Making the Case

Plus: We need more climate media, Trump's a sore cheat, extreme weather Bingo, and more
Making the Case

Hey Hot Cakes!

Welcome to Hot Take! Your weekly (at least) newsletter surveying the state of the climate crisis and all the ways we’re talking—and not talking about it! We give you a round up of the latest climate stories and articles of the week, plus exclusive original reporting and commentary from us. Oh, and who are we? Amy Westervelt, long-time climate journalist with more seasoning than an everything bagel, and Mary Annaïse Heglar, a literary writer known for her essays on climate, race, and emotion—and her enthusiasm for dad jokes!

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Making the Case

By Mary Annaïse Heglar

The dust had barely settled on the ballots when we started hearing it: progressivism killed the Democrats this election. All you people advocating for Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, Defunding the Police, Abolishing ICE—you’re the problem! Amy wrote about this some last week in the newsletter, but there’s still so much left to say so we dedicated an episode to it. Normally, we have journalists on the show, but this time since we were dissecting a political narrative and not a media narrative, we talked to Rhiana Gunn Wright, one of the original authors of the Green New Deal and one of our favorite people in the world.

We get into all the ways that progressivism actually did not kill the Democrats this election cycle and that the party owes a major debt to its progressive wing, both in the past and the present. We talk about who white supremacy has been rotting the country and the party for centuries, and how that’s a conflict white liberals can’t afford to avoid, no matter how much their instincts tell them to be passive aggressive.

Furthermore, we talk about all the ways that progressive values and policies actually do resonate, if you know how to talk about them. And it’s not about polling, it’s about people.

Further reading:

We Need More Climate Media, Not Less

By Mary Annaïse Heglar

Amy and I launched the Hot Take podcast exactly one year ago this week. We started by doing a suite of episodes that looked back at the climate story in the era of Tr*mp. The first such episode focused on 2016 and 2017, combined. That was about an hour and a half. Then, we did 2018, on its own. That was about an hour and a half. Then, we got to 2019 and the episode was nearly two and a half hours and it was hard to cut it down to that. By the time Amy and I finished recording, I remember that we both had sore throats.

What changed, you ask? Well, a lot of things happened, but one of the biggest changes came in the form of the 2018 IPCC report, which laid out in no uncertain terms how dire the crisis already was and how bleak a future warmed by 1.5 degrees would be and how much work would need to be done right now to avoid that threshold. Climate media, as well as climate activism, was galvanized by that report, and it brought a huge diversity of new voices and outlets into the fold. That diversity, in turn, changed the way we think and talk about climate change forever. Gone was the myth that people of color don’t care about climate change. Gone was the myth that one had to be perfectly pure and green in order to be part of the conversation. Gone was the myth that “we” did this to ourselves.

The walls of propaganda came tumbling down.

We’ve come a long way from the time we launched Hot Take, too. In particular, climate newsletters and podcasts are springing up all over the place now. Amy and I see that as cause for celebration (and not as a declaration of competition). Podcasts and newsletters are extremely open and experimental spaces, which means they allow folks to experiment with storytelling in a way that traditional outlets  and their gatekeepers would never tolerate. They are easily accessible for content creators, since there’s little overhead costs associated with creating them, and newsletters especially are easily monetized, which means people often cut out of the big media outlets can finally get paid for their ideas. Podcasts, furthermore, allow people to model what it’s like to talk about climate change, which can embolden the listener to begin having those conversations on their own.

Especially as climate coverage in traditional outlets continues to plummet (down 30 percent from a year ago), we’re calling it now: podcasts and newsletters will be the space to watch as the climate saga continues.

Low Key, the Election WAS Rigged

By Mary Annaïse Heglar

In the days since the election results were announced, I’ve been on a rollercoaster of concern about Tr*mp’s brazen attempts to subvert both the popular vote and the Electoral College. All the smart people I know and trust are saying that his attempts are doomed, at least insofar that there’s no realistic path for him to manipulate this into a second consecutive term. It also bodes well that none of his attempts have been successful in court and it doesn’t look like he’s building a lot of momentum elsewhere either.

At the same time, though, I remain frustrated with the way we talk about this. On the left, folks are tripping over themselves to mock and ridicule it. To claim that it’s some sort of “last gasp” or a “toddler’s temper tantrum.” All of which, I think, lets him and his cronies off the hook entirely.

I, for one, do believe the election was rigged, and I believe that Tr*mp rigged it. As Amy has pointed out a million times on Hot Take and on Drilled, these right wing folks have a history of confessing by accusation. If they say their opponent did it, it’s because they did. Therefore, I don’t think we’re seeing a sore loser so much as a sore cheater. He’s complaining about election rigging while nakedly rigging the election. If he’s doing that after the election and out in the open, imagine what he did before the election when no one could see. After all this is the man who invited Russia to intervene in 2016. Why aren’t we looking into that?

