Climate, Health and Equity Brief
Fear and loathing in the U.S. of A.
June 29, 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: Fired up and melting down. For many this week, America does not look or feel like the country that has long considered itself the world’s most successful bastion of representative democracy. Between the exposé of a former President’s brazen attempt to undermine the 2020 election and back-to-back Supreme Court decisions that expand gun rights in the wake of yet another school shooting and end the national right to personal reproductive freedom, our nation feels unmoored.
Unfortunately, the forecast on the U.S. approach to the global climate crisis appears equally as grim. Within days, the Supreme Court is expected to issue another pivotal ruling—one that would severely limit U.S. federal authority to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, one of the most significant contributors to climate change. The case, West Virginia v. the EPA, is the result of a “coordinated, multiyear strategy” by Republican officials, conservative funders and the oil and coal industries to sacrifice the planet at the altar of profit.
What’s more, many of the 200 U.S. federal judges appointed nationwide by the former Trump administration are now poised to rule on further climate action cases across the country in the months ahead. As The New York Times notes, conservative rulings in these cases could stop the federal government from significantly restricting tailpipe emissions, considering the impacts of climate change when evaluating new infrastructure projects or requiring the replacement of power plants with wind and solar power.
Coupled with the impending Supreme Court ruling on carbon dioxide, these restrictions—in the country that is far and away the most historically responsible for the climate crisis—would seriously impede the world’s ability to meet crucial climate goals.
We know what must be done. Stand up. Speak out. Volunteer on swing-district campaigns where rights hang in the balance Get loud. Stay resolute. And above all, VOTE. If we work hard enough, we can force that pendulum to swing once again.
—Matt & Traci, GMMB
According to a new nationwide survey by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, 24% of Americans report serious health problems due to extreme weather events, ranging from asthma to infectious diseases carried by mosquitoes with heat-driven shifts in habitat. (ABC News)
Still reeling from intense rainfall in May, Bangladesh and India are experiencing another round of deadly monsoon flooding that has killed at least 69 people and left an estimated 9.5 million people marooned, many with no food or drinking water. (Earth.org)
Severe landslides and flooding have impacted more than 500,000 people in Southern China after the region experienced its heaviest rainfall in over 60 years, forcing nearly 200,000 people to relocate and causing over $250 million in damages so far. (CNN)
As the Colorado River reaches critically low levels as a result of extreme drought, 40 million people across seven U.S. states, 30 federally recognized tribes and Mexico are bracing for impacts to water supply, electricity, agriculture, livestock and wildlife. (The Washington Post)
Over 74,000 acres have been consumed by fires thus far across Spain this week amid severe drought and record-breaking heatwaves across the region. (The Washington Post)
A push of monsoonal moisture that moved across Southern and Central California caused thunderstorms that triggered nearly 55,000 lightning strikes—almost 9% of the total lightning detected in California in 2020 and 2021 combined. (SF Gate)
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
– Margaret Mead
A new national study found that residents living in public housing in the U.S. are overrepresented in areas with elevated levels of particulate matter, which is the root cause of 3% of all-cause deaths nationwide, emphasizing the urgent need to identify gaps in environmental, public health and housing policies. (The Hill)
Recent rulings from Ecuador’s highest court have emboldened indigenous tribes to defend and preserve their lands in the Amazon forest—the world’s largest carbon sink—from illegal mineral and oil extraction. (Thomson Reuters Foundation)
Politics & Economy
In the coming days the Supreme Court is expected to limit the ability of the federal government to limit CO2 emissions from U.S. power plants in an anticipated ruling that is the product of a multiyear conservative campaign to weaken the executive branch’s ability to tackle climate change. (The New York Times)
According to the NPR/RWJF/Harvard survey noted above, Americans are more aware of and impacted by the climate crisis than ever, with more than 75% having experienced an extreme weather event and many of those left with long-term financial consequences as a result. (NPR)
Republican elected officials and oil and gas companies are drumming up opposition to proposed SEC rules that would require publicly traded companies to accurately disclose their climate impact, claiming the new rules violate their First Amendment right to free speech. (Vox)
Germany announced this week that it would restart some of its coal plants to get the country through the winter and preserve its stores of natural gas as Russia continues to cut energy supplies to Europe. (The New York Times)
Lie as We Know It
BART, the rapid transit system serving the greater San Francisco Bay Area, is pointing to heat as the culprit for the recent derailment of one of its trains after the track curved upon reaching 140°F, resulting in the evacuation of 50 passengers. (SF Gate)
The Biden Administration announced a partnership between 11 east coast states and the White House to boost the offshore wind industry to power 10 million homes and provide 77,000 jobs by 2030, a partnership is part of Biden’s plan to decarbonize the electrical grid by 2035. (AP News)
Canada has passed a sweeping new ban on the import and manufacture of single-use plastics, a move that is projected to eliminate the equivalent of one million garbage bags full of litter over the next ten years. (The Washington Post)
Lawmakers in Denmark agreed to enact the largest corporate carbon tax in Europe, a move that is critical to reaching the country’s aggressive goal of cutting emissions by 70% by 2030. (Reuters)
Stay informed about the environmental voting records of your federal representatives with the League of Conservation Voters’ National Environmental Scorecard.
As a Brief subscriber, you are cordially invited to join this weekend’s virtual interactive sessions of the Hollywood Climate Summit, an annual climate call to action for those working in the entertainment and media industries.
The GMMB Climate, Health & Equity Brief would not be possible without the contributions of the larger GMMB California team—Aaron Benavides, Elke Cortes, Sharde Olabanji, Adrian Plaisance and Stefana Simonetto. Feedback on the Brief is welcome and encouraged and should be sent to CHandEBrief@gmmb.com.