Hallelujah, Churches Have Seen the Light
By Amy Westervelt
The Presbyterian Church made a huge announcement this week: it will divest $4-$7 million from fossil fuels entirely. That includes removing its money from five oil companies: Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Marathon Petroleum, Phillips 66 and Valero Energy. The announcement came on the heels of another announcement from three dozen other religious groups that have also divested from fossil fuel. It's a big deal, not just as a win for divestment and less money for Big Oil, but also because of the longstanding relationship between western Christianity and oil.
Religion and oil have been deeply intertwined from the very early days of the industry in the U.S. According to Darren Dochuk, author of the book Annointed with Oil, which traces the history of this relationship in great detail, "Oil is first found in western Pennsylvania. This is a land of folk religion, right? Tucked away in Appalachia. Where does oil discovery and exploration go next? It goes to east Texas. It goes to California. It goes to regions where there is already kind of an established kind of folk religiosity, much of it very intensely evangelical. So, you know, where oil arrives, there's already a built-in mechanism that, whether it's Pentecostal or Presbyterian, allows this prosperity gospel to flourish at the ground level."
Early oil men like Lyman Stewart and John D. Rockefeller were deeply religious men who believed that God had chosen them not just to find oil, but to profit from it, and, eventually even to use it as a tool for reaching new converts. "There is evidence of American corporations, those located in the West in particular, in relying on information provided by missionaries for exploration and also lines of potential marketing in places like Peru," Dochuk explains.
Peru was one of the first countries where a U.S. oilman, Presbyterian leader Lyman Stewart, found large oil reserves.
He moved to Southern California in the late 1800s and started Union Oil company. Eager to build his own oil empire in the West to compete with the Rockefellers' stranglehold in the East, he started looking to Latin America to do that. "An executive in the company was a missionary in Peru and was aware both of the oil potential of Peru but also of this kind of fertile, as they saw it, land for witnessing and spreading a gospel of conservative evangelicalism," Dochuk says. "So, these two operations, the search for oil and the quest to save souls for Christ, as Lyman Stewart saw it, went hand in hand very much early on."
Which not only makes the announcement about the Presbyterian Church divesting in fossil fuels that much more important, it also makes divestment that much more complicated and fraught for the church. Leaders in the Presbyterian Church have been talking about divestment since the 1980s, but opted to try to engage with company leadership in an effort to try to pressure them to change. This move to finally embrace divestment marks an evolution there, a realization that those changes aren't coming, that engagement isn't enough, that there really is no compromise between the status quo and winding down fossil fuels. In a lot of ways it's a precursor to the rest of society disentangling itself from the grip of fossil fuels…and it's about damn time.
May and June Were a Mixed Bag for Climate Coverage
By Mary Annaïse Heglar
Ever since May, it feels like the news has been dominated by two things: the overturning of Roe vs. Wade and the January 6 hearings. As we’ve written about ad nauseum in this newsletter, neither of those two things are separate from the climate crisis, but that’s usually how the story is told. At the same time, we’re kicking off wildfire and hurricane season with terrifying temperatures across the globe. And, as far as I’ve heard, all the news outlets that made Big Pledges to tackle the climate story haven’t issued statements to the contrary. So… let’s check in on how media coverage on climate change panned out in May and June.
In May, things were looking up. Coverage was actually up globally by 13 percent from April 2022, and 20 percent from May 2021. Let me remind you that April is Earth Month and usually sees the biggest jump in climate coverage of any month. In the United States, coverage was up a modest 2 percent in print, but down by 15 percent on television. Okay, I’m going to chalk that up to Earth Month glossy coverage, which we actually don’t need a ton of anyway.
In June, though, things took a turn. Global media attention to climate change went down by 3 percent from May 2022, and down 8 percent from June 2021. Not great. In the United States, print coverage went down 3 percent from the previous month, but television coverage went up 16 percent. Keep in mind that June included the West Virginia vs. EPA decision—plus a ton of bad faith coverage on FOX News and their ilk.
So here’s the thing: I am still waiting to see a news outlet that pledged to take the climate crisis seriously actually do that. Sure, I’ve seen a few of them bulk up their climate desks, but I’ve not seen any of these traditional media outlets cover climate at anywhere near the scale that the catastrophe deserves. If so, I would be quoting numbers above that are way bigger and only going in one direction. As we gear up for the midterms, we really don’t have much more time to waste to tell this story with the urgency it deserves if we actually want to make a difference.
