Democrats Set to Square off in a City Under Siege by the Climate Crisis
The Democratic candidates for president descended upon Miami for a two-night debate on Wednesday and Thursday. Any candidate hoping to carry the state will have to make the climate crisis central to their campaign, as The New York Times reported.
The evidence of the climate crisis is everywhere around the candidates. It's a daily reality for the city's rich and poor residents alike. Not far from Miami, a wildfire consumed 17,000 acres of the Everglades in less than 24 hours and was zero-percent contained by Monday afternoon, according to Vice News.
Miami Beach is investing $650 million to raise the city streets, since the Union of Concerned Scientists predicted that 30 percent of Miami Beach will be underwater by 2045, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Mosquitoes are now a year-round problem. Streets flood on sunny days. Investors are buying up land on higher ground. Daily heat records were set or tied on Sunday and Monday, just the third and fourth day of summer when the mercury reached 95 and 98 degrees, respectively.
"Climate change is really the issue that sits on all other issues," said Rachel Silverstein, executive director of Miami Waterkeeper, an environmental research and activist group, as The New York Times reported. "It affects security. It affects drinking water. It affects tourism. It affects public health. Property values. It's a part of the discussion of almost any topic that might come up."
The climate crisis is on the mind of Floridians. About 72 percent of the state's voters said they are "very concerned" or "somewhat concerned" about climate change, according to a Quinnipiac poll, as The Palm Beach Post reported. When it comes to Florida Democrats, another poll found that 85 percent support government action to address the climate crisis and it's one of the top three issues on voters' minds heading into the 2020 election, as The New York Times reported.
"I wish every single candidate would make that their highest priority," said Yoca Arditi-Rocha, executive director of The CLEO Institute, a Miami-based nonprofit that educates the public about climate change, as The Palm Beach Post reported. "The crisis really deserves it."
Despite the Trump administration's attack on climate science and denial of a rapidly changing climate, Republican Governor Ron DeSantis is advertising for a high-ranking chief resilience officer, someone who will work to "prepare Florida for the environmental, physical and economic impacts of climate change, especially sea-level rise," according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
The urgency in addressing the climate crisis has taken a foothold in South Florida. In the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area, 49 percent of poll respondents, compared with 30 percent elsewhere in the state, said they had made changes to their homes in the past year to protect against sea-level rise, flooding or extreme weather, as The New York Times reported.
Climate crisis policy advocates and environmental activists say the topic deserves as much attention as health care or immigration, especially since they are interconnected.
"This is not something of the future," said Arditi-Rocha as The Palm Beach Post reported. "This is very much a present climate emergency that we all are experiencing."
A "trash tsunami" has washed ashore on the beaches of Honduras, endangering both wildlife and the local economy.
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More long-finned pilot whales were found stranded today on beaches in Tasmania, Australia. About 500 whales have become stranded, including at least 380 that have died, the AP reported. It is the largest mass stranding in Australia's recorded history.
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By Harry Kretchmer
By 2030, almost a third of all the energy consumed in the European Union must come from renewable sources, according to binding targets agreed in 2018. Sweden is helping lead the way.
Sweden is a world leader in renewable energy consumption. Swedish Institute/World Bank
Naturally Warm<p>54% of Sweden's power comes from renewables, and is helped by its geography. With plenty of moving water and 63% forest cover, it's no surprise the <a href="https://sweden.se/nature/energy-use-in-sweden/#" target="_blank">two largest renewable power sources</a> are hydropower and biomass. And that biomass is helping support a local energy boom.</p><p>Heating is a key use of energy in a cold country like Sweden. In recent decades, as fuel oil taxes have increased, the country's power companies have turned to renewables, like biomass, to fuel local 'district heating' plants.</p><p>In Sweden these trace their <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank">origins back to 1948</a>, when a power station's excess heat was first used to heat nearby buildings: steam is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/district-heating-system" target="_blank">forced along a network of pipes</a> to wherever it's needed. Today, there are around 500 district heating systems across the country, from major cities to small villages, providing heat to homes and businesses.</p><p>District heating used to be fueled mainly from the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140" target="_blank">by-products of power plants</a>, waste-to-energy plants and industrial processes. These days, however, Sweden is bringing more renewable sources into the mix. And as a result of competition, this localized form of power is now the country's<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> home-heating market leader.</a></p>
Sweden is using smart grids to turn buildings into energy producers. Huang et al/Elsevier
Energy ‘Prosumers’<p>But Sweden doesn't stop at village-level heating solutions. Its new breed of energy-generation takes hyper-local to the next level.</p><p>One example is in the city of Ludivika where 1970s flats <a href="https://www.buildup.eu/sites/default/files/content/transforming-a-residential-building-cluster-into-electricity-prosumers-in-sweden.pdf" target="_blank">have recently been retrofitted with the latest smart energy technology</a>.</p><p>48 family apartments spread across 3 buildings have been given photovoltaic solar panels, thermal energy storage and heat pump systems. A micro energy grid connects it all, and helps charge electric cars overnight.</p><p>The result is a cluster of 'prosumer' buildings, producing rather than consuming enough power for 77% of residents' needs. With <a href="http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1232060/FULLTEXT01.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high levels of smart meter usage</a>, it's a model that looks set to spread across Sweden.</p>
<div id="d7bf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8757b138d5570bec9d6aad18074a429a"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1273556364263071744" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Read more about Western Harbour and book a visit: https://t.co/ujSmVs9rNK 🏡🌳🌊 https://t.co/C5PuPziqIM</div> — Smart City Sweden (@Smart City Sweden)<a href="https://twitter.com/SmartCitySweden/statuses/1273556364263071744">1592474473.0</a></blockquote></div>
Scaling Up<p>A recent development by E.ON in Hyllie, a district on the outskirts of Malmö, southern Sweden, <a href="https://www.eonenergy.com/blog/2019/February/sweden-smart-city" target="_blank">has scaled up the smart grid principle</a>. Energy generation comes from local wind, solar, biomass and waste sources.</p><p>Smart grids then balance the power, react to the weather, deploying extra power when it's colder or putting excess into battery storage when it's warm. The system is not only more efficient, but bills have fallen.</p><p>Smart energy developments like those in Hyllie, Ludivika, and renewable-driven district heating, offer a radical alternative to the centralized energy systems many countries rely on today.</p><p>The EU's leaders have a challenge: how to generate 32% of energy from renewables by 2030. Sweden offers a vision of how technology and local solutions can turn a goal into a reality.</p>
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By Jessica Corbett
In another win for climate campaigners, leaders of 12 major cities around the world — collectively home to about 36 million people — committed Tuesday to divesting from fossil fuel companies and investing in a green, just recovery from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
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