class 13 – is it too late?

Class 13 – Monday, May 23, 2022

  • Is it too late?
  • The power of the fossil fuel industry
  • Climate denial
  • The lack of democracy

Required Readings:

  6. Republicans in Congress are out of step with the American public on climate (

Optional Reading

  1. David Wells NY Magazine – we are doomed

3:40 Intro
3:45 news – Mark update
3:55 Do we have enough time
4:15  Power of fossil fuel companies
4:35 Review of test
5:00 Advocacy tips
5:15  Professor Evaluation

3:45 News

Since the turn of the century, global deaths attributable to air pollution have increased by more than half, a development that researchers say underscores the impact of pollution as the “largest existential threat to human and planetary health.” The findings, part of a study published Tuesday in The Lancet Planetary Health, found that pollution was responsible for an estimated 9 million deaths around the world in 2019. Fully half of those fatalities, 4.5 million deaths, were the result of ambient, or outdoor, air pollution, which is typically emitted by vehicles and industrial sources like power plants and factories. The report noted that countries with lower collective incomes often bear a disproportionate share of the impacts of pollution deaths, and called on governments, businesses and other entities to abandon fossil fuels and adopt clean energy sources.

In Montana, wildfires are destroying ranchland, drought is killing fish, and heat is harming traditional tribal food sources like huckleberries. To the south, Utahns are inhaling a toxic concoction of tailpipe and smokestack emissions, made worse by wildfire smoke. And young Westerners say these states are infringing on their rights by boosting fossil fuel development and causing the changes in the climate that accelerate these problems. The West is a hotspot for lawsuits arguing that climate change-inducing policies are at odds with state constitutions: Three out of five pending state climate cases brought by young plaintiffs originated in the Western U.S. This is a new wave of narrowly tailored youth climate cases that could, unlike earlier cases, lead to some legal wins. lawyers for the Utah and Montana plaintiffs are now taking a narrower approach, asking for what’s called “declaratory relief,” or court rulings declaring that the state’s policies violate the rights of those bringing the cases. (Juliana plaintiffs are now taking the same approach in an amended complaint pending in Oregon U.S. District Court.) A victory would mean that state governments in Montana and Utah couldn’t legally continue specific policies that maximize, promote and authorize fossil fuel development.

A growing number of Democrats are concerned they have little to offer voters on climate in November’s midterm elections. So they want President Joe Biden to meet the world’s rising temperatures with a little fire of his own — by declaring a national climate emergency. “This is a clear shot to get something done, I don’t see a better way to harness the energy and the focus on climate than this,” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), who has been leading the effort in Congress to get the White House to act. The declaration of a national climate emergency wouldn’t just be for show; it would give the Biden administration some executive authorities and funding to build out clean energy resources. That includes powers under the National Emergencies Act, the Defense Production Act, and the Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. Those can help protect vulnerable Americans from climate change and fund a clean energy revolution in response.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has called climate change a “threat multiplier” that puts compounding pressure on people to move within or outside country borders, and the activists are calling on the Biden administration and Congress to recognize this growing reality by supporting legislation and other efforts to expand legal pathways for climate-displaced people to migrate into the U.S. Under current law, people impacted by climate may apply for asylum or refugee status in the U.S. only if they can show that the central reason they are fleeing their home country is that they faced or have reason to fear future persecution due to race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.

A Shell consultant resigned Monday with a searing email accusing the oil giant of “failing on a massive planetary scale” to limit climate risks. Caroline Dennett, who has been a U.K.-based safety consultant for Shell for 11 years, said she could no longer work for the company given its plans to expand fossil fuel extraction. In an email sent to the executive committee and more than 1,000 employees, she wrote that as “continued oil & gas extraction is causing extreme harm” to the planet, Shell was “failing on a massive planetary scale” to deliver on its pledge to cause “no harm” with its operations.

Two weeks left to state legislative session. Not much movement on the Climate Can’t Wait package of 12 bills and policy. Two main bills with some movement but no guarantee is the All Electric Buildings (by 2024) and a moratorium on the proof of work cryptocurrency. There has been some movement on public power and 100% renewable capitol building. The bill to divest the NYS Teachers Retirement System from fossil fuels was supposed to be on the Senate committee calendar but was pulled by leadership.