By Amy Westervelt
California is on fire again. This time, an out-of-control wildfire is threatening Yosemite and, in particular, a grove of ancient sequoias that have been rooted in the ground there for more than 500 years. Every year, for the last decade or so, I have braced myself for fire season, starting around April and going until the end of December, tensing up whenever there's lightning or a dry wind. This year's different. I'm worried and watching still, but I'm not there.
Driven by a combination of wildfire fatigue, school shootings, and an intense drive to protect my children from The Hunger Games, American style, I've moved out of the country. Loading onto our flight out this week felt like a high-stakes escape. And now, as my home state burns once again, I am feeling what I can only describe as survivors' guilt.
Guilty that I'm not there, going down with the ship. That I cut and run.
Of course, I'm under no illusion that anyone can outrun the climate crisis, or the democracy crisis for that matter. But whenever the fires come or the hurricanes hit, there are always judgey types ready with a "why do they stay?" critique, and fierce warriors defending not only their homelands but also their attachment to them. Those of us who don't stay are rarely part of the conversation, but there are more and more of us all the time. The lucky ones who move while we still have some options. Maybe we're also the weak and self-interested ones with no loyalty, but in thinking about my kids' future, I didn't see much of a choice.
Part of me is relieved not to be there, smelling smoke for the next several weeks; happy to trade fires for torrential rains and floods, to get even a brief mental break from the endless bad news.
In all honesty, I think it might be the thing that enables me to keep reporting on climate, keep thinking about it, to have the energy to keep fighting. Because alongside the guilt is a feeling I haven't experienced in so long it took me a minute to recognize it: relief.
LOL @ BP
By Mary Annaïse Heglar
Okay, I’ll be the first to admit that I have not been on top of my greentrolling game lately. I’ve kind of just needed a break from social media and technology in general, so I’ve been keeping my distance. Which is how I happened to miss this gem of a tweet from my #ClimateBae BP:
BP…sweetheart…babydoll…sugar pie…GIRL..Verbalizing support for the LGBTQ community is not what gets you nasty comments on the Twitter machine. Never in my entire time of cyberstalking and cyberbullying BP have I seen anything homophobic or hateful in the comments. What I HAVE seen are people pointing out the hypocrisy of “supporting” the queer community while… doing your damndest to end life on earth for everyone–including the queer community!
BP doesn’t get flack on social media for being woke, they get flack because their woke is a joke. They’re not supporting the queer community, they’re hiding behind them. And now, critically, everyone knows it!
Probably the funniest part was that Shell tried to get in on it? And failed! But even though I have not been trolling, I kinda don’t have to. So many other people did it! Here are some of my personal faves:
Rising Temperatures, Rising Tides
A Heat Dome Is Bringing Dangerous Temperatures to the Southwest by Angely Mercado for Earther
Hurricane Season Brings Emotional and Social Stresses for Young People | Teen Vogue, by Vaishnavi Kumbala
Utah's Great Salt Lake Dwindles to New Record Low by Lauren Leffer for Earther
Deforestation in Brazil's Amazon hits record for first half of 2022 | Reuters, by Jake Spring and Bruno Kelly
Wild species relied on by billions at risk, report warns | AP News, by Fabiano Maisonnave
The Amazon Rain Forest's Future Is on the Ballot in Brazil by Andre Pagliarini for The New Republic
In Africa, Conflict and Climate Super-Charge the Forces Behind Famine and Food Insecurity, by Georgina Gustin for Inside Climate News
Crops destroyed, clean water scarce: How will millions of South Asia flood survivors move forward? By Zakir Hossain Chowdhury and Aatreyee Dhar for The New Humanitarian
Europe is heating up faster than other 'hot spots,' a study finds. by Henry Fountain for the New York Times
Biodiversity Crisis Affects Billions Who Rely on Wild Species, Researchers Say by Elena Shao for The New York Times
Derecho turns sky green, sweeps through 5 states with 90 mph winds, by Matthew Cappucci for The Washington Post
New Study Identifies Rapidly Emerging Threats to Oceans - Inside Climate News, by Rachel Rodriguez and Bob Berwyn
Deadly Glacier Collapse in Italy Shows Reach of Europe's New Heat by Jason Horowitz for The New York Times
The Amazon Rain Forest's Future Is on the Ballot in Brazil | The New Republic, by Andre Pagliarini
“Hell on Earth” Used to Just Be a Figure of Speech by Tom Engelhardt for the Nation
Extreme lightning sparks more Alaska wildfires in already historic season, by Jacob Feurstein and Joshua Partlow for The Washington Post
Wildfire nears famous site in California’s Yosemite National Park, by Al Jazeera reporters for Al Jazeera
Thousands still without power as Electra fire grows to 4,112 acres with 40% containment, by Grace Toohey for the Los Angeles Times
The Climate Presidency?
