This morning's Hot News misstated the heat-trapping potency of atmospheric methane. Methane traps more than 80 times more heat than CO2 over a 20-year timeframe. We regret the error and will increase our caffeine intake accordingly. The unabridged, corrected, version of this morning's newsletter is here. —Ed.
Ft. Lauderdale Submerged By 2+ft. Of Rain In 1 Day: A record-obliterating storm deluged the Fort Lauderdale area on Wednesday, triggering dangerous floods, knocking out power for the city's main hospital, shutting down a major airport, and turning streets into rivers. The storm dumped more than 25 inches of rain at the airport — a third of the region's annual rainfall and more than 10 inches more than the previous one-day record. Even though the storm hit at low tide (a small but meaningful stroke of good fortune) it still leaves brackish floodwaters behind where they will stagnate and almost certainly cause long-lasting damage. “This is worse than any hurricane we have had,” Fort Lauderdale city commissioner Warren Sturman told the Washington Post, adding that thousands of people will likely be displaced by the storm. Increasingly heavy downpours, facilitated by a warmer atmosphere capable of holding and releasing more moisture, are some of the clearest impacts of climate change. In the case of this event, the intense rain was likely partially fueled by ocean temperatures that are 2 to 3 degrees higher than normal for this time of year. “...no city can prepare for this,” Fort Lauderdale mayor Dean Trantalis told the Washington Post. (Washington Post $, Broward Sun-Sentinel, AP, CNN, USA Today, New York Times $, Miami Herald, [ ... ]Washington Post Photos $; Climate Signals background: Extreme precipitation increase)
Climate Change Making Droughts Faster, More Furious: Climate change is making droughts hit harder and faster, giving farmers even less time to prepare, a study published Thursday in Science finds. In addition to the impacts on regular droughts, so-called "flash droughts" that occur in the growing season cause outsized damage because they come on so quickly as the air gets extremely hot and dry, pulling water right out of plants and soil. A flash drought struck China’s Yangtze River basin last summer, coinciding with extreme heat and wildfires. Another, one of the worst droughts since the 1930s Dust Bowl, hit the central U.S. in 2012, causing $30 billion of damage. Both flash droughts developed in less than a month. (AP, New York Times $; Climate Signals background: Drought)
Louisiana Polluted, Robbed By Wasteful Oil & Gas Operations: Louisiana oil and gas wells wasted more than 27 billion cubic feet of planet-heating methane into the atmosphere — more than 80% of it from leaks — in 2019, a new Synapse Energy Economics report shows. The report, commissioned by the Environmental Defense Fund and Taxpayers for Common Sense, outlines far greater pollution from the state's oil and gas industry than what was previously known. Methane, the main component in so-called "natural gas," traps more than 80 times* more heat in the atmosphere than CO2 over a 20-year timeframe. The widespread leaking, flaring, and venting of methane gas is extremely wasteful — Louisiana oil and gas operators released enough gas in 2019 to meet half the state's residential methane gas demand that year — and also robbed taxpayers of $82 million in state revenue because oil and gas companies do not pay royalties on the gas lost in leaks. A disproportionate amount of the pollution came from low-producing operations. “Methane flaring and venting is bad for the environment, the state economy and state budget,” Ned Randolph of the Louisiana Budget Project told NOLA.com. “It robs all of us of important revenue which needs to be made up by other taxes.” Not only is slashing methane pollution, especially by fixing leaks, the most cost-efficient and effective way to limit near-term planetary heating, it also has other benefits. “Mitigation is a job creator,” Randolph added. “And it gets us closer to a clean energy transition.” (NOLA.com, AP, Louisiana Illuminator)
*An earlier version of this story misstated how much more heat is trapped by atmospheric methane. Methane traps 80 times more heat than CO2 over a 20-year timeframe.
TENNESSEE THREE: Why Tennessee expulsions matter for climate action (Atmos) [ ... ]
FOSSIL BANKS: Banks say they’re acting on climate, but continue to finance fossil fuel expansion (Inside Climate News), Banks keep pouring cash into fossil fuels. US lenders lead the way. (Barron's, DeSmog, MarketWatch), [Royal Bank of Canada] becomes world’s biggest fossil-fuel bank, topping JPMorgan (Bloomberg $, Yahoo, FT $) [ ... ]
LANDBACK: Want to protect your health? Start by protecting Indigenous land. (Grist)
INFLATION REDUCTION ACT: How Biden’s climate legislation keeps poor Americans paying more than their fair share (TIME)
BUILDINGS: How electrification became a major tool for fighting climate change (New York Times)
The full roundup of this morning's climate and energy news is available here.
Analysis and Opinion
How Spanish-language climate misinformation spreads like wildfire in the US (LA Times, Edder Díaz-Martínez op-ed $)
Before we invest billions in this clean fuel, let’s make sure it’s actually clean (New York Times, Leah Stokes op-ed $)
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Biden's Clean Car Rule Leaves Deniers' Grinding Gears, And Accidentally Justify Policy Support
On Tuesday, we talked about how the "major questions doctrine" is being used to justify opposition to climate policies like the Biden administration’s fuel efficiency standards that will speed up the transition to the cleaner vehicles that the climate needs.
Biden is simply telling car manufacturers to make their products more efficient so their customers will save money on gas, but it was only a matter of time until disinformers began shouting that “Biden is coming for your car.” However, for the first few days since the news broke, the disinfosphere was decidedly distracted, and the response has been slow to roll out.
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Read the full Denier Roundup to learn more.