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Climate Change Weekly: Protecting NYC from rising seas, UK promises action, melting permafrost

In the inaugural edition of Climate Change Weekly, we check out:

  • Controversial comments from London’s mayor.
  • England’s environment secretary vows action after a visit from climate activist Greta Thunberg.
  • Talk of a climate-focused debate continues among Democratic presidential candidates.
  • A look at how New York City may deal with rising seas.
  • Melting permafrost is the giant lurking problem that may cost the world trillions and unleash who knows what else.
  • And more…

Climate Change Weekly is a new feature at Electrek, meant to be a one-stop shop for some of the biggest climate-related news items from the past week.

We may continue to write about major climate change stories as they occur — especially as they relate to carbon emissions and renewable energy — but this will be where you can find weekly coverage of news specifically dealing with climate change.

Our weekday EGEB feature will continue to focus on renewable energy news. Got it? Good.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan released a statement on Twitter regarding recent climate protests, mainly dealing with the Extinction Rebellion group. His comments about letting London return to “business as usual” didn’t come off so well, especially for someone who made fighting air pollution a pillar of his mayoral candidacy, and recently introduced an ultra low emission zone to the city.

Also in England, UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove has pledged tougher action on climate change after hearing a speech by 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg. As The Week reports, Gove said,

“As I listened to you I felt great admiration but also a sense of responsibility and guilt because I recognise I am of your parents’ generation. I recognise we have not done nearly enough to deal with the problem of climate change.”

New York City’s climate resilience was examined by MIT Technology Review. The article looks specifically at the city’s “Fourth Regional Plan,” which estimates sea level rise by 2050. Unsurprisingly, it shows elevated flooding risk in a number of areas. The city recently unveiled a plan to add more land to Manhattan to defend the island from sea level rise and storm surges.

Another MIT Technology Review article took a look at the expected coming wave of climate refugees. More than 140 million people have to move within their countries due to climate change by the year 2050, and modelers are trying to figure out where they might end up.

There’s been some discussion about setting up a climate-focused debate between Democratic presidential candidates. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who has positioned himself as the climate change candidate, has been pushing for it, along with various environmental groups. Earlier this week, Inslee was joined by fellow candidate Julian Castro:

Melting permafrost in the Arctic will accelerate warming as it releases carbon and methane, and the effects could cost the global economy up to $69 trillion, according to Nature Communications. Even limiting the total temperature increase to 1.5 °C would cost $24.8 trillion.

Thawing permafrost has effects beyond economic mayhem, of course. Russian biologist Boris Zhukov wrote an article in the New Times (via Russia List) that says the permafrost will release bacteria that may lead to diseases which could become epidemics. He gave his article the not-at-all concerning title “The Ice will Melt and We will All Die.”

Norway’s Equinor ASA is the latest oil company to strive for climate-related targets, Bloomberg reported. Shell took similar steps recently. This trend is just getting started.

Going beyond Greta Thunberg, Rolling Stone has a profile of US teenage climate activists across the country.

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