A few friends and me gathered around a patio to hold a holiday party. One friend was carrying their baby with her, so we were outside again and socially distancing. Maybe because there was a tiny person present, with her entire life in front of them, we could talk about the future and how many of our fears about climate change became a reality in 2021.
From the Texas crippling freezes of January to the last weeks Unprecedented fire outside Boulder, ColoradoIt feels like we have been hit with one tragedy after another. It has been too slow for the systems that are needed to improve our future viability to be implemented. There are still some opportunities to make progress as the new year begins. Here’s where the environment and climate stand right now. We will be focusing on the most pressing issues and highlighting the progress made.
The Decline of Species
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed 23 endangered species and declared them safe. Extinct. This came on the heels a June United Nations reportAn announcement that human-caused climate changes were making the biodiversity crisis worse. We have seen the decline in certain species, such as the Florida manatees. 10%They couldn’t find enough seagrass and caused a large portion of their population to die from starvation in 2021. This sobering fact has also been a reality. One million species25% of the world’s biodiversity is at risk of extinction. According to the UN report, both climate change and biodiversity loss are caused by human economic activities. They mutually reinforce one another. Both cannot be solved successfully if they are not addressed together.
Natural Disasters are becoming more frequent and intense.
Every corner has been affected by unusually severe weather events that scientists claim have been exacerbated by Climate change. June heat domes in Northwest killed hundreds, while August hurricanes in Southeast flattened entire towns. Tornadoes can cause severe damageThey arrived in December from Arkansas to Kentucky, and the California wildfire season which began last January raged all through the year. In The wreckageWe lost at least 500 people in these natural disasters and suffered more than $18 billion of damages. Climate and weather are not the only factors that can cause disasters. Similar thingHowever, thesedeadly weather phenomena are a sign of the effects of a warming climate. It is possible that things could get worse in the future.
Our Energy Infrastructure is More Vulnerable Than Ever
Remember February when the Texas electricity grid was destroyed by a winter storm that knocked out power to millions of Texas residents? Well, Texans are now Another deep freeze is just as dangerous today. The U.S. grid system is also a major grid system.There are three) are struggling to protect themselves against current natural disastersPrepare for future storms
We’ve also found that our grids don’t have the right infrastructure to handle a wide range of important new renewable sources. While Some state policiesWe encourage renewable energy but we don’t yet have the infrastructure. We need more High-voltage transmission linesThis can be linked to solar and wind power. We need to find ways of integrating small-scale renewables With utilities.
Fossil-Fuel Extraction is Alive and Well
We know that a rapid retreat from fossil fuels is essential to avoid rising temperatures. However, drilling and leasing reform are not moving at a very rapid pace at the federal level. The Biden administration has approved more drilling permitson public land than the previous administration.Opening upMore than 80 millions acres offshore for oil drilling. If we want to avoid catastrophic temperature extremes, we need the president to fulfill his promises within the next year. campaign promiseTo end fossil-fuel subsidiesWe need it. Interior DepartmentTo curb drilling on public lands and to reform leasing fees and permitting fees. These two steps, if taken together, could help reduce emissions and improve the federal budget.
The Wests Water Supply Is in Dire Straits
If you want to see proof that everything is connected, look no further than the megadrought which has been frying most western U.S.A.It and theshrinking rockies snowpack have sunk two of the largest reservoirs in the country, Lake Mead, and Lake Powell. lowest levels ever, triggering the initialDeclaration of a water crisis on the Colorado River. Dropping water levels directly affect Lake Powells Glen Canyon Dam which is a major energy source for five millions people in the region. The dams could be affected if water levels drop to a low enough level. Ability to create powerThis year, sometime in the future.
States are compromising on water use
The Colorado River water shortage was announced. It triggered the first of a series cuts that states that depend on the river made in 2019. Arizona received less water after January 2022. These states also reached the first ever voluntary agreement. Water use has been reducedDecember. It’s a sign of compromise, concession and understanding in a battle that’s often contentious, since there wont soon be enough.
