Sign In or Create an Account.

By continuing, you agree to the Terms of Service and acknowledge our Privacy Policy

Climate

Get Ready for an ‘Extremely Active’ Atlantic Hurricane Season

On ominous forecasts, Ford’s hybrid pivot, and Disney’s Autopia ride

Get Ready for an ‘Extremely Active’ Atlantic Hurricane Season
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Current conditions: Nearly 4,000 schools in the Philippines have suspended in-person classes due to extreme heat • Large parts of the central and southern High Plains are under red flag fire warnings • It will be 57 degrees Fahrenheit and rainy in Baltimore today for President Biden’s visit to the site of the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge.

THE TOP FIVE

1. Atlantic hurricane season expected to be ‘extremely active’

The coastal United States and Caribbean should prepare for an “extremely active” 2024 hurricane season. That’s the message from Colorado State University researchers, who yesterday released their preseason extended range forecast for the region. They estimate there will be more named hurricanes than usual (11 compared with the 30-year average of 7.2) and that five of them could be major storms. There’s an above-normal chance (62% compared with 43% historical averages) that at least one of these major hurricanes will make landfall somewhere along the continental U.S. coastline. While these are just predictions, the team says they are more confident than in past years in their forecast “given how hurricane-favorable the large-scale conditions appear to be.”

NOAA forecast for El Niño and La Niña. Black arrow indicates the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season.CSU

They’re referring to two factors: Unusually warm sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic, and an expected transition out of El Niño and into La Niña. Warmer waters provide more energy for storms, and La Niña “typically increases Atlantic hurricane activity through decreases in vertical wind shear.” Ocean temperatures last year were the hottest ever recorded, driven by both El Niño and climate change from burning fossil fuels. “A key area of the Atlantic Ocean where hurricanes form is already abnormally warm,” explainedThe New York Times, “much warmer than an ideal swimming pool temperature of about 80 degrees and on the cusp of feeling more like warm bathtub water.” The oceans have absorbed 90% of the excessive heat generated by greenhouse gas emissions, according to the United Nations.

2. Ford delays some EVs, refocuses on hybrids

Ford is delaying production of its next-generation electric pickup and its long-awaited three-row electric SUV, with the vehicles now set to be available in 2026 and 2027, respectively. In the near-term, the company plans to follow market trends by focusing on hybrids. Sales of hybrids climbed last quarter by 45% in the U.S., compared with 2.7% growth in sales for EVs. And more than half of the Ford Maverick compact pickup trucks sold last quarter had conventional hybrid engines, “a sign of how rapidly hybrids and plug-in hybrids are ascending in the American car market,” says Heatmap’s Robinson Meyer. Ford plans to offer hybrid versions of its entire gas-powered lineup in North America by 2030. “We are committed to scaling a profitable EV business, using capital wisely and bringing to market the right gas, hybrid and fully electric vehicles at the right time,” said Ford president and CEO Jim Farley.

Get Heatmap AM directly in your inbox every morning:

* indicates required
  • 3. Alsym raises $78 million for lithium-free batteries

    A Boston-based battery startup called Alsym Energy has raised $78 million in a new funding round. The company has created a rechargeable battery that’s lithium- and cobalt-free, which means it’s less flammable and not as vulnerable to supply shortages. As VentureBeatexplained: “When it comes to batteries, we’ve put all our eggs in one basket. Non-lithium batteries help diversify the global battery mix so that lithium-ion supply chain disruptions or pricing volatility don’t derail the clean energy transition.” The company will use the new funds to hire more people and build production lines to provide samples to customers, according toTechCrunch.

    4. Germany debates autobahn speed limits for CO2 cuts

    Germany’s transport minister dismissed reports that the country’s autobahn may introduce speed limits in order to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Germany is unique among industrialized countries in that many of its highways have no nationwide speed limits. Studies suggest lowering top speeds to 75mph could cut 6.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year. Germany aims to become carbon neutral by 2045, but the country’s transport sector has been the slowest to cut emissions, reported Reuters. Support for speed limits has been growing, even though Transport Minister Volker Wissing said “people don’t want that,” according toPolitico.

