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‘New North’: Michigan has no shortage of climate-related problems, including storms, flooding, and a rapidly warming Lake Superior. But the state may be the best place to live by 2050, according to a new book by Parag Khanna called “Move: The Forces Uprooting Us”. “As we scanned the world for geographies that offer abundant freshwater, progressive governance, and could attract talent to innovative industries, we decided on … Michigan,” writes Khanna. “More broadly, we pointed to the emergence of a ‘New North,’ a collection of geographies such as the Great Lakes region and Scandinavia that are making significant investments in renewable energy, food production, and economic diversification.” Khanna says the climate crisis will spur mass migration, at least for those who can afford to move. However, “progressive governance” might not be something to take for granted on the American side of the border, where even democracy is in trouble. (MLive, WaPo)
A snowy winter: Warm waters in the Great Lakes could drive lake effect snow this winter as well as potentially impact fish spawning. All the lakes have been one to two degrees above normal since the beginning of October — a “highly significant" increase, according to Andrea Vander Woude, manager of NOAA's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory's CoastWatch program. "It could have a negative impact on ecosystems, on fish, on zooplankton and phytoplankton and the whole dynamics of small animals within the lakes." Warmer lakes will lose more moisture over the winter, which can increase the amount of lake effect snow when colder air passes over them. However, other factors also make lake effect snow more likely such as a large differential between the air and water temperatures or a north wind that draws air down the length of Lake Michigan, picking up moisture along the way. (Detroit News, MLive)
Indicators: Warm winters, hot summer, and a period of drought are changing Michigan’s Au Sable river and endangering the trout that attract anglers from across the country. Trout are considered an “indicator species,” meaning problems with their health signal poor conditions for other species as well. Warmer streams have decreased oxygen available to trout and driven them into colder tributaries while fluctuating spring temps have caused rapid snow melts that flood streams and wash away eggs. Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources has posted signs, warning anglers not to fish when it’s above 68 degrees when even catch and release can kill a fish. Fly fishing guides have also agreed not to take people out when the temperatures exceed this threshold. However, the state may need to institute more restrictions, like temporarily closing off portions of the river to fishing in order to protect the Au Sable’s trout. (Circle of Blue)
Climate control: Toronto is sucking water out of the depths of Lake Ontario and using it to cool 100 buildings across the city, including the Scotiabank Arena where the Raptors do alley-oops, buzzer beaters, and other cool basketball moves. The deep lake water cooling system (DLWC) saves 90,000-megawatt hours of electricity a year or enough juice to power a town of 25,000 people. To get the cooler water, the DLWC pulls it from 280 feet beneath the lake surface, where it’s a cool 39 degrees, and moves it in a loop through Toronto’s downtown. Heat exchangers use the water to help dissipate warmth from downtown buildings, which limits the need for air conditioners or chillers. Such systems have high upfront costs, but Todd Cowen, who operates Cornell University’s lake water cooling system, said the Toronto system “has easily already paid for itself” in low maintenance and reduced operating costs. (WaPo)
Wealth is the problem: The wealthiest one percent of people in the world are driving climate change, according to Michigan State Professor of Sociology Thomas Dietz, who co-authored a paper in the journal Nature Energy. Previous reporting by the Financial Times found that the wealthiest ten percent of U.S. citizens produced 50 tons of carbon emissions per capita, each year. This was nearly double the number of emissions produced by the wealthiest ten percent in Canada, the second-highest per capita emitter, and more than 10 times higher than the top decile in China and India. What to do about all this planet-destroying wealth? Taxing the wealthy might be a start. (Fox 47, FT, Guardian)
Budgeting for the apocalypse: The $1 trillion federal infrastructure bill set to be signed by President Biden will put $47 billion towards climate resilience measures like flood control, improved forecasting, and wildfire defense. But this amount is dwarfed by the $555 billion included in the Build Back Better Act for fighting climate change. Progressives had hoped to pass both bills at the same time. But moderate Democrats want to hold off a vote on Build Back Better until the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) presents its “score” for what the legislation will mean for revenue, spending, and the deficit. (NY Times, Vox)
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