Indy Digest: April 28, 2022
Every so often, you come across a news story that is so sad and depressing that you need a few minutes to recover after reading it.
I came across such a story today in The Washington Post. It starts off this way:
Not since an asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs — along with half of all other beings on Earth — has life in the ocean been so at risk.
Warming waters are cooking creatures in their own habitats. Many species are slowly suffocating as oxygen leaches out of the seas. Even populations that have managed to withstand the ravages of overfishing, pollution and habitat loss are struggling to survive amid accelerating climate change.
If humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase, according to a new study released Thursday, roughly a third of all marine animals could vanish within 300 years.
The findings, published in the journal Science, reveal a potential mass extinction looming beneath the waves. The oceans have absorbed a third of the carbon and 90 percent of the excess heat created by humans, but their vast expanse and forbidding depths mean scientists are just beginning to understand what creatures face there.
Yet the study by Princeton University earth scientists Justin Penn and Curtis Deutsch also underscores how much marine life could still be saved. If the world takes swift action to curb fossil fuel use and restore degraded ecosystems, the researchers say, it could cut potential extinctions by 70 percent.
While the whole article was depressing, the sentence that hit me strongest was: If the world takes swift action to curb fossil fuel use and restore degraded ecosystems, the researchers say, it could cut potential extinctions by 70 percent.
I was gobsmacked for two reasons: The best-case scenario, it seems, is that 30 percent of these projected extinctions will happen. Eek.
The second reason: Let’s be honest here. Given that one of the two political parties in charge of the most powerful nation on Earth doesn’t seem interested in doing much to combat climate change, do we really think any “swift action to curb fossil fuel use and restore degraded ecosystems” is going to happen? This is what the leader of that party has to say about it:
Here at the Independent, we’ve been trying to take a more solutions-journalism-focused approach to stories; in other words, instead of simply reporting on what’s going wrong, we try to report on what’s going right—and what can be done to fix what’s going wrong.
But with climate change … when it comes to possible real solutions, I am stumped. If you have any thoughts, please, drop me a line.
From the Independent
By Matt King
April 28, 2022
The new Melissa Morgan Fine Art Sculpture Garden is a place where vibrant 3-D art collides with live music, creating both an auditory and visual experience for appreciators of art at any level.
By Matt King
April 26, 2022
A food-truck festival that exceeded expectations is returning to the mall in Palm Desert.
By Brett Newton
April 27, 2022
Our resident Cicerone found plenty of pleasant surprises at this year’s LA Beer Fest.
April 28, 2022
Topics tackled on this week’s comics page include the path of righteousness, Ouija boards, fecal matter, big pharma—and more!
By Jimmy Boegle
April 28, 2022
This delicious chile relleno with shrimp seemed familiar—for good reason.
By Matt King
April 26, 2022
On the final day of Coachella 2022, Chicano Batman and Joji both turned in performances to remember.
• A lot of climate-change-related news has been dropping in recent days, so consider that to be the Indy Digest Theme of the Day. Up next: The state is investigating an oil-company giant for a surprising reason. According to The Los Angeles Times: “Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta said Thursday that his office has subpoenaed Exxon Mobil Corp. seeking information related to the company’s role in global plastics pollution. ‘For more than half a century, the plastics industry has engaged in an aggressive campaign to deceive the public, perpetuating a myth that recycling can solve the plastics crisis,’ Bonta said. … The announcement comes amid an urgent and growing movement across California to curb plastic pollution by reducing it at its source. In the last two weeks, the city and county of Los Angeles have announced ordinances and directives to reduce plastic waste, while state legislators, lobbyists and negotiators debate a bill that could ban several forms of single-use plastics. Also, in November, Californians will have the opportunity to vote on a ballot initiative designed to curb plastic pollution.”
