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Paris Fashion Week meets the Paris Agreement on the Balenciaga runway

Balenciaga launched its fall 2020 collection on a flooded runway with images of fiery blazes and rushing waves projected across the ceiling. The first few rows of seats were empty because they were almost entirely underwater, and models strutted through the swampy raised stage in drapey oversized raincoats, Matrix-like full-length black leather jackets, and bodysuits that look straight out of the Black Panther wardrobe trailer, complete with knee and shoulder pads. One model was styled as a walking mace, his jacket flanked with sharp spikes.

Yes, the brand best-known for sock shoes, an ugly-cool take on the dad sneaker, and platform Crocs put climate change front and center in its Paris Fashion Week show on Sunday.

Estrop / Getty Images

Estrop / Getty Images

Clearly, the fire and brimstone vibe was intended as a warning about the catastrophe to come if we do not stem the rising tide of carbon emissions. Demna Gvasalia, Balenciaga’s creative director, hasn’t given any interviews about the show, but the outfits seem to imagine a world where rising seas, bursts of flames, and other environmental assaults are commonplace concerns and where protection from the elements is literally built into the fabric of our lives.

Estrop / Getty Images

Estrop / Getty Images

While I think it’s pretty cool any time the rich and famous are shaken out of their distorted version of reality and confronted with the signs of our times, the implications of Balenciaga’s show are complicated. First of all, it’s debatable whether shoving the apocalypse narrative in people’s faces is really all that helpful if you’re trying to make a case for climate action. Second, and far less debatable, the fashion industry is a disaster for the planet.

Data on the fashion industry’s footprint is not perfect, since brands have only recently begun measuring it, but here’s what we know: The industry uses exorbitant amounts of water, potentially as much as 2 percent of all freshwater use globally, in addition to being a major source of water pollution. It creates an extraordinary amount of waste, both in making the clothes and in creating a culture where people throw millions of tons of clothing into the trash every year. It contributes to deforestation, because common materials like rayon and viscose are made with wood pulp. And finally, the industry is believed to be responsible for a whopping 10 percent of global carbon emissions.

Anyhoo. If Balenciaga wants to warn people about climate catastrophe, I would hope the company is doing more than designing our future fire- and flood-proof uniforms. So is it?

Turns out, yes. Balenciaga’s parent company, Kering, is one of the more forward-thinking in the biz. In 2016, Kering set a goal of reducing its emissions intensity across most of its business by 50 percent by 2025, a goal which it’s currently on track to achieve, according to documents filed with the Carbon Disclosure Project. (Intensity, in this case, means the amount emitted per dollar of profit, so as the company grows, it will become more carbon efficient.) Kering was also the first ~luxury~ company to have its emissions targets approved by the Science Based Targets Initiative, a program that helps companies align their business with the Paris Agreement.

The company’s operations are powered by 100 percent renewable energy in seven out of the more than 20 countries where it does business. It is in the process of eliminating hazardous chemicals in its supply chains and works with other major international brands to do the same. Kering also forbids the use of leather linked to deforestation in the Amazon.

While its approach isn’t perfect — the company offsets some of its emissions through reforestation projects under the United Nations’ REDD program, which ProPublica exposed to be deeply flawed — I have to admit, I’m pretty impressed by the depth and breadth of what Kering has done so far. It takes a lot of time and money for an international fashion superpower to look up and down all of its supply chains and figure out what, exactly, its impact on the planet is every year.

So while I don’t think the end times are nigh, as was implied on the runway, golf claps for Balenciaga for talking about climate change, and for putting its money where its mouth is.

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Paris Fashion Week meets the Paris Agreement on the Balenciaga runway

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Guess who’s hiding again? Oregon Republicans hoping to squash a climate bill.

When it came time to vote on a bill to limit greenhouse gas emissions in the Oregon Senate on Monday, the Republican state senators’ chairs were empty. All of them except state Senator Tim Knopp of Bend had run away from Salem in an attempt to kill Oregon’s cap-and-trade bill. Again.

