Earth Matters: 44,000 species at risk of extinction; denier Myron Ebell quits; a few takes on COP28

NOTE: Earth Matters will not appear on December 24 and December 31. It will return January 7, 2024.


December 28 marks the 50th birthday of the signing of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). It was a solidly bipartisan act of Congress signed by a president desperate for distraction as he perched on the cusp of unprecedented public humiliation. In the view of many people who believe the ESA was a crucial move in the right direction, it has been wildly successful. Species on the brink have been kept from going extinct and others kept from becoming endangered in the first place.

The Democratic-Republican coming together that created the act, however, has long since come apart. The dominant wing of the GOP since Ronald Reagan was in charge has sought to take a machete to a multitude of environmental regulations. But the ESA has been a tough nut for its foes to crack. Not for lack of trying various means, typically cutting funding and excluding certain species from the protection the act was designed to deliver. They’ve made it less effective than it could and should be. 

The reason Republicans want to cripple it is no mystery. Economics. The ESA has put locational and other limits on what certain industries—including mining, drilling, and logging—are allowed. Those industries, all of them with horrible histories of exploit-and-abandon, typically leaving a mess for the taxpayers to cover, complain that the new regulations hamper how they do their work. Which is true. That’s the point. Do it right. Do it safely. Do it so this or that species doesn’t get wiped out as a result of operations.

But there’s an ideological reason for the opposition, too. ESA critics claim that its actions constitute federal overreach. It’s the same claim made since the Sagebrush Rebellion of the 1970s. States’ rights. They make the same claim about regulations handled by the Department of Interior and Environmental Protection Agency, as well as Department of Energy. It’s a display of the same tunnel vision that has politicians trying to shrink national monuments and opposing President Joe Biden’s 30 by 30 plan, that is, getting 30% of the nation’s land and water conserved by 2030. They probably needn’t worry. That’s a super-ambitious goal, which would certainly be lovely to achieve. But these ideologues are against the whole concept on principle.

While the ESA has succeeded in many instances, it also has been too relaxed. For instance, when Defenders of Wildlife scrutinized more than 88,000 consultations on federal actions, the organization found that “no project was stopped or extensively altered” due to consideration under the ESA. Jason Mark makes an excellent point at Sierra magazine regarding the need for better ESA enforcement. 

The half-century mark for the ESA comes just as the International Union for Conservation of Nature issued their updated endangered species list. It’s short on good news. Another 2,000 species have been added to the 42,000 already on the Red List of Threatened Species, which tracks biodiversity around the globe. Craig Hilton-Taylor, head of the Red List unit at the IUCN, told the Associated Press, “Species around the world are under huge pressure. So no matter where you look, the numbers of threatened species are rising.” 

One culprit: climate change is said to be making matters worse for 6,700 species threatened with extinction. One example is the endangered Central South Pacific and East Pacific green turtle, like the one pictured in the lead photo. Fewer green turtles are hatching as rising seas flood their beach nests. Warmer water alters the food chain in general and can hurt the seagrasses turtles feed on.

In another troubling example, this time from the British Ecological Society, a study of herbivorous insects covering 34 years of data found that 60% of the species are having a difficult time keeping pace with the plants they depend on as a result of climate change advancing “key seasonal timings (phenology), such as plant blooming or insect emergence, earlier in the year, at different rates.” Responding to environmental circumstances, plants were found to be adjusting their seasonal timings four times faster than insects. 

Yanru Huang, a Ph.D. student at the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences and University of Oxford, who will be presenting the research at the BES Annual Meeting said, “The mismatch between plant and insects phenology we observe in our study poses a significant threat to both ecosystems and our livelihoods. We could soon see the extinction of species that depend on each other and even the collapse of the food-web network.”

Dr. Roberto Salguero-Gómez, Associate Professor in Ecology at the Department of Biology University of Oxford and senior author of this work, said, “A mismatch in seasonal timings doesn’t just impact biodiversity, but us too. Given 84% of the crops in Europe directly depend on insects for pollination, it’s clear how much we depend on the ecosystem services that insects provide.

