Hexbyte Glen Cove 5 things Joe Biden can do to fight climate change—without Congress' help thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove 5 things Joe Biden can do to fight climate change—without Congress’ help

Hexbyte Glen Cove

by Anna M. Phillips, Los Angeles Times

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Climate change is fueling record-breaking fires, hurricanes and floods. Global emissions of greenhouse gases are returning to pre-pandemic levels. And America—which has emitted more planet-warming gases than any other nation—has just become the only country to quit the Paris climate agreement.

President-elect Joe Biden is a few months away from inheriting a seemingly impossible situation: a country where the majority of people say they are in favor of action but where a divided government in Washington will complicate any efforts to do so.

If Republicans keep control of the Senate, then much of the legislation that would be needed to implement Biden’s aggressive plans to tackle climate change would likely be blocked.

But there is a huge amount that Biden can accomplish on his own. Here’s a look at five areas of environmental policy that the next president can change without so much as a phone call to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Make America drive like California, again

One of the most significant steps Biden could take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions would to be reinstate tough nationwide rules for auto emissions and mileage standards that were put in place under the Obama administration and that essentially mirrored regulations already in effect in California.

These rules are important because transportation is a top source of planet-warming gases. When they were put in place, they were considered one of the nation’s most successful efforts to combat climate change.

But the Trump administration weakened those rules. Under the Trump regulations, nearly 900 million more tons of carbon dioxide are expected to be released than under the Obama-era standards, a result of less efficient cars burning an additional 78 billion gallons of fuel. The administration also revoked California’s authority to set stricter auto emissions rules than those required by the .

The battle over car emissions was headed for the Supreme Court, where the conservative majority might have decided in favor of the Trump administration.

But Biden has promised to reinstate the Obama standards and make them tougher, expanding them beyond passenger vehicles and SUVs into the most polluting trucks. He’s also likely to grant California a new waiver, allowing it and the 13 other states that have adopted its standards to crack down even more on tailpipe pollution.

End new oil drilling on federal land

The president and whomever he chooses to serve as his Interior secretary will have broad authority to decide what kind of energy development should take place on land owned by the federal government. On this question, Biden has been clear—he has said he would not issue new leases for fracking on federal lands.

Biden could issue a new executive order directing the Interior Secretary to halt all oil and gas lease sales and permits. This would not block oil production that’s already taking place, but it would prevent more wells from being drilled and would allow for a gradual transition away from natural gas. The Obama administration used the same strategy to prevent the sale of new coal mining rights.

A Biden Interior Department could also impose new requirements on oil companies operating on federal land, such as a rule mandating the capture of methane from wells and other infrastructure. Methane emissions are a major contributor to global warming and have been rising sharply.

It may also be possible for Biden to unravel some of the leasing that’s been carried out under the Trump administration, which has auctioned off millions of acres of federal land. Federal judges have already intervened in some instances to suspend or void hundreds of leases because of procedural mistakes and legal violations by the Interior Department.

Experts said that a Biden administration could go further by voiding leases that have been issued, but where the land hasn’t been developed, or by buying them back.

This could affect the Trump administration plans to auction off more than 4,000 acres of federal land and mineral estate in California this December—the first lease sale in the state since 2012.

Develop the Clean Power Plan 2.0

Established under the Obama administration, the Clean Power Plan regulated from power plants, the nation’s second-largest source of planet-warming gas. But in 2019, Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency replaced this plan with a new rule designed to protect the coal industry while backing away from any meaningful emissions reductions.

Whereas the Clean Power Plan was expected to reduce emissions by about 30% by 2030, EPA projections suggest the replacement rule might reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 0.7%, or possibly not at all.

Under a Biden administration, the EPA could repeal the Trump rule without any input from the Senate. But when it comes to replacing it, many environmental advocates are hopeful that the president will decide to go further than simply re-proposing the Clean Power Plan. That’s because the Obama-era plan has been tied up in the courts and there is doubt it could survive a review by a Supreme Court that now has a conservative 6-to-3 majority.

Instead, advocates hope that Biden’s EPA will propose a more ambitious rule, one that would put the country on a path to meeting the president-elect’s goal of eliminating carbon emissions from the electricity sector by 2035.

Promote climate policy through foreign policy

Biden has already said he will rejoin the Paris climate agreement, but there’s much more he could do to show the world that the United States is serious about fighting climate change.

A report from Brown University’s Climate Solutions Lab lays out a series of steps that include creating a “climate club” of countries that volunteer to reduce emissions by agreeing to set a minimum price on carbon and penalize high-emitting countries through trade measures such as tariffs.

Another proposal outlined in the report calls for Biden to work with the European Union—the largest importer of natural gas—as well as Canada and Mexico to curb methane emissions.

Declare climate change a national emergency

Some environmental advocates have said that because we are barreling toward catastrophe, Biden should invoke emergency authority to address climate change. This step would be bold—quite possibly bolder than Biden is willing to be—and it would carry major rewards and risks.

Under emergency authority, a Biden administration could use military funding to quickly move the country away from coal and gas-powered plants and toward renewable energy. He could also increase the number of electric-vehicle charging stations, require automakers to produce more electric vehicles, and accelerate the expansion of clean-energy technology—all without having to ask Congress to approve new funding.

