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Menopausal Mother Nature

News about Climate Change and our Planet


An Early Leader on Clean Cars Now Works to Delay Them

When Toyota paid almost $1 billion to become an official sponsor of the Tokyo Olympics, the company hoped the event would be an opportunity to put a spotlight on its hydrogen fuel-cell cars.

That technology, unlike traditional gas-powered cars, produces no planet-warming emissions, and Toyota has long insisted that it’s the future of driving in a world that needs cleaner vehicles to avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change.

But, as with the Tokyo Games themselves, things didn’t turn out the way planners expected. Most experts say that the world is now on the cusp of a major shift toward another new technology: electric cars.

As I wrote in an article this week, however, Toyota, which has poured vast resources into hydrogen cars, is pushing back against electric vehicles. Critics say that, in the process, the automaker has become the auto industry’s biggest opponent of climate action.

Quotable: “They really were on the right path, especially with the introduction of the Prius, and they still talk about climate change,” said Margo T. Oge, a former senior official at the Environmental Protection Agency. “But they’re fighting policies for electric vehicles across the globe, and that’s hurting the effort of policymakers in setting any ambitious measures.”

The season Americans thought they understood — of playtime and ease, of a sun we could trust, air we could breathe and a natural world that was, at worst, indifferent — has become something else, something ominous and immense. This is the summer we saw climate change merge from the abstract to the now, the summer we realized that every summer from now on will be more like this than any quaint memory of past summers.

World leaders will gather in Glasgow in November for a crucial round of climate talks, and The Times will be there, too. We’re bringing together scientists, business executives, academics, conference delegates and other opinion leaders at the New York Times Climate Hub. To find out how you can join, online or in person, visit

You might have seen the shocking images in your social media feed recently: passengers trapped in flooded subway cars in Zhengzhou, China, or a woman wading through waist-deep water at a New York City subway station.

The recent flooding has set off alarm bells for subway managers around the world: Their systems are being overwhelmed by increasingly extreme weather linked to climate change.

That’s bitterly ironic, because public transportation plays a critical role in climate policy by reducing the number of cars in big cities. If commuters become spooked by images of inundated stations and start shunning subways for private cars, it could worsen urban air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

You can read the article I wrote with my colleague John Schwartz here.

Leer en español: La crisis climática convierte los metros del mundo en zonas de inundación.

We are not happy with John Schwartz.

I know I speak for all my colleagues on the New York Times climate team when I say that. Why? Because, after 21 years at The Times, John is leaving us this week to take up a position teaching journalism at the University of Texas, Austin.

We’ll get over it. You can’t stay mad at a guy like John. But, still, it’s a big loss.

For one thing, he’s a very, very smart reporter. The kind who makes his editors look good. I know this from experience. John has had more than 2,400 bylines in almost every section of the paper, and nearly 200 of those have landed on Page One. Numbers don’t lie.

In addition to that, though, there’s something numbers can’t show: He’s one of the wittiest and most likable people at The New York Times. Rather than me try to explain that, just take a look at the article he wrote this week about his long run at The Times. You’ll get the picture. You’ll also get the story behind that muffin car, and how he got to fly a jetpack. A real one. Seriously.

Our loss is Texas’s gain. You can hang your hat on that.

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