California's Dumbest Design Flaw Gets Fixed

A huge, obvious problem that should have been solved long ago starts its healing process.

by Greenwashed

California's Dumbest Design Flaw Gets Fixed


Welcome back to Greenwashed! πŸ‘‹

Chances are, wherever you're reading this from, it's hot. This June was the hottest June ever recorded, and July 4th was the hottest day in world history for a brief moment, only to be surpassed by July 5th, and then July 6th, and then July 7th. Even in Antarctica, where it is dead in the middle of winter, it's hot.

Fortunately, the extreme weather seems to have turned up the heat, pun intended, on policymakers around the world. From Dubai to California, we've seen a slough of climate-forward policies emerge as opportune leaders take advantage of public sentiment. πŸ”₯

Dubai Starts Decarbonizing? πŸ€”

When thinking of pro-climate countries, the UAE might be the last one to come to mind. πŸ‡¦πŸ‡ͺ

It's a massive oil exporter, its most famous city, Dubai, pretty much only contains a few energy-inefficient skyscrapers next to car-dependent American-style suburbs, and when tasked with running COP28, the most important global climate summit, Abu Dhabi oil CEO as the summit's president.

Sunrise shot of Downtown Dubai and Burj Khalifa.
Dubai, UAE: the pinnacle of oil dependency. Also, did you know the Burj al Khalifa has 163 floors and no sewage system? Yeah...they move it out in trucks every single morning. 

However, Emirati policymakers see the writing on the wall. Propaganda and political pushback will buy the industry some time, but the overwhelming amount of evidence about the severe consequences of fossil fuel emissions is too much to ignore long-term. Economies like the UAE are speeding to diversify into areas like tourism, technology, and now...carbon markets? 🌲

Three days ago, Dubai-backed project developer BlueCarbon struck a deal with ACX, a global carbon exchange, to develop carbon markets across the Middle East and North Africa. 

This is great news for two reasons. First, it will increase the reach of global carbon policies by adding new markets to develop in. Arguably even more important though, is the fact that it will give Middle Eastern and North African project developers the financing necessary to start climate projects in their localities, which are some of the areas in the world most affected by the climate crisis due to their arid climates.

We shouldn't get too excited though. It's just an MOU, which means no actual climate impact has happened yet. And, by partnering with ACX, who keeps credit data private, BlueCarbon hurt themselves, other project developers, and the markets as a whole by giving ACX information asymmetry. πŸ˜•

Still, this is good news. The UAE developing carbon markets is like Hershey, Pennsylvania pivoting away from chocolate. The fact they're acknowledging they need to do this at all is a win for the global climate movement. 

Finally, Californian Canals Get CoveredπŸ’§

Let's say you're a civil engineer tasked with moving water from one place to another. Water, by the way, is very important, so the goal is to lose as little of it as possible. Even if, or especially if, you have no engineering experience, how would you do it? πŸ€”

Any number of ways, I'd imagine, except hopefully it seems obvious that "just put it in an open-air canal through the desert" would not be a good one. Well, you'd be right! Unfortunately, that level of logic is a bit too high for Californian standards, as that is exactly how they choose to do it.

Aqueduct in Northern California

Unsurprisingly, this system has many problems. The obvious one is evaporation; California loses tens of billions of gallons of water a year that way. Another big one is energy. Californian natural water distribution isn't aligned with where the majority of farms and homes are, so the state has to use a ton of energy (12% of its total usage!) to pump the water around. ⚑️

Fortunately, the state is finally doing something about it: covering them with solar panels. The so-called "solar canals" are being tested out in a UC Merced-led program that will cover about 8,500 feet (~3000 meters) of canals. 

The potential benefits of this are immense. Eliminating the lost water is massively important, as is the generating of renewable energy, especially considering how much energy the canal system uses and the fact that these panels won't need to be built on land that could be used for other purposes. However, the canal's real impact can only be measured when considering California's global role. 🐻

Political opponents love dunking on Californian policies to try to get an invite to the next Koch family dinner as if it doesn't affect them, but in reality, Californian decisions affect everyone. By itself, California is the 5th largest economy in the world. It sits as the most powerful and influential state in the largest economy in the world, which is also the largest military spender in the world by far and has a notoriously shaky electoral system with a strong recent history of inciting resource-based conflicts.

Global defense spending, PGPF. What do you think happens when the red guys run out of an economically vital resource?

Also, California practically feeds the entire United States. They're also running out of water. Fast. πŸ™ƒ

The agricultural center of the world's largest military nation is in the midst of a historic drought. Eliminating water loss through solar canals isn't just pro-climate or pro-agriculture--it's pro-stability. Hopefully, as the fight for the climate continues, we see more clever solutions with wide-ranging benefits like this. 

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