The U.S. Is Not Ready for Climate Reality
A shocking summer keeps illustrating the limits of adapting to climate change. Experts say it will only get worse. Were also covering and . The climate disasters have been relentless this summer. Ida took down the power grid in New Orleans, where more than 300,000 households remain without electricity as of Wednesday. A few days later, Ida dumped 7 inches of rain on New York City, and paralyzing the subways. Deadly heat waves scorched the Pacific Northwest, a massive spurred residents to evacuate South Lake Tahoe and flash floods devastated Tennessee. There are two big lessons from this nonstop parade of extreme weather, . First, the United States is not prepared for the climate shocks were already seeing today. Adapting to extreme weather will be a difficult and costly task: Electricity grids need to be fortified, sewer systems revamped, forests cleared of flammable undergrowth. But second: There are limits to how much the country can adapt. If nations dont do more to cut their emissions of greenhouse gases the driver of they may soon run up against the outer edges of resilience as heat waves, floods, droughts and wildfires become ever more extreme. How the United States responds remains to be seen. As Coral Davenport and I , there are currently two enormous bills in Congress intended to address climate change risks. One would provide the largest single infusion of federal money ever for programs to adapt to climate change. The other would contain the most ambitious policies to date to cut planet-warming emissions, including a program that would push utilities to switch to cleaner sources of power. Some Democrats are betting this summer of disasters could spur passage of both bills. But political obstacles remain. These events tell us were not prepared, said Alice Hill, who oversaw planning for climate risks on the National Security Council during the Obama administration. We have built our cities, our communities, to a climate that no longer exists. President Biden on Tuesday visited areas of New York and New Jersey that were hit hard by Ida, saying that the lethal destruction was a . Idas record rainfall over New York City was part of a trend: Because of global warming, the heaviest storms can now produce . Last Friday, my colleague Blacki Migliozzi and I were examining flyover images of the waters off the Louisiana coast with John Scott-Railton, a researcher at The Citizen Lab, who had been tracking the devastation from by Ida. Wed noticed some very small slicks on the water. Then Mr. Scott-Railton shouted in my ear. He had spotted a leak that experts would later describe as substantial emanating from a point off Port Fourchon, the main hub for Louisianas offshore oil and gas industry. From there, we scrutinized satellite imagery, ship tracking data and interviewed scientists, local officials and others involved in the cleanup to break news of a spill and cleanup that hadnt yet been communicated to the public. The spill, thought to be from a damaged underwater pipe, is one of many now spotted in the Gulf. . A by the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that since the 1960s, federal regulators have allowed oil and gas producers in the Gulf to leave some 18,000 miles of pipeline on the seafloor, which are often abandoned without cleaning or burial. Bitcoin. Litecoin. Bitcoin Gold. Ethereum. Dogecoin. Cryptocurrencies have emerged as one of the most captivating, yet head-scratching, investments in the world. They soar in value. They crash. Theyll change the world, their fans claim, by displacing traditional currencies like the dollar, rupee or ruble. And in the process of simply existing, some of the most popular cryptocurrencies use astonishing amounts of electricity. This week we explained how they work, why they are so energy intensive and whether they could be greener. by Jon Huang, Claire ONeill and Hiroko Tabuchi. Managing a valuable digital currency with no central authority takes a whole lot of computing power. Bitcoins energy use is close to half-a-percent of all the electricity consumed in the world. Bitcoin mining is digital, yet it is still connected to the physical world of fossil fuels, power grids and the climate crisis. What originated as a forward-thinking currency has mounting real-world ramifications. Bitcoin mining means more than just emissions. Miners wanting the newest, fastest machinery causes high turnover, creating a new e-waste problem as unused hardware gets discarded and piles up. Bitcoin miners are completely ignoring this issue, because they dont have a solution, said Alex de Vries, who runs Digiconomist, a site that tracks the sustainability of cryptocurrencies. These machines are just dumped. A global network of activists to be postponed over pandemic concerns. : An editorial, , declared a 1.5-degree-Celsius rise in global temperatures was the greatest threat to global public health. The vote next week could as some candidates want to roll back the states ambitious plans to cut planet-warming emissions, a change with nationwide implications. The United States has about 100,000 public chargers for electric vehicles, far fewer than Europe and China. to complete the switch from combustion engine vehicles. Thousands of at least a dozen large blazes threatening homes and communities. Track the and in the United States and around the world. A series of brutal storms around the country have demonstrated the . But more frequent and severe disasters bring another type of threat, especially for small towns: the risk of long-term financial collapse. That danger is especially clear in North Carolina, where small towns near the coast are still reeling from Matthew in 2016 and Hurricane Floyd in 2018. Those storms didnt just cause flooding; they also pushed away residents and businesses, shrinking the tax base in towns that were already hard off economically. Now theyre struggling to pay for basic services. The plight of those towns is a cautionary tale for what climate change means for much of small-town America. And they show the inherent contradictions in the federal governments response to repetitive disasters rebuilding some peoples homes, while paying others to leave, often in the same town, making those towns predicaments even harder. You can read more about what I found in North Carolina, and what it says about the long-term impacts of climate change for small towns, .