Hey Hot Cakes,
We’re gonna take next week off the newsletter, so we’re making this week’s edition FREE! So please share with impunity! Also, in some good climate news: Scott Morrison lost the Australia election. You might remember him from the 2020 Australia fires when he tried to normalize it all to children. Fuck that guy. Good riddance.
Ecofascism: Where the Far Left and Far Right Kiss
By Amy Westervelt
There’s always been the potential for far-leftists to go so far left they end up shaking hands with the far right, and we’re seeing a real uptick of it lately. The biggest defender of Tucker Carlson in the wake of the Buffalo shooting wasn’t Ben Shapiro or Laura Ingraham, for example. It was self-professed leftist Glen Greenwald, and a whole tribe of other supposedly far-left folks who seem to share the anti-establishment but pro-fascist tendencies of the far-right. Almost as soon as the Republican party tried to refashion itself into the party of working-class people, a small but growing group of leftists was like “these guys are alright actually.” So far, I’m mostly (thought not exclusively) seeing white men do this, and when they do they often embrace the "freedom" provided by racism, transphobia, and misogyny and complain about the constraints of “wokism." There are, of course, valid arguments to be made about how Democrats handle race and identity, but what I’m talking about here is self-proclaimed far-left folks finding leftist cover for white supremacist or fascist ideas. It’s showing up big time amongst ecofascists, many of whom, like the Buffalo shooter, do not identify as Republicans (too corporate), or even conservative, but as anarchists or socialists.
Why does this matter? Well, because assuming ecofascists only come in one flavor of Fox News-watching, MAGA-hat-wearing, gun-toting militiamen means you might miss one coming at you. In the Buffalo shooter’s manifesto, not only does he identify as an ecofascist and an environmentalist, he also declares himself against corporate control, then launches into rants about overpopulation that are frankly pretty similar to what I see some climate people say on Twitter (remember that Michael Moore movie anyone?)
This thin veil of leftism covering fascist tendencies is nothing new, of course. As we mentioned on the podcast this week, ecofascism is relatively old. Most of the modern ecofascists point to the Nazis as their forefathers, but that’s more of a stylistic choice than a historically accurate one. The Nazi party did have a “green wing,” and they embraced the “blood and soil” idea, where preserving the purity of bloodlines was connected to preserving pristine nature. But those ideas trace back hundreds of years in German history, with multiple waves of public intellectuals who combined a love of nature with a hatred of immigrants and race mixing, and used science both to understand nature and to categorize and "other" humans.
Over in the U.S., the likes of John Muir, Teddy Roosevelt, and Madison Grant—the fathers of the conservation movement— frequently combined the ideas of conservation and white supremacy too, of course. Fast forward to the 1970s in the U.S. when the conservation movement gave way to the environmental movement, and things start to get a bit blurrier. While good white liberals in California were far too polite and educated to espouse eugenics, they absolutely began using the idea of overpopulation as a threat to the Earth to justify some very eugenicist leanings. Paul Ehrlich’s Population Bomb—which warned that at their current rate, humans would exhaust Earth’s resources in just a few decades—was intended to be a wakeup call about consumption and the myth of endless growth, but provided all the evidence that folks like John Tanton— “father of the modern anti-immigration movement.” and a hardcore environmentalist— needed. Armed with the overpopulation argument, Tanton began to speak more and more openly about the dangers of immigration. And if you think all that died with Muir, or even Tanton, think again. A few years back when I was working on a story about the population argument for The Guardian, a very high-level professor at Stanford said to me without an ounce of hesitation: “Well if I have more kids they’re more likely to actually do something about climate, so it’s not really fair to compare me with some woman in Africa who’s having eight kids.” That lady was a Democrat and ran a center studying energy efficiency, folks, not a MAGA hat in sight. What a nice white liberal.
Ecofascist groups dabble in woke-washing too. Remember the QAnon Shaman? He is a self professed ecofascist too, and his way into it all was an obsession with healthy living and wellness, an “organic lifestyle.” The mashup of wellness and ecofascism is sadly nothing new either, there are major strains of it throughout Nazi history and it’s currently making a comeback in Germany. Here, too, one of the groups Tanton inspired, Progressives for Immigration Reform, is alive and well and making videos like this one called “Let’s Make America Green Again,”which starts by waxing poetic about Rachel Carson and conservation and ends up arguing for applying environmental laws that require environmental impact reports to population growth. But its chairman, Frank L. Morris, is a one-time civil rights leader, former Executive Director of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, and a Black man who regularly makes the argument that being anti-immigration doesn’t make you racist. (It just makes you pro nature, I guess?)
