Balance/Sustainability — Margaret Atwood: The planet is not doomed

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Margaret Atwood may be known for her dystopian dives into environmental and political disasters, but the writer argues that the world is not doomed.

The prolific author tackles the subject of climate change in her 1985 book “The Handmaid’s Tale,” the inspiration for the Hulu series of the same name which kicked off its fifth season on Wednesday.

“We have environmental disasters; people are sent to ‘the settlements’ to clean them up,” Atwood told Time Magazine on Thursday, speaking about the post-apocalyptic narrative that highlights both human oppression and resistance.

While environmental fragility also makes a strong appearance in Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy – set in a world overwhelmed by ecological and viral disaster – the author said she hasn’t lost hope in efforts to tackle climate change.

“If you go too far in doomericism, the answer will be to party — and so nobody does anything,” Atwood told Time.

“The moment you lose hope is the moment you stop taking actions that could be positive to come out of the disaster,” she continued.

Atwood is launching a new project that Time described as having a “more optimistic twist” – a workshop experience called Practical Utopias that encourages participants to envision a better future using the tools currently available.

“There really is no excuse for total doomericism,” she added.

welcome to balance, a newsletter that follows the growing global battle over the future of sustainability. We are Saul Elbein and Sharon Udasin. Send us tips and feedback. Subscribe here.

Today, we’ll look at the grills America’s top financial regulator received on Capitol Hill about his agency’s proposed climate rules, how a key cryptocurrency is reducing its energy needs, and how adults around the world are perceiving the impact. of climate change.

Adults around the world fear severe climate impacts

More than half of adults surveyed around the world said climate change had already had a serious impact on their lives, the World Economic Forum revealed on Thursday.

A global consensus: In 34 countries on six continents, 56% of the more than 23,500 adults surveyed said they experienced such effects.

  • More than a third said they expected to be driven from their homes by climate change within 25 years.
  • Seventy-one percent agreed that climate change would have somewhat or very severe impacts on their country over the next decade.

Fearing for the future: “We are in a climate crisis,” Gim Huay Neo, managing director and head of the Center for Nature and Climate at the World Economic Forum, said in a statement.

“The survey results affirm that across the world, people are already feeling the effects today and fear for their future tomorrow,” added Gim Huay.

Regional differences: In North America, residents of regions that have suffered from extreme heat, drought and wildfires – such as the Western United States and British Columbia – were the most likely to report severe climate impacts, according to the study.

The responses reflected similar attitudes in affected European regions such as south-eastern France, southern Germany, north-eastern Italy and eastern Hungary.

BETTER, BAD AND BETTER

Residents of different countries had very different views on the impacts of climate change, whether they came from hot or cold climates.

Expect the worst: These countries had the most respondents who expected very or fairly severe impacts of climate change over the next decade:

  • Portuguese (88%)
  • Mexico and Hungary (86%)
  • Turkey and Chile (85%)
  • South Korea and Spain (83%)

It’s already sad: In nine countries – Mexico, Hungary, Turkey, Colombia, Spain, Italy, India, Chile and France – more than two-thirds of respondents said they had already been seriously affected by climate change.

High hopes: Places where respondents least expected severe climate impacts:

  • Malaysia (52%)
  • China (56%)
  • Sweden (56%)
  • Thailand (57%)
  • Saudi Arabia (60%)

What about climate change? The countries where respondents considered such circumstances most likely were by far India and Turkey, at 65% and 64%, respectively, according to the poll.

Click here to learn more about the survey results

SEC chairman defends proposed climate disclosure rules

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Gary Gensler responded to questions on Thursday about his agency’s approach to issues such as climate disclosure and cryptocurrency regulation.

  • The SEC’s proposed climate disclosure rules – which it published in March – would require publicly traded companies to calculate and publish the risks that climate change poses to their operations and what they are doing to address them.
  • Republicans have criticized the rules as onerous, arguing that they are an example of SEC policy beyond its mandate.

Gensler joined two other Democratic commissioners in voting for the proposed rules in March, while the only Republican SEC commissioner, Hester Peirce, voted no.

Difference in priorities: GOP lawmakers on the Senate Banking Committee, such as Sen. John Kennedy (La.), attempted on Thursday to frame the SEC’s climate disclosure policy as a covert and likely ineffective attempt to reduce global temperatures.

