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Sea Turtles Have a Guy Problem

Climate change has done a number on the sex ratio.

A sea turtle.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Florida’s green sea turtles are making a comeback — sort of.

They had their best-ever nesting season in 2023, with 74,300 nests — a 40% increase over the previous record, set in 2017, The New York Timesreports. But this welcome news comes with an unsettling catch: The percentage of male turtle hatchlings has dropped precipitously. In recent seasons, according to the Times, “Between 87 and 100 percent of the hatchlings” tested by Dr. Jeanette Wyneken, a professor at Florida Atlantic University, were female.

Climate change is a likely contributor to the imbalance, as a green sea turtle’s sex is determined by the temperature of the sand in which its egg develops. Warmer sand results in more females; cooler sand, more males. In the short term, this might benefit the turtles, with more females able to produce more eggs once they reach maturity (providing “there’s enough boys to service the girls,” as Dr. Wyneken put it). But another side effect of the changing climate is that extreme heat dries out the turtles’ nests — killing the baby turtles before they’ve had a chance to hatch.

As with so much else in the natural world, such news is a case of two steps forward, one step back (or, perhaps, one flipper-crawl back). Thanks in part to decades of conservation efforts, 2023 has also seen record green sea turtle nest counts in Texas and Alabama — and while such milestones are a cause to celebrate, climate change’s effects on the resulting offspring are a reminder that there is always more work to do.

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Jacob Lambert

Jacob is Heatmap's founding multimedia editor. Before joining Heatmap, he was The Week's digital art director and an associate editor at MAD magazine. Read More

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Sparks

Coal’s Slowdown Is Slowing Down

Rising electricity demand puts reliability back on the table.

Pollution.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

The United States has been able to drive its greenhouse gas emissions to their lowest level since the early 1990s largely by reducing the amount of energy on the grid generated by coal to a vast extent. In 2005, by far the predominant source of U.S. electricity, making up some 2.2 million gigawatt-hours of the country’s 4.3 million GWh total energy consumption, according to the International Energy Agency. In 2022, by contrast, coal generation was down to 900,000 GWh out of 4.5 million GWh generated. As a result, “U.S. emissions are 15.8% lower than 2005 levels, while power emissions are 40% lower than 2005 levels,” according to BloombergNEF and the Business Council for Sustainable Energy.

But the steady retirement of coal plants may be slowing down. Only 2.3 GW of coal generating capacity are set to be shut down so far in 2024, according to the Energy Information Administration. While in 2025, that number is expect to jump up to 10.9 GW, the combined 13.2 GW of retired capacity pales in comparison of the more than 22 GW retired in the past two years, according to EIA figures. Over the past decade, coal retirements have averaged about 10 GW a year, with actual retirements often outpacing forecasts.

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Trump Thinks EV Charging Will Cost $3 Trillion — Which Is Incorrect

Nor will charging infrastructure ”bankrupt” the U.S.

Electric car charging.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Shortly after being fined $350 million (more than $450 million, including interest) over fraudulent business practices and then booed at Sneaker Con, former President Donald Trump traveled to Waterford, Michigan, where he said some incorrect things about electric vehicles.

Even by Trump’s recent standards, Saturday’s Waterford rally was a bit kooky. During his nearly hour-and-a-half-long speech, the former president claimed that his opponents are calling him a whale (“I don’t know if they meant a whale from the standpoint of being a little heavy, or a whale because I got a lot of money”) and, improbably, claimed not to have known what the word “indictment” meant.

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This Chicken Named Potato Will Teach Your Kids About Climate Change

A chicken from the future, to be clear.

Future Chicken.
Heatmap Illustration/CBC, Getty Images

If I told you there was a chicken named Potato who was going to teach our kids about climate change, would you think I was kidding? Either way, I’m here to inform you that Future Chicken, an “ECOtainment platform” co-created by Catherine Winder and Annabel Slaight, launched last year, including original content like a TV show that airs on CBC and YouTube, games, and a podcast, all aimed at warding off climate doom and instead highlighting climate solutions.

Winder and Slaight have, to put it mildly, impressive resumes, with Slaight having been an executive producer of The Big Comfy Couch and Winder a force behind multiple Angry Birds movies. The show’s premise is fun, and was actually thought up by kids. The main character is a chicken (named Potato) from the year 2050, a time when climate change has seemingly been solved. She travels back and forth between the future and the present, sometimes talking about the solutions of her time.

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