By Jessica Corbett
This story was originally published on Common Dreams on September 19, 2020.
Some advocates kicked off next week's Climate Week NYC early Saturday by repurposing the Metronome, a famous art installation in Union Square that used to display the time of day, as a massive "Climate Clock" in an effort to pressure governments worldwide to take swift, bold action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and rein in human-caused global heating.
"The clock is a way to speak science to power," project co-founder Andrew Boyd said in a statement. "The clock is telling us we must reduce our emissions as much as we can as fast as we can. The technology is there. We can do this—and in the process, create a healthier, more just world for all of us. Our planet has a deadline. But we can turn it into a lifeline."
Launched as people across the country are facing the deadly, devastating impacts of climate change—from historic wildfires in western states to slow-moving hurricanes and the resulting floods on the Gulf Coast—the clock in New York City on Saturday warned that the international community only has seven years and 102 days to "undertake bold transformation of our energy system and economy" in hopes of keeping global temperature rise under 1.5 degrees Celsius.
"Climate Change is already here. This clock is not an alarm clock saying, in seven years it will ring and we need to wake up! It's more like a stopwatch already running that we have to keep pace with," explained Gan Golan, the project originator. "We need to take action today, tomorrow, and the day after that. Let's get moving. Every second counts. We need to act in time."
LIVE: #ClimateClock about to go live at Union square replacing the atronomical clock, with a carbon countdown!… https://t.co/5OzxwUwWDf— Greg Schwedock🌹(⧖) (@Greg Schwedock🌹(⧖))1600542909.0
A mobile climate clock that Swedish youth activist Greta Thunberg "now carries with her, as well as the larger Climate Clock project, was assembled by a team of artists, makers, scientists, and activists based in New York, and is part of the Beautiful Trouble community of projects," according to Climateclock.world, which details the science behind the numbers displayed and how to install clocks in other cities.
LIVE: Greta Thunberg's worldwide #ClimateClock launches https://t.co/sglWCLwdsG— act.tv (@act.tv)1576029578.0
"In an accompanying app, the artists include more detail about solutions," Fast Company reported Saturday. "Another number tracks the current percentage of renewable energy in the world. An interactive tool shows how to 'flatten the climate curve' and how much difference it makes to invest more now, and to move more quickly. A DIY maker kit explains how to make a countdown clock of your own."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
- 5 Virtual Events to Check Out This Climate Week NYC - EcoWatch ›
- Covering Climate Now Highlights Solutions for Earth Week - EcoWatch ›
Many of New York City's coastal residents are plagued by flooding – during storms and on sunny days.
"There are certain times of the year associated with the new and full moons where it brings higher-than-normal high tides. And with that, those tides can bring flooding into communities," says Helen Cheng, a former coastal resilience extension specialist with New York Sea Grant and with the Science and Resilience Institute.
She says in the Jamaica Bay watershed, flooding can block access to the subway station that people need to get to work from day to day.
"Even services, sometimes – you know, the delivery of mail – can get impacted by water on the streets."
Cheng says tidal flooding is getting worse as sea levels rise, and it's important to know how people are affected. So as part of the Community Flood Watch Project, residents document and report flooding.
"There's a lot of value in on-the-ground information and community data, right? Because they're living in these places and experiencing these events 24/7," she says.
Cheng says the data improves flood warnings and sea-level-rise predictions, and it helps city leaders understand how flooding affects people's lives.
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.
- NYC Sea Wall Halted After Trump Says it's 'Costly, Foolish' - EcoWatch ›
- New York City Spends Billions on Flood Protection - EcoWatch ›
- MTA Launches NYC Flood Control Tests, States 'Climate Change Is ... ›
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
The bright patterns and recognizable designs of Waterlust's activewear aren't just for show. In fact, they're meant to promote the conversation around sustainability and give back to the ocean science and conservation community.
Each design is paired with a research lab, nonprofit, or education organization that has high intellectual merit and the potential to move the needle in its respective field. For each product sold, Waterlust donates 10% of profits to these conservation partners.
Eye-Catching Designs Made from Recycled Plastic Bottles
waterlust.com / @abamabam
The company sells a range of eco-friendly items like leggings, rash guards, and board shorts that are made using recycled post-consumer plastic bottles. There are currently 16 causes represented by distinct marine-life patterns, from whale shark research and invasive lionfish removal to sockeye salmon monitoring and abalone restoration.
One such organization is Get Inspired, a nonprofit that specializes in ocean restoration and environmental education. Get Inspired founder, marine biologist Nancy Caruso, says supporting on-the-ground efforts is one thing that sets Waterlust apart, like their apparel line that supports Get Inspired abalone restoration programs.
"All of us [conservation partners] are doing something," Caruso said. "We're not putting up exhibits and talking about it — although that is important — we're in the field."
