risk of being admitted to hospital.
Other research has shown that small increases in dirty air are linked to significant rises in depression and anxiety and increased suicides. It reduces intelligence and is linked to dementia. A global review concluded that air pollution may be damaging every organ in the human body. More than two million people worldwide died of causes attributed to air pollution. Methane in the atmosphere is at an all-time high; it has more than doubled in the atmosphere since 1750. Fossil fuels emit 70% more methane than governments admit.
The rate of major depression in adolescents increased more than 50% between 2005 and 2017, and the rate of moderate to severe depression in college students nearly doubled between 2007 and 2018.
A Harvard study links air pollution from fracking to early deaths. Among nearby residents. The researchers studied more than 15 million Medicare beneficiaries living in all major fracking regions and gathered data from more than 2.5 million oil and gas wells.
as air pollution may help predict people’s chances of dying from conditions like heart attack and stroke.
Exposure to above-average levels of outdoor air pollution increased the risk of death by 20 percent and increased the risk of death from cardiovascular disease specifically by 17 percent, the survey published in PLoS One in June 2022.
The use of wood- or kerosene-burning stoves for cooking and heating homes without proper ventilation increased death risk by 23 percent and 9 percent respectively — raising the specific risk of death by cardiovascular disease by 36 percent and 19 percent, the study determined.
Extreme humid heat has more than doubled in frequency since 1979 raising the risk of heatstroke. If the hot air is too humid, heat exchange is blocked, and the body loses its primary means of cooling itself. When your body temperature gets too high, your body cooks to the point that your body’s proteins break down, enzymes stop regulating your organs’ functions. and your organs start shutting down. These are heat strokes.
Increased heat, drought, and insect outbreaks, all linked to climate change, have increased wildfires. Increasing global warming and land-use change are driving a global increase in extreme wildfires, with a 14% increase predicted by 2030 and a 30% increase by 2050, according to a UN report. and up to 52 percent by 2100. If emissions are not curbed and the planet heats up more, wildfire risks could rise by up to 57 percent by the end of the century.
Declining water supplies reduced agricultural yields, increased ill-health in cities due to heat, and flooding and erosion in coastal areas are additional concerns.
The city of Abbotsford in British Columbia, just north of the US border near Vancouver, recorded its hottest day ever in late June when temperatures climbed to 109 degrees Fahrenheit during an unprecedented heatwave.
Depleting Our Reserves
To get an idea of the imprint, humans have made on our planet, consider that all the structures we have built − roads, houses, skyscapes, schools, and churches outweigh all the animals and plants on Earth put together. People and our domestic animals now add up to 95% of the mass of all vertebrates – wild mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians constitute the remaining 5%.
As many as a million species could soon disappear from the face of the Earth in what amounts to the planet’s sixth mass extinction. Two-fifths of the world’s plant species are endangered. Wetlands mismanagement is endangering 40,000 small but vital plant and animal species, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.
By 1960, humans were already using around 73% of the planet’s regenerative capacity: that is, what we use for fuel and housing was still within the limits of sustainability. By 2016, the demand for food, fuel, and housing had grown to an unsustainable 170% resulting in around 700 to 800 million people starving, and another one to two billion children and adults malnourished. Antarctica’s ice is falling into the ocean and this will lead to higher food prices.
The Current Imbalance
Complex models now gauge the impact of climate change on global food production. Climate change is a “threat multiplier,” with alarming results. It makes hunger emergencies worse. Crop yields could plummet, faster than expected. If crops fail, especially in two or three major breadbasket regions at the same time, as some models began to suggest, millions of people could starve.
Tomatoes are the most popular vegetable in the U.S. The time is approaching when there won’t be enough tomatoes. For the past 30-plus years, on average, the Central Valley would get five to seven days with temperatures above 100°F. This is the physiological threshold beyond which tomato plants cease producing By the end of the century, there could be 40-50 days that ho days per year.
More enormous storms are happening with greater frequency. Kentucky in December 2021 was battered by another huge storm three weeks after tornadoes killed 80 and injured 100.
Hurricane Ida didn’t inundate New Orleans, but it did its surrounding communities that did not have the massive flood protection systems New Orleans has. How much money for infrastructure can go to save land destined for certain flooding?
Greenland’s immense ice sheet has lost enough ice in the past 20 years to submerge the entire United States in half a meter of water. The climate is warming faster in the Arctic than anywhere else on the planet and melting ice from Greenland is now the main factor in the rise in the Earth’s oceans, according to NASA.
