Climate Headlines | November 12

Industry is trying to figure out where to put captured CO2. How about Vodka?

🌡️ News

As Climate Change Threatens Midwest’s Cultural Identity, Cities Test Ways to Adapt

Dan Gearino, InsideClimate News (Tweet)

This may be the moment that the resilience and problem-solving nature of many Midwesterners can shine, says Ashlynn Stillwell, an engineering professor at the University of Illinois whose research focuses on the intersection of water and energy policy.

"We Midwesterners are more doers than talkers, and so protesting and talking about something is honestly annoying compared to doing something about it," she said.

In "Unfamiliar Ground," a joint project organized by InsideClimate News, reporters across the Midwest are exploring what communities are doing to respond to climate change, with stories from IllinoisIndianaMichigan and Missouri, and this one from Minnesota.

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E.P.A. to Limit Science Used to Write Public Health Rules

By Lisa Friedman, New York Times (Tweet)

The Trump administration is preparing to significantly limit the scientific and medical research that the government can use to determine public health regulations, overriding protests from scientists and physicians who say the new rule would undermine the scientific underpinnings of government policymaking.

A new draft of the Environmental Protection Agency proposal, titled Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science, would require that scientists disclose all of their raw data, including confidential medical records, before the agency could consider an academic study’s conclusions. E.P.A. officials called the plan a step toward transparency and said the disclosure of raw data would allow conclusions to be verified independently.

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How should billionaires spend their money to fight climate change? I asked 9 experts.

Sigal Samuel, Vox (Tweet)

We wanted to get a wide range of views, from the familiar to some on the margins of the conversation. I got an incredible array of responses. Some experts are convinced that nuclear power is the solution; others are convinced that’s too dangerous. The same goes for solar geoengineering, a controversial idea that involves injecting aerosols into the high atmosphere to reflect sunlight back into space and make for a cooler planet.

Still others say it’s most effective to focus their billions not on the technologies that could mitigate global warming but on the social and political conditions that would enable those technologies to take root: Build a zeitgeist-changing climate movement. Educate girls and empower women. Prioritize those who are most vulnerable to climate change, like indigenous communities and people of color. Get Democrats elected to Congress — and to the presidency.

The experts didn’t arrive at anything like a consensus, but their creative ideas can help us think through our options. (That’s important, because sometimes climate policies with the most potential are the most neglected.) Their responses, edited for clarity and length, are below.

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Vodka made from captured carbon dioxide? That’s the spirit.

Maria Gallucci, Grist (Tweet)

A 20-foot tower of tubes and wires rises inside a narrow building in Brooklyn. Crystal-clear liquid flows from the array into big plastic drums, which chemists wheel toward a tall metal still. They pour in the product and, when it’s ready a few hours later, take a sip. It’s vodka, made without any potatoes or grains, and the key ingredients are hydrogen and captured carbon dioxide.

Air Company’s distillery sits in a quiet industrial stretch of the neighborhood of Bushwick, across from a ramen noodle factory and shuttered storefronts. The startup began selling its spirits this month to bars and restaurants around New York City, after years of development in the lab. Its CO2 supply comes primarily from beverage manufacturing plants, which produce waste gases during fermentation. Instead of escaping into the air, the molecules now wind up in vodka bottles.

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