Waterlust not only helps its conservation partners financially so they can continue their important work. It also helps them get the word out about what they're doing, whether that's through social media spotlights, photo and video projects, or the informative note card that comes with each piece of apparel.
"They're doing their part for sure, pushing the information out across all of their channels, and I think that's what makes them so interesting," Caruso said.
And then there are the clothes, which speak for themselves.
Advocate Apparel to Start Conversations About Conservation
waterlust.com / @oceanraysphotography
Waterlust's concept of "advocate apparel" encourages people to see getting dressed every day as an opportunity to not only express their individuality and style, but also to advance the conversation around marine science. By infusing science into clothing, people can visually represent species and ecosystems in need of advocacy — something that, more often than not, leads to a teaching moment.
"When people wear Waterlust gear, it's just a matter of time before somebody asks them about the bright, funky designs," said Waterlust's CEO, Patrick Rynne. "That moment is incredibly special, because it creates an intimate opportunity for the wearer to share what they've learned with another."
The idea for the company came to Rynne when he was a Ph.D. student in marine science.
"I was surrounded by incredible people that were discovering fascinating things but noticed that often their work wasn't reaching the general public in creative and engaging ways," he said. "That seemed like a missed opportunity with big implications."
Waterlust initially focused on conventional media, like film and photography, to promote ocean science, but the team quickly realized engagement on social media didn't translate to action or even knowledge sharing offscreen.
Rynne also saw the "in one ear, out the other" issue in the classroom — if students didn't repeatedly engage with the topics they learned, they'd quickly forget them.
"We decided that if we truly wanted to achieve our goal of bringing science into people's lives and have it stick, it would need to be through a process that is frequently repeated, fun, and functional," Rynne said. "That's when we thought about clothing."
Support Marine Research and Sustainability in Style
To date, Waterlust has sold tens of thousands of pieces of apparel in over 100 countries, and the interactions its products have sparked have had clear implications for furthering science communication.
For Caruso alone, it's led to opportunities to share her abalone restoration methods with communities far and wide.
"It moves my small little world of what I'm doing here in Orange County, California, across the entire globe," she said. "That's one of the beautiful things about our partnership."
Check out all of the different eco-conscious apparel options available from Waterlust to help promote ocean conservation.
Melissa Smith is an avid writer, scuba diver, backpacker, and all-around outdoor enthusiast. She graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in journalism and sustainable studies. Before joining EcoWatch, Melissa worked as the managing editor of Scuba Diving magazine and the communications manager of The Ocean Agency, a non-profit that's featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary Chasing Coral.
The U.S. death toll from the new coronavirus passed 150,000 Wednesday, in a grim marker of the country's struggle to control the disease.
The U.S. has now reported more than 4.4 million confirmed cases and 150,713 deaths, according to Thursday morning figures from Johns Hopkins University. That number means the U.S. outbreak is by far the deadliest in absolute numbers. While it only holds about 5 percent of the world's population, according to NPR, it has accounted for almost a quarter of the world's 667,218 coronavirus deaths.
"Basically, none of this should have happened," commercial pilot Rob Koreman of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, who has to keep abreast of the numbers because of his work, told Reuters. "We needed state coordination, if not flat-out a federal mandate."
Confirmed coronavirus deaths in the US have passed 150,000, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.… https://t.co/y4M8Xa8UiL— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeed News)1596054546.0
The U.S. reported its first coronavirus death Feb. 29, CNN reported. It took 54 days for that number to rise to 50,000 on April 23, 34 days for it to climb to 100,000 May 27 and another 63 days to reach 150,000. Around 33,000 of the nation's deaths were in New York and almost 16,000 were in New Jersey, NPR reported. Those states were early epicenters of the outbreak, and the nation's daily death toll is still well below the highs of April and early May.
However, the national death toll has begun to climb following a surge of cases in the South and West. The daily average of deaths for the week ending Tuesday rose above 1,000 for the first time since June 2, CNN reported. In 29 states, the average number of deaths per day was at least 10 percent higher compared to the previous week, and some states are reporting their highest daily death tolls to date. California broke its record for most deaths reported in a single day with 197 on Wednesday, while Florida broke its record two days in a row, with 186 deaths on Tuesday and 216 on Wednesday, according to NPR.
The U.S. has now surpassed 150,000 coronavirus deaths. The daily death total continues to climb and is now more t… https://t.co/Se9wDWLeMD— Mike Baker (@Mike Baker)1596054431.0
While the number of new cases is now beginning to fall slightly, public health experts expect deaths to continue to rise since mortality tends to lag behind infections, according to CNN.