It’s a lot of the same tactics that we see oil companies using, and of course fascism is no more a cure for the climate crisis than fossil fuels. For the millionth time, if we want climate solutions that deliver a better world, we have to do the work of envisioning and building that world. The alternative is a fascist, feudal hellscape no one wants to live in.
When “Believing the Science” Goes Wrong
By Mary Annaïse Heglar
As you’ve all heard by now, last weekend, a self-avowed eco-fascist committed mass murder in a predominantly Black grocery store in Buffalo, New York. He planned the attack for months, picked his prey with precision, wrote a manifesto (180 pages!), and live-streamed the whole thing on Twitch. For those of you who’ve been paying attention to climate for a while now, this brings back not-yet-faded memories of the 2019 shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand, targeting refugees, and the El Paso shooting, targeting immigrants.
In all three of these cases, the shooters were inspired by a strain of the Great Replacement Theory that has morphed to include the climate crisis. This subtheory eschews the traditional right wing talking point that climate change is merely a hoax. Instead, it takes the climate crisis deadly seriously. They believe that climate change is already putting dire constraints on our resources: water, land, food. They believe that accelerating chaos will lead to greater violence and greater instability.
Now, let’s be clear: the people they’re scapegoating for the crisis are the exact opposite of the people who caused it. Immigrants and refugees and people of color by and large have the smallest contributions to the climate crisis, and if you really want to blame someone, grab a pitchfork and let’s go eat the rich. I’ll bring the hot sauce.
The truly scary thing is: they’re not wrong. At least not about the problem. They’re deeply wrong about the causes, and about the solutions. But not about the problem. (This is why Amy and I are so committed to using our platform to talk about the causes of climate change just as much as anything else. It’s important!) In other words, ecofascists believe the science. And they’re willing to kill because of it.
I want to go back to a once-popular assumption on the left that once folks on the right realized that climate change was real, they’d come around to working on common sense solutions right alongside the leftists. I’m old enough to remember when we celebrated the rising numbers of young Republicans who believed in climate science. But, now we know what they are willing to do with that knowledge. The shooters in Buffalo, El Paso, and Christchurch were all young white men who have been exposed to a heavy diet of misinformation in the form of message boards and the rightwing media ecosystem. (Keep in mind the Christchurch shooter was Australian, and that’s where Rupert Murdoch rests his head.) All three of them realized no one was doing anything about this crisis and, instead of turning on their own political leaders, decided that they had to take matters into their own hands to protect them and theirs.
It reminds me of something Naomi Klein said in 2020, as Australia burned and the coronavirus had not yet infected the globe:
If you convince those people climate change really is real, or if it just becomes so obvious that they can no longer deny it, they don’t suddenly want to sign onto the Paris Agreement. What actually happens is they apply that intensely hierarchical supremacist worldview to the reality that what climate change means is that the space for people to live well on this planet is contracting. More and more of us are going to have to live on less and less land, even if we do everything right. It’s already happening. So if you have that worldview, then you will apply it to people who are migrating to your country and to those who want to migrate to your country. We will harden the narratives that say those people deserve what they get because they’re inferior and we deserve what we have because we’re superior. In other words, the racism will get worse.
As far as I am concerned, this is the real terror of climate change. Not the storms, not the fires. It’s the hatred, and how far people are willing to take it. White supremacy has always been a zero sum game that operates on the assumption of scarcity. Well, climate change makes that scarcity real. So now what?
As Klein argues, there’s no way out of this without confronting white supremacy, but it would help if there actually was some climate action to speak of. Meanwhile, the Biden administration is carrying on with the status quo—losing voters on the left and inspiring manifestos on the right. I do not like these odds.
