Thursday Must Reads: Global Heat Record Incinerated in 2015; PG&E Pushes Hard to Penalize Solar Users


Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The year 2015 smashed the global heat record, and this year is expected to be even hotter, the AP reports (via KQED), citing a new analysis by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration and NASA. The average temperature worldwide last year was 0.29 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the previous record set in 2014 — the second biggest single-year heat spike on record. The global average temperature was 58.62 degrees last year, which was 1.62 degrees higher than in the 20th century. Scientists blamed greenhouse gas emissions caused by the burning of fossil fuels, along with El Nino, for the 2015 heat record.

2. PG&E and the state’s two other major utilities are pushing hard to penalize Californians who install and use rooftop solar, the LA Times$ reports. The utilities strongly oppose a plan put forward by staffers of the California Public Utilities Commission, which would keep solar prices low in order to continue to lessen the state’s dependence on fossil fuels. PG&E and the other utilities want to slap solar users with hefty surcharges, because they say the CPUC plan will result in higher rates for residents who don’t have solar. The CPUC plans to vote on the issue next week.

3. The Berkeley City Council voted to spend $1.5 million on public health programs, using proceeds from the city’s new soda tax, Berkeleyside reports. The council plans to increase health staffing, help finance school nutrition programs, and fund grants that are designed to “limit the impacts of, and access to, sugar-sweetened beverages.”

4. BART has decided to install real video cameras on its trains following the revelation last week that the transit agency was using fake ones, the Chron$ reports.

5. And stung by criticism over the lack of diversity in this year’s Oscar nominations, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences plans to adopt new rules designed to encourage diversity in nominations and membership, the LA Times$ reports.