“This exorbitant price tag, driven by an unparalleled number of weather and climate disasters, reinforces the urgent need for the Biden administration to use every tool at their disposal,” said one campaigner.
After an unprecedented number of billion-dollar extreme weather disasters across the United States last year, advocacy groups on Friday released an updated “Cost of Inaction Ticker” estimating the price of not tackling the fossil fuel-driven climate emergency.
Launched by the Climate Action Campaign and other groups in 2022, the ticker is based on data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which found that 2023 was the hottest year on record and the 28 disasters that caused at least $1 billion in damage collectively cost Americans at least $92.9 billion, or $2,945.84 per second.
“The world is failing to get a grip on the climate crisis.”
That’s how United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres began his Tuesday remarks about a new U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) report on nationally determined contributions (NDCs), or countries’ plans to meet the goals of the Paris agreement, including its 1.5°C temperature target.
The UNFCCC analysis “provides yet more evidence that the world remains massively off track to limiting global warming to 1.5°C and avoiding the worst of climate catastrophe,” said Guterres. “As the report shows, global ambition stagnated over the past year and national climate plans are strikingly misaligned with the science.”
Most Americans are aware that with housing costs on the rise, more and more of us are experiencing periods of homelessness. Based on the relative dearth of national coverage, I presume far fewer of us are aware that major insurance companies have begun pulling out of areas identified as being at heightened risk due to climate change, leaving homeowners in the lurch. I wrote about the impact on Florida in July, but it turns out the problem is much larger than a single state, with California also heavily affected.
Over the next few years, it seems likely these two problems – unaffordable housing and unaffordable insurance in at-risk areas – will spiral into a potentially catastrophic cycle. Not only will some Americans be forced to abandon their homes, but the housing in these areas at high risk of damage from storms or wildfires will likely stand empty (as long as homes continue to stand at all), all of which will further drive demand up in a housing market that already prices out far too many people.
“With so many major drivers of change predicted to worsen,” said one researcher, “it is expected that the increase of invasive alien species and their negative impacts, are likely to be significantly greater.”
As wildfires burned through 3,200 acres of land on the Hawaiian island of Maui earlier this month, ultimately killing at least 115 people and destroying the city of Lahaina, some observers noted that the dry grasses that colonial occupiers introduced in the place of Hawaii’s natural forests made the fires spread faster than they would have if the land had been left intact.
On Monday, a study resulting from nearly five years of research by experts from 49 countries revealed how the grasses are among thousands of harmful invasive alien species that have been introduced by human activities and placed communities across the globe at risk, with the human-driven climate emergency often exacerbating the negative impact of invasive plant and animal species.
The federal judge said that the “highly uncertain effects of this project, when considered in light of its massive scope and setting, raise substantial questions about whether this project will have a significant effect on the environment.”
Two days before he left office, a political appointee for President Donald Trump removed protections from old-growth trees in Oregon and Washington. On Thursday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew Hallman ruled that decision was illegal.
Hallman vacated the U.S. Forest Service’s finding that the change would have no impact, and ordered the agency to carry out a full environmental impact statement of the proposal, as The Associated Press reported.
Nearly eight years since 21 young Americans launched a landmark federal climate lawsuit against the U.S. government, their lawyers this week called out President Joe Biden’s administration for trying to get the case dismissed using recycled arguments.
In a Friday statement responding to the U.S. Department of Justice’s most recent push to have Juliana v. United States dismissed, Andrea Rodgers, one of the Our Children’s Trust attorneys for the youth plaintiffs, charged that “the DOJ’s conduct throughout the course of this case has been nothing short of outrageous.”
Following a May of record ocean temperatures and a June of record air temperatures, scientists are warning that 2023 could be the hottest year on record.
For a brief period in June, average global air temperatures even topped 1.5°C above preindustrial levels, the temperature goal enshrined by the Paris climate agreement.
“The world has just experienced its warmest early June on record, following a month of May that was less than 0.1°C cooler than the warmest May on record,” the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) Deputy Director Samantha Burgess said in a statement. “Monitoring our climate is more important than ever to determine how often and for how long global temperatures are exceeding 1.5°C. Every single fraction of a degree matters to avoid even more severe consequences of the climate crisis.”
The first-ever constitutional climate trial in the United States—the result of 16 youth suing the Montana government for promoting and supporting fossil fuels that dangerously warm up the planet—kicked off in Helena on Monday.
“Going to trial means a chance for me and my fellow plaintiffs to have our climate injuries recognized and a solution realized. It means our voices are actually being heard by the courts, the government, the people who serve to protect us as citizens, and Montana’s youth,” Grace, one of the 16 young people behind Held v. State of Montana, said in a statement earlier this year.
“By underwriting and investing in new and expanded fossil fuel projects, U.S. insurers are helping Big Oil bring us closer to the worst runaway climate scenarios,” said Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse.
As insurance giants limit coverage in hundreds of disaster-prone areas across the United States, a Senate panel on Friday launched an investigation into seven major carriers’ continued backing of planet-heating fossil fuel projects that are driving increasingly frequent and severe extreme weather.
Senate Budget Committee Chair Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) sent letters to the executives of seven companies—American Insurance Group (AIG), Berkshire Hathaway, Chubb, Liberty Mutual Group, Starr Wright USA, State Farm, and Travelers Insurance—demanding that each firm disclose how it underwrites, invests in, and profits from coal, oil, and gas.
As smoke from massive wildfires in Quebec blanketed much of the eastern U.S., forcing millions to stay indoors as state governments issued code-red air quality alerts, a longtime shill for the fossil fuel and tobacco industries falsely told Fox News viewers late Wednesday that there is actually “no health risk” associated with inhaling such polluted air.
“Look, the air is ugly, it’s unpleasant to breathe, and for a lot of people, they get anxiety over it. But the reality is there’s no health risk,” Steve Milloy, a senior policy fellow at the Energy & Environment Legal Institute, told Fox‘s Laura Ingraham. “We have this kind of air in India and China all the time—no public health emergency.”