Tahoe ski resorts fighting wildfire with snow guns; plus Rivian’s anti-SPAC IPO

By David Callaway, Callaway Climate Insights

As more than 25,000 people evacuated from one of America’s premier ski resort towns yesterday as a wall of flame approached the Lake Tahoe basin, ski mountain managers fired up their last line of defense to save their properties — snow guns.

The surreal scene as fire threatens one of the world’s premier resort areas — and permanent home to tens of thousands — shows not only that nowhere we think as safe from climate change can be. A lake resort, for goodness’ sakes. It also shows the incredible ingenuity desperate people can pull together to fight for their lives and properties; a lesson in climate solutions.

The Sierra-at-Tahoe resort appears to have fought off the flames, and managers at the Kirkwood resort and Heavenly resort, both owned by Vail Resorts (MTN), were reportedly preparing to use them also as the massive Caldor fire approached.

When the toll of disasters from climate change is counted at the end of 2021, certainly the worst year in history, the Tahoe blaze will stand out as one of the most improbable firefights in the annals of the West. Each day brings new shock and awe at the power of Mother Nature. For today, though. The guns of August are on the ski slopes.

More insights below. . . .

Belize, too small to monitor, fights climate change on its borders and within

. . . . Belize, a tiny Caribbean jewel so small it doesn’t even have a ranking on the Climate Action Tracker list of countries combating global warming, is seemingly doing everything right. It signed the Paris Accord and is working to transform its banana and sugar industries to renewable energy from fossil fuels. But its position between two polluting neighbors puts it in the classic struggle the small countries of the world face with climate change, i.e. threats from no fault of their own. Michael Molinski profiles how Belize is faring in one of our previews to the global COP26 climate summit in November. . . .

Read the full story

Tuesday’s subscriber insights: Rivian IPO set to test markets without a SPAC

. . . . Electric truck maker Rivian, whose first vehicle rolls off the assembly line next month, is set to test investor appetites for an EV company after a year of scandal at rivals depressed share prices across the sector. It’s also the first to try a traditional IPO instead of going public through a special purpose acquisition vehicle in a couple years. Will investors bite? Read more here. . . .

. . . . Wind energy, long a dumb cousin to solar, at least in America, is suddenly the place to be for investors. As solar has struggled with supply chain issues, wind has quietly taken a big lead in terms of renewable energy produced. And that’s before a slew of new off-shore wind farms are set to come online in a few years. Read more here. . . .

. . . . A tiny Swiss outdoor clothing company is leading a charge to get the shipping industry to switch from fossil fuels, which cause more carbon emissions worldwide each year than all of Japan. Other shippers — and shipping companies — are taking notice. Read more here. . . .

Editor’s picks: Ida threatens more flooding, deaths; PepsiCo building sustainable food plant

After Ida: Power outages, fatal flooding, more rain

Search and rescue operations are underway after Hurricane Ida slammed the Louisiana coast, leaving about one million homes and businesses without power, including the entire city of New Orleans. Federal officials said it could be weeks before power is restored. CBS News reports this morning that the storm, now a tropical depression, crashed into the state as a Category 4 hurricane with 150 mph winds on Sunday, ripping the roofs off buildings and snapping power lines. The storm has been blamed for at least two deaths, but Louisiana’s governor said the number will likely increase in the days to come. A 1,200-mile stretch from Louisiana to Massachusetts will face potentially significant flood dangers this week from Ida this week, Accuweather reports. As the system moves northeastward and dumps heavy rain on the mid-Atlantic and Northeast, precipitation will fall on saturated grounds that are already soaked from an extremely wet August. In the Northeast, major cities such as New York City, Boston and Washington D.C. have seen more than double their average August rainfall this year.

PepsiCo building new sustainable plant in Poland

PepsiCo (PEP) recently broke ground for a new plant in Poland, which the snack foods maker says will be its largest and most sustainable food manufacturing plant in Europe. The project is budgeted to cost $257 million and set to be completed by 2025. The plant will be producing for the local market and for 20 other countries, and is located in Swiete, in northwestern Poland. Silviu Popovici, CEO of PepsiCo Europe, said, “We’ve been operating and investing in Poland for 30 years. It is a great central hub as our food business grows in Central and Eastern Europe. But growth has to be sustainable. We want our plants to be the greenest, not only in Europe, but around the world. We want to create a model facility for sustainability in Europe.”

Today in wildfires

. . . . As of Aug. 31, the Fire Information for Resource Management System reported two new large incidents, one large incident contained and 64 uncontained large fires in the U.S. There are still 10 uncontained large fires in the Northern California region, with eight new incidents and one new large fire. In the northwest region, six new fires were reported and there are 25 large, uncontained fires burning. Across the nation, the National Interagency Coordination Center reports that as of Tuesday morning, more than 25,267 firefighters are battling 87 blazes that have burned 2.84 million acres in the past day. . . .

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