A month ago we said to cool it with the “coronavirus is good for the environment” takes – not only because of the eco-facsist undertones, but also because it’s the sort of thing deniers use to falsely portray climate action as just as harsh and painful as COVID-19 mitigation measures.
Sure enough, alongside the rise of astroturfed “liberate” groups, we’ve seen exactly that narrative spring up this week. For example, Axios ran a graph from Carbon Brief on Monday showing the projected emissions reductions from COVID-19 pandemic policies tracking close to what would be necessary to meet the Paris Agreement’s 1.5C temperature target. In response, Iain Murray of industry-funded CEI tweeted, “we can end the lockdowns *and* save the planet” but not “until Earth Day 2030.”
But a tweet isn’t enough for Marc Morano of industry-funded CFACT, who copied and pasted together a whole “special report” arguing that “activists see coronavirus lockdowns as dress rehearsal for ‘climate emergency.’”
It’s less a special report, though, and more a hastily-pasted-together list of past clips of either climate activists calling for things like reducing air travel or meat consumption paired with examples of those things (sort of) happening because of the pandemic. So, if you’ve totally missed all the chatter about the coronavirus and climate, and would also like to see what paid disinformers like Morano think about it, you can muddle through Marc’s “special report.”
The only thing that took an ounce of original thought to produce is the header image, which features a background of bombed-out buildings and smoke, a figure wearing scrubs and a mask in the foreground, and text reading, “Is the coronavirus lockdown the future environmentalists want?” The fact that environmentalists want a future where the air is clean, not filled with cloudy black smoke, and buildings that are functional and intact, not crumbling, is not addressed.
Don’t worry! It’s not all bad, though! We’ve been relieved to see some journalists picking up on the pushback to both deniers and overeager enviros.
Over at Earther, Brian Kahn does a great job explaining “what the ‘humans are the virus’ meme gets so wrong.” In essence: it's premised on the idea that humanity is somehow separate from nature, and not intrinsically a part of it.
And then if you were enjoying the fact that the price of oil went negative on Monday, unfortunately that’s not really a reason to celebrate either. As Rebecca Leber explains at Mother Jones, this sort of crash is exactly the opposite of a fair and just transition that makes sure workers aren’t left high and dry without healthcare or pensions. Moreover, bankrupt drillers aren’t going to pay to make sure their now-defunct wells are cleaned up and safe, leaving taxpayers to pick up the bill, bear the cost of pollution, or both. Of course, these companies already did that regularly even when the price of oil was a positive number.
Additionally, as gas prices fall, so too falls the incentive for drillers to capture and sell methane. If there’s no market for it then it’s cheaper to just burn it off at the well, or just let it vent out into the air.
And you know how the Trump administration is happy to let the industry regulate itself? Well when times are tough, “one of the first things that will go is the limited capacity for inspection,” Earthworks’ Nathalie Eddy told Leber.
Oh. Hmm. If even the oil industry’s downfall shouldn’t be a source of sour grapes climate joy, maybe we were wrong earlier. It is all bad.
Happy Earth Day…
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