Almost a decade ago, Elizabeth Kolbert’s elegantly scary Sixth Extinction was published. Those numbers above that the IUCN put out look benign next to the potential Kolbert describes. The mass extinction of our era is, like those of the past, a planetary phenomenon, so the Endangered Species Act is obviously only a piece of what needs doing on the political front. And it doesn’t go nearly far enough. Jason Mark concludes:

On the ESA’s 50th birthday, then, its many accomplishments need to be set alongside the daunting tally of all the species that remain at risk, especially those that rarely appear in glossy photographs: the arroyo toad, the bog turtle, the dwarf wedgemussel, the El Segundo blue butterfly. Protecting the uncelebrated along with the charismatic takes much more than big words on paper. It requires a citizens’ movement demanding that elected representatives fund ESA enforcement and insisting that agency officials stand up to those who would put profits before living beings. To keep more species from falling into the abyss of extinction, we’ll need to make sure that the radical aspirations of the Endangered Species Act are matched by radical grassroots action.

The extinction crisis is the climate crisis’ conjoined twin. They are integral to one another and must of necessity be dealt with jointly. I know it’s a hoary cliché to say that everything is connected, but yeah, everything is.

—MB

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GREEN BRIEFs

California leads the U.s. in electric vehicles and charging locations

In 2016, there were 511,600 electric vehicles registered in the United States. By the end of 2022, according to the federal Energy Information Administration, that count had risen sixfold to 3.1 million. Over the same period, installation of charging locations rose from 19,178 to 55,015. While this was happening nationwide, the number of registered EVs in California more than quadrupled from 247,400 to 1.1 million, with charging locations tripling from 5,486 to 14,822.

At the same time that EV registrations rose across the U.S., the Golden State’s percentage share of EV registrations fell. In 2016, California had about 48% of light-duty EVs in the nation. That was around a dozen times more than the state with the second-most EVs, Georgia. In 2022, California’s share of light-duty EVs had fallen to 37%, about six times more than the state with the second-most EVs, Florida. In 2016, California had about about 25% of U.S. EV charging locations more than four times as many as Texas,  the second place state. Last year, California had more than four times as many EV charging locations as New York, the second-place state.

In 2016, with big variances by state, there was an average of about 27 EVs per charging location nationwide. In 2022, on average there were 55 EVs per charging location. New Jersey had the highest ratio of any state at 100 EVs per charging location, followed by California with 75 EVs per location. 

—MB

Loud and proud climate change denier hangs it up

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 31: Donald Trump's Environment advisor Myron Ebell arrives for a meeting at Downing Street on January 31, 2017 in London, England. Mr Ebell has refered to the Environmental movement as the
Myron Ebell

Back in 2007, Myron Ebell said: “Every interview I do, when I’m asked about scientific issues, I say I’m not a climate scientist. I’m just giving you the informed layman’s perspective.” Too modest by far. In fact, Ebell has long been one of the most prominent climate science deniers and a well-paid disinformation specialist for the climate-change-is-a-hoax crowd.

For years, Ebell worked out of the D.C. offices of the right-wing, Koch-funded Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) as chief of the Center for Energy and Environment. He was also chairman of Cooler Heads Coalition, a collection of propagandists that “question global warming alarmism and oppose energy-rationing policies.” Ebell trashed Pope Francis for his encyclical on climate change, claiming it would harm the poor. In 2015, he noted that the only thing people agree on regarding greenhouse gases is that carbon dioxide will heat up the atmosphere, but argued that there is no evidence to show this to be harmful: “The policies being promoted are insane … If you believe energy poverty is a good thing, you should support controls on carbon emissions. But most of the world disagrees with that,” he asserted. 

In September 2016, that résumé got him picked to head Donald Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency transition team. And he later served as environment adviser to Trump. He has been given credit for being the single most important individual in persuading Trump to move ahead with his threats to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, something the White House occupant had been wavering about. He also was instrumental in blocking cap-and-trade legislation for carbon dioxide as well as the failed 1990s efforts to change the Endangered Species Act. He has called the idea that there is a climate crisis “preposterous.”

But, at 70, he’s says he’s slowing down and has decided to leave the propaganda to others. In August, he left his director’s job at CEI and will retire completely from there next month. In a recent interview, he told Timothy Cama at E&E News, “I’ve been here a long time. And we’ve done some things and I brought some energy to the job. But … my energy level has gone down,” something he asserted is “partly due to getting older and partly due to side effects from the [Covid-19] vaccines.” He didn’t specify what effects. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health authorities say that serious adverse side effects from the vaccines are quite rare.

Ebell’s foray into right-wing politics started with his work on land rights. In 1989, he was chosen to be Washington state representative for the organization that would later become the American Land Rights Association, a part the Wise Use movement—an offspring of the Sagebrush Rebellion that  advocated turning federal land over to the states, curbing American Indian land and water rights, expanding the exploitation of public acreage for mineral and energy deposits, and weakening environmental laws. 

