Sept. 8, 2021

This Week In Climate | September 9th, 2021

This Week In Climate | September 9th, 2021

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News Corp Comes Around

Executives at News Corp, the parent company of Fox News, said on Monday that they would begin publishing editorial content promoting carbon neutrality. Describing the effort in general terms, News Corp officials told the Sydney Morning Herald that its Australian Sky News channel would advocate for Australia achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. The announcement comes on the same day the conservative-led Australian government said it would continue to export coal “well beyond 2030,” in stark defiance of demands made by climate scientists for decades. The timing of News Corp’s announcement has led critics to suggest the focus on 2050 emissions goals could be a ploy to give the Australian government long-term cover for their decision on coal exports. Climate researchers who have found themselves the focus of News Corp’s decades-long disinformation campaign on climate science are skeptical. Climatologist and IPCC co-author Michael Mann put it this way: “Until Rupert Murdoch and News Corp call off their attack dogs at Fox News and The Wall Street Journal, who continue to promote climate change disinformation on a daily basis, these are hollow promises that should be viewed as a desperate ploy to rehabilitate the public image of a leading climate villain.”

Blockchain Keeps Us Together

An international collaboration operating under the name Project Edge announced this week that it has launched a first-of-its kind blockchain network to increase the scale and efficiency of solar power in Australia. The project’s aim is to use blockchain to securely share generation and storage data from Australia’s solar panel-clad roofs to the power grids and utilities that will purchase and distribute their outputs. While similar projects have previously been launched elsewhere, Project Edge leaders point out that their project is the first to create an ecosystem between power producers at the local level and distributors of large and small-scale grids. Australia is uniquely well-positioned to deploy the suite of technologies put to use by the project. Roughly a quarter of Australian households are equipped with solar panels, and in some areas that number rises to two-fifths. Project Edge’s system will issue “passports” to users who can securely sell their electricity to utilities. The utilities can in turn use contributors’ data to optimize their operations and order batteries and appliances to avoid overused substations, allowing for savings on maintenance costs. 

Call A Doctor

Last Sunday, researchers from more than 230 medical journals sounded a clarion call for world leaders to pay attention to the looming health effects of climate change that have so far gone overlooked. Heat-related deaths have leapt by 50% for people over 65 in the past 20 years, but higher temperatures are linked to a litany of other complications. Increased rates of skin cancer, kidney malfunction, tropical disease and mental issues, just to name a few, have all been linked to climate change. But the report does offer a sliver lining: the daunting health care costs associated a hotter planet make the business case for transitioning to renewable energy all the more obvious. The editorial cites one figure that puts the savings for air quality improvements alone in the trillions for countries such as India and China. Beyond the funding, research and coordination the authors stress is necessary, the world must realize that “No temperature rise is ‘safe.”

Evolution Hits Fast Forward

Data gathered from all corners of the globe suggests that warm-blooded animals are “shapeshifting” to adapt to a rapidly warming planet. The research published in the journal Trends in Ecology & Evolution focused on changes to appendages in birds, such as larger beaks and legs, from North America to Australia. The uninsulated body parts of many animals serve as outlets for excess bodily heat, and their growth correlates with rising temperatures over recent decades. But as the authors point out, “adapting” is a tricky term to ascribe to the changes. Just because birds are developing bigger beaks to deal with more heat, this “does not mean that animals are coping with climate change and that all is fine,” according Sara Ryding, the study’s author. Whether or not the shapeshifting will continue as time goes on is unclear, but the findings are yet another data point that humans are far from the only species struggling to get by in the Anthropocene.

Music Festival Footprint 

The music festival industry, like so many others around the world, had its first public reckoning with climate change this week. English electronic band Massive Attack partnered with researchers at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in England to share data from their most recent tour in the hopes of bringing attention to the carbon footprint of the music industry. The result was a list of recommendations that included forgoing private jets for trains, increasing renewable energy generation at festival sites, and using more energy efficient equipment. But other measures such as including public transport in ticket prices and choosing more central venues could appeal to spectators as much as the planet. 

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Music from Blue Dot Sessions under creative commons license. 

Silver Lanyard by Blue Dot Sessions

These Times by Blue Dot Sessions