Balance / Sustainability – Margaret Atwood: The planet is not doomed

Margaret Atwood may be known for her miserable dive into environmental and political disaster, but the writer stresses that the world is not doomed.

The prolific writer touches on the topic of climate change in her 1985 book “The Handmaid’s Tale,” the inspiration for the Hulu series of the same name that premiered its fifth season on Wednesday.

“We have some environmental disasters. People are being sent to ‘colonies’ to clean it up,” Atwood told Time on Thursday for Thursday’s story, speaking of a post-apocalyptic novel that highlights both human oppression and resistance.

While environmental fragility is similarly powerful in Atwood’s MaddAddam The trilogy – set in a world overshadowed by an environmental and viral catastrophe – has not given up hope in efforts to combat climate change, the author said.

“If you got too deep into doom, the answer would be let’s just celebrate — and so nobody does anything,” Atwood told Time magazine.

“The moment you lose hope, this is the moment you stop taking any measures that might be positive to get out of perdition,” she continued.

Atwood is launching a new project described by Time magazine as “revolving around more hope” – a workshop experience called Practical Utopia that encourages participants to envision a better future using the tools currently available.

“There is really no excuse for practicing total doom,” she added.

Welcome to balance, a news release that tracks the growing global battle over the future of sustainability. We are Saul Alpine and Sharon Odasin. Send us tips and comments. Subscribe here.

Today we’ll look at America’s largest financial regulator’s questioning received on Capitol Hill about his agency’s proposed climate rules and how adults around the world view the impact of climate change.

Adults all over the world fear extreme weather

The World Economic Forum revealed Thursday that more than half of adults surveyed worldwide said climate change has already had a serious impact on their lives.

global consensus: In 34 countries across six continents, 56 percent of more than 23,500 adults surveyed said they felt these effects.

  • More than a third of them said they expect to be forced from their homes due to climate change within 25 years.
  • Seventy-one percent agreed that climate change will have more or less severe impacts on their countries over the next decade.

Fear for the future: “We are in a climate crisis,” Jim Huai Niu, managing director and chair of the World Economic Forum’s Center for Nature and Climate, said in a statement.

“The survey results confirm that around the world, people are already feeling the impacts today and fearful for their future tomorrow,” Jim Howey added.

Regional differences: In North America, residents of areas that experienced extreme heat, drought, and wildfires — such as the western United States and British Columbia — were the most likely to report severe climate impacts, according to the study.

The responses reflected similar attitudes in the stricken European regions such as southeastern France, southern Germany, northeastern Italy and eastern Hungary.

Better, bad and better

Residents of different countries had widely differing views of the effects of climate change – regardless of whether they came from hot or cold climates.

Expect the worst: These countries had the largest number of participants who expected very or somewhat severe climate change impacts in the next decade:

  • Portugal (88%)
  • Mexico and Hungary (86 percent)
  • Turkey and Chile (85%)
  • South Korea and Spain (83%)

It’s really dreary: In nine countries – Mexico, Hungary, Turkey, Colombia, Spain, Italy, India, Chile and France – more than two-thirds of respondents said they were already severely affected by climate change.

high hopes: Places where respondents expect the least severe climate impacts:

  • Malaysia (52 percent)
  • China (56 percent)
  • Sweden (56 percent)
  • Thailand (57 percent)
  • Saudi Arabia (60%)

What about climate displacement? The countries where respondents saw such conditions most likely were India and Turkey, at 65 percent and 64 percent, respectively, according to the survey.

Click here to read more survey results

SEC president defends proposed climate disclosure rules

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Gary Gensler avoided questions Thursday about his agency’s approach to issues including climate disclosure and crypto regulation.

  • The climate disclosure rules proposed by the Securities and Exchange Commission – and which it issued in March – will require publicly traded companies to calculate and publicize the risks that climate change poses to their operations and what they are doing to address them.
  • Republicans have criticized the rules as onerous, arguing that they are an example of the Securities and Exchange Commission conducting policy beyond its powers.

Gensler joined two other Democratic commissioners in voting on the proposed rules in March, while the SEC’s only Republican commissioner, Hester Pierce, voted “no.”

different priorities: Republican lawmakers on the Senate Banking Committee, such as Senator John F. Kennedy (US), on Thursday attempted to portray the SEC’s climate disclosure policy as a covert and likely ineffective attempt to lower global temperatures.

