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Technology

Why VW and Rivian are Teaming Up

On a major EV joint venture, livestock taxes, and tipping points

Why VW and Rivian are Teaming Up
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Current conditions: Puerto Rico issued a heat advisory for the entire island for the first time ever • Flooding and landslides in Ivory Coast left at least 24 people dead • A fast-growing wildfire in central Oregon prompted evacuations.

THE TOP FIVE

1. Volkswagen and Rivian team up in $5 billion joint venture

Volkswagen announced it will invest $5 billion ($1 billion now, another $4 billion over a few years) in EV pickup company Rivian as part of a joint venture “to create next generation software-defined vehicle (SDV) platforms to be used in both companies’ future electric vehicles.” The move will give VW access to Rivian’s technology, and Rivian a much-needed financial lifeline as it tries to launch its new R2 vehicles while cutting production costs. Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe said the money will allow Rivian to move ahead with plans to build a new manufacturing plant in Georgia. The news sent Rivian’s stock soaring, and Scaringe said the cash will help the company reach profitability. The company reported a $5.4 billion net loss last year.

2. Cybertruck recalled for 4th time since November

Tesla’s Cybertruck was recalled again yesterday. This time, Tesla says the recall (which applies to more than 11,000 trucks) addresses a faulty front windshield wiper, and trim pieces that can apparently fly off the vehicle and hit people nearby. This is the pickup’s fourth recall since sales began last November. The wiper will be replaced free of charge. As for the trim, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Tesla will apply an “adhesion promoter and pressure sensitive tape” to make sure it stays in place, or replace it if it’s already missing.

3. Researchers identify new ‘tipping point’ for melting ice sheets

Our current projections for sea level rise from the melting ice sheets may be “significant underestimates,” according to a new study published in the journal Nature Geoscience. The researchers said they identified a potential melting process by which warm seawater makes its way into the gap between the ice and the ground beneath it, known as the “grounding zone.” This water melts holes in the ice, allowing more warm water through, creating a feedback loop. “We find that grounding zone melting displays a ‘tipping point like’ behavior, where a very small change in ocean temperature can cause a very big increase in grounding zone melting, which would lead to a very big change in flow of the ice above it,” said Alex Bradley, an ice dynamics researcher at the British Antarctic Survey and lead author of the new paper. Bradley said this finding could help explain why the ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland are melting faster than scientists would expect, and called for incorporating seawater intrusion into the existing models.

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  • 4. Heat waves are shaping Americans’ summer vacation plans

    Data from Booking.com shows how the heat waves baking the U.S. are influencing Americans’ summer travel plans. Nearly 64% of vacationers indicated that rising local temperatures were a factor in their choice of vacation spot for the July 4 holiday, and about one-third of travelers are considering coastal areas, hoping that proximity to water will keep temperatures cool, Reutersreported. Panama City Beach, Florida, and Myrtle Beach in South Carolina were among the destinations seeing a rise in searches.

    5. Denmark will become first country in the world to tax farmers for methane-emitting livestock

    In a world first, Denmark will start taxing farmers for the methane their livestock emit. Methane is a very potent greenhouse gas, and livestock are a major source of emissions because ruminant animals like cows belch the stuff. Denmark’s new measure will charge farmers the equivalent of about $17 per ton of carbon dioxide equivalent starting in 2030, increasing to roughly $28 by 2035. According toThe Associated Press, a typical Danish cow produces methane emissions equivalent to 6.6 tons of CO2, so the new tax could add up to about $112 per year per cow in 2030, jumping to nearly $185 per cow per year by 2035. The hope is that other countries follow Denmark’s lead and that the tax will “lay the groundwork for a restructured food industry.”

    THE KICKER

    “We have fought many wars over oil. We will fight bigger wars over food and water.” Sunny Verghese, chief executive of Singapore-based agricultural trading house Olam Agri, speaking to the Financial Times

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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.

    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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    Climate

    AM Briefing: Turbine Troubles

    On broken blades, COP29, and the falling price of used electric vehicles

    Vineyard Wind Is Having Turbine Troubles
    Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

    Current conditions: Torrential rain brought flash flooding to Toronto • A wildfire on the Hawaiian island of Kauai has been contained • Parts of southern Spain could hit 111 degrees Fahrenheit this week.

    THE TOP FIVE

    1. Intense heat waves and thunderstorms torment millions of Americans

    The extreme heat wave over the East Coast may very well break a record in Washington, D.C., today that was set during the 1930s Dust Bowl: the longest stretch of days with temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The mercury yesterday hit 104 degrees, after similarly scorching numbers on Monday and Sunday, tying the existing record of three days. The National Weather Service forecasts a high of 98 degrees for Wednesday but The Washington Post said there’s “an outside chance that it hits 100 (or higher).” Either way, with humidity at 55%, it will feel torturously hot, with a potential heat index of 110 degrees. An “Extended Heat Emergency” is in effect in the city through today. Nearly 75 major cities across the Northeast, South, and Southwest are currently facing dangerous heat levels, according to The New York Times.

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