"We have to do better in terms of limiting transmission," T.H. Chan School of Public Health at Harvard chair of immunology and infectious diseases Dr. Sarah Fortune told The New York Times. "We have this terrible death toll because we have done a lousy job at limiting transmission."
The death toll has risen much higher than initial predictions, The New York Times pointed out.
In April, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said he hoped the toll would not rise above 60,000 and a respected research center predicted a little more than 70,000 deaths by early August.
"The aspect which is really impossible to predict is human behavior," Yale epidemiology professor Virginia Pitzer told The New York Times of the models. "To what extent are people going to socially distance themselves? To what extent are politics going to influence whether you wear a mask? All of these factors are impossible to factor in."
In early May, the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) model raised its projected death toll from around 60,000 to more than 134,000 by early August due to increased movement and the easing of social distancing measures. It now predicts around 220,000 deaths by November.
"I think the fact that we as a country have not been able to get our arms around this, have not prioritized preventing those deaths is all that much more maddening. And so, for me it's frustration, it's sadness. And a resolve to try to figure out how we prevent the next 150,000," Harvard Global Health Institute Director Dr. Ashish Jha, told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "I think we can, but we're really going to have to work for it."
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security issued a report Wednesday calling for a "reset" of the U.S. federal, state and local response to the pandemic in order to do just that.
Its recommendations included requiring masks across the board, increasing testing and reinstating stay-at-home orders for places where cases and hospitalizations are surging, according to CNN.
"Unlike many countries in the world, the United States is not currently on course to get control of this epidemic," the report authors wrote. "It is time to reset."
- Trump Compares Coronavirus to 'Sniffles' as U.S. Death Toll Tops ... ›
- U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Now No. 1 in World - EcoWatch ›
- What Does 'Recovered From Coronavirus' Mean? - EcoWatch ›
- The U.S. Isn't in a Second Wave of Coronavirus – The First Wave ... ›
- Black and Hispanic Americans Suffer Disproportionate Coronavirus ... ›
- U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Tops 170,000 Ahead of Flu Season - EcoWatch ›
- U.S. Coronavirus Cases Pass 6 Million, 180,000 Deaths as Schools Struggle to Reopen - EcoWatch ›
Florida has now confirmed more coronavirus cases than New York, the early epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, in another sign that the U.S. as a whole is struggling to control the deadly disease.
Florida became the second state after California to overtake New York's case count Sunday. It had 423,855 total cases to New York's 411,736, according to Sunday afternoon figures from Johns Hopkins University reported by NPR. California, the U.S.'s most populous state, remained in the lead with 450,242 cases, while Texas was in fourth place with 391,000, according to a Reuters tally.
"What we have right now are essentially three New Yorks," White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said of Florida, Texas and California on Friday, as the Financial Times reported. "That's why you hear us calling for masks and increased social distancing, to really stop the spread of this epidemic."
BREAKING: Florida has passed New York for 2nd in total COVID-19 cases. The top 5 states by total cases: 1) Califor… https://t.co/szC6VLGFFt— Florida Coronavirus Tracker (@Florida Coronavirus Tracker)1595783193.0
New York continues to hold the lead for coronavirus fatalities with more than 32,000, according to Reuters. Florida has the eighth most with nearly 6,000.
However, deaths are rising in Florida and across the nation. California, Texas and Florida all reported record increases in deaths this week, according to the Financial Times. Florida reported 970 deaths and 3,452 hospitalizations for the week ending Sunday, up from 758 deaths and 3,021 hospitalizations the week before, the Tampa Bay Times reported. COVID-19 is by far the deadliest infectious disease in the state this year. It is currently killing three times as many people as AIDS, viral hepatitis, the flu and pneumonia combined.
Nationwide, the death toll rose by more than 1,000 for a fifth day in a row Saturday, the Financial Times reported. Deaths averaged 876 a day for the week ending Saturday, the highest daily average since early June.
The mortality increase follows a surge in cases that brought the U.S. total to over four million last week.
However, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and state health officials thought new infections were beginning to plateau in the state, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Birx also told NBC news there was evidence of plateauing in Florida, Texas, California and Arizona, another hard-hit state, as The Independent reported.
It is hard to tell which state really leads in cases since the pandemic began, The New York Times pointed out. That's because New York and California both experienced outbreaks early, when testing was still limited. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study published this month calculated that the number of coronavirus infections could be two to 13 times higher than the official case count.
While they are neck and neck for confirmed cases, New York and Florida represent very different approaches to controlling the pandemic, according to NPR.
New York decreased infections and deaths by late spring, just as infections began to rise in Western and Southern states.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo lifted lockdown measures gradually and has required masks in public since April. Florida's DeSantis, meanwhile, has declined to mandate masks or impose new restrictions since most businesses were allowed to reopen in May.
