Tag: InsideClimate News
Reporters from Southeastern newsrooms hold leaders in their communities accountable for reducing carbon emissions and preparing for climate change-related emergencies.
Like hundreds of other cities, Louisville, Kentucky, is searching for a path to address climate change.
Mayor Greg Fischer has declared a climate emergency, proposed a climate action plan and set a goal of reducing citywide carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050.
To get there, however, Fischer needs the cooperation of the region’s electric utility, Louisville Gas and Electric Co., which depends on coal and, with its related companies, has committed only to cutting carbon emissions 70 percent from 2010 levels by 2050.
Even that more modest commitment, though, is now in doubt, based on recent comments by LG&E’s chief operating officer, Lonnie Bellar, at an energy conference last fall, dominated by coal interests. In discussing his company’s own carbon reduction plan, Bellar declined to make any promises about a clean energy future.
At the fall meeting of the Southern States Energy Board, an organization of Southern governors and lawmakers, Bellar said his company was planning for different carbon reduction options, “free of commitments.”
”We want to continue to provide energy to our customers at a low reasonable cost,” he said. “If that means coal it means coal. If that means some other resource, it means some other resource.”
Louisville illustrates a fairly common obstacle: communities with little control over the monopoly electric utilities that serve them.
Today, in Caught Off Guard, InsideClimate News and nine newsrooms across seven Southeastern states are publishing stories on the progress and problems their communities face in relation to climate change. The region lags behind others in renewable electricity and faces some of the biggest global warming threats in the nation.
In reporting their stories, the journalists found communities struggling with funding, or with a lack of political will, and the need for technological breakthroughs to meet climate change head on. Read more.
Mexico Beach, Florida — When Hurricane Michael exploded in strength over the Gulf of Mexico in October 2018 and hit Florida with a devastating storm surge and 157 mile-per-hour winds, it marked the first Category 5 storm to reach the Panhandle and only the fifth to make landfall in the United States.
Michael reduced much of the Panhandle town of Mexico Beach to splinters and destroyed parts of other nearby communities. We saw the destruction firsthand while reporting here for The American Climate Project. It killed 16 people across the Southeast and is considered responsible for 43 other deaths in Florida, including from storm clean-up accidents and health issues worsened by the hurricane, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
It inflicted about $25 billion of damage to the region, including about $5 billion alone at Tyndall Air Force Base near Panama City. The storm caused catastrophic damage in southeastern Alabama and southwestern Georgia, as well.
More than other weather disasters, hurricanes seem to prompt people to ask: Was climate change to blame?
That, climate scientists say, is the wrong question. People should, instead, be asking, “How much worse did climate change make it?” said Texas Tech climate scientist Katherine Hayhoe. Read more.
Also from InsideClimate News’ American Climate Project:
The Sound of Rain, the Crackle of Fire Take Victims Back to the Moment of Their Nightmares