More than two million people have been killed by storms, floods, droughts, and heatwaves since 1970, according to WMO data, as Reuters reported. The data showed that these weather-related natural disasters resulted in $3.64 trillion in damages worldwide. Since the 1970s early warning systems for extreme weather helped reduce the number of people killed by natural disasters by 76 percent, Reuters reported.
As wildfires worsen and sea levels rise, growing numbers of Americans are moving to places such as Vermont and the Appalachian Mountains. These are seen as safe havens from climate change. This population movement will intensify in the coming decades.
Since measurements began in 2002, the Greenland ice sheet has lost about 4,700 billion tonnes of ice, said Polar Portal, a joint project involving several Danish Arctic research institutes. This represents 4,700 cubic kilometers of melted water — “enough to cover the entire US by half a meter” — and has contributed 1.2 centimeters to sea-level rise, the Arctic monitoring website added.
Population growth sparks both civil unrest and international conflict and ever-higher global average temperatures exacerbate the desperation of people and willingness to resort to violence. It is predicted that between 25 million and 1 billion people will be driven from their homes by drought, poverty, civil war, flooding, or heat extreme by 2050.
The pandemic has produced cascading effects: more people are working at home than ever, supply bottlenecks are creating the worst inflation in 30 years, and people are more ill-tempered than ever.
In October, the American Psychiatric Association released a study showing a dramatic increase in anxiety among Americans, hitting 62% of all Americans, up from ~35% over prior years. The main causes were their families’ safety (80%), systemic racism (76%), COVID-19 (75%), their health (73%), gun violence (73%), and the looming presidential election (72%). Youth suicide is the second leading cause of death for people aged 10 – 24. According to Gallup, 51% of Americans can’t think of a news source that reports the news objectively.
The climate of fear created by the prosecutions has already pushed some talented scientists to leave the United States and made it more difficult for others to enter or stay, endangering America’s ability to attract new talent in science and technology from China and around the world.
Lawmakers say these findings are “alarming.”
Unruly passengers on flights and the mounting surliness of customers toward service workers are resulting in many workers not returning to jobs after the pandemic. School shootings have become regular occurrences: Columbine High School, West Nickel Mines Amish School, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Sandy Hook Elementary School.
A record 4.4 million Americans quit their jobs in September as workers took advantage of the surge in job openings across the country, a sign of how labor market imbalances continue to complicate the economic recovery 20 months into the pandemic. This is being called the Great Resignation. The number of people quitting in September constituted a whopping 3 percent of the workforce, according to the monthly Bureau of Labor Statistics survey. That number is up from the previous record set in August 2021 when 4.3 million people quit their jobs — about 2.9 percent of the workforce. In February 2020, before the big wave of pandemic-related layoffs began, 2.3 percent of workers quit their jobs.
The pandemic has deepened the rifts that exist between people from marital to work conflicts. We are witnessing bad behavior acted out every day in our lives and on the news and with people being injured. School and supermarket massacres are reflections of the disquiet. Public officials are receiving death threats for performing their duties as Congressmen, election, and health officials. The movie Unhinged starring Russell Crowe shows the rage and fury manifested during the January 6 insurrection.
that the climate of fear created by the prosecutions has already pushed some talented scientists to leave the United States and made it more difficult for others to enter or stay, endangering America’s ability to attract new talent in science and technology from China and around the world.
Lawmakers say our findings are “startling.”
The new statistics reflect how severely in flux the labor market remains after the pandemic upended the course of business and life across the country in 2020.
How Americans feel about the economy roughly translates to how they feel about their politics. Factory workers, nurses, and school bus drivers are among the tens of thousands of Americans who walked off jobs in October, 2021 amid a surge of labor activism that economists and labor leaders have dubbed “Striketober.” The strike drives stem from the new leverage workers hold in the nation’s tight job market.
Shortages and Supply Lines
Climate change leads to changes in economic life. The same is beginning to hold true for everything from electronics to energy. What’s going on here?
People are once again hoarding resulting in shortages on grocery shelves because of the supply-chain crunch. Gas prices are high.
Consumer prices surged 6.8 percent in the year leading into November and 0.8 percent last month alone as a roaring economy overwhelmed struggling supply chains and fueled inflation, according to data released Friday by the Labor Department.
