Posts

How wildfires make COVID more dangerous

by Julia Rosen, The New York Times


Highlights

  • With wildfire season fast approaching, concerns about fire smoke as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic are rising
  • Scientists worry that wildfire smoke will have effects for months as a recent study in Montana showed that smoky summers led to more severe flu seasons the following winter
  • People who contract COVID while also inhaling smoky air from fires could experience more severe effects of the coronavirus
  • Preparing for smoke beforehand will help prevent some respiratory effects:
    • Using new filters in your home or purchase a portable air filter
    • Using N95 respirator masks for smoke instead of cloth masks
    • Take advantage of windy days where the smoke temporarily clears to get some fresh air

Increased air pollution from fires and fossil fuel emissions makes all of us more vulnerable to the current COVID-19 pandemic. For a safe and healthy future for all, endorse the Climate-Safe California Platform to implement scalable solutions that can reverse the climate crisis.


Read More: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/08/climate/wildfires-smoke-covid-coronavirus.html

Over 5,600 fossil fuel companies have taken at least $3bn in US Covid-19 aid

by Emily Holden, The Guardian


Highlights

  • The Small Business Administration (SBA) released data showing that oil and gas drillers, coal mine operators, refiners, and pipeline companies have taken advantage of federal coronavirus aid
  • Companies include: Navajo Transitional Energy Company, CCU Coal and Construction, Sunflower Electric Power Corporation, and thousands more
  • Four companies that received aid were recently listed in the top 10 drilling rig operators in Texas 
  • The estimated $3 billion in aid taken by these companies is thought to be a lower estimation than what was actually given. It is expected that the actual dollar amount is closer to $7 billion
  • Though these businesses were not exempt from receiving aid funds, all of the aid should’ve gone to smaller business, not giant polluting corporations
  • Jesse Coleman, a researcher for Documented, believes that giving aid to the oil industry is a waste of taxpayer money:

“We should not be wasting taxpayer dollars on an industry that’s in a tailspin of its own making, especially when it seems intent on bringing the whole planet down with it.”

  • California biofuel company Pacific Ethanol also received aid funds even though they have a long history of environmental violations

Fossil fuel divestment and the transition to 100% clean energy is critical to achieving The Climate Center’s goals under the Climate-Safe California Platform.


Read More: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jul/07/fossil-fuel-industry-coronavirus-aid-us-analysis

COVID-19

Fact check: The coronavirus pandemic isn’t slowing climate change

by Matthew Brown, USA Today


Highlights

  • The shelter in place measures spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a drop of emissions, but this drop was not significant enough to significantly slow climate change
  • Although The International Energy Agency projects global carbon emissions will fall by 8%, this year is set to be the hottest year ever on record
  • Alex Hall, a professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences at UCLA, explains that the environmental effects of the pandemic will not have lasting effects:

“Because changes in the climate are the result of decades of accumulating greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, one year of slightly falling emissions will not counter long-term effects.”

  • Carbon sequestration is important because the atmospheric concentration of CO2 has been building up for years and will take longer to return to normal levels
  • Emissions reductions due to the pandemic are not sustainable because they are the result of an economic disaster and will ultimately rise again once the economy stabilizes

Increased air pollution from fires and fossil fuel emissions makes all of us more vulnerable to the current COVID-19 pandemic. For a safe and healthy future for all, endorse the Climate-Safe California Platform to implement scalable solutions that can reverse the climate crisis.


Read more: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2020/05/11/fact-check-coronavirus-pandemic-isnt-slowing-climate-change/3090790001/

Oil price collapses to below zero as demand takes a dive during pandemic

From Bloomberg


Highlights

The coronavirus pandemic has caused oil markets to plunge into the negative due to a lack of storage for unused oil.

  •  Michael Tran, managing director of global energy strategy at RBC Capital Markets, says that there is little to be done about the market nose-diving even further:

“Refiners are rejecting barrels at a historic pace, and with U.S. storage levels sprinting to the brim, market forces will inflict further pain until either we hit rock bottom or COVID clears, whichever comes first, but it looks like the former.”

