ICYMI: Spitting Seal, Warmest Year, Toughest Auto Regs & Chopping Down Cherry Trees

Environmental news of the week for busy people

Illustration by Peter Arkle

By Paul Rauber

Illustrations by Peter Arkle

March 22, 2024

A gray seal at a nature reserve off the Isle of Wight is observed spitting at a low-flying white-tailed eagle

The World Meteorological Organization confirms that 2023 was Earth’s warmest year on record, perhaps in 100,000 years, by a wide margin. The anomaly cannot be accounted for by current climate models. “We’re in uncharted territory,” says the head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. 

Rising sea levels at Washington, DC’s Tidal Basin will lead to 140 of its famous cherry trees being cut down.

The Biden administration issues the strictest climate regulations ever for cars and trucks. It toughens the average emission limits across automakers’ entire product lines, which will encourage them to make more electric and hybrid vehicles.

In a campaign speech, Donald Trump says he would impose a “100 percent tariff” on electric cars made in Mexico, threatens a “bloodbath” if he doesn’t get elected, then returns to his threatened tariff: “They’re not going to sell those cars.”

E-bikes now outsell conventional bicycles in Japan and Germany.

A study funded by outdoor company Patagonia finds that the four dams on the Lower Snake River in Washington, plus the reservoirs behind them, are responsible for 1.8 million tons of greenhouse gases annually—as much as the emissions from 400,000 cars.

Arizona will not renew leases with a company that pumps groundwater to grow alfalfa to feed cows on Saudi Arabia’s largest dairy.

Most countries grossly underestimate their greenhouse gas emissions. 

Harvard ends its long-running experiment in atmospheric geoengineering

The EPA’s latest Toxic Release Inventory shows a 21 percent decrease in toxic emissions from 2012 to 2022. 

The EPA bans chrysotile asbestos, the only form of the carcinogenic substance still in use in the US. Exposure to asbestos is linked to 40,000 deaths each year.

Atlantic City casinos have no sand for their beaches after winter storms swept it away. 

Donald Trump says that, if president, he would withhold federal funds for any school with a vaccine mandate

There have been more cases of measles thus far in 2024 than in all of 2023.