Climate change wildfires

As the planet burns, climate spending dwindles in infrastructure bill

Rainfall, storms, grasshoppers, wildfires, drought. We've got 'em all right now, folks, in biblical proportions. And yet climate change is still stuck back in the action queue.


Here's just a small taste of what we're dealing with:

  • Last month saw stunning new temperature records set in famously cool places like Portland, Oregon (116°F) and a satellite-recorded 118°F in Siberia above the Arctic Circle;
  • Hellacious blazes cover the West, and their drifting smoke is now a daily feature over Boston, New York and Washington, DC. It will likely reach Europe for the second consecutive year;
  • Unprecedented, extended deluges have washed away old German villages and streets in the desert town of St. George, Utah;
  • Warming waters around the Chinese port city of Qingdao developed an algae-clogged "dead zone" in mid-July – far sooner than any year since it first appeared 15 years ago. Like its Gulf of Mexico cousin, the algae bloom shuts down Qingdao's fishing industry and reportedly stinks to high heaven.

Climate change denial lives on

All of these things might tempt you to think we've reached a moment of enlightenment on climate action — and climate denial would give way to a torrent of on-the-ground evidence that the climate crisis is underway and that action is long overdue.

But no. At least not in America.

It didn't shock me when a sharply winnowed-down infrastructure bill limped out of negotiations on Thursday and many of its climate considerations were gone. They were given away as bargaining chips for what Democrats see as more reasonable ways to find middle ground with Republicans.

From its leadership down to its oh-so-colorful base, the GOP has teased, if not embraced, doubt and conspiracy theories about vaccines and mask-wearing, our primary tools against COVID-19. Never mind what science says about the stack of 600,000 -and-growing COVID corpses.

For that matter, there's that other pile of American corpses – the one from gun violence – for which the presumed antidote is more guns.

Yeah, I know, guns are a bit off our normal environmental turf here at EHN. But drawing obvious conclusions on human health, human suffering, and human mortality isn't.

That's why I can't swallow the notion that Congressional Republicans are on the verge of a Come-to-Jesus moment on climate. And the historically reliable pattern of the party in power taking a drubbing in the midterms means that the climate crisis may be lacking some US Congressional help for years to come.

Peter Dykstra is our weekend editor and columnist and can be reached at pdykstra@ehn.org or @pdykstra.

His views do not necessarily represent those of Environmental Health News, The Daily Climate, or publisher, Environmental Health Sciences.

Banner photo: National Weather Service GOES image of western North America on the morning of July 27, 2021. Most of the west is covered by smoke from many wildfires. (Credit: Stuart Rankin/flickr)

When will the US wake up to this crisis?

upcycle your own clothes at home
Culture Push/Flickr

Adiff Founder Angela Luna wants you to upcycle your own clothes at home

By repurposing scrap materials into gear, employing resettled refugees, and partnering with leading brands, Adiff is modeling a more sustainable textile industry.

Sunrise in the woods

Get our Good News newsletter

Get the best positive, solutions-oriented stories we've seen on the intersection of our health and environment, FREE every Tuesday in your inbox. Subscribe here today. Keep the change tomorrow.

Data centers are facing a climate crisis

Companies are racing to cool down their servers as energy prices and temperatures soar. And the worst is yet to come.

Peguis First Nation faces impossible choice after latest flood

With a housing crisis made worse by climate events, a Manitoba First Nation seeks a better solution than sending residents away from their homes.

The climate bill won’t stop global warming. But it will clean the air

The economic and climate deal announced last this week by Senate Democrats, which would represent America’s biggest actions ever to curb climate change, can scarcely be expected to have an immediate, measurable impact on the warming planet. But it will clean the air.

Leaving Beaver County as Shell's ethane cracker sets to open

Shell’s ethane cracker will begin operations this summer. It will turn natural gas from fracking into 1.6 million metric tons of plastic a year. It’s hard to know how many people the cracker will drive away.

Hotter than Dubai: US cities at risk of Middle Eastern temperatures by 2100

The climate crisis risks pushing many Americans into entirely new climatic realities, with a new analysis finding there are 16 US cities at risk of having summer temperatures on a par with locations in the Middle East by the end of the century.

From our Newsroom
supreme court climate change

Op-ed: Reflections on the Supreme Court’s Decision in West Virginia v. EPA

Danger resides in the majority’s having invoked a sweeping “Major Questions Doctrine” to justify its decision in this relatively narrow case.

children health

Derrick Z. Jackson: Children will suffer the consequences of recent Supreme Court rulings

A rash of recent decisions by the high court will irreparably impact our children's health.

summer reading list

Our annual summer reading list, 2022 edition

Happy 4th of July! Here's some summer reading picks from our staff.

environmental injustice

Centering biodiversity and social justice in overhauling the global food system

“The food system is the single largest economic sector causing the transgressing of planetary boundaries.”

Global Warming: Why the problem is worse – and solutions simpler – than you thought

Global Warming: Why the problem is worse – and solutions simpler – than you thought

Noted ecologist John Harte offers a fresh take on the dire topic of climate change.

Colorado fracking

Colorado is the first state to ban PFAS in oil and gas extraction

The toxic “forever chemicals” are used in fracking wells across the country.

Stay informed: sign up for The Daily Climate newsletter
Top news on climate impacts, solutions, politics, drivers. Delivered to your inbox week days.