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TCN Digest: As 2022 eased into 2023, news offered hints of what to expect

In this installment of TCN Digest, we recount some important climate and energy developments that occurred around the turn of the year and examine the indications that they provide about the months ahead.

Elon Musk’s Twitter gives climate misinformation a new lease on life

With the social media platform in turmoil, scientists from Texas and elsewhere are pondering their next steps as they watch their reader engagement drop and dismissal of climate change rise.

Coral reefs near Texas may not escape greater damage from climate change

Coral reefs – indicators of overall ocean health – have fared better in the Flower Garden Banks Marine Sanctuary than many reefs elsewhere. But researchers have now concluded that could change as Gulf waters heat up.

TCN Digest: Reading some of the tea leaves left by mid-term voters

Republican victories in Texas mean explicit, state-level climate action seems sure to be a continuing nonstarter. But the failure of a “red wave” to materialize nationally means Biden’s legislative achievements appear secure.

Analysis: What candidates say (and don’t say) on their campaign websites

We examined the websites of the Republican and Democratic candidates for Texas governor, land commissioner and railroad commissioner. Their discussions of issues weren’t always what you might expect.

The magnetic pull of electric vehicles is slowly drawing Texas in

As consumer interest in EVs grows, government officials at all levels in Texas are working to decide how to add infrastructure to support more EV ownership in the state, a transportation researcher at Texas A&M said.

Hurricane Ian’s climate change connections: A reading (and viewing) list

A sampling of recent coverage – articles, maps, videos and photos that explain and illustrate hurricane intensification, the growing hazards of storm surge and the role of population growth in vulnerable areas.

TCN Digest: Will climate change figure significantly in the 2022 midterms?

Recent polling paints a mixed picture of whether voters will assign importance to climate issues – and how much – as they decide how to vote in hundreds of congressional and state races across the country.

Space station instrument may help cities combat extreme heat

A NASA experiment could inform mitigation of health-threatening urban heat worsened by climate change. Readings just after sunrise showed areas in central Houston and near roadways were far warmer than the city’s outskirts.

Persistent natural gas leaks draw scrutiny, inspire calls for action

Industry promotes natural gas as a climate solution – burned in power plants, it yields less greenhouse pollution than coal. Research, however, continues to highlight gas leaks’ climate, safety and health hazards.

Supreme Court limits EPA authority to reduce greenhouse pollution

While the court’s decision didn’t go as far as some climate-action advocates feared, it restricts the government’s options for reducing emissions and signals possible curbs on other federal regulation.

Extreme summer heat could rival Texas’ record-setting summer of 2011

Sweltering conditions in a new summer forecast include frequent highs of 105 and hotter. And there’s no end to the state’s current drought in sight. La Niña, often associated with drought in Texas, is predicted to persist.

Texas could have foreseen 2021 cold-wave disaster, new study concludes

A warming climate hasn’t erased the risk of cold extremes, and the Texas power grid wasn’t prepared for the frigid blast that blanketed the state in February 2021. Will it be ready for the next one?

As heat waves increase, green roofs could help cool Texas cities

Vegetation-covered roofs may be challenging to create and maintain, but they can be up to 40 degrees cooler than conventional roofs. They can also reduce flash flooding and provide islands of habitat for pollinators.

TCN Digest: “Now or never” – IPCC on keeping warming below dangerous levels

The U.N.-sponsored body assessed various strategies for limiting pollution-fueled climate change to avoid the worst impacts. “Carbon dioxide removal” supplements emission reductions in some of them.

Q&A: Daniel Cohan of Rice University on charting a path out of climate gridlock

In his new book, the atmospheric scientist and environmental engineering professor dives into diplomacy, technology and policy, arguing that action in all three areas is needed for progress against climate change.

Millions of Texans lack home weatherization that can save energy, lives

“There’s a huge number of homes out there that cannot hold a [set temperature] for even a minute – if the AC shuts off, that house is getting hot,” a Texas energy efficiency expert said.

Damned if they do or don’t? New eco-warrior billionaires spark debate

Some hyper-wealthy people are pledging donations to fight climate change and protect ecosystems. Is it a positive, even “game-changing” development? Or should governments constrain carbon-spewing luxuries?

The threat ramps up for a hot, dry La Niña spring in Texas

After a record-mild autumn and a freakishly warm December, much of Texas could sink into its worst drought in a decade. That prospect is ominous – a reminder of the state’s catastrophic heat wave and drought in 2011.

As climate-linked crisis of plastic pollution grows, we keep cranking out plastic

From 1950-2017, the world produced 8.3 billion metric tons of plastics. Global production has skyrocketed – it totaled 381 million metric tons (MMT) in 2015 alone. Now, humans create 242 MMT of plastic waste each year.

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