Climate change has caused the Western United States to experience its worst drought in two decades. A record-breaking heat wave only exacerbated the situation.
The asphalt in Arizona and Nevada has been so hot that doctors have warned people that they could get third-degree burns from it. In Montana and Utah, wildfires raged. Texas power grids were stressed as officials asked residents to limit appliance use to avoid blackouts.
Lake Mead, which supplies water to millions of people, is at its lowest level since the 1930s. The water in one California lake was so shallow that officials discovered plane wreckage from a 1986 crash.
And that is just in the United States. Experts predict that global temperatures will continue to rise as countries — and businesses — fail to limit their greenhouse-gas emissions. Smaller countries frequently pay the price for wealthier countries’ pollution in the form of extreme weather. Bernard Ferguson writes, “The majority of these gases have come from the United States, China, the European Union, Russia, and other developed countries.” Nonetheless, islands such as the Bahamas, where Ferguson is from, are “on the front lines of the climate crisis.”
The problems in the West and around the world are further proof that climate change is already having an impact on us. But there are also reasons to be optimistic.
What are the solutions?
Ezra Klein spoke with experts for The Times Magazine’s climate issue, comparing political progress in the United States to the magnitude of the crisis. “Our politics evolved alongside a century of fossil fuels, and as a result, a large portion of our regulations still favour the incumbent, which is fossil fuels,” said Saul Griffith, a scientist and nonprofit founder.
Griffith claims that in Australia, a kilowatt-hour of energy generated by rooftop solar panels costs roughly one-third of what it would from a U.S. power grid. “We can make everyone’s energy future cheaper,” he said, adding that “politics must work with technology, which must work with finance.”
Tucson, Ariz., is a national leader in recycling wastewater for irrigation and firefighting. California school districts are investing billions of dollars in infrastructure to store water for future droughts.
Another storey in the magazine, by Aurora Almendral, focuses on reducing the carbon footprint of the shipping industry. Cargo ships are among the largest machines on the planet, and shipping accounts for 2.9 percent of global CO2 emissions — nearly as much as the entire continent of South America. Some experts believe that using wind through modern sails could significantly reduce that figure.
Other businesses are working on more environmentally friendly manufacturing techniques, such as repurposing carbon dioxide into building materials, fuels, plastics, and even fish food.
“You might wake up on a mattress made from recycled CO2,” writes Jon Gertner. “You might drive your car over roads made of CO2-cured concrete, with parts made from smokestack CO2. At the end of the day, you could sip carbontech vodka while cooking dinner with food grown in a greenhouse enriched with recycled CO2.”
For more information, visit: When wildfires rage across the West, the immediate devastation is often the focus. However, the damage they cause to water supplies can last for years.
“The way we manage our water is outdated, inefficient, uncoordinated, and unfair to a lot of people,” writes The Times columnist Farhad Manjoo.
THE LATEST NEWS
Iran’s new ultraconservative president wishes for political and economic stability. As a result, argues Vali Nasr in Foreign Policy, he is Biden’s best hope for reviving the 2015 nuclear deal.
Swim well: When the pandemic closed his pool, he trained at the home of actor David Duchovny. He is now competing in the Paralympics.
The end of the late-night sidekick?
Conan O’Brien’s final episode of his late-night talk show on TBS tonight may mark the end of the era of comedy sidekicks.
According to Jason Zinoman of The New York Times, the sidekick has been a TV staple since the 1950s. The role, as embodied by Ed McMahon, who sat next to Johnny Carson for more than three decades, was to set up jokes, tease the host, and make the host look good.
When O’Brien first appeared on late night in 1993, he was accompanied by improv comedian Andy Richter. Richter, unlike his predecessors, did not sacrifice his voice or dignity; instead, he added precise ad-libs, stole scenes, and built on jokes. And O’Brien was delighted to share the limelight.
O’Brien and Richter may have rendered the late-night sidekick obsolete by redefining the role. According to Jason, their friendship paved the way for shows like Showtime’s “Desus & Mero,” “where two funny friends with great chemistry play off each other without rigidly hierarchical roles.”