Polls have shown her to be the only candidate who has a ghost of a chance of edging out Donald Trump for the Republican presidential nomination, but Nikki Haley has a tough row to hoe to achieve that unless the courts take him out of the running before the November election. Since she does have a prospect of beating him for the nomination, however, and because history warns us to be prepared for surprises, it’s worth a look at her wretched stance on the climate emergency.
There are plenty of other reasons for Democrats and Democratic-leaning Americans not to vote for Haley. Her craven stance on abortion, her support for repealing the Affordable Care Act, her opposition to COVID vaccine mandates, her opposition to red flag laws and universal background checks for gun buyers, her opposition to gay marriage and her support for other unequal treatment of LGBTQ+ people, particularly those who identify as transgender, her efforts to limit voting rights, et cetera, ad nauseam, all line her up to be an avatar of the modern GOP agenda, such as it is. The list of her ugly standpoints goes on and on.
More’s the pity that dealing with global warming doesn’t rank as the preeminent government priority in the view of the vast majority of Americans. However, there is a yawning gap between Republicans and Democrats on whether climate should at least be included among the top priorities. In a Pew Research Center poll, just 13% of Republicans agreed with that, while 59% of Democrats did. At the August GOP debate, candidates made climate comments typical of the bulk of elected Republicans, with the clown prince of nonsense, Vivek Ramaswamy, emulating Trump by calling climate change a “hoax.” Haley went a different route. She admitted that climate change is happening.
Contrary to the surprised response of much of the media, however, this isn’t new territory for her. In a 2020 video released by her Stand for America group, she said that “man-made climate change is real, but liberal ideas would cost trillions and destroy our economy." Saying so relieved some conservative climate groups worried about losing young voters over the issue.
But many other elected Republicans—including several who have been the worst climate science deniers in the past—have also switched from “hoax” to some version of “the climate is changing, it always has.” That, of course, is a truism. Yes, the climate has always changed, is under a constant state of change. It’s been a boiling mass of lava during vast, million-year long volcanic eruptions. In another era, it was “snowball Earth,” almost completely covered with ice from pole to pole. Natural if extreme causes made those changes eons before anything remotely human existed on the planet. Republicans who have taken up this talking point act as if they and not scientists were the first to note the always-changing nature of Earth’s climate.
It is not, however, that the climate is changing that has those who study it sounding the alarm. What has them worried is the rapidity of the current changes and their heightened intensity, combined with incessant and sociopathic foot-dragging when it comes to taking action to deal with those and future changes. A few scientists are pretty much saying that it’s too late now to keep from happening what computer models years ago estimated would be the worst climate scenarios. A larger number are saying we’re fast approaching the too-late point. And yet, Haley, like all but a handful of prominent Republicans, is stuck in the foot-dragging mode and worse.
Her climate record is, in fact, as pathetic as her disingenuity. As South Carolina governor, she opposed President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan to reduce emissions for fossil-fueled power plants and got a “D” grade on environmental issues from the state’s local affiliate of the League of Conservation Voters. Brett Hartl, the chief political strategist at the Center for Biological Diversity Action told The Washington Post, “A generalized acknowledgment that climate change is real doesn’t really get you out of the F column in terms of a passing grade on climate.”
When Haley was U.N. ambassador, she eagerly orchestrated Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate. Her policy response to global warming is not to curb carbon emissions but rather to capture them, precisely the stance of the fossil fuel industry. In that 2020 video, she said, “The private sector produces innovative ideas that actually work, like capturing CO2 before it goes into our air [and] reforestation — aka planting more trees and forests to soak up CO2.” Haley ignores the fact that much innovation in energy wouldn’t have happened or would have happened much more slowly without government funding and other encouragement.
Succeeding at mitigating or preventing some of the worst impacts of the climate emergency will ultimately depend on removing CO2 already in the atmosphere. The damaging results of having boosted CO2 concentrations to 420+ parts-per-million is clear to all who are willing to see. We obviously have to zero out carbon emissions by stopping the burning of fossil fuels, but that won’t yank any of those already added ppms out of the air. Since this, too, must be done, putting government research money into the effort to improve carbon removal technology doesn’t, as some critics assert, feed false hope.