Bare minimum, his complaints of election rigging are an admission of incompetence. If the election could be so badly stolen on his watch, I don’t understand how his followers still look at him and see a strong leadership. Unless, of course, that wasn’t what they were looking for at all.

Eta, Iota and More

By Amy Westervelt

Back-to-back hurricanes devastated Honduras and parts of Nicaragua this month, but the storms were barely a blip on the media’s radar, what with Covid spiking and the slow-motion coup happening in the U.S. That sort of negligence can mean life or death for people on the ground, though, because people don’t donate for relief efforts they don’t know about. In case you missed them, here’s a quick rundown of the month’s extreme weather events:

  • Hurricanes Eta and Iota (Honduras and Nicaragua) Eta hit the Nicaraguan coast on Nov. 3, displacing more than 10,000 people and killing 137. Less than two weeks later, Hurricane Iota came barreling through along a similar path, destroying Providencia Island, Colombia, and killing dozens in Nicaragua, Honduras, and Colombia. Large swaths of Honduras were left without Internet or roads, and the country’s main airport was submerged. It won’t reopen until December. Parts of all three countries got as much rain in two weeks as they usually get in a year. (Read more in The Washington Post and The Guardian. If you want to donate, this thread links to mutual aid efforts.)
  • Typhoons Vamco and Goni (The Philippines and Vietnam) More than 350,000 people in Vietnam and the Philippines were evacuated as Typhoon Vamco made its way toward Manila November 12th. More than 10,000 in the Philippines were still displaced from Typhoon Goni, which hit just 10 days earlier. 270,000 homes were destroyed, and at least 60 people were killed by the typhoons. (Read more in The Guardian. If you want to donate, this thread links to mutual aid efforts.)
  • West Coast Wildfires The fires on the West Coast are mostly contained, but that doesn’t mean the impact is over. Now the states are doing the hard work of cleaning up over 4 million acres of fire damage… and fire season is still not over. The Thomas fire—the state’s largest fire before this year—happened in December. (Read more in The Los Angeles Times and connect with a West Coast mutal aid effort here)
  • Gulf Coast Hurricanes: The Gulf Coast has been walloped by hurricanes this year, so much so the recovery is just able to get off the ground. Here’s some folks taking the matter into their own hands.

Baloo Is Home!

Last week, I found out that my cat Baloo, who’d never been sick in his life, was in a state of acute kidney failure. After taking him from the vet to the emergency room in New York and then finally to the hospital in Philadelphia for a complicated emergency surgery, I’m thrilled to tell you that he’s recuperating back at home. Those of you who contributed to the fundraiser or prayed for him or sent words of encouragement, I want you to know that that meant the world to me and helped to restore my faith in humankind.

Baloo is still not out of the woods and probably won’t be for the rest of his life. The procedure he had to have will require consistent monitoring of his kidneys and ultrasounds to make sure his implant is working properly and we might even have to do the whole thing all over again one day. But he’s only 8 years old and he’s worth it.

P.S. get you a friend like Amy, who will start you a gofundme before you can even give the okay and will stay on the phone with you outside of the emergency room until your IRL friend can get there. She’s the real MVP.


Rising Temperatures, Rising Seas

Global Warming by the Numbers, Because This Week the Reality Is Too Much by Bill McKibben for the New Yorker

Slew of rapidly intensifying hurricanes portends trouble in warming world, by Andrew Freedman for The Washington Post

Scientists link record-breaking hurricane season to climate crisis, by Jeff Ernst for the Guardian

In a Warming World, Hurricanes Weaken More Slowly After They Hit Land by Bob Berwyn for InsideClimate News

Hurricane Iota Is in Terrifying, Unprecedented Territory as It Approaches Central America by Brian Kahn for Gizmodo

1.7 billion people hit by climate disasters in past decade by Pipa Neil for the Environment Journal

Climate Change Has Hit the U.S. Harder Than Any Other G20 Country by Dharna Noor for Gizmodo

Greenland's Most Threatened Glaciers Are in Even More Danger Than We Thought by Brian Kahn for Gizmodo

The second-hottest city in the US declared a climate emergency. Here’s what comes next by Nina Lakhani for Grist

When temperatures soar, dog ticks turn to human flesh, by Zoya Teirstein for Grist

Climate Change Is Making Winter Ice More Dangerous, by Veronica Penny for the New York Times

Greenland’s Most Threatened Glaciers Are in Even More Danger Than We Thought, by Brian Kahn for Earther

Always the Climate Election

These freshman House Republicans might actually care about climate change, by Zoya Teirstein

The World Is Weighing a Paris Agreement for Plastic Pollution—But the U.S. Isn’t On Board by Dharna Noor for Gizmodo

A youth group helped Biden win. Now they want him to fix climate crisis by Oliver Milman for the Guardian

