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Culture

It’s Getting Hot in Houston. Thousands Are Without Power.

On trouble in Texas, Tesla’s shareholders, and the pope

It’s Getting Hot in Houston. Thousands Are Without Power.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Current conditions: Schools are closed in Delhi due to intense heat • A freak storm dropped fist-sized hail stones on a city in northern Poland • Forecasters are expecting more tornadoes in the Midwest today.

THE TOP FIVE

1. Houston power outages persist as temperatures soar

Many households remain without power in Houston after the severe storms that tore through the area last Thursday. About 150,000 people were still waiting for the lights to come back on as of Monday night, and the weather is getting hot, with temperatures lingering around 90 degrees Fahrenheit and the heat index nearing 100F. Anyone without access to power and air conditioning is suffering. The city has opened dozens of cooling centers to help provide relief. The region’s power provider, CenterPoint Energy, said it expects restoration efforts to continue into Wednesday.

X/NWSHouston

2. Tesla shareholder group targets Musk pay package

A group of Tesla shareholders including New York City Comptroller Brad Lander, SOC Investment Group, Amalgamated Bank, and others, have written to company investors urging them to vote against CEO Elon Musk’s $56 billion pay package next month, The Wall Street Journalreported. “Even as Tesla’s performance is floundering, the board has yet to ensure that Tesla has a full-time CEO who is adequately focused on the long-term sustainable success of our company,” the shareholder group wrote. Shareholders will vote at the company’s annual meeting on June 13 on whether to re-ratify Musk’s 2018 pay package, which a judge voided in January. The letter also says shareholders should not vote to re-elect board members Kimbal Musk (Elon’s brother) and James Murdoch (Elon’s friend), suggesting they are too closely tied to the CEO.

3. Battery fire at California energy storage site finally extinguished

A fire at a battery storage site in San Diego County appears to have been extinguished after burning on and off for multiple days and nights, reported Heatmap’s Matthew Zeitlin. “There is no visible smoke or active fire at the scene,” Cal Fire, the state fire protection agency, said in an update yesterday. The fire started sometime Wednesday at the Gateway Energy Storage facility, a 250 megawatt battery electric storage system in Otay Mesa, which is immediately adjacent both to the eastern border of San Diego and to the northern border of Mexico and near the Richard J. Donovan state prison facility. Fires have been a recurring problem for the battery electric storage industry, which may be one reason why, according to Heatmap polling, it is the form of carbon-free power least popular with the general public.

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  • 4. Pope calls climate change a ‘road to death’

    Pope Francis has called climate change “a road to death” in an interview with CBS Evening News. “Unfortunately, we have gotten to a point of no return,” he said. “It’s sad, but that’s what it is. Global warming is a serious problem.” The pope has been very outspoken about the climate crisis, urging governments to stop using fossil fuels and pitching the state of the environment as a moral issue. Last week the Vatican hosted a climate conference that focused on building resilience as the crisis intensifies. It culminated in the signing of a protocol that urges wealthy nations to finance adaptation and protection for the world’s poorest, and calls for an end to fossil fuel subsidies, among other priorities.

    5. Light-duty EVs overtake rail on U.S. electricity usage

    Here’s an interesting little statistic for you: In 2023, light-duty electric vehicles consumed more electricity than the nation’s railways, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Annual railway electricity usage has hovered around 7,000 Gigawatt hours (GWh) since 2003, making it the largest electricity end-use category in the transportation sector. But that changed last year when EVs took the top spot, using 7,596 GWh. The EIA notes this is nearly five times the amount of electricity EVs consumed in 2018. The numbers underscore two trends: the limited expansion of U.S. rail, and the explosive growth of EV sales.

    EIA

    THE KICKER

    “I just watch their jaws drop and the surprise of ‘Where did this come from? This is an hour outside of Boise?’” –Chris Geroro, a fly fisher in southeastern Oregon, describes the beauty of the Owyhee River watershed, one of the country’s largest areas of pristine wilderness that is also prime for green development.

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    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.

    Climate

    AM Briefing: Here Comes Alberto

    On the tropical system in the Gulf, advanced nuclear reactors, and hybrid jet engines

    Texas Is Bracing for the First Named Storm of Hurricane Season
    Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

    Current conditions: Heat records are falling across the Midwest and Northeast while parts of the Pacific Northwest are seeing late-season snow • Wildfires in New Mexico have burned more than 20,000 acres • Nighttime temperatures remained near 100 degrees Fahrenheit in northern India.

    THE TOP FIVE

    1. Tropical storm takes aim at Texas

    A weather system churning in the Gulf of Mexico could become the first named storm in what is expected to be a very busy hurricane season. Tropical Storm One, as it’s currently known, is “large but disorganized,” but is forecast to coalesce into Tropical Storm Alberto sometime today as it moves toward the coasts of Mexico and Texas and makes landfall tonight or tomorrow morning. A tropical storm warning was already issued for the Texas coast, indicating that high winds are on the way. Flash flooding is also very likely, especially across South Texas, where six to 10 inches of rain could fall.

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    Did Climate Change Do It?

    An extreme weather whodunit.

    Sherlock Holmes inspecting a hurricane.
    Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

    Maybe you’re reading this in a downpour. Perhaps you’re reading it because you have questions about the upcoming hurricane season. Or maybe you’re reading it because you’re one of the 150 million Americans enduring record-breaking temperatures in this week’s heat dome.

    Whatever the reason, you have a question: Is this climate change?

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    How China’s EV Industry Got So Big

    Inside episode 20 of Shift Key.

    Chinese EVs.
    Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

    China’s electric vehicle industry has driven itself to the center of the global conversation. Its automakers produce dozens of affordable, technologically advanced electric vehicles that rival — and often beat — anything coming out of Europe or North America. The United States and the European Union have each levied tariffs on its car exports in the past few months, hoping to avoid a “China shock” to their domestic car industries.

    Ilaria Mazzocco has watched China’s EV industry grow from a small regional experiment into a planet-reshaping juggernaut. She is now a senior fellow with the Trustee Chair in Chinese Business and Economics at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.

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