Democrats race to clinch deal on climate, energy with Manchin - The Washington Post, by Maxine Joselow and Vanessa Montalbano
Utility-Backed Republicans May Have Gerrymandered Against One Democrat by Molly Taft for Earther
With Build Back Better Stalled, Expanded Funding for a Civilian Climate Corps Hangs in the Balance, by Samantha Hurley for Inside Climate news
The 3 Most Important Climate Laws You've Never Heard Of by Anne Barnard for The New York Times
Global dismay as supreme court ruling leaves Biden's climate policy in tatters, by Oliver Milman for The Guardian
Biden proposes more offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska by Emily Pontecorvo for Grist
In light of EPA court ruling, new focus on states' power | AP News, by Kathleen Ronayne
Biden's New Highway Rule Offers Some Hope for His Faltering Climate Agenda in Inside Climate News
The EU Just Decided Natural Gas Is 'Green' (???) by Molly Taft for Earther
The Supreme Court's EPA ruling affects not only climate change, but also air pollution - Vox by Siobhan McDonough for Vox
Quitting Oil Income Is Hard, Even for States That Want Climate Action by Brad Plumer for The New York Times
EPA Describes How It Will Regulate Power Plants After Supreme Court Setback by Lisa Friedman for The New York Times
How a 50-year-old PR strategy influenced the Supreme Court's EPA decision by Kate Yoder for Grist
'Insane' lithium price bump threatens EV fix for climate change, by Ian Neubauer for Al Jazeera
The Supreme Court's EPA decision could have been much worse by Shannon Osaka for Grist
The World Is Turning Back to Coal by Robinson Meyer for the Atlantic
China's summer floods and heat waves fuel plans for a changing climate, by Christian Shepherd, Pei-Lin Wu and Eva Dou for The Washington Post
Governor signs $1.2B water plan as Arizona faces cutbacks | AP News, by Bob Christie
Justice Is Justice Is Justice
Pride at the End of the World by Molly Taft for Earther
Preparing for extreme weather is a community concern. Here's how to be ready. by Muizz Akhtar for Vox
Local climate action by Somini Sengupta for The New York Times
California Released a Bold Climate Plan, but Critics Say It Will Harm Vulnerable Communities and Undermine Its Goals by Kristoffer Tigue for Inside Climate News
Lessons From Latin America, by Salomé Gómez-Upegui for Atmos
A Vast Refinery Site in Philadelphia Is Being Redeveloped and Called 'The Bellwether District.' But for Black Residents Nearby, Justice Awaits - Inside Climate News by Victoria St. Martin for Inside Climate News
With Build Back Better Stalled, Expanded Funding for a Civilian Climate Corps Hangs in the Balance by Samantha Hurley for Inside Climate News
Puerto Rico Is Not Yet Free, by Norishka Pachot for Atmos
Glimmers of Hope
California passes nation's toughest plastic reduction bill by Joseph Winters for Grist
Why the Supreme Court's power plant ruling isn't 'game over' for the climate, by Sammy Roth for the Los Angeles Times ‘
Monsoon arrived early, delivering much-needed rain to the Southwest, by Matthew Cappucci for The Washington Post
In the US West, Researchers Consider a Four-Legged Tool to Fight Two Foes: Wildfire and Cheatgrass, by Emma Foehringer Merchant for Inside Climate News
Climate in Culture
In the UK, Climate Protesters Are Gluing Themselves to Art by Alex Marshall for The New York Times
As North Carolina warms, one farm is turning to a tropical crop: Taro by Lina Tran for Grist
Americans are coming around on electric cars by Julia Kane for Grist
Scaling a Next-Gen Material | Atmos, by Lauren Cochrane
Mitt Romney Is in Denial | The New Republic, by Alex Shephard
Found: One Oak Tree, Famously Missing | The New Republic, by Marion Renault
Down to Earth, by Willow Defebaugh by Atmos
Colonization’s Lasting Impact on Photography, by Jesse Van’t Hull and photographs by Josué Rivas for Atmos
Microplastics detected in meat, milk and blood of farm animals | Plastics | The Guardian, by Damian Carrington