July 2023 Temperature Anomaly
July 2023 was hotter than any other month in the global temperature record, according to an analysis by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS). Graphic by NASA.

Inces­sant heat waves around the globe, espe­cial­ly in the north­ern hemi­sphere, that have led to hun­dreds of deaths in coun­tries like the U.S. and India, includ­ing a thir­ty-one day streak of dai­ly highs over 110 degrees in Phoenix.

A lack of win­ter sea ice in Antarc­ti­ca, which sci­en­tists at NASA describe as hav­ing entered “unchart­ed ter­ri­to­ry in the satel­lite record”.

The worst wild­fires that Cana­da has ever seen, affect­ing every sin­gle province and ter­ri­to­ry, with entire cities forced to evac­u­ate from fast-spread­ing flames.

Ocean waters off the coast of South Flori­da that are so hot, they may have set a record for the warmest sea­wa­ter ever mea­sured.

A mas­sive hur­ri­cane approach­ing the coast of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, the likes of which has not made land­fall there in cen­turies.

A megadrought in the Amer­i­can south­west that’s the worst in twelve hun­dred years and has led to mas­sive water scarci­ty prob­lems.

Rain bombs that drop mas­sive amounts of pre­cip­i­ta­tion on places unused to hav­ing to deal with flash flood­ing, like Ver­mont.

Ris­ing sea lev­els that are tak­ing out coastal wet­lands and buffer islands that part­ly shield large cities like New Orleans from the threat of trop­i­cal cyclones.

An explo­sion of a dan­ger­ous fun­gus with a mor­tal­i­ty rate of between 30% to 60% that pub­lic health experts sus­pect is spread­ing due to cli­mate dam­age.

These and oth­er signs of cli­mate cat­a­stro­phe are everywhere.


The Earth is telling us as loud­ly as it can that it’s got a fever.

But a fright­en­ing­ly large per­cent­age of human­i­ty isn’t lis­ten­ing and does­n’t care, a stance encour­aged by fos­sil fuel zealots prof­it­ing from the plan­et’s destruction.

For right wing Repub­li­cans and oth­ers like them, it’s busi­ness as usual.

Take Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers, who rep­re­sents Spokane and East­ern Wash­ing­ton in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. McMor­ris Rodgers is one of the fore­most pro­po­nents of a Repub­li­can bill that would open more fed­er­al lands to oil and gas drilling and ensure that fos­sil fuel com­pa­nies can keep on frack­ing — a slang term that refers to the destruc­tive prac­tice of hydraulic fracturing.

That bill isn’t going any­where in Con­gress, owing to Demo­c­ra­t­ic con­trol of the Sen­ate. But Repub­li­cans want it all the same. McMor­ris Rodgers has repeat­ed­ly assailed the Biden-Har­ris’ admin­is­tra­tions very mod­est cli­mate action poli­cies as a “war on ener­gy,” declar­ing: “We must reverse course.”

At a recent town hall event in Spokane, the con­gress­woman was asked about the rapid­ly grow­ing prob­lem of cli­mate dam­age. Her response? “I acknowl­edge the cli­mate is chang­ing… I’m focused on what’s actu­al­ly going to get results.”

What’s going to get results? For who? Oil com­pa­ny executives?

Here we are, sev­er­al weeks lat­er, and mul­ti­ple dan­ger­ous fires are burn­ing out of con­trol in and around Spokane, the pop­u­lous heart of McMor­ris Rodgers’ dis­trict. And the parts of the dis­trict that aren’t burn­ing are nev­er­the­less chok­ing in smoke from fires burn­ing else­where, like British Columbia.

Unlike Gov­er­nor Inslee and Com­mis­sion­er Franz, who are both Democ­rats, McMor­ris Rodgers has yet to tweet about the fires.

But she did on Wednes­day post a state­ment attack­ing the Infla­tion Reduc­tion Act and call­ing for more oil and gas drilling. It remains her most recent tweet as of today. “Repub­li­cans have solu­tions to com­bat the con­se­quences of the Radical-Left’s agen­da and make life bet­ter for peo­ple. Those solu­tions include H.R. 1, the Low­er Ener­gy Costs Act, to unleash Amer­i­can ener­gy and low­er costs,” the state­ment reads in part. (“Unleash Amer­i­can ener­gy and low­er costs” is code for let oil com­pa­nies have even more access to drill on fed­er­al lands.)

It was­n’t so long ago that cli­mate denial­ism per­vad­ed the Repub­li­can Par­ty. Nowa­days, as many reporters and com­men­ta­tors have noticed, denial­ism has been replaced with fatal­ism. That’s why we get state­ments like “I acknowl­edge the cli­mate is chang­ing… I’m focused on what’s actu­al­ly going to get results.”