Big oil and gas have a lot invested in Trump’s attack on the election system by Johnathan Watts for the Guardian

Trump gutted environmental protections. How quickly can Biden restore them? by Shannon Osaka and Nathanael Johnson for grist

For progressives, the House is as big a problem as the Senate By Shawn Zeller for Roll Call

Biden Plans to Move Fast With a ‘Climate Administration.’ Here’s How. by Coral Davenport and Lisa Friedman for the New York Times

A record 6 Native Americans were elected to Congress. Here’s where they stand on climate. by Angely Mercado and Naveena Sadasivam

The Congressman Biden Tapped to Liaise With Climate Activists Has Received $340,000 in Fossil Fuel Money by Brian Kahn and Dharna Noor for Gizmodo

Joe Biden Can’t Compromise With the Rising Seas, by Kate Aronoff for The New Republic

Blue States Will Have to Lead the Climate Fight Under Biden, Too, by Molly Taft for The New Republic

Can Biden Keep His Promise to Make Farms Climate Friendly? By Charlie Mitchell for The New Republic

Climate Accountability

Wielding $9 Trillion, Investors Warn Firms From BP to BMW to Get Real on Climate Change, by David Vetter for Forbes

1% of people cause half of global aviation emissions - study, by Damian Carrington for The Guardian

Climate Warnings on Gas Pumps Will Soon Appear in the First US City, by Dharna Noor for Earther

UK ban on new fossil fuel vehicles by 2030 ‘not enough’ to hit climate targets, by Jillian Ambrose for The Guardian

A youth group helped Biden win. Now they want him to fix climate crisis, by Oliver Milman for The Guardian

Climate Activists Want Biden To Bar Appointees With Fossil Fuel Ties, by Jeff Brady for NPR

Oil Companies Want to Get Even Richer Sucking Their Own Emissions Out of the Air, by Jennifer Johnson for Vice

Glimmers of Hope

Meet the 25 European startups fighting climate change

Road Pricing could offset loss of fuel duty for electric cars, by Richard Partington for The Guardian

What could a good green recovery plan actually look like? By Fiona Harvey for The Guardian

Big electric trucks and buses are coming. Here’s how to speed up the transition, by David Roberts for Vox

Biden Treasury Pick Could Defund the Fossil Fuel Industry, Climate Organizers Say, by Alleen Brown for The Intercept

Climate in Culture

A Climate-Crisis Novel Offers True-to-Life Snapshots of Survival, by Alec Nevala-Lee for the New York Times Book Review

It’s kids vs. parents in this award-nominated climate novel, by Joseph Winters for Grist

‘I Am Greta’ is grim visual epitome of climate change crisis, by Ashley Tsai for The Daily Californian

Greentrolling: A ‘maniacal plan’ to bring down Big Oil, by Kate Yoder for Grist

When “Creatives” Turn Destructive: Image-Makers and the Climate Crisis by Bill McKibben for the New Yorker

'I Am Greta' Has a Message We All Need to Hear by Leah Stokes in Earther

Justice Is Justice Is Justice

Islanders and Protestors Reject UN Shipping Climate Proposal As ‘Greenwashing,’ by Nishan Degnarain for Forbes

A record 6 native Americans were elected to Congress. Here’s where they stand on climate, by Angely Mercado and Naveena Sadasivam for Grist

Central American Leaders Demand Climate Aid as a Record Storm Season Batters the Region by Ciara Nugent

A young Ugandan climate activist’s challenge to Joe Biden by Jariel Arvin for Vox

Boris Johnson says Britain needs its own Green New Deal by Karla Adam of the Washington Post

Climate crisis – live: Email carbon footprint ‘not a worry’ while activists protest Biden hiring oil figure by Sam Hancock for the Independent

Natural disasters are increasing. The world’s poorest are left to fend for themselves by Jariel Arvin for Vox

Plus More

Trump Administration, in Late Push, Moves to Sell Oil Rights in Arctic Refuge by Henry Fountain for the New York Times

Artificially cooling the Earth would not provide ‘get-out-of-jail-free card’ from climate crisis by Daisy Dunne for the Independent

The Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Put Japan’s Climate Policy in a Decade-Long Purgatory, by Eric Margolis for The New Republic

Why we need policies to reduce meat consumption now by Lili Pike for Vox

Trump Plan to Sell Arctic Oil Leases Will Face Challenges By Henry Fountain and John Schwartz for the New York Times

Burning Fossil Fuels Helped Drive Earth’s Most Massive Extinction by Lucas Joel for the New York Times

Johnson, Seen as a Trump Ally, Signals Alignment With Biden By Mark Landler for the New York Times

A Push Emerges for the First Native American Interior Secretary By Coral Davenport for the New York Times

What did the flower say after he told a joke?

I was just pollen your leg!


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