That left Democrats one senator short of the 20 they need to hold a vote, effectively putting the state government on pause. If signed into law, the legislation would make Oregon the second state in the country after California to adopt a cap-and-trade program. But that would require bringing Republicans back to Salem.

It’s the third walkout by Oregon Republicans in 10 months: the first for a business tax to raise money for Oregon schools, and the second for the vote on the cap-and-trade bill last June, which ended up lacking enough Democratic support to pass.

“Frankly, the entire world is watching,” Governor Kate Brown said in a news conference on Monday. “We need to get this done now. The votes are there to pass it straight up.”

Brown said she had “bent over backwards” to make compromises with the Senate Republicans. “They’re adults,” she said. “They need to come back to the building. They need to do the jobs they were elected to do. And instead, they’re taking a taxpayer-funded vacation.”

There are still two weeks left of the 35-day legislative session — and if one of the senators comes back, it’ll be enough to hold a vote.

The Senate Republicans have been threatening to walk out for weeks, arguing that Democrats were refusing to compromise with them on the cap-and-trade bill, which is opposed by some odd bedfellows. The logging industry argues that it would raise fuel costs, threatening a compromise the industry had made with the state’s environmental groups. Climate activists with Portland’s Sunrise Movement oppose the cap-and-trade policy, arguing that it isn’t strict enough.

Despite Oregon’s reputation as a green state, a fact sheet from the Northwest-based Climate Solutions shows that it’s falling behind on taking steps to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Though other states have passed policies to put a price on carbon, raised fuel standards, and committed to a timeline for running on totally clean electricity, Oregon is not among them. If the state government doesn’t do something soon, according to Climate Solutions, Oregon won’t be able to meet its own emissions goals for 2020.


Guess who’s hiding again? Oregon Republicans hoping to squash a climate bill.

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Science dishes out an answer on the old handwashing vs. dishwasher debate

In my family of origin, there’s a parent who prefers to put all the dishes in the dishwasher and a parent who prefers to do everything by hand. (It just so happens that the parent who likes doing dishes manually is the one who’s worse at cleaning and therefore leaves a light grease sheen on dishes, but that’s neither here nor there.) We all have our own method for getting through what is objectively one of the worst household chores. But which method is best for the environment?

A new study in the journal Environmental Research Communications sheds light on the most energy and water-efficient way to do the dishes. It’s worth noting up front that the study was partially funded by Whirlpool, an appliance manufacturer, and the research was conducted in a “Whirlpool lab” of 38 Whirlpool employees, who were asked to manually wash dishes and load a dishwasher. (It seems safe to assume these employees probably load a dishwasher better than the average American). But the analysis was carried out by independent researchers at the University of Michigan, who also tested the conclusions of previous studies that found dishwashers were more efficient than manual washing.

They found that team “just put it in the dishwasher” is mostly right. In a majority of cases, using a new-ish dishwasher is more efficient than traditional hand-washing techniques. The main problems with dishwashers, the study shows, are pre-rinsing and heated drying. Eliminating those two steps from your dish-washing routine decreases the appliance’s greenhouse gas emissions by 3 percent and 11 percent, respectively.

According to the study, team “just do them by hand” is mostly wrong and should probably start loading the dishwasher more often. Typical manual washing, the kind of washing where you mostly leave the water running as you clean (sound familiar?), produced 5,620 kilograms of greenhouse gases over a 10-year period of washing 32 place settings per week. (The greenhouse gases associated with hand-washing dishes primarily come from the energy it takes to heat the water.) A dishwasher emitted 2,090 kilograms of emissions over the same period with typical use — less than half as much.

When it comes to water use, the difference between manual and machine practices was even starker: Hand-washers used 34,200 gallons of water to a dishwasher’s 16,300 gallons over 10 years. In short, a dishwasher that’s being used correctly emits 63 percent fewer emissions in its entire lifecycle — including manufacturing and disposal — than a typical sink.

