Mr. President: is this an emergency or not?

“Let me be clear: climate change is an emergency.”

“As president, I have the responsibility to act with urgency and resolve when our nation faces clear and present danger. And that’s what climate change is about.”

“It is literally — not figuratively — a clear and present danger.”

Either it is or it isn’t. But if it is, then how you “set those words into action,” as you said, is by acting like this is actually an emergency. It’s by declaring a full emergency, an actual emergency. It’s by using all the war powers granted to your office to combat our emissions. Carbon and methane are the enemies. How will we wage this war, Commander? Or will you be another lame duck, milling about in an ever-shrinking pond, quacking about and filling in gaps to help people adapt to what’s happening but who, by refusing to take dramatic action to stop emissions, does not meet the true needs of the moment?

“Climate change is literally an existential threat to our nation and to the world.”

It sure in the hell is. It is more than a ‘threat’ however; it is an actual active force causing significant damage ‘to our nation and to the world.’ The situation is tantamount to a force invading across the world that has breached our borders and is now waging attacks on our own soil. We have never experienced the magnitude of force that is already being unleashed upon your own citizens right now across this nation. This crisis does not merely call for recourse to war powers, it demands them. Will you meet the moment after all or sink back into the ignominy you’ve known for so long?

Some presidents have no doubt found themselves privately wishing for a chance like this, to unite the country around a common enemy and utilize the full power of the office against that enemy. Here is your change, Mr. President, to become one of the great wartime presidents. The war you face is not going to be won on a battlefield and not at all with missiles, bullets or bombs. It is an arduous campaign that must be fought.

“We have a duty to the economy, our children…”

20 July 2022

I’m amazed that the first words out of that man’s mouth after ‘duty to’ were literally ‘the economy.’ The hell?? What duty does anyone have to ‘the economy’? For god’s sake… But this gaff (if truly it was the gaff I suspect) is as revelatory as most others: interestingly, this is the stall-tactic being used by members of the GOP, who’ve moved on from denialism to obstructionism (familiar ground for them, to be sure). ‘Oh, the economy is in shambles! We can’t go taking on anything new!’ (As usual leaving aside that the previous occupant of the White House, and the policies and tax codes he brought with him, are responsible for a good deal of the state of our economy where the wealthy are wealthier than ever and those well-off are better-off while the rest of us are experiencing increasing precarity.) This is the line pedaled at us by Joe Manchin when he announced the end of his negotiations over Biden’s paltry climate package, who by the way has a personal interest in burning coal. Anyway, I suspect that this gaff reveals the source of Biden’s half-hearted embrace of climate mitigation, the same as the source for the GOP, the same group of people who have successfully kept their own climate research secret while they continued on with business as usual, quarterly figures growth profits… The fossil fuel industry and the lobbyists they’ve employed over the decades.

In the actions he’s laid out, I see little in the way of actual mitigation, in the executive actions highlighted by Reuters (also this from NPR). There’s almost nothing in the way of treating this as something we can do anything to combat; the bulk of his proposed executive actions are to help people in the US adapt to what is already happening but will only get much worse.
There’s plenty of money for FEMA for cooling centers and other resilient infrastructure, which is of course necessary, action on retrofitting and upgrading, which are also necessary.
But the closest we seem to get to actual mitigation is a 700,000 acre plot in the Gulf of Mexico that could host wind turbines, which is the kind of thing we desperately need more of. This is capital-intensive, so likely not a small-business situation; definitely a space for profits.
Compare this supposed tough action to this list of ten actions Biden could take: try to see how many of them he’s even approached since this thread was published on 3 February 2022. If this is an emergency then this emergency must be met as the emergency it is.

But now, of course, after the EPA ruling from the Supreme Court, the President has far less power. Which gets back to what I said in an earlier post: it is up to Congress to act. And Congress cannot act so long as there are only 48 Democrats in the Senate—I’m sorry but is Kyrsten Sinema even a democrat anymore? And we all know about Manchin now…

The climate and therefore the survival of millions of humans and untold billions of other living beings is on the ballot this year in a profound way. And perhaps part of the task of anyone who already sees that is to go out and help others to recognize that this “existential threat” is the major motivating issue of this election cycle.* We can be general about it, but some strategy is useful: in which states is there a plausible chance of a climate-forward candidate being elected? What can you and I do to help that specific candidate be elected, from whatever state we may happen to be in.

*. Of course I realize that abortion rights, as well as marriage rights and other basic LGBTQ+ rights, among others, are also on the ballot this year. But literally none of that will matter if our planet destabilizes much more than it already has. Going back to my earlier metaphor, whatever we’d like to see happen inside the train won’t matter if the train is moments away from tumbling into a ravine.

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