Senator Joe Manchin III may have single-handedly torpedoed President Biden’s climate change and social spending bill this week when he announced that he would not support the measure.
That’s because the Senate is evenly split and Mr. Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat with strong ties to the coal industry, holds the swing vote.
As I wrote this week with Coral Davenport, without the legislation, and the estimated $555 billion in clean energy incentives that it contains, the United States will very likely miss the president’s goal for emissions reductions. You can see the estimated U.S. greenhouse gas trajectories with and without Build Back Better on the chart above by my colleagues Nadja Popovich and Brad Plumer. And, you can read their full article here.
The consequences for the planet are high. Unless the United States, which is the largest emitter in historical terms, moves decisively to reduce its emissions from burning fossil fuels, it will be difficult to persuade other countries to make cuts. That sharply increases the chances of blowing past a dangerous temperature threshold: 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming compared to preindustrial levels.
Quotable: “I don’t think we can tackle the climate crisis at the scale that’s necessary without passing this law,” said Leah Stokes, a professor of environmental policy at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Despite the legislative setbacks, the Biden administration is moving forward with other climate measures that don’t require the approval of Congress. Here are two from the past week:
Tired of Ralphie, Kevin and the Grinch?
Maybe you don’t feel like rewatching that holiday show you’ve already seen 900 times. If so, you’re in luck, because we’ve updated our list of climate and nature documentaries. And don’t worry about spoiling the festive mood: Most of them end on an inspiring note.
The political brawl over natural gas
The question of whether to restrict the use of natural gas has become part of America’s culture wars.
This month, New York City moved to ban gas hookups in new buildings, joining cities in blue states like California, Massachusetts and Washington that want to shift homes away from burning natural gas because it releases carbon dioxide, which causes global warming. Instead, developers in New York City will have to install electric heat pumps and electric kitchen ranges in newly constructed buildings.
But the growing push to electrify homes has triggered a political backlash: At least 20 mostly red states including Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Ohio and Texas have passed laws that forbid their cities from restricting gas use. Most of these bills have passed in the last year, backed by the natural gas industry and local gas utilities.
Quotable: “The message was: ‘You don’t want these California liberals telling you that you can’t have a gas stove,’” said Mary Boren, an Oklahoma state senator, describing the reaction to proposed restrictions in her state.
You can read the full article here.
A burst of wild weather in the U.S.
The extreme weather that swept through the Midwest last week was extraordinary on many levels, with 100 million Americans under some form of weather alert.
Some of those alerts were prompted by hurricane-force winds and the first-ever December tornadoes observed in Minnesota and western Iowa.
“It was so unusual for the month of December,” said Grady Dixon, who teaches geosciences at Fort Hays State University in Kansas. “It has to make you ask questions.”
Understand the Lastest News on Climate Change
The climate consequences of losing Build Back Better. Without the legislation’s climate provisions, the United States appears very unlikely to hit President Biden’s targets for greenhouse gas reductions.
One key question is what role global warming might have played in fueling such extreme weather events. Scientists say it could prove difficult to untangle the precise links between the storms and climate change, but there is evidence that the United States can expect more unusual severe weather as the planet heats up, potentially striking in new places or at unexpected times of year.
Quotable: “We do expect an increase in favorable conditions for severe storms,” said John Allen, an associate professor meteorology at Central Michigan University. “And that means we have to be aware that we can have these extreme events in places or at times that we haven’t necessarily thought of before.”
Google’s recent promise to stop placing ads on climate denial sites has had limited effect so far, new research shows.
According to the Center for Countering Digital Hate, a nonprofit group based in London, ads placed by Google were still running on scores of articles last week, including ones on major right-wing sites like Breitbart, that falsely called global warming a hoax and described the United Nations climate conference last month as “a gigantic eco-fascist gaslighting operation.”
That’s a concern because the ad revenue that these denial sites earn by running Google ads then helps to fund more denial content, said Imran Ahmed, the center’s chief executive. “The more ad revenue they get, the more they can pump out articles and they can get it in front of as many eyeballs as possible,” he said.
The findings underscore how Google has struggled to rein in even blatant examples of climate denialism. You can read the full article here.
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