Welcome to Planet Week, where we highlight the last week of environmental news and what it means for our Planet.
Sam took the week off, but I have you covered on the latest climate and environmental stories: Last week, floods and landslides ravaged Venezuela, Denmark and Costa Rica teamed up to quit fossil fuels, and President Joe Biden opened the first oil and gas sales of his administration.
In case you missed it, here’s what else happened around the Planet:
Last weekend, the United States saw two major disasters. Torrential downpours overtook Middle Tennessee, dumping 17 inches of rain that…
Antarctica is disappearing.
A grim new report found we’re now losing 1.2 trillion tons of ice each year from the southernmost continent — an increase of 60% over the last two decades. And as glaciers and ice sheets linger in increasingly warm waters, this acceleration is unlikely to stop.
We’re in control of how we combat this melt but because of the complicated nature of sea level…
The anti-environmental stain of former President Donald Trump still looms large.
In one of his first moves as president, Joe Biden suspended oil and gas leasing on public lands and waters. But last week, a Trump-appointed federal judge ruled in favor of 13 red states and blocked the ban.
The reversal is just the latest of what could be years-long court battles over some of Biden’s most ambitious climate moves. And it’s a warning for Biden and progressives: Though Republicans are no longer in power, the legacy of Trump appointees and anti-environment politics will continue to haunt Biden’s agenda.
A heatwave is sweeping across the Arctic.
Unfortunately, these record heat waves are part of a larger trend. Over the past 50 years, the Arctic has warmed three times faster than the rest of the Planet, according to a new study.
And as the Arctic melts, it isn’t just polar bears and penguins that will suffer — the rest of the world will face the consequences…
When it comes to American climate action, Joe Biden’s been a bit of a trailblazer. Already Biden has rejoined the Paris Agreement, overturned 34 Trump-era rollbacks, and set the framework for a 50–52% cut in United States’ emissions by 2030.
But all these actions may still not be enough, according to a new report by the International Energy Agency. The 224-page report lists more than 400 milestones needed for the world to hit net zero by 2050 (the consensus mark for avoiding a climate catastrophe), and Biden’s goals could fall well short.
California is already grappling with a warmer, drier reality thanks to climate change.
“The hots are getting a lot hotter in this state, the dries are getting a lot drier,” said Newsom at a news conference. “We have to recognize that we’re living in a world that we were not designed to live in.”
In his excellent book No Good Alternative, William T. Vollmann apologizes to the future for the carbon-heavy actions of his generation.
Through dark humor and wit, Vollmann echoes millions of people worldwide, especially in America, who justify the use of coal and other fossil fuels to maintain a certain lifestyle.
“So kindly refrain from pretending that all we did with coal was burn it,” writes Vollmann, tongue-in-cheek. “It served us so delightfully as to leave us no good alternative.”
There’s been a lot of anger over meat lately.
After a Daily Mail article falsely claimed that President Joe Biden’s climate targets would require Americans to slash their meat consumption by 90%, conservatives took to social media and TV to express outrage.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) called Biden “The Hamburglar,” and Gov. Greg Abbot (R-TX) said dietary cuts were “not gonna happen in Texas!” Meanwhile, Donald Trump, Jr., bragged(?) about eating four pounds of meat in a day.
Last week, the United States hosted the Leaders Climate Summit, a two-day virtual forum to promote international coordination on climate action. Attended by 40 world leaders, the summit intended to present the U.S. as a leader on global climate efforts, while pressuring other countries to make more ambitious commitments.
“We’re here at this summit to discuss how each of us, each country, can set higher climate ambitions that will in turn create good-paying jobs, advance innovative technologies, and help vulnerable countries adapt to climate impacts,” said President Joe Biden at the summit.
So, just how well did the White House…
The world can’t quit coal.
Last year, China, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, generated over half the Planet’s coal-fired power — that’s up nearly 10% from half a decade ago. The country has also committed to building hundreds of gigawatts more coal power, outpacing the rest of the world combined.
But it’s not just China. Mexico, India, and Africa are all doubling down on coal use, too. And though many large nations are ramping up renewable power sources, it’s not enough to avoid the worst climate impacts.