However, there’s a silver lining for resource-savvy hand-washers. If you happen to have a two-basin sink, filling one basin with hot water and the other with cool water, and then soaking and scrubbing your dishes in the first and rinsing them in the second — and then letting them air-dry — was the least energy-intensive method out of all the techniques the researchers tested. The two-basin method only produces 1,610 kilograms of emissions over 10 years. Adopting this technique leads to a 249 percent reduction in emissions for people who wash dishes manually.

Still, 1,610 kilograms isn’t that much lower than the 1,960 kilograms a dishwasher produces when it’s being used right (i.e., without pre-rinsing and heated drying). More importantly, 80 percent of Americans own a dishwasher but 20 percent of us report using these appliances less than once a week. Why go through all the trouble and expense of buying a dishwasher if you’re just going to hand-wash your dishes? Dad, are you reading this?

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Science dishes out an answer on the old handwashing vs. dishwasher debate

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Elizabeth Warren’s new plan would jail lying fossil fuel executives

Lying under oath is a crime known as perjury, but corporations lie all the time. (Remember when tobacco companies told us cigarettes were healthy?) On Tuesday, Senator Elizabeth Warren unveiled a plan to fight what she calls “corporate perjury.”

Her proposal, which is part and parcel of her larger anti-corruption push, zeroes in on fossil fuel companies. Specifically, ExxonMobil — a company that is currently mired in lawsuits that allege it knew climate change was real in the 1980s and misled investors and the public about it.

Several candidates have sworn to hold the fossil fuel industry accountable for fraud and corruption. But Warren is the first to release a proposal specifically aimed at stopping corporations from misleading the public and regulators in the future.

The plan is three-pronged. First, Warren aims to create a “corporate perjury” law that will take executives to court for knowingly lying to federal agencies. You might assume such a law already exists, but you’d be wrong. People can be taken to court for lying in court, before Congress, or to their own shareholders, but the information they provide to federal agencies currently constitutes a weird gray area.

Warren’s plan says that “where companies engage in egregious and intentional efforts to mislead agencies in an effort to prevent our government from understanding and acting on facts, they will face criminal liability.” Executives who engage in this type of behavior could have to pay $250,000 in fines or face jail time.

In the second plank of her plan, Warren gets nerdy. Research that is not peer-reviewed — not evaluated by other experts in the same or a similar field — will not be eligible to be considered by federal agencies or courts. The same goes for industry-funded research. That is, it won’t be eligible unless whoever submitted it can prove that it’s free of conflicts of interest. “If any conflicts of interest exist, that research will be excluded from the rulemaking process and will be inadmissible in any subsequent court challenges,” the senator writes.

That would mark a significant departure from the way President Trump operates. On Monday, the New York Times reported that the Trump administration plans to curtail the kind of research the government can use to craft public health regulations, which could have drastic implications both for future rules and regulations that already exist.

The last piece of Warren’s plan hopes to reacquaint the public with the federal rule-making process. She would create a national Office of the Public Advocate to guide people through the process of weighing in on new regulations. By involving the public in this process more explicitly, Warren says, federal agencies will “make informed decisions about the human consequences of their proposals, rather than largely relying on industry talking points.”

Warren’s new corporate perjury plan is in keeping with her broader goal of holding Big Oil accountable for the consequences of their actions. At the first-ever Presidential Forum on Environmental Justice last week, she explained how she feels about corporate executives who pollute. (Editor’s note: Grist was one of the forum’s media sponsors.) “If they do harm to people, they need to be held responsible,” she said. “You shouldn’t be able to walk away from the injuries you create.” That apparently goes for the lies fossil fuel companies tell, as well.

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Elizabeth Warren’s new plan would jail lying fossil fuel executives

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The internet is ablaze with Lil Dicky’s bizarre, star-studded climate anthem

Lil Dicky, the self-flagellating Jewish rapper slash comedian, came out with another banger on Friday. Born Andrew David Burd, Lil Dicky is known for his hits with rappers Fetty Wap, Rich Homie Quan, and Chris Brown. His songs are about stuff other artists don’t usually discuss, like fiscal responsibility and being a white rapper, and often verge into satire.

