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.
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.