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 services in the US are in danger from climate-driven excessive climate.


disguise caption

toggle caption


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 services in the US are in danger from climate-driven excessive climate.


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

The federal watchdog analyzed greater than 10,000 factories, refineries, water remedy vegetation and different services that manufacture, retailer or use harmful chemical compounds. They discovered that greater than 3,200 of them are situated 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 compounds at services,” the report’s authors word.

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

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

Essentially the most stark examples have unfolded throughout hurricanes. In 2021, Hurricane Ida triggered leaks and energy outages at services 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 a neighborhood chemical plant was broken and commenced leaking harmful chlorine fuel. And, in 2017, flooding from Hurricane Harvey triggered large sewage leaks from water remedy vegetation, and triggered a minimum of one chemical plant to catch hearth and burn for days.

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

Of the three,219 services situated in hurt’s method, greater than 2,400 of them are at excessive danger for flooding, in line with flood maps produced by the Federal Emergency Administration Company. And in some locations the chance could also be even greater than these maps counsel, as a result of FEMA doesn’t have in mind long-term sea stage rise or different kinds of climate-driven flooding.

Inadequate or out-of-date details about climate dangers makes it harder for firms to organize their services for the results of local weather change, in line with the brand new report.

The services analyzed within the new report are situated in all 50 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico. They’re concentrated within the industrial core of the nation. Practically 40% of services are situated within the Midwest or Nice Lakes areas, and about 30% are situated 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 folks, together with poor folks, Indigenous folks and Black folks, usually tend to reside close to services that use hazardous chemical compounds.

For instance, if a flood causes chemical compounds to leak into the air, or a hurricane causes a hearth to interrupt out, the folks dwelling close by are probably to endure from air pollution publicity whereas they’re additionally attempting to deal with harm to their very own houses.

“It is a horrible nexus of burden and vulnerability,” says Ana Baptista, an environmental coverage professor on the New College. “You will have communities which can be going through a complete host of burdens by way of air pollution publicity, and so they can also have much less means to evacuate in an emergency.”

The report suggests a number of ways in which the EPA can shield folks by requiring the businesses that personal these services to organize 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 may cause. Services situated in flood zones must make it possible for they will preserve the water out of delicate areas.

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

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

Web3 Threatens to Segregate Our Online Lives

In February, shit hit the fan within the ordinary means: An previous tweet resurfaced. Brantly Millegan, director of operations at Ethereum Identify Service (ENS), a web3 enterprise, had written the next in Might 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 had been nonetheless his beliefs, debate within the crypto and ENS group exploded. One aspect argued that Millegan’s private beliefs had nothing to do together with his function at ENS, and moreover, cancel tradition is a web2 factor, not a web3 factor. The opposite aspect took the “Properly why ought to we assist and work with an asshole” stance.

This sort of scenario is exhaustingly acquainted on a platform like Twitter, the place the facility to average 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 informed, the specificity and measurement of social platforms made it simple to know which content material didn’t belong, and the extra intimate relationships made judging intent a not-impossible activity. Kicking somebody out of the chat additionally held much less severe repercussions than, say, deciding whether or not to deplatform the president of america. The query of whether or not a social media web site like Twitter has the appropriate to silence dangerous actors didn’t finish with the brand new administration, and web3 applied sciences appear to supply a tantalizing different.

The talk over Millegan might have raged on for days with no outcomes—besides the ENS group had energy to take care of the difficulty immediately. Those that had purchased ENS, a type of Ethereum-based area identify, got $ENS, so-called governance tokens that permit 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, nevertheless, holders will typically 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 rapidly organized to start out un-delegating their votes from Millegan. By the tip of the evening, Millegan went from carrying a majority vote to having lower than 1 p.c of voting energy. “We’re, on a couple of 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 essential 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 thought, 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 forms of customers whereas obfuscating the creators and the individuals they need to see and interact with, knowledge 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 all the way down to distribution. Whereas the ENS scenario might appear to be a case of direct democracy, with one particular person equaling one vote, that’s nearly by no means the case.

An ‘Unhinged’ Putin Threatens Dangerous Escalation in Ukraine War

Nonetheless, 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 very harmful place; having pushed all of the chips into the pot and never succeeded to this point, he’s ratcheting up the brutality and concentrating on of civilians, and threatening nuclear penalties if all of us proceed to help Ukraine,” Schake says. “It’s a very harmful second. … I can consider a bunch of how 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 velocity of financial sanctions towards Russia certainly shocked Putin. “These could have a devastating affect on Russia and its financial system,” he says. “I do worry we’re placing him able the place he has nothing to lose.”

It appears possible 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 stop loss is the most probably 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, may 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 japanese Ukraine—appear off the desk given the punishing warfare and Western unity already underway.

As a substitute, Alperovich says that Russia could effectively transfer to escalate its personal extra wide-ranging financial struggle towards the West in response, weaponizing customary 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 power 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 will 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 towards Russia will virtually definitely see cyber penalties within the days and weeks forward. “It’s all the time been my competition that if we lower them off from SWIFT, we’re going to be in for some retaliation towards our monetary sector. I feel that is virtually a certainty,” Clapper says.

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

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

A lawsuit from indignant neighbors threatens U.C. Berkeley with having to chop enrollment by a 3rd to scale back environmental influence, and shedding $57 million. It is now as much as the state supreme courtroom.


A lawsuit threatens to chop UC Berkeley’s fall enrollment by a 3rd. Now the college is asking California’s Supreme Court docket to step in. In the meantime, the college desires 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 attempting to determine the place to go to school.

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

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

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

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

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

HOSSEINI: A 2019 lawsuit by neighbors of the UC Berkeley campus has resulted in a choose reducing 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 group’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 children, and it become what we name a mini dorm. And two homes up right here, there’s 14 college students residing in 2,500 sq. toes.

HOSSEINI: Bokovoy says earlier than Cal accepts extra college students, it wants to supply housing for those it already has. Ten p.c of Berkeley’s college students reported they’d skilled homelessness whereas on the faculty in a 2017 survey. Cal ultimately agreed to pay town $83 million, and town withdrew from the swimsuit. However the neighbors persevered, and in August, the courtroom required the college to freeze enrollment at 2020 ranges. A choose stated it wants to review and deal with the increasing pupil physique’s environmental impacts on town at giant, one thing he stated it repeatedly did not do. Now Cal is asking the state Supreme Court docket 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 attempting to construct extra housing, however these sorts of authorized challenges gradual issues down. In the meantime, he says admitting fewer freshmen would value the college about $57 million, probably limiting monetary assist for low-income college students and shrinking class choices.

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

HOSSEINI: Mogulof says the college is contemplating partnering with different colleges 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 Court docket to remain the choose’s order. Whereas all that is happening, Oakland Excessive Faculty senior Aniyah Story is aware of she would not have far more time to determine the place she’s going to highschool.

STORY: And it is simply very emotional about it, as a result of it is a faculty that I am very serious about going to, that plenty of my buddies and classmates are serious about going to.

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

Copyright © 2022 NPR. All rights reserved. Go to our web site phrases of use and permissions pages at for additional info.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This textual content will not be in its remaining type and could also be up to date or revised sooner or later. Accuracy and availability might fluctuate. The authoritative document of NPR’s programming is the audio document.