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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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Accountability Means Abolition
By Mary Annaise Heglar
This Tuesday, our regularly scheduled BP-trolling was interrupted by the late-afternoon announcement that the jury in the Derek Chauvin trial had reached a verdict, less than 24 hours after entering deliberation. When the verdict was read I couldn’t believe my ears: guilty on all counts. All three.
Lots of people rejoiced, some going so far as to gloat about the horrors of sexual abuse that likely await Chauvin in prison. However, as an aspiring prison abolitionist, with exceptions, I couldn't find any joy or comfort here. It’s not that I want to see Chauvin walk free, I just think the prospect of justice left the room the minute that Chauvin put his knee on George Floy’s neck. This isn’t accountability for Chauvin either. He’s going to prison to be punished, not to atone.
What I want to see is bigger than Chauvin, anyway. I want to see accountability for the entire policing system, the entire criminal justice system. And, much like the fossil fuel industry, I don’t see a way to hold that system accountable without admitting that it has no right to exist. I would not be satisfied, for example, with Bernard Looney going to prison while the rest of the fossil fuel industry is still out here fucking shit up. I want BP, as a company, and all its ilk gone. Same with the police. Abolish them both.
And let’s not forget the sordid ties between the two. Last summer, a story Amy wrote in Hot Take led to the revelation that fossil fuel companies have been funding police departments all over the country. Just this week, it was revealed that Enbridge, the company behind the Dakota Access pipeline, has been lining the pockets of the police who’ve been nothing short of brutal with protesters there for years. Of course. The worst people are always the same people.
The same day the Chauvin verdict came out, the police in Columbus, Ohio shot and killed a teenage girl. Clearly, we are a long way from accountability. When you have this much blood on your hands, true accountability means abolition. I want them gone.
The Week in Greentrolling: #FUBPDay
By Mary Annaïse Heglar and Amy Westervelt
While Thursday was the big day this week for most brands and environmental/climate groups, at Hot Take, we were more excited for Tuesday, April 20, which we’d dubbed #FUBPDay in honor of the anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. We talked in our last issue about exactly why BP, despite its truly masterful greenwashing, deserves all the smoke we can give it, and it was absolutely delightful to see so many people get in on the fun and much-deserved public shaming.
BP was smart enough not to tweet on the anniversary of its big disaster, but folks dug back into the older tweets and Instagram posts to mark the occasion. Evidence here, here, here, here, and all over here. We wrapped the day up on Clubhouse to talk about the ugliness of Deepwater Horizon and the glory of #FUBPDay. Big thank you to all of you who joined us that day.
California Just Made a Fracking Ban Politically Viable
By Amy Westervelt
When I was living in SF in my 20s, then-mayor Gavin Newsom and his wife (Kimberly Guilfoyle back then, current partner of one Don Jr.) were notorious swingers and Newsom spent most weekends doing drugs and "DJ-ing" at one of the clubs he was part owner of. He was 100% that dude. No one thought he had serious political aspirations. But time wore on, he cleaned up his image, married a Stanford grad feminist, started doing and saying more of the right things. And then Trump came along and obliterated quaint ideas about what might disqualify someone from holding political office.
For a moment in the early days of Covid, it looked like Newsom might be headed for the stage and, despite his seemingly progressive politics, California environmentalists groaned. Because for all his talk of acting on climate, Newsom, like every "liberal" California governor before him, was still propping up an oil state.
Few people outside the state, and even fewer outside the West, realize that California was built on oil at least as much as gold. The city of Los Angeles literally grew atop oil fields, at one point supplying a quarter of the world's oil.
Which is why it is a huge fucking deal that amidst a well-funded and aggressive recall effort, and in the lead-up to an election year, Newsom announced the country's first statewide fracking ban this week.
Oil Companies Are Being Sued for Greenwashing in Four Separate Cases—Where's the Media Coverage?