Correction: An earlier version of this story said that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said state health experts thought cases were beginning to plateau in the state. The story has been updated to note that both DeSantis and state health officials said this.
- Scientist Behind Florida's Coronavirus Database Says She Was ... ›
- Younger People Now Driving Spikes in New Coronavirus Cases ... ›
- Florida Breaks US Daily Record With Over 15000 New Coronavirus ›
- Police Raid Florida Home of Fired COVID Dashboard Designer ›
The Huntley coal plant in Tonawanda, New York, was once the area's biggest polluter. But it was also the town's biggest taxpayer.
So when the plant was slated to close, the town was concerned about job losses – not just for company employees, but public sector workers like teachers and paramedics.
"Those tax dollars that company pays … goes to the folks picking up garbage, and goes to people fixing the roads, and helps fund special ed," says Rebecca Newberry, executive director of the Clean Air Coalition of Western New York.
To ease the transition, her group partnered with the town, local businesses, unions, residents, and community groups.
Together they created an economic development plan to help the town make up lost revenue over time. It's designed to grow local businesses and create new jobs, especially in manufacturing and technology.
The group also helped convince the state to provide funds that fill the more immediate gap in revenue.
The plant closed in 2016, and Newberry says that since that time, "not one public sector employee, to our knowledge, has lost their job because of the closing of this plant."
So Tonawanda has moved away from a coal-powered economy while helping protect the community.
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.
- Major Coal-Fired Power Plant in Washington to Go Solar - EcoWatch ›
- All Coal-Fired Power Plants in Texas Found Leaking Toxins Into ... ›
- Bloomberg Donates $64 Million to Shut Down Coal Power Plants ... ›
During summer in central New York, residents often enjoy a refreshing dip in the region's peaceful lakes.
But sometimes swimming is off-limits because of algae blooms that can make people sick.
"Some of the algae may produce chemical toxins that can have harmful effects on people, fish, shellfish, terrestrial and marine mammals, and birds," says Jennifer Graham, a research hydrologist with the United States Geological Survey.
She says reports of harmful algal blooms are increasing across the country, and climate change could be part of the reason.
Some harmful algae prefer warm temperatures, so blooms may be growing more common as rivers and lakes warm.
Extreme weather can also contribute to algal blooms because heavy rain can cause nutrients to run off farm fields and sewage systems into waterways.
"Nutrients are basically the food source for algae," Graham says.
In New York's Finger Lakes and other locations across the country, the USGS is monitoring algal blooms.
Graham says they are trying to better understand toxic bloom growth and severity, so local agencies can make informed decisions about how to protect people.
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.
- Algal Blooms Can be Deadly to Your Dogs - EcoWatch ›
- Every Mississippi Beach Is Closed Due to Toxic Algae - EcoWatch ›
- Toxic Algal Blooms Connected to Climate Change and Industrial ... ›
- Algal Blooms Could Spew Lethal Toxins Into the Air, New Study Suggests ›
- Water Pumped Into Tampa Bay Could Cause a Massive Algae Bloom ›
As the nation prepares for Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of the summer season, beaches have started to allow access to the public, but have asked people to maintain social distancing guidelines, as CNN reported.
In Ocean City, New Jersey, a loudspeaker on the boardwalk blasted out messages every 15 minutes urging people to keep apart. "Please remember to practice social distancing while walking the boardwalk and beach. Thank you for respecting this request," the message announced, as CNN reported.
All beaches on the Jersey Shore will reopen after Memorial Day, though local towns have jurisdiction over how many beach permits they issue. Gov. Phil Murphy also said the beaches will have to adhere to strict capacity guidelines.
Ocean City was one of three Jersey Shore beaches to take a dry-run at what reopening would look like. While people maintained distance on the beach, the boardwalk was another story, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
"[T]housands who crowded the Ocean City boardwalk ignored social-distancing safety protocols, standing close and even brushing against one another as the Shore readied for an uncertain summer season," The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
In Connecticut, authorities had to close at least 15 parks and beaches after parking lots reached capacity on Saturday. In Massachusetts, beach parking lots remain closed, with pedestrians allowed to partake in "passive recreational activities that only involve transitory movement (walking, jogging, running, etc.) and … solitary beach fishing," according to The Associated Press.
Maine is following similar guidelines as Massachusetts as it attempts a soft reopening to see how people will follow the rules. Beaches there are reopening for movement-only activities, which include walking, running, fishing and surfing. Beachgoers are also asked to stay at least six feet apart, as the Bangor Daily News reported.
The no-sitting or sun-bathing protocol seemed to work in California too where thousands of people flocked to Los Angeles beaches for swimming and surfing, according to ABC News Los Angeles. Piers are shut down, as are most parking lots. Bike paths are also closed, but many people were out cycling.
