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Heat pumps outsold gas furnaces again last year — and the gap is growing

"Americans bought 21 percent more heat pumps in 2023 than the next-most popular heating appliance, fossil gas furnaces." Quietly, the way we heat our homes is changing - and it has the potential to make a big impact.

Because heat pumps use around a quarter of the energy of a conventional furnace, and don't necessarily depend on fossil fuels at all, the aggregate energy savings could be really significant. Anecdotally (I have a steam furnace that I hate with the fire of a thousand suns), it's also just a far better system.

It might not seem like a particularly sexy technology, but there's scope to spend a little effort here on UX in the same way that Nest did for thermostats and make an even bigger impact.

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New study says the world blew past 1.5 degrees of warming four years ago

"Limiting average global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, above preindustrial levels has been the gold standard for climate action since at least the 2015 Paris Agreement. A new scientific study published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Climate Change, however, suggests that the world unknowingly passed this benchmark back in 2020."

Not so great, but what's cool here is how they determined this: by analyzing strontium to calcium ratios in a species of sea sponge that lives for hundreds of years. Previously we'd only been able to determine ocean temperatures starting in 1850, when the industrial revolution was already underway.

This new analysis suggests that the pre-industrial oceans were cooler than had been previously understood, meaning we may be 20 years further along the global warming curve than we'd known. Even more reason to take dramatic action now.

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Nations must go further than current Paris pledges or face global warming of 2.5-2.9°C

"“We know it is still possible to make the 1.5 degree limit a reality. It requires tearing out the poisoned root of the climate crisis: fossil fuels. And it demands a just, equitable renewables transition,” said Antònio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations."

How realistic is that in a world where fossil fuels are so deeply baked into our economies and business models? I'm not saying this in a defensive way: it's hard to not believe we're completely hosed.

It would be one thing if we were all aligned as people, but there are enough powerful interests out there who want to stop what needs to be done in its tracks. Is there any reason to even hold out a glimmer of hope?

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World behind on almost every policy required to cut carbon emissions, research finds | Climate crisis

"Coal must be phased out seven times faster than is now happening, deforestation must be reduced four times faster, and public transport around the world built out six times faster than at present, if the world is to avoid the worst impacts of climate breakdown, new research has found."

Well, this is heartening.

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Top consultancy undermining climate change fight: whistleblowers

Management consultants are to blame, for sure, but so are politicians for taking the bait. We know that there's big oil and gas money pushing against real solutions to climate change - anyone who's in that space needs to be vigilant against it.

One aspect of this might, perhaps, have been to not allow the talks to take place in one of the world's largest oil-producing nations. But here we are.

None of this is to say that McKinsey is off the hook for this kind of behavior. If this is happening, it's right to name and shame them. It's just: there are a lot of other people who should take some blame, too.

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On the need for low-carbon and sustainable computing and the path towards zero-carbon computing

"As a society we need to start treating computational resources as finite and precious, to be utilised only when necessary, and as effectively as possible. We need frugal computing: achieving our aims with less energy and material."

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EVs are a climate solution with a pollution problem: Tire particles

Another reason why the really sustainable solution to pollution from cars is better mass transit.

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Revealed: top carbon offset projects may not cut planet-heating emissions

“The vast majority of the environmental projects most frequently used to offset greenhouse gas emissions appear to have fundamental failings suggesting they cannot be relied upon to cut planet-heating emissions, according to a new analysis.”

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Earth ‘well outside safe operating space for humanity’, scientists find

“This update finds that six of the nine boundaries are transgressed, suggesting that Earth is now well outside of the safe operating space for humanity.” No biggie.

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Why the United States undercounts climate-driven deaths

Another way the effect of the climate crisis is understated: climate deaths are undercounted. Changing this state of affairs is possible but requires effort, training, and resources. In the meantime, many people still don’t understand how serious the crisis actually is.

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Is Big Oil Turning on Big Auto?

