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Spending on all the wrong things

"Look at that cliff," Tom said fatalistically, stepping on the gas pedal.


I promise I’ll get to spending on the wrong things, but first: On Monday, President Joe Biden announced over $16 billion in projects to repair and upgrade Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor with union construction. Choo choo! The New York Times attacked this announcement.

And data from the International Energy Agency finds that global public-sector investment into energy efficiency research and development tripled from less than $2 billion at the start of the century to nearly $6 billion in 2022.

That’s the good news! It’s all bad after this fine woodpecker, sorry.

The same IEA report finds that governments continue to massively underinvest in renewable R&D while sinking $3 to $5 billion a year into nuclear and $1 to $3 billion in fossil fuels. The new disaster in global R&D spending is the greenhouse pollutant hydrogen. Hydrogen R&D reached $3.1 billion in 2022, almost the same level as renewable energy’s $3.2 billion.

Meanwhile, philanthropic support for protecting our only home is on life support. Private spending on climate change action has stalled at less than 2% of all global giving by individuals and foundations. The estimated $10 billion in climate spending in 2022 is a tiny slice of $800 billion in total private philanthropic budgets.

Perhaps worse, as billionaires slowly increase their spending on climate action (narrowly defined), they’re doing so by cutting their support for other environmental advocacy. Environmental non-profits are ramping down their spending on nuclear safety and toxics advocacy, as funding from foundations, federal grants, and members dries up. The Natural Resources Defense Council shut down its nuclear program and laid off legendary nuclear-safety lawyer Geoffrey Fettus. NRDC also shuttered its California water resources and antibiotics in agriculture programs, Ralph Vartabedian reports.

The decline in toxics advocacy is deeply worrying, as petrochemical and plastics production is skyrocketing with the Permian Basin fracking boom. The now-ubiquitous microplastics and forever chemicals in everyone’s bloodstreams will be killing people off in mass numbers with weird cancers in about two decades. It sure would be nice for eco-billionaires to finance the needed campaigning against the petrochemical poisoning before that. Or they could stop financing the politicians and lobbyists protecting their investments in making the poisons. Hmmm.

So what are we spending on? Sarah Palin has the answer! Today in drunk-ass policy: “In 2030, if current projections hold, the United States will drill for more oil and gas than at any point in its history,” Hiroko Tabuchi writes of the United Nations Production Gap Report. “Russia and Saudi Arabia plan to do the same.”

In House dumb-ass news, Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La., no relation) had to pull the GOP’s Transportation-Housing and Urban Development (THUD) spending bill on Tuesday night. The massive and cruel cuts—particularly the attack on Amtrack funding—in Johnson’s THUD bill were too much for vulnerable New York State Republicans. The Senate passed its THUD bill in line with the White House request last week.

In Senate dumb-ass news, yesterday the Senate voted to kill a White House rule that temporarily allows federal funds to go to electric vehicle chargers with parts from China. The nearly-GOP Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.), as well as Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) joined Republicans to pass S.J. Res. 38 (118), by a 50-48 vote. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who opposes anti-China policies, voted against. The White House will veto.

Canadians can be dumb too, the Narwal’s Drew Anderson politely interrupts. “New documents obtained by The Narwhal show the Alberta government and Premier Danielle Smith lied about why the province introduced a sudden pause on new renewables projects.”

At 10 am, Senate Energy chair Joe Manchin (Dumb-Ass) headed a hearing on the implementation of federal coal mine land reclamation and abandoned coal mine land economic revitalization programs, which cynics might consider to be pork-barrel boondoggles letting coal-mining companies off the hook for leaving communities with sites of devastation. The West Virginia and Wyoming state officials testifying argued that they need increased federal funding and fewer federal regulations.

The world’s biggest climate-denier dumb-asses gathered in London for an eco-fascist conference hosted by deep weirdo Jordan Peterson, the Alliance for Responsible1 Citizenship. Bjorn Lomborg, Alex Epstein, and Michael Shellenberger schmoozed with right-wing politicians in the Rupert Murdoch political empire spanning the United Kingdom, Australia, and the United States, including ex-Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). Speaker Johnson (no relation) sent a recorded message of barely coded white-Christianist nationalism. I did not watch it, but Kate Aronoff did.

I also did not watch last night’s Republican not-criminal-enough-to-be-the-presidential-nominee debate, here’s a clip:

Hearings on the Hill:

Today’s last word comes from Duncan Meisel: “In the context of climate change, if you’re not at least a little bit of a hypocrite, you are not being ambitious enough.”

Thanks for subscribing and spreading the word. If you’ve got job listings, event listings, or other hot news, I want to hear it. Connect with me@[email protected] and  @climatebrad.hillheat.com on BlueSky

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