By all accounts and as previously mentioned here on our site 2018 was a pretty awful year for the environment, although it seems that each year successively continues to break records from all previous years, a dubious honor to say the least.
For those of us who may need to have our memory jogged a bit, here’s a very short list of the natural disasters that were made worse by climate change. The Camp Fire and the Woolsey Fire in California burned almost 250,000 acres of land. Hurricanes Florence and Michael, both category 4 storms, battered the Carolinas and The Florida Panhandle respectively. Europe, Argentina and Australia have all been suffering from crippling droughts. Cape Town, a city of almost 3.7 million people almost ran completely out of water.
Since the Trump administration has taken office it has done it’s very best to roll back as many of Obama’s environmental rules as possible. An article from The Guardian gave a very nice summary of some of these rollbacks, “Trump officials are weakening a rule that would speed a shift away from electricity made from burning coal. They are also loosening standards for how companies discard coal ash, despite the fact that it is spilling into waterways in North Carolina following Hurricane Florence. They are freezing mandates that new cars use less gasoline and pollute less, and they are cutting limits on potent methane gas released by the oil industry. The EPA is also rejecting science that shows some pesticides make people sick.”
However to say that 2018 was a complete disappointment would be to ignore some seriously positive momentum forward towards addressing climate change and our environmental crisis in general.
The election cycle of 2018 finally saw Climate Change take almost center stage in politics, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in particular was vocal in demanding a Green New Deal as part of her platform.
Plummeting prices for wind and solar, utilities are increasingly ditching fossil fuels and pledging to build out or convert more of their portfolios to renewables.
Europe continues to lead with aggressive policy changes, whether its Denmark continuing it’s commitment to be fossil free by 2050 or banning ICE vehicles by France, their impact is welcome if not largely overlooked by US media.
In the articles to follow we’ll address many of these of these topics individually and with any luck we can write a follow up come 2020, that 2019 wasn’t quite as bad as we thought. We’re going to keep our fingers crossed that maybe we’re at an inflection point and the coming years won’t focus so much on what going wrong.