3:55 Do we have enough time

Video of Greta Thunberg –

As time runs out for the planet to avert a future of climate chaos, scientists around the world are throwing down the gauntlet. Climate change science has been settled for decades, yet policymakers have yet to take sweeping action, and greenhouse gas emissions continue to climb to record highs

It’s too late to reverse the massive damage humanity has done to the Earth’s climate, and deadly weather is already baked into our future. That’s the conclusion from a depressing new report issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations body that forecasts the effects of human activity on the climate. Now this inaction is driving some scientists to engage in civil disobedience, while others are striking against the IPCC, calling for a halt of further reports until governments mobilize.

global campaign by Scientist Rebellion (SR), a climate network of scientists of all stripes and degrees to partake in nonviolent civil disobedience and demand climate action. In April, the group mobilized an estimated 1,000 scientists in 26 countries to protest.

while some level of dangerous warming is already baked into the climate system, efforts to limit emissions can still prevent those changes from becoming much worse. here are still multiple scenarios open to the planet, ranging from less bad to total catastrophe, which can be pursued.

But achieving them will mean reining in the fossil fuel industry and its paid army of lobbyists that corrupt the democratic process.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres:  “This report must sound a death knell for coal and fossil fuels before they destroy our planet. If we combine forces now, we can avert climate catastrophe. But, as the report makes clear, there is no time for delay and no room for excuses.”

The climate scientists are tired of being ignored – but activists say they, especially the IPCC, have to be blunter in speaking the truth even if it is demoralizing. Historically, climate advocacy as a scientist has been viewed by some as akin to a scarlet letter, a move that could jeopardize a researcher’s credibility or job. Abramoff and others recognize the risk to their actions, but see inaction as far more consequential.

4:15 Fossil Fuel companies power

Donald Trump was the largest recipient of campaign donations by the oil & gas industry in the 2019/2020 presidential election cycle. As the incumbent president, Trump’s campaign received nearly 3.8 million U.S. dollars from oil & gas affiliated companies and individuals. Of the top five beneficiaries, only one was a Democratic Party member – presidential candidate, Joseph Biden. In total, U.S. oil & gas lobbying spend for the Republican Party reached 63.6 million U.S. dollars during that election cycle.

Oil and gas companies spent $84m on congressional campaigns in 2018. Researchers found a correlation between an increase in anti-environment votes and an increase in contributions.

During the 2017-2018 midterm election cycle, corporations, individuals, and trade groups in the fossil fuel industry spent $265,773,915 in lobbying and $93,392,002 in contributions to national-level candidates, parties, and outside groups, bringing the total spending by the industry to more than $359 million in two years. That’s nearly $500,000 per day. During the same period, renewable energy companies spent $26 million. So for every dollar spent on behalf of wind, solar, or hydroelectric energy interests, approximately $13.70 was spent by fossil fuel interests on energy and climate-related issues.

big problems in the US – lack of campaign finance reform, campaign contributions treated as free speech, the US is the only so-called democracy with only two major parties, which means no safety valve for the political craziness we now have experienced in recent decades

Those calling for change in our dysfunctional government systems — including many scholars and some lawmakers — say that the inherent problem with our current system is that it shoehorns the entire spectrum of political opinion into just two parties. Warnings that the nation has backslid toward autocracy — driven in large part by the Republican Party’s shift away from democratic norms — bring added urgency, they say, and reversing that Trump-era trend will require something radical: breaking up the Democratic and Republican parties.

Why The Two-Party System Is Effing Up U.S. Democracy | FiveThirtyEight

Why The Two-Party System Is Effing Up U.S. Democracy

4:35 Review of Test

5:00 Last minute advocacy tips

Press conferences – organize between 11 AM and 1 PM. Send out advisory two days before, day off, call press day before, tv stations between 8:55 AM and 9:05 AM. Press conferences are not rallies. 3 speakers ideal, 5 minutes each. Think of visuals.

Climate activists must become more disruptive. An easy step is civil disobedience. Be creative, be fun, be visual, usually be non threatening. Go after the corporate players.

Be your own media. Social media.

We have to stop fossil fuels from being used.

America needs a revolution. Incremental change will not work. It is 30 to 50 years too late.

Do not give up hope.

Legislation is critical but often the least productive and democratic. Politicians are ruled by campaign donations and the promise of monetizing their government service once they depart as lobbyists.

Develop campaign plan. Build coalition; get groups to commit to action. Regularly coordinating meetings.