Consumer prices surged 6.8 percent in the year 2021 leading into November and 0.8 percent last month alone as a roaring economy overwhelmed struggling supply chains and fueled inflation, according to data released by the Labor Department.
You can search the keywords “supply chain management” on this database.
The continued and expanded use of nonrenewable natural resources will lead to their growth in shorter supply with sharply rising prices, or pricing above what most people can pay will worsen the economies of the world. Some commodities may not be obtainable. China controls the supply of all 16 strategically critical rare-earth metals. In fact, 96% of global mining output for rare-earth metals comes from within China’s borders.
On the horizon is robots doing all production work, including manufacturing replacement robots. This can lead to massive unemployment, and the reduction in the share of income going to human labor, probably accompanied by increasing inequality. The economy is undergoing such massive changes there’s a big mismatch at the moment between the jobs available and jobs workers take. Why does America have 8.4 million unemployed when there are 10 million job openings?
Consumers no longer instinctively trust the words of companies from which they have previously purchased goods or services. Instead, businesses need to demonstrate efforts towards key initiatives before consumers reach for their wallets. 85% of consumers have changed their minds about purchasing from a company because they felt it did not do enough to properly address climate change,
Shortages of semiconductor chips, crucial materials, and staff are delaying the deployment of 5G infrastructure. What’s happened? Three factories — each hit in a different way. The one in Japan caught fire due to an equipment malfunction The one in Texas was hit by a historic snowstorm, which knocked out power for days. The one in Taiwan is being affected by the worst drought in half a century — and microchips require huge amounts of water to manufacture. Supply chain disruptions are stalling the delivery of goods, ranging from computer chips and medicines to meat and lumber. These shortages have been caused by the pandemic.
The “chip shortage” is something that the world doesn’t really grasp yet, in its full importance and magnitude. It is the first climate catastrophe-related shortage to hit us at a civilizational, global level. In a world of stable temperatures, guess what, we’d probably still have microchips to power our cars and gadgets and AV studios because factories wouldn’t be losing power or be so parched they don’t have enough water. But they are — and so we do have a microchip shortage that has been caused by climate change, aka global warming.
As the price of energy rises, the price of everything has to rise, too. Our economies are still about 80% dependent on fossil fuels. The problem isn’t the electricity grid, as you might think. It’s that making things like steel and cement and glass still use gas. The world has just one fossil fuel-free steel factory so far. The Energy Information Agency forecasts that by 2023, the nation will set a new annual record for oil extraction: 4.6 billion barrels. Plans to build more than 200 new natural gas power plants are in the works.
In October 2021 the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach hit a fresh record of 100 vessels floating off the coast waiting to dock and unload, data from the Marine Exchange indicated.
The pandemic has hastened the disruption of supply lines. Microchips, the sets of circuits hosted on small flat pieces of silicon, are intrinsic to industrial civilization: they are used in computers, cars, mobile phones, home appliances, and virtually all other electronic equipment. Chipmakers were usually able to keep pace with the growing demand for chips in products like automobiles and home electronics. We already had a shortage of microchips because of COVID-19. Roughly 91% of the contract chipmaking business is located in Asia with a handful of foundries that account for most of the world’s chip fabrication.
As the world shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many factories closed with it, making the supplies needed for chip manufacturing unavailable for months. Increased demand for consumer electronics caused shifts that rippled up the supply chain. A recent report by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, explains that this “will clearly lead to delays in the distribution of microchips and will presumably have an adverse impact on the semiconductor and computer industries. Now we are learning that new car production is in suspense because of chip shortages.
Shortages are immediately felt because of long supply lines. Beginning in the 1970s, major corporations went to China, India, Brazil, and other places far away from where goods could be produced at a much lower cost. That is why we have long supply chains.
The U.S. inventory restocking cycle is being dragged out by power constraints in China. Output from factories is being curtailed by widespread electricity rationing due to a shortfall of natural gas and coal supplies — making it even more likely that the U.S. inventory replenishment cycle will persist well into next year.
The raw materials required to create EV batteries – lithium, cobalt, and nickel – are up. Lithium carbonate alone has gone up 400% in the last year alone. Then, with demand for EVs and energy storage on the rise, are ticking prices skyward. The inflection point for EV battery prices to become competitive with gas-powered vehicles is about $100/kWh.
“How long will this last? Until bottlenecks are removed at the ports. It will probably not return to pre-pandemic normalcy.