If this sounds familiar, it might be because Trump declared a national emergency on the border in 2019 in order to access billions of dollars in funding for a border wall, which lawmakers had refused to give him. Questions over the legality of the declaration have been fought over in the cou

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Learning pathways could guide children who miss best start to improved literacy by age 11 thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Learning pathways could guide children who miss best start to improved literacy by age 11

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Major pathways to End of Primary School Literacy Outcomes, as described in the research.(Please note that this is a simplified version of a full diagram used in the paper) Credit: Clare Mackenzie, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge

The early talk and communication that children experience when very young, though essential in preparing them for school, has no direct impact on their reading and writing skills by age 11, new research shows.

The results of the study, by a team of academics from several UK universities, indicate that while babies and toddlers brought up in an enriched communication environment have stronger foundational skills, children who miss out are not necessarily left at a permanent disadvantage. Indeed, the research suggests that identifying specific ‘learning pathways’ during primary could eventually help teachers to devise effective, personalised strategies to support these children to catch up with their more fortunate peers.

The importance of children’s ‘Early Language and Communication Environment’ (ELCE) is widely acknowledged in research and policy. It refers to how much parents and caregivers talk, read, sing and play with very young children, to the quality of that engagement, and to children’s access to resources like books and toys.

While a richer ELCE is associated with both better school readiness and later , less is known about how it shapes children’s development of other linguistic and social skills that support academic achievement. The new research used data from more than 7,000 children to map out the interdependencies between the ELCE and a network of skills and competencies that children acquire during primary school, which in turn influence their reading and writing by age 11.

Dr. Jenny Gibson, from the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, said: “Fundamentally, we want to understand more about why children’s literacy skills vary by the time they leave primary school. Surprisingly, we found that there is no direct relationship between the communication environment at age two, and literacy at age 11. Instead, it helps children to build other skills which in turn affect literacy outcomes.”

“There is sometimes a sense that if children miss out on a high-quality communication environment when very young, they are at a long-term disadvantage. This research shows that there are multiple opportunities to guide them back towards successful literacy outcomes as they progress through primary school.”

The researchers used data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, an ongoing University of Bristol-based project that is capturing information about a cohort of children born in the 1990s.

This covered the children’s ELCE up to age 2, literacy and social skills at the start of school (age five), language and social development in middle-primary school (ages seven to nine) and literacy skills at the end of Key Stage 2 (age 11). Importantly, it also included measures of the children’s at the time of their birth (SES), which significantly influences children’s academic progress as well.

Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

Because the information was gathered from different assessments and questionnaires, the team then used structural equation modelling to standardise the data and make it comparable. This enabled them to chart whether, and how significantly, one factor or feature in a child’s developing skill-set affects another.

They found that both the quality of a child’s communication environment before age two and early family affluence directly impact upon their literacy levels and social skills when they start school at five. The ELCE and SES are also directly associated with children’s oral language and social development at ages seven to nine, and with other important skills such as ‘decoding’ (understanding letter-sound relationships and reading familiar and unfamiliar words aloud).

While early socioeconomic status is directly associated with literacy levels at age 11, however, the study found no corresponding link with the ELCE. Dr. Umar Toseeb, from the Department of Education at the University of York and a co-author of the study, said: “Children from lower socioeconomic backgrounds tend to have poorer school readiness, poorer oral language and social development and poorer literacy at 11. The early language and communication environment doesn’t work like that. It has a direct influence on school readiness at age five, but by age 11 its influence is mediated by interim developments.”

That influence can be described in terms of ‘learning pathways’: from a richer early language and communication environment, to better school readiness and/or mid-primary level skills, and then (in part via yet further stages) to better reading and writing skills at age 11. The study charts several of these indirect routes.

It also shows that these pathways are not uniformly influential. For example, children’s reading and writing skills when they start school are more strongly associated with their subsequent than the social aspects of ‘school readiness’. But social adjustment at age five does lay a platform for social skills developed in mid-primary school, which in turn have a greater direct impact on literacy outcomes later.

While this issue requires further study, it implies that it may be possible to target specific skills at different times during a child’s career to help significantly improve their reading and writing, even if they lacked exposure to a high-quality communication environment in the early years. This is particularly important because the study also reinforces earlier research findings showing that a high-quality ELCE (and therefore the knock-on effects charted here) can improve academic outcomes even for the poorest children.

For instance, the researchers suggest that there may be an argument for focusing on the development of children who struggle with reading and writing at around ages seven to nine, because those skills are particularly important to literacy outcomes at that age. At a classroom level, this might mean teachers encouraging play and games that involve turn-taking and talk, or using problem-based group activities in which children have to work together.

“Many teachers all over the country will already be using tactics like these to help children,” Gibson added. “Illuminating the different, nuanced pathways that shape literacy outcomes means that we might eventually be able to profile a child, or group of , and apply such approaches in a really effective and targeted way.”

The study is published in the Oxford Review of Education.

More information:
Jenny L. Gibson et al, Pathways from the early language and communication environment to literacy outcomes at the end of primary school; the roles of language development and social development, Oxford Review of Education (2020). DOI: 10.1080/03054985.2020.1824902

Learning pathways could guide children who miss best start to improved literacy by age 11 (2020, November 12)
retrieved 12 November 2020
from https://p