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How Rupert Murdoch's exit will alter the media climate debate forever
Plus, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis now presides over the fastest-growing solar power state in the U.S.
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New forecasts signal strong El Niño conditions this winter, with increasing global temperatures and the potential to affect weather patterns around the world, says a new advisory from the NOAA’s U.S. Climate Prediction Network. El Niño events are naturally occurring and cause parts of the Pacific near the equator to warm. Above, NOAA’s sea surface temperature contour chart for Sept. 19.
The passionate debate over Rupert Murdoch’s legacy will certainly rage for decades, perhaps for even as long as the seven decades the business buccaneer himself strode across the global media landscape.
For me, on this day when he formally stepped down as chairman of Fox Corp. FOXA 0.00%↑ and News Corp. NWSA 0.00%↑, the overwhelming feeling is sadness. I worked for Rupert twice in my career, know him personally and like him. He is a hard-driven, ruthless businessman, but one more dedicated to news and to journalists than anyone I’ve ever met.
Nobody in the C-Suite, aside from Rupert, ever talked to me about page layout or headline length. And even in his final note to employees this morning, he was still raging about people being in the office “late on Friday afternoons,” one of many of his pet peeves. Rupert believes journalists can do anything, and many of them rose to run his companies, including current News CEO Robert Thomson.
While he certainly has a reputation for firing his editors, Rupert likely hired more journalists than anyone else in modern history over the years, with the possible exception of Mike Bloomberg. His political leanings, and impact on modern media and indeed, global democracy, draw fierce emotions.
But one thing this, uh… let’s say semi-retirement, is certain to do is to change the current media landscape in the U.S., UK and Australia in deep directions. It’s no surprise News and Fox shares are both up today in a down market, as investors contemplate what will happen to his businesses now that son Lachlan Murdoch is in charge.
But for our purposes here at Callaway Climate Insights, one of the first major impacts will be in the media climate debate. Rupert is one of the last climate deniers in a position to influence mass thinking on the subject. None of his properties make climate coverage a priority and some are openly hostile. The Times in London just this morning came out in support of UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s stunning reversal on green policies this week.
The anti-climate coverage, or lack of any climate coverage, in spaces such as The Wall Street Journal or the New York Post or Fox News, directly impact the thinking of some of the most anti-climate politicians, such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis or Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in the U.S., or others in the UK and Australia. Without that backup, their policies will seem more and more out of touch with reality in the near future.
As Rupert’s influence, and it is his influence, begins to fade from these titles over the coming years, the last of the major anti-climate media will begin to fade as well. And for that, even if for nothing else for many of you, we can be thankful to see Rupert finally take his bow.
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Zeus: Why NYC's Climate Week should be the new annual COP summit
. . . . From almost nothing five years ago, New York City’s Climate Week has grown to become the pre-eminent summit of the year on the calendars of the world’s top climate activists and leaders, this year eclipsing even the COP28 annual shindig in Dubai, writes David Callaway. While the COP series has been taken over by oil interests, the NYC event is a breath of fresh air, as long as you can get past the choking smog of the extra traffic in Manhattan. Protesters are free to gather and actual leaders who are making a difference are meeting at the United Nations. Why shouldn’t NYC just take the crown here?
Plus: The latest on the UK government’s stunning retreat on green policies.
Thursday’s subscriber insights
Look who’s the hottest player in solar
. . . . It’s happened with EV plants. It’s happened with EV battery factories. They’re being built in places where the political landscapes are often pro-fossil fuels and anti-climate awareness. And now it’s happening in Gov. Ron DeSantis’s anti-woke Florida. The state has become the fastest in adding solar power, potentially soon catching up with another conservative state, Texas. (California is still way ahead.) Why is it happening? Read more here. . . .
Wildfires, or, how climate change is leading to more climate change
. . . . Remember all that wildfire smoke that came down from Canada this past summer? Well, apart from making people cough and splutter, it and smoke from American blazes have, since 2016, reversed 25% of the air quality improvements achieved since 2016. In other words, the effects of climate change are making climate change worse. Read more here. . . .
End of an era, and start of a new one for 24/7 Wall Street founder
. . . . Congrats to Callaway Climate Insights friend and partner Doug McIntyre, who sold his financial media company 24/7 Wall Street this week after 18 years to Flywheel Publishing, which was started by a bunch of former executives from the Motley Fool. A longtime financial journalist who traces his roots back to the glorious Time Inc. days, Doug started 24/7 with John Ogg in 2006, and grew it through partnerships to more than 125 million page views a year at one point. In 2021, 24/7 and Callaway Climate Insights started a partnership, which we will now grow as part of a new endeavor. Stay tuned.
Editor’s picks: Toxic troubles with tire dust; plus, the new Climate Corps
The road hazard you carry with you
Tires may seem benign but are, experts say, a major source of air, soil, and water pollution that may affect humans as well as fish, wildlife, and other organisms. According to a report in Yale Environment 360, researchers are just beginning to understand the toxic combination of chemicals, microplastics, and heavy metals in car and truck tires. Scientists have figured out the chemicals from tires are found on roads and in waterways around the world. According to one estimate, 78% of ocean microplastics are synthetic tire rubber. The report goes on to detail new calls for regulatory action and calls for additional research into the impacts and risks. “Tire rubber contains more than 400 chemicals and compounds, many of them carcinogenic, and research is only beginning to show how widespread the problems from tire dust may be.”
Uncle Sam wants you: Join the Climate Corps
The Biden Administration on Wednesday announced the launch of the American Climate Corps – a workforce training and service initiative involving 20,000 participants that will “ensure more young people have access to the skills-based training necessary for good-paying careers in the clean energy and climate resilience economy.” In a statement, the White House said the program will expand access to the AmeriCorps Segal Education Awards and involve tribal, state and local governments. Jackie Ostfeld, director of the Sierra Club’s Outdoors for All Campaign, told members in an email Wednesday: “This program will prioritize the communities most harmed by pollution and climate impacts, and create pathways to family-sustaining careers in the public and private sectors. It will train and mobilize a diverse generation of young people in conservation and climate resilience related work, from restoring coastal wetlands to planting trees in communities suffering from extreme heat to deploying clean energy and more. After a summer of devastating climate disasters, this is exactly the kind of bold action we so urgently need.” To sign up or for more information, click here.
Latest findings: New research, studies and projects
Beliefs on climate change and insurance
Are people’s financial decisions related to their belief in climate change? The authors of Do Households Respond to Climate Change? Evidence from the U.S. Homeowners Insurance Market say there’s a positive relationship between the perception of climate change risk and the amount of homeowners’ insurance coverage purchased. According to the authors, the association is concentrated in pro-Democratic states (“blue states”) and does not exist in states with a strong political orientation towards the Republican Party (“red states”). “The evidence is consistent with cheap talk by individuals in pro-Republican states when surveyed about climate change. The results are absent in a placebo test using renters’ insurance. They are robust to instrumental variable estimations using a state-level drought severity index as the instrument to account for potential endogeneity arising from unobserved factors. Our findings have important implications for how climate change affects U.S. households’ risk management decisions.” Authors: J. Tyler Leverty, University of Wisconsin, Madison; Tao Sun, Lingnan University, and Hong Zou, The University of Hong Kong Faculty of Business and Economics.
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Words to live by . . . .
“Autumn teaches us the beauty of letting go. Growth requires release — it’s what the trees do.” — Ka’ala, native Hawaiian writer and poet.