Climate change remains top global threat across 19-country survey

Read the full story from the Pew Research Center.

With the COVID-19 pandemic still raging, a hot war between Russia and Ukraine ongoing, inflation rates rising globally and heat records being smashed across parts of the world, countries are facing a wide variety of challenges in 2022.

Among the many threats facing the globe, climate change stands out as an especially strong concern among citizens in advanced economies, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. A median of 75% across 19 countries in North America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region label global climate change as a major threat.

This is not to say people are unconcerned about the other issues tested. Majorities in most countries view the spread of false information online, cyberattacks from other countries, the condition of the global economy and the spread of infectious diseases (like COVID-19) as major threats to their nations.

And despite the many depressing stories dominating the international news cycle, there is also a note of positivity among survey respondents in views of the United Nations, the benefits of international cooperation for solving problems and the importance of common values for bringing nations together.

How ESG investing got tangled up in America’s culture wars

Read the full story from NPR.

Anti-ESG Republicans say big financial firms are abusing their power to advance a liberal agenda on issues like diversity, social justice and, especially, climate change.

Many experts disagree, saying Republicans are distorting the goals and strategies of ESG investing.

It’s hard for most people to get a clear read of what ESG is amid the overheated rhetoric. Is the idea to bring about social changes that couldn’t be achieved at the ballot box? And what does it mean for things like your 401K when investors follow ESG principles?

This FAQ is for anyone who wants to better understand an investing trend that is becoming core to global financial markets and a new battlefront in American politics — including, possibly, in your own state.

Federal Fisheries Management: Opportunities Exist to Enhance Climate Resilience

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What GAO Found

Fisheries managers comprised of eight Regional Fishery Management Councils (Councils) and the National Marine Fisheries Service’s (NMFS) Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Division (HMS Division) have generally used climate information to a limited extent in fisheries management activities. For example, GAO identified 12 out of 46 fishery management plans and amendments that considered climate-related information. However, many fisheries managers are leading initiatives that could advance the use of climate information in management, such as addressing distributional shifts in species, pictured below. Initiatives include the creation of a special task force to identify actions and tools to better incorporate climate information in fisheries management. Six of nine fisheries managers told GAO that they were not aware of climate-related fisheries management activities taking place in other regions. According to a few stakeholders, fisheries managers could benefit from learning about such actions, but NMFS does not regularly collect or share this information. According to GAO’s Disaster Resilience Framework, federal efforts can help decision makers better identify and select actions to enhance climate resilience. An effort by NMFS to regularly collect and publicly share information on climate-related activities taken by fisheries managers could help decision makers identify and prioritize resilience measures.

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Map from the National Marine Fisheries Service’s Distribution Mapping and Analysis Portal Showing Changes in Black Sea Bass Distribution from 1974 to 2019

NMFS and fisheries managers face challenges to enhancing the climate resilience of federal fisheries, including limited data and modeling information, and resource constraints. However, opportunities exist to help address these challenges based on GAO’s review of relevant literature and a 2018 NMFS guidance document on fisheries management and climate change. For example, one potential opportunity to help address limited fisheries data involves NMFS partnering with the fishing industry to collect data through equipment on commercial vessels. Most NMFS regions (three of five) have taken some related actions and shared the 2018 guidance document with the Councils. However, GAO found that one Council was not familiar with the document and that NMFS is not actively working with Councils on implementing opportunities that it identifies. According to the principles outlined in the Disaster Resilience Framework, NMFS could help address climate-related challenges facing the Councils by collaborating with them to identify, prioritize, and plan to implement opportunities to enhance the climate resilience of federal fisheries.

Why GAO Did This Study

Commercial and recreational marine fisheries managed by NMFS and regional fisheries managers are critical to the nation’s economy. These fisheries contributed nearly $118 billion to the U.S. gross domestic product and 1.8 million jobs in 2019. The increasing effects of climate change can alter the number and location of fisheries and have negative economic consequences on fishing-reliant industries and coastal communities.

House Report 116-455 includes a provision for GAO to examine federal efforts to prepare and adapt federal or jointly managed fisheries for the impacts of climate change. This GAO report examines, among other things, (1) the extent to which fisheries managers have used climate information and (2) challenges to enhancing the climate resilience of federal fisheries and opportunities to address challenges. GAO reviewed laws, regulations, NMFS documents, and relevant literature. GAO interviewed representatives from all five NMFS regions; NMFS’ HMS Division; all eight Councils; and all three interstate commissions, as well as 15 relevant stakeholders, selected based on geographic diversity and other factors.Skip to Recommendations


GAO is recommending that NMFS (1) regularly collect and share information on fishery management activities for enhancing climate resilience and (2) work with federal fisheries managers to identify and prioritize climate resilience opportunities and develop a plan to implement them. The agency agreed with GAO’s recommendations.

