Time's Up for Climate Week

Climate week, Big Oil's race to the bottom, where are all the vegan cooking shows, and a Q&A with reporter/author Katie Worth about the state of climate education in America.

Time’s Up for Climate Week

By Mary Annaïse Heglar

You may have missed it—I certainly almost did—but this week was Climate Week. What is Climate Week, you ask? Well, girl, I had to Wikipedia that shit too. Apparently, it’s a summit “alongside the UN General Assembly and brings together international leaders from business, government and civil society to showcase global climate action.” It was founded in 2009 and focused on New York City, because that’s where the United Nations headquarters is.

The first time I heard of Climate Week was in 2019, the year of the Big Climate Strike in New York. I was living in New York at the time and had created a profile for myself. Suddenly I was a sought-after guest and speaker for all of these events I probably never would have heard of otherwise. A lot of events. In one week. It was exhausting. I didn’t think Climate Week made a lot of sense as a concept then, and it makes even less sense now.

Climate Week—much like Earth Day and World Ocean Day—are relics of a time long gone when you needed to create a “moment” or a “news hook” to talk about climate change. This was back when climate change was a niche topic and you needed a reason to bring it up. Well, the world we live in today is tangibly and demonstrably on fire. Climate change is an everyday, everybody topic. So, we don’t need these manufactured events to talk about it—because even when we do that, we wind up only talking to ourselves anyway. When I looked around at those events in 2019, I saw only familiar faces, largely from my Twitter feed. No one else knew or cared that it was Climate Week. So what was the point?

Race to the Bottom

By Amy Westervelt

While “moderate” Democrats argue about whether we *really* need to ratchet down fossil fuel development just yet, the oil majors, as usual, are several steps ahead. They’ve seen the writing on the wall for a while that in the not so distant future they won’t be allowed to drill for oil or gas anymore. But no one wants to be left holding a bunch of untapped oil reserves—stranded assets, as the industry calls them—so there is currently a worldwide rush to extract as much as possible while they still can. Not so much in the Permian Basin or the North Sea but off the coasts of Guyana, Côte d’Ivoire, Angola, and Ghana, throughout Namibia and Gabon...countries where, for the most part, the allure of oil profits outweighs the risk.

While the industry talks a big game about how "cheap" fossil fuel energy will lift the world, and particularly Africa, out of poverty, oil companies like ExxonMobil, Shell, Italian giant Eni, Chevron and more are not coming into Guyana and Namibia and showering them with oil riches. It's good old-fashioned oil colonialism, same as it ever was. ExxonMobil's contract with Guyana, for example, will actually cost the country billions, while exacerbating climate impacts that will erode other parts of the country's economy. And that's before we even talk about the risky nature of the deepwater offshore drilling they're doing there, which people are already calling Deepwater Horizon 2.0.

Big Oil isn’t actually concerned about global poverty, of course, but about shareholder profits. And in their global game of extraction musical chairs, we're the ones left out when the music stops.

Cooking Shows—But Make Them Vegan

By Mary Annaïse Heglar

I love a good cooking show. When I’m having a hard time getting up the motivation or the inspiration to get my ass in the kitchen, I turn on MasterChef. When I’m having a bad day (or week), I turn on the Great British Baking Show. It’s comfort food and comfort TV. But the thing is… I’m vegan, and I rarely see things I can actually eat on these shows.  Every once in a while, there will be a vegan or vegetarian challenge, but mostly, I’m left to use my own imagination to veganize the food on the screen. At the same time, the pro-vegan content out there is usually found in the form of shoddy, preachy documentaries like Seaspiracy that pin the blame for everything from the health crisis to the climate crisis on individual people’s diets.

As annoying and off-putting (and poorly researched) as those documentaries are, it is true that animal agriculture, at the scale it’s practiced now, is cruel and unusual, and unsustainable. It is a huge source of greenhouse gas emissions. And we would do well if more people went vegan.

