Climate, Health and Equity Brief
Continued U.S. tragedies prompt broad new climate action
September 5, 2022
The Climate, Health & Equity Brief is GMMB’s take on the week’s news on the current impacts of climate change. If you haven’t subscribed yet, you can do so by clicking here.
Hot Topic: Resilience. Torrential rainfall in Jackson, MI pushed the city’s already struggling water system to the brink this week, leaving more than 150,000 residents in the 80-percent black city without access to safe drinking water.
In addition to inundating homes and businesses and closing schools, the storm caused Jackson’s largest water treatment plant to fail, leaving the city unable to provide enough water for residents to flush toilets or for firefighters to fight fires, and prompting the governor to declare a state of emergency and activate the National Guard.
The dire situation in Jackson exemplifies the ways that climate impacts are particularly devastating to low-income communities and communities of color where infrastructure investment has long been a low priority. It also supports findings from a new report released this week which estimates that worsening droughts and storms could cause $5.6 trillion in losses to the global economy by 2050, with two-thirds of those losses—$3.7 trillion—projected in the U.S. alone.
In the face of climate tragedies mounting in recent weeks, positive climate action is also taking hold. The following is good news out this week that signals the tide could be turning:
- Starting this fall, the causes, impacts and solutions to climate change will be required curriculum at every grade level in New Jersey public schools.
- The National Association of Evangelicals, which represents 45,000 American churches, issued a report insisting that immediate climate action is nothing short of a Christian responsibility.
- California’s legislature approved a record $54 billion in climate spending and now requires the state—which itself is the world’s fifth-largest economy—to stop carbon dioxide emissions by 2045.
- The U.S. announced it has developed a method to charge EV batteries up to 90% in just 10 minutes, an advancement with the potential to resolve a huge roadblock for EV uptake among Americans.
- In great news for the climate and consumers alike, manufacturers have launched a new heat pump water heater that can plug into a standard wall socket—a major advance in getting U.S. households off fossil fuels.
- Solar production in the U.S. is set to explode following passage of the Inflation Reduction Act—and First Solar just announced it will invest up to $1.2 billion to expand production and create nearly 1,000 new solar jobs in the United States.
- Despite what many Americans believe, new research revealed that supporters of strong climate mitigation policies outnumber climate deniers at least 2-to-1 in the U.S.—someone just needs to alert the Republicans.
— Matt and Traci
Heavy rains in Jackson, Mississippi, overwhelmed the city’s aging water system, leaving more than 150,000 residents without access to running water, prompting the governor to declare a state of emergency and activate the national guard, and highlighting longstanding issues with Jackson’s failing public infrastructure. (Axios, The New York Times)
Experts say climate change will force people to migrate to more hospitable areas, with some predicting that by 2050, one to three billion people will need to move north—and away from deserts (heat and drought); coastlines, islands and tropics (sea level rise and humidity); and mountains (wildfires)—in order to survive. (TIME)
The exceptional rainfall in Pakistan that triggered a “monsoon on steroids” between June and August has resulted in at least 1,160 deaths, 3,500 injuries, and damage to one million homes and more than 5,000 roads, bridges and shops so far. (The Washington Post)
In response to extreme heat, cities and towns across the country are implementing “cool buddy” programs where volunteers and neighbors check on and bring resources to the people most vulnerable to heat waves—including seniors, disabled people and those without air conditioning. (USA Today)
An alarming new study found that even if all fossil fuel emissions were halted immediately, it is already inevitable that the Greenland ice sheet will lose more than 3 percent of its mass—or 110 trillion tons of ice—in the coming decades, causing nearly one foot of sea-level rise and a dramatic increase in deadly floods. (The Washington Post)
In Brazil, rampant deforestation, a lack of inspectors, and a criminal justice system that rarely prosecutes environmental crimes are enabling the devastating erasure of the Amazon forest —the world’s largest carbon sink, the survival of which is vital to the planet’s ability to stave off the worst impacts of climate change. (The Washington Post)
“If you are capable of getting out now, get out now. Get out as soon as possible.”
– Jackson, MS Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba
While climate change is largely responsible for unprecedented rain and flooding in Jackson, MS, experts say the chronic neglect and underinvestment in the infrastructure of the 80% black city greatly exacerbated the danger, providing a tragic example of the ways communities fall victim to American underinvestment. (USA Today)
Low-income communities living in industrial areas around the U.S. fear that a compromise provision in the Inflation Reduction Act allowing the government to auction off more drilling leases and relax permitting requirements will keep their communities as “sacrifice zones” polluted with fossil fuels while more affluent areas shift to clean power. (The Washington Post)
Politics & Economy
New research revealed that even though U.S. supporters of strong climate mitigation policies outnumber opponents at least 2-to-1, most Americans believe nearly the opposite to be true, with up to 90% underestimating support for such measures, a fact researchers attribute in part to online conservative news echo chambers. (Bloomberg)
A new report estimates that increasingly long droughts, frequent floods and powerful storms could cause $5.6 trillion in losses to the global economy by 2050, with the U.S. economy alone projected to lose $3.7 trillion—or two-thirds of that total. (Reuters)
Life as We Know It
A new analysis revealed that despite extreme heat and increasingly severe droughts, people are moving to the Southwest in record numbers due to the region’s affordable housing, increasing demand for increasingly scarce water and energy resources. (Vox)
This fall, New Jersey classrooms will become the first in the nation to require all public school students at every grade level to learn about climate change, offering lessons on climate impacts and how students can address the crisis. (NPR)
In a new report, the National Association of Evangelicals—which represents 45,000 American evangelical churches—called climate action a Christian responsibility and outlined biblical arguments for environmental stewardship. (The Hill)
Spurred on by green energy incentives included in the Inflation Reduction Act, solar panel manufacturing company First Solar will invest up to $1.2 billion to expand solar production and create nearly 1,000 new jobs in the United States. (EcoWatch)
In a new report, government researchers unveiled a new charging method that could charge EV batteries up to 90% in just 10 minutes and be market ready in as few as five years, potentially resolving a huge roadblock facing the industry. (The Washington Post)
California passed a flurry of groundbreaking bills this week, including the approval of a record $54 billion in climate spending, sweeping new restrictions on oil and gas drilling, a mandate to cut emissions at least 85 percent by 2045, and a requirement to offset any remaining emissions with natural or technological solutions. (The New York Times)
After years of collaboration between the public and private sectors, manufacturers have launched a new heat pump water heater that can plug into a standard wall socket—a major advance in getting U.S. households off fossil fuels. (Canary Media)
Prepare yourself for these haunting satellite images capturing the enormity of the flooding in Pakistan – a disaster attributed to climate change that has killed more than 1,000 people.
The GMMB Climate, Health & Equity Brief would not be possible without the contributions of the larger GMMB California team—Aaron Benavides, Elke Cortes, Thomas Baer, Quincy Tichenor, Sharde Olabanji and Stefana Simonetto. Feedback on the Brief is welcome and encouraged and should be sent to CHandEBrief@gmmb.com.