However, many advocates of carbon capture and storage technology—the oil and gas giants, for example—see it as an opportunity to keep extracting and burning fossil fuels, using some of that captured CO2, as it already does in some locations, to extract yet more fossil fuels. Even if CCS technology were superbly effective and economically sound, and it’s a long way from either, burning fossil fuels also releases toxins and soot that cause an estimated 7 million premature deaths worldwide every year. Not to mention all the harm done to other species as well as long-term environmental destruction to land and sea from spills and the impacts of abandoned oil and gas wells and coal strip mines like 40% of those in Kentucky. Our relationship with fossil fuels is literally a toxic one. CCS could ultimately help heal the atmosphere, but its deployment as an excuse to keep pumping carbon into the atmosphere must be squashed.
At the August debate, Haley also said “if you want to go and really change the environment, then we need to start telling China and India that they have to lower their emissions.” It’s hard to believe that Haley is unaware that pressure on that front has been ongoing for years. Without a doubt, those two nations must reduce their emissions. China is currently the planet’s biggest single emitter of carbon dioxide, and is still adding new coal plants. It produces 12.7 billion metric tons of emissions annually compared with the 5.9 billion tons the U.S. emits.
But there’s crucial context. Cumulatively since 1850, CO2 emissions from China total 284 billion tons, while the U.S. total for the same period is 509 billion tons. It’s also the height of American exceptionalism to argue that other nations need to curb their emissions while giving a pass to per capita U.S. emissions that are 175% more than China’s and nearly 800% greater than India’s. As for clean energy infrastructure, China’s is being being added at a rate that makes America’s pace an embarrassment. In 2022 China invested $546 billion in clean energy projects compared with the U.S. investment of $141 billion. And, let’s face it, at those levels neither nation is yet moving fast enough.
On climate and just about every issue of consequence, Haley is an “F” candidate, and that “D” she got from conservationists in South Carolina is just another example of grade inflation.
The speech in this video about the rights of nature movement by Ponca elder and longtime activist Casey Camp-Horneck was given at the 2019 Bioneers Conference.
RESOURCES & action
During a recent renewable energy discussion, I was spurred to go exploring and ran into this 1978-80 assessment of the first residential solar tax credit when Jimmy Carter was president. The Carter administration had set a goal of getting 20% of the nation’s energy needs from renewable sources by the turn of the century.
However, the Reagan administration that came into office in 1981 eliminated tax breaks for the deployment of wind turbines, solar, and geothermal technologies, and recommitted the nation to reliance on cheap, polluting fossil fuels. Joe Romm, who worked at the U.S. Department of Energy in the 1990s including a stint as acting assistant secretary, wrote 13 years ago, “As for energy, Reagan almost single-handedly killed America’s global leadership in renewable energy.” Consequently, more than two decades past Carter’s target date, renewables finally generated around 22% of U.S. electricity in 2022, but only provided 13% of the nation’s total energy, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Meanwhile, Germany generated 55% of its electricity with renewables in 2023.
Here’s an excerpt from the 1978-80 assessment of the solar and energy conservation tax credit:
Data for Tax Year 1980 reveal that of the 93.9 million individual income tax returns filed, 4.7 million claimed the residential energy credit. An overwhelming majority, 4.6 million, claimed the credit as a result of their expenditures on energy conservation items such as insulation and storm windows, while only 155,000 claimed the credit in connection with expenditures for solar, geothermal, or wind energy producing devices. These taxpayers reported spending $3.25 billion on the energy conservation items and $448 million on the alternative sources of energy and, consequently, were able to reduce their income tax liability by $562 million.[...]
The second component of the residential energy credit is the credit for renewable energy source property. This refers to any item which uses a solar ,geothermal, or wind source to produce energy. For 1978 and 1979, the credit for renewable energy source property was 30 percent of the first $2,000 and 20 percent of the next $8,000 of expenditures, including labor costs for on-site preparation, assembly, or original installation. For 1980, the credit was 40 percent of the first $10,000 of expenditures. Over the entire period that the credit is to be in effect, the maximum amount of qualifying expenditures is $10,000 and the maximum credit varies from a low of $2,200 if all qualifying expenditures were made prior to January 1, 1980, to a high of $4,000 if all such expenditures were made on or after January 1, 1980. [...]
