Grist News 2020-12-22


Politics: The first words from the ‘barrier-busting’ nominees for Biden’s climate team

By: Angely Mercado on 21 December 2020, 9:01 pm

President-elect Joe Biden took the stage Saturday afternoon at The Queen Theater in Wilmington, Delaware, to unveil a slate of diverse nominees for key energy and climate positions, including the prospective heads of the Department of the Interior, Department of Energy, and the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA.

“We’re in a crisis,” Biden said before announcing his climate team. “Just like we need to be a unified nation in response to COVID-19, we need a unified national response to climate change.”

Biden said his team is “brilliant”, “qualified,” and “barrier-busting.” The former vice president described them as the right people to take on his ambitious climate plan, which includes returning the U.S. to the Paris climate agreement and investing trillions of dollars in green infrastructure in the hopes of pushing the country to go carbon neutral………

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Justice: What California’s farmworkers can teach us during a season of giving

By: Yvette Cabrera on 21 December 2020, 11:45 am

Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of tiny 3-year-old Yair Basurto shuffling back and forth between a pile of grocery bags and a long line of cars waiting with open trunks. He and his father, Gonzalo, were loading food deliveries for farmworkers and other families in need in the parking lot of a Masonic temple in the coastal agricultural community of Oxnard, California.

The snack bags were just one small part of the aid distributed that day in September. Every month since April, a local collective of Oxnard farmworkers called “De Campesinxs a Campesinxs (From Farmworkers to Farmworkers): Feeding those who feed us” has provided food, clothing, and school supplies to hundreds of farmworkers and families suffering during the COVID-19 pandemic. In September, families waited in their cars………

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Business & Technology: These ladies love natural gas! Too bad they aren’t real.

By: Rebecca Leber on 20 December 2020, 11:00 am

This story was originally published by Mother Jones and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

The website Women for Natural Gas is a pink-tinged, fancy-cursive-drenched love letter to the oil and gas industry. A prominently featured promo video shows women in hard hats and on rig sites. “Who’s powering the world? We are!” enthuses the narrator. Viewers can click through to a “Herstory” timeline of women working in the oil sector. Another page, about the group’s grassroots network of supporters, announces, “We are women for natural gas,” and shows three professionally dressed ladies………

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Climate: The Federal Reserve just took a major step forward on climate

By: Alexander C. Kaufman on 19 December 2020, 11:00 am

This story was originally published by HuffPost and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

The Federal Reserve on Tuesday took its most significant step forward on climate change, announcing that it joined a group of some 75 other central banks focused on rooting out the risk warming poses to the global financial system.

The U.S. central bank’s five-member governing board voted unanimously last week to become a formal member of the Network of Central Banks and Supervisors for Greening the Financial System, known by the acronym NSGS. The international coalition was founded in 2017 to exchange “ideas, research, and best practices on the development of environment and climate risk management for the………

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Food: For your consideration: Fruitcake

By: L.V. Anderson on 18 December 2020, 11:45 am

It’s been a helluva year — so rather than just reflecting on all that went down in 2020, we’re going back a bit further and seeking comfort via nostalgia. But while revisiting “simpler times” may feel like temporary escapes from current disasters like climate change, a pandemic, and attempted coups, they also remind us of how we got here. Welcome to Grist’s Nostalgia Week.

I first encountered fruitcake, outside of the context of late-night jokes, as a teenager. I’d gotten hooked on the English food writer Nigella Lawson’s glamorously hedonistic early-2000s cooking show Nigella Bites, and my parents had bought me Lawson’s second cookbook, the archly titled How to Be a Domestic Goddess, as a present. The cookbook presented fruitcake — or in its parlance, “Christmas cake” — as a fait accompli, something that of course I was going to take on………

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Food: Vegetarianism used to be lonely. Now, it’s a family affair.

By: Teresa Chin on 18 December 2020, 11:30 am

It’s been a helluva year — so rather than just reflecting on all that went down in 2020, we’re going back a bit further and seeking comfort via nostalgia. But while revisiting “simpler times” may feel like temporary escapes from current disasters like climate change, a pandemic, and attempted coups, they also remind us of how we got here. Welcome to Grist’s Nostalgia Week.

The start to my 12-year stint as a vegetarian was not a particularly auspicious one. I was standing over my parents’ kitchen sink, eyes full of tears as I choked down one mouthful after another of cold, cotton-dry chicken breast. At the same time, I engaged in a fiery staring contest with my dad, who had taken it upon himself to enforce his long-promised threat of “You are going to sit here until you finally clean your dinner plate, young lady.”

MONDAY
Climate………

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Fix: Her high-tech murals envision a better future

By: Brianna Baker on 18 December 2020, 11:25 am

With auction houses shuttered and galas cancelled, the international art industry, which caters to affluent collectors, is struggling to survive. Despite an attempt to pivot to online art fairs and shops, galleries around the world reported a 36 percent decline in sales over the first six months of 2020.