P.S. If you want more reading about the ecofascist undertones of this shooting, here’s a handful of articles:
The Rebecca Solnit Redux
By Mary Annaïse Heglar
In this week’s podcast episode, Amy and I got to talk to one of our favorite writers on earth: Rebecca Solnit. We got to ask her our burning questions about the leaked opinion on Roe vs. Wade and about mansplaining. (If you’re wondering, YES, men have explained Men Explain Things to her.) We also talked about the crisis of imagination and the danger of thinking that you, alone, can fix anything.
Rebecca has spent a lot of time in New Orleans around both Katrina and the BP Oil Spill, so we wrapped up by talking about the importance of community and all the things that can be learned from a city that has been on the frontlines of the crisis for so long. Many of you might know Rebecca for her book Hope in the Dark, so it shouldn’t surprise you that she’s launching a new project to do even more to keep hope alive in the climate movement.
It was a big, beautiful spiral of a conversation that displayed the hopes and frustrations and fears of doing climate work long term. I really encourage you to listen to it when you have a moment—I know I’ll be listening to it over and over again. But if you’re more of a reader than a listener, here’s a list of the resources that came up in our conversation for you to peruse at your leisure. (Note all the bookstores are either local New Orleans bookstores or Rebecca’s own favorite bookstore in San Francisco.)
Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas by Rebecca Solnit and Rebecca Snedekar
Jonathan Safran Foer and the Limits of Liberal Climate Politics by Kate Aronoff
How Texas Became the Blueprint for the Right’s Capture-the-Courts Plan
By Amy Westervelt
More trash from the Supreme Court this week: Now, thanks to Ted Cruz, you can give a personal loan to your campaign that you can then recoup. As if it weren’t easy enough to contribute dark money to a campaign, now you can disguise it as a personal loan. Can we say money laundering anyone? Bribes? Good stuff. It also serves as a really good reminder that before he was the most annoying senator or the most likely Zodiac killer suspect, Cruz was a lawyer. And a good one too, because he’s completely lacking in any motivating force other than self interest.
Of course, we can’t talk about how politically captured the Supreme Court is, or what a piece of shit Ted Cruz is, without talking about Texas, and specifically about how Texas was the testing ground for the rightwing takeover of the judicial system.
It all began with the tobacco litigation in the 1990s. Several Democratic attorneys general filed suits against the tobacco companies for suppressing information about the health effects of smoking and knowingly putting citizens at an enormous risk. A whole bunch of cases eventually got lumped together into the Tobacco Master Settlement, the biggest loss ever (and probably still) for a major industry in the U.S. Obviously, Republicans couldn’t just let that stand. John Cornyn, as attorney general of Texas at the time, teamed up with a couple other attorneys general to form the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA, I wrote about them last week). But he also started thinking seriously about how to use his office to make constitutional changes, and his right-hand man in that endeavor was Ted Cruz, who Cornyn tapped as solicitor general of Texas in 2003. Cruz was just 31 at the time and he set about not just making the office ideological, but also putting both Texas and himself on the map, judicially speaking. Cruz was hell-bent on arguing as many cases in front of the Supreme Court as possible. He inserted himself, and therefore Texas, into any case with a constitutional bent. Death penalty cases, abortion, freedom of religion, gun control, you name it.
At the same time, Cruz and Cornyn began building a judicial machine in Texas. Cornyn formed a panel for picking judges back in the 80s that the two still run to this day. They claim it is bi-partisan although it rarely appoints a judge that’s not conservative. Members of the panel were selected from the most prestigious corporate law firms in town, all picking the judges they’d like to appear in front of. Many of the lawyers on the panel were eventually appointed to judgeships themselves. With judges strategically placed, the attorney general could file a case in a particular district, knowing more or less what the outcome would be, get it kicked up to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals (where most of the judges are also beholden to Cruz, Cornyn, and their panel), and then argue it in such a way that it’s almost certain the Supreme Court will take up the case.
So what? Who cares? What does that all even mean? Well, Cornyn set up the infrastructure for Texas to file constitutional complaints over everything from gun laws to gay marriage to abortion to Obamacare. And to file those along with other Republican states. So now, any time Texas wants a law changed, all they have to do is file a complaint in the Rube Goldberg machine they’ve made out of the state’s court system, and watch the ball roll all the way to the Supreme Court, where they now also have a bunch of pals. It’s an end-run around democracy, pure and simple, and it’s completely radical. As long-time court watcher and investigative researcher Lisa Graves put it to me: “They may dress in suits and ties, but they are extremists who represent a radical ideology.”