For 1980, the other component of the residential energy credit, the renewable energy source credit, accounted for total expenditures of $448 million.Taxpayers spent $399 million on the acquisition and installation of solar energy property, while only $27million went for wind energy items, and $21 million was used for geothermal energy sources. In terms of number of returns, the utilization of the renewable energy source credit was quite low, with only 137,000 returns reporting expenditures for solar energy, while11,000 claimed expenses for wind energy and 7,000 showed outlays for geothermal energy.
That $3.7 billion would be $13.6 billion in 2024 dollars.
Earth Matters: Jimmy Carter's unheralded green legacy and Reagan helped save the ozone layer but ruined America’s leadership in clean energy
When completed in 2026, the SunZia Transmission Project will be what the developer calls the largest wind project in the Western Hemisphere with 3.5 gigawatts of electricity-generating capacity, 50 percent more than Hoover Dam, and enough to supply the needs of 3 million households in the energy-hungry Southwest. Ground was broken in September. This got zero major media coverage, although the Albuquerque Journal took note as did Climate Wire last week.
The $8 billion project will comprise 674 GE Vernova wind turbines—the largest such order in the company’s history—and 242 turbines from the Danish-owned Vestas Wind Systems, making it the largest onshore order in its history. Vestas has installed more wind turbines around the world than any other maker. A wind project of the same capacity—Chokecherry Sierra Madre—is planned for 2029 completion in Wyoming (which is the windiest place I ever lived).
Vestas says most of its turbine parts for SunZia will be built in the United States. This will require the kind of supply chain ramp-up that the Biden administration is strongly trying to encourage wtih tax credits and other federal nudgings. GE’s turbine parts will be manufactured in its facilities in Colorado, Florida, New Mexico, and Texas. Construction on the ground will involve some 2,000 workers until completion, including heavy equipment operators, electricians, laborers, and others. Pattern Energy Group, which has an extensive portfolio of completed clean energy projects, will supervise all construction. Consultants estimated that over its 30-year life the project will generate $20.5 billion in economic benefits, about three-quarters of that in New Mexico, including $1.3 billion in fees and taxes of various sorts to local, state, and federal governments.
At Climate Wire, Benjamin Storrow quotes Vic Abate, GE Vernova’s chief executive of its wind business, who gave credit to the $369 billion of clean energy-related components of the Inflation Reduction Act for “enabling our continued investments in wind technology, domestic manufacturing and product quality. These investments are aiding the country’s efforts to decarbonize the electric grid in support of climate change goals.” This guy needs to be saying that in ads for Biden and other Democratic candidates.
It’s been a 20-year process to get from that first gleam in the eye of the SunZia developer and actual pouring of concrete. Contention over ecologically delicate lands and bird kills from environmentalists, plus objections from the Defense Department about proximity to the White Sands missile-proving grounds of the project’s proposed boundary as well as sacred land concerns of Native tribes all contributed to the long delays. The Biden administration helped clear the way by speeding up environmental reviews and having talks with “stakeholders.” Whatever opposition still remained after concessions were made with conservationists and others, the project is now finally happening.
The juice it generates will be delivered by the 550-mile ultra-high voltage SunZia Transmission Line, which is also being built by Pattern. The company made significant changes to the originally proposed route because of the White Sands issue and worked with the Audubon Society to reduce impacts on birds, apparently to everyone’s satisfaction, at least as far as Big Green establishment organizations are concerned. Whether the tribes feel the same they aren’t saying.
Built simultaneously with the project’s wind farms that will stretch across three south-central New Mexico counties, the transmission line will connect to existing lines south of Phoenix. One primary client so far is the Clean Power Alliance in California, an aggregator of renewables output that it brokers. It has contracted for about 16 percent of SunZia’s generation over 30 years, enough to provide 266,000 southern California households with electricity. This is especially useful because the wind picks up just as California’s numerous solar installations lose the sun for the day and evening electricity usage spikes..
Welcome as these projects are in some quarters, they come amid difficulties and, as the punny headline writers say, turbulence in the wind industry of late. Plagued by runaway costs, a bumpy market, and non-renegotiable long-term agreements, some already approved projects have been canceled and others never started. Storrow writes:
Analysts said SunZia could deliver a boost to the wind industry but cautioned that other wind projects still face challenges. Gigawatt-scale facilities on the scale of SunZia and Chokecherry Sierra Madre are likely to be “few and far between” because of land use constraints and a lack of transmission capacity, said Samantha Woodworth, an analyst who tracks the industry at Wood Mackenzie.
