Thursday's energy & environment stories

Study: Arctic Ocean started warming much earlier than previously thought

Icebergs are seen in the Arctic Ocean off the Franz Josef Land archipelago on August 20, 2021. Photo: Ekaterina Anisimova/AFP via Getty Images

The Arctic Ocean has warmed by about 2 degrees Celsius since 1900 and started getting hotter much earlier than researchers previously thought, a new study found.

Driving the news: The research, published Wednesday in Science Advances, shows that the Arctic Ocean began warming early last century as warmer and saltier waters flowed in from the Atlantic — a process known as "Atlantification."

Updated Nov 25, 2021 - Energy & Environment

California faces "critical" wildfire risk on Thanksgiving

Computer model projection of maximum wind gusts on Wednesday into Thanksgiving Day in the Los Angeles area. Darker reds correspond to 70 mph winds. (Weatherbell.com)

Southern California is facing an intense Santa Ana wind event over the Thanksgiving holiday, with "critical" wildfire risk since very little rain has fallen in this region so far this wet season.

Why it matters: Fire danger is forecast to be highest from Wednesday through Friday, and any wildfire that ignites could become a conflagration that’s difficult to stop.

Biden administration approves second major offshore wind project

Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Image

The Biden administration approved Wednesday plans for a major offshore wind farm to supply power to New York.

Why it matters: The approval for the installation of a dozen turbines near Rhode Island marks a major step in the administration's goal of reaching 30 gigawatts of offshore wind-generating capacity in U.S. waters by 2030, powering more than 10 million homes.

What we're driving: 2022 GMC Hummer EV

The 2022 GMC Hummer EV Edition 1. Photo: GM

At $112,595, the 2022 GMC Hummer EV Edition 1 pickup truck is the epitome of a "halo" vehicle for General Motors.

  • It's an over-the-top technology showcase for GM's electric vehicle ambitions, even if few people will actually own this limited edition supertruck.

Why it matters: The market for electric pickups is about to explode, and the Hummer EV, along with Rivian's R1T, are first out of the gate.

The big picture: Hummer, known for its gas-guzzling behemoth SUVs, is making a comeback as a zero-emissions sub-brand under the GMC label.

  • The Hummer truck is the first of more than 30 battery-electric models — including a Hummer SUV — that GM will introduce by 2025. All are based on the automaker's new Ultium battery architecture.
  • GM says it is "sold out" of the limited run for the pricey Edition 1; less expensive versions are still a long way off.
  • A $100,000 version comes in fall 2022, followed by a $90,000 model in spring 2023. The lowest-priced version, at $80,000, won't be available until spring 2024.
  • Production of the Edition 1 is just starting, but I got to drive a near-final prototype recently in and around Ann Arbor, Michigan — hardly the extreme off-road environment it was designed to tackle.

Still, the technology on this truck will blow you away.

  • It has an estimated 1,000 horsepower, a range of 350 miles per charge, and goes 0-60 mph in 3 seconds.
  • The Hummer EV can actually drive sideways, thanks to its four-wheel steering and a feature called CrabWalk.
  • The adjustable air suspension can lower the truck 3½ inches, or raise it as much as 6 inches.
  • Underbody cameras — with windshield wipers! — on each wheel let drivers see exactly what's happening under the truck.

One feature in the Hummer that's likely to permeate all of GM's vehicles is an enhanced version of Super Cruise, GM's hands-free assisted-driving system.

  • With the Hummer EV, Super Cruise is introducing automatic lane-changing capability.
  • It worked perfectly during my test drive, identifying an opening in traffic and then carefully navigating around slower-moving cars.
  • Tesla already has this feature in its cars, but safety advocates say GM's technology is better because it has a driver-monitoring system to ensure that drivers are paying attention.

The bottom line: The GMC Hummer EV is too extreme for most people's tastes, but its mission is to excite people about the potential of electric vehicles.