What if—hear me out—we split the difference and had vegan cooking shows instead? I feel like it would do a lot more to get people to change their diets if they could see how easy and fun vegan cooking can be. So many people are intimidated by it because they think they have to eat manufactured meat substitutes or that everything has to be organic, read: expensive. People don’t understand how accessible vegan food truly is. Of course they don’t. No one has ever shown them!

Here’s just a couple of ideas for how it could work:

  1. Veganize It: Get a bunch of vegan chefs together. Every week, assign them one traditionally meat and dairy-heavy dish (meatloaf or jambalaya or birthday cake) and see who can come up with the best vegan version.
  2. Vegan Persuasion Theory: Have some of the top vegan chefs in the world compete to convert some of the most hardline anti-vegan chefs out there to give vegan cuisine the respect it deserves. This format, in particular, would be a great opportunity to interrogate why the culinary world has been so hostile to veganism, with notable chefs like Gordon Ramsey and Anthony Bourdain being vocally critical of vegans. If you wanna learn more about this, can’t recommend our podcast episode with David Tamarkin enough.
  3. Vegan Kitchen: What about a regular old cooking show, in the mold of Rachel Ray or Barefoot Contessa, but with a vegan chef? Extra points if said chef does tutorials on how to build a vegan pantry, how to replace proteins, how much more salt and seasoning you need for vegan food. Even more extra points if there’s good music in the background. Yes, I’m thinking of Bryant Terry.

Q&A with Katie Worth, author of Miseducation: How Climate Change Is Taught in America

By Amy Westervelt

A few years ago, investigative journalist Katie Worth was working on a project for Frontline in the Marshall Islands, and was struck by how much kids there were learning about climate change. Some of the kids she talked to had family members who had immigrated to the U.S., some thought their families might head to the states soon, too, and that got Katie wondering what those same kids would be learning about climate change in the U.S. That prompted another year or two of research, the result of which is the book Miseducation: How Climate Change Is Taught in America. Katie talked with us about what she found.

Amy: You have this example in the book about this one school you visited in Arkansas, where an oil and gas representative came to speak to the class, and how she presented this idea that basically getting off of fossil fuels equals poverty… and a whole lot more. What did you think when you heard that? And was there any pushback from the teacher, or questions from the kids?

Katie: None of the kids asked any questions. The only question I remember them asking was how much they might be able to make if they worked for the industry, and she said it might be $100,000. And they were just like, whoa. Also that part wasn't set up for questions. She just kind of railed through: do [you] want pristine nature? Do you want humans to prosper? Which one would you choose? Thankfully, we don't have to choose. Let's move on. So there was this major question raised and then resolved immediately. And then she moved on and the teacher was very deferential to her. So, of course, the students were, too.

Amy: Did you get any sense of why or how schools became so willing to let this kind of stuff into classrooms?

Katie: Well there are definitely time and budget constraints. These are things that are meant to look professional and some of them are like outright climate denial, but there's a lot of materials that are much subtler and you wouldn't necessarily catch it if you weren't really looking for it. There's an organization called the National Energy Education Development Project, for example, and they talk about all kinds of energy, including renewables. But the vast majority of their budget comes from fossil fuel companies, and if you actually look at the materials they produce, they're really industry-friendly. There's a paragraph about all the great things that petroleum products do for us. But there's a trade-off because there can be some oil or water pollution. And then there's a paragraph that reads, "The petroleum industry works hard to protect the environment. Gasoline and diesel fuel have been changed to burn cleaner and oil companies work to make sure that they drill and transport oil as safely as possible."

Amy: Wow.

Katie: Yeah. So it's like, don't worry about it because the petroleum industry cares so much about it and they're working really hard to protect the environment. And so everything's fine. Basically every nonrenewable resource discussed in these materials is presented that way. Yes, there's problems. You might have heard about them, but don't worry. It's all being taken care of, and that has this effect of leaving children with the feeling like it almost inoculates them. So when they hear about an oil spill, they're like, oh yeah, I learned about that. But fortunately, there's ways to take care of it. And there's no discussion of regulation, there's no discussion of climate change. It's just, here is this product that does so many things for us. And fortunately, the people who make it are really concerned about doing it in a way that's safe.


