Hey Hot Cakes,
We're back! Last week we took the weekend off to celebrate Amy's birthday, and after a week of some pretty okay news about climate, boy did things take a turn. Lots to talk about this week. We hope you're hanging in there!
Thanks for reading,
Mary + Amy
The Ocean? THE OCEAN?? The OCEAN...Is on FIRE???
By Mary Annaïse Heglar
The Gulf of Mexico—confirmed body of water—caught on fire on Friday. Fire. In the ocean. The images looked like some shit out of a bad early 2000s action film about impending global warming. But, nah, these were newsreels. This shit really happened.
Of course, oceans don’t just “catch on fire”—not unless of course someone is digging up some of the deadliest, most flammable shit known to man and using an underwater pipeline system to ship it to refineries so that it could eventually be set on fire. And, the people doing that would HAVE to know that when that shit is set on fire, it’s going to egg on climate change. And the people trying to stop them would have to be labeled criminals. This ain’t rocket science. It’s not an accident.
When I saw those apocalyptic images, all I could think was: what if there was a hurricane in the same spot at the same time? What level of threat multiplication is that?
The fire in the ocean is greed run wild. We have to stop listening to the people who tell us that the end of capitalism is the end of the world. That is just a lack of imagination talking. There was something before capitalism, and there can be something after, if we build it. And we have to. I’m sick of this late-stage capitalism bullshit. Let’s skip to the good part. Let’s end this shit.
P.S. Wanna help stop some pipelines? Here’s some ways to get involved.
Exxon Continues to Be Full of Shit
By Amy Westervelt
Last week, in a remarkable expose, the investigative journalists at Unearthed (a Greenpeace project)teamed up with Channel 4 in the UK to publish videos of former Exxon lobbyists walking a journalist-posing-as-a-recruiter through the company's deny-and-delay playbook on climate. They laid it all out: The politicians the lobbyists use to get things done (yes they are in Joe Manchin's office every week). The "shadow groups" they've joined to keep pushing climate denial once they couldn't really do it publicly themselves anymore. The real reason they supported a carbon tax (they knew it would never happen, but they could look like they were trying to act on climate). And how they shaped the "bi-partisan" infrastructure bill into the climate-free turd it is today. It's all right there.
ExxonMobil CEO Darren Woods tried to pull a "What? We don't know what these guys are talking about," but both of the men interviewed in these videos are longtime lobbyists for Exxon. One was their damned VP of Federal Affairs (that's top White House lobbyist in corporate title-ese) up until January 2021. He had been there for 8 years, so he wasn't talking out of his ass. Now the big question is: Will it matter?
We've known since 2015 that ExxonMobil knew exactly how climate change would play out as early as the 1960s and made specific moves in the 90s and early 2000s to stop any efforts to mitigate the problem. Back in the 1990s, the fossil fuel industry's climate denial strategy was printed on the front page of The New York Times. They laid it all out there too, how they would go about manufacturing doubt, and to what end...and then they went ahead and did that shit. Successfully.
We cannot keep letting them get away with it. And hopefully, this time around, we won't. For one thing, Representative Ro Khanna is demanding that execs from Exxon, Chevron, Shell and more appear before Congress to testify about their role in spreading disinformation about climate change, and has said he's prepared to subpoena them if they don't come willingly.
But we can't just focus on accountability for past misdeeds, we also need to push politicians to re-think their relationship to the industry entirely. We cannot allow anyone to continue thinking that at some point oil execs are going to sit down and negotiate in good faith on climate policy. They have forfeited their seat at the table, over and over again, and we can't let those in power forget it.
People Waking Up to the Climate Crisis Is Good, Actually
By Mary Annaïse Heglar
If you’ve been attuned to the climate crisis for any significant amount of time, you’ve probably learned to fear the summer headlines. Of course, no season is immune to disaster, and it’s always summer somewhere, and disasters in the Global South barely get whispered about. But, summer is when shit gets really, really, really real in the Global North. Which means it’s the time we hear about it.
When you’ve learned to brace yourself for this tension, it can be really difficult to hear other people waking up to it. Their cries of “omg, climate change is getting SERIOUS” are fucking maddening when you’ve been having nightmares about orange skies over San Francisco and Hurricane Maria and Cyclone Amphan and the Australia and Amazon wildfires. It’s hard to fight the urge to be like “what the FUCK have you been paying attention to??”