She predicted wind farm installations will increase over 2023 levels but are not on track to reach pre-pandemic levels. The U.S. installed more than 14 GW of wind capacity in 2020 and 2021 but saw annual installations fall to around 6.9 GW last year, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration data. Continuing effects of inflation and questions about how tax credits will be handled under the Inflation Reduction Act are still impacting the pace of wind development, Woodworth said.
SunZia’s success, by contrast, was largely dependent on it securing permits to build a transmission line.
“The location itself is fairly economical before tax credits are even taken into account, so the success of the project really hinged on the transmission line success more than anything else. Which is a major piece of the onshore industry’s future success — getting transmission upgraded or built in a timely fashion,” Woodworth wrote in an email.
Pattern CEO Hunter Armistead said, “We are excited to have reached an agreement with Clean Power Alliance to help provide clean power from SunZia Wind to their millions of residents and businesses in the Los Angeles region. SunZia represents the largest renewable energy infrastructure project in U.S. history, with one of the strongest wind resources in the country to create an ideal complement to daytime solar power.”
In a press release, the company noted that it would “utilize all available local qualified International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) labor as well as other building trades. Pattern Energy has pledged support to CPA’s ongoing local workforce development efforts to grow green jobs and prepare the workforce for the future.”
Having stayed with it this far, I have no doubt some readers are fuming. Their point of view is that centralized utility-scale projects requiring the disturbance of the land and possible trouble for non-human species are unnecessary and just feed the corporate maw at the expense of nature, which is the behavior that got us into the climate and biodiversity mess in the first place. Decentralized rooftop solar is a better option, they say.
Putting solar panels on every residential and commercial rooftop as well as every parking lot and EV charging station ought to be a national goal. But the output from all those installations won’t be enough to get us off the fossil fuel teat. Experts put the total U.S. potential of rooftop solar electricity at 39% of current consumption. We need both rooftop solar and utility solar/utility wind to fully electrify. It doesn’t matter whether solar arrays are centralized or decentralized. Ownership is what matters because therein lies control and people need control over something as basic to their lives as energy. The only practical way to achieve that is democratically. Corporate governance obviously isn’t that. Indeed, the whole idea of democratic control is, unfortunately, anathema to the advocates of the currently dominant model.
“Human domination over nature is quite simply an illusion, a passing dream by a naive species. It is an illusion that cost us much, ensnared us in our own designs, given us a few boasts to make about our courage and genius, but all the same it is an illusion.”―David Suzuki
HALF A DOZEN OTHER THINGS TO READ
A TED Talk Put Ron Finley on the Map. 10 Years Later, the ‘Gangsta Gardener’ Is Going Strong by Stephanie Toone at Civil Eats. It has been 10 years since Ron Finley, the self-proclaimed “Gangsta Gardener,” changed the trajectory of his life with a TED Talk about food apartheid in his community, South Central Los Angeles. The talk has been viewed nearly 5 million times since then, and one of its most memorable lines—“Growing your own food is like printing your own money”—has since become the seed of Finley’s burgeoning philanthropic work. Finley has become famous for planting avocados, bananas, mangos, and sugar cane in and behind his house in a spot where there was once an Olympic-sized swimming pool and making it available to community members for free. “This all started because I needed some healthy food.” He organized against a regulation that prevented Angelenos from curbside gardening, and went on to launch a nonprofit, the Ron Finley Project. And yet he says he’s still amazed by the impact of the TED Talk and the number of doors it has opened for him and his work. In recent years, Finley has become one of the most popular teachers in the online education series MasterClass, and he has been invited to speak in a wide range of far-flung places including Greece, Sweden, and Denmark. And in 2024, Finley and his staff will curate an art show called “Breath(e): Toward Climate and Social Justice” at The Hammer Museum in Los Angeles.
