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July 2023, Volume 29, Number 3


The World Meteorological Organization warned in May 2023 that the temperature records set in 2016 are likely to be broken before 2030. Average global temperatures are about 1.1C or 2F warmer today that before the 1750s.

The Arctic and Antarctica are warming especially fast. The Arctic is often defined as the area north of 66.5 degrees or north of forested areas. Russia has about 15,000 miles of Arctic coastline and is upgrading military bases there, while the US is developing a deep-water port in Nome.

The WMO expects increased summer rainfall in Northern Europe and the Sahel in sub-Saharan Africa and reduced rainfall in the Amazon and parts of Australia due to El Niño (Christ child) conditions. El Niño is expected to raise temperatures in the eastern Pacific Ocean in 2023-24 after three years of La Niña or cooler ocean temperatures. Record temperatures in 2016 were linked to El Niño conditions.

The Inflation Reduction Act provides subsidies to accelerate the US transition to renewable energy; up to $3 trillion in public and private funds could be invested by 2035. The US may speed the permitting process for new energy projects if Congress can agree on whether all new energy projects should be approved sooner or only renewable energy projects.

The US Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs must approve federal regulations issued by executive agencies. OIRA in April 2023 was asked to decide the benefits of federal regulation to future generations. The cost of each ton of carbon emissions was estimated to be $50 a ton under Obama, $5 a ton under Trump, and could top $200 a ton under Biden.

California is committed to being carbon neutral by 2045, when all of the state’s electricity is expected to come from renewable energy. This means increasing the amount of electricity generated, changing how electricity is generated, and moving electricity from solar and wind farms to consumers. Governor Gavin Newsom wants to amend the California Environmental Quality Act so that CEQA is not used to slow new energy infrastructure. Environmental groups oppose most CEQA changes, including those that would speed the energy transition.

India-born ex-Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga, who became head of the World Bank in June 2023, is expected to accelerate efforts to reduce global poverty and to speed action to slow climate change. The V20 developing countries most vulnerable to climate change are pressing the World Bank and its 10,000 employees in 130 offices to do more to slow carbon emissions and to provide funding to help them adapt to climate change.

Bangladesh, a country of 170 million that is about the size of Iowa, is a low-lying nation crisscrossed by rivers that flow from the Himalayas. People are coping with the changing climate and other conditions, including soil and water made saline by shrimp farming and internal migration from areas that flood to cities on higher ground. Well-developed forecasting and messaging systems have sharply reduced losses due to floods.

The 3,860-square-mile sundari mangrove forest, the Sundarbans, protects southwestern Bangladesh from the cyclones of the Bay of Bengal. However, sundari mangrove trees are dying as the salt levels rise due ever less fresh water flowing through them.

How much autonomy should small island places have to manage climate mitigation funds? The US tested nuclear weapons on the island of Bikini in the Marshall Islands, and established trust funds in the 1980s to help pay for health care, build housing and cover the living costs of people affected. Between 2017 and 2023, some $59 million was spent on land in Hawaii and on vehicles, leaving $100,000 for the 7,000 beneficiaries.

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