David Roberts
David Roberts
David Roberts is staff writer for the environmental website Grist.org. He lives in Seattle with his wife and two sons.Source
Seattle, Washington
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Many technologies needed to solve the climate crisis are nowhere near ready

Many technologies needed to solve the climate crisis are nowhere near ready

Getting to net-zero carbon emissions will require rapid, radical innovation, a new report says.Global warming can often feel overwhelming, given its political, social, and economic complexities. From a purely engineering perspective, though, it is surprisingly simple. There is a clear goal and a bounded set of technological tools to achieve it — just the kind of problem engineers like to solve.The clear goal is net-zero global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, a target around which much of the world is coalescing.to stabilize the atmosphere at any temperature. Otherwise, it continues...

vox.com
David Roberts
2d ago
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The scariest thing about global warming (and Covid-19)

The scariest thing about global warming (and Covid-19)

“Shifting baselines syndrome” means we could quickly get used to climate chaos.For as long as I’ve followed global warming, advocates and activists have shared a certain faith: When the impacts get really bad, people will act.Maybe it will be an especially destructive hurricane, heat wave, or flood. Maybe it will be multiple disasters at once. But at some point, the severity of the problem will become self-evident, sweeping away any remaining doubt or hesitation and prompting a wave of action.From this perspective, the scary possibility is that the moment of reckoning will come too late....

vox.com
David Roberts
Jul 7
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Democrats’ infrastructure bill has a special delivery: Electric mail trucks

Democrats’ infrastructure bill has a special delivery: Electric mail trucks

Cleaner, quieter, cheaper Postal Service vehicles — if Mitch McConnell allows them.For months, Democrats in Congress have focused on immediate recovery from the , saying they would turn to long-term stimulus when the time is right.The time is apparently right. This week, House Democrats unveiled their , a $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill. It is capacious: $300 billion for repair of existing infrastructure, $100 billion for public transit, $100 billion for affordable housing infrastructure, $100 billion for broadband, $100 billion for high-poverty schools, $70 billion for upgrades to the...

vox.com
David Roberts
Jun 26
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Trump’s EPA balks at a chance to save black lives

Trump’s EPA balks at a chance to save black lives

Soot sickens and kills people of color disproportionately. The EPA has decided to not tighten standards that would protect them and others.Decades of research paint a clear picture: The No. 1 environmental health risk in the US is soot. Also known as particulate pollution, it is made up of extremely small particles spewed into the air by power generation, industrial processes, and cars and trucks.There are “coarse particles,” between 2.5 and 10 micrometers in diameter, and “fine particles,” at 2.5 micrometers and smaller. By way of comparison, the average human hair has a diameter of about...

vox.com
David Roberts
Jun 16
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The Tom Cotton op-ed affair shows why the media must defend America’s values

The Tom Cotton op-ed affair shows why the media must defend America’s values

Last week, the New York Times editorial page published calling for a wide-scale military crackdown on protests against police brutality.It immediately caused an uproar both inside and outside the Times, as covered in the itself, the , , and here at , by my colleague Zack Beauchamp. That was followed by a from the head of the Times opinion page, James Bennet, attempting to explain the decision to run the piece, then an from Times editors, and then, on Sunday, .In his excellent explainer on what happened and the history of tensions between the Times opinion and news sides, Beauchamp asks some...

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David Roberts
Jun 8
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Joe Biden has a chance to make history on climate change

Joe Biden has a chance to make history on climate change

Two seemingly contradictory developments have unfolded on the left over the past few years.On the one hand, the broad left-of-center coalition, from climate activists to environmental justice advocates to unions to party leaders in Congress, has come into alignment around an ambitious climate policy platform, focused on sector-specific standards, large-scale public investments, and a commitment to justice for vulnerable workers and communities. (I dubbed this standards, investments, and justice alignment “SIJ” for short, in my .)RelatedOn the other hand, former Vice President Joe Biden...

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David Roberts
May 28
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Obama's choice: healthcare or climate | David Roberts

Obama's choice: healthcare or climate | David Roberts

Halfway through the second debate of last fall's presidential campaign, moderator Tom Brokaw asked the candidates what their top priority would be if elected. John McCain hemmed and hawed, but Barack Obama answered in plain language: Energy is "priority No. 1" and healthcare "priority No. 2". Fast forward. In an New York Times Magazine piece last weekend on the legislative strategy driving Obama's presidency, senator Max Baucus recalls a flight on Air Force One in which Obama "just turned to me and said: 'This is my No. 1 issue.'" That issue? Healthcare. What a difference a little time in...

theguardian.com
David Roberts
Jun 16
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Coronavirus stimulus money will be wasted on fossil fuels

Coronavirus stimulus money will be wasted on fossil fuels

As countries across the world go into lockdown in response to , economies are in free fall. Almost every sector is taking a hit, hemorrhaging jobs and value. And almost every sector will be shaped, for years to come, by the speed, amount, and nature of public assistance it receives. There is a finite amount of time, resources, and political will available to get economies going again; not every sector will get what it wants or needs.In short, the decisions legislators make in response to the coronavirus crisis will have an enormous influence on what kind of economies emerge on the other...

vox.com
David Roberts
Apr 20
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Virginia becomes the first state in the South to target 100% clean power

Virginia becomes the first state in the South to target 100% clean power

The state’s Democratic majority is doing what Democratic majorities do.Update, April 13: Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam . The post below, originally published on March 12, describes what is in it and how it came about.Over the last decade or so, Virginia has gradually transitioned from a purple to blue state. Now it will embark on another transition, from fossil fuels to clean, carbon-free electricity.After voting for Republican presidents going back to Richard Nixon in 1972, Virginians began consistently voting for Democrats for president in 2008. And they have a long tradition of Democratic...

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David Roberts
Mar 12
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The hottest new thing in sustainable building is, uh, wood

The hottest new thing in sustainable building is, uh, wood

The many, many benefits of using wood in place of concrete and steel.Architects, builders, and sustainability advocates are all abuzz over a new building material they say could substantially reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the building sector, slash the waste, pollution, and costs associated with construction, and create a more physically, psychologically, and aesthetically healthy built environment.The material is known as, uh, wood.Trees have been used to build structures since prehistory, but especially after disasters like the , wood came to be seen as unsafe and unstable...

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David Roberts
Feb 11
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Electricity demand is flat. Utilities are freaking out.

Electricity demand is flat. Utilities are freaking out.

ByShareThe US electricity sector is in a period of unprecedented change and turmoil. Renewable energy prices are . Natural gas production continues its . Coal, the golden child of the current administration, is .In all that bedlam, it’s easy to lose sight of an equally important (if less sexy) trend: .Thanks to a combination of greater energy efficiency, outsourcing of heavy industry, and customers generating their own power on site, demand for utility power has been flat for 10 years, and most forecasts expect it to . The die was cast around 1998, when GDP growth and electricity demand...

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David Roberts
Feb 27
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None of the world’s top industries would be profitable if they paid for the natural capital they use

None of the world’s top industries would be profitable if they paid for the natural capital they use

Do you know a rising star of sustainability?The notion of “externalities” has become familiar in environmental circles. It refers to costs imposed by businesses that are not paid for by those businesses. For instance, industrial processes can put pollutants in the air that increase public health costs, but the public, not the polluting businesses, picks up the tab. In this way, businesses privatize profits and publicize costs.While the notion is incredibly useful, especially in folding ecological concerns into economics, I’ve always had my reservations about it. Environmentalists these days...

grist.org
David Roberts
Aug 20
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