By Amy Westervelt
The state of Massachusetts sued Exxon more than two years ago for fraud, related to the company's years of climate denial and greenwashing. Last year Minnesota sued a whole bunch of people, including Koch Industries and the American Petroleum Institute for the same thing. Just two days after that suit was announced, the city of Washington D.C. filed almost the exact same suit. Did you hear about them at all? Somehow not a single national paper gave any space to those stories. But this week New York City announced a similar suit against Exxon and the American Petroleum Institute and suddenly the media has discovered that climate lawsuits exist. Can you say "New York media bias"?
The pandemic has made it even worse, with growing layoffs across newsrooms and restrictions on travel. But there's something else going on here, too. These four cases, all of which lean on state or local consumer protection laws to hold fossil fuel companies accountable for greenwashing—aka lying about climate change and what they're doing about it—came on the heels of more than 20 climate liability cases filed all over the country. Those cases are slightly different, they invoke nuisance laws in an attempt to hold fossil fuel companies liable for some of the costs associated with adapting to climate change at this late date. It's their fault the problem was unaddressed for so long, that delay has increased costs, so they should shoulder some of the bill, the thinking goes. Otherwise, who pays for all those seawalls and extra firefighters? Taxpayers. Between the liability suits and the fraud suits, there are at least 25 active climate lawsuits in the U.S. alone right now, why do we almost never hear about it?
Rising Temperatures, Rising Tides
4 in 10 Americans breathe polluted air, with people of color hit the hardest by Alexandria Herr for Grist
Climate crisis has shifted the Earth’s axis, study shows by Damian Carrington for the Guardian
Trump’s Unfinished Border Wall Could Worsen Texas Flooding, by Molly Taft for Earther
Oil’s Rebound Shows the Window to Protect the Climate Is Closing, by Brian Kahn for Earther
The Future of Western Water Restrictions Is Here, by Molly Taft for Earther
The 7 climate tipping points that could change the world forever, by Alexandria Herr, Shannon Osaka, and Maddie Stone for Grist
Carbon emissions to soar in 2021 by second highest rate in history by Fiona Harvey for the Guardian
Changes to giant ocean eddies could have ‘devastating effects’ globally by Graham Readfearn for the Guardian
The Climate Presidency
The Big Difference Between a Green New Deal and Biden’s Climate Agenda, by Kate Aronoff for The New Republic
The Tyranny of Low Climate Expectations, by Kate Aronoff for The New Republic
Earth day summit: 5 things to know about Biden's climate change goal for 2030 by Umair Irfan for Vox
Biden Pledges to Cut U.S. Carbon Emissions 50% by 2030, by Dharna Noor for Earther
Solving the Climate Crisis Hinges on the U.S. and China Cooperating, by Dharna Noor for Earther
The Social Cost of Methane Is Much Higher in the U.S. Than Current Government Estimates, by Dharna Noor for Earther
How climate became the centerpiece of Biden’s economic agenda by Ella Nilsen for Vox
Biden wants to convince the world America can be trusted on climate change by Ella Nilsen and Alex Ward for Vox
Biden, Calling for Action, Commits U.S. to Halving Its Climate Emissions by Lisa Friedman, Somini Sengupta and Coral Davenport for the New York Times
The U.S. Has a New Climate Goal. How Does It Stack Up Globally? by Brad Plumer and Nadja Popovich for the New York Times
Biden Wants to Slash Emissions. Success Would Mean a Very Different America. by Brad Plumer for the New York Times
Gina McCarthy Leads Biden Climate Push by Coral Davenport for the New York Times
Republicans respond to Biden’s agenda with their own climate platform by Zoya Teirstein for Grist
The White House Says the US Lags Behind China on Clean Technology by Katie Rogers for the New York Times
