I’m Amanda Magnani, a Brazilian journalist and photographer and the new climate editor at OptOut News. From today on, I will carry out Cristian Salazar’s mission of bringing you the most important climate news from our network—with a few tweaks. ✨✨
Every other week, I will suggest stories to decolonize our way of thinking about climate change. To help us all cope with climate anxiety, I will make sure to feature some light-hearted and solution-based stories. Finally, I’m also starting a “Global South Corner,” where I’ll talk to a different climate activist, policymaker, or scientist about issues from this side of the world.
So let’s get started!
Progress, and Setbacks, in U.S. Energy Generation
By now, you probably know the U.S. is the world’s second-biggest yearly climate emitter. And with the country’s power sector accounting for a third of emissions, decarbonizing it is key to fighting climate change. The good news is that, last year, electricity generated from solar and wind grew 16% nationwide. Believe it or not, Texas—yes, Texas!—was a leader in wind capacity and generation. States Newsroom, via Oregon Capital Chronicle, reported on where renewable power is increasing (and where it’s not).
Also good news: the Biden administration seems to be concerned with the energy transition of the so-called "energy communities," which Grist describes as "those long anchored, and polluted, by fossil fuel industries." Signed last year, the Inflation Reduction Act includes a 30% tax break for green energy projects and an extra 10% if they take place in these communities.
But not everything is flowers. The world’s top private banks, including those with net-zero pledges, are still funding fossil fuel projects; Russia’s invasion of Ukraine created record profits for fossil fuel companies while the wages of their workforces declined (The New Republic); and lawmakers in New York are trying to change the state’s definition of renewable energy to include the burning of forest biomass (wood), which has been proven to pollute more than coal, according to City Limits.
States Newsroom, via Rhode Island Current, reports that the Environmental Protection Agency is being sued by more than a dozen environmental groups for failing to set, and update, water pollution limits for industrial contaminants, in defiance of the Clean Water Act. As a result, about half of all the rivers and lakes in the U.S. have failed to meet water quality standards.
Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of abandoned mines litter Nevada’s waterways with acidic water and heavy metals, Nevada Current reports. The Nevada Mining Reform Coalition’s bill aims to prevent future mine abandonment and contamination, but the Department of Environmental Protection claims that the state already protects groundwater and doesn’t need additional requirements. Yeah, right.
Decolonizing Climate Change
🌱 If you believe continuing to invest in fossil fuels is a necessary evil to address global poverty, check Damages’ podcast episode, “On Global Poverty and Global Warming,” to understand how to solve poverty and climate change at the same time.
🌱 If you believe climate displacement is only a problem in “poor countries,” listen to this segment of The Majority Report to hear Grist staff writer Jake Bittle talk about his book The Great Displacement: Climate Change and the Next American Migration.
🌱 If you want to understand more about climate change, floods, and how immigrants and other minorities are affected, check out this interview with Rommel Ojeda, Documented’s community correspondent, who has been researching the topic for years.
To Lighten Your Heart
💚 “A musician’s unexpected journey to protect the earth’s last remaining quiet places,” a photo essay by The Narwhal.
💚 “The Shift from Pink to Green in Latin America,” republished by Earth Island Journal.
💚 “In Pursuit of the Climate-Proof City,” an episode of podcast The Politics of Everything, from The New Republic.
💚 “‘Passive House’ Buildings Boast Climate & Health Perks. Why Aren’t There More of Them?” by City Limits.
Global South Corner
For our very first Global South Corner, I talked to Eric Terena, a DJ, co-founder of Mídia Índia, and an Indigenous rights activist, as well as my partner in our upcoming reporting project funded by the Pulitzer Center’s Rainforest Journalism Fund.
“I work to reeducate society to understand the role of Indigenous peoples in land preservation,” Eric said. “We protect the biggest biodiversity in the world, and I’m not only talking about the Amazon and Brazil.”
Eric is currently in New York to take part in the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), happening from April 17-28 at the United Nations Headquarters in NYC. This year’s theme is "Indigenous Peoples, human health, planetary and territorial health and climate change: a rights-based approach."
“This is going to be a very intense week as we discuss climate-related international funds, and what are the real opportunities they bring. How much they actually affect the reality on the ground is an ongoing debate with no end in sight.”
If you want to know more about Indigenous people, land protection, and climate change, check these Grist pieces out:
That’s all for now, folks! If you’re a climate journalist and want to keep the conversation going, join us in our Discord group. Over there, I will share new opportunities and resources every week, and you can let me know who—or what—you want to see next on the Global South Corner.
If you have any questions or suggestions, hit me up at email@example.com.
And don’t forget the first rule of holes: if you ever find yourself in one, stop digging. And drilling.
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