The Climate Story Isn’t About Old White Men

The Climate Story Isn’t About Old White Men

By Mary Annaïse Heglar

To glance at the latest climate news over the past couple of weeks, you could come away thinking it’s all about the bureaucratic battles in Washington and the heatwaves in Europe. Either a fumbled political football, or a warning of what’s to come. But what gets lost in this kind of coverage is the true stakes of the climate crisis. What about the people for whom the climate crisis has BEEN a reality for decades, the people who stopped hearing “warnings” years ago? What about the people who have already been burned by the fires and soaked by the floods?

For the last two episodes of Hot Take, we decided to turn our attention to those communities. For “Resistance Over Resilience,” I was joined by Southerly disaster reporter Amal Ahmed and Scalawag magazine’s managing editor Ko Bragg to talk about the myth of “resilience,” the dearth of disaster management, and the limits of personal responsibility. We focused heavily on the Gulf Coast, where climate change is as tangible as the humidity, but residents’ perspective is generally lacking in national media. In “Manchin vs. the World,” Boston Globe reporter Dharna Noor joined to look at climate news in the Global South, where you can really see the stakes of the crisis in stark terms.

When you look at it that way, all this talk about Europe’s heatwave as a “warning” becomes sinister. The Global South has been suffering from climate change for decades. Why weren’t their cries for help a warning sign? When you look at the true stakes of the climate crisis, it becomes difficult to entertain any politician who bemoans the bureaucratic tape or political costs of taking the starkest, most immediate action they can. When you realize the suffering that’s happening—at this very instant—because of runaway fossil fuel consumption, you realize this isn’t about two Angry Old Men in Washington.

The United States is too rich and too powerful, too vulnerable and too guilty to shirk its responsibility in the climate crisis. Anyone who thinks it’s politically smart—or even personally advantageous—to kick it to the next election cycle clearly doesn’t understand the scale of devastation already here today. Personally, I don’t know what they’re looking at.


By Amy Westervelt

A lot of folks have been (accurately) pinpointed as major blockers of climate action—fossil fuel executives, corrupt politicians, propagandists. But they all rely on another industry to make it all work: without the complicity of corporate and legacy media, none of the fossil fuel industry's propaganda would fly. Outlets like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post have been real allies of the fossil fuel industry for decades, not only running their ads but in recent years helping to create them, not just interviewing their executives as objective, unbiased sources, but allowing them to set the agenda on climate.

What About the Republican Moderates?

By Mary Annaïse Heglar

Ten days before Manchin yet again up-ended talks that might have led to the paltriest of climate action, Mitt Romny graced the pages of The Atlantic with an op-ed that had a few points, but little to no self awareness. On July 4, he wrote:

“As the ice caps melt and record temperatures make the evening news, we figure that buying a Prius and recycling the boxes from our daily Amazon deliveries will suffice.”

Back up. Is Mitt Romney sounding the alarm on climate change AND pointing out the futility of individual responsibility without industrial-scale solutions? Am I about to have a June 2020 moment where I legit didn’t know how to feel when Romney left his office and joined a Black Lives Matter protest? Is Romney returning to the version of himself that governed Massachusetts with a keen eye toward climate action—the one who had Gina McCarthy as part of his administration?

Well, not exactly. Just a few short paragraphs later, he says:

“The left thinks the right is at fault for ignoring climate change and the attacks on our political system. The right thinks the left is the problem for ignoring illegal immigration and the national debt. But wishful thinking happens across the political spectrum. More and more, we are a nation in denial.”


Your weekly rundown of climate coverage, compiled by Georgia Wright and Jules Bradley of the Inherited podcast (new season coming in September!).

Rising Temperatures, Rising Tides

The Western Drought Is Getting Weird by Lauren Leffer for Earther

Flood, Evacuate, Rinse, Repeat: A Relentless Pattern Batters Australia - The New York Times, by Yan Zhuang for The New York Times

More Mountain Glacier Collapses Feared as Heat Waves Engulf the Northern Hemisphere - Inside Climate News, by Bob Berwyn

How Lyme Disease Became Unstoppable, by Jimmy Tobias for The Nation

War and Warming Upend Global Energy Supplies and Amplify Suffering, by Somini Sengupta and Melissa Eddy for the New York Times

UK is no longer a cold country and must adapt to heat, say climate scientists | Grist, by Helena Horton

Extreme rainfall will be worse and more frequent than we thought, according to new studies | Grist, by Zoya Teirstein

The search for the source of plastic pollution | Grist, by Samantha Wohlfeil, InvestigateWest

Watch the Great Salt Lake Shrink by Molly Taft for Earther

When the Power Goes Out, Who Suffers? Climate Epidemiologists Are Now Trying to Figure That Out, by Laura Baisas for Inside Climate News

UK heat wave 2022: Europe’s roads are buckling, railways are on fire - Vox, by Neel Dhanesha and Benji Jones

Europe heat wave: The UK, France, and Spain are breaking temperature records faster than expected - Vox, by Umair Irfan

Mangrove Tree Offspring Travel Through Water Currents. How will Changing Ocean Densities Alter this Process? - Inside Climate News, by Hannah Loss

Why the UK’s Trains Can’t Handle the Heat, by Aaron Gordon for Vice

The Most Fascinating Birds Will Be the First to Go Extinct - The New York Times, by Marion Renault

Living Through Texas’ Hottest Summer - The New York Times by Ruth Graham for The New York Times

The Climate Presidency?

