Climate Roundup: The firehose, redux

Friends…. there is a lot going on. As someone who likes to keep up with climate news, it’s like trying to drink from a firehose. (As is often the case in summer.)

When news and political change comes hard and fast like this, it’s hard to know where to look. We have limited time, limited attention, limited money, and a thousand screaming emergencies that demand our resources. If you feel overwhelmed, as I certainly do, take the advice of an article that appears later in this roundup: find the people who are doing work you believe in, and help them do it–according to your ability.

In the meantime, here are some explainers, a few actionable suggestions, and a smattering of culture links for levity and curiosity.

Guns, racism, and reproductive rights

In what certainly feels like a gleefully malevolent spree, the US Supreme Court released a series of rulings designed to bring about the worst possible timeline, including:

  • New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen, ruling that New York state’s restrictions on the licensing of firearms are unconstitutional
  • Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, ruling that abortion is not a protected right under the constitution (overturning Roe v. Wade)
  • West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency, ruling that the EPA does not have Congressional authority to limit emissions at existing power plants through generation shifting to cleaner sources

You might see these as separate issues, and it would possibly be simpler if they were. But matters of political will tend to be entangled and messy, and climate in particular impacts everything. People smarter than I am who have been working in environmental sectors for longer will do a better job of explaining how the threads connect.

How Oil and Gas Helped Create the Conservative Supreme Court (Gizmodo, May 4, 2022)

Of the articles explaining the West Virginia v. EPA case, this issue of Hot Take seemed to over the clearest explanation of what the ruling does and does not do.
Battle Supreme (Hot Take, July 3, 2022)

Even more context to tie the last two links together:
The Supreme Court’s climate decision came out of a decades-long campaign to kneecap regulation (Grist, June 30, 2022)

Okay, then, what does gun regulation (or lack thereof) have to do with the environment? The connection was made explicitly by a mass shooter who opened fire on Black shoppers at a grocery store in Buffalo, NY. Since then, there have been so many more mass shootings that the circumstances and motives tend to blur together. The mass shooters don’t always explain their logic, leaving us to deduce the motive from who and where was targeted. The Buffalo shooter, however, posted a manifesto online espousing replacement theory, among other far-right conspiracy theories.

An explainer: How Mass Shootings, Ecofascism and Climate Change Got Tied Together (Inside Climate News, May 27, 2022)

Climate Denial’s Racist Roots (Atmos, June 15, 2022)

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?

So on one hand we’ve got ecofacists, who believe there are too many of the wrong kind of people on the planet, and on the other hand we’ve got the kind of conservatives who want to ban abortion. You’d think these two perspectives would be diametrically opposed, yet there seems to be a great deal of overlap between the anti-abortion demographic and the white supremacist demographic. (I haven’t recently come across a good source that delves into this dissonance, but will keep an eye out.)

If your politics are rooted in care, however, you’re likely concerned about people being forced to carry pregnancy to term against their will as well as worried about how climate change will impact the lives of current and potential children. I find no dissonance there.

It should go without saying that abortion is healthcare. It should also go without saying that healthcare is not the only reason to support abortion, and that reproductive choice is vital to well-being, economic mobility, and human rights. The next two links are particularly concerned with healthcare outcomes, particularly how pollution impacts infant and parent mortality, mainly because that is the obvious point of overlap between climate politics and abortion politics. Last roundup I linked to The Climate Reality of Roe v. Wade at Atmos, which is particularly concerned about how pollution impacts infant and parent mortality. Grist has more:
What overturning Roe v. Wade means for pregnant people in pollution hotspots (Grist, May 12, 2022)

On a lighter note, Molly Taft says what the hell, why not, let’s entertain Elizabeth Warren’s idea to have abortion services on federal land. It could work!
Give Us Abortions In National Parks (Gizmodo, June 30, 2022)

Plastics

The more I learn about plastics, the more I resent what amounts to a massive multigenerational campaign to conceal what they are made of (petrochemicals, mostly), where they come from (oil companies, mostly), how they are recycled (they aren’t, mostly), and how they impact human and environmental health (still being researched). I am slowly becoming the sort of person who doesn’t buy plastic at all–it’s really hard, plastic is cheap and ubiquitous–and because this has been such a gap in my own knowledge, I expect to have a little section dedicated to plastics every time I post a climate link roundup.

Plastic Recycling Doesn’t Work and Will Never Work (The Atlantic, May 30, 2022)

Scientists find microplastics in Antarctica’s fresh snow for the first time, study says (USA Today, June 10, 2022)

Spoiler: not much greener than regular plastic! What You Need to Know About Bioplastics (Gizmodo, June 1, 2022)

This is a fascinating research project taking place locally to me: Could these simple ‘Seabins’ give us better information about the plastics hiding in Philly’s rivers? (June 8, 2022)

Some things you can do

I have aspirations for building a massive compilation of concrete, actionable suggestions of things you can do in response to the climate crisis: click a button, get a suggestion. If for some reason that suggestion is out of reach, click again. If you’ve met that challenge already, click again. There’s always something to do.

Until then, I will just gather up suggestions piecemeal as I come across them online.

Change your menu. Climate-friendly diets can make a huge difference – even if you don’t go all-out vegan (The Guardian, June 4, 2022)

Support green infrastructure. We can’t all have a $30 million wetlands park in our backyards, as in teh example below, but we can install rain gardens and rain barrels, and we can be informed community members who advocate for the restoration of wetlands, which are like sponges for stormwater.
Shoring up coastlines and communities with green infrastructure (Grist, May 3, 2022)

Support renewable energy. This is a goal for me this year–I rent, so I don’t know how much control I have over my utilities aside, but there is a program in Philly designed to make solar power easy and affordable, so it’s high time I looked into it.
America Can Cut Emissions in Half by 2030—if We Choose To (Mother Jones, June 16, 2022)

Find people who are already doing the work you believe in, and join them. Climate change is all about power. You have more than you think. (Vox, June 9, 2022)

Celebrate the wins. The Optimist’s Guide to Addressing the Climate Crisis (Dame Magazine, June 22, 2022)

And hey, here’s a free What NOT to do:

Don’t invest in cryptocurrency. Crypto crash unlikely to reduce its climate impact, expert says (The Guardian, May 18, 2022)

Climate art (?)

Mona Lisa smeared with cake by man ‘dressed as old lady in wheelchair’ (The Art Newspaper, May 30, 2022)
“There are people who are destroying the planet, that’s why I did it,” the vandal said. (Insert .gif of John Mulaney saying “We don’t have time to unpack all of that!”)

This is so joyful: Nature is queer. Queer ecologists want us to learn from it. (Grist, June 30, 2022)

Queer ecology takes that understanding a step further, positing that society’s norms around gender and sexuality are harmful to the earth, and that queerness can offer a different paradigm for human relationships and our relationship with the natural world.

I like this: Coin-Operated Wetland by Tega Brain.

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