Bezos, et cetera
A round-up of recent climate news, plus Week 7 book club information.
I forgot to share this with y’all, but last month, I had a long conversation with Britany Robinson of the newsletter One More Question about what it’s like to be a newsletter writer covering climate change. One More Question is a weekly newsletter for freelance writers who are determined to make it work—even when this industry just keeps getting harder. Subscribe for free by clicking the button below.
I’ve got a reported story in the works for tomorrow, and a bunch of first article drafts from my students to grade, so today I’m just gonna give you a run-down of recent important climate news. Turns out there’s been quite a lot lately! Let’s get caught up.
Jeff Bezos has started fulfilling his climate pledge.
Bezos on Monday announced the first grantees for his $10 billion Bezos Earth Fund. The announcement comes two months after E&E News reported that Bezos had not yet issued a single grant despite promising to do so by the summer, and would not explain why. This newsletter was not pleased about it, but we *did* said we’d take it back if he started issuing grants. So we take it back. For now.
The initial grants amount to $781 million of his $10 billion pledge. “This $791 million in donations is just the beginning of my $10 billion commitment to fund scientists, activists, NGOs, and others,” Bezos wrote in an Instagram post. “We can all protect Earth’s future by taking bold action now.”
And the recipients are….: The Climate and Clean Energy Equity Fund, ClimateWorks Foundation, Dream Corps Green For All, Eden Reforestation Projects, Energy Foundation, Environmental Defense Fund, The Hive Fund for Climate and Gender Justice, Natural Resources Defense Council, The Nature Conservancy, NDN Collective, Rocky Mountain Institute, Salk Institute for Biological Studies, The Solutions Project, Union of Concerned Scientists, World Resources Institute, and World Wildlife Fund.
One grant: $30 million for research on carbon sequestration—aka removing carbon from the atmosphere—which scientists say will be necessary alongside drastic emissions reductions to keep warming to manageable levels. The money will go to the Salk Institute’s Harnessing Plants Initiative, “to advance efforts to increase the ability of crop plants, such as corn and soybeans, to capture and store atmospheric carbon via their roots in the soil.”
Another grant: $100 million for a methane monitoring satellite, and another nature-based carbon sequestration project. This one is for the Environmental Defense Fund. More about that here.
Another grant: $100 million for electric school buses and satellites. More about WRI’s grant here.
Of the $781 million, $150 million in Bezos grants are focused on climate justice. Erin Rogers and Melanie Allen, co-directors of The Hive Fund for Climate and Gender Justice, say the grants “are a critical step toward addressing a strategic gap in climate philanthropy: according to analysis by ClimateWorks Foundation, less than one percent of the approximately $1.6 billion in foundation climate funding in 2019 went toward grassroots organizing and other efforts to achieve climate solutions that center racial, gender, and economic equity.” More about their grant here.
Conservatives are pretty mad about it. The way they’re framing it is pretty funny. Jeff Bezos is a radical leftist! Oooook.
Lame duck anti-environment actions abound.
Trump is trying to lock in oil leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge before leaving office. “This lease sale is one more box the Trump administration is trying to check off for its oil industry allies,” Adam Kolton, executive director of the Alaska Wilderness League, told the New York Times. “But it is disappointing that this administration until the very end has maintained such low regard for America’s public lands, or the wildlife and Indigenous communities that depend on them.”
Trump also published a final rule allowing the Navy to “harm and harass” critically endangered whales. “The Trump administration published a final rule [on Thursday] allowing the U.S. Navy to harm and harass endangered whales and other marine mammals 1.7 million times during military training exercises in the Pacific Northwest over the next seven years,” says The Center for Biological Diversity.
Just before the election, Trump also stripped Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves. This apparently was an attempt to appeal to rural voters in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin before the election, reports ABC News. It didn’t work— all the states went for Joe Biden—but the protections remain stripped.
More lame duck anti-environmental actions are likely on the way. “Now that President Trump has lost reelection, observers and advocates are bracing for agencies to finish a host of actions on energy and the environment,” E&E News reports. “Analysts and observers expect EPA to speed up long-term priorities that could fundamentally change how future regulations are drafted, including a plan to restrict the use of scientific research. Another action would impose cost-benefit forecasting requirements for new air rules.”
An unthinkable hurricane season continues.
One of the strongest storms in history hits Central America in mid-November. Hurricane Iota has hit the Nicaraguan coast less than two weeks after a direct hit by Hurricane Eta, one of the strongest storms in recorded history.