But the thing is, we know where they’ve been: under the spell of the fossil fuel propaganda machine. The most powerful corporations in the world have worked hard for decades to make sure that they either didn’t notice the disasters of yore or that they thought it was just a blip. Just the weather.
The fact that the scales are falling from their eyes is evidence, in fact, that we’re cutting through that noise. We’re winning. Not in one fell swoop. But every person who wakes up to the climate crisis is a victory, and we should celebrate it. We shouldn’t question them, we should embrace them.
On Not Giving Up
By Amy Westervelt
There's been a lot swirling around out there lately about climate despair, especially as climate impacts become more and more impossible to ignore. Is it over? Are we done for? Is there any point in continuing to fight? I mean...kinda yes on all three? Here's the thing: you don't give up the fight just because you haven't won yet. And yeah, it might not happen in your lifetime or the next generation's or even the one after that, but maybe the one after that will have you to thank for keeping on. And that's fucking worth it.
We can't predict how long it might take to drive change, but I would just point to the change all the writing and organizing and creativity in the climate movement has actually already made. For example, a whole lot more people have woken up to the need to act on climate in the past few years. The vast majority of the public now sees it for the problem it is, and knows we need to do something. Did that happen as fast as we would have liked? No. Does that mean it's unimportant? No.
It can be hard to feel like there are any wins worth a damn when the Gulf of Mexico is on fire and entire buildings are falling into the ocean. And it can feel like we'll never get to the changes we want. But that is just one of the many cycles of emotions that are perfectly normal at this particular moment in human history. In any given month, I feel angry, sad, anxious, and, yes, sometimes hopeless about climate change. We've gotten better at talking about those feelings, but I think we still have some work to do on sitting with them and not immediately reacting to every single one, or turning every climate mood into a proclamation about how anyone should feel or act.
It's a part of climate adaptation we desperately need to get better at, and personally, I think we do that by finding community. Offline. With other people who are having these feelings too and can help us process them. We are in an emergency and we have been for a while. It's hard.
But we absolutely have to sit with those feelings, process them, and then keep going. Why? How? Because we want to be good ancestors. Because it's the right thing to do. Because you don't surrender to bullies, you keep throwing rocks at them. Personally, I keep documenting the misdeeds of oil execs because you never know which story is going to be the one that tips the scales, or which document is going to be the critical piece of evidence that will finally lead to accountability. Or how the documentation of what's happened in our lifetimes might help prevent similarly stupid shit from happening in the future.
Lucky for us, we have examples of large movements of people doing this, too: the abolition movement, the civil rights movement, Indigenous resistance. Some would look at the fact that those fights are ongoing and feel powerless. But I would encourage you to also look for the resilience in those stories, and the wins along the way. To find inspiration in them to keep going, rather than proof that it's time to give up. To feel an obligation not just to future generations, but to past ones—an obligation to the people who fought those fights to keep fighting this one.
Your weekly round-up of climate coverage.
Rising Temperatures, Rising Tides
Not to Alarm Anyone, but the Gulf of Mexico Is on Fire [gizmodo.com] by Alyse Stanley for Earther
Wildfire Devastates Canadian Town That's Broke Heat Record by Matt Novak for Earther
Hurricane Elsa the Is First Hurricane of 2021, On Track for US by Brian Kahn for Earther
New York Faces Blackouts as Extreme Heat Strains the Grid by Dharna Noor for Earther
Alaska Just Had an 'Ice Quake' Due to the Extreme Heat Wave by Brianna Provenzano for Earther
Pacific Northwest Ground Temperatures Hit 145 Degrees by Brian Kahn for Earther
'Historic' Heat Wave Sets Record Highs Across West Coast, Canada by Alyse Stanley for Earther
The US Power Grid Isn’t Ready for Climate Change, by Rebecca Heilweil for Vox
Heat wave 2021: Extreme heat, heat domes, and how climate change makes it worse by Umair Irfan for Vox
Deaths Spike as Heat Wave Broils Canada and the Pacific Northwest by Vjosa Isai, Dan Bilefsky and Shawn Hubler for the New York Times
What a Water Shortage Is Doing to Some of America’s Best Farmland by Somini Sengupta for the New York Times
Is climate change amping up the PNW heat wave? Yes — and it’s time to stop asking. by Shannon Osaka for Grist
‘The water is coming’: Florida Keys faces stark reality as seas rise by Oliver Milman for Grist
‘We Thought It Wouldn’t Affect Us’: Heatwave Forces Climate Reckoning in Pacific North West, by Levi Pulkkinen for The Guardian
The Heatwave is Literally Melting Portland’s Infrastructure, by Aaron Gordon for Vice
Dozens Dead as Canada Hits Record High Temperature for Third Straight Day, by Anya Zoledziowski for Vice
One Day After Setting Canada’s Heat Record, Town Burns to The Ground, by Mack Lamoreaux for Vice
Death Toll from Northwest Heat Wave Expected to Keep Rising, by Manuel Valdez for the LA Times
The Climate Presidency?
