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April 2021, Volume 27, Number 2

Climate Change

Texas and other southern states experienced unusually cold weather in February 2021 as the Arctic polar vortex, normally kept in Canada by the circulating jet stream, spilled southward. Global warming means more moisture, and when Arctic air spills south, there is more snow and ice.

Leading auto producers announced plans to replace gasoline-fueled cars with battery powered cars, setting off a race to develop batteries that can store more power and recharge faster. China, Japan and Korea are the leading battery manufacturers. China produces 70 percent of the world?s battery cells, but the US has many of the startups aiming to develop new and improved batteries.

Electric car batteries for a mid-size car cost about $15,000. Manufacturers say that the cost of batteries for a car must fall to $7,500 to make electric cars competitive with gas-powered cars without government subsidies. Solid-state batteries that replace the liquid lithium solution that is at the core of most batteries today with solid layers of a lithium compound would weigh less and recharge faster.

Many developing countries have large foreign debts and face problems due to climate change, prompting calls for green debt relief. Under some proposals, some current debts would be forgiven if governments increased spending to make their infrastructure and people more resilient to climate change. Low- and middle-income countries owed $8.1 trillion to foreign lenders in 2019.

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