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These weeks of alien orange skies over America’s West Coast weren’t on the schedule. Researchers working on a California Climate Assessment released just two years ago projected that burning on this scale wouldn’t arrive for three more decades.
Climate events usually come with long schedules measured in increments of decades. And so do the solutions. BP might give itself one decade to cut oil production by a million barrels and increase renewable output twentyfold. Presidential nominee Joe Biden will claim a decade and a half to zero out greenhouse gases from U.S. electricity. Retail giant Amazon will allow two decades to eliminate its still-growing carbon dioxide emissions. Europe’s working on a three-decade interval to become a zero-emission continent.
The biggest consequences are also seen as generational ordeals. Perhaps we insist a bit too much that the worst will be borne by our children or theirs. Too hot to survive outdoor labor? That’s supposed to be the end of this century, near the equator. Metropolis-ending sea level rise? Later next century, along the coasts.
But look out the window—or, better yet, through the window of a colleague in California during a videoconference. That smudgy gloaming at noon is something new. There’s a quickness to the wildfires causing it, just as there was speed to Australia’s epic burn last year. Almost nothing moves faster than this summer’s pace for broken heat records. Even the permafrost is thawing faster.
This is life at 1C. In the blink of a decade, the unnerving summer of 2020 will be among the coolest on average that anyone will have experienced in the prior 10 years. This unbearable heat of our own making requires faster solutions.
Welcome to the second issue of Bloomberg Green’s quarterly magazine. You can find the contents of the issue here, with more to come in the week ahead. Our cover story is a data narrative on this summer’s extreme heat and what it means for the future. Some highlights now available include:
- The solar-powered future is assembled in China. A look inside the single biggest stop on the supply chain.
- A vaccine for wildfires? This salesman managed to convince wealthy, vulnerable Californians to believe in it.
- Rainforests are undergoing rapid destruction. We used satellite images to reveal the scope of the loss.
- Money, murder and...renewable energy. Corruption and violence can sometimes shape the drive toward green development. (This is an extension of our first-ever podcast series, Blood River, which investigates the 2016 murder of environmental activist Berta Cáceres in Honduras.)
- Is cow poop a climate solution? The natural gas industry wants to think so.
- Three months of climate science. Summarized in just a few hundred words.
- Green stimulus could remake coal country. Out-of-work Kentucky miners are looking for solar jobs.
- What happens after planting billions of trees? China’s 40-year tree blitz shows the risks.
- Good, better, best. A guide the green credentials of consumer items like diapers, pet food and beer.
- What keeps you up at night? This time we asked an artist in China.
- Homes that are already too hot. Climate change exposes the downside to energy-efficient design.