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Climate Tech for Disaster Relief

On a new FEMA initiative, recycled jewelry, and more.

Briefing image.

AM Briefing: Climate Tech for Disaster Relief

Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Current conditions: Millions of people on the West Coast are under flood alerts as two atmospheric rivers are set to hit the region, bringing torrential rains but also the possibility of critical snowpack replenishment • The Colombian president declared a national disaster as firefighters struggle to put out wildfires in the mountains around Bogotá • Forecasters in the UK are warning of the chance of tornadoes as 85 mile per hour winds batter the country.


1. FEMA will cover solar panels and other clean tech after disasters

Yesterday the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, announced that it will help local governments pay to install solar panels and energy-efficient appliances like heat pumps in public buildings such as hospitals, fire stations, and schools in the wake of disasters. It’s a move that will help those communities become more energy independent and resilient, while also reducing the emissions that are intensifying weather-related disasters to begin with. Last year saw a record 28 disaster costing $1 billion or more in the United States, according to the agency, which added that buildings account for nearly 40% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

2. A bleak picture of Louisiana’s “Cancer Alley”

A new report from Human Rights Watch is an in-depth look at how Louisiana’s hands-off approach to its fossil fuel industries has led to devastating levels of cancer, birth defects, and respiratory ailments, writes my colleague Jacob Lambert in Heatmap.

“The failure of state and federal authorities to properly regulate the industry has dire consequences for residents of Cancer Alley,” said Antonia Juhasz, a senior researcher on fossil fuels at Human Rights Watch. “It’s long past time for governments to uphold their human rights obligations and for these sacrifices to end.”

An image of gas flaring in Louisiana.Drew Angerer/Getty Images

3. More than 4 million lives lost to climate change

We’ve long known that climate change impacts human lives, but putting a number on just how many people it has affected so far is a difficult task. A new analysis, published as commentary in the journal Nature Medicine, tries to do just that, and arrives at a breathtaking figure: at least 4 million people have been killed by climate change since 2000. And as Zoya Teirstein writes in Grist, that’s probably an underestimate.

“Climate change is killing a lot of people, nobody is counting it, and nobody is moving in the direction of counting it,” Colin Carlson, a global change biologist and assistant professor at Georgetown University who wrote the commentary, told Teirstein. “If it were anything but climate change, we would be treating it on very different terms.”

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  • 4. Truck makers team up for EV chargers

    On Tuesday, the three largest heavy-duty truck makers in America — Daimler Truck, Volkswagen subsidiary Navistar, and Volvo North America — announced a new coalition called Powering America’s Commercial Transportation that will advocate for governments and utilities to help build more charging stations for electric trucks. There are only nine charging stations in the country that can serve electric long-haulers, writes Jack Ewing in The New York Times, and the truck companies argue that without more support from federal and state governments they can’t introduce more electric trucks to the market. This may, as Ewing notes, also be a bit of a ploy to shift blame: earlier this month, more than 40 advocacy groups accused Daimler and Volvo of trying to get in the way of stricter emissions regulations.

    5. Pandora goes recycled

    Pandora, the world’s largest jeweler, announced that it has stopped using mined silver and gold and now only uses recycled materials. The change, Reuters reports, should lead to significant emissions reductions: Pandora estimates using recycled materials cuts the company’s indirect carbon dioxide emissions by 58,000 metric tons each year.


    Heatmap is hiring a climate tech reporter! If you are — or know — a smart, ambitious reporter who can navigate the ins and outs of the technology at the forefront of the energy transition, we’d love to hear from you.

    Neel Dhanesha profile image

    Neel Dhanesha

    Neel is a founding staff writer at Heatmap. Prior to Heatmap, he was a science and climate reporter at Vox, an editorial fellow at Audubon magazine, and an assistant producer at Radiolab, where he helped produce The Other Latif, a series about one detainee's journey to Guantanamo Bay. He is a graduate of the Literary Reportage program at NYU, which helped him turn incoherent scribbles into readable stories, and he grew up (mostly) in Bangalore. He tweets sporadically at @neel_dhan.


    AM Briefing: America’s Long Bake

    On Equatic’s big news, heat waves, and the Paris Olympics

    Ocean-Based Carbon Removal Is About to Take a Big Step Forward
    Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

    Current conditions: Tropical storm warnings have been issued for Texas and Mexico • Parts of southwestern France were hit with large hail stones • The temperature trend for June is making climate scientists awfully nervous.


    1. Lengthy heat wave threatens nearly 80 million Americans

    About 77 million people are under some kind of heat advisory as a heat wave works its way across the Midwest and Northeast. In most of New England, the heat index is expected to reach or exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit. What makes this heat wave especially dangerous is its “striking duration,” Jake Petr, the lead forecaster with National Weather Service Chicago, toldThe New York Times. Temperatures are projected to stay exceptionally high for several days before beginning to taper off only slightly over the weekend. According toThe Washington Post, temperatures could be up to 25 degrees higher than normal for this time of year. And forecasters expect it to be unseasonably hot across the country for at least the next three weeks. Below is a look at the NWS HeatRisk projections today (top) and Thursday (bottom). The darker the color, the warmer the temperature and the higher the health risks.

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    Crux Is Getting Some Powerful New Backers

    The New York-based startup aims to create a market for clean energy tax credits.

    Green energy and money details.
    Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

    One of the least-noticed changes in the Inflation Reduction Act may be one of the most important.

    For years, the government has encouraged developers, power utilities, and other companies to build clean energy by offering tax credits. But those tax credits were difficult to transfer to other companies, meaning that complicated financial instruments had to be created to allow them to share in the wealth.

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    The Saga of SunZia

    The roughly 550-mile SunZia power line is crucial to America’s climate goals. Here’s how it almost didn’t happen — and how it was saved.

    Arizona, New Mexico, and wind turbines.
    Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images, Library of Congress

    Two years ago, John Podesta met with Jennifer Granholm, the U.S. Secretary of Energy. Podesta, a longtime Democratic aide, had just started a new role in the Biden administration, overseeing the Inflation Reduction Act’s implementation, and he was going to meet with Granholm about high-priority clean electricity infrastructure.

    First on the agenda was a list of transmission projects to ferry electricity from wind and solar farms to cities and suburbs where it would actually be used.

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