P.S. Highly recommend This Land S2 for an example of this Texas legal approach in action. Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a suit challenging the constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act, put it through the machine and lo and behold it will be heard by the Supreme Court this session. It could potentially unravel tribal sovereignty, and lots of other civil rights.
Also, Mary will not let me talk about Ted Cruz without mention of her conspiracy theory.
Rising Temperatures Rising Tides
Desperate Lawmakers Discuss Piping Ocean Water to Fill Great Salt Lake by Molly Taft for Earther
1 in 6 Americans live in areas with significant wildfire risk, by John Muyskens, Andrew Ba Tran, Naema Ahmed and Anna Phillips for The Washington Post
Scant hope for relief as repeated heat waves scorch Pakistan, by Zuha Siddiqui for The New Humanitarian
Record-Breaking Heatwave Is Killing Scores of Animals. Residents Blame the Government, by Rimal Farrukh for Vice
Early heat wave to bake US East Coast as late snow blankets Denver | Reuters, by and for Reuters
New York Is Facing a Pandemic-Fueled Home Energy Crisis, With No End in Sight, by Quratulain Tejani for Inside Climate News
High winds, heat boost fire threat as California faces long season, by Diana Leonard for The Washington Post
One killed, 40 injured, as suspected tornado hits Germany | Reuters, by and for Reuters
Climate Change Will Make Heat Like India's 100 Times More Likely, Study Finds, by Audrey Carleton for Vice
Temperatures in parts of Spain reach highest on record for May, by Sam Jones for The Guardian
Key climate change indicators hit record highs in 2021: UN report, by and for Al Jazeera
See How Likely It Is Your House Will Burn Down From Wildfires by Kyle Barr for Earther
Hot Times Ahead by Henry Fountain for the New York Times
One dead, 23 injured as tornado rips through Gaylord, Mich., by Jason Samenow and Keith McMillan for The Washington Post
'Flash droughts' are Midwest's next big climate threat | Grist by Diana Kruzman
'Is it all worth it?': farmers left heartbroken as Queensland floods ruin crops, by The Australian Associated Press
Historic May heat shatters records in Southern and Central Europe, by Kasha Patel for The Washington Post
The Climate Presidency?
Biden Admin Announces $3.5 Billion in Carbon Dioxide Removal Funding by Lauren Leffer for Earther
Biden administration begins easing restrictions on Venezuelan oil - The Washington Post, by Samantha Schmidt, Karen DeYoung and Anthony Faiola
US stops controlled burns nationwide after New Mexico disaster | Reuters, by and for Reuters
Carbon removal technologies to get $3.5B federal investment | AP News, by Cathy Bussewitz
In the Race for Pennsylvania's Open US Senate Seat, Candidates from Both Parties Support Fracking and Hardly Mention Climate Change, by Nicholas Kusnetz for Inside Climate News
Biden forest plan stirs dispute over what counts as "old" | AP News, by Matthew Brown and Matthew Daly
The Fed Is Neglecting Its Duty on Climate Change, by Aaron Regunberg for The New Republic
Ryan Zinke makes his 'energy dominance' pitch to Montanans - The Washington Post, by Maxine Joselow and Vanessa Montalbano
In US, states struggle to replace fossil fuel tax revenue | AP News, by Morgan Lee and Mead Gruver
Biden warns of 'another tough hurricane season' this year | AP News, by Zeke Miller and Chris Megerian
In West Virginia, the clean-energy transition rests on Manchin - The Washington Post, by Maxine Joselow and Brianna Tucker
Yeah, We're Gonna Need to Leave That Shit in the Ground By Angely Mercado for Earther
In Emotional Plea, Ukrainians Urge the West to Ban Russian Fuels - Inside Climate News, by and for Inside Climate News
Shut down fossil fuel production sites early to avoid climate chaos, says study, by Damian Carrington for The Guardian
Colorado, Nebraska jostle over water rights amid drought | AP News, by James Anderson
Why Your Utility Company Sucks | The New Republic, by Kate Aronoff
Why Florida's New 'Anti-Protest' Law Could Signal Trouble for the Climate Movement, by Kristoffer Tigue