Lil Dicky’s latest jam, Earth, takes on new and unusual subject matter, even for him: climate change. The 7-minute music video is his most celebrity-packed yet, featuring Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Halsey, Bad Bunny, PSY, Zac Brown, Miley Cyrus, Sia, Snoop Dogg, and more. How did Dicky get all those celebs to star on his track? Probably the same way he got strangers to let him use their mansions and yachts for free for his $ave Dat Money music video: a lot of begging.

Regardless of how Lil Dicky pulled it off, Earth is already trending on YouTube with 6 million views and climbing, and the rapper worked with the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation to donate proceeds from the video to climate and environment projects. So what all is the song about? Think “We Are The World,” but animated and millennial as f***.

The video opens with a clip of a newscaster talking about the fires that ripped through California last year. But the video rapidly leaves the sweltering California streets and enters an animated world, replete with talking bald eagles and safari animals.

Dicky frolics with penguins, analyzes chatty microbes under a microscope, and talks to a marijuana plant voiced by Snoop Dogg (duh). The video might look like a Disney channel special, but isn’t too concerned with being wholesome (Justin Bieber’s line: “I’m a baboon. I’m like a man just less advanced and my anus is huge).

The second half of the video is a call to action. “These days it’s like we don’t know how to act, all these shootings, pollution, we under attack on ourselves,” he says. “Like let’s all just chill.” Gripping stuff.

If you don’t want to watch an animated Lil Dicky sing about the planet in a loincloth g-string for seven minutes, I don’t blame you. But think of it this way: what if this whole video is a critique of the tired and worn-out tropes used by old-school Earth Day advocates? Hmm??

As Dicky recently told TIME in an interview, “If we don’t completely redefine how we do everything on earth, from an energy perspective, from a food perspective, from a conserving nature perspective, in the next 12 years, the damage is irreversible and we’re screwed.” Clearly, he knows that recycling bottles and changing light bulbs isn’t enough to get ourselves out of this climate predicament.

Then again, the celebrities in his video are contributing more than their fair share of pollution by jetting around the world to play shows, as Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg points out. Commenters have also noted some racist and misogynistic tropes. (Case in point: Lil Dicky points out India, Germany, and “Africa” as he twirls around the globe. You can’t group a whole continent with a bunch of countries, ya dingus.) Maybe this shit isn’t that deep and I’m just looking for an excuse to dunk on Earth Day? You be the judge.

Either way, the fact that Lil Dicky chose to focus one of his songs on climate change in the first place marks a shift in popular culture. “I’d like to figure out a way to impact humanity as best as I possibly can beyond my typical d**k and fart jokes,” he said. Well, Mr. Dicky, I guess you succeeded?


The internet is ablaze with Lil Dicky’s bizarre, star-studded climate anthem

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Jay Inslee raises the stakes for 2020 presidential candidates

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Washington State Governor Jay Inslee is considering running for president and he’s got one issue on the brain: climate change. On Wednesday, the Democrat took another step toward solidifying his green credentials by signing the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge.

Big whoop, right? Wrong.

Unlike Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, and other high-profile Democrats mulling (or already in the process of launching) presidential bids, Inslee isn’t exactly a household name. But the governor is betting that Americans have developed enough of an appetite for climate action to elect a candidate who puts it front and center — even if they haven’t heard of him.

Accepting or rejecting money from fossil fuels is developing into a sorting issue among Democrats. Progressives like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez argue politicians working on crafting environmental policies shouldn’t accept money from Big Oil, while establishment Democrats like Frank Pallone — the new chair of the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee — argue fossil fuel money is a necessary evil.

Inslee has a sturdy solid environmental record, though he isn’t immune to some pointed criticism from a few folks to his left. And while more than 1,300 American politicians have taken the pledge not to accept fossil fuel donations, Inslee is only the second governor and the third of the many prospective 2020 presidential candidates from the Democratic Party to reject any such donations that are larger than $200. Bernie, Senator Jeff Merkley from Oregon, and Governor Tim Walz from Minnesota have also taken the vow.