This is something Republicans argue that goes beyond the agency’s mission.

Kennedy used a similar tactic in February in his questioning of prospective Securities and Exchange Commission Commissioner Sarah Bloom Raskin, a climate hawk.

Overreaching accusation: in february, Kennedy argued that Raskin was trying to use her role as the financial regulator to secretly craft climate policy — and hinted Thursday that Gensler was doing the same.

  • “What bothers me is why we spend trillions of dollars on scarce resources while China gets 60 percent of its energy from coal,” Kennedy said.
  • “We’re spending all that money and global temperatures aren’t dropping.”

Avoid Gensler: The head of the Securities and Exchange Commission refused to accept the hypothesis that the agency is trying to influence global temperatures.

He stressed that neither he nor his deputies were “motivated” by seeking to reduce global temperatures.

  • “It’s about helping investors get more consistent information, even if they want to invest in what might be ‘brown’ assets rather than ‘green’ ones,” he said, referring to fossil fuels and other carbon-intensive investments.
  • These investors will “get more consistent information and probably avoid some of the green bleaching out there,” Gensler added, citing misleading marketing of unsustainable investments.

Read more here

US schools mint money by switching to solar energy

A new report finds that schools across the US are switching to solar power, which leads to significant cost savings as it meets their huge energy needs.

In numbers: Since 2015 alone, the amount of solar power installed in K-12 schools in the country has tripled, according to a report published by the nonprofit Generation180.

The number of schools with solar panels doubled in that time frame.

More than 6 million students are now studying in 8,409 public and private schools that use solar energy – equivalent to 1 in 10 institutions nationwide.

Solar energy for everyone: The report found that schools that install solar panels are not necessarily in the wealthiest communities.

  • Nearly half of public schools powered by solar energy are eligible for Title I funding, which serves a large number of low-income students, according to the report.
  • About 87 percent of the solar power installed in US schools is financed through third-party arrangements that reduce upfront costs and help schools realize immediate savings. The rest is purchased and owned directly by the schools.

Gain Maximization: “The benefits of solar energy are now reaching a wide range of schools across the country,” lead author Tish Tablan, director of the Generation 180 All School Solar Program, said in a statement.

This scope includes “schools in under-resourced communities that would benefit most from energy cost savings,” Tablan explained.

growing trend

The report comes at a time described by the authors as a “time of unparalleled momentum,” as the recently approved Inflation Control Act prepares to transfer $369 billion to renewable energy.

  • According to the report, the top five states for solar in schools are California, New Jersey, Arizona, Massachusetts and Illinois.
  • With 1,647 megawatts of installed solar capacity, schools in the country generate enough solar energy to power about 300,000 homes each year.

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) developmentThe authors noted that installing solar panels in schools provides students with hands-on learning opportunities in STEM fields, as well as training for potential careers in industry.

  • “We need the education sector to help drive our country’s transition to a clean energy economy,” Wendy Filiu, CEO of Generation 180, said in a statement.
  • “K-12 schools are turning into incubators for the clean energy workforce of the future,” Filiu added.

To read the full story, please click here.

Thursday threats

Biden mediators deal to avoid rail strike

  • A serious threat to supply chains from a looming rail workers’ strike was averted Thursday after President Biden brokered a deal between two major unions and major rail companies over wages and sick leave, The Hill reported. Biden attacked companies for their “excessive” profits and promised that the deal would give workers “better wages, better working conditions, and peace of mind about health care costs,” according to Reuters.

Shanghai receives the first direct hit from the typhoon

  • Typhoon Moiva hit Shanghai with 80-mph winds, forcing nearly 1.6 million people to evacuate from the city of 25 million and along the densely populated coast, according to AFP. This is the 12th typhoon to hit China this year and the first direct hit to Shanghai since records began in 1949, AFP reported.

Brightly colored songbirds are at greater risk of extinction

  • Brightly colored songbirds face a higher risk of extinction and are more likely to be traded as pets, according to a new study in Current Biology. Scientists from the University of Durham in the UK have found that nearly 500 species of birds, mostly from the tropics, are at risk of future trade due to their desirable colour.

Please visit Hill’s Sustainability section online for a web version of this newsletter and more stories. OK see you tomorrow.

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