  • As demand decreases and storage is scarce, oil producers are still pumping, resulting in an oversupply of the market and fire sales for producers who don’t have access to storage
  • Even though OPEC recently helped end the oil price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia to curb supply, the effort proving too little, too late in the face of a  collapse in global demand
  • Even before the big price drop, buyers in Texas were offering as little as $2 a barrel and in Asia, bankers are reluctant to give commodity traders the credit to survive as lenders grow ever more fearful about the risk of default
  • Retail investors are continuing to invest money into oil futures despite the recent plunge. The U.S. Oil Fund exchange-traded fund saw a record $552 million come in Friday, taking total inflows last week to $1.6 billion
  • Though crude explorers shut down 13% of the American drilling fleet last week, production cuts are not occurring quickly enough to alleviate the storage issue

The Climate Center’s Climate-Safe California platform aims to secure a positive transition for workers and their families whose livelihoods depend on fossil fuel industries. Endorse the platform here


Read more: https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2020-04-20/oil-prices-plunge-below-zero-wti-may-contract

Fracking rig operates next to a walking and bike way for residents of Signal Hill drilling into the Los Angeles Oil Field. Photo by Sarah Craig.

Gov. Newsom leads on public health, except when it comes to the oil industry

By Rosanna Esparza and Ashley Hernandez, The Sacramento Bee


ACTION ALERT: Send Governor Newsom a message now to reverse his decision and halt fracking.

Highlights

California Governor Gavin Newsom approved 24 new fracking permits for the state in the midst of shelter-at-home mandates as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on.

  • Though Newsom is doing great at keeping Californians safe during this pandemic, his leadership and aggressive policies should apply to regulating and shutting down the oil industry as well
  • Pollution from oil wells is prevalent in places such as Kern County and South Los Angeles, leading these areas to have higher rates of respiratory issues
  • The oil industry has successfully lobbied the federal government in efforts to suspend environmental regulations regarding pollution due to the coronavirus. Now the California Independent Oil Producers Association has sent letters to the Governor asking him to halt plans to hire new positions at California’s oil regulating body intended to focus on enforcement
  • Governor Newsom should prioritize public health in our most vulnerable communities and not the needs of the fossil fuel industry

Increased air pollution from fires and fossil fuel emissions makes all of us more vulnerable to the current COVID-19 pandemic. With community energy resilience we can ensure that our power is clean and not further contributing to emissions in our communities. For a safe and healthy future for all, endorse the Climate-Safe California Platform to implement scalable solutions that can reverse the climate crisis.


Read more: https://www.sacbee.com/opinion/california-forum/article242059966.html

Climate change won’t stop for the coronavirus pandemic

By Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica


Highlights

Inevitable climate-change fueled catastrophes such as wildfires and hurricanes will increase the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Climate change has amplified the threats of natural disasters over the years and will prove disastrous as the pandemic rages on worldwide
  • The U.S. National Climate Assessment warned that scientists and officials often fail to consider “compound extremes,” meaning the impact of multiple disastrous events occurring at once
  • There are 25 states at risk for major flooding events this spring. Warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico make it likely that a hurricane will make landfall this summer when we are likely to still be fighting the effects of the COVID pandemic
  • If major events occur that force people into evacuation centers, it will be hard to maintain social distancing and nearly impossible to self-isolate, creating an environment where more people can become sick
  • The economic toll of a disaster during this pandemic can raise recovery costs by the billions
  • States should start planning how to handle a disaster during this pandemic by reviewing preparedness plans and disaster response
  • FEMA has stated that it is working on disaster preparedness during the pandemic, but many people are skeptical that its efforts will be beneficial

Increased air pollution from fires and fossil fuel emissions make all of us more vulnerable to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Community energy resilience means power that is clean and reliable, even in the face of power shutoffs during disasters. For a safe and healthy future for all, endorse the Climate-Safe California Platform to implement scalable solutions that can reverse the climate crisis.


Read more: https://www.propublica.org/article/climate-change-wont-stop-for-the-coronavirus-pandemic?

Air pollution linked to far higher Covid-19 death rates, Harvard study finds

by Damian Carrington, The Guardian


Highlights

New research from the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health suggests that air pollution is linked to higher death rates for people that have contracted COVID-19 compared to those living in areas with cleaner air.

