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How Los Angeles Is Helping Lead the Fight Against Climate Change

How Los Angeles Is Helping Lead the Fight Against Climate Change 86

Los Angeles doesn’t have a great environmental reputation. It’s the car capital of the United States. It’s famous for its curtains of smog, and for stealing a bunch of water once.

But the city is in the midst of a metamorphosis. With fewer, yet stronger storms on the horizon, it’s begun an ambitious plan to cut its reliance on imported water in half by 2025. And it’s emerging as a leader in the frantic international quest to curb emissions—in 2016 alone, it slashed emissions by 11 percent, the equivalent of taking more than 700,000 cars off the road.

This week, Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti joined other leaders, along with activists and business leaders, at the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco. The mission? Stop climate change before it destroys the planet, and our species along with it. Garcetti sat down with WIRED for two interviews, which we have combined and condensed, to talk about how to turn LA into a greentech testbed, why cities have to compete in order to save the world, and what the city can learn from its infamous water wars.

Matt Simon: In what way are cities uniquely positioned to be leaders on climate change?

Eric Garcetti: There’s never been more people living in cities, and many of them control directly the most important national assets, like ports and airports and utilities. We have a culture of trying new things, whereas in Washington and other national capitals it’s like, Oh make sure it’s perfect before it comes to us and then we’ll scale it up. Cities are those laboratories of democracy that states used to be. In a city like LA, we’re trying to get to this idea of a city as a platform.

MS: So what is LA doing about emissions? It’s known as a place of cars, of course, is that part of it? Is it renewable energy?

EG: In Los Angeles, we can’t afford not to do all of the above, from energy generation to our building codes to transportation including personal transportation, our mass transit, and our goods movement from the port and our logistical network. We’re the number one solar city in America—we’ve made a pledge to go to 100 percent renewable power, we’re reducing our water imports, which consumes a lot of energy. We’re cleaning up the port of LA, which is now the greenest port in the world, and made a pledge to go to zero emissions by 2035.

In 2016, the last year we measured, we were down 11 percent, which is the equivalent of 737,000 cars off the road. And by the way, that same year unemployment went down 14 percent. So this whole myth that you can’t do that and expand the economy, we’re laying to rest, I hope.

MS: People throw their arms up about that—you can’t do renewable energy, it’ll kill jobs.

EG: We generated 30,000 new green jobs since I’ve been mayor, so in five years. To put that in perspective, there’s 50,000 coal jobs left in America. So this town that’s just 1 percent, roughly, of the US population has created the equivalent of 60 percent of the remaining coal jobs left in America. Appalachia should be doing that, areas that have been hard hit by a recession and not recovered. These are generally good middle class jobs too, not just minimum wage.

MS: There’s this interesting dynamic between cities working on this problem that is at once competitive, but also collaborative.

EG: When Shenzhen says, I’ve got 100 percent already of our bus fleet electrified and all of our taxis, that’s good competition for LA to try to catch. And it’s collaborative in the sense that when people back in LA say there’s no way we can electrify our buses by 2030, I can point to the fact that Shenzhen in China just did it and it took them two and a half, three years. It begins to change people’s attitudes.

MS: How much are you enlisting the populace in this? Is it about changing behavior on a wide scale?

EG: It’s everything from 25,000 car chargers by 2025, to the work that we’re doing to make sure people reduce their water consumption, because we have to use a lot of electricity to bring that water to them. Recycling is now 75 percent. The goal for all megacities is to get to 70 percent, we’re already at 75 percent. And that’s human behavior of sorting, recycling and demanding. So the most important work is actually in-house, in your own place of work, in your own habits. And then secondarily in what you demand from your elected representatives.

MS: You mentioned water, and I think this is a really key component, especially for LA.

EG: We need to build cities that can survive what is happening, and what will continue to happen even if we can reverse this. Which is there will still be decades of hotter days, extreme weather, and social and health disruptions.

William Mulholland, the great engineer who built out our water system, as told in Chinatown and other movies—I say this is kind of our second Mulholland moment to reengineer a system that instead of stealing other people’s water, we’ll recycle, reuse, reduce our water consumption. The fact that my residents stepped up and reduced, in a year, 20 percent of their water use shows we can absolutely do this without feeling it.

MS: Say a city is looking to get into this sort of thing, to clean themselves up, what one piece of advice would you give them?

EG: I’d say go big and be personal. Stretch farther than you think you can reach. And boil it down in human terms. Don’t talk about tons of carbon or millions of vehicles. Talk about people’s health and sickness and firefighters who are dying on the line with historic fires caused by drought. This isn’t about environmentalists who are hobbyists in a little peripheral policy area. This is about everybody’s health and their lives. People are dying and those who aren’t dying are all suffering under the weight of what’s happening.

