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A millenarian, quasi-religious commitment to rapidly zeroing out fossil fuels and creating a renewables-based economy
Some dudes are mad at the climate movement
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Election Day is next Tuesday, with 31 million early votes already cast across the nation.
Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin is one of the nation’s most influential and obstinate climate and election deniers. The Democratic nominee, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, is trying to defeat him with an embrace of the clean energy economy, but has been hammered by millions of dollars in attack ads accusing him of being soft on crime while Black.
If you live in Reno, you may have been canvassed to vote this weekend by Bill McKibben and Rebecca Solnit, who rallied with Democratic secretary of state candidate Cisco Aguilar in defense of our democracy. Aguilar is running against QAnon sympathizer and election denier Jim Marchant. Nevada is home to other critical elections: Sen. Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-Nev.) is trying to hold on against Big Oil ally Adam Laxalt, and Gov. Steve Sisolak (D-Nev.) is under threat from Trump-endorsed Joe Lombardo.
Climate disasters and fossil fuels are the central issues in New Mexico’s third Congressional district, where Democratic Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez is being challenged by petroleum engineer Alexis Martinez Johnson. The district was the site of the catastrophic Hermits Peak-Calf Canyon Fire this April.
The fracking industry has set up front groups to promote Republican candidates across the nation. Energy and Policy Institute’s Dave Anderson uncovers how the Affordable Energy Fund PAC, a project of the pro-fracking dark-money group The Empowerment Alliance, has spent over $1 million on flyers and digital ads touting Ohio Republicans like Senate candidate J.D. Vance and their support for “clean” “green” “affordable” natural gas.
Democratic Senator Patty Murray of Washington is facing a fierce challenge from Republican climate denier Tiffany Smiley. In their second debate, Smiley offered a zinger about the Inflation Reduction Act, which includes both climate initiatives and increased funding for the Internal Revenue Service:
“Last time I checked, 87,000 IRS agents do not change the weather.”
Hmm… could there be a connection between taxes and climate change?
“THEIR PROFITS ARE A WINDFALL OF WAR”
On Monday, President Joe Biden identified fossil-fuel companies as war profiteers, calling for a windfall profits tax in a long-overdue White House address:
“Oil companies’ record profits today are not because they’re doing something new or innovative. Their profits are a windfall of war — the windfall from the brutal conflict that’s ravaging Ukraine and hurting tens of millions of people around the globe. . . .
They have the opportunity to lower prices for consumers at the pump. If they don’t, they’re going to pay a higher tax on their excess profits and face other restrictions. . . .
It’s time for these companies to stop war profiteering, meet their responsibilities to this country, and give the American people a break and still do very well.”
These windfall profits are truly staggering: in the third quarter of this year alone, ExxonMobil raked in $19.7 billion in profits, its most profitable quarter ever; Chevron $11.2 billion; Shell $9.5 billion. And the companies shoveled the filthy lucre to their shareholders—ExxonMobil has distributed $21.7 billion to shareholders so far this year, Shell $18.5 billion in buybacks alone.
In March of this year, progressive climate hawks led the charge to claw back Big Oil’s war profiteering. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) called for a windfall profits tax, and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) introduced legislation to impose a modest windfall profits excise tax on crude oil. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) proposed a much more ambitious economy-wide windfall profits tax.
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Now, back to one of our regular features:
Some Dudes Are Very Mad At the Climate Movement
You might think that self-described centrist pundits, in the run up to the 2022 midterms, would be most concerned about the radicalization of the Republican Party and its abandonment of democratic principles. Ha, no, the most dangerous threat to our democracy is obviously the Sunrise Movement. McKibben takes on the magical thinking of Ruy Teixeira and Bret Stephens, who have both written hot takes on climate policy and politics. Unsurprisingly, they’re both iterations on “Markets good, activists bad!” Teixeira’s argument is particularly choleric:
“What started as a reasonable attempt to deal with a genuine problem, in the spirit of reformist environmentalism, has been hijacked by a millenarian, quasi-religious commitment to rapidly zeroing out fossil fuels and creating a renewables-based economy.”
As Emily Atkin and Judd Legum report, Stephens—the New York Times opinion-section bedbug who imported his climate denial from the Wall Street Journal opinion section—was taken on a helicopter trip of Greenland, and came back with oil-industry talking points about climate action. McKibben concludes:
“But you’d think Stephens would be busy celebrating the ways that his beloved markets can move nimbly to accomplish big things, or that Teixeira would be pointing to the massive jobs gains that will come as we move towards more labor-intensive renewable energy. Instead, they both find themselves clinging to their particular worldviews, and in the process forced to discount reality.”
In a “profound relief for the Amazon, Brazil’s Indigenous people and the planet,” eco-socialist Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva defeated Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil’s presidential runoff. As the Guardian writes, “Since Bolsonaro took office in 2019, forest fires and deforestation soared in the Amazon, with the federal government turning a blind eye to illegal logging, mining, cattle-grazing and land-grabbing. Brazil’s rainforest went from a carbon sink to a carbon source.”
“Brazil is ready to retake its leadership in the fight against the climate crisis,” Lula announced in his victory speech. “Brazil and the planet need a living Amazon.”
Lula will make his first appearance on the global stage as president-elect at COP 27, the international climate conference that begins this Sunday in Egypt. President Joe Biden is also among the world leaders planning to attend.
After some dithering, the current British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is also headed to COP 27, although he has kept former PM Liz Truss’s ban on the attendance of longtime climate advocate King Charles. Charles is instead throwing a party at Buckingham Palace this Friday for conference attendees, including Sunak and U.S. climate envoy John Kerry.
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Finally, thanks to Jonathan “Climate Justice Sucks” Chait, who was kind enough to endorse Hill Heat in his professionally published newsletter:
It would be unfair to the climate-justice movement to suggest Johnson’s reasoning skills are typical of its professional advocate class. Still, the fact that arguments like this can be published professionally tells you something about the quality of thought that prevails in this movement.