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Going off-grid can be done in many ways and with varying results

South Africa’s wealthy have been turning to solar power because it is cheaper than coal, and they are increasingly able to avoid interruptions in service.

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The wealthy in South Africa are secretly switching to solar power to avoid the blackouts that have plagued the country’s coal-dependent grid in recent years.

According to Reuters, private rooftop photovoltaic panel installations by the well-to-do will bring online as much solar power generation in five months as the government has managed to stand up in a decade.

I dare not be helpless. The explanation is that easy. Financial adviser Pierre Moureau told Reuters, “Every minute I’m down, I lose money.”

The situation in South Africa is a sobering example of the attractiveness of renewables to the well-to-do in societies where infrastructure requires substantial investment to keep the lights on for all.

The Associated Press reported in July that people like Moureau are abandoning a system dependent on the nation’s aging fleet of coal plants run by the state-owned Eskom utility, which can no longer supply the country with enough electricity to meet demand.

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A South African government official told Reuters that once they are gone, they will be “lost to the energy system forever.”

Given that private citizens are expected to generate 2 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity this year, they could contribute to bridging the country’s chronic 4–6 gigawatt power shortage, the loss of people like Moureau is particularly regrettable.

Another South African said to Reuters, “If you’ve got money, you can do it yourself.” However, “those in need do not have the resources to purchase those panels.”

In this issue of Equilibrium, we’ll be keeping tabs on the growing international conflict over sustainability’s future. Saul Elbein and I, Sharon Udasin. Please share your thoughts and suggestions with us. Please enter your email address to subscribe.

Today, we’ll examine the ways in which escalating tensions between the United States and China could put the future of global climate action at risk and why the danger of nuclear war extends far beyond blasts and radiation. Before that, though: The new extreme heat risk assessment tool.

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A tool that estimates the extreme heat risk to every home in 2053

An interactive map showing the potential for extreme heat at any given U.S. address in 2053 has been released by the non-profit organization First Street Foundation.

According to The Hill’s Changing America, it details the precise effects of a changing climate and environment on a single piece of property.

As we previously reported, it is included in Risk Factor, a free tool that also assesses the likelihood of flooding and wildfire on a given property in the middle of the century.

It’s a helpful tool for homebuyers and investors to use to anticipate the impact of local climate risks over the course of a 30-year mortgage repayment period.

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To what conclusion have they come? Some variation in climate can be expected at the regional level; however, the overall trend is one of steadily rising temperatures and lengthening heat waves across the country.

As an example, in the coming weeks, Miami can anticipate seven days with temperatures above 103 degrees Fahrenheit on average.

According to forecasts by First Street, that figure is expected to rise to 34 by 2053.

According to First Street’s president, “your hottest seven days become your hottest month, essentially over the next 30 years,” as he explained to Equilibrium.

This poses a much more serious threat to people as well as to the stability of the nation’s power grid, its air conditioning system, and other essential services.

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The Valley of the Heat By mid-century, the model predicts, a blood-red band will stretch from the Mississippi River, spanning from Louisiana to Wisconsin. This phenomenon is referred to by the First Street Foundation as the “Extreme Heat Belt.”

Within that zone are over a thousand counties, currently home to over a hundred million people, who by 2053 can anticipate at least a few days each year with a heat index above 125 degrees Fahrenheit.

Presently, only about 8 million people call that kind of existence home.

Foreseeing a mass departure: First Street is attempting to develop a model that will allow their researchers to integrate future risk projections with current disaster impacts in order to create a geographical representation of the effects of climate change in the United States.

To tell you what will happen, Eby explained, “our first phase is to create the model, which is what we have done today.”

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According to Eby, climate migration is the main topic of the second stage.

“When do we see people move out of an area?” he questioned, “after a major heat event or sustained heat.” To and from what places are people relocating?

Study finds that nuclear war would result in the starvation of billions of people.

New studies have found that if the United States and Russia were to engage in a full-scale nuclear war, more than 5 billion people would perish from hunger.

A study published on Monday in Nature Food estimated the indirect death toll caused by soot from burning cities and forests, and this is the worst-case scenario.

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The researchers from Rutgers University calculated this death toll by considering the impact that drifting clouds would have on global food production by obscuring the sunlight that feeds plants.

Rutgers University climate scientist and co-author Alan Robock said, “The data tell us one thing: We must prevent a nuclear war from ever happening.”

Disrupted by the sun: Famine could spread across Africa and the Middle East, both of which rely on food imports, if the United States and Russia were to ever go to nuclear war.

If that happened, seventy-five percent of Earth’s population would perish from hunger within two years after the missiles stopped falling.

Global crop, animal, and fishing yields would drop by 90% within three to four years after the nuclear exchange.

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The destruction caused by even a “limited” war would be staggering. A localized shootout between India and Pakistan, the smallest potential nuclear war the team evaluated, would still result in a 7% drop in global food production.

