One year of HEATED

A look back on what we’ve done in our first year.

Every human contributes to climate change. But only a handful of humans are behind the climate crisis. These humans are the ones who benefit from carbon: the more they emit, the more wealth and power they gain. They are the heads of our most polluting corporations and the politicians who support them, and they have long had the unique ability to significantly reduce carbon emissions.

But the handful of humans most responsible for climate change have long refused to do anything about it, choosing instead to prioritize their wealth and power. That’s why the tweet at the top of this article went viral over the weekend, and it’s why I started this newsletter one year ago.

I launched HEATED on September 9, 2019, with a simple thesis: “It is not your fault that the planet is burning.” The goal was to expose and explain how society’s most powerful people and institutions routinely ignore and downplay climate change and those most hurt by it.

Here’s a look back on what we’ve accomplished in our first year together.

We held corporations and Big Oil accountable

The first year of HEATED featured extensive coverage of how corporations bolster climate denial and policy delay, even when they publicly claim to support climate action. It also featured extensive coverage of the sneaky ways the oil industry tries to influence public opinion and public policy, with the goal of delaying climate action.

Original reporting revealed:

We held Democrats, progressives and environmentalists accountable

My late mentor, the legendary investigative journalist Wayne Barrett, once wrote that journalists should be “equal-opportunity garbage collectors, as nonpartisan as the wrongdoing itself, never looking past the wrist of any hand in the public till.” That’s why HEATED’s first year focused not just on fossil fuel companies and Republicans, but on Democrats, progressives and self-proclaimed environmentalists.

Critical coverage included:

We held the media accountable, this newsletter included

The climate crisis is a failure of systems—and one of those systems is journalism. As a whole, mainstream news media has failed to treat the climate crisis like the existential threat it is. That’s one huge reason why the public has not mobilized around climate action.

Here are some ways we covered that problem this year:

We had fun, even when everything was burning

I can’t be serious all the time. It just isn’t my jam. I can’t imagine it’s yours, either—so hopefully you enjoyed the more light-hearted stuff we did this year.

Fun stuff included:

We did some other stuff that didn’t fit the above categories

Here are some other notable accomplishments from HEATED’s first year:

The reason I say “we” is because I can’t do this alone

It sometimes feels weird to write “we” in these sentences. I spend most of my time alone.

Especially during the coronavirus, I’ve worked in isolation. Sometimes my awesome research assistant Chris helps, as does the incredible climate journalist Amy Westervelt. But for the most part, HEATED can feel like a one-woman show. Just me and my computer and my existential dread.

But HEATED is not a one-woman show. This last year couldn’t have happened—wouldn’t have happened—without you on the other side of the screen. When I launched last September, I decided this would be a 100 percent people-powered publication: No grants, no sponsors, no ads, no bullshit. If you hadn’t come through to fund it, it wouldn’t have kept happening. The work I do depends on you.

That’s why, as long as this newsletter exists, I’ll always consider its accomplishments ours.

This birthday cake, however, is mine.

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Looking for climate content that’s a little weirder than this? Follow HEATED on Instagram for climate memes, tweets, and pictures of food.

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Stay hydrated, eat plants, break a sweat, and have a great day!