Paul Krugman | Dear Joe Manchin: Coal Isn’t Your State’s Future – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“So Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia will be responsible for putting together the Democratic climate plan. This is both understandable and terrifying. It’s understandable because Democrats need the vote of every one of their senators, which means doing whatever it takes to get skeptics on board. It’s terrifying because Manchin might end up gutting key proposals from President Biden, especially those aimed at drastically reducing the burning of fossil fuels.

The best-case scenario is that Manchin will intervene in ways that help coal miners and highlight his independence without doing too much damage to Biden’s objectives. The worst-case scenario is that he will cripple the climate initiative and effectively doom the planet — because the president’s climate push is almost certainly our last chance to avoid disaster.”

Margaret Renkl | Defending Nature Is a Form of Social Justice – The New York Times

Ms. Renkl is a contributing Opinion writer who covers flora, fauna, politics and culture in the American South.

“NASHVILLE — Two good things happened here recently that I didn’t see coming. First, our Metro Council passed a bill, which Mayor John Cooper signed, that increases protections for trees on city land. Second, the proposal for an outrageously terrible subdivision in Whites Creek, one of the few remaining rural tracts of Davidson Country, was rejected by the Metro Planning Commission.

Positive as the recent environmental news here may be, small-scale victories like these don’t normally rise to the level of national attention. But as a measure of what is possible, they have given me more hope for the future than I’ve had in a long time.

That’s because these particular environmental wins were not the result of lawsuits or transfers of political power. They were the result of widespread and nonpartisan public outcry. And they tell us of what can happen in any city, anywhere, when people start recognizing trees as a kind of civic infrastructure and the natural world as a public good.”

United Nations Warns of ‘Catastrophic Pathway’ With Current Climate Pledges – The New York Times

“The global average temperature will rise 2.7 degrees Celsius by century’s end even if all countries meet their promised emissions cuts, a rise that is likely to worsen extreme wildfires, droughts and floods, the United Nations said in a report on Friday.

That level of warming, measured against preindustrial levels, is likely to increase the frequency of deadly heat waves and threaten coastal cities with rising sea levels, the country-by-country analysis concluded.

The United Nations Secretary General António Guterres said it shows “the world is on a catastrophic pathway.”

Perhaps most starkly, the new report displayed the large gap between what the scientific consensus urges world leaders to do and what those leaders have been willing to do so far. Emissions of planet-warming gases are poised to grow by 16 percent during this decade compared with 2010 levels, even as the latest scientific research indicates that they need to decrease by at least a quarter by 2030 to avert the worst impacts of global warming.”

Opinion | Worrying About Your Carbon Footprint Is Exactly What Big Oil Wants You to Do – The New York Times

Mr. Schendler is the senior vice president of sustainability at the Aspen Skiing Company, the chairman of the board of the group Protect Our Winters and the author of “Getting Green Done.”

“Everybody’s going carbon neutral these days, from the big boys — Amazon, Microsoft, Unilever, Starbucks, JetBlue — to your favorite outdoor brand, even ski resorts. Probably your neighborhood coffee roaster, too.

What’s not to like? Becoming carbon neutral means cutting greenhouse gas emissions as much as you can, then offsetting what you can’t avoid with measures like tree planting. Seems admirable.

Well, not exactly. Carbon neutrality doesn’t achieve any sort of systemic change. A coal-powered business could be entirely carbon neutral as long it stops some landfill gas in Malaysia from entering the atmosphere equal to the emissions it’s still releasing. American fossil fuel dependence would remain intact, and planet-warming emissions would continue to rise. The only way to fix that is through politics, policymakers and legislation. But distressingly, most businesses don’t want to play in that arena.”

Court Blocks a Vast Alaskan Drilling Project, Citing Climate Dangers – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — A federal judge in Alaska on Wednesday blocked construction permits for an expansive oil drilling project on the state’s North Slope that was designed to produce more than 100,000 barrels of oil a day for the next 30 years.

The multibillion-dollar plan, known as Willow, by the oil giant ConocoPhillips had been approved by the Trump administration and legally backed by the Biden administration. Environmental groups sued, arguing that the federal government had failed to take into account the effects that drilling would have on wildlife and that the burning of the oil would have on global warming.

A federal judge has agreed.

In her opinion, Judge Sharon L. Gleason of the United States District Court for Alaska wrote that when the Trump administration permitted the project, the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management’s exclusion of greenhouse gas emissions in its analysis of the environmental effects of the project was “arbitrary and capricious.””

Paul Krugman | Climate Denial, Covid Denial and the Right’s Descent – The New York Times

Opinion columnist

“Before the right embraced Covid denial, there was climate denial. Many of the attitudes that have characterized the right-wing response to the coronavirus pandemic — refusal to acknowledge facts, accusations that scientists are part of a vast liberal conspiracy, refusal to address the crisis — were foreshadowed in the climate debate.

Yet from the response to Covid-19 among Republican officials — especially the opposition to lifesaving vaccines — it’s hard to escape the conclusion that the paranoid, anti-rational streak in American politics isn’t as bad as we thought; it’s much, much worse.

On Monday the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its latest report. The conclusions won’t surprise anyone who has been following the issue, but they were terrifying all the same.

Major damage from climate change, the panel tells us, is already locked in. In fact, it’s already happening, as the world experiences extreme weather events, like heat waves in the Pacific Northwest and floods in Europe, that have been made far more likely by rising global temperatures. And unless we take drastic action very soon, catastrophe looms.”

