The Environment This Week – September 17-24

The major trend from this week’s environmental news is no new trend at all. Those who are most effected by climate change are the smallest contributors to it. Those who are the biggest contributors are being asked to pony up, but as we already know, most of them will be getting off scot free.

Here’s what you need to know:

Trump rethinking stance on Paris Agreement?

Bloomberg news reported that the US is softening their stance on the Paris Agreement. In a recent meeting of 30+ countries discussing the climate accord, the EU climate chief Miguel Arias Canete, said that US wants to reingage the agreement from within rather than fully withdrawling.

The Whitehouse was quick to refute this… through Twitter of course:

Trump announced the US withdrawl from the Paris Climate Agreement in June.

But I wouldn’t be surprised if he reneged on his stance here too. He seems to have already given up on his party after their failure to repeal Obomacare and in an interview just last week Trump said “the wall will come later”.


Irma and Harvey call for a reality check

Scientific models are really really good. We can predict stuff like hurricane direction and intensity. Irma and Harvey – case in point. Why don’t we trust models to predict how our climate will change?

Models aren’t always right… But many of them are damn close.

Scientists have compared climate model predictions from the past, with actual data, and guess what? They are surprisingly accurate.

Blue Line: Prediction | Black Line: Data

Bottom Line: Climate models are accurate. The repercussions of climate change are devastating: intensified weather such as heat waves, flooding, droughts, and yep, you guessed it… hurricanes.

So while people evacuated and took cover based on weather predictions, a changing climate isn’t imminent enough for us to take action. It’s just so much easier to ignore science when it’s inconvenient.


300+ Companies Commit to Climate Targets

At the launch of Climate Week NYC today companies from around the world are announcing their commitment to carbon emissions reductions. The number of companies making such commitments has doubled since this event last year.

Climate Week NYC is an annual meeting of business, city, and state leaders. At the gathering they share why and how they are embracing a clean economy.

At least 50 of the companies attending are head quartered in the US.

Why is this important?

Companies are warming up to the fact that climate change is real and in order to have long term success they will need to adapt. The fact that the number of companies taking at least some action has doubled since last year shows some momentum.

How important is it?

As with many trends in business, once the early adopters show success from their new practices the rest will fall in a landslide. The private sector has an enormous influence on climate change and if some of the biggest corporations start acting it can have huge repercussions. Unfortunately, big business, like the giant it is, moves slow. I don’t expect to see any major reductions realized soon, but they may stack up quickly when they do.


Cities suing big oil

San Francisco and Oakland filed lawsuits against five oil and gas companies this week. SF expects the cost of climate change mitigation for the city to be about $5 billion this century as it responds to rising sea levels. Along with Oakland, Imperial Beach, Marin County and San Mateo County, San Francisco say the cost of global warming should be borne by those most responsible for it.

From the 3P: On Tuesday, both cities filed suits against a five oil and gas companies (Bay Area-based Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Shell and BP) that they say knew they were creating a climate crisis as early as the 1990s and “launched a multi-million-dollar disinformation campaign to deny and discredit what was clear even to their own scientists: global warming is real and their product is a huge part of the problem.”


Unfair Again: more hurricanes punishing the smallest contributors to climate change

Another storm, hurricane Maria, has come in quick succession of Irma and Harvey. This category 4 hurricane is the worst to hit Puerto Rico in 80 years.

Meanwhile, Barbuda is still reeling from Irma – the entire island was evacuated and 98% of buildings were destroyed. The Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda appealed to the larger nations of the UN for support this week.

In his speech, Gaston Browne noted that his country and other small nations are disproportionately impacted by the effects of global warming and larger nations should play a larger role in aiding them.

It seems logical that the nations contributing most to climate change should be doing the most to fix it. Unfortunately, politics are not very logical. Not only are countries like the US not leading the way to fix it, they’re also highly unlikely to help smaller countries develop the infrastructure needed to protect themselves from sea level rise and more intense storms.




I am a minimalist, environmentalist, and conscious consumer with a background in environmental studies, conservation, and tech. I founded prch to help others be more sustainable and realize an alternative to consumerism.