More food has been lost than ever before in the history of food supply monitoring by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

Warning in bold: To quote coauthor Alan Robock: “Global food systems would be obliterated” in the event of a nuclear war of any size.

Robock argued that “if nuclear weapons exist, they can be used,” and that the world had come close to nuclear war several times. A nuclear ban is the only permanent answer to this problem.

According to the Journal, Kiev has claimed that Moscow is holding the plant hostage in an effort to exert pressure on Europe.

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According to Reuters, on Saturday, President Volodymyr Zelensky warned Russian soldiers not to shoot at or use the plant as cover for their attacks.

Please visit this link to read the entire article.

Concerned about their children’s safety on the school’s roadways?

Nearly a third of parents in a national survey who have children attending public schools in the United States expressed concern about their safety in busy drop-off zones as the new school year approaches.

Frightened of returning to class: The poll was released on Monday by the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan, and it found that more than a quarter of respondents are worried their children will be hurt on the way to school.

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Many parents have voiced concerns about the safety of their children during the school drop-off process, citing problems such as distracted drivers and high speeds as major concerns.

Poll co-director Sarah Clark, a research scientist at Michigan Medicine, said in a statement, “Many parents dread returning to the daily hassle of getting kids to school, and one of the top concerns involves children safely walking through car and bus traffic.”

Risks associated with falling: Parents reported that 56% of their children drive to school, 35% take the bus, and 9% travel on foot, two wheels, or public transportation.

Aiming for the younger and older grades: The authors polled 923 families with at least one child between the ages of 6 and 12, a sample chosen at random to be representative of the United States’ population.

The authors explained that they focused on this subset because it is typical for elementary and middle school students to have transportation provided to and from school.

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Because they are less capable of determining when it is safe to cross the street, elementary school students are also at increased risk for traffic-related injuries.

Constant worries: Almost a third of parents (31%) said they were concerned about their child’s safety on the way to and from school, and 28% said they believed a child would be injured near the car or bus drop-off areas.

Please click here to view the remaining poll results.

A CLIMATE ATTACK FROM CHINA

The Chinese Embassy in London released a statement over the weekend in which a Chinese official urged the United States to live up to its climate commitments and “stop making excuses for its own mistakes.”

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A spokesperson for the embassy released a statement in which they denied that China’s decision to end bilateral climate talks with the United States would amount to a global punishment.

After Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California visited Taiwan, China’s Foreign Ministry announced on August 5 that China would end climate and military cooperation with the United States.

The embassy has issued a statement saying, “China will continue to actively participate in international and multilateral cooperation on climate change.”

Speaking about his country’s “solemn pledge” to reduce carbon emissions to zero by the year 2060, the spokesman mentioned 2030 as the peak year for emissions.

He added that China will take part in international climate negotiations and offer assistance to other developing nations as needed.

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Changing the subject: At a roundtable discussion with British business leaders on Friday, China’s ambassador Zheng Zeguang said, “the suspension of China-US cooperation in certain areas will not affect China’s commitments to the international community on issues such as climate change.” Zheng emphasized the importance of “greatly strengthening rather than weakening cooperation” between London and Beijing.

the current level of rivalry: In an opinion piece for the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong, economics expert Andy Rowley argued that the prospects for international climate action don’t “look bright when the world’s top two carbon emitters, the U.S. and China, can’t cooperate.”

China “eschews cooperation with the U.S. on climate issues” while the United States “was basking in the triumphant glow” of passing the Inflation Reduction Act last week, Rowley said.

He claimed that China was still spending more than the United States on climate change mitigation.

That’s not the time to play “divide and conquer”: “The prospect of the world’s two largest economies and carbon dioxide emitters, the U.S. and China, carving up the world between them on climate change is absurd,” Rowley said.

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Motor Monday

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) of New York City is having trouble recouping from pandemic-related losses; Vietnam is considering the construction of a national high-speed railway system; and a hacker has given farmers the ability to repair their own tractors.

New Yorkers worry about a billion dollar MTA budget deficit leading to service cuts.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has reportedly announced that it will face a $2.5 billion deficit in 2025, leaving New York City commuters worried about possible service cuts. According to the Times, the deficit appears a year earlier than expected due to a precipitous drop in ridership during the pandemic.

The high-speed rail system in Vietnam costs $58.7 billion.

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According to Reuters, Vietnam is considering building a high-speed railway that would cost $57.8 billion to support the country’s rapidly expanding economy. According to Reuters, the 960-mile railway that would span the length of the country would partially open by 2032 and fully open between 2045 and 2050.

Farmer jailbreaks John Deere tractors

According to Wired, an Australian hacker has released instructions for “jailbreaking” the digital controls that tractor manufacturer John Deere & Co. installs on its equipment. This will allow farmers and local mechanics to perform repairs on their own machines. ‘We want farmers to be able to repair their stuff for when things go wrong,’ said hacker Sick Codes to Wired.

For the online version of this newsletter and related stories, please visit The Hill’s Sustainability section. Until then, have a good night and we’ll see you in the morning.

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