Eric

British Columbia’s new government explained with toddlers.

Scientific American maps economic damage from climate change by county, and the Sun Belt gets hammered.

New research from scientists at Carnegie Mellon University shows that coal transport and stockpiling are harmful to public health. From the abstract:

We first demonstrate that a 10% increase in coal stockpiles (number of deliveries) results in a 0.07% (0.16%) increase in the average concentration of fine particulates (PM2.5) for locations up to 25 miles away… a 10% increase in PM2.5 leads to a 1.1% (6.6%) increase in average adult (infant) mortality rates… Our estimated increase in mortality rates implies local environmental costs of $183 ($203) per ton of coal stockpiled (delivered).

That’s sobering news for residents of the Longview, Washington are where the last remaining Northwest coal export proposal continue to stagger forward toward approval.

Anna

For more than a week in late June, much of the US Southwest was hit by a brutal heat wave. Remember, it was too hot for certain aircraft to take off? In Phoenix, temperatures were 10 to 15 degrees above average, and new temperature records were set for three days in a row from June 19 to 21, reaching as high as 119 degrees. People in Las Vegas suffered similar record-breaking daily temperatures, and the city tied its all-time high temperature record of 117 degrees on June 20. Media Matters studied news coverage and here’s what they found:

Major television network affiliates in the metropolitan areas most affected by a record-breaking heat wave in June failed to discuss how climate change exacerbates such heat waves or mention that it will make them more frequent in the future, and major national TV networks neglected to report on the connection, too. Over eight days in late June, major TV affiliates in Phoenix and Las Vegas aired a combined 433 broadcasts that included a segment or weathercast about the heat wave, but only one of those mentioned climate change—and that one downplayed its impact.

The heat wave overlapped with the publication of an alarming new study on June 19 in the journal Nature Climate Change that found that, because of climate change, almost a third of the world’s population faces deadly heat waves at least 20 days a year—and that more than twice that percentage could experience the same by 2100. In his article on the study’s findings, Seth Borenstein of The Associated Press connected the study to the heat wave in the Southwest. But Media Matters shows that local affiliates failed to report on that study or make the connection. Yet they aired segments focused on a study about how climate change could affect the flavor of Ethiopian-produced coffee (even though the studies were published on the same day).

A while ago I posted about just a handful of the dozens and dozens of well-studied cognitive biases (ways humans are not great at the whole reason thing) to remind us all that not only do we need to grasp these to be better messengers, but we also need to recognize them in ourselves to be better listeners, to rein in our own part in spiraling partisanship… and to be all-around better people. As a helpful follow-up, I give you Countable’s 5 ways to combat our own confirmation biases. (While you’re at it, it’s also worth checking out their resources on what’s happening right now in US government and how to have your voice heard.)

Generally it seems that climate concern among US voters of all stripes is on the rise. And Yale recently found that more than half of Americans (58 percent) believe climate change is mostly human-caused—the highest number since 2008. However, they also found that only about one in eight Americans (13 percent) understands that nearly all climate scientists (more than 90 percent—and more like 97 percent) are convinced that human-caused global warming is happening. See also: Vox’s @ruairiak on that dispiriting number and why science acceptance is a “gateway” to deeper levels of concern and engagement.

Kelsey

I recently finished David Sedaris’ new book, Theft by Finding, which is a compilation of his diary entries from the years 1977-2002. True to form, Sedaris, known for his quirks and twisted humor, strays away from personal reflection and devotes most entries to day-to-day observations, quotes overheard from strangers (usually at IHOP), and recounting the events of his day. The diary format gives readers a chronological view of the author’s path to success that is usually missing from his books, while retaining all the elements you would expect—and that most readers have grown to love—in a Sedaris publication: dead animals in freezers, trips to France, elf shenanigans at Macy’s, and an astounding number of trips to IHOP.

  • If you’re a fan of Legos and/or animation, watch this mesmerizing video from Vox about the history of Lego movies.

    And the continual slide backwards in progress at the White House continues: the gender pay gap of White House employees has tripled under Trump’s administration.

    Aven

    A whole slew of hopeful and inspiring developments in the clean energy sector this week: Volvo announced that by 2019 (only two years from now!), it will be producing only hybrid or fully electric cars. This will be great for France, since the French government has decided to ban the sale of internal combustion engine cars by 2040. Meanwhile, on this side of the pond, solar power is experiencing a market surge, despite the best efforts of our carbon-pollution-loving commander-in-chief, whose directive to put a full stop to various important public health protections has been blocked by court order. And Apple is having great success pushing its entire supply chain towards 100% renewable energy.  I think the revolution is upon us.

    John

    Readers may be aware that Donald Trump’s EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt, following Trump’s Executive Order on the Obama administration’s 2015 Clean Water Rule, also known as “Waters of the US (WOTUS) Rule,” has proposed his own version of “rescind and replace.” But Pruitt also establishes a two-step process, issuing a proposed rule that would rescind the Clean Water Rule first, then a longer, more detailed (who knows how long?) second step to establish a regulatory definition of “waters of the US,” subject to the Clean Water Act. Moreover, public comment on this “rescind” step has a tight deadline: just 30 days after EPA’s proposed notice is formally published in the Federal Register for US government rules.

    Well, Earthjustice, “Because the Earth Needs a Good Lawyer,” is already on the case, and offers citizens a chance to sign on to its own comments to Pruitt. Among other points, Earthjustice observes that in developing the 2015 Clean Water Rule in 2015, EPA held more than 400 public meetings across the country, received over 1 million comments, “more than 80 percent in support of the rule,” and published a synthesis of scientific publications, which showed that the small streams and wetlands the Rule safeguards are vital to larger, downstream waters. Over 100 million US residents rely on drinking water from sources protected by this Rule. Citizens can add their names, along with their own individual comments if they wish, to the EarthJustice comments on Pruitt’s “rescind” proposal.

    Moreover, Patrick Parenteau, a University of Vermont Law Professor, has offered his own analysis that Pruitt attempts to shortcut the legal requirements for repealing a regulation already issued. In the process, he explains much of the background involving a confusing US Supreme Court decision (decided on a 4-1-4 basis, with no definitive majority), EPA’s attempt to grapple with that decision, and the issuance of the 2015 rule as a result. The article also includes an internal link to the author’s more detailed interpretation of the Supreme Court decision and its implementation (beginning at PDF page 17 of that document).