Consumers May Again Be Free to Choose an Incandescent Bulb

(p. A1) The Trump administration plans to significantly weaken federal rules that would have forced Americans to use much more energy-efficient light bulbs, a move that could contribute to greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming.

The proposed changes would eliminate requirements that effectively meant that most light bulbs sold in the United States — not only the familiar, pear-shaped ones, but several other styles as well — must be either LEDs or fluorescent to meet new efficiency standards.

The rules being weakened, which dated from 2007 and the administration of President George W. Bush and slated to start in the new year, would have all but ended the era of the incandescent bulb invented more than a century ago.

. . .

The Trump administration said the changes would benefit consumers by keeping prices low and eliminating government regulation.

For the full story, see:

John Schwartz. “New Rollback To Ease a Ban On Old Bulbs.” The New York Times (Thursday, September 5, 2019): A1 & A15.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story was last updated Sept. 6 [sic], 2019, and has the title “White House to Relax Energy Efficiency Rules for Light Bulbs.”)

Guacamole “Toast-Munching Hipsters” Can Relax: Gene Edited Avocados Would Thrive Under Global Warming

(p. B1) Last month, a team of scientists in the United States and Mexico announced that it had mapped the DNA sequences of several types of avocados, including the popular Hass variety. That research is likely to become the foundation for breeding techniques and genetic modifications designed to produce avocados that can resist disease or survive in drier conditions.

Whether they realize it or not, this could be big news for toast-munching hipsters. Already, rising temperatures are disrupting the avocado supply chain, causing price increases across the United States that have also been exacerbated by trade uncertainty.

“Because of climate change, temperature might not be the same, humidity might not be the same, the soil might be different, new insects will come and diseases will come,” said Luis Herrera-Estrella, a plant genomics professor at Texas Tech University who led the avocado project. “We need to be prepared to contend with all these inevitable challenges.”

. . .

(p. B5) “There are avocados that grow in very hot places with little water, and there are avocados that grow more in rainy places,” Dr. Herrera-Estrella said. “If we can identify genes that confer heat tolerance and drought tolerance, then we can engineer the avocados for the future.”

For the full story, see:

David Yaffe-Bellany. “Genes Ripe for Editing.” The New York Times (Saturday, September 28, 2019): B1 & B5.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story was last updated on Sept. 30 [sic], 2019, and has the title “Avocado Toast, Meet Gene Editing.”)

Environmentalist Greta Thunberg’s Sailboat Crew Flew to and from New York by Airplane

(p. B4) A year ago, a 15-year-old in leopard-print tights sat down outside the Swedish Parliament building with a purple backpack and a sign announcing she was on strike over climate change.

This week, Greta Thunberg arrived by solar-powered sailboat in New York, now as the 16-year-old poster child for younger generations’ climate angst. Also making its way to the New World, as evidenced in the coverage of her carbon-neutral trip, was a concept that in just a few years has swept Europe: flight shame, often hashtagged in the original Swedish, #flygskam.

. . .

As Greta . . . hopped ashore in southern Manhattan on Wednesday after 13 days at sea, loud cheers rose from the hundreds in the crowd there to greet her.  . . .

Amanda LaValle, a mother of three from Kingston, N.Y., brought her two eldest daughters to be part of the crowd. “I’m encouraging them to be involved. I have already blown my own climate credentials by having three kids,” she said, half in jest.

She acknowledged how difficult it can be to put her principles into practice. Earlier in August, when she needed to travel to Minneapolis for a three-day training sponsored by Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, she briefly considered taking the train. But, she said, “It would have taken two days and I couldn’t see taking more time away from my family.”

Greta’s voyage has had its own critics, who have pointed out that some members of the sailing crew will return by plane, while others fly in to sail the boat back to Europe.

Boris Herrmann, captain of the sailboat, Malizia II, said that the criticism was expected but that Greta shouldn’t be held responsible for the flights by crew members. “We are kind of the ferry to bring her over. We’re a professional sailing team and sometimes we need to fly. We used this voyage also to train,” he said, adding that the team offsets its flights by funding sustainability projects, including mangrove planting in Indonesia. “The trip is an example of how difficult it is to have zero carbon impact.”

For the full story, see:

Sofia McFarland. “‘Flight Shame’ Comes to U.S.—Via Sailboat.” The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019): B4.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story was last updated on Aug. 30, 2019, and has the title “‘Flight Shame’ Comes to the U.S.—Via Greta Thunberg’s Sailboat.” Where the online and print versions differ, the passages quoted above follow the more detailed online version.)

