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Politics

What Happened to Running Tide?

On the abrupt end of a carbon removal startup, Mecca’s extreme heat, and fireflies

What Happened to Running Tide?
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Current conditions: Flooding in Abidjan, Ivory Coast’s largest city, killed at least eight people • A heat advisory remains in effect across many Northeastern states • A “winter” storm could bring up to 15 inches of snow to parts of Montana and Idaho.

THE TOP FIVE

1. At least 14 pilgrims die from extreme heat during Hajj trip to Mecca

At least 14 Jordanians died over the weekend from exposure to extreme heat during the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. Another 17 pilgrims are missing. The holy trip, which all Muslims are encouraged to make during their lifetimes, began Friday and will run until Wednesday. It is expected to attract nearly 2 million people. But temperatures this year are dangerously hot, reaching 110 degrees Fahrenheit Sunday and forecast to stay in that range through the rest of the week. As Heatmap’s Jeva Lange explained last year, “because the dates of the annual Hajj are dictated by the lunar calendar, the pilgrimage season has fallen during Saudi Arabia’s hottest months since 2017 and won’t move out of them until 2026.”

2. Ocean carbon removal company Running Tide shuts down

Carbon removal startup Running Tide is shutting down and laying off all its remaining employees, citing a lack of demand for the voluntary carbon market. The Portland-based company was founded in 2017. Its technology involved sinking biomass to speed up the ocean’s CO2-capturing capabilities, and with 25,000 tons of carbon dioxide removed and 21,000 credits delivered, it was “the largest company in the world to trap carbon without taking it directly from the air or point of emission,” the Portland Press Heraldreported. In March of last year, Running Tide signed a deal with Microsoft to remove 12,000 tons of CO2e over two years. Shopify was also a partner. But the startup began laying off employees in November after offset prices began to plummet and questions arose about the environmental benefits of the voluntary carbon market. CEO Marty Odlin told the Press Herald that a lack of investment from the U.S. government also stunted the company’s growth. “This was still at research scale,” he said. “This needs to be a thousand times larger at industrial scale and it’s going to take a ton of government leadership to get us there.”

3. CEO of NextEra criticizes Biden’s China tariffs

Rebecca Kujawa, the CEO of NextEra Energy Resources, which is the largest renewables developer in the U.S., told the Financial Times that President Biden’s tariffs on Chinese clean energy technologies create uncertainty that can hinder development, hike costs, “and make it more difficult to get some of the clean energy goals that the Biden administration has over the finish line.” The White House has a goal for the U.S. of 80% renewable energy generation by 2030 and 100% carbon-free electricity by 2035. Biden imposed a new round of tariffs last month in an effort to protect U.S. manufacturers from cheap Chinese imports of things like solar panels and EVs. The FT noted the tariffs “underscore the difficult balancing act facing the Biden administration as it vies to green the world’s largest economy while building out a supply chain for clean technologies, the bulk of which are produced in China.”

4. Study finds climate change strongly affects fireflies

Long-term weather patterns are some of the most important factors when it comes to the health of fireflies in North America, according to a new study published in the journal Science of the Total Environment. The researchers used machine learning models to analyze data from more than 24,000 surveys of firefly behavior and rank the importance of certain risk factors (like pesticides, light pollution, land cover, topography, and weather/climate patterns) on the insects’ populations. Their results point to more frequent hot days as one of the most “predictive” variables, meaning that firefly populations seem more vulnerable to changes in climate than to other factors like chemical sprays or artificial light. The researchers say that, “given the significant impact that climactic and weather conditions have on firefly abundance, there is a strong likelihood that firefly populations will be influenced by climate change, with some regions becoming higher quality and supporting larger firefly populations, and others potentially losing populations altogether.”

5. EU approves ‘Nature Restoration Law’

The European Union this morning approved a landmark environmental policy, paving the way for it to become law. The long-awaited “Nature Restoration Law” aims to restore ecosystems, bolster biodiversity, and help the bloc achieve its climate objectives. More than 80% of Europe’s habitats are in poor condition. The new law will require member states to restore at least 20% of their land and seas by 2030, with the aim of restoring all struggling ecosystems by 2050. Some countries opposed the measure due to concerns it will slow the expansion of new energy projects.

THE KICKER

“You’ll never find an insurer saying, ‘I don’t believe in climate change.’”John Neal, chief executive of Lloyd’s of London, the world’s largest insurance marketplace

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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.

Politics

AM Briefing: A Quick RNC Energy Recap

On Doug Burgum’s speech, green steel, and electric jets

What Republicans Have Been Saying About Energy at the RNC
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Current conditions: The Acropolis in Greece was closed yesterday due to excessive heat • The Persian Gulf International Airport recorded a heat index of 149 degrees Fahrenheit • Recent flooding in Brazil exposed a 233-million-year-old dinosaur fossil.

THE TOP FIVE

1. Republicans slam Biden energy policy at RNC

Energy hasn’t dominated the conversation at the Republican National Convention this week, but it’s certainly been a talking point. Last night North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum gave a speech focusing on the topic. “Teddy Roosevelt encouraged America to speak softly and carry a big stick,” Burgum said. “Energy dominance will be the big stick that President Trump will carry.” He accused President Biden of making Russia and Iran “filthy rich” with his energy policies, blamed him for higher electric bills and grid problems, and said “four more years of Joe will usher in an era of Biden brownouts and blackouts.” Oh, and he promised that Trump would “let all of you keep driving your gas-powered cars.” CNN called the speech “Burgum’s audition to be energy secretary.”

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Technology

Florida’s Climate Tech Hub Has a Florida Problem

One of the most vulnerable states in the U.S. wants nothing to do with “climate change.”

A Florida postcard.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

The Biden administration loves a hub. There are the hydrogen hubs, the direct air capture hubs, and now there are the tech hubs. Established as a part of the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, the $10 billion program has so far seeded 12 such hubs across the country. Four of these are focused on clean energy and sustainability, and one is located in the great state of Florida, which recently passed legislation essentially deleting the words “climate change” from state law.

The South Florida ClimateReady Tech Hub did not, in the end, eliminate climate from its name. But while Governor Ron DeSantis might not approve, the federal government didn’t seem to mind, as the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration awarded the hub $19.5 million to “advance its global leadership in sustainable and resilient infrastructure.”

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Climate

America Wasn’t Built for This

Why extreme heat messes with infrastructure.

Teton Pass.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

America is melting. Roads are buckling everywhere from Houston to Aurora, Colorado, and in June caused traffic jams in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Last week, a New York City bridge that had opened to let a ship pass got stuck after expanding in the heat, forcing thousands of commuters to detour. The mid-June heat wave led to thousands of flight delays; more recently, even Toronto’s Pearson International Airport warned travelers to brace for heat-related complications. Commuters along Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor have been harried by heat-induced delays for weeks.

The train delays have affected an especially large population. The Northeast Corridor is the most trafficked commuter rail system in the country, with over 750,000 daily commuters. In late June, Amtrak notified customers that trains in the corridor could face delays of up to an hour in the coming weeks as heat interfered with tracks and overhead power lines. Since it issued that warning, tens of thousands of people have experienced heat-related delays.

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