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Culture

Welcome to Heatmap

We hope to do climate coverage a little differently.

Climate change and clean energy.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Let us tell you a story about a force that’s reshaping everything you care about. It’s a story of parched earth and rising tides, great power rivalries and massive infrastructure projects, the food we eat and the homes we build, ultra-fast cars and the richest man in the world. It’s the story of climate change, and it’s what we’re focused on here at Heatmap.

I started Heatmap because I wanted to read it. I was hungry to discover the details, nuances, and hard choices of climate change, because that’s where the most interesting and important parts of any story lie. I wanted stories that go beyond the basics and approach the topic as the all-encompassing epic it is.

After all, think of how many important stories had climate change or energy at their center over the past year. There’s President Biden’s climate legislation, his biggest accomplishment to date. There’s the war in Ukraine, which is being waged by a petro-state and has sent the world hurtling towards decarbonization. There’s inflation, driven by fossil fuels and energy shortages. In Silicon Valley, venture funding is pouring into climate tech at a record clip and the world’s digital public square was recently acquired by an erratic electric vehicle mogul. Meanwhile on Apple TV next week, a climate show premieres starring Edward Norton, Meryl Streep, Kit Harington, and Diane Lane.

There’s a lot to cover.

Heatmap is made up of an incredible group of journalists and media veterans who are interested in telling the same stories and diving into the same details as I am. Some of us come to Heatmap with deep climate expertise. Others come fresh to the topic from relevant backgrounds, like politics or economics or culture. (I come from The Week, where I dabbled in a bit of everything.)

All of us are grateful for you reading us today as we get started. If you enjoy what you read, I hope you’ll consider supporting our work with a subscription so we can continue to pursue this fascinating, vital story in all its detail.

Thank you,

Nico Lauricella
Founder and editor in chief

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Nico Lauricella profile image

Nico Lauricella

Nico is the founder and editor in chief of Heatmap. He was previously the editor in chief of The Week online.

Electric Vehicles

AM Briefing: Tesla’s Delay

On Musk’s latest move, Arctic shipping, and China’s natural disasters

Tesla Is Delaying the Robotaxi Reveal
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Current conditions: Heavy rains triggered a deadly landslide in Nepal that swept away 60 people • More than a million residents are still without power in and around Houston • It will be about 80 degrees Fahrenheit in Berlin on Sunday for the Euro 2024 final, where England will take on Spain.

THE TOP FIVE

1. Biden administration announces $1.7 billion to convert auto plants into EV factories

The Biden administration announced yesterday that the Energy Department will pour $1.7 billion into helping U.S. automakers convert shuttered or struggling manufacturing facilities into EV factories. The money will go to factories in eight states (including swing states Michigan and Pennsylvania) and recipients include Stellantis, Volvo, GM, and Harley-Davidson. Most of the funding comes from the Inflation Reduction Act and it could create nearly 3,000 new jobs and save 15,000 union positions at risk of elimination, the Energy Department said. “Agencies across the federal government are rushing to award the rest of their climate cash before the end of Biden’s first term,” The Washington Post reported.

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Politics

What the Conventional Wisdom Gets Wrong About Trump and the IRA

Anything decarbonization-related is on the chopping block.

Donald Trump holding the IRA.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

The Biden administration has shoveled money from the Inflation Reduction Act out the door as fast as possible this year, touting the many benefits all that cash has brought to Republican congressional districts. Many — in Washington, at think tanks and non-profits, among developers — have found in this a reason to be calm about the law’s fate. But this is incorrect. The IRA’s future as a climate law is in a far more precarious place than the Beltway conventional wisdom has so far suggested.

Shortly after the changing of the guard in Congress and the White House, policymakers will begin discussing whether to extend the Trump-era tax cuts, which expire at the end of 2025. If they opt to do so, they’ll try to find a way to pay for it — and if Republicans win big in the November elections, as recent polling and Democratic fretting suggests could happen, the IRA will be an easy target.

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Climate

AM Briefing: A Wind and Solar Milestone

On the rise of renewables, peak oil, and carbon capture

U.S. Wind and Solar Just Hit a Power Milestone
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Current conditions: More than 10 inches of rain fell over nine hours in southwestern China • Wildfires are spreading in Canada, with at least 140 burning as of yesterday afternoon • The streets of Cape Town in South Africa are under water after severe storms caused widespread flooding.

THE TOP FIVE

1. Wind and solar surpass nuclear in U.S. electricity generation

More electricity was generated by wind and solar than by nuclear plants in the first half of 2024 for the first time ever in U.S. history, Reutersreported, citing data from energy think tank Ember. Solar and wind farms generated 401.4 terawatt hours (TWh) compared to 390.5 TWh generated from nuclear reactors, setting 2024 on pace to be the “first full year when more U.S. electricity will come from renewables than from any other form of clean power.” It’s helpful to compare these numbers to the same period last year, when nuclear generated 9% more power than solar and wind. Solar saw the greatest gains, with output 30% higher in the first half of 2024 compared to 2023; wind generation was up 10% and nuclear was up just 3.4%. Between 2018 and 2023, installed capacity grew by 168% for utility solar and 56% for wind. Meanwhile, nuclear generation capacity dropped by 4%.

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