“The reason I got involved is because I decided … that at that time, the greatest threat to freedom and prosperity was the environmental movement,” Ebell told Cama. “And secondly, that the conservative movement just didn’t pay much attention to it, and that more effort was needed to be put into challenging the efforts of the preservationists and the environmental movement.”

He has hope for conservative energy advocacy after his retirement. He wants his colleagues to focus on getting the Senate to reject the Paris Agreement, having Congress repeal clean energy subsidies and stopping any public funding for transmission lines to bring renewable electricity to cities.

“If we do that, we can say that we’ve — we haven’t won, but you never win things in politics, right? You win, but you don’t win permanently. … You defeat something, or you pass something, and then the issue gets transformed into something very similar, but not exactly the same. And so there’s no final victory here,” he said.

Said climate scientist Michael Mann: “Nobody has done more damage to efforts to address the climate crisis before it’s too late than Ebell. He has devoted his career to mortgaging the planet for future generations through his paid promotion of denial, delay and dissembling. The damage has already been done, but he can’t retire soon enough. His name will surely live on in infamy,” 

—MB

RESOURCES

HALF A DOZEN THINGS TO READ (OR LISTEN TO)

Pledges to slash methane pollution at COP28 are leaving out one big thing by Umair Irfan at Vox. This year at COP, a number of businesses have also promised to cut their methane output. Under the Oil and Gas Decarbonization Charter, 50 companies accounting for 40 percent of global oil production committed to eliminating their methane emissions by 2050. They also committed to ending flaring by 2030. Flaring is a practice where oil wells burn off accumulated methane rather than capturing it due to regulations, for safety, or because it’s more cost-effective. To facilitate this, the World Bank announced the creation of a $250 million trust fund to help companies avoid flaring, but major oil and gas companies like Chevron and Exxon Mobil declined to chip in for now. Few of the announced actions, however, include the largest driver of methane pollution: the food we eat. From tilling soil to planting crops, to fertilizer, livestock, manure, harvesting, shipping, and waste, food systems produce 34 percent of overall greenhouse gas emissions. Agriculture is the single-largest anthropogenic, or human-driven, source of methane, and most of that is from our appetite for meat. Animals raised for food account for 32 percent of human-driven methane.

Floating in the Same Direction by Robert Kuttner at The American Prospect. During the postwar boom, when unions were more powerful and worker rights were better enforced, General Electric had decent relations with its unions. Its manufacturing workforce was about 70 percent unionized. But under “Chainsaw Jack” Welch, who became CEO in 1981, GE turned viciously anti-union and outsourced hundreds of thousands of jobs. Welch once stated, “Ideally, you’d have every plant you own on a barge.” Under Welch, the closing of unionized factories was especially devastating to upstate New York, where GE plants were concentrated. Thus, it was a remarkable turnabout when GE and the International Union of Electrical Workers (IUE), a unit of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), announced a labor peace agreement last May. The implication is that GE will not resist unionization, though details remain to be negotiated. CWA has pushed GE to go all-union in two proposed new offshore wind turbine production facilities in the Hudson River port of Coeymans. It was the first such labor peace agreement signed by GE, and it represented a 180-degree reversal from Welch-era GE labor tactics. Even President Biden sent a note of congratulation.

Sanjali De Silva, communications officers at the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Sanjali De Silva, communications officers at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

The Intergenerational Fight for Climate Justice at COP 28 by Sanjali De Silva at the Union of Concerned Scientists. On the day before the 28th United Nations annual climate talks began, I walked into a room with over a hundred people representing almost two thousand civil society organizations. I sat next to a guy who immediately introduced himself to me—he was my age and it was his first COP, too. When prompted by our facilitator, roughly a third of the people in the room raised their hands that it was their first COP. Another third or so have been coming to COP since its first convening in Berlin in 1995. The youngest member of the Climate Action Network International (CANI) is still in high school, and the oldest is 85. Teenagers and octogenarians sat side by side in a strategy session, finding common ground in the name of one clear thing: climate justice. Over the course of the next two weeks, civil society members from around the world would come together to fight for the world we want at COP28. At this year’s negotiations, success for our constituency means a decisive end to the fossil fuel era, robustly resourced recompense for Loss and Damage, and a path forward that equitably funds the clean energy transition and global adaptation goals.  