“This challenge calls for the scale of national effort similar to when we went to the moon, similar to when we beat fascism,” Inslee told HuffPost about what it will take to defeat climate change. “The Democratic Party has to put a candidate forward who will make it the primary commitment to get this stuff done.”


Jay Inslee raises the stakes for 2020 presidential candidates

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China said it was done with these coal plants. Satellite imagery shows otherwise.

Newly released satellite photos appear to show continuing construction of coal plants that China said it was cancelling last year, according to CoalSwarm.

“This new evidence that China’s central government hasn’t been able to stop the runaway coal-fired power plant building is alarming,” said Ted Nace, head of CoalSwarm, the nonprofit research network which analyzed and released the satellite images. “The planet can’t tolerate another U.S.-sized block of plants to be built.”

Experts said the images provide credible evidence that China is still building more coal-fired plants than its government claims. Take a look at these shots, the first from January 2017 and the second from this February.

Before…Planet Labs / CoalSwarm…and afterPlanet Labs / CoalSwarm

China burns more coal than the rest of the world combined. The dirty fossil fuel has powered the country’s rapid economic expansion over recent decades, the main reason China is the world’s largest polluter ahead of the United States. This is a problem China wants to fix — and it’s retiring the worst sources of pollution while bringing great gobs of cleaner power online. The country has pledged to begin reducing its rising greenhouse gas emissions no later than 2030. It can’t do that while also burning a lot more coal.

In January 2017, China announced that it was canceling more than 100 coal plants across 13 provinces. At the time, a researcher familiar with Chinese politics said that regional officials might try to skirt the central government’s order.

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“Some projects might have been ongoing for 10 years, and now there’s an order to stop them,” Lin Boqiang, an energy policy researcher at Xiamen University in southeastern China, told the New York Times. “It’s difficult to persuade the local governments to give up on them.”

Burning more coal is bad news for the climate and people’s lungs. But if new coal plants replace older, dirtier ones, “it actually could be good news,” said David Victor, a professor at the University of California, San Diego.

Most of the pictures CoalSwarm released show plants that are much more efficient than the Chinese average, Victor said. Of course, it would be better news for the climate if they were replacing those old coal plants with zero-carbon power.

Ultimately, China’s ability to cut carbon emissions will will depend on how quickly the economy transforms from dirty industrial manufacturing to “less carbon-intensive service sector growth,” said Peter Masters, who watches China’s energy moves for the research firm Rhodium Group.

In other words, China’s past economic growth came from building things like iPhones but future growth could come from designing and marketing their own gadgets. If China’s next wave of workers are designers, economists, and architects, rather than factory workers, it won’t necessarily need a surge of coal power.

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China said it was done with these coal plants. Satellite imagery shows otherwise.

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Uber and Lyft passengers are ultra-wealthy. Will this keep cities from investing in transit?

Turns out, a lot of Uber and Lyft users are rich. And not just a little rich: According to a new report, 45 percent of their customers in dense urban areas make over $200,000 per year. Eek. Only around 13 percent of Uber and Lyft passengers have incomes below $50,000. That could be bad for public transit — and the climate.

For years, ride-hailing companies have claimed their services will be a net-positive for energy use, traffic congestion, and urban planning. But research over the last year has suggested otherwise. Uber and Lyft pull riders away from public transit – rather than just away from their personal cars – and according to the same study, all those extra vehicles are choking up city streets.

In New York City subway ridership has fallen for the second year in a row, and transit authorities are blaming the rise of Uber and Lyft. And, given the new study, it could mean that it’s higher income transit riders that are increasingly avoiding mass transit.