West Virginia Killing Coal With Solar Power, One Megawatt At A Time by Tina Casey at CleanTechnica. Followers of U.S. politics will not be surprised to know that the coal state of West Virginia has been achingly slow to join the solar power revolution. It currently ranks a lowly 49th in a state-by-state ranking of installed solar capacity. Nevertheless, three solar and energy storage projects are moving forward, indicating that a change is in the wind. First up is a new 18.9-megawatt solar array at Fort Martin, which just went online at the beginning of January. It’s the first in a suite of five solar arrays planned by FirstEnergy Subsidiary Mon Power and its fellow utility Potomac Edison. All together the five sites will total 50 megawatts of capacity. That doesn’t sound like much in a day and age when triple-digit solar development is commonplace. However, it is a huge deal in terms of the growth of the West Virginia solar power profile. The last time we checked, the Solar Energy Industries Association clocked just 35 megawatts of installed solar capacity in West Virginia. The new arrays will more than double that figure, to 85 megawatts.
How watching beavers from space can help drought-ridden areas bounce back by Ben Goldfarb at Wired. For the first time in four centuries, it’s good to be a beaver. Long persecuted for their pelts and reviled as pests, the dam-building rodents are today hailed by scientists as ecological saviors. Their ponds and wetlands store water in the face of drought, filter out pollutants, furnish habitat for endangered species, and fight wildfires. In California, Castor canadensis is so prized that the state recently committed millions to its restoration. While beavers’ benefits are indisputable, however, our knowledge remains riddled with gaps. We don’t know how many are out there, or which direction their populations are trending, or which watersheds most desperately need a beaver infusion. Few states have systematically surveyed them; moreover, many beaver ponds are tucked into remote streams far from human settlements, where they’re near-impossible to count. “There’s so much we don’t understand about beavers, in part because we don’t have a baseline of where they are,” says Emily Fairfax, a beaver researcher at the University of Minnesota. But that’s starting to change. Over the past several years, a team of beaver scientists and Google engineers have been teaching an algorithm to spot the rodents’ infrastructure on satellite images. Their creation has the potential to transform our understanding of these paddle-tailed engineers—and help climate-stressed states like California aid their comeback.
Over Half of Germany’s Power Came From Renewables in 2023 by Matt Daniels at Impakter. Since Germany adopted its Energiewende green transition in 2010 with a goal of getting rid of 80% of carbon emissions by 2050 and adopting a range of renewables with a target of 80% of the country’s electricity coming from those sources by 2030, there have been plenty of hiccups. That has included fallout from the war in Ukraine because of Germany’s dependence on Russian natural gas. Some observers still say it this transition can’t be done. To get there, it certainly will require pedal to the metal. But, as Daniels writes, Germany achieved a monumental milestone last year with renewable energy accounting for as much as 55% of the country’s annaul gross electricity consumption, according to the sector’s regulator. “We have broken the 50% mark for renewables for the first time,” said Robert Habeck, the German government’s economy minister. “Our measures to simplify planning and approvals are starting to take effect.” The best month was July, with 59% of electricity coming from renewables. In June solar hit an all-time high, producing 9.8 terawatt-hours. Of the total electricity generated, offshore wind accounted for 31.1%, solar for 12.1%, and biomass for 8.4%. The rest, 3.4%, came from hydropower and other renewables, regulator Bundesnetzagentur said.
Related: Germany’s emissions fell to 70-year low in 2023. Will they continue to drop in 2024?
Uncertainty abounds in seeding the sky to fight climate change, says study by Sarah Derouin at the American Geophysical Union. Most previous research into injecting aerosols into the atmosphere to cool the climate has focused on using gaseous sulfur dioxide, which is also released in volcanic eruptions. However, the injection of sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere is associated with side effects including ozone depletion and local stratospheric heating. Recent studies have shown that the use of solid materials such as alumina, calcite, or even diamond particles could more effectively cool the climate while simultaneously reducing these side effects. However, there is limited understanding of how solid material injection affects the stratospheric ozone layer. The current understanding is based on scant, decades-old experimental data on alumina particles emitted into the stratosphere via solid-fuel space rocket exhaust. In new research published in Geophysical Research Letters, Sando Vattioni and colleagues show that stratospheric conditions resulting from space shuttle exhaust plumes are not comparable to alumina injection scenarios for climate intervention. They found that although alumina injection may have an advantage over sulfur dioxide in terms of reduced local stratospheric heating, there are "significant uncertainties" in estimating such injections' impact on the ozone layer.