New Data Reiterates Carbon Capture Is A Lifeline for Fossil Fuels, Not Climate Action from Oil Change International. As the United Nations Climate Change Conference begins today, Oil Change International revealed the failure of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) in Carbon Capture’s Publicly Funded Failure. CCS has a 50 year track record of over-promising and under-delivering, and every investment in CCS provides a lifeline to the fossil fuel industry. Key findings:

  • Governments have spent over $20 billion – and are planning up to $200 billion more – of public money on Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), providing a lifeline for the fossil fuel industry.
  • The majority of CCS is used to expand fossil fuel extraction. 79% of the world’s CCS operating capacity sends captured CO2 to produce more oil (via Enhanced Oil Recovery)
  • Many of the largest projects in the world operate far below their stated capacity. They are designed only to capture a fraction of the emissions of the plant they serve.
AV Bourke is one of two women on the 15-person solar panel installation team at Grid Alternatives.
A.V, Bourke is one of two women on the 15-person solar panel installation team at Grid Alternatives.

‘Quite a gap to close’: women ‘vastly underrepresented’ in green jobs sector by Katharine Gammon at The Guardian. A new analysis of data by the Fuller Project in collaboration with Revelio Labs, a company that uses artificial intelligence to analyze employment data, found that people who hold clean energy jobs in sectors such as solar and wind tend to be overwhelmingly male. Women comprise just 31% of workers in green energy, the analysis found, a level largely unchanged since Barack Obama promised to create 5m green jobs in 2008. The analysis found women are underrepresented at both junior and senior levels of alternative energy companies, mirroring the lack of representation of women in fossil fuel companies. Revelio reached these conclusions by collecting data from millions of online public profiles, résumés, job postings, sentiment reviews and layoff notices, analyzing them using proprietary algorithms. The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), both signed during Biden’s first two years in office, do require applicants for federal grants and loan guarantees to present community benefits plans, which spell out the efforts grantees will make to promote diversity and accessibility. But there are no required targets. The only goal for women’s inclusion in energy projects is a 45-year-old executive order that recommends, but does not require, that 6.9% of work hours be completed by women on federally funded construction projects.

Sultan Bin Ahmed Sultan Al Jaber, CEO of ADNOC
Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber

COP28 Does Not Deliver Clear Path to Fossil Fuel Phase Out by Bob Berwyn at Inside Climate News. Going into overtime under the cover of a dark winter night in Dubai, climate negotiators at COP28 cooked up a weak sauce of climate half-measures that fail to adequately address the existential risk of global warming to millions of people around the globe, according to leading climate experts at the conference. The UAE Consensus, COP28 president Sultan al-Jaber said, represents a clear step in a just transition away from fossil fuels, but the tarnished image of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and its process requiring consensus among nations, took another big hit because 39 small island states most affected by global warming were not in the room when al-Jaber signaled acceptance during the closing plenary. As a result, there will be an asterisk next to COP28 in the future. To activists and many country delegates, the way the outcome came about further undermined al-Jaber’s leadership, which had been questioned since it was announced last year due to his apparent conflict of interest as head of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, one of the biggest fossil fuel producers in the world.

ECO-TWXXT

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ECOPINION

Every Vague Verb by Brad Johnson at Hill Heat. The smazy COP 28 is officially over. The final agreement, gaveled quickly in by Adnoc CEO Sultan Ahmed al Jaber while many of the delegates were out of the room, includes the phrase “transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems” amid a flurry of caveats and loopholes. Anne Rasmussen, the lead negotiator for the Alliance of Small Island States, only found out about al Jaber’s action after the fact: “We didn’t want to interrupt the standing ovation when came into the room, but we are a little confused about what happened. It seems that you gaveled the decisions, and the small island developing states were not in the room.” This of course raises the key question: is “transition” even a verb? Not according to my copy of the Oxford English Dictionary, but that was penned by fuddy-duddies. Fortunately, Merriam-Webster is here to the rescue, with the definition “to make a change or shift from one state, subject, place, etc. to another.” Climate scientist Dr. Friederike Otto is not content with the agreement’s verbiage either: “With every vague verb, every empty promise in the final text, millions more people will enter the frontline of climate change and many will die. At 1.2C of warming, we’re already seeing devastating climate impacts that disrupt economies, destroy livelihoods and claim lives.”