Regulations Mandate Ineffective Dishwashers

(p. A18) The FreedomWorks regulatory policy manager, Daniel Savickas, said the Competitive Enterprise Institute had flagged the dishwasher issue and the groups had decided to combine their efforts. “We try and roll back burdensome regulations and make life easier for consumers and manufacturers,” he said.

“The dishwasher in my apartment is absolute garbage, and I have to run cycles multiple times,” Mr. Savickas said.

The crux of their argument is that energy efficiency standards have made America’s dishwashers ineffective with ever-longer cycles, to the consternation of users. “Why should the government mandate these models rather than leave the choice to consumers in the first place?” Mr. Kazman said.

For the full story, see:

Hiroko Tabuchi. “Warriors Against Environmental Rules Champion the Dishwasher.” The New York Times (Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019): A18.

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Sept. 17, 2019, and has the title “Inside Conservative Groups’ Effort to ‘Make Dishwashers Great Again’.” The online version says that the New York print edition was on p. A17. In my National print edition, the article was on p. A18.)

Sand from Greenland’s Global Warming Can Help World Make Concrete

(p. A8) A few miles up the Sermilik Fjord in southwestern Greenland, the water has abruptly turned milky, a sign that it is loaded with suspended silt, sand and other sediment.

It is this material — carried here in a constant plume of meltwater from the Sermeq glacier at the head of the fjord — that Mette Bendixen, a Danish scientist at the University of Colorado, has come to see. As their research boat moves farther into the murky water, she and several colleagues climb into a rubber dinghy to take samples.

Dr. Bendixen, a geomorphologist, is here to investigate an idea, one that she initially ran by colleagues to make sure it wasn’t crazy: Could this island, population 57,000, become a provider of sand to billions of people?

Sand for eroded beaches, potentially from the Rockaways to the Riviera. Sand to be used as bedding for pipes, cables and other underground infrastructure. Mostly, though, sand for concrete, to build the houses, highways and harbors of a growing world.

The world makes a lot of concrete, more than 10 billion tons a year, and is poised to make much more for a population that is forecast to grow by more than 25 percent by 2050. That makes sand, which is about 40 percent of concrete by weight, one of the most-used commodities in the world, and one that is becoming harder to come by in some regions.

But because of the erosive power of ice, there is a lot of sand in Greenland. And with climate change accelerating the melting of Greenland’s mile-thick ice sheet — a recent study found that melting has increased sixfold since the 1980s — there is going to be a lot more.

“It’s not rocket science,” Dr. Bendixen said. “One part of the world has something that other parts of the world are lacking.”

For the full story, see:

Henry Fountain. “Melting Greenland Is Awash in Sand.” The New York Times (Thursday, July 4, 2019): A8.

(Note: the online version of the story has the date July 1, 2019, and has the same title as the print version.)

Gardeners Describe Benefits of Global Warming

(p. A15) When Times readers were asked to describe how they saw climate change affecting their area, several people reported that they were already changing their planting habits due to balmier winter conditions.

“I am now able to grow perennials that were once two temperate zones south of me,” wrote William Borucki, of Buffalo.

Raynard Vinson, of Hampton, Va., wrote: “I overwinter plants that once had to be dug up and protected.”

For the full story, see:

NADJA POPOVICH. “As Climate Changes, So Do Growing Zones, and What Plants Will Thrive Where.” The New York Times (Wednesday, MAY 29, 2019): A15.

(Note: the online version of the story has the date MAY 23, 2019, and has the title “How Climate Change May Affect the Plants in Your Yard.”)

Forecasts “of Doom and Gloom” Fail Because “Lot of Moving Parts That Are Not Well Understood”

(p. A3) The science community now believes tornadoes most likely build from the ground up and not from a storm cloud down, potentially making them harder to spot via radar early in the formation process. But scientists still struggle to say with certainty when and where a tornado will form, or why some storms spawn them and neighboring storms don’t.

“Sometimes the science and the atmosphere remind us of the limitations of what we can predict,” said Bill Bunting, chief of forecast operations at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Storm Prediction Center.

. . .

“We have big outlooks of doom and gloom, and nothing happens because there are a lot of moving parts that are not well understood yet,” said Erik Rasmussen, a research scientist with NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory.

For the full story, see:

Erin Ailworth. “Tornadoes Outrun Forecaster Data.” The Wall Street Journal (Thursday, May 30, 2019): A3.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date May 29, 2019, and the title “New Science Explains Why Tornadoes Are So Hard to Forecast.”)