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A beautiful, harmonious crumple zone

Better would be not speeding towards the crash


“The epoch of the Capitalocene is characterized by uncontrolled speed-up in the production of hazardous nature,” wrote Andreas Malm in Corona, Climate, Chronic Emergency. And humanity is in the crumple zone of the inevitable collisions with reality. Or, to be more precise, the people deemed socioeconomically disposable are put in the crumple zone, which keeps expanding as the crashes continue. Let’s take a tour of the crumple zone:

Seven major sandstorms have swept Iraq in one month, sending thousands to hospitals as the oil-rich nation undergoes oil-fueled desertification.

A man walks through a sand storm in Baghdad on Thursday. Credit: Ali Abdul Hassan

Centuries-old mestizo villages in New Mexico, the nation’s most heavily Hispanic state, are being decimated by the ongoing wildfires that are part of our fossil-fueled permanent fire season.

New Mexico ablaze. Credit: Adria Malcolm

Life inside the crumple zone: “At least 100 people may have died in an explosion at an illegal oil refinery in southeast Nigeria.”

Life outside the crumple zone: Shell reported “obscene” profits of $9.13 billion in the first quarter of 2022, even after writing down $3.9 billion in Russian assets. The company handed most of those profits to its shareholders, with $5.4 billion in dividends and buybacks.1

Life in the crumple zone: “American families have had their electricity shut off more than 3.6 million times since the beginning of the pandemic,” report researchers at the Center for Biological Diversity and BailoutWatch.

Life outside the crumple zone: The utilities who committed these pandemic shutoffs received $1.4 billion in emergency bailouts, while revenues grew by $5.2 billion. Through the pandemic, they increased dividend payouts to shareholders by $1.9 billion and CEO compensation by 60 percent.

It’s been too long since I have embedded a Kate Aronoff tweet, let’s solve that right now:

Minimizing the Pulse

There are many humans working to fight the uncontrolled speed-up. Below are a few.

In Paul Stenquist’s piece on how electric vehicles are safer than gas cars, Lucid Motors chief engineer Eric Bach extolled the virtue of frunks:

“The huge front trunk area is a perfect crumple zone. We can minimize the pulse, dissipate the energy over a beautiful, harmonious crumple zone.”

Scientist Cynthia Rosenzweig has received the $250,000 World Food Prize for her decades of research on how greenhouse pollution is destroying the world’s ability to grow food, as we are now seeing everywhere from India to Kenya to France to South Africa. She refuses to give up:

We cannot fail. We must solve it. We must solve it for the health of every single person on the planet.

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, National Climate Adviser Gina McCarthy and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Director Amanda Lefton announced Thursday that offshore wind company Ørsted has signed a project labor agreement with the North America’s Building Trades Unions “that will ensure the company’s six U.S. offshore wind farms under development are built with union labor.”

This morning, Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) holds a field hearing in Plymouth, Mass. on the decommissioning process for nuclear plants such as Plymouth’s Pilgrim Nuclear Station, which was closed in 2019.

Congratulations to the estimable Jalonne White-Newsome, who was appointed as the successor to Cecilia Martinez as the Council on Environmental Quality’s senior director for environmental justice. A Detroit native, Jalonne is a leading scholar, activist, and funder for environmental justice. Maria Lopez-Nunez, a member of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council, wants the Biden administration to back up the CEQ with action:

“It can’t just be one person in one agency that doesn’t have an accountability lever—I want to see teeth, not symbolic gestures.”

The administration may be starting to show some teeth (or maybe dentures?): yesterday Attorney General Merrick Garland finally announced the formation of an Office of Environmental Justice at the Department of Justice, and finally issued an environmental justice enforcement strategy, only 16 months after Biden called for one in his first week as president. And Garland finally restored “supplemental environmental projects,” a polluter-fine system eliminated by Trump. I for one am glad that Garland finally took a break from not vigorously prosecuting the January 6th insurrection to take these actions.

SHALANDA WATCH: The new OMB Director Shalanda Young has joined Twitter. She is the second leading Shalanda of the Biden administration, joining Shalanda Baker, deputy Director for Energy Justice and Secretary’s Advisor on Equity at the United States Department of Energy.

Hearings on the Hill:

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1 Okay, I mentioned this in yesterday’s newsletter, but it bears repeating, don’t you think?

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