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How “Project 2025” Could Eviscerate Climate Action

July 30, 2023

Critical Ocean Circulation System Could Collapse

There is increasing concern that an ocean current could collapse and cause disruptions to weather across the planet. The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, including the Gulf Stream off the U.S. coast, covers thousands of miles, taking warm water from the equator to the Arctic. There, it cools and sinks, eventually returning south and then coming up toward the surface again. As a critical part of the global climate system, the circulation distributes heat around the Atlantic Ocean, regulating weather all over Earth and also carrying nutrients that sustain marine life.

The global ocean conveyor belt is a constantly moving system of deep-ocean circulation driven by temperature and salinity.  |  Credit: National Geographic

A new study from the University of Denmark says that, assuming greenhouse gas emissions continue on their pace, it is most likely this circulation could end around 2060, or alarmingly, as soon as in two years. Previously, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had said that it is likely the pattern would weaken, but it was unlikely it would collapse. This new research contradicts that conclusion.
According to NOAA, if the circulation continues to slow, rain belts in the tropics could shift causing more drought in some places and more floods in others, and sea levels would rise along the U.S. East Coast. Europe could cool by as much as ten degrees Celsius. E&E News reports that some of the circulation’s slowing may be caused by natural variations, but human-caused climate change is also to blame mainly because of the melting of the Greenland ice sheet, which releases cold fresh water and destabilizes the current.

As New Scientist reports, the study has attracted criticism mostly because of its being based upon measuring only sea surface temperatures. However, the authors stated that, while their findings were controversial, they were too important not to be made public.

The study was published in the journal Nature Communications.

Project 2025 Could Gut Federal Measures to Combat Climate Change

It’s called “Project 2025,” and one of its goals, starting on day one of a Republican presidency, is to completely eviscerate the policies put in place by the federal government to combat climate change. Conservatives have drafted a 920-page detailed blueprint for any Republican who becomes president, which would close renewable energy offices in the Department of Energy and stop the expansion of the electrical grid for wind and solar energy.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The plan would give state officials more authority over regulating polluting industries but would prevent them from adopting stronger car pollution standards similar to California’s. Project 2025, which addresses all of the government and not just environmental policy, would also cut funding for the EPA’s office for environmental justice and would turn the federal government toward fostering the fossil fuel industry instead of reigning it in.  

The plan says that the EPA has returned to “fear-based rhetoric…especially as it pertains to the perceived threat of climate change.” It accuses the left of using its favored tool to scare the American public into accepting ineffective and liberty-crushing regulations.

The plan was compiled by the Heritage Foundation whose director, Paul Dans, told Politico that the whole conservative movement banded together to prepare to take power day one and deconstruct the administrative state. Over 400 people helped draft its detailed agenda. One critic, Andrew Rosenberg, a former official at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told Politico that Project 2025 wants to shift federal agencies from protecting public health and the environment to helping the industries they have been assigned to oversee.

Desert Icon Succumbing to Extreme Heat in Arizona

“The era of global warming has ended; the era of global boiling has arrived.” Those were the words of UN Secretary-General António Guterres citing new data from the EU-funded Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) and the World Meteorological Organization showing July is set to be the hottest month on record. Oppressive heat has been felt around the globe from Europe and Africa to China, where temperatures this month in a northwest township soared as high as 52.2C (126F). In the U.S., according to Reuters, one of every two Americans has faced brutally hot and dangerous temperatures.

Saguaro cactus (Carnegiea gigantea)  |  Credit: Saguaro National Park, Tucson, Arizona

In the Southwest, Phoenix has endured nearly a month with temperatures over 110 degrees Fahrenheit. The streak looks to be finally coming to an end with long-awaited monsoons moving into the region. The storms can’t come soon enough for residents—including the state’s iconic saguaro cactus (Carnegiea gigantea). The extreme heat has caused the plants, which can grow to 40-feet tall, to lose arms, tilt to one side, or collapse entirely.

It’s partly to do with the lack of rain—the last measurable amount was in March— but researcher Tania Hernandez at the Desert Botanical Garden told H2O Radio, prolonged heat can damage the saguaro’s tissues and make it harder for the plant to recover once the monsoons do arrive.

Saguaro can live up to 200 years, but ones living in cities like Phoenix might not reach that ripe old age due to the urban heat island effect, where concrete and asphalt absorb and then emit heat, leading to temperatures about two to five degrees higher than natural areas. Hernandez and other scientists at the Desert Botanical Garden are observing how saguaro in cities react to extreme heat as a predictor for how cacti in the wild will fare as the climate crisis deepens and temperatures climb.

The saguaro’s survival goes beyond cutting a unique silhouette on the landscape, they are also a keystone species that provides food and shelter for many desert birds and animals.

A Wind Farm That’s...for the Birds

Wind power is a crucial component of transitioning away from fossil fuels. While the amount of the renewable energy is growing rapidly, there are detractors who say turbines are dangerous for birds. The Audubon Society says that in the big picture, climate change is a much larger threat to our winged friends—and the organization supports wind energy, provided it’s done in a manner that minimizes harm to the animals.

Red7Marine has recently completed the installation of three nearshore artificial nesting structures along the east coast of England on behalf of Ørsted, the global leader in offshore wind. The structures are required as a part of the Development Consent Order for the Hornsea 3 Offshore Windfarm as an ecological compensation measure for a vulnerable seabird species, the Black-legged kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla).  |  Credit: Red7Marine

Enter “artificial nesting structures” (ANS)—big octagonal buildings 36 feet wide by 26 feet tall with outside ledges where 500 breeding pairs of black-legged kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla)—small seabirds with wings that look like they have been “dipped in ink”—will be able to build nests free from predators and the rotating arms of wind turbines.

Food shortages and climate change have contributed to a downward trend in kittiwake numbers, and the decline has resulted in the species now being listed as vulnerable and at risk of extinction on the UK’s Red List for Birds of Conservation Concern. The Danish offshore wind developer Ørsted was required in a Development Consent Order to build the structures to compensate for potential impacts to the vulnerable kittiwake by its Hornsea 3 windfarm off the east coast of England. Hornsea 3 will be completed by 2025 and produce roughly 2.85-gigawatts—enough to power over three million homes.

The structures have been placed about one kilometer offshore from locations where kittiwake colonies are currently thriving and were developed by Red7Marine in collaboration with a team of architects, engineers, and ecologists to replicate the cliffs where the birds would naturally nest. The eight-sided layout gives the birds options in case they find one side too sunny or too windy, and as the birds settle in to one of the partitioned ledges, researchers will be able to observe them from inside the structure to count the number of occupied nests as well as note productivity. Also, cameras on structures will capture birds prospecting and nesting attempts. The artificial nests will be fitted with decoys to encourage skeptical kittiwakes to move in just in time for the 2024 spring breeding season.