Here is the most popular comment, which I endorsed:

Yuriasian
Bay Area Aug. 10
Times Pick

The most pernicious word in any language is freedom. Pernicious because it has no meaning beyond subverting any notion of personal or collective responsibility. Gov DeSantis says Florida is a free state — folks can decide for themselves if they want to contract Covid or infect others (but businesses aren’t free to do business only with vaccinated customers because that would be a violation of freedom). Abbott in Texas says freedom is carrying a concealed weapon with absolutely no restriction. Sen Josh Hawley believes a mob attack on The Capitol is an exercise in freedom. GOP state legislators say they defend freedom by making it impossible for some to vote. A majority of Supreme Court Justices define freedom as telling woman they have no reproductive choices. For decades driving a Chevrolet (or more likely a 300 horsepower pickup) to see the USA was freedom at its gas guzzling best. America is the land of the free. Responsibility, consequences, that’s socialist talk. The want to take away our guns, monster trucks, smokes, even our burgers and steaks. What’s not free? Education, healthcare, equality, childcare, the right to vote, decent housing, livable wages. Covid, Climate Change are just socialist conspiracies against American freedom. Republicans love to say vigilance is the price of freedom. That’s a lie. The real price of freedom is responsibility, personal and collective. Most Americans have yet to earn their “freedom.”

59 Replies2802 Recommended

Biden’s Climate Plans Are Stunted After Dejected Experts Fled Trump – The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Juliette Hart quit her job last summer as an oceanographer for the United States Geological Survey, where she used climate models to help coastal communities plan for rising seas. She was demoralized after four years of the Trump administration, she said, in which political appointees pressured her to delete or downplay mentions of climate change.

“It’s easy and quick to leave government, not so quick for government to regain the talent,” said Dr. Hart, whose job remains vacant.”

David Lindsay:

Here is a top comment I strongly endorse:

Mary Richards
MassachusettsAug. 1

..Biden should offer them a deal to come back. No loss of time toward retirement benefits and 10% raises across the board. It would work…trust me

264 Recommended

Democrats Seek $500 Billion in Climate Damages From Big Polluting Companies – The New York Times

“. . . If the Democratic proposal passed into law, the U.S. government would target companies responsible for at least 0.05 percent of the total carbon dioxide and methane gas emissions in the atmosphere from 2000 to 2019. That would apply to 25 to 30 companies. Aides to Mr. Van Hollen said the legislation aims to look back only as far as 2000 because older data is not considered as reliable or uniform.

To determine the biggest emitters, the government could cite a growing body of research developed by Richard Heede, a researcher at the Climate Accountability Institute, a nonprofit advocacy group. In 2014 Mr. Heede quantified the annual production of every major fossil fuel company and converted it into carbon emissions — finding just 90 companies worldwide were responsible for nearly two-thirds of all greenhouse gas emissions since the start of industrialization.

The top 20 companies are responsible for nearly 30 percent of emissions, the study found.

The list includes foreign entities like Saudi Aramco and Gazprom as well as U.S.-based companies including Exxon Mobil, Chevron and ConocoPhillips.

Under the Democrats’ plan, the tax would be applied to U.S. companies and foreign companies with American subsidiaries. Companies also would have the ability to dispute the government’s determination.”  . . . .

Paul Sabin | How Liberals Can Attack From the Left — and Win – The New York Times

“. . .   Rachel Carson, the author of the environmental classic “Silent Spring,” attributed the rampant use of pesticides in part to government “propaganda” and “the authoritarian control that has been vested in the agricultural agencies.” Like Mr. Nader, she urged Americans to stop trusting the government to act responsibly.

Today, with an onslaught of attacks on the regulatory state coming from the right, it may seem counterintuitive to study how Mr. Nader, Ms. Carson and their allies contributed — from the left — to criticizing government. But in the 1970s, it was as if liberals took the big-government bicycle apart to fix it and then couldn’t figure out how to get it running properly again.

Now, as Democrats double down on using the government to address the urgent problems of our era, like climate change and economic inequality, they should absorb the lessons of this history. If you attack government but still want to wield its power for social good, you have to show you can make it work better.” . . .

Maureen Dowd | Apocalypse Right Now – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — Holy smokes.

It feels like we are living through the first vertiginous 15 minutes of a disaster movie, maybe one called “The Day After Tomorrow Was Yesterday.”

Heat waves are getting hotter. Forests are ablaze. Floods are obliterating. An iceberg nearly half the size of Puerto Rico broke off from Antarctica.

Florida’s fleurs du malalgal blooms known as red tide, have become more toxic because of pollution and climate change. They are responsible for killing 600 tons of marine life, leaving beaches strewn with reeking dead fish.

It’s Mad Max apocalyptic. Crazy storms that used to hit every century now seem quotidian, overwhelming systems that cannot withstand such a battering.

The heat wave that stunned the Pacific Northwest, killing nearly 200 people, was followed by a bolt of lightning igniting the dry earth in Oregon. The Bootleg Fire has now devoured 400,000 acres, with flames so intense, they are creating their own weather pattern capable of sparking new fires. The smoke has traveled from the West to the East Coast, tainting the air.

As Angela Merkel and President Biden touted a climate and energy partnership on her recent visit here, nature mocked them. While the two leaders had dinner, rains submerged huge swaths of Germany, including medieval towns.”