Menopausal Mother Nature

News about Climate Change and our Planet


How Trump’s Legacy Gets Undone

This afternoon the new president of the United States, Joe Biden, will start signing a raft of executive orders to undo President Trump’s legacy, including on climate. In addition to rejoining the Paris Agreement, Mr. Biden intends to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline permit in his first hours in office.

In the following days, Mr. Biden will issue a series of executive orders that start the process of rolling back some of the Trump administration’s significant environmental decisions — like restricting the science that can be used to create new air and water protections — and lay the groundwork for ambitious new policies, people with knowledge of the team’s plans said.

Fossil fuel advocates said they have been surprised by the intensity of the Biden team’s focus on climate change. “I underestimated the level of seriousness that these guys had about this,” said one.

All Trump’s rollbacks: The Trump administration reversed more than 100 environmental rules. Here’s the full list.

Electric vehicles are better for the climate than gas-powered cars, but many Americans are still reluctant to buy them. One reason: The larger upfront cost.

New data, however, shows that electric cars may actually save drivers money in the long-run.

Electric cars tend to have lower maintenance costs. That’s because battery-electric engines have fewer moving parts that can break compared with gas-powered engines and they don’t require oil changes. Electric vehicles also use regenerative braking, which reduces wear and tear. — Veronica Penney

Why it matters: Climate scientists say vehicle electrification is one of the best ways to reduce planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions. In the United States, the transportation sector is the largest source of emissions, most of which come from cars and trucks.

Using technology to suck carbon dioxide out of the sky has long been dismissed as an impractical way to fight climate change — physically possible, but far too expensive to be of much use.

But, as we wrote this week, with global warming accelerating and society continuing to emit greenhouse gases at a dangerous rate, the idea is gaining support from large companies facing pressure to act on climate.

The problem: Some experts warn that big companies could hide behind the uncertain promise of removing carbon later to avoid cutting emissions deeply today. — Brad Plumer and Christopher Flavelle

Quotable: “It has a role to play, particularly for sectors that are very difficult to decarbonize, but it shouldn’t be an excuse for everyone to keep emitting greenhouse gases indefinitely,” said Jennifer Wilcox, professor of chemical engineering and energy policy at the University of Pennsylvania, on carbon removal.

The Nebra sky disk, a 12-inch wheel of bronze and inlaid gold, has been called the oldest known depiction of the heavens. But exactly how old is a matter of bitter dispute.

The trouble starts with the disk’s provenance: It was plundered from a hillside in Germany by looters, sold to a trader in black market antiquities and recovered in a sting operation.

The looters say they dug it up with a cache of Bronze Age items, but some researchers argue that the disk must have been found at another location and reburied at the Bronze Age site to make it more valuable.

A paper published late last year offered a strong rebuttal to the case for a later date. While some believe this should settle the argument, other archaeologists think the debate will, and should, continue. — Becky Ferreira

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