Bipartisanship Is Climate Denial by Brian Kahn for Earther
Opinion | Biden risks botching a key chance to fight climate change by Thea Riofrancos and Mark Paul for the Washington Post
The Biden White House Has an Exxon Problem, by Kate Aronoff for The New Republic
How Biden is spending his first big environmental justice fund by Adam Mahoney for Grist
Climate Activist: Biden’s Plan the ‘Bare Minimum,’ by Tim O’Donnell for The Week
We Now Know How Exxon Secretly Fights Crackdowns on Plastic Pollution by Dharna Noor for Earther
Right-Wing Media Outraged Energy Secretary Mentions Climate Change and Miami Condo Collapse by Dharna Noor for Earther
Exxon Lobbyists Reveal Climate Delay Strategy in Secret Recordings by Molly Taft for Earther
The scientists hired by big oil who predicted the climate crisis long ago by Emma Pattee for the Guardian
How cities and states could finally hold fossil fuel companies accountable by Chris McGreal and Alvin Chang for the Guardian
Patreon Is Bankrolling Climate Change Deniers While We All Burn, by David Gilbert for Vice
Watch an Exxon Lobbyist Explains How the Oil Giant Fights Climate Science, by Audrey Carleton for Vice
The Climate Crisis is a Crime Story, by Mark Hertsgaard for The Nation
Big Oil and Gas Kept a Dirty Secret for Decades. Now They May Pay the Price, by Chris McGreal for The Nation
Justice Is Justice Is Justice
The Climate Crisis Is A Public Health Crisis : Short Wave by Rhitu Chatterjee and Rebecca Ramirez
A harvest for the world: A Black family farm is fighting racism in agriculture and climate change by Darryl Fears for the Washington Post
$50 million for environmental justice, by Adam Mahoney for Grist
Activists Are Sharing Land In Vermont With People Escaping Climate Disaster, by Ella Fassler for Vice
Farmworkers Endure Brutal Conditions During Historic Heat Wave, by Lauren Kaori Gurley for Vice
Extreme Heat is Killing People in Arizona’s Mobile Homes, by Karen Peterson for The Washington Post
Underpaid firefighters, overstretched budgets: the US isn’t prepared for fires fueled by climate change, by Sarah Kaplan for the Washington Post
Glimmers of Hope
How to cool a city without air conditioning by Rebecca Leber for Vox
These Superheroes Could Sharply Reduce Heat Deaths by Catrin Einhorn for the New York Times
Arctic’s ‘Last Ice Area’ May Be Less Resistant to Global Warming by Henry Fountain for the New York Times
New climate science could cause wave of litigation against businesses – study by Fiona Harvey for The Guardian
Mouse Thought to Be Extinct for 150 Years Found Alive on an Island, by Becky Ferriera for Vice
Heat Pumps Are Ready to Have a Moment by Brian Kahn for Earther
Climate in Culture
BBC Lists 'Positive' Climate Change Impacts Kids Study Guide by Molly Taft for Earther
The Crucial, Little Understood Science of the Sea Floor, by Jo Livingstone for The New Republic
Work Really Sucks When It’s Hot, by Kate Aronoff for The New Republic
Climate Change Could Destroy America’s Roads, by Aaron Gordon for Vice
Ubers and Lyfts Can Be Electrified Now, But Drivers Aren’t So Sure, by Aaron Gordon for Vice
Miami Building Collapse Raises Concerns About Coastal Resiliency, by Audrey Carleton for Vox
A Massive Lake Suddenly Vanished in Antarctica, Scientists Discover, by Becky Ferriera for Vice
The End of the World is Closer than It Seems, by Tom Englehard for The Nation
Do you understand climate change: rain bombs, carbon pricing and mass electrification, by Ilana Marcus for the Washington Post