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency AffectedRecommendationStatus
National Marine Fisheries ServiceThe Assistant Administrator for NMFS should regularly collect and publicly disseminate information on actions taken by the Regional Fishery Management Councils and NMFS’ Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Division to enhance the climate resilience of federal fisheries, such as fishery management plans that use climate information. (Recommendation 1)When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
National Marine Fisheries ServiceThe Assistant Administrator for NMFS should direct the agency’s regional offices and fisheries science centers to work with the Regional Fishery Management Councils and NMFS’ Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Division in their respective regions to identify and prioritize opportunities to enhance the climate resilience of federal fisheries, including by reviewing the opportunities described in this report and in NMFS’ 2018 guidance document, Accounting for Shifting Distributions and Changing Productivity in the Fishery Management Process, and develop a plan to implement them. (Recommendation 2)When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

Searching the Texas brushland for a rare, temperamental plant

The author hovers near a Zapata bladderpod specimen. Photo courtesy Sara Johnson

Read the full story from the University of Illinois.

Deep South Texas is unique. It feels vast and nomadic, sprawling in all directions with hundreds of thousands of acres of ranchland and – if you don’t count the cows or the main thruways along the Rio Grande – sparsely populated. It’s a diverse region, thanks to the confluence of semi-arid and subtropical climates that meet in central South Texas to form a mixture of grasslands and extremely dry uplands.

The Zapata bladderpod is aptly named. It inhabits the Tamaulipan thornscrub, also known as mezquital, a dry ecoregion defined by shrubs and desertlike conditions, with seasonal marshlands and intermittent streams. As we search the dense thickets of shrubs and enormous prickly pear, Opuntia lindheimeri, I begin to think these plants don’t want to be found.

With Corn Belt inching north, farm diversification gains momentum

Read the full story at Investigate Midwest.

Climate change is redrawing the agricultural map of the United States. As corn becomes less economically viable with changing Midwestern weather patterns, farmers look to a more diverse future.

Questions remain, but large-scale carbon capture is crucial for energy transition

Read the full story at Upstream.

The UK has shortlisted bidders for carbon capture and storage schemes, advancing towards bringing more CCS projects on stream in support of net zero strategies

Electric school buses are taking students back to school – bringing cleaner air and lower maintenance costs to school districts across the country

A new EV schoolbus from an all-electric fleet parked beside charging stations at South El Monte High School in California, Aug. 18, 2021. Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

by Andrea Marpillero-Colomina, The New School

Each weekday, more than half of the K-12 students in the U.S. – over 25 million pupils – ride a school bus. Until very recently, nearly all of these 500,000 buses ran on diesel fuel.

Nationwide, diesel-powered school buses produce more than 5 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions. They also generate air pollutants that are harmful to children’s health – especially fine particulates. Studies show that exposure to diesel tailpipe emissions worsens respiratory conditions, decreases lung function and can lead to increased hospital admissions and emergency room visits.

Shifting to cleaner buses is especially important for low-income students. Across the U.S., 60% of low-income students ride the school bus, compared with 45% of other students. School buses often idle their engines while they are loading or unloading, which exposes children directly to exhaust fumes.

I study issues at the intersection of infrastructure, policy and place, including sustainability and equity in transportation. While electrifying school bus fleets requires big investments, I believe the evidence makes clear that it will more than pay off over the long term in health and economic benefits, and I am encouraged to see public and private investments moving in that direction.

Early movers

Decisions about switching from diesel to electric school buses typically lie with cities and school districts, although state governments are getting involved. As of March 2022, 415 school districts or contracted fleet operators had committed to deploy 12,275 electric school buses in a wide range of settings, from large cities to rural counties, across 38 states and lands of two Native American tribes.

California, a longtime leader in clean vehicle policy, acquired its first electric school buses in 2014. Now the state is spending nearly US$70 million to replace more than 200 diesel buses with electric versions to advance its climate and air-quality goals.

Another notable case is Montgomery County, the largest school district in Maryland, which is replacing 326 diesel buses with electric buses by 2025 and building five charging depots. The district serves a diverse population of 160,000 students in 210 schools.

In Virginia, the utility company Dominion Energy announced in 2019 that it would provide 50 electric buses for 16 school districts across the state as one of its initiatives to reduce pollution and promote sustainability. Dominion is paying for infrastructure costs and absorbing the cost difference between a diesel and an electric bus.

The town of Chesapeake, Va., takes delivery of its first electric school buses, funded by the utility Dominion Energy.

The biggest obstacles: Funding and space

As Dominion’s gesture suggests, converting bus fleets isn’t an easy step for many school districts. An electric school bus can cost up to $400,000, two to three times the price of a diesel bus.

But electric buses have lower operating costs, so they save districts an estimated $4,000 to $11,000 per bus per year compared with diesel versions. That can make the costs of electric buses comparable over their lifetimes.

