climate change

Peter Dykstra: A year into the Biden Administration, environmental hope is sparse

As President Biden completes his first year in the White House, hopes for dramatic change on climate and environment blow away.

Back in the heady days of 1999, NBC gave activist filmmaker Michael Moore an unprecedented opportunity to take on corporate America.

It was a miracle that “The Awful Truth” lasted 12 episodes’ worth of snarky, primetime attacks on major CEO’s and their blue chip companies—automakers, insurers, pharmaceutical and healthcare providers, TV network bosses, and more.

Such a network TV product has, of course, never appeared since. But the Awful Truth we face today is much more awful.

Here's a dive into the worrying recent happenings if you care about the environment. (Be prepared to be depressed).

  • Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema fulfilled the Republicans’ fondest wishes to tank President Biden’s Build Back Better bill. It's worth noting that Manchin reportedly made nearly half a million dollars in 2020 from his coal-related stockholdings.
  • Biden’s reversal of President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord ultimately proved unsuccessful. The 2021 meeting, in Chile in early December, offered scant promise of great leaps forward.
  • State legislative efforts to redistrict Congressional seats to better favor Republican candidates in the 2022 midterms and beyond.
  • Failure to pass the new Voting Rights legislation would more deeply impact poor and minority voters (i.e. voters that tend to overwhelmingly favor the Democrats).
  • Both of these moves reinforce the historical tendency for the party not holding the White House to get “walloped” in midterms, to use Obama’s characterization of the results of the 2010 midterms. The Democrats are expected to lose control of both the House and Senate.
  • The party poised to resume its Congressional dominance later this year, and quite possibly re-capture the White House in 2024, is in deep denial on environment.
  • The IPCC announcement, IMHO an unwise one, that 2030 somehow represents a hard deadline for global climate action. We’re down to eight years on that deadline.
  • Evidence that climate change is upon us piles up: Droughts, downpours, freezes and famines are changing the face of global security.
  • Internationally, we’re seeing several crises boil over: Ukraine is looking like a Cold War revival.
  • North Korea’s missile tests are baaaack ...
  • China’s sabre-rattling against Taiwan
  • Whatever angst is left over for climate change also cannot be spent on the next environmental barn-burner: microplastics clogging our landfills, lakes, and lungs forever.
  • Last July 4, Biden had his own “Mission Accomplished” moment, declaring COVID-19 to be all but vanquished. Then came Omicron, exacting a deep wound in the President’s credibility.

So I guess it’s clear that I’m not seeing many reasons to be cheerful. I’ll try and pull some together for next weekend.

Cheers!

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 credit: r3cycle.co.uk/flickr

Food, feed and fuel: global seaweed industry could reduce land needed for farming by 110m hectares, study finds

Scientists identify parts of ocean suitable for seaweed cultivation and suggest it could constitute 10% of human diet to reduce impact of agriculture.

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.

When will we hit peak fossil fuels? Maybe we already have

Kingsmill Bond, energy analyst and author, describes the circumstances that hastened the transition of the electricity sector—plus four reasons he’s optimistic about our planet’s future.

Google empowered climate crisis deniers
Steve Rhodes/Flickr

Google let Daily Wire advertise to climate crisis deniers, research shows

Exclusive: Data shared by the Center for Countering Digital Hate shows that Ben Shapiro’s news site paid for climate crisis denial search term ads.

greenwashing in fashion
UK in Italy/Flickr

'Vegan,' 'sustainable': How to spot greenwashing in fashion

Virtuous proclamations and campaigns from clothing brands can often amount to greenwashing, or in some cases, “clearwashing,” where the information doesn’t tell consumers much.
heavy metals in baby food
pixydust8605/Flickr

How do heavy metals like lead get in baby food?

The problem begins at the farm where plants draw toxins from the soil. There’s no washing them away.

A copper mine could advance green energy but scar sacred land

Tribal groups are fighting an Arizona project whose backers say increasing the supply of copper, crucial to batteries, would reduce fossil-fuel use.

As the Colorado River shrinks, Washington prepares to spread the pain

The seven states that rely on the river for water are not expected to reach a deal on cuts. It appears the Biden administration will have to impose reductions.
From our Newsroom
oil and gas wells pollution

What happens if the largest owner of oil and gas wells in the US goes bankrupt?

Diversified Energy’s liabilities exceed its assets, according to a new report, sparking concerns about whether taxpayers will wind up paying to plug its 70,000 wells.

Paul Ehrlich

Paul Ehrlich: A journey through science and politics

In his new book, the famous scientist reflects on an unparalleled career on our fascinating, ever-changing planet.

oil and gas california environmental justice

Will California’s new oil and gas laws protect people from toxic pollution?

California will soon have the largest oil drilling setbacks in the U.S. Experts say other states can learn from this move.

popular stories 2022

Our 5 most popular reads from 2022

A corpse, woodworking dangers, plastic titans ... revisit the stories that stuck with our readers this past year.

Pittsburgh environmental

What I learned reporting on environmental health in Pittsburgh in 2022

For a lot of people, 2022 felt like the first “normal” year since 2020. It didn’t for me.

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