Meanwhile, the public art nonprofit Before It’s Too Late is thriving. The Miami-based organization, founded in 2016, partners with artists, climate activists, and government agencies to paint murals and design augmented reality (AR) videos that bring awareness to climate solutions. It has completed four projects in Miami and just wrapped its first out of state: a………

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Climate: Yes, the U.S. can go carbon neutral by 2050, says new Princeton study

By: Cameron Oglesby on 18 December 2020, 11:15 am

The month of December opened with good news and bad news for people concerned about the climate crisis.

A climate analysis released by the independent watchdog group Climate Action Tracker said that based on promises made by Paris Climate Agreement participants, the world could limit warming to 2.1 degrees C (3.8 degrees F) by the year 2100. Countries including Japan, South Korea, and China have promised to reach zero emissions by 2060. And while the U.S. isn’t currently a part of the agreement, President-elect Joe Biden plans to rejoin next month and has set a rigorous net-zero promise for 2050.

But the next day, another report threw cold water on that hopeful note, pointing out that many of these………

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Fix: Guilt at the gas pump? That’s (part of) the idea.

By: James Brooks and Drew Shindell on 18 December 2020, 10:54 am

This week, the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts, became the first in the nation to post bright yellow “warming” labels at gas pumps warning consumers of the latent climate and public health harms that result from gasoline combustion.

The labels are part of a nascent, global effort to generate public buy-in for the policy and behavioral changes we’ll all need to make if we want to keep the Earth from warming beyond the 1.5 celsius threshold. That means transitioning to electric vehicles, ramping up public transportation, and simply driving less.

It may cost under $30 to fill up your tank right now, but there are additional — and important — climate and public health costs that remain invisible, meaning the price of gas is actually much higher. In 2015, I (Drew Shindell) calculated in a widely cited………

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Temperature Check: Listen: How Puerto Ricans are rebuilding post-Hurricane María

By: Grist staff on 18 December 2020, 8:45 am

In the last episode of Temperature Check (Grist’s podcast on climate, race, and culture) before the new year, host Andrew Simon and returning co-host Justin Worland look back on the biggest climate stories of 2020 and look ahead to what’s in store for the holiday season.

Simon is later joined by guest and filmmaker Cecilia Aldarondo in a conversation about her latest documentary, Landfall, which takes a look at the process of rebuilding Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane María. Simon and  Aldarondo touch on mutual aid efforts, who is often considered an “expert,” and documenting dynamism and complexity through film.

Host Andrew Simon is Grist’s director of leadership programming and founding editor of the Grist 50, an annual list of emerging climate and justice leaders. Previously a senior editor at Fast Company and ESPN, Andrew is also the author of Racing While Black: How an African-American Stock Car Team Made Its Mark on NASCAR.

Co-host………

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Ask Umbra: Why do I love the mall when I hate consumerism?

By: Eve Andrews on 17 December 2020, 11:45 am

It’s been a helluva year — so rather than just reflecting on all that went down in 2020, we’re going back a bit further and seeking comfort via nostalgia. But while revisiting “simpler times” may feel like temporary escapes from current disasters like climate change, a pandemic, and attempted coups, they also remind us of how we got here. Welcome to Grist’s Nostalgia Week.

Q. Dear Umbra,

I always crave a visit to the mall around the holidays. Why do I find it so soothing? I consider myself an anti-consumerist!

MONDAY
Climate change is giving ‘Christmastown, USA’ an identity crisis
Leavenworth, Washington — my hometown — is looking less and less like a winter………

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Fix: She sees a more just, equitable food system in our future

By: Claire Elise Thompson on 17 December 2020, 11:30 am

As 2020 draws to a close, Fix asked 21 climate and justice leaders to offer their predictions for 2021. We’re presenting a handful of their responses in depth — because we could all use some extra hope these days. Be sure to check out the full list of predictions here.

A native of Montana, Liz Carlisle started her career as a country and folk singer — a path that continually exposed her to the different facets of living close to the land and fueled her desire to share stories from rural America. She went on to write two books about the transition………

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Climate: Who’s Jennifer Granholm, Biden’s pick for energy secretary?

By: Emily Pontecorvo on 16 December 2020, 9:25 pm

Throughout the Demoratic primaries and the run-up to the presidential election, one of Joe Biden’s most consistent climate pitches was his plan to own the electric vehicle market and build 500,000 charging stations across the country. Now, with President-elect Biden’s expected pick of former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm to lead the Department of Energy, he’s making a down payment on that goal.

The Energy Department is a key funder of battery technology research and will likely play an important role helping the country drop gas-powered cars for electric ones under the Biden administration. The former governor of Michigan knows the auto industry intimately………

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Politics: Deb Haaland will be the first Native American head of the Interior

By: Zoya Teirstein on 16 December 2020, 7:47 pm

During his presidential campaign, Joe Biden said he would ensure that Native American tribes have “a seat at the table at the highest levels of the federal government.” Progressive activists, environmental advocates, and Indigenous groups are lobbying the now-president-elect to make good on that promise by nominating Debra Haaland, U.S. representative from New Mexico and an enrolled member of the Pueblo Laguna tribe, to lead the Department of the Interior. And according to reporting Tuesday from Reuters, Haaland is emerging as the former vice president’s top choice for the Cabinet position. (Update, December 17: Biden has selected Haaland as his nominee for interior secretary, according to multiple news reports).

