Climate change threatens chemical plants across the U.S. : NPR

A chemical plant close to Lake Charles, La., burns after sustaining harm from Hurricane Laura in August 2020. A brand new evaluation finds about one third of hazardous chemical amenities in the US are in danger from climate-driven excessive climate.


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A chemical plant close to Lake Charles, La., burns after sustaining harm from Hurricane Laura in August 2020. A brand new evaluation finds about one third of hazardous chemical amenities in the US are in danger from climate-driven excessive climate.


Almost one third of the hazardous chemical amenities in the US are in danger from climate-driven floods, storms and wildfires, in keeping with a brand new evaluation by the Authorities Accountability Workplace.

The federal watchdog analyzed greater than 10,000 factories, refineries, water therapy crops and different amenities that manufacture, retailer or use harmful chemical substances. They discovered that greater than 3,200 of them are positioned in locations the place they face harm from sea stage rise, hurricane storm surge, wildfires or flooding from heavy rain.

“Current pure disasters have demonstrated the potential for pure hazards to set off fires, explosions, and releases of poisonous chemical substances at amenities,” the report’s authors notice.

The report calls on the Environmental Safety Company to require amenities to arrange for floods, energy outages and different results of local weather change.

Local weather-driven storms have broken quite a few chemical crops, refineries and water therapy crops in recent times.

Essentially the most stark examples have unfolded throughout hurricanes. In 2021, Hurricane Ida brought on leaks and energy outages at amenities from Louisiana to New Jersey. In 2020, Hurricane Laura pressured tens of hundreds of individuals close to Lake Charles, La., to shelter in place after an area chemical plant was broken and started leaking harmful chlorine gasoline. And, in 2017, flooding from Hurricane Harvey brought on huge sewage leaks from water therapy crops, and brought on not less than one chemical plant to catch hearth and burn for days.

Flooding is by far essentially the most widespread hazard, the report finds.

Of the three,219 amenities positioned in hurt’s approach, greater than 2,400 of them are at excessive threat for flooding, in keeping with flood maps produced by the Federal Emergency Administration Company. And in some locations the chance could also be even increased than these maps counsel, as a result of FEMA doesn’t keep in mind long-term sea stage rise or different forms of climate-driven flooding.

Inadequate or out-of-date details about climate dangers makes it tougher for corporations to arrange their amenities for the results of local weather change, in keeping with the brand new report.

The amenities analyzed within the new report are positioned in all 50 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico. They’re concentrated within the industrial core of the nation. Almost 40% of amenities are positioned within the Midwest or Nice Lakes areas, and about 30% are positioned within the 14 southern states between North Carolina and New Mexico.

Inside every area or state, some individuals are in additional hazard than others. The report notes that socially weak individuals, together with poor individuals, Indigenous individuals and Black individuals, usually tend to stay close to amenities that use hazardous chemical substances.

For instance, if a flood causes chemical substances to leak into the air, or a hurricane causes a fireplace to interrupt out, the individuals dwelling close by are most definitely to endure from air pollution publicity whereas they’re additionally making an attempt to deal with harm to their very own properties.

“It is a horrible nexus of burden and vulnerability,” says Ana Baptista, an environmental coverage professor on the New College. “You’ve gotten communities which might be dealing with an entire host of burdens when it comes to air pollution publicity, they usually might also have much less means to evacuate in an emergency.”

The report suggests a number of ways in which the EPA can defend individuals by requiring the businesses that personal these amenities to arrange for climate-driven climate.

For instance, if a chemical plant shops substances that catch hearth if they aren’t refrigerated, then that plant must be ready for the extended energy outages that climate-driven storms, warmth waves and wildfires could cause. Amenities positioned in flood zones have to be sure that they’ll hold the water out of delicate areas.

Such necessities are already included in rules for amenities that deal with hazardous chemical substances. However the EPA can do a greater job implementing these rules, the report finds. For instance, the company may prioritize inspections at amenities which might be positioned subsequent to weak communities and at elevated threat from local weather change.

The EPA issued a response to the report saying the company “typically agrees” with the suggestions and laying out a multi-year timeline for decreasing climate-related threat to hazardous chemical amenities.

Web3 Threatens to Segregate Our Online Lives

In February, shit hit the fan within the traditional approach: An outdated tweet resurfaced. Brantly Millegan, director of operations at Ethereum Title Service (ENS), a web3 enterprise, had written the next in Could 2016: “Gay acts are evil. Transgenderism doesn’t exist. Abortion is homicide. Contraception is a perversion. So is masturbation and porn.” After Millegan confirmed that these have been nonetheless his beliefs, debate within the crypto and ENS neighborhood exploded. One facet argued that Millegan’s private beliefs had nothing to do along with his position at ENS, and apart from, cancel tradition is a web2 factor, not a web3 factor. The opposite facet took the “Effectively why ought to we assist and work with an asshole” stance.

