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“Humanity has opened the gates to hell.”

Al Gore, the New York Times, and the all-consuming fire


Hill Heat tries to provide the service of distilling the honest, unflinching story about our fossil-fueled climate crisis from dozens of drily-written corporate-media pieces about the daily news. But wow did CNN’s Rachel Ramirez pen the perfect story about yesterday’s UN Climate Ambition Summit:

United Nations Secretary General António Guterres issued a stark warning as he gathered world leaders for a high-level summit on the climate crisis: “Humanity has opened the gates to hell.”

“Horrendous heat is having horrendous effects. Distraught farmers watching crops carried away by floods. Sweltering temperatures spawning disease,” he said in a speech to open the Climate Ambition Summit, happening alongside the UN General Assembly in New York.

“Climate action is dwarfed by the scale of the challenge,” he added, warning that if nothing changes we are heading “towards a dangerous and unstable world.”

“We are decades behind,” Guterres said. “We must make up time lost to foot-dragging, arm-twisting and the naked greed of entrenched interests raking in billions from fossil fuels.” . . .

Selwin Hart, a special adviser to the UN Secretary-General on climate action and just transition, said there has been “massive backsliding” on commitments.

“The countries that committed to net-zero by 2050, and to the 1.5-degree goal of the Paris Agreement, they’re expanding fossil fuel licensing at a time when science tells us this is totally incompatible with this 1.5-degree goal,” he told CNN in a Tuesday interview.

Of the nearly 200 countries present in New York for the General Assembly, only 34 nations and seven non-governmental bodies secured speaking slots at the UN chief’s summit.

Notably absent from the speaker list were some of the world’s biggest polluters, including China, India and the United States, though US climate envoy John Kerry is attending.

Seriously, Rachel, a former Grist Environmental Justice Reporting Fellow who joined CNN Digital only last month, is churning out some of the best and most varied climate reporting in the nation.

A fiery Al Gore addressed a packed crowd at The New York TimesClimate Forward Live event this morning in the newspaper’s Manhattan headquarters, saying to the crowd of climate finance, technology, and policy enthusiasts that the most important thing for climate action is not new technology or finance or policies, but popular political mobilization:

“Here’s what is most needed: A much larger uprising at the grassroots level, like the one here in this city last weekend, where a shocking—far more than expected, 75,000 people in the streets of Manhattan and in hundreds of countries around the world, you’re seeing the same thing. Not just young people but others. This is a moment for people power. The frontline activists are the ones who inspire me. They are the source of hope on this. People who are waking up.

He continued:

“I wish I was eloquent enough to find the words to transfer from my heart and the hearts of these activists to others everywhere else in the world the sense of urgency that’s appropriate for this. It ought to be seen as a privilege to be alive at a time when those of us on this planet at this decade have the opportunity to do truly things to save the future of human civilization. That is what is at risk. We have to get busy at this work.”

At last year’s summit, Gore and NYT reporter David Gilles teamed up to nuke the reputation of David Milpass, the climate denier then running the World Bank. Milpass’s successor, Ajay Banga, who has been pushing the institution on climate, is speaking this afternoon.

This morning, Astead Herndon moderated a panel with Greenpeace’s Ebony Twilley Martin and fracking propagandist Jason Grumet of the American Clean [sic] Power Association framed around the bullshit “environment vs. clean energy” conflict.

The event is also a great opportunity for some of the biggest corporate polluters and robber barons to burnish their reputations, with utility executives Calvin Butler of Exelon and Pedro Pizarro of Edison International, Jim Andrews of PepsiCo, and Amazon-killing JBS CEO Gilberto Tomazoni, as well as billionaires Michael Bloomberg and Bill Gates.

Pattie Gonia stands athwart The New York Times’ cynicism

The Times, which has collaborated for decades to produce propaganda from the fossil-fuel industry, also dragged Climate Week itself, in a self-dig about the “borderline circuslike” atmosphere for folks who “can afford to journey to and stay in the country’s most expensive city.”

The ambivalent piece by Cara Buckley worked hard to cram the much-needed queering and diversification of the climate movement into a capitalist framework—“It’s almost like the climate crisis has gotten itself a new team of publicists,” she begins. With the headline “Burning Man for Geeks,” the paper takes a criticism made by Avaaz’s Oscar Soria of Climate Week’s corporate greenwashing events and turns it against the queer and eco-socialist activists excluded from those stages. In particular, eco-drag queen Pattie Gonia’s celebratory activism is conflated with the “glittery” Davos-elite corporatist events like Climate Forward Live and the Climate Group’s “industry” events, of which climate activists are rightly skeptical.1

After the ugly framing, the article does pivot to a strong conclusion. Pattie Gonia hung out with Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland at the Stonewall Inn and managed to get this into the Paper of Record:

“We need joy, we need community, we need to celebrate what we have done.”

San Francisco at the gates of hell yesterday.

Those gloomy scientists are at it again, confirming that humanity’s decision to set the world’s forests ablaze and filling the skies with their smoke is reversing all the gains made for clean air last century.

In a pair of Nature articles, researchers found that air quality around the world is in decline and that in the United States, Clean Air Act reductions in smog and soot are being lost in the smoke:

Wildfire-driven increases in ambient PM2.5 concentrations are unregulated under current air pollution law and, in the absence of further interventions, we show that the contribution of wildfire to regional and national air quality trends is likely to grow as the climate continues to warm.

Both papers found that the wildfire pollution is worse for poorer and browner communities, on a national and local scale. Unlike with coal plants, oil refineries, and gasoline-powered cars, there are no scrubbers you can put on forests—the only options are staying indoors with good air filters and, you know, ending the era of fossil fuels.

The researchers only looked at data up to 2019. Including recent years, especially this year’s record-shattering Canadian wildfires, would only strengthen the trend.

At 10 AM, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) chaired a business meeting to vote on 26 pieces of legislation, all of which the committee approved. In addition to legislation from Democrats expanding or establishing public lands, Republican bills of interest include Sen. Steve Daines’s (R-Mont.) so-called Community and Hydropower Improvement Act (S. 1521), a variant on the hydropower bill mentioned above; Sen. John Hoeven’s (R-N.D.) North Dakota Trust Lands Completion Act (S. 1088), which would transfer federal lands to the state of North Dakota to allow for drilling and other uses; and Sen. John Barrasso’s (R-Wyo.) Mining Schools Act (S. 912), which would set up a $10-million-per-year grant program for mining schools.

Hearings on the Hill:

Climate Action Today:

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1 Given the Times’ breathless coverage of fascistic libertarians fleeing the mud at Burning Man this year, the editors obviously did not mean it to be a positive comparison.

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