We are changing in other ways, too. Women now make up close to 60% of US college enrollees, a record, The Wall Street Journal reported. NYU professor Scott Galloway told CNN that the gap is leading to a “mating crisis. This will leave many unmarried and lonely.
Agriculture lists the ways climate change threatens America’s food supply: Changes in temperature and precipitation patterns, more pests and disease, reduced soil quality, fewer pollinating insects, and more storms and wildfires will combine to reduce crops and livestock.Wildfires are likely to increase by a third by 2050, warns the United Nations.
To address those challenges, the department calls for more research into climate threats and better communication of those findings to farmers.
The plan is also candid about the limits of what can be done. In response to drought, for example, farmers can build new irrigation systems, and governments can build new dams. But irrigation is expensive, the department notes, and dams affect the ecosystems around them.
Climate change also threatens Americans’ ability to move within and between cities, restricting not just mobility but the transportation of goods that drive the economy. In a list of potential effects from climate change, the Department of Transportation notes that rising temperatures will make it more expensive to build and maintain roads and bridges.
And the experience of getting around will become slower and more frustrating. As hotter days cause asphalt to degrade, congestion will increase as traffic slows. Severe weather events will “require flight cancellations, sometimes for extended periods of time,” and more heat will force planes to fly shorter distances and carry less weight.
Even the quality of driving could get worse. The plan warns of “decreased driver/operator performance and decision-making skills, due to driver fatigue as a result of adverse weather.”
Sometimes, the plans demonstrate how much work remains. The Department of Energy, for example, said it has assessed the climate risks for just half of its sites, which range from advanced research laboratories to storage facilities for radioactive waste from the nuclear weapons program.
“DOE’s nuclear security mission is critical to national security and is also largely conducted at DOE sites that are vulnerable to extreme weather conditions,” the department’s plan says. “DOE’s environmental mission could also experience disruptions if facilities dedicated to radioactive waste processing and disposal are impacted by climate hazards.”
The department says it’s able to address that threat but doesn’t go into specifics. “DOE has a well-established hazard assessment and adaptation process focused on its high-hazard nuclear facilities. This process ensures that the most critical facilities are well protected from climate risks,” the plan states.
Despite what is approaching five million deaths from of COVID-19, the Global Risks Report 2021, it is global warming that makes up the bulk of this year’s list of risks, which the report describes as “an existential threat to humanity.” It is a sad commentary on the stubbornness of the unvaccinated to get vaccinated than unvaccinated people have an 11 times higher risk of dying from COVID-19 than fully vaccinated people, according to data posted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
With the loss of wilderness comes the reduced pollination of crops, the depletion of soils, poorer air, and water supplies becoming scarce.
The lockdowns caused a drop in carbon emissions, but as economies start to recover, emissions will soar.
Most people have difficulty grasping the magnitude of the environmental calamities that we likely face. Saving ourselves will require the most significant technological change in history. We need technology to replace the extractive and polluting industries that will produce the food and resources we need to live.
It means ending the use of fossil fuels and replacing them with renewable energies such as solar, wind, and battery storage that are much cheaper than we thought years ago. Solar panels will be everywhere. By 2050, 96% of vehicles will be electric, supported by a national network of charging stations. Virtually all energy in homes will be electric. Gas may disappear completely from kitchens and its use will be reduced for hot water systems and household heating.
Controlling CO2 output must be done; however, some impacts of global warming are not reversible things like sea-level rise. Human activity is producing irreversible damage to several environmental constraints necessary to human life. These are biodiversity loss, nitrogen cycle change, groundwater depletion, ocean acidification, and peak phosphorous.
We rely on a host of organisms for food, medicine, shelter, and clothing; but as biodiversity diminishes, so do our basic necessities. Climate change is forcing some animals to move. Up to one million plant and animal species are facing extinction due to human activity.
We are overfishing, overhunting, and over-harvesting the earth. Overexploitation destroys biodiversity. Deforestation is another contributor to biodiversity loss; human demand for land development, fossil and wood fuels, and building materials result in the loss of 18 million square acres of forest each year.
Life on earth depends on balance. The Earth and its atmosphere maintain an energy balance by either absorbing incoming radiation or reflecting it energy back into space.
78% of the earth’s atmosphere is nitrogen. All organisms — including humans — require nitrogen for survival. The natural nitrogen balance incorporates nitrogen into the peptides and amino acids essential to life. Agricultural and industrial practices have dramatically altered the earth’s natural nitrogen cycle.