It makes sense that oil companies would try to frame driving a gas car as freedom. As an EV driver, I can tell you that it is not. I would prefer if we all had great, integrated public transit - but for the moment, at least, it has been an improvement in every way for me as a driver. I'll never go back.

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The true cost of climate pollution? 44% of corporate profits.

I’m surprised that mandatory disclosure of carbon emissions isn’t widespread - it does seem like the prerequisite to making any change. And yeah, these companies should pay. And be forced to reduce their emissions. And be fined heavily, and prosecuted, when they don’t.

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Neoclassical economists are the last people to listen to on climate change

Interesting commentary on "economic theories that have led to government by markets, fuelling financial and other shocks, and the rise of authoritarian, and even neo-fascist regimes promising citizens ‘protection’ from ‘globalised’ markets.”

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Climate change is death by a thousand cuts

“Whenever someone says, “we’ll adapt to climate change,” 100% of the time it’s a rich person. Poor people never say “we’ll adapt” because they know they can’t afford it. For them, adaptation = suffering.” That's the pull-quote for me: this won't affect everyone equally. As always, the most vulnerable, the people who are already struggling the most, will suffer the worst of it.

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Phoenix’s record streak of temperatures above 110F ends after 31 days

31 straight days of 110°F / 43°C heat. And then only a short reprieve before more of it. Ocean surface temperatures at over 90°F / 32°C. And still there are people who deny we’re in a crisis. Spoiler alert: it gets worse from here.

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Banks vote to limit accounting of emissions in bond and stock sales

The single biggest way large entities seem to be reducing their carbon emissions is through accounting. Not by taking action to diminish the impact of the climate crisis before it’s too late; by changing some numbers on a spreadsheet. We’ve crafted an imaginary cage for ourselves where the physical world is secondary to our modeling of it.

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This women-led philanthropy is redirecting climate funding

Directing funding from self-interested billionaire philanthropy to grassroots environmental justice organizations is wonderful to see. They're so much more likely to actually have an impact that will matter. And they need so much more support.

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Extreme heat prompts first-ever Amazon delivery driver strike

Climate change comes for package deliveries - not because of the flights, but because of the trucks. The back of Amazon trucks can reach 135 degrees, with no cooling system. These are the same drivers who have trouble stopping for water or bathroom breaks.

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‘Double agents’: fossil-fuel lobbyists work for US groups trying to fight climate crisis

Greenwashing goes deep. Environmentally outspoken organizations should not hire fossil fuels lobbyists. There should be a list loudly calling out those that do. Otherwise it's all just words.

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'Environment is burning', warns UN rights chief

Plenty of people argue that the climate crisis is overblown. I think they're wrong. If anything, we need to be screaming about this more - and, I agree, calling out the deniers and green-washers. Billions of people will starve. Entire nations will become uninhabitable. It's not some kind of conspiracy; it's a call to action.

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Eigg Electric

This seems like what a part of the future looks like: the island of Eigg has its own power, generated by renewable energy. Members of the community are trained and paid to maintain it. A power grid is not a bad thing for resiliency (see Texas), but I can imagine a world where community sources are federated, rather than run through a central power company.

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In a First, Wind and Solar Generated More Power Than Coal in U.S.

“Wind and solar generated more electricity than coal through May, an E&E News review of federal data shows, marking the first time renewables have outpaced the former king of American power over a five-month period.”

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A pledge to fight climate change is sending money to strange places

“Although a coal plant, a hotel, chocolate stores, a movie and an airport expansion don’t seem like efforts to combat global warming, nothing prevented the governments that funded them from reporting them as such to the United Nations and counting them toward their giving total.”

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Earth is in ‘the danger zone’ and getting worse for ecosystems and humans

“Earth has pushed past seven out of eight scientifically established safety limits and into "the danger zone," not just for an overheating planet that's losing its natural areas, but for well-being of people living on it, according to a new study.”

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