As Nations Gather for Biden's Virtual Climate Summit, Ambitious Pledges That Still Fall Short of Paris Goal by Marianne Lavelle, Georgina Gustin, Nicholas Kusnetz for Inside Climate News
Climate Activists Converge on Washington With a Gift and a Warning for Biden and World Leaders by Alicia Diaz for InsideClimate News
Climate Summit 'Last Chance' for Brazil to Show Leadership on Global Warming by Augusta Saraiva for Inside Climate News
4 Winners and 4 Losers from Biden’s Climate Summit, by Ella Nilsen, Jariel Arvin, Rebecca Leber, Benji Jones, and Umair Irfan for Vox
US 2030 goals will take world closer to holding global heating below 2C by Fiona Harvey for the Guardian
Rich People Paying Other Rich People Is Not a Climate “Solution,” by Nick Martin for The New Republic
Greta to Congress: ‘End Fossil Fuel Subsidies Now,’ by Dharna Noor for Earther
Another Reason to Nationalize Big Oil, by Kate Aronoff for The New Republic
Jack Dorsey Claims Bitcoin ‘Incentivizes Renewable Energy’ Despite All Evidence to the Contrary, by Brian Kahn for Earther
This climate policy expert is taking over Jeff Bezos’s $10 billion Earth Fund by Umair Irfan for Vox
China's Xi Promises to 'Strictly Limit' Coal by Somini Sengupta for the New York Times
Climate change summit: Are nations keeping carbon pledges? by Anna M. Phillips for the Los Angeles Times
Jury acquits Extinction Rebellion protesters despite ‘no defence in law’ by PA Media in the Guardian
Transportation Department proposes giving California the right to set tailpipe emission standards by Juliet Eilperin for the Washington Post
Bolsonaro Doesn’t Want to Save the Amazon. He Just Wants to Extort the Countries That Do, by Andre Pagliarini for The New Republic
Glimmers of Hope
Some Climate Tipping Points May Be Reversible, If We Act Fast, by Brian Kahn for Earther
AOC’s plan for a 1.5 million-member Civilian Climate Corps, explained by Kate Yoder for Grist
This new bill wants to bring the Green New Deal to a city near you by Adam Mahoney for Grist
How solar panels over water could help fight climate change by Sammy Roth for the Los Angeles Times
Justice Is Justice Is Justice
The Nation’s Biggest Miner Union Is Ready for a Transition to Clean Energy, by Dharna Noor for Earther
The Climate Tipping Point Nobody’s Talking About, by Becky Ferreira for Vice
Why Schools Should Be the Center of a Green New Deal, by Dharna Noor for Earther
Deb Haaland is making room for marginalized communities in the Interior Department by Yvette Cabrera for Grist
The NAACP wants its chapters to say no to fossil fuels by Adam Mahoney for Grist
The Impossibility of Ethical Recreation on Stolen Land, by Nick Martin for The New Republic
Indigenous Workers Are Escaping ‘Toxic’ Fossil Fuel Jobs, by Geoff Dembicki for Vice
Climate in Culture
It’s Time to Kill Earth Day, by Andrew Couts for Earther
Let These Stunning Photos of Young Climate Activists Inspire You, by Pamela Elizarraras Acitores for Vice
420 Blaze It (The Planet), by Molly Taft for Earther
Worn Out: The Challenge of Shopping for Sustainable Clothes, by Dharna Noor for Earther
Overcoming climate anxiety could be the secret to real change in the Washington Post
5 Books to Read This Earth Day by Joumana Khatib for the New York Times
Listen to a Changing Planet, Through These 5 Climate Podcasts, by Phoebe Lett for The New York Times
101 Nobel laureates call for global fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty by Matthew Taylor for the Guardian
How did REI spend Earth Month? Glorifying a gas-guzzling SUV, by Sammy Roth for LA Times
Up to 20% of Crucial Groundwater Resources Are at Risk of Disappearing, by Dharna Noor for Earther
Louisiana Representative Offers State as a ‘Sanctuary’ for Fossil Fuels by Dharna Noor for Earther
Climate Change Could Cut World Economy by $23 Trillion in 2050, Insurance Giant Warns by Christopher Flavelle for the New York Times
Protect biodiversity to fight climate change by Sarah Kaplan for the Washington Post
Scott Morrison claims future generations will ‘thank us’ despite no new emissions pledge by Katharine Murphy and Adam Morton for the Guardian