• Other parts of Southern California are now under severe water restrictions due to the ongoing drought. Per ABC News: “Unprecedented restrictions have been ordered for millions of residents in Southern California as the megadrought in the region persists and continues to intensify. About 6 million customers in Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Ventura counties under the Metropolitan Water District will be required to dramatically cut down outdoor water use. However, they are still encouraged to hand water their trees, Metropolitan Executive Officer Deven Upadhyay said during a news conference Wednesday. The water district is requiring its member agencies in the State Water Project-dependent areas to restrict outdoor watering to just one day a week, or the equivalent. The goal is to reduce overall water consumption by 35% in the face of the water shortage, Upadhyay said. If the restrictions do not get consumption down by 35%, even stricter rules could follow next year, he added.”
• Our partners at CalMatters report the state is shifting tactics in the climate change battle, going with a lower-cost, slower-gain ideology: “California air-quality officials have endorsed an updated blueprint for battling climate change, choosing a plan that aims to minimize job losses and costs while slashing greenhouse gases and achieving carbon neutrality by 2045. California has long been a global leader in addressing the climate crisis, enacting aggressive laws and policies to reduce its carbon footprint. But the state has recently come under fire from activists and some legislators for failing to act quickly enough and relying too much on carbon-trading programs. The strategy that the staff of the state Air Resources Board plans to unveil in May requires a massive shift away from California’s reliance on fossil fuels and more emphasis on renewable energy sources. The plan, which aims for an 80% reduction of greenhouse gases below 1990 levels by 2050, would cost an estimated $18 billion in 2035 and $27 billion in 2045.”
• Moving from climate change to the pandemic: Moderna is asking the FDA to approve its vaccine for children who are between 6 months and 5 years old. As reported by CNBC: “The vaccine was about 51% effective against infection from the omicron variant in children under 2 years old and about 37% effective among 2- to 5-year-old kids, according to a company press release. Dr. Paul Burton, Moderna’s chief medical officer, said those levels are similar to two-dose protection for adults. The protection Moderna’s vaccine provides against infection has declined substantially from the high-water mark of 90% effectiveness when the shots first rolled out. The omicron variant, which has more than 30 mutations, is adept at evading the antibodies that block the virus from invading human cells. However, Burton said children under 6 years old who receive two doses should have high levels of protection against severe illness. Adults have about 1,000 units of antibody after two shots with at least 70% protection against severe disease, while children in the study had 1,400 to 1,800 units of antibody after two doses, he said.”
• The deadline is approaching for independently owned restaurants to apply for up to $3,000 in grant funds to pay for equipment upgrades and employee-retention bonuses. From a news release: “Due to the success of last year’s inaugural program, the California Restaurant Foundation (CRF) has partnered again with California’s energy companies to provide $3,000 grants to independent restaurant owners and their staff through the Restaurants Care Resilience Fund. … Grant recipients can use this year’s funds for equipment upgrades and employee retention bonuses to alleviate industry-wide staffing issues and deferred maintenance caused by two years of incurring debt, losses and rising costs. The one-year of support services will help restaurants build back and thrive. Resilience Fund applications will be open from April 15-30, 2022 and can be found at www.restaurantscare.org/resilience. Grants will be available to all California-based restaurant owners with less than three units and less than $3 million in revenue. Priority will be given to restaurants owned by women and people of color. Last year, the Resilience Fund awarded 318 grants to independent restaurant owners, 65 percent of which were women-owned and 83 percent color-owned.”
• An finally … since climate change is the theme of the day, let’s end with it: Scientific American reports that global warming is causing animals to shrink … especially the dumber ones. Yes, really. An excerpt: “Scientists have observed this phenomenon in very different animal species from wild sheep to woodrats. But it’s especially well-documented in North American songbirds. In 2019, researchers at the University of Michigan published a dataset of more than 70,000 birds that died after hitting windows in Chicago. The data showed the body sizes for dozens of species had actually shrunk over the past 40 years. … In birds, species with bigger brains tend to be smarter and can change their behavior based on their environment. That means that they might be able to buffer themselves from increasing temperatures, says Carlos Botero, an assistant professor of biology at Washington University and the study’s co-author.”
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