This sort of state of affairs is exhaustingly acquainted on a platform like Twitter, the place the facility to reasonable on-line communities has ballooned right into a matter of constitutional significance. However being a mod didn’t use to be this tough. Within the heady days of the early web, I’m instructed, the specificity and measurement of social platforms made it straightforward to know which content material didn’t belong, and the extra intimate relationships made judging intent a not-impossible job. Kicking somebody out of the chat additionally held much less severe repercussions than, say, deciding whether or not to deplatform the president of the US. The query of whether or not a social media web site like Twitter has the appropriate to silence unhealthy actors didn’t finish with the brand new administration, and web3 applied sciences appear to supply a tantalizing different.

The controversy over Millegan might have raged on for days with no outcomes—besides the ENS neighborhood had energy to take care of the difficulty straight. Those that had purchased ENS, a sort of Ethereum-based area title, got $ENS, so-called governance tokens that enable holders to vote within the ENS DAO (decentralized autonomous group) that manages the corporate. In concept, governance tokens are used to decentralize energy in web3 enterprises; in observe, nonetheless, holders will usually delegate their votes. Most $ENS holders had delegated a big share of their voting energy to Millegan.

However after his views turned clear, $ENS holders shortly organized to begin un-delegating their votes from Millegan. By the top of the night time, Millegan went from carrying a majority vote to having lower than 1 % of voting energy. “We’re, on just a few hours discover and with out centralized permission, with out board conferences, globally, with out censorship, on a impartial computational substrate, autonomously, un-delegating our gov. votes to this man,” wrote @dystopiabreaker, one of many principal organizers, on Twitter. “Remind me once more how would you do this at your C-Corp?”

At first look, governance tokens are an exciting, utopian concept, as a result of proper now the web sucks. Shall I checklist the methods? Low-cost and divisive content material, algorithms that categorize customers into kinds of shoppers whereas obfuscating the creators and the individuals they wish to see and interact with, information harvesting, et cetera, et cetera. Even having a crumb of management would really feel so good within the present paradigm. The issue is, a crumb is likely to be all you get, if that.

The problem with governance tokens, like so many different issues, comes right down to distribution. Whereas the ENS state of affairs might appear to be a case of direct democracy, with one individual equaling one vote, that’s virtually by no means the case.

An ‘Unhinged’ Putin Threatens Dangerous Escalation in Ukraine War

Nevertheless, Putin—whose navy has carried out much more poorly in Ukraine than anybody anticipated and has confronted heavy, embarrassing setbacks—additionally hardly appears prone to settle for defeat or a stalemate in Ukraine. “We’re in a extremely harmful place; having pushed all of the chips into the pot and never succeeded thus far, he’s ratcheting up the brutality and focusing on of civilians, and threatening nuclear penalties if all of us proceed to assist Ukraine,” Schake says. “It’s a extremely harmful second. … I can consider a bunch of the way this goes dangerous.”

Dmitri Alperovich, a cybersecurity veteran, cofounder of Crowdstrike, and now the founding father of the Silverado Coverage Accelerator, says that the breadth and pace of financial sanctions in opposition to Russia absolutely shocked Putin. “These may have a devastating impression on Russia and its economic system,” he says. “I do concern we’re placing him able the place he has nothing to lose.”

It appears seemingly that Russia’s actions, each in Ukraine and probably overseas in cyber realms, will solely develop in violence and depth. “Putin escalating and escalating to forestall loss is the almost definitely state of affairs,” Schake says. “I’ve a tough time seeing what the face-saving choice is for Russia.”

Outcomes {that a} week in the past, pre-invasion, might need appeared a attainable finish to the Russian-initiated disaster—like a tacit settlement that Ukraine wouldn’t ascend to EU or NATO membership or an development of the so-called Minsk Agreements that may acknowledge Russia’s occupation of Crimea or jap Ukraine—appear off the desk given the punishing warfare and Western unity already underway.

As a substitute, Alperovich says that Russia could nicely transfer to escalate its personal extra wide-ranging financial warfare in opposition to the West in response, weaponizing commonplace Russian commodity exports like fertilizer, aluminum, nickel, and titanium to punish Western buying and selling companions, additional foul international provide chains, and warmth up already excessive inflation. Whereas Russia’s personal reliance on oil and fuel exports makes vitality an unlikely lever besides as a final resort, Alperovich notes, as an illustration, that Ukraine is the world’s main exporter of the neon fuel used to fabricate semiconductors. Any Russian efforts to disrupt these exports would additional snarl chip manufacturing that’s already seen pandemic shortages freeze industries like automobile manufacturing. “These are areas the place they’ll inflict financial prices with out struggling massively themselves,” Alperovich says.