What No One at COP28 Wanted to Say Out Loud: Prepare for 1.5 Degrees by David Wallace-Wells at The New York Times. It only took 28 years. When Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber banged his gavel on the resolution text of COP28 in Dubai on Wednesday, it marked what has been widely called a historic achievement: the first time nearly every country on Earth agreed that oil and gas play a role in driving global warming, and the first time they nodded toward the need for a fossil fuel drawdown. For a historic text, the language was quite mealy-mouthed, since the resolution only “calls on” nations to “contribute” to “transitioning away” from fossil fuels — and only in the energy sector. Harder-line climate advocates had been pushing for a language of “phase out,” which might have helped tug the world a little bit more quickly to a postcarbon future. Instead, what they got was much more like an endorsement of the status quo, reflecting the ongoing state of play rather than accelerating it, because such a transition is already well underway. Global sales of internal-combustion engine vehicles peaked in 2017. Investment in renewable energy has exceeded investment in fossil fuel infrastructure for several years running now. In 2022, 83 percent of new global energy capacity was green. The question isn’t about whether there will be a transition, but how fast, global and thorough it will be. The answer is: not fast or global or thorough enough yet, at least on the current trajectories, which COP28 effectively affirmed.

Kate Aronoff
Kate Aronoff

The U.N. Climate Talks Hung Poorer Nations Out to Dry by Kate Aronoff at The New Republic. Nearly 200 countries agreed to transition away from fossil fuels, but the U.S. and others are actually expanding oil and gas exploration while refusing to finance the transition for poorer countries. Ironically, some of the countries that were most adamant about including calls for a “phaseout” of fossil fuels in the Global Stocktake are also those planning to increase their extraction of fossil fuels the most. The United States, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Norway are responsible for the majority of planned expansion of new oil and gas fields through 2050. All cheered Wednesday’s deal as a key step to “keep 1.5 alive,” referring to the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit). But the final text doesn’t reference a phaseout of fossil fuels—only “transitioning away” from them “in a just, orderly and equitable manner.” “People who don’t know better think this is ambitious,” said Meena Raman, head of programs at the Third World Network, a Malaysia-based nongovernmental organization that closely tracks U.N. climate proceedings. “They come here and talk about ‘keeping 1.5 alive’ while they continue to expand fossil fuel production,” she added, referencing wealthy oil and gas-producing countries in the global north. “It’s a big con on the part of the developed world.”

How to Make the Endangered Species Act Last the Next 50 Years by Rachel Nuwer at Sierra. Protecting the nation’s wild animals and plants is a bedrock American value. Ever since the Endangered Species Act became law in 1973, public support has remained high. Four out of five Americans—across political ideologies and demographics—favor the ESA. In a national poll from September, 84 percent of respondents backed the law, and 81 percent agreed with the (true) statement that the law has prevented hundreds of species from going extinct. “If this is the most toxic of political times, and the ESA is still polling this high, that tells me a lot,” says Jamie Rappaport Clark, who was until recently the president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife. In the Clinton era, she was the director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), which administers the ESA. “The vast majority of the American public love animals and care deeply about nature.” And yet, 50 years on, the Endangered Species Act is experiencing a midlife crisis, rooted in the stark misalignment between popular support for the act and opposition from some elected officials. When the ESA was signed by President Richard Nixon, Clark says, it enjoyed “massive bipartisan support” that remained stable for decades. But in the past 10 years, the act has become intensely politicized, with “almost nonexistent Republican support.” That might seem strange given the fact that even now, most Republican voters support the ESA. Clark sees Republican politicians’ opposition as part of an increasingly “anti-legislation” stance that the party has been taking across a wide range of environmental issues.

Bill McKibben
Bill McKibben

The Sentences of the COP28 Deal Won’t Save the Planet—We Will by Bill McKibben at Common Dreams. As North America slept, delegates from around the world concluded the global climate conference in Dubai, when the chair—local oilman Sultan al-Jaber—quick-gavelled through an agreement that included a sentence calling for “transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner.” That may not seem like much—it is, after all, the single most obvious thing one could possibly say about climate change, akin to “in an effort to reduce my headache, I am transitioning away from hitting myself in the forehead with a hammer.” If the language means anything at all, it means no opening no more new oil fields, no more new pipeline. No more new LNG export terminals. And by itself it will accomplish nothing. As Samoa, speaking on behalf of the Small Island Nations, said a few minutes later, “we have come to the conclusion that the course correction that is needed has not been secured.” But it is—and this is important—a tool for activists to use henceforth. The world’s nations have now publicly agreed that they need to transition off fossil fuels, and that sentence will hang over every discussion from now on—especially the discussions about any further expansion of the fossil fuel energy. There may be barriers to shutting down operations (what the text of the agreement obliquely refers to as “national circumstances, pathways and approaches.”) But surely, if the language means anything at all, it means no opening no more new oil fields, no more new pipeline. No more new LNG export terminals.