Your weekly round-up of climate coverage.

Rising Tides, Rising Temperatures

California wildfires reach edge of sequoia grove containing world’s largest tree in The Guardian from the AP

How Bigger Arctic Waves Are Changing Clouds, by Brian Kahn for Earther

State Officials Think Arson Is Cause of Fawn Fire Near Redding, by Jody Serrano for Earther

Neither Portland, Maine or Oregon, Is Refuge From Climate Change By Francis Wilkinson for Bloomberg

Lake Powell Could Lose the Ability to Generate Hydropower in Just 2 Years, by Dharna Noor for Earther

Climate change: Retreat won't stop wildfires. These steps can boost resilience, by Umair Irfan for Vox

‘Climate crisis on our shores’: Mediterranean countries sign deal after summer of fires by Helena Smith for The Guardian

How decades of stopping forest fires made them worse, by Kimberly Mas for Vox

Floods, power outages, no running water: Jails during Hurricane Ida by Adam Mahoney for Grist

California’s Wildfires Had an Invisible Impact: High Carbon Dioxide Emissions by Henry Fountain for The New York Times

US north-east faces rapid warming amid global climate crisis by Oliver Milman for The Guardian

Global wildfire carbon dioxide emissions at record high, data shows by Jonathan Watts for The Guardian

How climate change gave rise to a monster mosquito season by Zoya Teirstein for Grist

What is ‘fire weather,’ and why is it getting worse? by Matt Simon for Grist
Holding Back the Floodwaters by Ronda Kaysen for The New York Times

The Climate Presidency?

Biden Admin Says IPCC 'Does Not Present Sufficient Cause' to End Offshore Drilling, by Walter Bragman for Earther

As climate change warms workplaces, Biden directs safety agency to draft heat rules for workers by Eli Rosenberg for The Washington Post

Climate Change Is Slowly Killing American Workers, by Timothy Noah for The New Republic

President Biden launches strategy to combat extreme heat linked to climate change, including labor standards by Maxine Joselow for The Washington Post

Joe Biden's Worker Heat Protections Come After Decades of Warnings, by Dharna Noor for Earther

Biden vows to double aid to developing countries vulnerable to climate crisis by Oliver Milman for The Guardian

Biden ramps up international climate funding commitment by Scott Waldman for E&E News

Democrats fear climate impact of only passing bipartisan bill by Adam Aton for E&E News

Why the US isn’t ready for clean energy, by Madeline Marshall for Vox

Democrats May Be on the Verge of Climate Disaster by Robinson Meyer for The Atlantic

Biden may be the first president to address extreme heat by Emily Pontecorvo for Grist

As Climate Envoy, John Kerry Faces Tough Path By Lisa Friedman for The New York Times

Extreme Heat Is Killing Workers, So the White House Is Adding Protections, by Audrey Carleton for Vice

Climate Accountability

In Canada and Germany, climate is finally on the ballot. But can it win? by Angela Dewan and Laura Smith-Spark for CNN

Exxon's Secret Assist From the World's Top PR Firm, by Dharna Noor for Earther

Can billionaires like Amazon ex-CEO Jeff Bezos slow extinction and climate change? By Benji Jones for Vox

The ABCs of Big Oil: Why the Fossil Fuel Industry Infiltrated Schools, by Dharna Noor for Earther

The Myth of Regenerative Cattle Grazing, by Jan Dutkiewics and Gabriel N. Rosenberg for The New Republic

Joe Manchin's Vote Isn't That Mysterious. Look to the Fossil Fuel Money, by Kate Aronoff for The New Republic

Climate crisis: history will judge failure to act, Johnson says at UN by Heather Stewart and Fiona Harvey for The Guardian

Blue-lining and underwaterwriting: Banks consider climate change risk by Lindsey Jacobson for CNBC

Climate Activists 'Hack' More Than 200 Billboards To Protest Alleged Greenwashing, by Ruby Lott-Lavigna for Vice

