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. Read MoreRead More
San Diego Got a Month's Worth of Rain in 3 Hours
On flooding in California, roomy EVs, and why spider webs might get bigger
Current conditions: Wildfires are raging around the Colombian capital of Bogotá • Storm Isha is moving away from the U.K., but Storm Jocelyn is approaching • It’s 35 degrees Fahrenheit and cloudy in New Hampshire, where voters will head to the polls in the first presidential primary of 2024.
THE TOP FIVE
1. Extreme rainfall floods San Diego
San Diego’s mayor declared a state of emergency Monday after the city experienced its wettest January day on record. More than a month’s worth of rain fell in just three hours, flooding streets, washing away cars, and inundating homes. “The whole house is, like, under mud,” resident Lara Lockwood toldThe New York Times. “It is very overwhelming. I don’t even know where to start.” At least 24 people had to be rescued from nearby rivers. Researchers say climate change is making rain storms more intense. “When it’s raining, it’s raining more,” climate scientist Ryan Harp toldThe Washington Post.
2. Reviewers give thumbs up to Kia EV9’s novel third row
First-drive reviews are trickling in for Kia’s EV9, “an all-electric SUV with three rows that many believe will bring a whole new batch of EV customers into the market,” said Kirsten Korosec at TechCrunch. It’s super quiet, feels nice on the road, and looks incredibly cool. But what about that third row? The consensus seems to be: It’s nice to have, but it could be bigger.
- “I wouldn’t want to spend hours back there, but it’s totally workable for a quick ‘everybody pile in to go to dinner’ situation.” –Arstechnica
- “The EV9 delivered much more room than most third rows I’ve ever experienced, especially in EVs. … Younger people looking to start families and go electric have been waiting for a vehicle like this, and I don’t think it will disappoint.” –Electrek
- “The third row isn’t exactly spacious, but certainly better than many three-row SUVs I have been in.” – TechCrunch
- “The third row wants for leg room but not head room, and the middle row slides to mitigate some of that.” –Autocar
3. VP Harris touts Biden's $1 trillion in climate spending
The Biden administration wants to drum up enthusiasm about its climate track record ahead of Election Day 2024, and it seems to have landed on an unusual strategy: Boast about how much money it has spent. Vice President Kamala Harris has been telling crowds that she and Biden have invested $1 trillion in climate initiatives. The figure “doesn’t align with one of the chief metrics observers have used to measure the administration’s climate agenda: $369 billion,” reportedE&E News. So where did it come from? Simple arithmetic, the White House said. “She is referencing all of the clean energy, resilience, environmental justice, and innovation funding that is part of our historic effort to address the climate crisis, increase resilience, advance environmental justice, and build a clean energy economy,” a White House spokesperson told E&E News. While right-wing critics say the spending has been excessive, the administration is hoping it will show climate-oriented voters that Biden cares, and motivate them to vote.
4. Report: Benefits of storing carbon in soil ‘too good to be true’
The carbon sequestration benefits of regenerative farming have been overexaggerated, reports the Financial Times, as agribusiness giants look for new ways to offset their emissions. Regenerative agriculture aims to improve soil quality by avoiding pesticides and fertilizers, planting cover crops, and leaving fields untilled. Healthier soil can store more carbon, which is why big polluters in food production are committing money and land to regenerative practices. But the soil sequestration movement is undermined by murky measurements and a lack of clear guidelines and definitions from the agrifood industry: Just 18 of the 50 projects using regenerative agriculture offered quantitative targets, the FT reported. Industries seem to be ignoring the fact that soil can only hold so much carbon before emissions rise again, and that carbon stored in soil isn’t trapped forever.
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5. Scientists are worried about missing Arctic climate data from Russia
A lack of scientific data out of Russia is limiting our understanding of how climate change is altering the Arctic, according to a new study published in Nature Climate Change. Nearly half of the Arctic’s landmass is located in Russia, and after the invasion of Ukraine, Moscow stopped sharing data from its Arctic monitoring stations. “This has potentially global consequences for important processes such as permafrost thawing, shifts in biodiversity, or even greenhouse gas emissions,” said the study’s lead author Efren Lopez-Blanco. The Arctic is warming faster than the rest of the planet, and monitoring what happens in the region can help researchers predict how global warming will affect the globe.
Global warming may cause some spider species to increase the size of their webs by around 80%.