The danger of this trend is that the most affluent city residents won’t see any reason to invest in — and vote for — big transit projects, which are essential to lowering transport emissions and creating more livable cities. “If the affluent voter or the swing voter is not taking the bus anyway, it’s really easy for people to just say: ‘Oh, we can just take Uber and forget about any kind of public transport,’” says Nicole Gelinas, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute who researches transportation. Meanwhile, low-income residents who depend most on mass transit could be left behind.

Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers-funded conservative lobbying group, has used ride-hailing to attack public transit projects around the country. Organizers often use Uber, Lyft, and autonomous vehicles as examples of the future of public transit, ignoring the fact that these services will be out of reach for many low-income residents.

“If you’re wealthier and your subway doesn’t work [well], it’s not as much of a burden to take an Uber instead. But if you’re less wealthy and trying to get to work, you could easily lose half a day’s pay trying to find a different way of getting around,” Gelinas says.

And right now, no one using ride-hailing services is paying full price. “TNCs [transportation network companies] are at the moment still pretty heavily subsidized by venture capital,” says Carter Rubin, mobility and climate advocate at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “These companies don’t make money, so everyone is getting a nice discount.”

For the time being, that means that Uber and Lyft are more accessible to low-income residents than they would be otherwise — but it also means that prices could shift at any time.

In some ways, Uber and Lyft have been a boon to low-income and minority communities. A recent study shows that their cars service areas that taxis have traditionally avoided, and that people of color face less discrimination when hailing a Lyft or Uber than a taxi.

But it’s worrisome that what some view as the transportation method of the future is, at the moment, mostly accessible to the ultra-rich among us.

And ride-sharing can’t save us from climate change: only high-density public transit can. As Rubin tells Grist: “The idea that TNCs and autonomous vehicles will get us out of our transit problems — it just doesn’t square with the geometric realities of our climate goals.”

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Uber and Lyft passengers are ultra-wealthy. Will this keep cities from investing in transit?

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Why Don’t More People Care About Climate Change?

Today, one of the primary focuses of work on climate change has less to do with conservation and more to do with the human heart. The truth is: people know the facts about climate change ? or they’re starting to ? but they just don’t care that much.

Research into the psychology of risk perception clearly demonstrates that simply knowing about potential danger, no matter how monumental, is likely to elicit only indifference?if it’s too abstract. A distant, impersonal threat?just isn’t scary enough; whereas, confronting an immediate threat?? say, a hungry?tiger for example ? would kick you into action. Right now, climate change doesn’t feel “it could ruin my life, if not kill me” personal.

I mean, let’s be real: can you name a single?way that climate change will seriously and negatively impact you ? you, personally ? in the next ten years? You probably can’t. Most people, even the most ardent of believers, can’t.

So, let me ask you this: do you feel that?same sort of blas? attitude bubbling up within you? Does climate change feel like a five-years-from-now problem? A decade-from now problem? A generation-from-now problem? You’re not alone.

But here’s the thing: you and I both live on streets in neighborhoods and communities ? not in the rainforest. We both care about the weather. We both want our food systems to stay healthy. We both want to keep our homes flood free, but keep our access to clean drinking water. Buying into the myths that “climate change is someone else’s problem,” or “climate change won’t affect me” puts these beautiful things at risk. And the reality is, climate change is?already affecting us. This is not tomorrow’s problem.

Here are just a few of the ways?climate change is worth your immediate attention.

Extreme weather events?are coming to your front door.

Extreme weather events like?tornadoes, hurricanes and widespread forest fires are becoming more common. In fact, the intensity, frequency and duration of North Atlantic hurricanes have all increased just since the 1980s. Tidal floods have also increased tenfold in several US coastal cities since the 1960s.

It’s getting hotter ? way hotter.

Average annual temperatures?in the United States have already increased by 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit between 1901 and 2016. Cities are bearing the brunt of this, experiencing an increase in daytime temperatures up to 7 degrees Fahrenheit. This is especially true in the Eastern and Southeastern United States.

Rainfall is more aggressive.