Rich countries are desperate to convince us their hollow Cop28 deal is a triumph. They’re lying by Asad Reman at The Guardian. One more lie to add to all the other lies told so often that those who utter them begin to believe them: the lie that rich countries care about climate justice. The lie that human rights are separate from climate justice. The lie that the US, Canada, Australia, Norway and the UK are high in ambition, and it’s developing countries that are lacking it. Rich countries have worked hard to try to get a hollow headline on fossil fuels out of this Cop. They are like emperors with no clothes. The UK, US and the EU not only point-blank refused to discuss cutting their own emissions in line with both fairness and science, but their agreement on “fossil fuel phase-out” has more loopholes than a block of Swiss cheese. It comes without acknowledgment of historical responsibility, or redistribution, or the remaking of a financial system of debt, tax and trade that has been rigged to keep developing countries locked into exploiting resources simply to fill the coffers of rich countries. Our movements, our frontline communities, know these are lies. Scientists know they are lies, and so do many developing countries. Those already living the realities of unjust climate breakdown know that 1.5C will result in a death sentence for the poorest, yet we remain on track for 3C global heating.

Covid pandemic stillborn babies study. File photo dated 24/05/18 of a pregnant woman. The Covid pandemic may have affected the quality of NHS care given to women who went on to have stillborn babies, investigators have said. Issue date: Thursday September 16, 2021. A study by the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) into 37 cases found that remote consultations may have driven down the ability to carry out some key pregnancy checks, while some women opted not to attend appointments for fear of catching Covid. The review was prompted by an increase in stillbirths after the onset of labour referred to the HSIB between April and June 2020 ??? 45 compared with 24 in the same period in 2019. See PA story HEALTH Pregnancy. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA Wire URN:62452273 (Press Association via AP Images)

How climate change harms pregnant people and their babies by Kelley Dennings at Environmental Health News. Raging wildfires, monster hurricanes, extreme flooding and sweltering heat waves have destroyed homes and lives. But climate change is harming people in ways that don’t make national headlines, too. People are struggling to access contraception, conceive, carry pregnancies to term and deliver healthy babies because of our changing climate. Pregnancy has always carried health risks. But climate change has created new risks for pregnant people and their babies and worsened the risks that were already there, creating a dangerous scenario. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has recognized climate change as an urgent women’s health issue. Extreme heat is one of the most harmful climate change outcomes for people, causing more deaths than all other extreme weather events combined. Exposure to extreme heat is particularly harmful for pregnant people and newborn babies and is linked to preterm labor, stillborn births, low birth weight, infant mortality and developmental delays. The harms are alarming — several studies found that heat exposure increases the risk of preterm birth from 8.6% to 21%. This increase was even higher for pregnant people of color. Preterm labor and low birth weight are dangerous for infants and lead to health problems in adulthood, including diabetes, heart disease, asthma and high blood pressure.

At COP28, Trump and GOP threaten Biden’s climate promises by Naveena Sadasivam at Grist. As the world’s largest historical polluter, the U.S. is expected to provide its fair share to support climate efforts, but it has failed to deliver in recent years. For instance, only $2 billion of the $3 billion that the U.S. pledged to a climate fund in 2014 has been delivered. Nevertheless, a few days prior to Mallory’s arrival in Dubai, Vice President Kamala Harris pledged another $3 billion to the same fund. But looming over these promises are questions about a divided Congress’ ability to execute U.S. funding commitments, as well as the very real possibility that former president Donald Trump will defeat Biden in an election next year, throwing U.S. climate policy into disarray. After all, one of Trump’s signature policies was withdrawing the U.S. from the landmark Paris Agreement to limit global warming. […] Meanwhile, at the media center, reporters found postcards with the acronym IRA, a reference to the Inflation Reduction Act, the landmark 2022 U.S. law that is expected to cut the country’s carbon emissions by roughly 45%, putting Paris Agreement targets within reach. The postcard rebranded the IRA as “Irresponsible Reckless Alarming” and included a QR code that linked to a report by Republican lawmakers titled “IRA Will Make the United States Poorer and China Richer.”

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