"It was amazing. We've been pretty cooped up like everybody and to get out here and get in the water. The water is really nice, surprisingly warm," said Chris Kyle, a beachgoer, to to ABC News Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and police were on patrol targeting people not adhering to the mandate to keep a physical distance of 6 feet apart.
New York City, however, is another story. Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city's beaches will remain closed for Memorial Day.
"I've said it before and I'm gonna say it again," de Blasio said during his daily briefing on Sunday, as Newsday reported. "We are not opening our beaches on Memorial Day. We are not opening our beaches in the near term. It is not safe. It is not the right thing to do in the epicenter of this crisis."
That has officials in nearby Long Island worried that crowds that normally flocked to the city's beaches will now head farther east.
Democratic State Sen. Todd Kaminsky, who represents an area just outside Rockaway, told Newsday, "I think it is bad for everyone. We all have to be on the same page this upcoming weekend. If we hit hot weather, if we hit beach weather I can tell you the officials out where I am, at every level of government, are preparing for a very chaotic scene because city beaches won't be open."
"Everyone has a right to enjoy a safe summer with fresh air and relief from the heat, which is why the mayor's refusal to implement social distancing guidelines and enforcement to keep NYC beaches open, like every other municipality in the tristate area, is both irresponsible and short sighted," said Nassau communications director Christine Geed to Newsday.
- Spanish Officials Spray Beach With Bleach in 'Brutal' Attempt to ... ›
- Florida Beachgoers Left Behind 13,000 Pounds of Trash Last Week ... ›
- Fauci Warns Bad Second Wave of Coronavirus Could Hit U.S. ... ›
- Crowds Gather Over Memorial Day Weekend Despite Pleas From Health Officials - EcoWatch ›
- Florida Sheriff Bans Deputies From Wearing Masks ›
One-fifth of New York City may have already had the new coronavirus, initial results of antibody testing suggest.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo reported the findings Thursday, which showed that, out of 3,000 randomly tested New Yorkers, 13.9 percent had been infected with the virus and recovered. Extrapolated to the state's population at large, that would mean 2.7 million New Yorkers had been infected, more than ten times the state's confirmed caseload, NBC New York reported. The findings lend credence to the idea that the virus is spreading more widely than testing has so far indicated.
"This basically quantifies what we've been seeing anecdotally and what we have known," Cuomo said in a press conference reported by NPR, "but it puts numbers to it."
Percent positive by region: Long Island: 16.7% NYC: 21.2% Westchester/Rockland: 11.7% Rest of state: 3.6% (Weighted results)— Andrew Cuomo (@Andrew Cuomo)1587657739.0
New York City, the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, had the highest percentage of positive results. Out of around 1,300 people tested in the city, around 21 percent tested positive for the virus antibodies, The New York Times reported.
New York undertook the tests because, as NPR explained, testing for infection with the virus has been limited, meaning mild or asymptomatic cases don't make it into the official tally, which stood at 263,460 as of Friday morning Eastern Time. The tests were conducted outside grocery stores in 19 New York counties.
The New York Times explained the difference between these tests and the tests administered to symptomatic patients:
Unlike so-called diagnostic tests, which determine whether someone is infected, often using nasal swabs, blood tests for Covid-19 antibodies are intended to reveal whether a person was previously exposed and has developed an immune response. Some tests also measure the amount of antibodies present.
While the antibody tests indicate a higher case load, they also suggest a lower death rate. As of Friday morning, the virus had killed at least 20,982 in New York state and 16,388 in New York City. If only confirmed cases are included, the state death rate is around eight percent. If 2.7 million were infected, however, it would fall to around 0.8 percent.
Cuomo said part of the reason for conducting the tests was to guide the process of lifting lockdown measures.
"The testing also can tell you the infection rate in the population — where it's higher, where it's lower — to inform you on a reopening strategy," Cuomo said, as The New York Times reported. "Then when you start reopening, you can watch that infection rate to see if it's going up and if it's going up, slow down."
But public health experts have cautioned against relying too heavily on antibody tests to ease social distancing measures.
"It means a lot of us in NYC have been infected. But that's not surprising news — we've seen high levels of cases for over a month," emergency room doctor and Ebola survivor Craig Spencer tweeted of the results, as NBC New York reported. "It means the virus is STILL spreading in NYC. It means that the MAJORITY of us are still very susceptible! It means we still need to #StayHome."
It means a lot of us in NYC have been infected. But that's not surprising news - we've seen high levels of cases fo… https://t.co/azBXKDEcCK— Craig Spencer MD MPH (@Craig Spencer MD MPH)1587669665.0
The World Health Organization has recommended the tests only be used for research purposes, according to The New York Times, and not to make decisions about who can return to work.