Rainfall in the Midwest, and the Northern and Southern Plains is increasing significantly, but much of the West, Southwest and Southeast is?getting drier, causing serious droughts. Heavy rainfall in the former areas is becoming more frequent, causing deadly flash floods and nutrient runoff, which affects water quality and is shutting down fisheries.

Sea levels are rising.

So far, the global sea level has already risen by about 8 inches since reliable record keeping began back in 1880. Scientists project that it will rise an additional 4 feet by 2100. That’s just around the corner! On a similar note, the arctic is likely to be completely ice free in summer before the middle of this century.

But you probably know this. Here are some even more specific ways climate change is affecting your daily life.

Beer is suffering.

First, many breweries are encountering shortages of fresh, clean water for brewing. Second, heavy rains in Australia and drought in England have damaged barley crops and hops crops. Your coffee supply is experiencing the same issues with production.

Grocery prices are spiking.

Climate change is affecting global agricultural supply. Extreme weather events area already severely damaging the food supply of African and Central America, causing civil unrest. Why? Staples of daily life are suddenly unaffordable.

Many homeowners can no longer insure their homes.

Faced with several rounds of losses due to severe storms, many insurers have been drastically altering their underwriting of homeowner policies. Premiums for those?who live in?South Carolina or?Florida, for example, have skyrocketed.

Our lakes and forests are disappearing.

Vast swaths of pine forest have been devastated by bark beetles and forest fires, thanks to rising global temperatures, and lakebeds across the United States are drying up. One third of the world’s major lakes and rivers are drying up, affecting water supplies for more than 3 billion people.

Now that’s personal.

Related Stories:

6 Surprising Ways Climate Change Impacts Health
How Climate Change is Bad For Our Pets
What You Can Eat to Fight Climate Change

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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Why Don’t More People Care About Climate Change?

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Here’s the one dude defending Trump’s latest bid to save coal

President Trump keeps trying to make coal happen. Last week, he told Energy Secretary Rick Perry to extend a lifeline to unprofitable coal and nuclear plants that are struggling to survive while competing against natural gas plants and renewables.

The rationale for propping up these plants? We might need their power soon. The United States keeps shutting down old power plants and some worry we’re losing too much too fast. In an op-ed  supporting Trump’s move, Terry Jarrett, a former regulator of Missouri’s utilities, argues we’re going to be sorry we don’t have that extra capacity.

Jarrett points out a Department of Energy finding that without coal plants, the Eastern U.S. would have suffered serve electricity shortages and blackouts during last winter’s “bomb cyclone.”

Blackouts aren’t just inconvenient and expensive — as we saw in Puerto Rico, they can be deadly. Without electricity, pumps stop pushing water into houses, sewage systems back up, and ventilators flatline in hospitals.

That study Jarrett cites notes that during the harsh weather, congestion in pipelines kept natural gas plants from ramping up, while wind and solar generation faltered. But does that mean blackouts are more likely if we don’t bail out coal and nuclear plants? Not according to another DOE study, which concluded that retiring old plants and building a diverse set of new plants actually would make the energy system more resilient.

Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner Richard Glick cited this second study while rejecting the Trump administration’s last bid to save unprofitable plants in January. “There is no evidence in the record to suggest that temporarily delaying the retirement of uncompetitive coal and nuclear generators would meaningfully improve the resilience of the grid,” Glick wrote. Trump appointed Glick, and all but one of the other FERC commissioners (they may thwart this new proposal as well).

This proposal is unpopular not just among Trump appointees, but also fossil fuel companies, and utilities, along with the renewables industry and environmental groups (obviously).

Although there are some environmentalists, like those at Third Way, who favor subsidizing nuclear plants, they aren’t buying the assertion that we’ll have blackouts if we don’t we keep old nuclear and coal plants running.

So there’s a ridiculously broad coalition of interests saying this is a dumb idea. It’s harder to find people supporting this idea, whether they care about climate change or not. It’s probably safe to say that Jarrett, who likes to tweet articles from climate denier websites, belongs to the latter category.

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Here’s the one dude defending Trump’s latest bid to save coal

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