“The Caribbean coast of Nicaragua and Honduras is at the front lines of climate change, a primarily Indigenous region known as the Miskito Coast where people have struggled for autonomy for centuries,” Eric Holthaus reports at The Phoenix. His newsletter provides context and resources to help.
Miscellaneous but important
Charles Koch, longtime funder of climate disinformation machine, wants to work with Democrats now. With an incoming Biden administration, The Wall Street Journal reports that Koch now regrets his longtime partisanship: “At age 85, he says, he is turning his attention to building bridges across partisan divides to find answers to sprawling social problems such as poverty, addiction, recidivism, gang violence and homelessness.” While Koch’s political spending remains almost entirely partisan, the WSJ says he “will continue to look for potential partners” in the Democratic Party. I, personally, look forward to seeing who those partners will be.
Devastating wildfires in Washington state were ignited by power lines. A Seattle Times analysis of public data and interviews with fire officials reveal that sparks from downed power lines sparked at least 47 fires over Labor Day weekend. “The fires destroyed 121 homes in the Malden area and at least 62 elsewhere. They were responsible for more than 60 percent of the homes lost in one of the worst two-day stretches of wildfires in state history.”
Forty-seven faith institutions are divesting from fossil fuels, marking “the largest-ever joint announcement of divestment among religious leaders,” 350.org announced on Monday. The full list of divesting institutions is here.
Native groups want Rep. Deb Haaland to be Biden’s Interior Secretary. The Indigenous Environmental Network and 26 other grassroots Native groups sent a letter to the Biden transition team on Saturday advocating for Haaland’s nomination. “Our belief is that Representative Haaland will help facilitate the Biden/Harris vision for dealing with climate change, addressing the COVID-19 pandemic in Indian Country, ensuring an effective economic just recovery plan for Tribes and communities, overseeing the protection of public lands and fulfilling all treaty and statutory obligations.” The letter is here.
All We Can Save book club: Week 7
The section you’ll be reading and discussing in your “circles” this week is “Feel,” which features essays from some of this newsletter’s favorite people: Amy Westervelt and Mary Heglar, writers of the Hot Take newsletter. Hot Take is a weekly, sometimes bi-weekly intersectional look at the climate crisis and climate conversation. You can subscribe by clicking the button below.
This section is great particularly for those who are struggling with, well, how to feel about the very daunting time we’re living in. You can learn more about all the section’s authors in the supplementary materials section below.
Read 1 poem or quote from this section to open.
Share your name + your primary emotion regarding the climate crisis right now. (Circle leader should go first and model this.)
Move through 3 generous questions.
What in this section made you feel seen?
Has the climate crisis impacted your choices about or experiences of parenthood? How so?
What practices help you face our planetary emergency? How might we support one another in our inner climate work?
Read 1 poem or quote from this section to close.
I Chose Not To Have Kids Because I’m Afraid For The Planet, Buzzfeed, 2019.
Is Climate Change Causing Your Depression? Podcast, KERA’s Think, 2019.
Hot Take, Podcast, Co-Hosted with Mary Annaïse Heglar.
Danger Days, Poetry Collection, 2020.
Catherine Pierce and Anthropocene Pastoral, Podcast, Citizens Climate Radio, 2019.
The Mother Warns the Tornado, Video, 2016.
Emily N. Johnston
What if You’re Necessary?, Blog, Medium, 2019.
The Darkness and the Needle, Blog, Medium, 2018.
Her Animals, Poetry Collection, 2016.
Being Human, Poetry Reading, 2020.
Being Human/Awakening, TEDWomen Performance (with Alixa Garcia), 2018.
Our Exhale Makes This Air, Performance (with Alixa Garcia), 2017.
Creativity – the Antidote to Destruction, Keynote, Bioneers, 2016.
Susanne C. Moser
The Adaptive Mind Project Summary, Susanne Moser et al.
Despairing about the Climate Crisis? Read This, Interview, Earth Island Journal, 2019.
Why we need to do better on adaptation indicators, Op-Ed, SciDevNet, 2015.
Mary Annaïse Heglar
Green Voices of Color, Twitter List.
We Don’t Have To Halt Climate Action To Fight Racism, Op-Ed, Huffington Post, 2020.
I work in the environmental movement. I don’t care if you recycle, Op-Ed, Vox, 2019.
But the Greatest of These is Love, Blog, Medium, 2019.
OK, that’s all for today—thanks for reading HEATED! To support independent climate journalism that holds the powerful accountable—and to receive HEATED’s reporting and analysis in your inbox four days a week—become a subscriber today.
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Stay hydrated, eat plants (I like bananas), do push-ups, and have a great day!