The Best Solution to the Climate Crisis Is Community Building

Hey Hot Cakes,

We're back! Mary lives in New Orleans now! You can read about that below, along with a look at the many things wrong with Matt Yglesias's take on climate, a reflection on flooding and drought, and yes an exploration of community as the ultimate climate solution. Speaking of which, we're so happy to have this community.

Thanks for being part of it,

Amy + Mary

The Best Solution to the Climate Crisis Is Community Building

By Amy Westervelt

As someone who writes about shitty rich dudes a lot, I often get asked “what can I do?” or “what keeps you going?” And this is my answer: community. Community building, community organizing, community resilience, all of it. Lately, these three stories of community groups fighting back and winning are keeping me at it:

  • Diane Wilson and Sharon Lavigne v. Formosa Plastics - When Taiwan stopped permitting Formosa projects because it had been a bad environmental actor for so long, the company went looking for other places to expand its petrochemical empire...and found just the right combo of weak regulations and corrupt politicians on the Gulf Coast. But they didn’t bargain for the fierce community activism. In Texas, fourth-generation shrimp boat captain organized locals and talked to Formosa whistleblowers for years, and then finally won a civil suit against the company, scoring $50 million for environmental projects in her community. Down the coast in Louisiana, Sharon Lavigne organized the group RISE St. James to try to stop Formosa from building a petrochemical complex larger than many Louisiana towns right down the street from her. And so far… she’s winning. They’ve had to stop construction thanks to various legal complaints filed by RISE and other community groups like the Louisiana Bucket Brigade.
  • Grant Township, PA v. Fracking - In 2014, Grant Township in Pennsylvania made a big move to protect its waterways from fracking waste. It passed a “Community Bill of Rights Ordinance” that declared “the rights of human and natural communities to water and a healthy environment.” Two months later, Pennsylvania General Energy (PGE), an oil and gas company based in Warren, Pa. filed a federal lawsuit against the town, claiming it didn’t have the power to exercise those rights. Despite the town’s bill of rights, the EPA issued a permit to PGE to inject fracking waste in Grant Township. The town’s 200 residents fought back, and in 2020 they won.
  • Line 3 Protestors v. Hubbard County Sheriff’s Office In the past few months, the Hubbard County Sheriff's office has been blockading the road into Namewag Camp, an Indigenous woman- and two-spirit-led camp opposing Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline. They’ve also been regularly issuing citations to Indigenous water protectors and their allies for using the driveway. Last week, Winona LaDuke, Tara Houska, and two additional plaintiffs filed a lawsuit alleging that the Hubbard County Sheriff’s Office had illegally conducted a 2-day  blockade of the camp driveway and was illegally issuing citations. They asked the local judge for a temporary restraining order against the County Sheriff… and they won. It’s a small victory in a long fight, but there’s something really delicious about the fact that a community of activists have won a restraining order against the Sheriff.

Moving Into the Eye of the Storm

By Mary Annaïse Heglar

Two months ago, after 15 years in New York City, I booked movers and bought a one-way ticket to New Orleans. I’d been falling out of love with New York for years and there’s nothing like a pandemic to really kick your homesickness into high gear. But when I teased the idea on social media back in February, I distinctly remember a Twitter Random asking, in that oh-so-snide Twitter cadence, “have you ever heard of climate change?”


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Matt Yglesias: Moral Panic Fever Dream Boy

By Amy Westervelt and Georgia Wright

Oh Matty. So many bad takes, so little time. Back in the day, Matt Yglesias was a halfway decent journalist. He was a key part of Vox’s admirable efforts to explain complex ideas in clear language  on a massive scale. Then he got into the Take Business, and boy did things start to unravel. Now, having taken the offer of $250,000 from Substack to leave Vox, he’s completed the evolution to 100% takes. And they are bad. Contrary for the sake of contrariness. Lacking substance or evidence. So convinced of his own brilliance that he frequently suggests “innovations” that have existed for a decade or more. (He really ought to spend some of that sweet Substack money hiring an editor—and a fact checker.)

Earlier this month, Matty took aim at one of his favorite targets: the Sunrise Movement. And, more broadly, what he has christened the “Climate Left,” which he chastised as too “woke,” too radical, and too demanding. (Yawn.) He would like to see the climate movement stay out of civil rights and social justice altogether, thank you very much. Because THAT worked out so well. Like so many of his takes, this one is fundamentally flawed. Without consistent ass-kicking from the “climate left,” the moderate proposals Yglesias now embraces wouldn’t even exist (remember how little politicians even talked about climate pre-Sunrise? Yeah.)  Here’s a not-at-all-comprehensive list of all the things Yglesias gets wrong on climate:

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Water, Water Everywhere

By Mary Annaïse Heglar

This summer has been marked by some of the most intense storms we’ve seen yet. We’ve seen horrific flooding in Germany, China, and India—and I’m sure there’s even more that haven’t made headlines. In the States, a historic rain event flooded the subway system in the city I just left. Meanwhile, the city I came to has already seen nearly a year’s worth of rain—and hurricane season ain’t even kicked into high gear yet. The sky is nothing if not prolific.

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Your weekly round-up of climate coverage.

