Clearing the docket

From the Supreme Court to supreme hypocrisy


Thanks for letting me take yesterday off! D.C. schools were out, so I got to spend some extra time with progeny. I’m slogging on a review of Termination Shock, though I probably shouldn’t try that hard. In the meantime, let’s clear the docket.

The big news of the week of course is that Justice Stephen Breyer, an influential big-business liberal, is retiring from the Supreme Court, giving Joe Manchin a new opportunity to block something Joe Biden wants to do.

Also in justice system news:

Yes, gas stoves are a bad idea. Their ubiquity does not imply that they are safe and healthy. They are wildly bad for your health and catastrophic for the climate.1 Rebecca Leber, as ever is on the case.

House Oversight’s Subcommittee on the Environment, chaired by Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), is holding its second hearing investigating the oil majors’ climate deception efforts on February 8th. In October, the heads of the supermajors appeared on Zoom to deflect questions.

This time, several board members have received invitations: BP director and oil executive Melody Meyer (joined 2017, annual compensation about $168,000), Shell director and diplomat Jane Holl Lute (2021, undisclosed), activist Exxon director and ex-Googler Alexander A. Karsner (2021, undisclosed), Chevron director and McDonald’s chairman Enrique Hernandez (2008, $400,00), and Exxon director and former Woods Hole scientist Dr. Susan Avery (2017, $280,000).

Meanwhile, the National Geographic Society is helping “strengthen” its board with Trump deputy national security advisor and Goldman Sachs executive Dina Powell McCormick, seen here strategizing with Steves Miller and Bannon how to bring American environmentalists back to their white supremacist roots:

“Have you heard about John Muir?”

China president Xi Jinping gave a big speech recently on his country’s economic direction. Although the climate crisis is “urgent and difficult,” he said, China needs to “overcome the notion of rapid success” because the national priority is “to ensure the normal life of the masses”:

“Reducing emissions is not about reducing productivity, and it is not about not emitting at all, either.”

Too bad about that First Law of Climate Policy.

The Nation features an excellent conversation featuring Andreas Malm and Daniel Sherrell on the question of industrial sabotage against the fossil-fuel industry. From Malm:

Imagine the headquarters of a fossil fuel corporation taken over by an enraged crowd and burned to the ground. Who could object to that? The same people who drove their cars into Black Lives Matter demonstrations, of course. As for many others, it could be tremendously inspiring. It would show that these forces can be taken down after all! It might seem that the climate struggle has been going on for so long that the cause is lost. But from another angle, including that of the history of social struggle, it looks rather like it has yet to start.

Sherrell agrees that fossil-fuel sabotage is morally justified but argues it is tactically unwise, at least in the United States. However, he warns:

If governments cannot protect their citizens from fossil fuel oligarchs, then those citizens will turn to other means of self-protection—regardless of their strategic merit.

As Terry Pratchett wrote, “Sometimes it’s better to light a flamethrower than curse the darkness.”2

1. Whoever is in charge of your stove should switch to an induction range or cooktops.

2. More Pratchett: “Big, jolly fat men with beards can’t deliver world peace. That’s something we have to work at ourselves. And there is no better way at this time of year, than to start with the people next door.”

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