Electric bus motors have about 20 parts, compared with 2,000 in a diesel engine, and require far fewer maintenance steps such as regular fluid changes. And because many of their mechanical systems, such as braking and steering, are similar to those in diesel buses, electric buses are relatively easy to service, especially in districts where both bus types operate.

Charging stations also require money and space, especially in areas where bus routes are long and battery range is a constraint. Most buses now on the market have ranges of about 100 to 120 miles (160-190 kilometers) on a single charge.

In a 2013 study, analysts at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory reviewed school bus drive cycles in Colorado, New York and Washington and found that the average school bus was typically in operation for 5.26 hours per day. Driving distance averaged about 32 miles, (50 kilometers), with some buses traveling over 127 miles (200 kilomaters) daily.

School districts need places to charge buses easily and efficiently, especially between morning and afternoon routes. Building this infrastructure, especially as diesel buses continue to operate concurrently with growing electric fleets, can pose a challenge in school districts where space is limited.

Buses as power sources

At the same time, charging infrastructure can make school bus fueling and management more efficient. Today’s managed charging infrastructure allows districts to plug in a bus whenever it is parked at the depot but have the bus charge only when needed. Chargers can be programmed to function at times of day when energy demand is lowest and power is less expensive.

Manufacturers are introducing buses equipped with bidirectional charging capability that can send stored electricity back to the grid when they are not in service. During summer months, when many school buses are not in use and power usage often peaks, utilities soon may be able to call on school districts to make charged buses available to help ease demand load. These buses can also be used as mobile generators during power outages and emergencies.

In a 2022 study, researchers at the University of North Carolina analyzed how the state’s utilities could use school buses with vehicle-to-grid charging to manage peak power demand while taking the buses’ schedules into account. They estimated that a fleet of 14,000 buses could provide about 2.6 gigawatt-hours of electricity to the grid on an average winter weekend day in North Carolina, reducing utilities’ dependence on natural gas and avoiding up to 1,130 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per day.

Cleaner air is likely to pay off in improved student performance. In a 2019 study, researchers found that retrofitting 2,656 diesel buses in Georgia – adding new components to reduce the buses’ emissions – was associated with positive effects on students’ respiratory health, and that districts with retrofitted diesel buses experienced test score gains in English and math. Since even modernized diesel vehicles still generate air pollutants, shifting to electric buses would likely produce even larger increases.

Spreading the benefits

Federal and state agencies are moving to speed up the transition to electric school buses. The American Rescue Plan, enacted in 2021 to provide economic relief during the COVID-19 pandemic, included $7 million in rebates for school districts in underserved communities, Tribal schools and private fleets serving schools that purchase electric buses.

In March 2022 the Environmental Protection Agency awarded funding for 23 electric school bus replacement programs and associated charging infrastructure in 11 states. And New York state’s fiscal 2023 budget includes a nation-leading requirement that all new school bus purchases must be electric starting in July 2027, and that all school buses in service must be zero-emission by 2035. The budget allocates $500 million in potential state funding for school bus electrification as part of a larger environmental bond act, which will be on the ballot in November 2022.

Riding the iconic yellow school bus is a formative experience for millions of kids across the U.S. If more districts make the shift away from diesel, I believe it will become a greener and healthier trip and a step toward the zero-emissions future our nation’s children deserve.

Andrea Marpillero-Colomina, Adjunct Lecturer in Urban Studies, The New School

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Small companies can make a big difference in reducing emissions for last-mile logistics

Read the full story in the American Journal of Transportation.

In North America, the transportation sector has been identified as the single largest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions, at 28%. The logistics sector impacts nearly every other business and industry, by means of supplying essential goods, transporting raw materials, storing goods, and providing last-mile delivery.

Logistics software provider CartonCloud’s CEO Vincent Fletcher said for companies wishing to reduce emissions and meet their own carbon targets, they must be able to show full visibility across their entire supply chain — including each touchpoint from various logistics providers— which means entering the world of digitalization for many smaller providers.

This federal program helped clean up the Great Lakes. Could it work for the Mississippi River?

Read the full story from New Orleans Public Radio.

Flooding is happening with more frequency and lasting longer, changing floodplain habitats. Invasive species are working their way further up the river and into its tributaries. And despite efforts to curb pollution running off land and into the river, the dead zone where the Mississippi empties into the Gulf of Mexico still persists.

Advocates for the river are hoping that a proposed federal funding program, modeled after an effort to clean up the Great Lakes, could change that trajectory.

The Mississippi River Restoration and Resilience Initiative (MRRRI) was introduced last June by U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, a Democrat from the Twin Cities. It’s based on the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) which launched in 2010.

Most U.S. consumers don’t know what ‘carbon neutral’ means

Sweaters with carbon neutral CO2 neutral verified on the label.

Read the full story at Morning Consult.

When asked to select the correct definition of the term “carbon-neutral” from three options, roughly 3 in 5 U.S. adults either chose the incorrect definition or said they didn’t know what it meant, according to new Morning Consult data.