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Planet Earth

Polar vortex: “wild” winter is coming in the US, Northern Europe and East Asia after the 16th of January

Polar vortex: "wild" winter is coming in the US, Northern Europe and East Asia after the 16th of January 99

In the upper atmosphere above the North Pole, experts saw a rapidly swirling vortex of cold air that could bring severe frosts to the United States, Northern Europe and East Asia. Serious cold snap and snowy weather are expected after January the 16th.

Snowfalls and a cold snap hit South Korea since the start of 2021, hitting historic snow maximums and temperatures. In the country, for the first time since 1964, television and newer communications are sending people cold snap warnings:

The situation is similar in Japan, where a new snow storm hit historic highs:

On January 7, the thermometer In Beijing dropped to -20 degrees Celsius, breaking the 1966 record. In other regions of China, the temperature is also not sugar, and you can only move around in special uniforms:

The cold even reached Taiwan, where the temperature in some areas dropped below freezing point, snow poured down and people realized that rice terraces can be used as a ski jump:

Even more snow went to Spain, where on January 6, 2021, a temperature of -34.1 ° C was recorded – the lowest on record. After that, a snow storm hit the country, which has not been seen for 80 years:

The same thing happens in Canada and in the northern states of the United States:

It seems that after a stratospheric warming, the subpolar vortex began to split:

The vortex itself is a standard phenomenon. However, this time experts were surprised at his movement. It is possible that in the near future it will be divided into two parts. 

Scientists associate the strange behavior with the changed climate in the Arctic, which has become warmer. From September to December, the amount of ice cover decreased significantly.

The polar vortex is a low-pressure region located in the stratosphere and filled with cold air. When the jet stream of air that holds the vortex weakens, the low pressure area moves south. 

As the ice shrinks, more moisture will move inland. It will turn to snow, so snowfalls are expected. Snow, in turn, reflects heat, leading to a cold snap.

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Hospital in Naples was evacuated after a new, huge sinkhole appeared

Hospital in Naples was evacuated after a new, huge sinkhole appeared 100

Eyewitnesses said they heard a loud crash at dawn when a huge hole in the ground formed outside the Ponticelli Ospedale del Mare hospital in eastern Naples.

Early in the morning of January 8, 2021, a sinkhole occurred in the parking lot of a clinic in Naples. The depth of the formed cavity is about 20 meters, the total area of ​​the hole is about 2,000 square meters.

No casualties were found at the scene; firefighters say the sinkhole “affected an area of ​​about 500 square meters” and engulfed several cars parked near the hospital.

As the press writes and as a little can be seen from the videos, rescuers and firefighters were running around the pit together with the governor of the area.  But who should be there in the forefront are Italian geologists, since Naples stands in the very center of the volcanic system known as the Phlegrean Fields.

If the surface collapsed, moreover – the surface reinforced with concrete and reinforced from below with some kind of communications, then we are talking about serious soil deformations caused by the activity of magma.

Italy has been in doubt since the summer of 2020, because swarms were observed there in very atypical places in May, and according to the forecasts of old Italian seismologists, who had witnessed many strong earthquakes, it should have boomed in the August region.

Fortunately, nothing bad happened to Italy and there was no big earthquake. But, since there are swarms, it means that something is being prepared, the magma is gathering strength. 

Following this particular sinkhole event – an obvious sign that a major earthquake in Italy is already very close.

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Planet Earth

A new great pandemic cycle has begun (again) in China

A new great pandemic cycle has begun (again) in China 101

In the first months of 2020, the whole world with a certain fright followed the events unfolding in China, where people fell on the streets during the day and astronauts wandered, and in the evening crematoria began to smoke. And now, with the onset of December, the cycle seems to be repeating itself.

Shunyi area in Beijing, where the authorities announced “wartime status” the day before. As you can see in the videos, thousands of people are lined up in the queue for mandatory testing:

Dalian city, where “wartime” is also declared. Neighborhoods are blockaded, people are walled up in entrances, familiar characters of George Lucas roam the streets:

https://twitter.com/UndergroundSilk/status/1341741036297723905?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Chinese ‘rescuers’, before performing a combat mission:

Chengdu City:

Daluo Port, Yunnan – tourists came for adventure and they received the ‘time of their life’ after leaving the ramp:

If something happens in Beijing, it does not mean that tomorrow the same will happen everywhere. However, the trend towards such dynamics is observed and, as the practice of the first wave of the pandemic has shown, all countries and people, to one degree or another, have taken into account the ‘Chinese experience’. 

Therefore, one must think that everything will now be in peace, as in spring – a new global round of the fight against the Covid has begun in China, a new great pandemic cycle!

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