"I'm very ambivalent about these tests, because we don't really know yet through the science what it means to have an antibody," Dr. Joan Cangiarella, the vice-chair of clinical operations at NYU Langone Health's pathology department, told The New York Times. "We are hoping these antibodies mean you will be immune for some time, but I don't think the data is fully out there to understand if that means that you're actually immune. And if these antibodies start to decline, what's that time frame? Does it decline in a year from now?" she asked.
- What Does 'Recovered From Coronavirus' Mean? - EcoWatch ›
- The Immune System's Fight Against the Coronavirus - EcoWatch ›
- Cuomo Blasts Trump's COVID-19 Response as 'Worst Government Blunder in Modern History' - EcoWatch ›
New York state now has more confirmed coronavirus cases than any single country save the U.S. as a whole.
The state's caseload skyrocketed by 10,000 on Thursday, BBC News reported. It had 161,807 cases as of 4:46 a.m. EST, according to data from Johns Hopkins University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering. That's more than hard-hit Spain and Italy, which now have 153,222 and 143,626 cases respectively. The Empire State still trails the European countries for deaths, but the virus that causes COVID-19 has claimed more than 7,000 lives in the state, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday, more than double the 2,753 people killed in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
"9/11 was supposed to be the darkest day in New York for a generation," Cuomo said at a Thursday press conference reported by Business Insider. "And then, in many ways, we lose so many more New Yorkers to this silent killer."
"9/11 was supposed to be the darkest day in New York for a generation," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at his Thursday coro… https://t.co/RKF5HFpBsw— CBS News (@CBS News)1586463964.0
Cuomo said the state saw its highest death toll in a single day Wednesday at 799.
More than 5,000 of the state's deaths were in New York City, the nation's largest. Also on Thursday, the number of New York City patients being treated at special overflow hospitals more than doubled, from fewer than 100 Tuesday to 242, NPR reported.
The city has hired contract labor to bury the surge in dead at its potter's field on Hart Island, Reuters reported. Those with either no family or no family who can arrange a funeral have been buried there since the 1800s. But while typically the city buries around 25 people there per week, that number has jumped to around that many per day Monday to Friday. And while the work is usually done by inmates, the city has hired contractors for public health reasons.
"For social distancing and safety reasons, city-sentenced people in custody are not assisting in burials for the duration of the pandemic," Department of Correction spokesperson Jason Kersten told Reuters.
This drone footage captures NYC workers burying bodies in a mass grave on Hart Island, just off the coast of the Br… https://t.co/C6AvgCwg6s— NowThis (@NowThis)1586470680.0
However, the news out of New York this week wasn't all grim. The number of new cases admitted to the hospital fell for a second day in a row to 200, Reuters further reported. Cuomo said it was a sign that social distancing was working, but said it was far from time to ease restrictions.
"You can't relax," Cuomo said Thursday. "The flattening of the curve last night happened because of what we did yesterday."
In another sign that restrictions are working across the U.S. as a whole, projections for the final nationwide death toll fell from at least 100,000 to 60,000.
The U.S. currently leads the world with 466,299 cases, according to Johns Hopkins. It has the second highest death toll after Italy, at 16,686 to Italy's 18,279. Globally, there are 1,603,330 confirmed cases of the disease. To date, 95,758 have died while 355,983 have recovered.
- U.S. Now Leads the World in Coronavirus Cases - EcoWatch ›
- Coronavirus Slowdown in Washington Suggests Social Distancing ... ›
- Spain Breaks COVID-19 Record for Western Europe With 500,000+ Cases - EcoWatch ›
Nearly one year after New York became the second state in the nation to pass a ban on grocery store plastic bags — the law is going into effect on Sunday.
Some New York municipalities will also charge a five-cent fee for people who want a plastic bag, though that fee will be waived for customers using food stamps to make their purchases. The five cents will be used as a tax, with two cents going to local governments, and three cents going to the state's Environmental Protection Fund, as the New York Post reported.
The governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, tweeted when the ban was first set to pass, "Plastic bags have blighted our environment and clogged our waterways. By banning them, we will protect our natural resources for future generations of New Yorkers," as EcoWatch reported.
Now Cuomo is looking forward to seeing the bags gone.
"It's no doubt that this is smart; you see these bags all over the place," Cuomo, who added that the bags hang in trees like "bizarre Christmas ornaments," said as WRVO Public Media reported. "I've been 30 miles out in the ocean and you see garbage floating and plastic bags floating. It's terrible."
The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has recently increased its efforts in recent days to help New Yorkers understand the new rules. The department has run ads on social media and videos on its website and YouTube channel, according to WRVO Public Media. The DEC is also distributing 270,000 reusable bags to low and middle-income families to help them ease into the transition.