The Secretary of the Interior is charged………

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Cities: What Mayor Pete’s primary promises mean for the Department of Transportation

By: Cameron Oglesby on 16 December 2020, 5:11 pm

On Tuesday, President-elect Joe Biden announced that Pete Buttigieg, former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and a former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, will be his nominee for secretary of transportation.

Should the Senate confirm him, Buttigieg will be the first openly gay cabinet secretary approved by Congress in history, and also one of the youngest.

In the early days of the 2020 presidential primary season, Buttigieg’s critics asked whether being the mayor of a mid-sized Midwestern city qualifies a person to become president of the United States. The same question could be posed about a potential transportation secretary — who would oversee a sector that, according to the Environmental………

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Climate: Gina McCarthy will be Biden’s ‘climate czar.’ What the heck is a climate czar??

By: Shannon Osaka on 16 December 2020, 11:45 am

President-elect Joe Biden will name Gina McCarthy as his domestic “climate czar,” multiple outlets reported on Tuesday, elevating the former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to a Cabinet-level position in the White House.

In the new role, McCarthy — who is currently president and CEO of the Natural Resources Defense Council, or NRDC — will be responsible for coordinating climate action across multiple federal agencies and Congress. Ali Zaidi, New York State’s deputy secretary for energy and environment, will serve as her number two.

The idea of having a White House “climate czar” isn’t new, but the position has been empty for almost a decade. President Barack Obama appointed Carol Browner, also a former EPA administrator, to fill the role………

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Climate: Is climate change coming for the Christmas rom-com?

By: Shannon Osaka on 16 December 2020, 11:30 am

It’s been a helluva year — so rather than just reflecting on all that went down in 2020, we’re going back a bit further and seeking comfort via nostalgia. But while revisiting “simpler times” may feel like temporary escapes from current disasters like climate change, a pandemic, and attempted coups, they also remind us of how we got here. Welcome to Grist’s Nostalgia Week.

It’s December, which means ‘tis the season for drinking giant mugs of hot cocoa, making piles of gingerbread cookies, and lots and lots of ice-skating – at least, it does if you’re a character in one of this season’s many holiday rom-coms. Even in 2020, the end of the year still brings a deluge of festive romances, complete with totally believable plot lines (in The Princess Switch 2: Switched Again, Vanessa Hudgens plays not two but three (!) identical women romping through………

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Sponsored: This architect is using design justice to empower communities through outdoor spaces

By: Grist Creative on 15 December 2020, 3:41 pm
This article is published in partnership with:

 

Every day, hundreds of people walk, run, and bike along the Lafitte Greenway in New Orleans, one of the city’s newest parks. Bordering the central path are lush green bioswales — sunken gardens that capture stormwater. The 2.6-mile-long stretch of greenspace transects some of the city’s historic neighborhoods, connecting Bayou St. John to the French Quarter and passing through Treme and Mid-City along the way.

New Orleans-based architect Bryan C. Lee, Jr. calls the Lafitte Greenway “a civic green boulevard” and describes it as “a space that has continuous motion.”

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Climate: This new game tries to vaccinate you against fake news

By: Kate Yoder on 15 December 2020, 2:00 pm

As COVID-19 spread around the globe this year, conspiracy theories did too. One wacky and pernicious standout claimed the new virus had been deliberately manufactured as a plot by a foreign power, or by billionaires trying to take over the world (or maybe even by aliens!). In mid-March, when the lockdowns were beginning, a survey by the Atlantic found that nearly a third of Americans believed that the virus has been created and spread for some nefarious purpose. If only there was also a vaccine that could fix the rampant spread of fake news.

The idea isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds. Research………

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Climate & Energy: How the Kingston coal ash spill unearthed a nuclear nightmare

By: Austyn Gaffney on 15 December 2020, 11:45 am

This story was published in partnership with the Daily Yonder, with support from the IRE Freelance Investigative Fellowship Award.

In 2009, App Thacker was hired to run a dredge along the Emory River in eastern Tennessee. Picture an industrialized fleet modeled after Huck Finn’s raft: Nicknamed Adelyn, Kylee, and Shirley, the blue, flat-bottomed boats used mechanical arms called cutterheads to dig up riverbeds and siphon the excavated sediment into shoreline canals. The largest dredge, a two-story behemoth called the Sandpiper, had pipes wide enough to swallow a push lawnmower. Smaller dredges like Thacker’s scuttled behind it, scooping up excess muck like fish skimming a whale’s corpse. They all had the same directive: Remove the thick grey sludge that clogged the Emory.

The sludge was coal ash, the waste leftover when coal is burned to generate electricity. Twelve years ago this month, more than a billion gallons of wet ash………

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