“This whole region has been taken over by warehouses.”

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Photo: Daniel A. Anderson

By Yvette Cabrera

When Jorge Osvaldo Heredia moved to the Southern California city of San Bernardino in 2005, the logistics and warehouse industry was already encroaching on the neighborhood where he now lives. Over the span of 15 years, he’s watched with dismay as massive warehouses have overtaken the area, leading to more truck traffic and ozone pollution. That pollution weighs most heavily on residents of Heredia’s working-class, predominantly Latino neighborhood near the San Bernardino International Airport.

“Most days the air is horrible, especially during the summer months where everything is just a hot blanket of smog,” Heredia told Grist. During that same 15-year period, the city of more than 215,000 people was battered by economic downturns, a bankruptcy, and high levels of poverty and violence. Today, the city sits at a crossroads, both geographically and metaphorically. In the hardest-hit areas, ghosts of the past linger along the city’s thoroughfares in the form of empty storefronts, fading budget motels, and blighted public spaces. The unrelenting march of time has also taken its toll on residential neighborhoods where, in the stark daylight, even the festive holiday lights decorating people’s homes last month did little to mask the peeling paint, frayed edges, and parched lawns that hard times have brought. …


Where are the pro-climate lobbyists?

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Image: Grist / stu99 / Getty Images

By Nathaneal Johnson

For nearly a decade, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat of Rhode Island, has been beating the bushes to find Republican partners on climate legislation. When asked to explain why his GOP colleagues have been so resistant to join him in taking action on climate change, Whitehouse doesn’t point to the usual suspects: President Donald Trump, donors like the Koch Brothers with a rooting interest in fossil fuels, or the influential Heartland Institute.

Instead, he points to corporations, and not just the fossil fuel firms that you’d expect, but woke tech companies like Google, which is working to power every search with carbon-free energy, along with other giants like Coca-Cola, which aims to quash a quarter of emissions from its entire supply chain. …


Most of our energy is squandered as heat. This technology turns it into electricity.

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Image: Grist / Monty Rakusen / Getty Images

By Emily Pontecorvo

Congress made history on Monday, passing the first significant legislation to address climate change in more than a decade. As part of the almost 5,600-page omnibus bill that will fund the government through next September if President Trump signs it, lawmakers included requirements to phase down the use of powerful greenhouse gases called hydrofluorocarbons and extend tax incentives for renewable energy projects.

For decades, investment tax credits have helped speed up solar and wind development by lowering costs. Now, they could do the same for another form of carbon-free energy that became eligible for a 30 percent tax credit for the first time ever. …


Even during a global pandemic, momentum toward a less fiery future kept pace

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Image: Grist / Dilip Vishwanat / Getty Images

By Emily Pontecorvo and Zoya Teirstein

What is there to say about 2020 that hasn’t already been said? It was the longest, the hardest, the darkest — and, on top of everything else, full of bad climate news. The Trump administration continued its steady assault on environmental protections even as the COVID-19 pandemic devastated the country. Despite some late-breaking clean energy funding in the U.S., global stimulus spending devoted far more money to fossil fuels than renewable energy. The dip in emissions brought on by the pandemic was just that — a dip.

But we’re here to tell you that this year wasn’t a total wash. Even during a global pandemic, with powerful forces working against it, momentum toward a less fiery future kept pace. Please, join us in taking a look back at six ways climate action moved forward this year. …


For the children of farmworker volunteers, every food delivery gives them a chance to see love in action

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Photo: Daniel A. Anderson

By Yvette Cabrera

Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of tiny 3-year-old Yair Basurto shuffling back and forth between a pile of grocery bags and a long line of cars waiting with open trunks. He and his father, Gonzalo, were loading food deliveries for farmworkers and other families in need in the parking lot of a Masonic temple in the coastal agricultural community of Oxnard, California.