Australia election: Major parties mostly quiet on climate change - The Washington Post, by Michael E. Miller
TikTokers Are Accused of Starting Forest Fires For Views, by Rimal Farrukh for Vice
Farmer sues VW over climate change; German court has doubts | AP News, by Frank Jordans
Carbon Dioxide Pipelines Are Going Dangerously Unregulated by Molly Taft for Earther
Do Airline Climate Offsets Really Work? Here's the Good News, and the Bad by Maggie Astor for the New York Times
EU reveals its plans to stop using Russian gas, by Jonah Fisher for BBC
Why electric scooters in India keep going up in flames, by Niha Masih for The Washington Post
Spot the greenwashing by Manuela Andreoni for The New York Times
Nations Are Nowhere on Their Climate Commitments, and Too Few Journalists Are Holding Them Accountable by Andrew McCormick for the Nation
Justice Is Justice Is Justice
Climate change has made air conditioning a vital necessity. It also heats up the planet. by Umair Irfan for Vox
Catherine Coleman Flowers on America's Dirty Secret | Atmos, by Catherine Coleman Flowers (as told to Yessenia Funes)
What if the Wind and Sunshine Really Belonged to All of Us? by David McDermott Hughes in for the Nation
In the Philippines, a Landmark Finding Moves Fossil Fuel Companies' Climate Liability into the Realm of Human Rights, by Nicholas Kusnetz for Inside Climate News
Women in rural Bangladesh bear rising cost of climate crisis, by AJ Staff for Al Jazeera
Lead Poisonings of Children in Baltimore Are Down, but Lead Contamination Still Poses a Major Threat, a New Report Says - Inside Climate News, by Agya K. Aning for Inside Climate News
Indian climate activist, 10, invited to East Timor inauguration, by Bilal Kuchay for Al Jazeera
Glimmers of Hope
These Animals Are Thriving Under Climate Change by Lauren Leffer for Earther
Green air travel possible, by Andy Holmes and Nic Rigby for BBC
In coal country, a new chance to clean up a toxic legacy, by Austyn Gaffney and Dane Rhys for The Washington Post
Pennsylvania might really send an anti-fracking advocate to Congress by Eve Andrews for Grist
Will swapping out electric car batteries catch on? - BBC News, by Adrienne Murray
In a massive Chinese sinkhole, scientists find a secret forest, by Marisa Iati for The Washington Post
New England schools eligible to apply for green bus funding | AP News, by and for the AP
Mining companies back away from Brazil’s Indigenous areas, by Fabiano Maisonnave for AP News
Kitty Litter Could Help Fight Climate Change By Angely Mercado for Earther
Michael Bloomberg Plans a $242 Million Investment in Clean Energy by by Maggie Astor for the New York Times
Climate in Culture
Tesla’s Aura Dims as Its Plunging Stock Highlights the Risks It Faces by Jack Ewing for the New York Times
Conserving Biodiversity, Preserving Mental Health | Atmos, by Tori Tsui as told to Daphne Chouliaraki Milner
The Buffalo Shooter and the Rise of Ecofascist Extremists, by Kate Aronoff for The New Republic
The Unfathomable Problem of Suicide as a Protest Tactic | The New Republic, by Eleanor Cummins
Suicides indicate wave of 'doomerism' over escalating climate crisis, by Oliver Milman for The Guardian
Snowmobiles in Slush: Sports Are on Thin Ice in the Warming Arctic By Jeré Longman Photographs and Video by Erin Schaff for the New York Times
Come Together | Atmos, by Bill McKibben
Bubble-wrap sky: Storm chasers photograph mesmerizing mammatus clouds, by Matthew Cappucci for The Washington Post
Climate scientists are turning to protest in desperation - The Washington Post, by Casey Quackenbush
Study: Warming temperatures are eroding our ability to sleep by Zoya Teirstein for Grist
Europe has a plan to get off Russian gas. Energy experts say it is not enough. | Grist by Shannon Osaka fro Grist
Spreading Seeds | Atmos, by Willow Defebaugh
Colombia election: Francia Márquez could become first Black vice president - The Washington Post, by Samantha Schmidt and Diana Durán
Can philanthropists help fuel a global clean energy transition? - The Washington Post, by Brady Dennis and Vanessa Montalbano