Rupert Murdoch Has Known We've Been in a Climate Emergency Since 2006, Documents Show, by Geoff Dembicki for Vice

US and EU team up on methane - Grist by Jena Brooker for Grist

China's Xi Jinping promises to halt new coal projects abroad amid climate crisis by Caitlin Hu and Angela Dewan for CNN

Climate funding target for poorer countries ‘likely to be met’ by 2022, by Fiona Harvey for The Guardian

‘We’re going after creatives that greenwash fossil fuels’: the group targeting ad agencies, by Jocelyn Timperley for The Guardian

Shell's Big Sale of Oil and Gas Holdings Is a Climate Bait-and-Switch, by Molly Taft for Earther

Tesla to Reverse Huge Solar Roof Price Hikes for Some Customers, Court Document Shows, by Alyse Stanley for Earther

Justice Is Justice Is Justice

Climate crisis leaving ‘millions at risk of trafficking and slavery’ by Sarah Johnson for The Guardian

Amazon's Former Security Chief Now Guarding the Line 3 Oil Pipeline, by Tom McKay for Earther

Summer Wildfires Emitted More Carbon Dioxide Than India Does in a Year, by Dharna Noor for Earther

Louisiana's Native Tribes Were Crushed by Hurricane Ida. They Feel Forgotten, by Emma Ockerman for Vice

No, eradicating poverty is not gonna mess with climate goals by María Paula Rubiano A. for Grist

Meet The Next Generation Of Climate Justice Leaders by Taylor Mills for NowThis News

When the earth shakes in South LA, the results can be toxic by Adam Mahoney for Grist

California tribes get green light for 'cultural burns' - Grist by Zoya Teirstein & Mark Armao for Grist

The WHO’s new air quality guidelines ‘could save millions of lives’ by Joseph Winters & Zoya Teirstein for Grist

Glimmers of Hope

18-year-old climate activist shares how she finds courage, resilience by Catherine Clifford for CNBC

Why heaters are the future of cooling, by Christophe Haubursin for Vox

How weatherization can be a win-win for struggling Americans by Grist Creative for Grist

Young global climate strikers vow change is coming – from the streets by Damian Carrington for The Guardian

China Officially Bans All Cryptocurrency Transactions, by Shoshana Wodinsky for Earther

China's Xi Jinping Says Country Will Stop Financing Coal-Fired Power Abroad, by Molly Taft for Earther

Climate in Culture

Late-night comedians team up to tackle the climate crisis by Jeff Berardelli for CBS News

'Ted Lasso' Is an Unexpected Masterclass in Environmental Storytelling, by Matthew Schneider-Mayerson for Earther

Late Night TV Climate Comedy Segments, Ranked, by Brian Kahn and Molly Taft for Earther

Don't expect heroes (or evil villains) in this history of the climate crisis by Kate Yoder for Grist

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene Rattles Off Green New Deal Conspiracy, by Molly Taft for Earther

One Bitcoin Transaction Generates Two iPhones Worth of E-Waste, by Jody Serrano for Earther

Plus More

'Carbon Footprint' and 'Net Zero' Don't Mean What You Think, by Audrey Carleton and Aaron Gordon for Vice

Opinion | We Need Trees, and Trees Need Us by Margaret Renkl for The New York Times

What one city's struggle to ban natural gas says about the challenge of electrifying buildings by Ysabelle Kempe for Grist

Economic Impact of Climate Change in Europe Is Scrutinized by Eshe Nelson for The New York Times

Will young voters stay active in elections post-Trump? by Janet Hook for The Los Angeles Times

The State of International Climate Talks by Somini Sengupta for The New York Times

How America’s hottest city is trying to cool down, by Joss Fong for Vox

Climate change: How to plant trillions of trees without hurting people and the planet, by Benji Jones for Vox

Specialized's New E-Bike Shows How Far E-Bikes Have Come, by Molly Taft for Earther

Fat Bear Junior Week Is Here, by Dharna Noor for Earther


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