The snack bags were just one small part of the aid distributed that day in September. Every month since April, a local collective of Oxnard farmworkers called “ De Campesinxs a Campesinxs (From Farmworkers to Farmworkers): Feeding those who feed us” has provided food, clothing, and school supplies to hundreds of farmworkers and families suffering during the COVID-19 pandemic. In September, families waited in their cars for hours to receive the donations, so the volunteers scrambled to hand them plates of hot quesadillas, brown bags with masks and instructions on pandemic safety, and most importantly, the food: boxes filled with frozen chicken and pork, cheese, other basic staples, as well as the snack bags. …


By examining patterns of life and death at the neighborhood level, John Snow found solutions to the ills of inequality and poverty

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Image: Grist / ivan-96 / Getty Images / Yvette Arellano | t.e.j.a.s. & Union of Concerned Scientists Center for Science and Democracy

By Yvette Cabrera

More than 150 years ago, a renowned physician named John Snow walked the gritty streets of London’s working-class Golden Square neighborhood, not far from his office in the city’s Soho district, knocking on the doors of residents felled by the cholera epidemic. Why Soho was so hard-hit had vexed London’s health officials, but Snow, known today as the “founding father of modern epidemiology,” used maps, public records, and his sleuthing skills to find the source of that devastating outbreak: contaminated water from a public water well pump on Broad Street. To find answers, he became an intrepid, Victorian-era medical detective who went door-to-door collecting information on residents’ water sources to determine how the deadly disease spread. …


The number of abandoned oil and gas wells is on the verge of exploding. These industry insiders want to be part of the solution.

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Image: Grist / HHakim / Getty Images / Amelia Bates

By Emily Pontecorvo

Bobby Wright says the seed of the idea was planted about a year and a half ago when he and his dad, Bob, were out on his grandparents’ ranch in Carter County, Oklahoma. Wright’s grandfather, Troy Lewellen, once grew pecans and raised cattle on the ranch, but at 83, he was retired and wanted to tie up any loose ends in his affairs. And sitting on his property, about a quarter of a mile from his house, were some very loose ends: three old oil wells.

One was still in operation with a pumpjack attached. The other two hadn’t been touched in years. They looked like rusty old pipes sticking out of the ground. A few feet away from one were three large tanks with oil still pooled inside. If any leaked out, it would run down the hill and into a nearby lake. Lewellen wanted the whole mess cleaned up. So he called his grandson and son-in-law, who work in the oil and gas industry helping companies acquire leases and negotiate with landowners. …


“It’s like Satan’s kitchen in here.”

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Screenshot: Netflix

By Kate Yoder

Try to remember the fanciest spread of desserts you’ve ever seen. Now picture what would happen if it sat outside in the summer heat for a couple of hours. Mousse would morph into ooze, tiered cakes would start to slip and slide, and delicate chocolate decorations would melt into unrecognizable blobs.

The truth is, you don’t have to imagine it — just watch The Great British Baking Show on Netflix, where creating elaborate baked goods in oppressive heat has become the main drama. The show, whose season finale appears on Friday for U.S. viewers, has always been filmed outdoors under an iconic white tent around England. But in 2020, a year from hell, the famously temperate British summer became too warm for the finicky process of baking. …


The company may soon have to give its customers a wider peek under the digital hood

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Image: Grist / VICTOR HABBICK VISIONS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY / Getty Images / Tesla

By Maddie Stone

If you own a Tesla, you might be accustomed to waiting a long time when your car needs a repair. You might have also noticed there aren’t a lot of independent shops able to take on the job. But that could start to change soon, thanks to a groundbreaking new “right-to-repair” law Massachusetts voters approved at the polls this month.

On November 3, Bay State residents overwhelmingly voted in favor of Question 1, a ballot measure that requires auto manufacturers grant vehicle owners and third-party repair shops access to wireless data needed to fix cars. The measure will apply to all automakers whose vehicles stream so-called “telematic” data via wireless networks, but it could be particularly significant for Tesla, maker of some of the most connected and computerized cars in America. …


Here’s what Biden could do to reverse Trump’s environmental rollbacks, ranked from easiest — done with the stroke of a pen — to hardest

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Image: Grist / Joe Raedle / Getty Images

By Shannon Osaka and Nathanael Johnson

Just a month before he won the U.S. presidential election in 2016, Donald Trump vowed to spend his time in office systematically slashing government rules. “I would say 70 percent of regulations can go,” Trump told a crowd of town hall attendees in New Hampshire. “It’s just stopping businesses from growing.”

Now, four years later, it looks like Trump did his best to keep those promises. Over the course of his term, Trump has erased or watered-down dozens upon dozens of regulations designed to keep pollutants out of the water, air, and soil. He has allowed oil and gas companies to leak planet-warming methane into the air. He has told power plants that they can keep emitting dangerous levels of carbon dioxide. If all those rules stand, according to one analysis, they will be responsible for 1.8

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Grist

A nonprofit news org for people who want a planet that doesn’t burn and a future that doesn’t suck.

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