    5. Disneyland’s Autopia ride will get rid of gas-powered cars

    Disneyland’s Autopia ride is ditching its gas-powered cars and going electric as part of its plan to reach net-zero emissions by 2030. The attraction, which lets visitors drive around a miniature motorway in small cars, is located at Disneyland’s Tomorrowland in Anaheim, California. When Tomorrowland opened in 1955, Walt Disney called it “a step into the future, with predictions of constructive things to come.” But Autopia’s existing cars are loud and produce noxious fumes, prompting complaints from visitors and climate activists alike. This week Disney announced it will swap them out for electric versions “in the next few years,” though it didn’t say whether the new cars would be fully electric or hybrid. Bob Gurr, who helped Walt design Tomorrowland in the ‘50s, told the Los Angeles Times it’s time to “get rid of those God-awful gasoline fumes.”

    YouTube/Disneyland Resort

    THE KICKER

    “The transition to all-electric buildings is so well underway that legal obstacles thrown up by the fossil fuel industry and its allies won’t be enough to stop it.” –The LA Times editorial board says Berkeley’s decision to abandon its natural gas ban is just a “bump in the road.”

    Yellow
    Jessica  Hullinger profile image

    Jessica Hullinger

    Jessica Hullinger is a freelance writer and editor who likes to think deeply about climate science and sustainability. She previously served as Global Deputy Editor for The Week, and her writing has been featured in publications including Fast Company, Popular Science, and Fortune. Jessica is originally from Indiana but lives in London.

    Bitcoin becoming the sun.
    Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

    Categorizing Crusoe Energy is not easy. The startup is a Bitcoin miner and data center operator. It’s a “high-performance” and “carbon-negative” cloud platform provider. It’s a darling of the clean tech world that’s raised nearly $750 million in funding. The company has historically powered its operations with natural gas, but its overall business model actually reduces emissions. Confused yet?

    Here are the basics. The company was founded in 2018 to address the problem of natural gas flaring. Natural gas is a byproduct of oil extraction, and if oil field operators have no economical use case for the gas or are unable to transfer it elsewhere, it’s often simply burned. If you, like me, have spent time sourcing stock images of air pollution, you’ve probably seen the pictures of giant flames coming out of tall smokestacks near oil pump jacks and other drilling infrastructure. That’s what flaring natural gas looks like, and it is indeed terrible for the environment. That’s largely because the process fails to fully combust methane, which is the primary component of natural gas and 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 20 year period.

    Keep reading...Show less
    Yellow
    Climate

    AM Briefing: Displacement Fears

    On the Biden administration’s carbon removal investments, the climate refugees of Brazil, and more

    Wednesday sunrise.
    Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

    Current conditions: More storms and possible tornadoes are forecast to hit Texas and the Plains, where millions of people are still without power • Cyclone Remal, the first tropical storm of the season, killed at least 23 people in India and Bangladesh • Brazilian authorities are investigating up to 800 suspected cases of waterborne illness following unprecedented flooding over the past month.

    THE TOP FIVE

    1. Biden administration invests in carbon removal

    The Department of Energy on Tuesday gave $1.2 million to companies competing for a chance to sell carbon removal credits to the federal government. These 24 semifinalists, which were each awarded $50,000, include nine direct air capture projects, seven biomass projects, five enhanced rock weathering projects, and three marine-based projects. Up to 10 of them will be offered federal contracts amounting to $30 million. “The Department of Energy hopes that by selecting 24 companies that have been vetted by government scientists, it’s sending a signal to the private sector that there are at least some projects that are legitimate,” Heatmap’s Emily Pontecorvo writes, referencing struggles in the broader carbon credits marketplace.

    Keep reading...Show less
    Yellow
    Technology

    Carbon Removal’s Stamp of Approval

    The Department of Energy is advancing 24 companies in its purchase prize contest. What these companies are getting is more important than $50,000.

    Heirloom DAC.
    Heatmap Illustration/Heirloom Carbon

    The Department of Energy is advancing its first-of-a-kind program to stimulate demand for carbon removal by becoming a major buyer. On Tuesday, the agency awarded $50,000 to each of 24 semifinalist companies competing to suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere on behalf of the U.S. government. It will eventually spend $30 million to buy carbon removal credits from up to 10 winners.

    The nascent carbon removal industry is desperate for customers. At a conference held in New York City last week called Carbon Unbound, startup CEOs brainstormed how to convince more companies to buy carbon removal as part of their sustainability strategies. On the sidelines, attendees lamented to me that there were hardly even any potential buyers at the conference — what a missed opportunity.

    Keep reading...Show less
    Yellow