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The good people of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued their 2022 report on the state of the climate on Monday. As you might imagine, the state of the climate is double not-good and getting worse. From the Guardian:
The warnings make for grim reading. 3.5 billion people are highly vulnerable to climate impacts and half the world’s population suffers severe water shortages at some point each year. One in three people are exposed to deadly heat stress, and this is projected to increase to 50% to 75% by the end of the century.
Half a million more people are at risk of serious flooding every year, and a billion living on coasts will be exposed by 2050. Rising temperatures and rainfall are increasing the spread of diseases in people, such as dengue fever, and in crops, livestock and wildlife. Even if the world keeps heating below 1.6C by 2100 – and we are already at 1.1C – then 8% of today’s farmland will become climatically unsuitable, just after the global population has peaked above 9 billion. Severe stunting could affect 1 million children in Africa alone. If global heating continues and little adaptation is put in place, 183 million more people are projected to go hungry by 2050.
The ability to produce food relies on the water, soils and pollination provided by a healthy natural world, and the report said protection of wild places and wildlife is fundamental to coping with the climate crisis. But animals and plants are being exposed to climatic conditions not experienced for tens of thousands of years. Half of the studied species have already been forced to move and many face extinction.
Most of this comes from the second part of the report, which is bound to be the most controversial. It tallies up the human cost of ignoring or slow-walking the threat, which too often is the preferred method of political systems to confront the crisis. Right now, conservative American politicians are using the Russian invasion of Ukraine to rave about “energy independence,” as though we don’t import a whopping six percent of our oil from Russia. There are calls to reopen construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, the continent-spanning death funnel and Republican fetish object. And the ocean and the desert, and the sun and the science, don’t gave a damn.
Also on Monday, the Supreme Court heard the case of West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency, a case that, if it is decided a certain way, could seriously eviscerate the power of federal agencies to regulate anything. From NPR:
In recent cases, the conservative court majority has begun to outline something it calls the “major questions doctrine,” which could hamstring the authority of all agencies, from the EPA to the Securities and Exchange Commission to Federal Reserve Board. In general, it is far less deferential to agencies than the court’s previous case law suggested. Specifically, the major questions doctrine requires Congress to specifically authorize new policies or directions, even when the language of a statute gives an agency broad power.
(Let us pause now and remind ourselves that this “doctrine” has been pulled wholly from the legal philosophy of Dr. Otto Yerass.)
The odds that the Court indeed will decide this case In A Certain Way are pretty good. If it does, in the global sense, what will the polluters’ victory mean? The ocean and the desert, and the sun and the science, won’t gave a damn.
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