This week’s Current Climate, which every Saturday brings you the latest news about the business of sustainability. Sign up to get it in your inbox every week.
New research published Friday in Science Advances found that the heat waves that have resulted from climate change have cost the global economy at least $16 trillion, and possibly as much as $65 trillion from 1992 to 2013. These costs derive from impacts to health and productivity, agricultural output, and disasters. This is one of the first studies that quantifies economic losses from global climate change, and the authors note that the years since, which they hadn’t looked at, saw even more heat waves.
Heat waves are the only economic risk caused by increasing global temperatures, either. My colleague Chloe Sorvino set her sights this week on the Mississippi river, which has seen eight barges run aground this year. The culprit? A severe national drought that now impacts most of the area of the United States. The economic damages caused by the river’s historically low water levels are estimated to be around $20 billion this year due to the supply chain disruptions it causes. That won’t be the only economic cost of this drought, though: the ongoing drought is also expected to cause lower yields of corn and potentially other crops as well. That means even higher prices for food in this inflation-battered economy.
The Big Read
Meet The Entrepreneurs Who Designed Pollution-Killing Plants
Neoplants’ super-plants can help clear indoor air of formaldehyde and other pollutants 30 times better than regular houseplants.
Discoveries And Innovations
Global temperatures will increase by as much as 2.9 degrees Celsius by the end of the century under current conditions, according to a U.N. report released Wednesday.
The number of carbon capture and storage facilities planned across the globe grew by 44 percent in 2022, but that’s only a tiny fraction of what’s needed for the world to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by mid-century.
San Francisco-based startup Heirloom uses limestone to capture carbon dioxide, then permanently and safely stores it.
Sustainability Deals Of The Week
Thin Film Solar: First solar is planning to invest $270 million into a dedicated R&D facility for thin film photovoltaics. The center will be built in Perrsyburg, Ohio.
Crop Health: Virginia-based AgroSpheres, which is developing sustainable, biologically-based pesticides, announced it raised a $22 million series B round.
On The Horizon
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine may have an unintended consequence: the International Energy Agency has updated its outlook on worldwide energy use and concluded that the war is speeding up adoption of renewable energy by regions that don’t want to be vulnerable to supply chain disruptions to oil and gas.
What Else We’re Reading This Week
Green Transportation Update
Although not always with sustainability, one aspect of autonomous vehicle technology advocates push is its ability to cut transportation-related emissions, especially in cities, by relying on battery-powered vehicles and robotaxis that deliver passengers more efficiently. So it was a bombshell that Argo AI, a promising developer of self-driving car tech that had raised more than $3 billion from Ford and Volkswagen, unexpectedly shut down this week. Ford, which blamed writedown costs on the venture for its quarterly loss, said it and Volkswagen would split up some portions of Argo and focus instead on improving driver-assistance technology rather than fully autonomous vehicles.
The Big Transportation Story
Tesla’s Electric Semi Is Almost Here, But Elon Musk Hasn’t Shared Some Heavy Details
Hyperbole and big promises are to be expected when Elon Musk promotes a new product and based on his description of the soon-to-arrive Tesla Semi, the billionaire entrepreneur is sure he can disrupt the heavy trucking market. But while he touts the electric big rig’s long driving range, other details that matter a lot to trucking companies are unknown: What does the Semi weigh (without cargo) and can it haul the same loads as diesel trucks the same distance?