The mess in Texas, SZA drinks the green tea

The newsletter for people "woke" on carbon and climate

(source: Sioux City Journal)

Issue No. 66

Welcome to the latest issue of Carbon Creed - a curated newsletter for people “woke” on carbon and climate. 

Our hearts go out to those suffering without power or water in Texas.


While the rolling blackouts in Texas have left some 4 million residents without power in brutally cold weather, experts and community groups say that many marginalized communities were the first to be hit with power outages, and if history serves as a guide, could be among the last to be reconnected. This is particularly perilous, they say, given that low-income households can lack the financial resources to flee to safety or to rebound after the disruption. [We hope the experts are wrong in this case.]

The response from Washington has been quick and decisive. President Joe Biden has approved a disaster declaration for the state of Texas. In a statement on Saturday morning, the White House said Biden declared “a major disaster exists” in Texas and authorized federal funding and other forms of assistance to aid state and local authorities.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott thanked Biden for approving the disaster declaration. President Biden said this week he is weighing a trip to Texas, if it would not create a burden on local authorities. Now, this is what bipartisanship looks like. We hope to see more of it over the next four years.

We’ll keep you posted on the latest climate policy and carbon market insights as they happen. 

If you have an opinion on any topic covered in this newsletter, please feel free to send me an email at mcleodwl@carboncreed.com. 

Thank you for your viewpoint and the value of your time.

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QUOTES

Climate quotes that will inspire you

1 “Think of the climate like a bathtub that’s slowly filling up with water. Even if we slow the flow of water to a trickle, the tub will eventually fill up and water will spill all over the floor. To stop temperatures rising and avoid a disaster, we have to turn off the tap entirely — we have to get to zero greenhouse gas emissions.” ~ Bill Gates (How to avoid a Climate Disaster)

In case you hadn’t heard, Bill Gates released a new book on Climate Change this week, and has been appearing on many morning shows and popular podcasts. This quote appeared in the Financial Times, and I thought the illustration was quite good.

2 “Apologists say, The weather's just a cycle we can't change.
Scientists say, We've pushed those cycles way beyond.
Dear leaders, please do something quick,
Time is up, the planet's sick...
~ Sting (One Fine Day)

Sting is one of my favorite artists, which makes it especially pleasing to know that he’s a climate advocate too. One of the greatest songwriters of all time, millions will likely join the climate cause after experiencing this call to action.


3 "Three things cause sorrow to flee; water, green trees, and a beautiful face.” ~Moroccan Proverb

Humans find joy when they connect to the natural world and each other. (W. McLeod)


CLIMATE JUSTICE

(source: Complex)

SZA teams with TAZO, American Forests to create green spaces in marginalized communities

In addition to being a Supermodel and advocating for self love on a regular basis, singer-songwriter, and nine-time Grammy Award nominee, SZA, is focused on advocating for climate justice. The 30-year-old St. Louis native recently teamed up with ready-to-drink beverage company, TAZO, and environmental non-profit American Forests, to launch a new initiative called TAZO Tree Corps.

The TAZO Tree Corps will plant trees and maintain green spaces in marginalized communities worldwide, in an effort to curb climate change and achieve climate justice.

"Planting trees can help improve everything – from air quality to economic opportunity to mental health – and everybody deserves these benefits. - SZA

The program seeks to achieve measurable “tree equity” over two years in five cities: Minneapolis, Minn., Detroit, Mich., San Francisco, Calif.; Richmond, Va.; and the Bronx, N.Y. Historical discriminating zoning practices have left many low-income communities and communities of color with less green space. Tree Equity, a term coined by American Forests, means all communities, regardless of income or race, can experience the benefits trees provide.

Across the U.S., trees absorb 17.4 million tons of air pollutants, and in addition to making a community greener and cooler, trees can increase air and water quality, improve mental health, lower energy costs and lead to more overall economic opportunity.

To expand the brand's environmental justice commitments, TAZO has also committed to support WE ACT for Environmental Justice and Intersectional Environmentalist, two minority-led, climate justice organizations that provide economic opportunities, education, resources, community and training for underserved youth. 


INSIGHTS

The mess in Texas: exposing our national vulnerability to climate change

As Texas struggled to restore electricity and water over the past week, signs of the risks posed by increasingly severe weather to America’s aging infrastructure were cropping up across the country.

The week’s continent-spanning winter storms triggered blackouts in Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi and several other states. Covid vaccination efforts in 20 states were disrupted. One-third of oil production in the nation was halted. Drinking-water systems in Ohio were knocked offline. Road networks nationwide were paralyzed.

The Texas crisis carries a profound warning. As climate change brings more frequent and intense storms, floods, heat waves, wildfires and other extreme events, it is placing tremendous stress on the foundations of the country’s economy: its network of roads and railways, drinking-water systems, power plants, electrical grids, industrial waste sites and homes. Failures in just one sector can trigger a domino effect of breakdowns across the whole economy.

Fragile Power Grids

If the Texas blackouts exposed one state’s poor planning, they also provide a warning for the nation: Climate change threatens virtually every aspect of electricity grids that aren’t always designed to handle increasingly severe weather. The vulnerabilities show up in power lines, natural-gas plants, nuclear reactors and myriad other systems.

Higher storm surges can knock out coastal power infrastructure. Deeper droughts can reduce water supplies for hydroelectric dams. Severe heat waves can reduce the efficiency of fossil-fuel generators, transmission lines and even solar panels at precisely the moment that demand soars because everyone cranks up their air-conditioners.

Climate hazards can also combine in new and unforeseen ways.

In California recently, Pacific Gas & Electric has had to shut off electricity to thousands of people during exceptionally dangerous fire seasons. The reason: Downed power lines can spark huge wildfires in dry vegetation. Then, during a record-hot August last year, several of the state’s natural gas plants malfunctioned in the heat, just as demand was spiking, contributing to blackouts.

Some utilities are taking notice. After Superstorm Sandy in 2012 knocked out power for 8.7 million customers, utilities in New York and New Jersey invested billions in flood walls, submersible equipment and other technology to reduce the risk of failures. Last month, New York’s Con Edison said it would incorporate climate projections into its planning.

As freezing temperatures struck Texas, a glitch at one of two reactors at a South Texas nuclear plant, which serves 2 million homes, triggered a shutdown. The cause: Sensing lines connected to the plant’s water pumps had frozen, according to the federal Nuclear Regulatory Agency.

It’s also common for extreme heat to disrupt nuclear power. The issue is that the water used to cool reactors can become too warm to use, forcing shutdowns.

Flooding is another risk.

After a tsunami led to several meltdowns at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi power plant in 2011, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission told the 60 or so working nuclear plants in the United States, many decades old, to evaluate their flood risk to account for climate change. Ninety percent showed at least one type of flood risk that exceeded what the plant was designed to handle. The greatest risk came from heavy rain and snowfall exceeding the design parameters at 53 plants.

[This post was adapted from the original written by Christopher FlavelleBrad Plumer and Hiroko Tabuchi which appeared in the NY Times.]

Creed Comments: Clearly, the U.S. is becoming more reliant than ever on electricity, with our buildings, electronics and cars plugging into the grid. Yet, America has no perfect model for running a power market in the 21st century. Before this week’s meltdown, the Texas market had been widely regarded as one of the best. Now, most everyone agrees that major changes—including more regulatory intervention—will be needed to keep it working.

Don’t be fooled by the false political arguments pitting renewable energy (wind) against fossil fuels (natural gas and coal). The situation in Texas is coming to every state. We must modernize the electric grid and adapt to the reality that climate change is happening now.


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