The plastic bag ban will apply to all retailers that collect sales tax, including grocery stores and bodegas. The DEC claims that currently more than 23 billion plastic bags are used each year and only for 12 minutes, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation, as the New York Post reported.
There are exceptions to the ban. According to Gothamist, plastic bags can still be used for:
- Uncooked animal products or other non-prepackaged food
- Flowers, plants, or other items that require plastic to avoid contamination, prevent damage, or for health purposes
- Bulk packaging of fruits, vegetables, grains, candy, hardware products like nuts, bolts, and screws, live insects like crickets, fish, crustaceans, mollusks, or other items that require a waterproof bag
- Sliced food or food prepared to order
- Newspapers for subscribers
- Prepackaged plastic bags sold in bulk, such as garbage bags, sandwich bags, or bags used for pet poop pick-up
- Dry-cleaner or laundry service clothing bags
- Pharmacy bags for prescription drugs
While the law goes into effect on Sunday, the DEC will actually not enforce it for a few more months as stores and customers adapt to their plastic bag-free shopping. Once it does enforce the law, retailers violating the ban will first receive a warning, followed by a $250 fine, leading to a $500 fine for subsequent violations in the same calendar year, as Gothamist reported.
Environmental advocates are pleased with the ban, but worry about a loophole that allows for thicker types of plastic bags. While they are not yet commercially made, environmental advocates worry the plastic bag industry will start to manufacture the thicker type of plastic bags.
"It was most unfortunate," Judith Enck, who runs Beyond Plastics at Bennington College and worked at the EPA under President Obama, said to WRVO Public Media. "Why even open the door to that?"
In 2012, Superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc on New York City's transportation system. Storm surge pushed a flood of seawater into vehicle tunnels, railyards, ferry terminals, and subway lines.
"Hurricane Sandy was a big wake-up call for the city," says Susanne DesRoches, New York's deputy director of infrastructure and energy.
She says after the storm, subway tunnels and stations had to be pumped out. Electrical systems needed to be cleaned, repaired, and tested. In some places, it took weeks to get up and running again.
As seas rise and weather gets more extreme, the risks from flooding only grow. So New York is working to make its massive transportation system more resilient.
"We're looking at major flood protection systems across the subway network, the airports, and our vehicular tunnels that go in and out of Manhattan," DesRoches says.
For example, the city has installed huge floodgates at the entrances of two tunnels. A steel floodwall will soon protect the Coney Island railyard, and the city's working on ways to seal off subway station entrances and vents.
It's a multi-billion-dollar effort, but DesRoches says the next time a natural disaster hits, New York expects to be better prepared.
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.
- Rising Seas May Bring More Superstorms - EcoWatch ›
- Canada Tells Flood Victims It's Time to Move - EcoWatch ›
- 10 People Found Not Guilty in Flood Wall Street Protest, Judge ... ›
- MTA Launches NYC Flood Control Tests, States 'Climate Change Is ... ›
- New York City Residents Document Flooding for Community Project - EcoWatch ›
By Cullen Howe
When Governor Cuomo signed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) into law in July 2019, it cemented New York State as a national leader in ramping up clean energy and the broader fight against climate change. In addition to reducing statewide greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030 and 85 percent by 2050, the law requires that the state obtain 70 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030 (and that it be emissions-free by 2040). No state has a more aggressive emissions reduction target.
The new law also requires New York to add 9,000 megawatts (MW) of offshore wind by 2035, 3,000 MW of storage by 2030, and 6,000 MW of distributed solar (the type that normally goes on rooftops) by 2025.
Here's a look at three key steps the state needs to take to ensure it is on the path to achieving its renewables targets:
1. The PSC Should Act on NYSERDA’s Petition to Boost Local Solar
Even before the CLCPA's passage, New York was a leader in making solar more accessible to homeowners and businesses. In 2014, Governor Cuomo established NY-Sun, a New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA)-administered program that seeks to add 3,000 MW of installed solar capacity by 2023. The program works by establishing cash incentives for developers that decline over time as solar installations increase in different parts of the state.
The results have been impressive: Almost 1,000 MW of NY-Sun supported projects have been installed, with another 1,000 MW in the pipeline. Just this week, NYSERDA announced New York has surpassed 2,000 MW of installed solar generation (including non-NY Sun projects), enough to power almost 250,000 homes.
In addition to the 2,000 MW of solar that's been installed, another 1,262 MW of solar is under development, including 351 community solar projects (this week, the Public Service Commission (PSC) approved consolidated billing for these projects, which should spur their deployment in the state).
In November, NYSERDA filed a petition with the PSC seeking $573 million in additional funds to extend the NY-Sun program through 2025. If approved, approximately half of the funds would be added to existing cash incentives to support an additional 1,800 MW of solar projects. About a quarter of the money would be used to replenish "community adder" incentives for community solar projects in certain utility territories, providing additional compensation for these projects.
