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    Daily Digest 2/23 – Texans Will Pay for Decades as Crisis Tacks Billions Onto Bills, Why our food needs to use less water

    by Daily Digest

    Tuesday, February 23, 2021, 4:30 PM

Economy

Fed Chair Jerome Powell Warns Of Long Road Ahead To Recover Millions Of Lost Jobs

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell warned on Tuesday the United States has a “long way” to go to return to full employment, even as he expressed cautious optimism that the economy will recover from the pandemic this year.

At the same time, Powell avoided commenting on the level of federal support needed for the economy as Congress prepares to vote on President Biden’s $1.9 trillion dollar rescue package for families and businesses battered by the coronavirus downturn.

Texans Will Pay for Decades as Crisis Tacks Billions Onto Bills

Now that the lights are back on in Texas, the state has to figure out who’s going to pay for the energy crisis that plunged millions into darkness last week. It will likely be ordinary Texans.

The price tag so far: $50.6 billion, the cost of electricity sold from early Monday, when the blackouts began, to Friday morning, according to BloombergNEF estimates. That compares with $4.2 billion for the prior week.

Bitcoin Tumbles Below $50,000 as Fear Sweeps Through Crypto

Bitcoin’s losses accelerated, with prices tumbling below $50,000, as investors started to bail on the market’s frothiest assets.

The cryptocurrency tanked as much 18% on Tuesday and traded around $47,870 as of 4:32 p.m. in New York. While the selloff only puts Bitcoin prices at the lowest in about two weeks, investors are starting to wonder whether it marks the start of a bigger retreat from crypto or simply represents volatility in an unpredictable market.

Energy

As Cities Grapple With Climate Change, Gas Utilities Fight To Stay In Business

Facing the rising threat of wildfire and extreme drought, Flagstaff, Ariz., unveiled an ambitious effort two years ago to cut the heat-trapping emissions that drive climate change.

A critical part of Flagstaff’s climate plan proposed that all new construction get to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040 and that the city promote “aggressive building electrification” to decrease reliance on fossil fuels. As in many places, buildings are a big source of Flagstaff’s greenhouse gases, mainly because many are heated by burning natural gas.

After Texas Crisis, Biden’s Climate Plan Hangs on Fragile Power Grid

The millions of people who struggled to keep warm in Texas, with blackouts crippling life inside a dominant energy hub, have laid bare the desperate state of U.S. electricity grids. To fix nationwide vulnerabilities, President Joe Biden will have to completely reimagine the American way of producing and transmitting electricity.

Biden wants to overhaul the nation’s grids so they derive all electricity from carbon-free sources by 2035—a major step toward zeroing out net emissions of greenhouse gases by mid-century. Realizing that goal will require building billions of dollars worth of new transmission lines, a challenge that might prove just as difficult as getting his climate agenda through Congress.

Environment

Why our food needs to use less water

The fields were kept fertile at the expense of the groundwater tables, which were slowly depleted through unfettered irrigation. By the early 2000s, the aquifers that used to sit at about 25m (82ft) underground had sunk to a depth of more than 300m (984ft).

“Digging borewells that deep was not an option, it would have been too expensive,” says Trupti Jain, founder of the social enterprise Naireeta Services. Drought driven by water mismanagement and climate change rendered the land infertile for most of the year, she says, “so the farmers started to migrate to find other work, either as labourers on someone else’s land, or construction workers in cities”.

Deadly Texas blackout shows our vulnerability to coming climate extremes

In a country already reeling from the coronavirus pandemic, the extreme weather served to further heighten the misery and disruption to daily life for millions.

Experts in the insurance industry can’t yet say with certainty how much damage this event caused, but it is possible that it will be among the top tier of costliest natural disasters in the United States, and perhaps even globally, for 2021.

Gold & Silver

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