Here's who won't be watching the presidential debate this week

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Above, the Boeing 747 Global Supertanker, dubbed The Spirit of John Muir, fights the latest fires in the Napa Valley. Developed and operated by Global SuperTanker Services, it’s the largest aerial firefighting aircraft in the world. Video below.

The 5,300 residents of Calistoga, Calif., probably won’t be watching the presidential debate Tuesday night. Neither will thousands more of their neighbors in Napa Valley, after fire raged through 42,000 acres of prime vineyards, woodlands and towns in less than 48 hours this week, forcing mass evacuations and the loss of hundreds of homes.

That’s probably just as well, as neither President Donald Trump nor Sen. Joe Biden are scheduled to receive questions about climate change at the debate, which was left off the list of pressing presidential issues. I expect Biden to step up and mention it anyway. Despite the best efforts of the campaign handlers, climate change is foremost on many American minds, according to polls.

The election campaign is a good time to take record of Trump’s actual handling of the environment. In short, it could be much worse. He’s lost 85% of his administration’s legal attempts to roll back environmental regulations, according to Richard Revesz of New York University, one of the nation’s leading experts on environmental law. That’s compared to an average win rate of 70% for past administrations. “It’s a really, really bad record,” Revesz said.

Still, plenty of damage has been done. And a Biden victory would reverse some, but without a Democratic victory in the Senate, the ability of a new administration to get a price or tax on carbon would be near impossible, Revesz said.

In the meantime, investors and business move the battle forward. Environmental, social and governance (ESG) funds continue to outperform the market at the end of the third quarter, as investors look to make money on solutions, such as the 747 tanker plane made by Boeing (BA) now being used to fight the fires in Napa. A video lower in this newsletter illustrates the surreal nature of flying a massive plane like this just meters over flaming hills and valleys. In 2020, anything goes. Except perhaps in presidential debates.

More insights below. . . .

And don’t forget to contact me directly if you have suggestions or ideas at dcallaway@callawayclimateinsights.com.

'Young voters are very concerned. It is their future.' Talking election with Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins

. . . . Howie Hawkins claims to be the first politician to run on a Green New Deal platform, when he ran as Green Party candidate for governor of New York 10 years ago. Since then, he’s watched Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez take it to new heights, although he said the current Democratic platform has dramatically watered it down. As Trump and Biden kick off a series of election debates, Hawkins tells Darrell Delamaide what he hopes the Greens can achieve.

Halting greenhouse gas emissions and fighting climate change will require a mobilization like that in World War II, Hawkins says. Biden may talk about $2 trillion over four years to meet the challenges of climate change, but the Green Party is calling for $2.75 trillion a year.

The federal government and the Federal Reserve can provide the credit, but as in World War II, the government must take charge of manufacturing and construction of infrastructure, the Green Party reckons. Measures like a carbon tax can help incentivize industry, but they are “supplementary” and insufficient by themselves to effect the change needed.

Hawkins isn’t running for president to move into the White House. “Our role is to do what third parties have always done in this country,” he says. . . .

Read the full interview


Must watch: Extraordinary footage of Boeing 747 Global Supertanker fighting California wildfires

. . . . As firefighters attacked the devastating and fast-spreading blazes in the wine country of California’s Napa and Sonoma valleys over the past two days, they’ve brought in the heavy guns. This Boeing 747 was certified for firefighting flights by the FAA in September 2016 and fought fires in Chile and Israel before being contracted by U.S. officials to fight California wildfires in 2017. Currently based at McClellan Air Force Base near Sacramento, the Global SuperTanker, also known as The Spirit of John Muir, is fighting the fires blazing in Napa and Sonoma. It carries up to 19,200 gallons of water or 18,000 gallons of fire retardant on a single flight — that’s equal to a lifesaving swath of fire retardant three miles long. Capacity is nearly double that of the next closest very large air tankers (VLATs) at 9,400 gallons, and seven to eight times that of the standard large tankers (LATs) at 3,000 gallons. . . .


Napa Valley's iconic Meadowood resort burns

. . . . Meadowood Napa Valley, an historic five-star resort with a Michelin-starred restaurant, was seriously damaged by the devastating Glass Fire on Monday. The resort, owned by PCH Hotels and Resorts, is inextricably linked to the wine industry, well-known for its role as host to almost four decades of the Napa Valley charity wine auction. As of midday Tuesday, firefighters were getting some support via improved weather conditions, but the fire in Napa and Sonoma counties was 0% contained and had burned at least 42,000 acres. The entire town of Calistoga was evacuated Monday night.

The fire also did extensive damage to the luxury Calistoga Ranch, an Auberge Collections resort north of Meadowood. Chateau Boswell, an historic winery in St. Helena on the Silverado Trail, was destroyed; and across the valley floor, Castello di Amorosa’s huge storage building, holding millions of dollars in bottled wine, was razed. . . .

Read the full story


News briefs: BLM director ousted, Amazon labels green products

Watch this: Richard Mattison, Trucost CEO, joins Yahoo Finance’s Akiko Fujita to discuss how 60% of S&P 500 companies are at risk from climate change, according to S&P Global’s latest report.

Editor’s picks:

  • Judge ousts Bureau of Land Management Director Pendley

  • Amazon creates climate pledge label

  • Oil giants back anti-climate lobby groups despite pledge

Read all the news briefs

Correction: An item last week on two students at Cooper Union in New York staging a climate week event misspelled the name of one of them, Alisa Petrosova. It also incorrectly reported the timing of two of the named speakers. See corrected item here.


Latest findings: New research, studies and projects

Above, lightning over the Great Plains. Photo: NOAA.

Principal cause of global warming

Yale Climate Connections reports that research conducted worldwide makes clear that it's overwhelmingly human activities — in particular combustion of fossil fuels — that can explain observed global temperature increases, especially over the past seven decades. Gary Yohe, Henry Jacoby and Richard Richels write in a Climate Explained essay that “an abundance of temperature data matches with high-quality observations of CO₂ emissions and, since 1955, with the resulting atmospheric concentrations. Using these data, the global scientific community has confirmed, by detailed analyses using computer models of how our planet works, that the only plausible explanation for the warming is the emissions of greenhouse gases by humans.” 

More research: