No Better Time for Climate Reparations

Hey Hot Cakes!

Welcome to Hot Take! Your weekly (at least) newsletter surveying the state of the climate crisis and all the ways we’re talking—and not talking about it! We give you a round up of the latest climate stories and articles of the week, plus exclusive original reporting and commentary from us. Oh, and who are we? Amy Westervelt, long-time climate journalist with more seasoning than an everything bagel, and Mary Annaïse Heglar, a literary writer known for her essays on climate, race, and emotion—and her enthusiasm for dad jokes! 

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It’s time to talk about climate! 

No Better Time for Climate Reparations 

By Mary Annaïse Heglar 

In the past few years, the conversation around climate change has become far more intersectional. It is no longer radical to connect the climate crisis to slavery and colonialism and prison reform and immigrant rights. You don’t have to spend forever explaining and arguing those connections. What a relief! When you see the climate crisis as the giant injustice it is, it’s impossible not to see the need to correct that injustice, both domestically and globally. That idea translated into law and policy is called climate reparations, and it’s not at all a new concept. 

In this week’s episode, we talked to Tamara Toles O’Laughlin about the past, present, and future of climate reparations, exactly what the Global North owes the Global South, and what’s owed to people of color in the Global North. Because if you recalculate global debt to account for all that was stolen through colonialism and slavery, it dramatically changes what is owed and to whom. The fact that debt is not calculated to account for the generations of people stolen, the ways of life outlawed and destroyed, the ecosystems wrecked, says a lot about what is valued. It’s time to fix that. In fact, it’s too late not to.

We recorded with Tamara the same day Donald Tr*mp got impeached, so, to keep it timely, Amy and I came back together the day after the inauguration to talk about all the madness that took place between then and now, including the flurry of climate actions on Day 1 of the Biden administration. You can listen to that episode wherever you get your podcasts (paid subscribers can also listen right here in the Substack feed).

P.S. If you’ve not already done so, we’d very much appreciate it if you would leave us a rating or review in iTunes. It really does help us find new listeners. Plus… we’ve barely left the house in months, just tell us we sound pretty? 

P.P.S. Negative reviews go to Don’t worry, it’ll get to us. 

The Rise of the Climate Charlatan

By Amy Westervelt and Mary Annaïse Heglar 

The thing about living in a capitalist, white supremacist society that relies on extraction—of resources, of labor, of ideas—is that people get indoctrinated into that way of being. See an opportunity, capitalize on it. Lean in. Boss up. Do well by doing good. 

While we're thrilled, THRILLED that climate has become a mainstream thing and so many people want to get involved, it’s starting to feel like maybe not everyone’s coming at it from the same place? Like, in some of these cases, folks are more invested in themselves than the planet? We call it the climate charlatan syndrome. It’s gross and it’s a problem. Here’s how we're seeing it show up…

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Elon Musk Is a Gashole

By Amy Westervelt 

This week Our Boy Elon came through with a climate two-fer for the ages. First he announced a $100 million prize for carbon capture. I went off about that in today's episode, when Mary sent me the announcement in real time. TLDR: rich people create prizes and foundations because they want to avoid taxes and dictate how the money is spent, and what gets prioritized.

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Don't Believe the Hype: The Oil & Gas Industry Doesn't Give a Shit About Jobs

By Amy Westervelt 

The cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline gave oil companies and their paid politicians  another opportunity to trot out their favorite complaint about such things: you're taking good-paying jobs from hard-working Americans! But while Ted Cruz and Justin Trudeau (#JustinCruzeau) are yammering on about 10,000 jobs lost, the reality is that the vast majority of Keystone jobs were temporary construction gigs. The pipeline was only going to create 35 permanent jobs.

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Inaugural Exhaustion

By Mary Annaïse Heglar 

The worst thing we can tell ourselves about the Tr*mp era is that the nightmare is over. It’s not. And that’s because it wasn’t a nightmare. It was real life. 

The children in the cages were real. Still are. The Wall was real. The Muslim Ban was real. The pandemic? Still here. Charlottesville, the Parkland shooting, Hurricane Maria, Camp Fire, Summer 2020, the Storming of the Capitol: all real. Too real.

None of those problems started with Tr*mp and none of them will end with him, but he made all of them demonstrably and painfully worse. We went backwards when the only way was forward. We have a lot of ground to regain. 

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Rising Temperatures, Rising Seas 

Kenya braces for return of devastating locust swarms, by Reuters Staff for Reuters

‘The lost years’: Climate damage that occurred on Trump’s watch will endure long after he is gone, by Drew Kann for CNN

Global Efforts to Adapt to the Impacts of Climate Are Lagging as Much as Efforts to Slow Emissions by Bob Berwyn for InsideClimate News

‘One of a kind’: calls to protect Alabama’s 60,000-year-old underwater forest, by Paola Rosa-Aquino for The Guardian

Powerful winds spark new blazes in California’s year-round fire ‘season’, by Julia Carrie Wong for The Guardian

The South's Communication Infrastructure Can't Withstand Climate Change by Bailey Basham for InsideClimate News

These 6 Numbers Define the Climate Challenge in a Changing U.S., by Alejandra Borunda for National Geographic

UN warns most will live downstream of ageing large dams by 2050, by Fiona Harvey for The Guardian

Rain and Snow Headed for Wildfire-Damaged Areas of California, by Allyson Waller for The New York Times

Northwest’s Salmon Population May Be Running Out of Time, by Marie Fazio for The New York Times

A Third of American Rivers Have Changed Color Since 1984, by Dharna Noor for Earther

The Climate Presidency

Meet Biden's climate crisis army by Louise Boyle for The Independent

What do Biden's cabinet picks show about his plans to act on climate? by Brianna Baker and Claire Elise Thompson for grist

Biden to ‘hit ground running’ as he rejoins Paris climate accords, by Oliver Milman for The Guardian

Trump's unintended legacy: A fiery climate resistance by Shannon Osaka and Kate Yoder for grist

The president needs to hit the ground running on climate by Michael E. Mann for grist

Biden to Cancel Keystone XL Pipeline in Inauguration Day Executive Order, by Michael D. Shear and Coral Davenport for the New York Times

Biden Needs to Hit the Ground Running on Climate—or Else by Michael E. Mann for Mother Jones

Medicare for All Needs a Sunrise Movement, by Mari Uyehara for The New Republic

 A Green New Deal Is Still Possible, Just Not the Way You Imagined, by Geoff Dembicki for Vice

The Radical Possibility of Deb Haaland at the Department of Interior by Melanie K. Yazzie for The New York Times

A ‘Nerve Center’ for Climate in the Biden White House, by Lisa Friedman for the New York Times

Democrats eye action on range of climate bills by Rachel Frazin for The Hill

The Biggest Thing Missing From Joe Biden's Climate Plan: Plastic by Dharna Noor for Gizmodo

Biden’s Pick to Lead FEMA Signals Urgency on Pandemic and Climate Change by Thomas Frank for Scientific American

Biden to 'hit ground running' as he rejoins Paris climate accords by Oliver Millman for the Guardian

Biden to overturn Trump’s climate legacy on dozens of fronts, by Steven Mufson, Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis for The Washington Post

The Art of Repeal, by Clayton Aldern for Grist

WIll Biden’s China Hawks Destroy His Climate Ambitions? By Kate Aronoff for The New Republic

Restoring Environmental Rules Rolled Back by Trump Could Take Years, by Coral Davenport for The New York Times

Buttigieg’s Climate Promises: What Could He Actually Do? By Brad Plumer for The New York Times

Climate Accountability

Coalition quietly adds fossil fuel leaders to emissions reduction panel, by Adam Morton for The Guardian

Supreme Court Case Could Limit Future Lawsuits to Fossil Fuel Industry, by John Schwartz for The New York Times

Businesses Aim to Pull Greenhouse Gases From the Air. It’s a Gamble. by Brad Plumer and Christopher Flavelle for The New York Times

Climate Change Needs an Operation Warp Speed by Clive Thompson for WIRED

Could Baltimore's Climate Change Suit Become a Supreme Court Test Case? by David Hasemyer for InsideClimate News

Glimmers of Hope

After Alarmism By David Wallace-Wells in New York Magazine

Court Voids a 'Tortured' Trump Climate Rollback by Lisa Friedman for The New York Times

Shift to renewable energy eases key environmental burdens, EU says by Kate Abnett for Reuters

Oil-and-Gas Industry Faces a Slow Recovery From Pandemic Lows by Collin Eaton and Rebecca Elliott for The Wall Street Journal 

The US is back in the international climate game, by Lili Pike for Vox

Justice Is Justice Is Justice 

Cancel All the Pipelines, by Nick Martin for The New Republic

Feeding the world while saving the planet a ‘difficult’ balancing act, by Rina Chandran for Reuters

L.A. Suspends Air Quality Rules to Cremate Backlog of Covid-19 Victims, by Matt Novak for Earther

Fighting climate crisis made harder by Covid-19 inequality, says WEF, by Larry Elliott for The Guardian

Why the Environmental Justice Movement Should Think Locally, by Helen Santoro and Olúfémi O. Táíwo for The New Republic

Climate in Culture

Some Truly Disruptive Suggestions for Elon Musk’s Carbon Sequestration Prize, by Dharna Noor for Earther

Joëlle Gergis on mourning and making sense of what we have lost on the frontlines of the climate crisis, by Lucy Clark for The Guardian

Sea Shanties and the Whale Oil Myth, by Kate Aronoff for The New Republic

Three Books Offer New Ways to Think About Environmental Disaster, by Tatiana Schlossberg for The New York Times

Plus More

Sweden to build reindeer bridges over roads and railways, by Jon Henley for The Guardian

Revival of Trans Europe Express ‘key to EU’s carbon neutrality,’ by Daniel Boffey for The Guardian

Trump made lying about the environment an art form, so we drew 10 of his biggest whoppers by Joseph Winters and Alexandria Herr for Grist

A million young people urge governments to prioritize climate crisis, by Fiona Harvey for The Guardian 

Covid-19 Kept Tourists Away. Why Did These Seabirds Miss Them? By Cara Giaimo for The New York Times

Science Alone Won’t Save Us, by Brian Kahn for Earther

P.S. What is a whale’s favorite sandwich? 

Krilled cheese!