From the Headlines- July 18 – 22

Climate emergency: On Thursday, 100 million people in the Lower 48 were under heat alerts, and 60 million Americans in 16 states were experiencing temperatures of 100 degrees or higher. A “heat dome” or ridge of high pressure had settled over the Southwest but also drifted to the Mid-Atlantic, locking in high temperatures for days. Luckily, Michigan has been spared the worst, although it has still been hot here in the Mitten. The Detroit area started the week with temperatures near 90 degrees and a pair of ozone action days, air quality warnings that often coincide with hot weather. Further afield, Britain was hit by record-breaking heat that created the busiest day for firefighters since the second world war. And despite the cascade of climate disasters, serious climate action remains stalled in the United States after Senator Joe Manchin shot down the Build Back Better legislation that would have expanded the social safety net and invested in reducing carbon emissions. President Biden announced funding to help communities respond to climate change and promised further executive actions, but he stopped short of declaring a climate emergency. (WaPo, Scientific American, Channel 4, Guardian)

Robbing Peter: After receiving $100 million dollars in tax-funded incentives from the state of Michigan to create jobs, Ford Motor Co. will be…cutting 8,000 jobs.  Or at least that’s what Bloomberg reported. The outlet didn’t specify how many jobs would be eliminated in Michigan but said cuts would primarily occur in the company’s “Ford Blue” unit that works on gasoline-powered vehicles. In a video message to employees on Thursday, Ford CEO Jim Farley did not dispute the Bloomberg story. The move seems part of the company’s transition to electric vehicles, which it intends to fund on the back of its internal combustion engine business. In March, Ford increased its EV spending to $50 billion and announced plans to build 2 million EVs annually by 2026. (Freep, Bloomberg)

Canal zone: Detroit city officials recently presented several possible responses for dealing with the recurrent flooding from the Detroit River in the Jefferson Chalmers neighborhood, including closing off the area’s canals. They say that by separating the canals from the river and Great Lakes system, overall flood risk can be reduced, limiting pressure on the city’s combined sewer system.  However, Jefferson Chalmers resident John Myers says that closing off the canals or building new sea walls won’t protect those living closest to the river or stop sewer backups. “There have been many bad decisions on this for 100 years,” he said. “The biggest issue is actually infrastructure, the municipal water sewer system.” (Michigan Chronicle)

Flooding help: The city of Detroit is lowering the cost of its Basement Backup Protection Program for residents and shortening the turnaround time for repairs. Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) officials said residents will receive flood prevention help like backflow valves and sump pumps on the same day inspections occur, streamlining the process for homeowners in the 11 neighborhoods covered by the program. Homeowners will only have to pay a flat fee of $100 if they qualify for the program, whereas previously, residents had to deposit 10% of the total cost, which could mean paying as much as $600. “With these significant adjustments, we believe the completion of the homes will dramatically accelerate this month,” said DWSD spokesperson Bryan Peckinpaugh. (BridgeDetroit)

New transit center: The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is planning a new intermodal transit facility, incorporating the current Amtrak station in Detroit’s New Center neighborhood. MDOT spokesperson Michael Frezell said the complex would accommodate “Amtrak, intercity bus services: Greyhound, Indian Trails, and other carriers, and then local transit like SMART and Detroit Department of Transportation.” Frezell says the Amtrak facility needs to be expanded to accommodate other modes of transit and to offer greater accessibility and safety. Detroit’s main intercity bus station on Howard Street is more than three miles away from the Amtrak station. (MI Radio)

Dead zones: Researchers say a national strategy is needed to prevent algal blooms and ocean dead zones like the ones affecting Lake Erie and the Gulf of Mexico. Both are triggered by nitrogen and phosphorus runoff that primarily comes from farms, causing algae to bloom and then die, depleting the water of oxygen and making it unable to support aquatic life. Climate change and warmer water accelerate algal growth, worsening the problem. An increase in the production of nutrient-hungry corn for ethanol production and more large-scale livestock farms create an abundance of animal waste that contribute to the problem. And voluntary incentives for farmers to better manage runoff have failed to limit pollution in these bodies of water. Some economists argue a better plan to reduce pollution is to pay farmers for meeting specific targets, allowing them to find the best options that suit their land and climate. (The Conversation)


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