  • Living in a polluted city in the past has an effect on death rates for COVID- 19: Exposure to small particulate matter 15 to 20 years before the pandemic has had an effect on current coronovirus death rates
  • Abnormally high death rates due to COVID-19  in Northern Italy are likely due to the large amount of air pollution in that region
  • Previous studies on the SARS outbreak, which was another coronavirus, also suggest that air pollution increased the risk of death when infected
  • The study highlights the importance of enforcing air pollution regulations knowing that it has an effect on survival rates and that areas with high pollution must take extra precautions to avoid a higher death toll c
  • Despite this evidence, the US EPA under the Trump Administration just suspended enforcement of environmental laws

In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, we must re-examine the ways in which we move around. The Climate Center is committed to working with state and local lawmakers to put us on track for a Climate-Safe California, which will include clean energy and clean mobility.


Read More: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/apr/07/air-pollution-linked-to-far-higher-covid-19-death-rates-study-finds

As coronavirus infects markets, sustainable funds prove their mettle

by


Highlights:

Clean energy-based investments, known as Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) funds, are performing better than fossil fuel backed investments during the current financial decline.

  • ESG funds were not considered safe investments by naysayers, but the hits taken throughout the year are not nearly as bad as their fossil fuel counterparts 
  • $30 trillion of the world’s assets are now in ESG funds and climate-conscious, wealthy millennials play a huge part in these investments
  • ESG funds are now being incorporated into 401(k)’s and retirement plans
  • Volatile oil prices are a major reason why ESG funds are more stable since these funds stay away from major fossil fuel investments 

The Climate Center’s Business for Clean Energy network supports businesses committed to a climate-safe California.


Read More: https://grist.org/energy/as-coronavirus-infects-markets-sustainable-funds-prove-their-mettle/

Op-ed: Coronavirus pandemic—the consequences of sidelining science

by Derrick Z. Jackson, Union of Concerned Scientists


Highlights:

Journalist Derrick Z. Jackson explains how the current administration is ignoring the science behind the COVID-19 outbreak, and jeopardizing many lives in the process.

  • Wealthy corporations such as Target and Walgreens have offered support during this time as locations for potential drive-in style testing facilities
  • The White House denied early test kits from the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Prevention
  • Many scientists and disease control experts are missing from key coronavirus meetings in the White House due to the elimination of the pandemic team and sidelining of science-based researchers. Had these people been present, the US would have a better approach to this pandemic
  • Cheerleading the minimal efforts from big corporations will not help us during this crisis. Only science-backed solutions concerning our health and safety will help the American people

The COVID-19 pandemic is a stark reminder that we ignore the science at our own peril and early action saves lives. Scientists are increasingly warning that to avoid catastrophic impacts from climate change, the world’s governments must implement massive reductions of warming emissions. To avert dire consequences in-state and to inspire greater climate action worldwide, California must accelerate its climate leadership and policy timelines now.


Read More: https://blog.ucsusa.org/derrick-jackson/coronavirus-pandemic-science-sidelined-in-trump-rose-garden-fiasco

Coronavirus shutdowns are lowering greenhouse gas emissions; history shows they’ll roar back

by Tony Barboza, The Los Angeles Times


Highlights:

As the world shelters-in-place due to the pandemic of COVID-19, greenhouse gas emissions have lowered. However, this reduction in emissions is temporary and emissions will rise again once the pandemic reaches an end:

  • Once self-isolation and quarantines end, more people will travel by car and airplane, ruining any decrease in emissions due to the outbreak
  • Scientists and environmentalists worry the pandemic will halt progress being made on emissions reductions as certain industries, such as airlines, try to revive themselves
  • In Europe, some airline companies have pushed regulators to delay emissions-cutting policies on account of the coronavirus. The Czech Republic’s prime minister urged the European Union to abandon a landmark law seeking net zero carbon emissions to focus instead on battling the outbreak.
  • Many are hopeful that the increase in telecommunications during the pandemic will stick around, lowering emissions from commuting to work in an office
  • The failure of the world to adequately respond to the pandemic parallels international efforts to respond to the climate crisis, which will ultimately have a longer, more dire effects on the world economy and population if global average temperatures rise 2 degrees C or more

The COVID-19 pandemic is a stark reminder that we ignore the science at our own peril and early action saves lives. Scientists are increasingly warning that to avoid catastrophic impacts from climate change, the world’s governments must implement massive reductions of warming emissions. To avert dire consequences in-state and to inspire greater climate action worldwide, California must accelerate its climate leadership and policy timelines now.


Read More: https://www.latimes.com/environment/story/2020-03-19/coronavirus-shutdowns-are-lowering-greenhouse-emissions-history-shows-theyll-come-roaring-back