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EGEB: Yang says too late on climate change – move to hills, California may replace agriculture with solar, more

In today’s EGEB:

  • Andrew Yang says Americans need to move to higher ground.
  • Solar energy projects replace agriculture in California due to drought.
  • More than half of UK councils declare a “climate emergency.”
  • Scientists’ motivations to live sustainably: head, heart, or both?

Electrek Green Energy Brief: A daily technical, financial, and political review/analysis of important green energy news.

Democratic 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang declared that we can’t stop climate change at the second Democratic debate in Detroit on Wednesday night, according to MarketWatch. The entrepreneur and long-shot candidate said:

We are 10 years too late. We need to do everything we can to start moving the climate in the right direction but we also need to start moving our people to higher ground.

Yang is a supporter of universal basic income, and suggested that some of a $1,000-a-month payout be put toward helping people move.

From produce to solar

California’s seven-year drought, which hit the state’s agriculture industry hard, was officially declared over in March. But water is still a precious commodity. A new report from the Nature Conservancy via the Los Angeles Times says that converting farmland to solar farms could be “critical to meeting California’s climate change targets.”

California will need hundreds or maybe thousands of square miles of solar power production in the coming decades — and it would make sense to build one-third to one-half of that solar capacity on agricultural lands, mostly within the state.

That may seem like a lot, but California has plenty of farmland that can host solar without hurting the state’s $50 billion agriculture industry.

So who and what would benefit from a big shift to solar in The Golden State? Landowners, job seekers, tax revenue, and wildlife. Animals would return and ecosystems would be restored to previously farmed land. For instance, the San Joaquin Valley has “less-than-ideal” farming conditions and homes two dozen endangered species, so is an ideal location for solar.

UK local councils lead in reducing emissions

There are 408 principal authorities in the UK — county, unitary, metropolitan, London boroughs, district — and 205 have declared “climate emergencies,” according to LocalGov. That’s more than half of UK councils.

The date set by many local councils to reduce carbon emissions to zero is 2030 — 20 years ahead of the UK government.

The Climate Emergency Network says it is “one of the fastest growing environmental movements in recent history.”

Councillor Doina Cornell, co-chair of the Climate Emergency Network and leader of Stroud Council in Gloucestershire, said:

Local councils have the resources and expertise to do the heavy lifting that’s needed, in partnership with local communities. We know what needs to be done, so now we just must get on with it.

Do sustainability scientists practice what they preach?

An article in the journal Science (via the Sustainability Times) posed the question to younger scientists: “How has your awareness of science inspired you to adopt a more sustainable and environmentally friendly behavior?” The article was part of a collection called “NextGen Voices: Science-Inspired Sustainable Behavior.”

Unsurprisingly — they are scientists, after all — it often came down to numbers. But emotions also motivated interviewees to make personal changes.

As Mark Martin Jensen of the University of Utah’s Department of Biomedical Engineering said:

The environment, like our bodies, is a complex network of systems, and even seemingly small alterations can lead to drastic consequences. I take this message to heart by using public transportation instead of driving into work.

The Sustainability Times summed up the study’s results perfectly:

While most researchers highlighted the importance of scientific approaches to shaping sustainable behaviors, many also noted that we need more systemic changes that go beyond individual lifestyle choices.

Image via Creative Commons

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Avatar for Michelle Lewis Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in St. Petersburg, Florida. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at Check out her personal blog.