Importantly, NYSERDA proposes using $135 million of the additional funds to expand NY-Sun programs focused on low-to-moderate income (LMI) customers, as part of a new Framework for Solar Energy Equity. Among other things, the Framework envisions an expansion of its Solar for All program, which provides no-cost community solar to low-income households. It also provides incentives for projects sited on affordable housing, LMI homeowners who install rooftop solar, and projects that pair solar with energy storage. Combining solar and energy storage provides resiliency benefits and can also reduce local air pollutants from fossil fuel peaking units, which are often located in environmental justice communities.
The PSC hasn't yet acted on NYSERDA's petition, which sets forth a roadmap for meeting the state's 6,000 MW goal by 2025.
2. The PSC Needs to Move Quickly to Decarbonize the Power Sector
Achieving 70 percent renewable energy in the power sector by 2030 won't be easy. Currently, New York gets 28 percent of its total electricity from renewable sources, and the vast majority of this (about 80 percent) comes from legacy large hydropower facilities owned and operated by the New York Power Authority. Scaling up renewables to hit 70 percent in 10 years will require a massive amount of new clean generation to come online.
The first step to make this happen is commencing a proceeding to establish how this process will work, which the CLCPA requires by 2021. There is little time to waste. NRDC, along with a number of other environmental organizations and clean energy industry partners, last week filed a list of eight principles we believe should guide the state through this process. The principles include establishing a full procurement schedule to get to 70 percent renewables by 2030, the creation of new tiers of renewable energy credits for existing renewable energy facilities, and a PSC final implementation order by the end of 2020. This deadline is especially important because it takes approximately four years between the approval of contracts for large-scale renewable projects and their completion and operation (thus, the state will need to approve contracts no later than 2026 for projects to be up and running by 2030).
3. NY Needs to Improve the Siting Process and Ensure Adequate Transmission
Reaching the state's 70 by 30 goal will require that renewables projects are sited quickly and that there is enough transmission to transport this power to where it is needed. Unfortunately, the processes for both need fixing.
The siting process, known as Article 10, establishes a procedure for approving energy production facilities over 25 MW. However, it has not worked well for renewable energy sources like solar and wind. Major delays within the Article 10 process have resulted in a bottleneck jeopardizing over 8,000 gigawatt-hours per year of land-based wind and solar projects pending before the state's Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment (known as the "Siting Board"), which considers these applications. For example, although the Article 10 process should take approximately 24 months, most of the pending renewable projects have taken much longer and most are still waiting for approval or have been withdrawn.
There are a number of steps the Department of Public Service (DPS) can take to improve Article 10, including enforcing application deadlines, completing compliance reviews on a fixed timeline, and reducing reliance on paper by expanding the use of digital technologies. To its credit, DPS has increased its staff to process these applications, and last week the Siting Board approved the Bluestone Wind Farm, a 124 MW project located in upstate New York, in the process overruling a local law that had placed a moratorium on wind turbines. This follows approval of three other renewable projects in the last four months after only one had been approved since 2011. While these approvals are encouraging, the pace of the approval process must be dramatically increased to meet our 2030 goal.
Similarly, the process for constructing transmission lines to carry electricity from generation to end use must also be streamlined. As I wrote in April, the approval process needed to integrate clean energy was adopted under a 2011 order from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which regulates interstate transmission of electricity. FERC's Order 1000 requires the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) and other grid operators to develop a process to consider transmission needs driven by public policy requirements established by federal or state laws or regulations (such as New York's Clean Energy Standard) in the local and regional transmission planning process.
This year, NYISO announced the selection of two transmission projects that will enable the delivery of power from generating facilities in upstate New York, including significant amounts of renewable energy, to downstate population centers like New York City. This was an important milestone, and just the second and third time that so-called "public policy" transmission upgrades have been approved. However, the state will need more such upgrades to handle the coming influx of wind and solar power.
NYISO and the PSC have begun the process of identifying additional transmission needs beyond these projects, but the process is stuck in limbo. The PSC has yet to issue a decision identifying additional transmission needs, which it needs to do as part of the Order 1000 process. It should do so quickly so that this process can move forward.
New York accomplished a great deal in 2019, with the adoption of aggressive renewables targets that reflect the state's role as a leader on climate and clean energy. The state must take key steps in 2020 to ensure that these goals remain within reach.
Cullen Howe is the senior renewable energy advocate for NRDC's Climate & Clean Energy Program.
Reposted with permission from NRDC.
- How Renewable Energy Can Transform New York State - EcoWatch ›
- New York Announces Nation-Leading $1.4B Investment in ... ›
- New York Approves Clean Energy Standard Mandating 50% of ... ›