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Note from Lisa Evans: The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) last week released the "Coal Blooded Action Toolkit," which is a companion to its report, Coal Blooded: Putting Profits Before People, published jointly by the NAACP and Little Village Environmental Justice Organization and the Indigenous Environmental Network last November.

As the environmental ministers of the Arctic nations, including the United States, meet in Sweden next week, they have an opportunity to show leadership on an important though less well-known climate pollutant, black carbon (soot).

While carbon dioxide remains the most important, long-lasting pollutant forcing climate change, recent studies have revealed that short-lived climate forcers like black carbon are equally damaging, especially in the Arctic.

Solar panels on the roof of the Kapiʻolani Medical Center parking garage in Oahu, Hawaiʻi.

Clean energy future—you hear the term a lot these days. Can we really get there? The answer is coming into focus in several places in the U.S. and it’s a resounding yes!

Hawaiʻi is charging ahead with rooftop solar energy systems. Just this week we are getting word that a major obstacle to more rooftop installation there has been resolved. Earthjustice attorney Isaac Moriwake emerged after months of behind-the-scenes negotiations to announce a deal whereby Hawaiʻi’s main electric utility company, known as HECO, will devote resources over the next two years to smooth the way for more rooftop solar.

The mention of soot conjures images of black clouds pouring out of unfiltered cars, or of cities lost in dark fog. At times in our history, soot pollution has helped stain entire ecosystems black, famously causing moths in Britain to change color from white to black to better hide in their environment. These images are well-deserved: soot is dangerous to both humans and the environment.

This week, our friends down under are experiencing climate chaos up close and personal.

Australia is enduring a record heat wave that is causing massive forest fires and unprecedented public health issues.

The situation has become so bad that the weather service was forced to add to add additional colors to the heat map to capture temperatures up to 54 degrees Celsius (129°F).

A recent heat map of Australia, with the new colors.  (AUS Bureau of Meteorology)

With one Arctic drill rig shipwrecked on an Alaskan island and the other reportedly under criminal investigation for possibly “operating with serious safety and pollution control problems,” oil giant Royal Dutch Shell is doing a pretty thorough job at proving the quest for oil in the pristine waters of America’s Arctic is just too dangerous, too dirty, and too damaging. The week’s events also prove once again that the U.S. Department of Interior should not have approved drilling in the most remote, dangerous place on the planet.

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