Synthetic fertilizers, industrial pollution, combustion of fossil fuels, vehicle exhaust doubles the natural conversion of nitrogen to ammonia and nitrates every year. Nitrous oxide is the greenhouse gas N2O that results in photochemical smog covering large regions.
Fertilizers Cause More Than 2% of Global Emissions
The excess of nitrogen results in losses of soil nutrients, such as calcium and potassium, essential for soil fertility, the mass killings of saltwater fish, thus reducing the food supply and oceanic biodiversity. It increases the acidification of soils, streams, and lakes greatly increases the transfer of nitrogen through rivers to estuaries and coastal oceans.
The consequences of human-caused changes to the nitrogen cycle appear grim.
Human activity is producing irreversible damage to several planetary limits necessary to human life are biodiversity loss, nitrogen cycle change, groundwater depletion, ocean acidification, and peak phosphorous.
We’ve already lost 33% of the Earth’s topsoil
Alone, each of these crises is enough to precipitate widespread human suffering. Together, along with climate change, they present the gravest threat in the history of humanity to the survival of our species.
Biodiversity is the variety of life on earth. Human beings rely on a host of organisms for food, medicine, shelter, and clothing; as biodiversity diminishes, so do our basic necessities.
Deforestation is a principal contributor to biodiversity loss; clearing land and using timber for building materials, fossil and wood fuels results in the loss of 18 million square acres of forest each year.
A 2014 study estimates that roughly 30 percent of both the world’s languages and animal species have declined between 1970 and 2009. Up to one million more plant and animal species are facing extinction due to human activity, according to the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.
Overexploitation — such as overfishing, overhunting, and over-harvesting — also threatens the earth’s biodiversity.
The world’s oceans absorb roughly 30% of the carbon dioxide that human activity releases into the atmosphere. Because of oceanic CO2 absorption, ocean acidity has increased 30% globally since the start of the Industrial Revolution.
Shellfish are particularly vulnerable to rising seawater acidity. Over a billion people currently rely on marine life for protein. Unless the world converts to clean energy in the immediate future; the world’s climate and food reserves are equally at stake.
Carbon emissions affect more than global temperatures. While nitrogen contamination imperils ocean life, phosphorus pollution threatens freshwater fish. Phosphate ores primarily come from ancient salt deposits in seabeds and are used to make artificial fertilizers and detergents.
Phosphorus is also a key ingredient in human bone. We derive phosphorus in protein foods such as milk and milk products and meat, beans, lentils, and nuts. Grains, especially whole grains provide phosphorus. Phosphorus can be derived in smaller amounts in vegetables and fruit.
In the long run, phosphorus always returns to the oceans, but phosphate deposits replenish at a rate drastically slower than we consume it. Without it, malnutrition is the result. Global phosphorus shortages are predicted by as early as 2040. Peak phosphorus is, therefore, an even more pressing problem than climate change.
Global warming is just one of the crises to our survival. Biodiversity loss, the nitrogen cycle, groundwater depletion, ocean acidification, and peak phosphorus each threaten our existence, and taken together could potentially spell our extinction. Carbon sequestration is just one of the technologies we must master to survive the coming environmental crises.
For the Department of Homeland Security, climate change means the risk of large numbers of climate refugees — people reaching the U.S. border, pushed out of their countries by a mix of long-term challenges like drought or sudden shocks like a tsunami.
Climate change will lead to new sources of conflict, and also make it harder for the military to operate, the Department of Defense wrote in its climate plan.
Water shortages could even become a new source of tension between the U.S. military overseas and the countries where troops are based. At DOD sites outside the United States, “military water requirements might compete with local water needs, creating potential areas of friction or even conflict.”
But learning to operate during extreme weather should also be viewed as a new type of weapon, the plan says, one that can help the United States prevail over enemies. “This enables U.S. forces to gain distinct advantages over potential adversaries,” the plan reads, “if our forces can operate in conditions where others must take shelter or go to ground.”
Climate Chaos Has Arrived
I watched a movie last night showing the world entering a new ice age. The movie was made in 2004. Ten, twenty, thirty years ago, today’s headlines were the predictions of fringe extremists. Now they’ve come true. The proof is all around us. C The cascading impacts of climate change will affect every sector of the economy. Some sectors including fossil fuels, utilities, travel and leisure, housing, forestry, mining, and agriculture can be expected to be particularly hard hit, with the financial sector deeply linked to them all.
