Currently — June 24th, 2022

The weather, currently

A remote industrial city 200 miles (300 km) north of the Arctic Circle — Norilsk, Russia — reached 90° F (32° C) on Thursday, the hottest temperature ever recorded there.

Norilsk, also known as “the most depressing city on Earth” is a veritable wasteland of pollution. Two years ago, thousands of tons of diesel fuel spilled from ruptured tanks built in the tundra after unusually warm temperatures melted permafrost beneath them. Rivers in the region are still tainted a blood red color in the wake of the accident.

Late June is the hottest time of year in the Arctic, when the sun is above the horizon for 24 hours a day. It’s this time of year that the effects of climate change caused by decades of fossil fuel burning are most dramatic, with lightning storms, wildfires, and sinkholes once rare, now common. The oldest permafrost soils in Alaska, Canada, and Siberia are more than 650,000 years old, and could be gone in decades or centuries without transformative climate action. —Eric Holthaus

What you need to know, currently.

The Biden Administration is currently weighing the relative risks of banning new offshore oil and gas leases, according to the New York Times. The Outer Continental Shelf Leasing Act (OCSLA) is renewed every five years and Interior Secretary Deb Haaland expects to have a draft ready by the end of June.

The argument for expanding oil and gas leases at the moment is fairly nonsensical. Inflation is high, gas prices are exorbitant, and Democrats are worried that a ban will hurt them in the polls, but issuing new licenses will do essentially nothing to alleviate the burden on consumers. It takes years to drill, man, and bring an oil rig online — by the time these new leases bear fruit, the United States should be well on its way to transitioning to clean energy sources.

The IPCC has repeatedly warned that countries need to move away from fossil fuels in order to avoid the most catastrophic consequences of climate change. The oil and gas industry currently has 11 million acres leased offshore, most of which are not in use.

Gas prices are high because oil and gas executives are keeping them high out of greed, not because of a scarcity of oil rigs. Should the government issue these new leases in a deranged gesture towards bipartisanship, it will be nearly impossible for us to keep warming under 1.5°C.