Impacts worsening, pace of climate change and Arctic melting increasing

The year started with fires in Australia, and all year long it seemed as if areas of the globe were aflame, culminating in California’s worst wildfire season and infernos in places that rarely burned. At the same time, there were more major tropical storms in the Atlantic than ever recorded before.

Last year, Hiroko Tabuchi, a climate reporter, and Jonah Kessel, a videographer, spent weeks in the Permian Basin in Texas using an infrared camera to visually capture the leaks. What they found was astounding. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island cited the reporting on the Senate floor to demand an investigation into industry influence in deregulation.

Satellites that may be able to identify methane leaks are starting to come online, and what they find may be hugely revealing. Oil and gas sites around the world — many of which have been abandoned for decades or more — may be one of the largest unrealized climate threats.

Historical racist housing policies have left a terrible legacy that climate change is now making even worse. Across the nation in the 1930s, federal officials “redlined” certain neighborhoods, marking them as risky investments often solely because residents were Black. Today, those same neighborhoods are some of the hottest parts of town in the summer. A legacy of disinvestment has left them with fewer trees and lots of heat-trapping pavement. The maps and the data were stark: Some formerly redlined neighborhoods are as much as 12 degrees hotter on average than whiter, wealthier neighborhoods favored for investment in the 1930s. That can mean the difference between an uncomfortably hot day and a deadly hot one.

Richmond’s mayor unveiled a plan to build five new “green spaces” in hotter areas of the city.

Right now, the nation is not at all in a position to hit that goal. To reach it, major changes need to happen in the next 10 years. As much as possible needs to become electric: cars, trucks, home and building heating, and big parts of industry. Then, new wind and solar power must be brought online to meet that increased need, and the energy grid needs to grow tremendously to accommodate the new supply.