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Hello there and thanks for checking out this week’s edition of the Economic Perspective! We feature pieces on big rain events, a super cool river animation data visualizer, Oregon's carbon capture funding and more.
It's only recently that General Circulation Models (GCMs) have allowed us to predict the weather (and even longer-term climate variability and change) with impressive accuracy. But for ages humans have been trying to predict the weather through a variety of means: case in point - Groundhog Day. February 2 each year. The origins of Groundhog Day are a bit fuzzy, but sometime around the mid 1800s a tradition developed around the potential of groundhog behavior to predict the arrival of warmer temperatures. For those of you in cold places, here's hoping that spring is coming soon!
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Carbon Capture Funds Approved in Oregon
The Oregon Climate Action Commission on Friday approved $10 million in investments for working and natural lands, with the goal to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. These include financial incentives and technical assistance to implement best management practices (such as nutrient management plans, reduced tillage, etc.) for landowners, as well as funding for carbon capture projects. This funding is provided by the Natural and Working Lands Fund, part of the Climate Resilience Package (House Bill 3409). This bill was signed by Gov. Tina Kotek last year and contains over a dozen bills aimed at reducing climate pollution and getting Oregon closer to their goal of reducing emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. OPB
Early Testing Suggests Highway Guardrails Might Need Upgrades for Heavy EVs
As EVs become more popular, transportation officials are evaluating concerns over the weight disparity between lighter gas-powered cars and EVs. These are heavier due to the batteries needed for the cars to achieve their travel range. During a crash test at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the guardrail barely slowed down a Rivian truck, and the Army Corps crashed a Tesla with similar results. However, most EVs weigh in around 5,000 pounds, which is about the weight of a typical gas powered truck or SUV The Hill.
Adoption of Zero-Emission Trucks is Rapidly Increasing
A new white paper from a nonprofit clean transportation advocacy group, Calstart, shows that the adoption of electric trucks is taking off nationally, especially in states that adopted versions of California’s Advanced Clean Trucks rule. The Zero-emission trucks (ZET) are still less than 1% of trucks on U.S. roads today. The Class 2b cargo vans are driving the majority of these increases with nearly 15,000 operating. Companies such as BrightDrop and Ford are providing price points that are allowing for quicker adoption of ZETs. According to the EPA, the transportation sector generates about 28% of the nation’s GHG emissions, with medium- and heavy-duty trucks accounting for almost a third of the GHG emissions; however, they only represent about 10% of vehicles on the road. Read More at FreightWaves.
More History-making Rain Events
Southern California’s big rain events in the last month have set records and cost millions in property damage. Oxnard, CA had more than 3 inches of rain in an hour on December 21st 2023. The 1000-year, 1-hr rain event for Oxnard is about 2 inches of rain in an hour (according to NOAA’s Atlas-14 – that’s the hourly rain amount expected to happen about every 1000 years). Similarly, just last week San Diego, CA had another 1000-year rain event, with about 4 inches of rain in just a few hours. That’s about a quarter of their annual total rain in just a few hours; this is a place with stormwater systems not designed for anything close to that intensity. Read more about the water temperature and atmospheric causes at LA Times.
Norway Poised to Approve Deep-sea Mining
Norway has become one of the first countries to approve deep-sea metal mining exploration. A vote by their parliament earlier this month has allowed companies to begin exploring the profitability of extracting critical minerals from the sea-bed such as sulfide and manganese. Commercial-scale mining will require another vote and Norway has ensured that its sea-bed activity will be in line with their obligations to international law on sea-bed protection. Despite this, Norway has already drawn criticism from activists and scientists questioning the environmental and economic impact of deep-sea mining. New sources of metals will be needed to support the global transition to EVs and renewables. Read More here and here
Data Visualization of the Week
Where a Raindrop Goes
Not your typical data visualization (this takes a few minutes to load the animation), but it’s incredible it can even work just through a web application. What it does: click anywhere on map of the U.S. and it will show you how rainfall at that location would make its way to the ocean (or possibly great lakes or other “final” location). After the initial click and the stream distances are shown,double click the map to start the animation. It uses USGS National Hydrography Dataset flowlines and animates the flowpath through aerial imagery. https://river-runner.samlearner.com/