Up in Cana­da, Tzepo­rah Berman, the Inter­na­tion­al Pro­gram Direc­tor of Stand.Earth, open­ly won­dered: “How much of the coun­try has to burn, how many thou­sands evac­u­at­ed and chok­ing on smoke before our coun­try takes the cli­mate emer­gency seri­ous­ly and stops expand­ing oil, gas and LNG projects and starts focus­ing on keep­ing peo­ple safe?”

Good ques­tion. The not-so-Lib­er­al gov­ern­ment of Cana­da claims to be com­mit­ted to com­bat­ing cli­mate dam­age. It’s a stat­ed pri­or­i­ty of Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau. Yet, despite know­ing the cli­mate sci­ence, one arm of Trudeau’s gov­ern­ment has gone all-in on fos­sil fuel projects like the Trans­Moun­tain pipeline, negat­ing the cli­mate action work of oth­er min­istries with­in the government.

The Biden-Har­ris admin­is­tra­tion has like­wise been approv­ing new fos­sil fuel projects, like Wil­low up in Alas­ka, despite claim­ing to be com­mit­ted to address­ing the cli­mate cri­sis. Vice Pres­i­dent Kamala Har­ris was just in Seat­tle to tout the admin­is­tra­tion’s work on the issue and sound the alarm.

Nat­u­ral­ly, the Vice Pres­i­dent did not men­tion the Wil­low project or the admin­is­tra­tion’s deal with House Repub­li­cans and Joe Manchin that fast-tracks the con­struc­tion of the Moun­tain Val­ley Pipeline, a new con­duit for petro­le­um gas.

This week, Oil Change Inter­na­tion­al pub­lished a new analy­sis find­ing that the major­i­ty of the fos­sil fuel reserves with­in active fields and mines must remain in the ground or else glob­al tem­per­a­tures will rise beyond an extreme­ly dan­ger­ous point of no return that would leave many areas of the Earth uninhabitable.

“As of 2023, devel­oped oil and gas reserves alone, if ful­ly extract­ed, would cause cumu­la­tive car­bon emis­sions near­ly 25% greater than the world’s remain­ing 1.5°C car­bon [mean­ing, pol­lu­tants] bud­get,” OCI’s report explains.

“Thus, even in the the­o­ret­i­cal sce­nario where coal min­ing stops imme­di­ate­ly, devel­oped oil and gas reserves alone could push the world beyond 1.5°C.”

Gov­ern­ments need to be pre­pared to show up to forth­com­ing cli­mate sum­mits with “super-charged com­mit­ments to stop licens­ing and per­mit­ting new fos­sil fuel devel­op­ment and ini­ti­ate a fast and fair glob­al phase-out of fos­sil fuels,” it said.

“To be fair, wealthy fos­sil fuel-pro­duc­ing coun­tries must move fastest to revoke per­mits for and retire pol­lut­ing infra­struc­ture while ful­ly fund­ing a just tran­si­tion to renew­able ener­gy,” OCI adds. This is pre­cise­ly the oppo­site of what Repub­li­cans like Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers want to do.

McMor­ris Rodgers and oth­er Repub­li­cans read the news. They see what’s going on. McMor­ris Rodgers even now admits that the cli­mate is chang­ing.

Yet they remain fer­vent boost­ers of a pol­lut­ing, fos­sil fuel econ­o­my, indif­fer­ent to the con­se­quences that our destruc­tive con­sump­tion of coal, gas, and oil are caus­ing. They want to drill, plun­der, and burn like there’s no tomorrow.

They can’t imag­ine — or they don’t want to imag­ine — a dif­fer­ent future.

A future where we embrace con­ser­va­tion, tap into the poten­tial of dis­trib­uted onsite pow­er gen­er­a­tion, and ful­ly devel­op renew­able ener­gy sources.

The cli­mate cri­sis is inter­twined with all of our oth­er envi­ron­men­tal prob­lems. Like plas­tic pol­lu­tion, defor­esta­tion, species loss, tox­ic “for­ev­er” chem­i­cals in drink­ing water in and our soil, or a lack of land­fill space to deposit more trash in.

We can’t con­tin­ue to live the way we have been, it’s too unsus­tain­able. We will have to change. The longer we delay mak­ing that tran­si­tion, the worse it’s going to be, espe­cial­ly for peo­ple who are liv­ing in pover­ty and unhoused. That’s why it’s so impor­tant that we stand up to the fos­sil fuel lob­by and their enablers. We can’t let busi­ness as usu­al today destroy the Earth for future generations.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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