Whereas Russia to date has not appeared to make use of a lot of its heralded cyber capabilities as a part of its Ukraine invasion, the West’s sustained marketing campaign in opposition to Russia will nearly actually see cyber penalties within the days and weeks forward. “It’s at all times been my rivalry that if we reduce them off from SWIFT, we’re going to be in for some retaliation in opposition to our monetary sector. I believe that is nearly a certainty,” Clapper says.

Alperovich additionally says that he expects to see cyber actions by Russia geared toward breaking Europe and NATO’s unity, however that such results would possibly nicely show restricted. “It’s actually laborious to have lasting injury with cyber,” he says. “They could have the ability to flip issues off for just a few hours or days, however we’ve got loads of capability to get issues again on-line. However it could actually trigger an escalation that requires us to reply.”

A lawsuit threatens drastic cut to UC Berkeley’s fall enrollment : NPR

A lawsuit from offended neighbors threatens U.C. Berkeley with having to chop enrollment by a 3rd to cut back environmental impression, and dropping $57 million. It is now as much as the state supreme court docket.


A lawsuit threatens to chop UC Berkeley’s fall enrollment by a 3rd. Now the college is asking California’s Supreme Courtroom to step in. In the meantime, the college needs to ship out acceptance letters whereas it appeals the enrollment freeze. Sarah Hosseini from member station KQED has the story.

SARAH HOSSEINI: Seventeen-year-old Aniyah Story, an Oakland Excessive Faculty senior, is making an attempt to resolve the place to go to varsity.

ANIYAH STORY: Each time I see, like, a school in my e mail, I get actually excited as a result of it is round that point the place selections come out. So let me see if I can discover it.

HOSSEINI: She comes throughout as sharp, passionate and concerned. So it is not laborious to think about her inbox filled with acceptance letters. Amongst her high picks, proper on her dwelling turf, is UC Berkeley. However the letter from them says…

STORY: It says, we need to thanks for contemplating UC Berkeley. After which they form of clarify the scenario.

HOSSEINI: …In brief, that her odds simply bought slimmer.

STORY: I felt simply form of like my probabilities simply form of slipped away from me.

HOSSEINI: A 2019 lawsuit by neighbors of the UC Berkeley campus has resulted in a choose chopping incoming enrollment by about 30%. Just a few blocks away from the UC Berkeley campus, retiree Phil Bokovoy lives in a giant home on a large road with views of the hills. Within the final 20 years, enrollment at his alma mater grew by 40%. He says the neighborhood has modified loads since then.

PHIL BOKOVOY: Housing displacement, noise, elevated waste – and I actually am unhappy at what we have misplaced in Berkeley, and that is why I have been main our neighborhood’s efforts to carry the college accountable.

HOSSEINI: Bokovoy is president of Save Berkeley’s Neighborhoods, the group that filed the unique lawsuit along with town of Berkeley.

BOKOVOY: This home throughout the road used to have a household that lived there, with youngsters, and it was what we name a mini dorm. And two homes up right here, there’s 14 college students residing in 2,500 sq. ft.

HOSSEINI: Bokovoy says earlier than Cal accepts extra college students, it wants to offer housing for those it already has. Ten p.c of Berkeley’s college students reported they’d skilled homelessness whereas on the school in a 2017 survey. Cal finally agreed to pay town $83 million, and town withdrew from the go well with. However the neighbors endured, and in August, the court docket required the college to freeze enrollment at 2020 ranges. A choose stated it wants to check and handle the increasing pupil physique’s environmental impacts on town at giant, one thing he stated it repeatedly didn’t do. Now Cal is asking the state Supreme Courtroom to pause that cap whereas it appeals. Cal spokesman Dan Mogulof.

DAN MOGULOF: We’re within the course of proper now of exploring each conceivable choice to mitigate the choice if it may possibly’t be reversed.

HOSSEINI: Mogulof says the college is making an attempt to construct extra housing, however these sorts of authorized challenges sluggish issues down. In the meantime, he says admitting fewer freshmen would price the college about $57 million, doubtlessly limiting monetary support for low-income college students and shrinking class choices.

MOGULOF: We all know how laborious these 1000’s of scholars have labored with a purpose to achieve entry into Berkeley, and we do not need to allow them to down.

HOSSEINI: Mogulof says the college is contemplating partnering with different faculties and inspiring college students to graduate or take their programs on-line. Late final week, Gov. Gavin Newsom joined Cal in asking the state Supreme Courtroom to remain the choose’s order. Whereas all that is happening, Oakland Excessive Faculty senior Aniyah Story is aware of she would not have way more time to resolve the place she’s going to high school.

STORY: And it is simply very emotional about it, as a result of this can be a college that I am very occupied with going to, that a whole lot of my buddies and classmates are occupied with going to.

HOSSEINI: UC Berkeley is urging the Supreme Courtroom to behave shortly so we will let 1000’s of would-be college students like story know what’s attainable by the tip of March. For NPR information, I am Sarah Hosseini in Berkeley.

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