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The birds and the bees
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The combination of acutely toxic pesticides, habitat destruction, and global warming has driven the nine subspecies of grasshopper sparrows into stark decline, with the Florida grasshopper sparrow on the brink of extinction.
“A census of California bumble bees failed to locate several once-common species, including the formerly abundant Western bumble bee.” The evidence for the stark decline comes from “the first statewide survey of bumble bee species in 40 years.”
In contrast to the birds and the bees, ticks are doing great, with their range spreading rapidly north as winters and nights warm.
At 1 PM, Congress resumes the January 6th hearings, with Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, testifying about how Donald Trump pressed him to overturn the presidential election. Speaking of which, it’s funny how the massive, multi-agency DC police surveillance apparatus that spies on Black Lives Matter protestors did jack when it was the Proud Boys plotting violent insurrection.
The other main business in Congress this week is the 2023 fiscal year budget, which is getting marked up by House Appropriations. This afternoon, Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) chairs the markup of the Department of Interior, Environmental Protection Agency, and Forest Service appropriations bill, and Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) the markup of the energy and water development bill, which includes the Department of Energy, Army Corps of Engineers, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the seven federal regional commissions. The regional commissions, which hand out billions of dollars in federal grants, notably include the Appalachian Regional Commission, led by the wife of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), Gayle Manchin, who was nominated by President Joe Biden in 2021 and confirmed weeks later.
Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm is meeting with oil refining executives on Thursday to “discuss steps companies can take to increase refining capacity,” as Biden continues to publicly mull the incredibly stupid idea of suspending the federal gas tax.
Fossil-fueled floods have marooned millions in India and Bangladesh, with at least 116 deaths so far, and hundreds of thousands of people seeking emergency shelter. One out of five Americans are facing 100° heat this week. Fossil-fueled wildfires are whipping through Spain and Germany. Hundreds of thousands of people have been struck by floods and landslides as the heaviest rain in 60 years hits southern China. A wildfire burning through southern New Jersey’s pine lands may become the state’s largest fire in 15 years. The Contreras Fire in Arizona has swept over the Kitt Peak observatory.
Just as the invasion of Ukraine has sparked a movement to get off oil and gas to strip Putin of the source of his power and money, this Putin-driven food freakout should spur the need to change our food system to prepare for the climate-driven shocks that will reshape our world in the future. As with fossil fuels, the political inertia and financial power of the Old World are the biggest roadblocks to change. But the stakes couldn’t be higher. Food is not just a necessity; it is the basis of life itself. A civilization that can’t feed itself is a civilization that is not long for this world.
Wielding sunflowers and Ukrainian flags, Europe’s youth climate activists are confronting leaders like Emmanuel Macron with the clear demand:
“We are living in a climate crisis, and you must stop it. You can stop the war in Ukraine by stopping buying fossil fuels from Russia.”
The twenty-year-old Polish activist Wiktoria Jedroszkowiak told the New York Times’ Jeffrey Gettleman:
“You start to see that all these injustices come from the same place: rich men who don’t want to admit they’re wrong. And what more collapse do we need? As a Polish survivor from Auschwitz once said, Auschwitz didn’t fall from the sky. Well, wars don’t fall from the sky, either. People like to say wars ‘break out.’ Wars don’t just ‘break out.’ Wars are the result of a political system designed for war.”
Gettleman cites Jason Bordoff for the “hard reality” critique that Europe is going to “need some alternative sources of oil and gas,” but he somehow fails to mention that Bordoff is financed by the fossil-fuel industry.
In more fossil-fueled coverage of the climate movement, Politico’s Zack Colman has an extended piece on the changes under way at major organizations like the Sierra Club, Audubon, Greenpeace USA, Earthjustice, NRDC, the League of Conservation Voters, 350.org. It’s worth the read, with the proviso that Politico is an organ of the corporate right.
Colman’s piece rehashes the Sierra Club’s contentious board election, covered here by Hill Heat, which ended with two “Grassroots Choice” candidates, Aaron Mair and Dr. Michael K. Dorsey, and three “Forward Sierra” candidates, Cheyenne Skye Branscum, Cynthia Hoyle, and Allison Chin, as the new board, which I expect will be a healthy compromise.
Congrats to Charles Harper, Evergreen Action’s new power sector policy lead.
Hearings on the Hill
4 PM: House Appropriations
Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies
Fiscal Year 2023 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Bill
5:30 PM: House Appropriations
Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies
FY 2023 Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies Subcommittee Bill
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