Rising Temperatures, Rising Tides

Extreme heat is killing American workers, by Umair Irfan for Vox

What Are Flash Floods? Here Are Some Safety and Preparation Tips, by Neil Vigdor for The New York TImes

Those Bathing Bears Aren’t Cute. They’re Climate Change Victims, by Eleanor Cummins for The New Republic

Feral Hogs Pollute the Climate as Much as 1 Million Cars Each Year, by Molly Taft for Earther

See How Wildfire Smoke Spread Across America, by Nadja Popovich and Josh Katz for The New York Times

National Weather Service Will Send Mobile Alerts for ‘Destructive’ Thunderstorms, by Alyssa Lukpat for The New York Times

Climate Crisis Turns World's Subways Into Flood Zones, by Hiroko Tabuchi and John Schwartz for The New York Times

Red Tide Piles Up Dead Fish on Florida Beaches, by Elizabeth Djinis for The New York Times

Rural Oregon Awaits Bootleg Fire Evacuations: 'Everybody Is Freaking Out, by Sergio Olmos and Christine Hauser for The New York Times

British Columbia Declares a State of Emergency as Wildfires Rage, by Derrick Bryson Taylor for The New York Times

Video: Oregon Governor Says Climate Change Is Fueling Wildfires, by The Associated Press and The New York Times

The Bootleg Fire Is Now Generating Its Own Weather, by Henry Fountain for The New York Times

Rainfall flooding is becoming an issue—in Zhengzhou, in Germany, in New York, and everywhere, by Henry Grabar for Slate

With disasters mounting by the day, the U.S. may finally enact real climate policy by Alexander C. Kaufman for Grist

Is climate change happening faster than expected? A climate scientist explains. by Zoya Teirstein for Grist

US set for punishing temperatures as huge ‘heat dome’ to settle over country by Oliver Millman for the Guardian

Beware summer! As climate crisis deepens, attitudes to season shift by Jonathan Watts for the Guardian

The Climate Presidency

The Left Is the Only Reason We’re Talking About Climate Change at All, by Kate Aronoff for The New Republic

Senator Coons's Carbon Tariff Proposal Is Pretty Weedy Climate Policy, by Kate Aronoff for The New Republic

Progressives Around the Country Are Recalling Sewer Socialism’s Proud History, by Katrina vanden Heuvel for The Nation

Democrats Prepare for Vote on Tracy Stone-Manning to Lead Bureau of Land Management, by Lisa Friedman for The New York Times

The West Is Burning. Covid Is Surging. U.S. Politics Are Stagnant, by Maggie Astor for The New York Times

Carbon Border Tax Is Proposed by Democrats, by Lisa Friedman for The New York Times

Climate Accountability

The Hidden Toll of Walmart, Amazon, and Ikea's Shipping Addiction, by Molly Taft for Earther

How a Powerful US Lobby Group Helps Big Oil to Block Climate Action, by Chris McGreal for The Nation

PG&E Aims to Curb Wildfire Risk by Burying Many Power Lines, by Ivan Penn for The New York Times

Maine Will Make Companies Pay for Recycling. Here’s How It Works, by Winston Choi-Schagrin for The New York Times

France Passes Climate Law, but Critics Say it Falls Short, by Aurelien Breeden for The New York Times

2021’s extreme weather leads to insurers’ biggest payout in 10 years by Jasper Jolly for Grist

​​Oil giant Shell set to appeal against ruling on carbon emissions by Jillian Ambrose for the Guardian

Justice Is Justice Is Justice

Iran's Problems Compounded by Water Shortages, by Farnaz Fassihi for The New York Times

Climate Change Comes for Rich Countries, by Somini Sengupta for The New York Times

Bay Area regulators just helped frontline communities breathe easier by Naveena Sadasivam for Grist

Heat wave deaths are driven by isolation, inequality by Sarah Kaplan for the Washington Post

Glimmers of Hope

Ilhan Omar Joins 20 Other Global Lawmakers Pushing for an International Green New Deal, by Kate Aronoff for The New Republic

Putting a Price on Pollution, by The Daily Team for The New York Times

Your World Better: Five middle-school students on COVID, global warming, and the future, by Charles Kenny for Slate

Climate in Culture

When Climate Change Is Overwhelming, by Liza Featherstone for The New Republic

'The Bachelor' Commitment to Excess Is Killing the Planet, by Molly Taft for Earther

Jeff Bezos' Space Flight Covered More in a Day Than Climate in 2020, by Brian Kahn for Earther

Tokyo's Extreme Heat Could Soon Endanger Olympic Athletes, by Brianna Provenzano for Earther

The Media’s Climate Blind Spot Is Geographic, by Saleemul Huq and Mark Hertsgaard for The Nation

New Extreme Weather Record? Not So Fast, by Mike Ives for The New York Times

Jeff Bezos vows to fight climate change, but space tourism could do more harm, critics say, by Sarah Kessler for The New York Times

To Battle Climate Change, Begin With Your Air-Conditioner, by Hope Jahren for The New York Times

Men cause more climate emissions than women, study finds by Damian Carrington for the Guardian

Plus More

Billionaires in Space, by A.M. Gittlitz for The Nation

How Climate Change Hit Wine Country, by Christopher Flavelle for The New York Times

After Recent ‘Heat Dome,’ Washington Issues Warning Not to Eat Raw Shellfish, by Michael Levenson for The New York Times

This Butterfly Was the First in North America That People Made Extinct, by Sabrina Imbler for The New York Times

Bezos' Remark on Amazon Prompts Backlash Over His Vast Wealth, by Neil Vigdor for The New York Times


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