There are three leaks that happened in the last two weeks that pertain in very serious ways to the future survival of our species.
The first leak is from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The second leak is from ExxonMobil lobbyists. And the third leak is from a pipeline in the Gulf of Mexico.
In Portland, the previous highest temperature ever recorded was 107 degrees Fahrenheit. Last Monday, that record was demolished with 116 degrees. Over 95 people have died as a result of the three-day heatwave.
In Seattle, with record-breaking temperatures reaching 108 degrees last week, concrete panels in the road began to crumble and the interstate highway I-5 buckled under the heat.
In New York City, residents are being told to conserve energy and turn off their air conditioning units — meanwhile, the advertisements lighting up Time Square stayed on. Now, when there’s a power shortage, corporations get to keep their lights on while you and I are asked to put ourselves at risk. Happy Fourth of July from your friends in corporate America.
The most alarming news comes from the Arctic Circle. Last year at this time, the region saw the first-ever 100-degree day. Now that record is now ancient history with118-degree days — in the Arctic.
This extreme weather is the backdrop to recent climate news.
Leaked IPCC draft report
The next Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report is set to come out in February 2022, but a draft was recently leaked to the media.
The leaked draft has stronger language than past IPCC reports about the threat of crossing tipping points that would set into motion devastating feedback loops. “The worst is yet to come, affecting our children’s and grandchildren’s lives much more than our own,” the leaked draft reportedly notes. “Life on Earth can recover from a drastic climate shift by evolving into new species and creating new ecosystems. Humans cannot.”
As the Agence France-Presse that broke the story put it, “Species extinction, more widespread disease, unliveable heat, ecosystem collapse, cities menaced by rising seas — these and other devastating climate impacts are accelerating and bound to become painfully obvious before a child born today turns 30.”
Katharine Hayhoe, Ph.D., one of the world’s leading climate scientists wrote this after the report leaked, “Climate change puts at risk every aspect of human life as we know it, from our health and the safety of our homes to our ability to provide food and water for the nearly 8 billion people who share this planet... but we know what we need to do to avoid the worst future impacts. The difference between a fossil fuel versus a clean energy future is nothing less than the future of civilization as we know it.”
Exxon’s leaked comments
Greenpeace International, one of the world’s leading environmental advocacy groups is at its brilliant organizing once again. Last week, posing as a recruiter, an undercover journalist got ExxonMobil lobbyists to brag about their sway with politicians.
“Did we aggressively fight against some of the science? Yes... Did we join some of these ‘shadow groups’ to work against some of the early efforts [on climate]? Yes, that's true. But there’s nothing illegal about that,” uttered Keith McCoy, a senior Exxon lobbyist, on camera.
Maybe we should let the courts be the judge of that. As I recently noted, a Dutch Court has held Shell accountable for its efforts to delay action on climate change.
McCoy also boasted about the company’s relations with senators on both sides of the aisle including none other than “Joe ManchinJoe ManchinBiden touts 'progress' during 'candid' meetings on .5T plan Manchin: Biden told moderates to pitch price tag for reconciliation bill Biden employs flurry of meetings to unite warring factions MORE. I talk to his office every week. He’s the kingmaker on this.”
A second Exxon lobbyist, Dan Easley, bragged about Exxon wins under the Trump administration from making it easier to attain permits, to settlement dispute protection in NAFTA, and of course “tax has to be the biggest one... the reduction of the corporate rate... it’s probably worth billions to Exxon.”
The most brazen comment to me though was McCoy saying “Nobody is going to propose a tax on all Americans and the cynical side of me says, yeah, we kind of know that but it gives us a talking point that we can say, well what is ExxonMobil for? Well, we’re for a carbon tax.”
Not only do they appear to be doing everything they can to stall progress, but they’re publicly supporting a carbon tax seemingly because they believe it has no chance of becoming reality.
The gas leak
Marine biologist and editor of “All We Can Save” Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, Ph.D., tweeted “you do not need a [Ph.D.] in marine biology to know that drilling for oil in the ocean is clearly a bad idea.” She’s right. I guess the people who build these offshore oil rigs must not have gotten the memo. Or perhaps they’re just paid gobs of money to ignore all common sense and any moral fiber in their bodies?
This is what it looks like when a gas pipeline bursts underwater and catches fire — like the Eye of Sauron. Social media dubbed it the “Eye of Fire.”
The industry responsible for turning ocean water into flames is bringing us climate change. It’s the industry that is buying politicians and lying to the public — when it’s not too busy setting the Gulf of Mexico on fire.
Time to act
There’s yet another leak we need to discuss. This is the leak of the Democratic Party’s courage and will.
Democrats were given overwhelming support from voters, which barely got them control of Congress and the White House. They must use that political capital to solve the climate crisis as fast as they possibly can. The next year and change is the only time we know for sure they have the power in Washington to do anything to solve the gravest threat we’ve ever faced as a species. Democrats must seize it. Literally, the future of life on Earth hangs in the balance — and that’s an understatement.
Andreas Karelas is author of the book “Climate Courage: How Tackling Climate Change Can Build Community, Transform the Economy, and Bridge the Political Divide in America” published by Beacon Press. He is also the founder and executive director of RE-volv, a nonprofit climate justice organization that helps fellow nonprofits across the country go solar. Follow him on Twitter: @AndreasKarelas.