That’s something Republicans argue is beyond the agency’s mission.

Kennedy used a similar approach in February when questioning future SEC Commissioner Sarah Bloom Raskin, a climate hawk.

Allegation of abuse: In February, Kennedy argued that Raskin was trying to use his role at the financial regulator to covertly shape climate policy — and he hinted Thursday that Gensler was doing the same.

  • “What bothers me is why we’re spending billions of dollars on scarce resources when China gets 60% of its energy from coal,” Kennedy said.
  • “We are spending all this money and global temperatures are not reduced.”

Gensler dodges: The SEC chairman refused to accept the premise that the agency is trying to influence global temperatures.

He stressed that neither he nor his deputies were “driven” by the desire to reduce global temperatures.

  • “It’s really about helping investors get more consistent information, even if they want to invest in what might be ‘brown’ assets rather than ‘green’ assets,” he said. , referring to fossil fuels and other carbon-intensive investments.
  • These investors will “get more consistent information and likely avoid some of the greenwashing that’s out there,” Gensler added, referring to the misleading marketing of unsustainable investments.

Learn more here

US schools make money by going solar

Schools across the United States are switching to solar power, generating significant savings while meeting their significant energy needs, according to a new report.

By the numbers: Since 2015 alone, the amount of solar power installed in K-12 schools nationwide has tripled, according to the report by the nonprofit Generation180.

The number of schools equipped with solar panels has doubled during this period.

More than 6 million students now attend the 8,409 public and private schools that use solar power, which equates to nearly 1 in 10 such schools nationwide.

Solar for all: Schools that install solar panels are not necessarily in the wealthiest communities, according to the report.

  • According to the report, nearly half of public schools with solar power are eligible for Title 1 funding, which serves a large population of low-income students.
  • About 87% of the solar power installed in US schools is funded through third-party agreements that minimize upfront costs and help schools realize immediate savings. The rest is purchased and owned directly by the schools.

Maximum gain: “The benefits of solar energy are now reaching a wide range of schools across the country,” said lead author Tish Tablan, director of Generation180’s Solar For All Schools program, in a statement.

That reach, Tablan explained, includes “schools in disadvantaged communities that have the most to gain from energy savings.”

A GROWING TREND

The report comes at what the authors described as “a period of unprecedented momentum”, as the recently approved Cut Inflation Act is set to pump $369 billion into renewable energy.

  • According to the report, the top five states for solar capacity in schools are California, New Jersey, Arizona, Massachusetts and Illinois.
  • With 1,647 megawatts of installed solar capacity, schools nationwide generate enough solar energy to power approximately 300,000 homes each year.

Advancing STEM: Installing solar panels in schools also provides students with hands-on STEM learning opportunities, as well as training for potential careers in industry, the authors noted.

  • “We need the education sector to help drive our nation’s transition to a clean energy economy,” Wendy Philleo, executive director of Generation180, said in a statement.
  • “K-12 schools are becoming incubators for our future clean energy workforce,” Philleo added.

To read the full story, please click here.

Thursday Threats

Biden brokers reach deal to avoid railroad strike

  • A serious threat to supply chains from an impending strike by railroad workers was averted on Thursday after President Biden brokered a deal between two major unions and major rail carriers on wages and sick leave, reported The Hill. Biden attacked the companies for their “excessive” profits and promised the deal would give workers “better pay, better working conditions and peace of mind about their health care costs”, according to Reuters.

Shanghai receives first direct hit from typhoon

  • According to Agence France-Presse, Typhoon Muifa battered Shanghai with winds of 80 miles per hour, forcing nearly 1.6 million people to evacuate the city of 25 million and along of the densely populated coast. It is the 12th typhoon to hit China this year and the first direct hit on Shanghai since record-keeping began in 1949, AFP reported.

Brightly colored songbirds are more at risk of extinction

  • According to a new study published in Current Biology, brightly colored songbirds are at higher risk of extinction and are more likely to be marketed as pets. Nearly 500 species of birds, most native to the tropics, are at risk of future trade due to their desirable coloration, scientists at Britain’s Durham University have found.

Please visit The Hill’s Sustainability section online for the web version of this newsletter and more stories. Well see you tomorrow.

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