Americans Throw 76% of Their Recyclables Into the Trash by Leslie Kaufman at Bloomberg Green. A new report that zeroes in on residential recycling suggests that we are capturing far less material than that—at least at the household level. The Recycling Partnership, a nonprofit that works with major corporations to improve U.S. recycling systems, says that if you look at houses and apartments alone, the national recycling rate is much closer to 21%, and 76% percent of residential recyclables are lost at the household level. It finds residential recycling rates below 10% in states including Montana (9%), Mississippi (8%), North Dakota (9%) and Alabama (9%). Even California, which has a reputation as a robust recycler, only recycles 37% of what’s possible from residences and therefore leaves 3.2 million tons a year of potentially recyclable material for landfills. [...] “This is the first time we’ve ever had a comprehensive picture of the U.S. residential recycling landscape,” said Keefe Harrison, the founder and chief executive officer of the Recycling Partnership. “We are seeing a recycling rate that is less than we’d wish it was. But it is only when you have a solid baseline that you can measure progress.”
The climate costs of war and militaries can no longer be ignored by Doug Weir at The Guardian. A proportion of those carbon costs come from military activities. For these, understanding is hampered by the longstanding culture of domestic environmental exceptionalism enjoyed by militaries, and how at the US’s insistence, this was translated into UN climate agreements. An exclusion to the 1997 Kyoto protocol became voluntary reporting under the 2015 Paris agreement. But when we began to collate and publish the emissions data that militaries report to the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), we found that only a handful of countries publish even the bare minimum required by U.N. reporting guidelines. Many countries with large militaries publish nothing at all. The best estimate we have is that militaries are responsible for 5.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions. If the global military were a country, this would place it fourth in terms of its emissions, between India and Russia. Militaries are highly fossil fuel dependent and, while net zero targets have opened up debates around military decarbonisation, effective decarbonisation is impossible without understanding the scale of emissions, and without the domestic and international policy frameworks to encourage it. At present, we have neither, while carbon-intensive global military spending has reached record levels.
Related: The war zone in Gaza will leave a legacy of hidden health risks and Emissions from Israel’s war in Gaza have ‘immense’ effect on climate catastrophe
Does Nature have rights when the planet is in crisis? by Mary Hurley at The Lovepost. In an era defined by the global climate crisis, the concept of Rights of Nature has emerged as a profound and revolutionary legal instrument. It boldly confronts the Western view of Earth as a resource to be exploited, asserting instead that the planet deserves to be recognised as a living, interconnected system with the right to exist, thrive and regenerate on its own terms. Even more, the Rights of Nature paradigm speaks to the place of humans within that living system. The history of Rights of Nature is the story of passionate individuals who have dedicated their lives to championing the cause. Three leading advocates for the Rights of Nature spoke with The Lovepost to explain how and why rights have become the chosen tool for many organisations desperate to reconfigure the relationship between humans and the environment. This endeavour is no longer confined within the bounds of Earth. As space exploration expands, the concept of Rights of Nature takes on new significance. It invites contemplation of humanity’s role in the broader cosmos, and it poses questions about human responsibilities to celestial bodies and the ecosystems they may hold. The Rights of Nature movement is not merely an environmental issue. It is also a philosophical and ethical revolution that symbolises the interdependence of humanity and Nature.
Related: Ireland Could Become the Next Nation to Recognize the Rights of Nature and a Human Right to a Clean Environment
In 'Sick Joke', COP29 Host Azerbaijan to Raise Gas Production by a Third by Olive Rosane at Common Dreams. Azerbaijan, the country slated to host the next United Nations Climate Change Conference, has plans to increase its gas production by a third during the next 10 years. The findings, released by Global Witness Monday, build on concerns about how effectively an Azerbaijan-hosted COP29 will tackle the climate crisis, given the country's reliance on fossil fuels and its decision to appoint a former state oil company executive as president of the conference. "Drug dealers don't fix drug addictions, and petrostates won't fix the climate crisis," Dominic Eagleton, senior campaigner at Global Witness, said in a statement. "As we hurtle towards climate collapse, we're now being asked to put our future in the hands of Azerbaijan, a petrostate that's propped up by oil supermajors and is massively increasing its gas production." [….] "What a sick joke," climate system science expert Paul Beckwith posted on social media in response to the Global Witness data. "COP29 is already a farce like COP28."