The Arctic Is Sweltering
Temperatures in Siberia climbed to 118ºF this year — an almost unthinkable level of heat. Marine life is migrating to cooler waters. Arctic sea ice reached its lowest levels in the last two years. Between 1979 and 2020, the report found the Arctic lost an area of ice about six times the size of Germany.
Extinctions and Plagues Are on the Rise
Warmer waters are also causing the populations of some sea-dwelling species to shrink. It found that sole, European lobster, sea bass, and edible crabs were being adversely affected by extreme heat fluctuations in the North Sea.
Toxic microbial blooms thrived during the Great Dying, the most severe extinction in Earth’s history, and they are proliferating again due to human activity. Fish die as a result of algal blooms in Florida.
Millions of mice have created havoc for Australian farmers. In recording its wettest November on record, the humid conditions enlarged the rodent population creating a boom in snake and spider numbers.
Snake numbers increased after wet, humid weather. Snakes prey on mice. Wet weather is also the perfect climate for bugs and frogs, food sources for hungry snakes or spiders. It’s a perfect storm for mice, snakes, spiders, bugs, and frogs, and a plague on people.
Power Lines and Crucial Infrastructure Are Melting
In the Pacific Northwest, where temperatures are reliably in the 70s and 80s, temperatures have exceeded 100º in the past few weeks. Citizens all across the region lost power— 9,000 in Spokane, Washington alone.
Roads are buckling as the heat melts asphalt.
Buildings Are Collapsing
Experts believe that the collapse of beachside condos is due to the rise of the sea level directly underneath the foundation of those beachside condos. Miami faces the worst risk of any coastal city in the world, per a recent report.
Alaska is Experiencing Ice Quakes
Because of the heatwave across Alaska, the state is reporting “icequakes” — seismic activity triggered by glaciers melting too fast. Ice melting, refreezing, and expanding enough to cause quakes. 25 miles off of Juneau, the magnitude of the ice quake was 2.7.
Detroit’s Streets Became a River
Last week, Detroit experienced a storm that flooded the city with 7 inches of rainfall in only a few hours. More than 1,000 cars had to be abandoned in the highway flooding as they had no other choice.
Hydropower Plants in Danger as Reservoirs Drain
One reservoir, in particular, Lake Oroville in California (the state’s second-largest), announced it would be forced to shut down the connected hydropower plant for the first time ever. Intense dry heat and unrelenting drought lower the water levels in the reservoir and it simply cannot sustain the plant.
We can’t change weather patterns once they’re already happening. We can’t, for example, reroute Detroit’s rain and give it to California.
The climate crisis is here in spades. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found that the key 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) threshold in the fight to stop climate change will be crossed within the next 15 years.
Now the world must come together to confront these multiple crises. It’s in this context that the Biden infrastructure proposals make sense. It’s a matter of survival. We’re already dealing with calamitous weather events and so we have the choice of immediate sacrifice or near and long-term peril.
Here are some of the terms and key issues that will be discussed at the event ran from Oct. 31 to Nov. 13. The Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. First held in 1995, it also serves as the meeting of parties to the 1992 Kyoto Protocol that first committed countries to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and those that signed on to the 2015 Paris Agreement. Governments meeting in the French capital six years ago agreed on a target of keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), ideally no more than 1.5C (2.7F), by the end of this century compared with pre-industrial times.
Faced with new research showing a significant gap between current commitments to cut planet-heating emissions and the Paris agreement’s 1.5°C target, negotiators from nearly 200 countries on Saturday struck a deal that critics say falls short of what is needed to tackle the climate emergency. The failure of the countries of the world to put their full efforts into financing climate transformation — including mitigation, adaptation, and losses and damages — weakens our chances of avoiding the most calamitous effects of global warming.
More movies and fiction and non-fiction books and games will make water their central theme as the environmental crisis is recognized and commercialized.
Healthy ecosystems such as forests, wetlands, and grasslands have an amazing ability to remove planet-warming emissions from the atmosphere and lock them securely underground. Experts call them “nature-based solutions” to climate change. To save Earth 30 percent of the planet must be protected. Such conservation efforts must double by 2030 to prevent dangerous warming and unraveling of ecosystems.