We’ve Reentered International Climate Conversations
One of President Biden’s first acts in office was a highly publicized commitment to RejoinThe Paris climate agreement was signed to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2025. But were Already behindThese targets. Unfortunately, international climate discussions have been middling, especially this years COP26, in Glasgow, Scotland. This was the year countries were supposed to revise Paris agreement. China and Russia are two of the largest emitters. The new emission-reduction targets don’t meet the requirements to save the planet. Aside from that, no one has done a great deal to reach the old goals. Only GambiaIt is exactly where it should be.
Although Congress has passed some legislation, it has stalled significant climate progress
Milquetoast: Congress had the opportunity to pass legislation that could address the many threats to climate stability and food security, biodiversity, and all aspects of our ecological health. It was a hard battle to get anything passed by a tightly divided, partisan Senate. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act was passed by Congress in November. It addresses issues such as clean water and electricity. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia senator, was unable to pass the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Effectively killedThe Build Back Better Act was passed last month. It would have done most the work. Work that is necessaryTo reduce emissions, including tax credits to electric vehicles. Without it, we will struggle to reduce emissions to the levels required to combat global warming. The Biden administration has run out of time to address climate change, with the midterm elections potentially changing the balance of Congress.
Electric Vehicles are becoming more popular
Consumption can be a powerful motivator to save the planet. Global sales of electric vehicles have increased by 80 percent since last year. A group of auto manufacturersincluding Ford, GM, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, Land Rover, and VolvohaveSigned a pledgeAll their new cars should emit zero emissions by 2040. Sales are expected to continue to boom in 2022 as car companies release a variety of new models, including Chevys and Rivian trucks.
More People Ride Bikes
You are aware of the boom in bike salesIs it early in the pandemic? These bikes are being used by people. Bicycle traffic is Up to 10 percentAll across the country, cities are building bike lanes that will allow two-wheeled traffic.
Bidens Made Some Great Federal Appointments
Deb Haaland was the first Native American woman to be appointed interior secretary. She also became the first person to hold that office, which oversees the Bureau of Indian Affairs and other departments. She’s managed to create new solar farms, restore Bears Ears National Monumentin Utah and rename culturally sensitive areas in less than a year.
Other notable nominations were made to the federal land management agencies. The Trump administration failed to find a nominee for the National Park Service’s head in four years. Chuck Sams, a Bidens nominee, has a long history of natural-resource management, tribal-government, and tribal-government. He was quickly confirmed as the Park Service’s head. Tracy Stone-Manning, the Bureau of Land Management director, was sworn into office in October. She is also the first person to hold this office since the Obama administration. Both men agree that staffing the agencies is a top priority. Sams intends to address infrastructure issues and access issues, while Stone-Manning is focused on decarbonization.
Biden Reverses Trump’s Environmental Deregulation
President Biden restored crucial pieces of environment policy that President Trump had weakened, or even erased, including the strict National Environment Policy Act requirements. Standards for methane-emissions. Biden now plans to work on bringing back more that 100 regulations that Trump repealed, a project that could potentially be a success. Take his entire termTo accomplish.
Public Lands and Natural Resources are Regaining Protection
The landscape protection was the most important news of the past year. Utah’s Grand StaircaseEscalante national monuments are Bears Ears, Grand StaircaseEscalante. These were restored, Alaskas Bristol Baywas protected from a proposed mining. Leases on oil These were temporarily suspendedIn British Columbia, old-growth trees were also protected in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. America the Beautiful Initiative was initiated by the Biden administrationIt is workingTo conserve 30% of the country by 2030, which scientists consider important for slowing climate change. We must continue to build on the momentum of conservation. This will be achieved through broad federal designations, local parks preservation, and private-land conservancy.
This year feels like a tipping-point. We know what we need to do and the groundwork is in place. Now we need to do it.