Biden Is Losing His Base on Climate Change, a New Pew Poll Finds. Six in 10 Democrats Don’t Feel He’s Doing Enough, by Marianne Lavelle for Inside Climate News

We've Had Other Climate Defeats. This One Is by Far the Weirdest, by Robinson Meyer for The Atlantic

Biden Concedes Defeat on Climate Bill as Manchin and Inflation Upend Agenda - The New York Times by Jim Tankersley, Lisa Friedman and Coral Davenport for The New York Times

Joe Manchin Is a Dire Warning for American Democracy | The New Republic, by Kate Aronoff

Experts to Congress: Restore EPA enforcement staffing and funding for environmental justice, by Julia Kane for Grist

Biden calls climate change an ‘emergency,’ but stops short of declaring it | Grist, by Zoya Tierstein

Biden’s Troubling Response to “Dobbs” | The Nation, by Andrea Grimes

Will Biden Ever Use All His Power to Fight Climate Change? | The New Republic, by Kate Aronoff

After Manchin upset, what can Biden do about the climate crisis? | Grist by Diana Kruzman

Google and Oracle Cloud Servers Struggle in Heatwave, by Kyle Barr for Earther

Biden’s steps on “climate emergency” after Congress fails to act - Vox, by Rebecca Leber

An American Climate Failure By Somini Sengupta for The New York Times

Republicans want climate solutions — just not from Biden, Pew poll finds | Grist by Kate Yoder for Grist

Climate Accountability

Corporate Carbon Offset Company Accidentally Starts Devastating Wildfire, by Edward Ongweso Jr and Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai for Vice

No Republican senator supported a climate plan – where is the party on the issue? By Joan E Greve for The Guardian

Joe Manchin Is the Ultimate Gaslighter by Molly Taft for Earther

A Federal Judge Wants More Information on Polluting Discharges from Baltimore’s Troubled Sewage Treatment Plants, by Aman Azhar for Inside Climate News

Four Things Nations Can Do to Conserve Energy - The New York Times, by Elena Shao for New York Times

Joe Manchin Throws Fuel on the Fire of a Burning Planet | Vanity Fair, by Eric Lutz

Carbon removal trade group launches with ‘Hippocratic oath’ for the industry | Grist, by Emily Pontecorvo

Delay as the New Denial: The Latest Republican Tactic to Block Climate Action, by Lisa Friedman and Jonathan Weisman for The New York Times

Cryptomining uses a 'disturbing' amount of energy, lawmakers find, by Julia Kane for Grist

US emissions cost the world $1.9 trillion in economic damages | Grist by Diana Kruzman for Grist

Justice Is Justice Is Justice

Heatflation: How sizzling temperatures drive up food prices by Kate Yoder for Grist

‘We have travelled for a month to find grass’: climate crisis piles pressure on Senegal’s herders | Global development | The Guardian, by Kaamil Ahmed

A Native Corporation wants to mine gold on the Kuskokwim River. Alaska Natives say no. | Grist, by Joseph Lee

The Red Hill Leak: How the U.S. Navy Has Poisoned Hawaii’s Waters for Decades | Teen Vogue, by Bronson “Kainoa” Azama with photography by Michaela Quan

First climate agreement to center Indigenous voices gains international support | Grist by Carina Dominguez for Grist

Australian environmental report finally recognizes Indigenous knowledge | Grist, by Joseph Lee for Grist

Glimmers of Hope

‘A big deal’: EPA announces $50 million for tribal projects, by Joseph Winters for Grist

Why natural disasters are getting worse but killing fewer people by Umair Irfan for Vox

How One Senator Doomed the Democrats' Climate Plan By Coral Davenport and Lisa Friedman for the New York Times

Four Ways the United States Can Still Fight Climate Change - The New York Times, By Coral Davenport for The New York Times

In a Twist, Old Coal Plants Help Deliver Renewable Power. Here's How, by Elena Shao for The New York Times

This Solar Tower Generates Jet Fuel From Water and Light, by Edward Ongweso Jr for Vice

Inside Clean Energy: Did You Miss Me? A Giant Battery Storage Plant Is Back Online, Just in Time for Summer, by Dan Gearino for Inside Climate News

Climate in Culture

Kylie Jenner’s Private Jet Use Earns Her ‘Climate Criminal’ Label | Teen Vogue, by Teen Vogue Staff

Where Should the Climate Movement Go Next? | The Nation, by Thea Riofrancos

Worried About the Climate? Join the Club—Literally, by Emma Marris for The New Republic

Healing Body, Mind, and Earth Through Natural Hair by Britny Cordera for Atmos, with photographs by Destinee Condison

Last Century’s Approach to Journalism Is Useless in a Climate Crisis | The New Republic, by Eleanor Cummins for The New Republic

The Northeast is poised to become a ‘hydrogen hub’ | Grist, by Emily Pontecorvo

Melting ‘snowflakes’? How climate change became a new front in the right’s culture war | Leo Hickman | The Guardian, by Leo Hickman

The Climate Message of Jordan Peele’s ‘Nope,’ by Ko Bragg for Atmos

Climate activists in Italy glue themselves to Botticelli painting | Environmental activism | The Guardian, by Damien Gayle

Plus More

50 Years of Incredible, Terrifying Photos of a Changing Earth Taken From Space, by Becky Ferriera for Vice

Warming Trends: A Possible Link Between Miscarriages and Heat, Trash-Eating Polar Bears and a More Hopeful Work of Speculative Climate Fiction, by Kaitlyn Weisbrod for Inside Climate News

Burning Out, by Willow Defebaugh for Atmos

Opinion | Climate Change Is Not Negotiable - The New York Times, by The Editorial Board

How Can Older Adults Stay Safe During a Heat Wave? - The New York Times, by Ilaria Parogni


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