Extremely uneven and inequitable impacts of climate change mean that it affected people differently based on their location and people may respond in radically different ways. The burden weighs us down and curtails opportunities and possibilities. This requires addressing both violence and material shortages and other outcomes like contamination.
The latest climate report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recommends a 2x increase in investment in climate technologies. This goes beyond producing more paper straws.
These economic activities from coal, oil, and natural gas are also major sources of carbon dioxide emissions that cause climate change, so cutting back on their emissions provides additional benefits.
“We are trying to shift mindsets from burdens to benefits,” said Jonathan A. Patz, a professor of health and the environment at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies.
“Our work provides a sense of the scale of the air quality health benefits that could accompany deep decarbonization of the U.S. energy system,” said Nicholas A. Mailloux, lead author of the study and a graduate student at the Nelson Institute. “Shifting to clean energy sources can provide enormous benefit for public health in the near term while mitigating climate change in the longer term.”
“Between 32 percent and 95 percent of the health benefits from eliminating emissions in a region will remain in that region,” the study says. On average, slightly more than two-thirds of the health benefits of removing emissions in a region stay in that region.
The Southwest, for example, would retain 95 percent of the benefits if it moved alone to eliminate fine particulate matter. The Mountain States, however, would retain only a third of their benefits, which would flow to large population centers downwind.
“The report highlights the air quality benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by transitioning the energy system away from fossil fuels,” said Susan Anenberg, director of George Washington University’s Climate and Health Institute, who was not involved in the study. In addition, she said, “it helps us to think about policies and what level of policies are needed to address this problem.”
Patz said that “people look at this as such a huge challenge, but when you look at the health repercussions of switching to clean energy, the benefits are enormous.”
The U.S. plummeted in international rankings of action on climate change due to the rollback of environmental protections during the Trump Administration. In particular, the withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement weakened methane emissions rules, according to a report released on June 1, 2022, by Yale and Columbia University researchers.
U.S. cities last year announced 21 projects to turn “brownfields” which include transformed closed landfills and other contaminated lands into solar farms, also called “brightfield.” Brownfields are often located in “economically distressed communities. Transforming these into sources of clean power, jobs, and economic opportunity can play a key role in revitalizing these neighborhoods.
The Supreme Court has dealt another blow to the Government’s ability to o regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse-gas emissions by the Environmental Protection Agency/
A 6-3 ruling by the Supreme Court restricting the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to limit power plant emissions is the latest blow to U.S. efforts to fight climate change, contributing to a renewed sense of pessimism that the U.S. political system will address the issue at the federal level. In its ruling, the majority said, ” Only Congress has the power to make “a decision of such magnitude and consequence.”
The decision is likely to have broad implications. While the EPA will still be able to take some action in regulating emissions, more wide-reaching programs, like setting emissions caps to encourage a shift away from coal, will be constrained in the future. The ruling deals a major blow to the federal government’s ability to take action on climate change as the world continues to set new emissions records and makes changing the composition of the Supreme Court more imperative.
Congress has adopted the first climate change measure in our history. It invests in technologies that would bolster various types of energy including fossil fuels, renewables, nuclear hydrogen, and energy storage. It also invests in reducing both domestic emissions of planet-warming carbon and methane, and in global emissions reductions.
Meanwhile, blackouts are growing more frequent in the United States.
Republicans are fighting a social movement directed at the financial sector to address systemic issues like climate change. Regressive initiatives in Florida, West Virginia, and Texas are targeting powerhouse Wall Street firms they say are engaging in environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing, which they view to be harmful to their states’ economies. Some state and regional regulators often have political incentives to fight against changes to the power grid.
Climate change is man-made. So man can undo or mitigate much of what we have done. We can choose to save our lives and those of our children and their children. Future cities composed of fire-resistant, high-tech wooden buildings can counter the climate impacts of the coming urbanization boom. Half of the world’s population currently lives in towns and cities, a number that is expected to increase to 85 percent by 2100.
The study in Nature Communications builds on a growing architectural and engineering movement that sees wood as not only a more sustainable building material than concrete and steel — but in many ways a superior one.
Housing this many people in 20th-century-style mid-rise buildings would mean a staggering hike in carbon emissions, as it would lead to huge increases in the production of concrete and steel — the production of which is already the source of large amounts of greenhouse gasses.
The alternative is housing the growing urban population in mid-rise buildings — is four to ten stories — made out of wood.”