Newsdesk – February 9

Illustration by Bill Bragg

Climate change is the deadliest legacy we will leave the young.  Property prices, pensions and austerity will pale into insignificance compared with the effects of global warming on the next generation. There is nothing wrong with the version of intergenerational inequality that existed in the developed world for much of the 20th century, which was based on the idea that life should be gradually better, from one generation to another – more secure, more prosperous, healthier, longer. However,  the central premise of capitalism, the idea that work was the means to escape from poverty and towards a decent standard of living, has been broken by the stagnation of pay growth.  The inflation in property prices has caused the collapse in levels of home-ownership among the young, in which a huge proportion of people’s earnings are consumed by housing costs. How is the intergenerational inequality linked to climate change? If you look at the reports from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and the projections of what a warmer world is going to look like, and how quickly it could arrive, you realize we are facing the prospect of the most radical form of intergenerational inequality the world has ever seen – The Guardian

  • Wildfires, hurricanes and other extreme weather cost the nation 247 lives, nearly $100 billion in damage during 2018 – The Washington Post 
  • Greenland’s Rapid Ice Melt Persists Even in Winter – Eco Watch 
  • Research: When Environmental Regulations Are Tighter at Home, Companies Emit More Abroad – Harvard Business Review 
  • Power Companies vs. the Polar Vortex: How Did the Grid Hold Up? –
  • Rising Temperatures Could Melt Most Himalayan Glaciers by 2100 – The New York Times 
  • How can we get rid of the excess water of our rising sea levels? – The Guardian
  • Early spring rain boosts methane from thawing permafrost by 30 percent –
Respondents to surveys said they’d personally noticed extreme weather and less snow. Photograph: Massimo Rumi/Barcroft Images

How to change the minds of climate deniers. A recent Monmouth poll found that 78% of Americans believe climate change is real and leading to sea-level rise and more extreme weather. That’s up from 70% three years ago. The headline-grabbing takeaway: a majority of Republicans – 64% – are now believers, a 15-point jump from 2015. Who are these people, anyway, and what’s their deal? “All kinds of people are changing their minds and accepting the science, regardless of age, education level, or political affiliation,” said Jennifer Marlon, a research scientist at Yale and an author of the new analysis. There are some clear trends, however. More than any other age group, 11% of adults 65 or older reported that they’d recently shifted their views. There also appears to be a gender dynamic: women were 4% more likely than men to say they had recently changed their opinion about climate change. Researchers identified three main reasons why Americans were shifting their perspectives on climate change. They’d either personally experienced the effects of global warming, like extreme weather and warmer seasons, or realized how serious the problem was, or simply become more informed. Marlon recommends helping people make the connection themselves. If a friend shares fake news about climate change, it’s probably more effective to reach out to them in private than to attack them in front of their friends and family – The Guardian 

The plastics issue we seem to ignore. Giant petrochemical companies have announced a wealthy alliance to tackle plastic pollution. But there’s little talk of scaling back production to help the environment.  Back in 1977, The New York Times published an in-depth article entitled “The Promise and Perils of Petrochemicals.” It offered an insight into the complexities and “alchemy” of synthetics manufacture, and claimed that products such as plastics are often created more to meet the needs of industry than those of the consumer. In the same breath, it warned that large-scale production could, in years to come, become an environmental hazard. Today that prophecy is graphically borne out in abundant images from across the world of clogged waterways, dead wildlife and trash heaped as far, high and wide as the eye can see.  Over 90 percent of 8.3 billion tons of plastic we’ve churned out to date, has not been recycled. According to a 2016 report by the World Economic Forum, we’re on track to quadruple our total output by 2050 – Made for Minds

Amr Alfiky/NPR

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Releases Green New Deal Outline. This past Thursday the congresswoman from New York and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass were introducing a framework defining what they call a “Green New Deal” — a massive policy package that would remake the U.S. economy and eliminate all U.S. carbon emissions across the economy, from electricity generation to transportation to agriculture. What are the specifics of that framework? Among the most prominent, the deal calls for upgrading all existing buildings in the country for energy efficiency; working with farmers to eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions while supporting family farms and promoting universal access to healthy food; overhauling transportation systems to reduce emissions including expanding electric car manufacturing, building charging stations everywhere, and expanding high-speed rail to a scale where air travel stops becoming necessary.  In addition, the Green New Deal framework will guarantee job with a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations and retirement security, and high-quality health care for each American – NPR