Related: An Ecology Minister With an Oil Pedigree Will Lead Global Climate Talks and Oil Change International’s Response to Azerbaijan announcement of Mukhtar Babayev as COP29 President
How BPA and its evil cousins dodge meaningful regulation by Meg Wilcox at Environmental Health News. BADGE—an endocrine-disrupting chemical called bisphenol A diglycidyl ether—like its cousin bisphenol A, also known as BPA, shows an ability to hack the body’s hormones and cause significant harm. The U.S. government’s failure to set any restrictions on BPA and BPA-like chemicals leaves people exposed at levels hundreds of thousands of times higher than what many scientists consider safe. Asked whether the Food and Drug Administration would reevaluate the safety of BPA, given the proposed European dramatic drop in a safe intake level, a spokesperson responded, “based on FDA’s safety review of the scientific evidence, the available information continues to support the safety of BPA for the currently approved uses in food containers and packaging.” Some states have bans on BPA in baby bottles, sippy cups and water bottles, but those laws typically don’t cover BPA substitutes like bisphenol S or bisphenol F, and certainly don’t address BADGE. Only Washington state bans bisphenols as a class — with one exception for tetramethyl bisphenol F — from drink cans, laundry detergent and thermal paper such as register receipts.
Is Biden waging a war on energy? Or on the climate? by Jonathan Thompson at High Country News. A couple of weeks ago, I stumbled on a Republican National Committee diatribe in the Patriot Post titled “Biden Accelerates War on American Energy.” Just days later, the College Democrats of America, the Democratic National Committee’s collegiate arm, blasted the Biden administration for its “indifference” to climate change and for failing to fulfill a campaign promise to end drilling on public lands. Differing interpretations of federal policy are common, especially where our two major parties are concerned. But such diametrically opposed takes prompt us to wonder: Is Joe Biden deliberately murdering the oil and gas industry, or is he quietly trying to kill the planet?
Right-Wing Christians Are Making Climate Apocalypse a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy by JP Sottile at Truthout. On Nov. 17, 2023, the Texas State Board of Education rejected science textbooks and teaching materials from eight educational publishers. Their objections were based in large part on references to “manmade” climate change, on “negative portrayals of fossil fuels,” and, amazingly enough, on evolution. In a nod to the Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925, the “Judeo-Christian” culture warriors at Texas Values issued a press release celebrating the “Unanimous Vote to Stop Science Textbooks from Making a Monkey Out of You and Your Kids.” For them, the “most egregious textbook was a Biology book” that dared to discuss “how humans are members of the ‘great ape family’ and asked students when humans appeared in primate lineage.” The SBOE also heard objections from Texas Railroad Commissioner Wayne Christian, whose job, as the Houston Chronicle’s Chris Tomlinson pointed out, “has nothing to do with railroads and everything to do with oil and gas.” Christian, who’d previously “found success in the music industry with his country/gospel band, the Mercy River Boys,” was appointed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott to serve as Texas’ representative on the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission. So it’s unsurprising that, Tomlinson noted, he “fired off a letter demanding that textbooks ignore global warming and the role fossil fuels play in overheating the planet.” It’s also unsurprising that the SBOE agreed. Simply put, oil and politics do mix in the Lone Star State. The overlooked catalyst of that mixture is reactionary forms of religion. And it’s increasingly fueled by Christian “dominionism.”
As a psychologist I have witnessed a surge in climate grief. This is what I tell my clients by Carly Dober at The Guardian. “It sucks… and it’s only going to get worse,” my client says, disbelief coloring their facial expression.I’m inclined to agree, it does suck. I can feel my hands starting to get clammy as my memory flashes back to the catastrophic climate events I’ve watched unfold recently. Bearing witness to the climate crisis can feel surreal at times, yet I do not mention this to my client. I have a job to do, and it is not to escalate their rational anxieties and fears, it is to manage what is manageable; to teach coping strategies, to encourage connection to nature and social relationships, to channel their grief into sustainable action that feels meaningful. I work closely with adolescents and young adults, and I have witnessed yet again this summer an alarming surge in feelings of anger and despair over the climate. The source of their distress is not a personal trauma or a fleeting setback; it is an existential threat that looms larger every passing day.