Today's Liberal News

Robinson Meyer

Climate Advocates Are Gambling With Fate

Over the past few years, climate advocates have gained two atypical allies. For the cosmopolitan progressives who normally dominate environmental policy making, these two new groups are somewhat embarrassing to rub shoulders with, which is why discussion of the two shifts has been rejected or muted. But they signal that a new era has begun in climate politics—one that advocates have long wished for, but also one that they may now rue.

Climate Hype Might Be the Ticket to Decarbonization

The 26th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the third meeting of the parties under the Paris Agreement, is not going to save the world.You would not know it from the headlines. The rhetoric of climate journalism can sometimes swell with catastrophic overtones, but accounts of COP26, which will come to a close today in Glasgow, Scotland, have reached a new level of engorgement.

Biden’s New Climate Framework Is Maybe, Barely Enough

It has to pass, it has to pass, it has to pass. It has to pass! It has to pass. It has to pass. IT HAS TO PASS. Pass, it must. It. Has. To. Pass. Nothing happens if it doesn’t pass! 𝓘𝓽 𝓱𝓪𝓼 𝓽𝓸 𝓹𝓪𝓼𝓼. Senator Joe Manchin has to vote for it; Senator Kyrsten Sinema has to vote for it; all the Senate Democrats have to vote for it.

Democrats Might Give Up on a Methane Tax, and Maybe That’s Okay

Yet another climate provision may be out of the Democrats’ signature spending bill. On Monday, The New York Times and Reuters reported that Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, one of two pivotal Democratic votes, wants to remove the bill’s tax on methane leaks from oil and gas operations. (A spokesperson for Senator Tom Carper, a Democrat from Delaware whose committee oversees that proposal, denied the reports on Twitter.

Biden Cannot Declare Victory on Climate Without One of These Policies

In the past few years, a historic shift has occurred in American public opinion: For the first time ever, and across a variety of polling outlets, a majority of Americans say that they want to see the government take serious action on climate change. This shift has accompanied an eruption of climate-related disasters. Wildfires now paralyze the West Coast. Heat waves have killed elderly people in their homes.

Deforestation Is a Crime

The world doesn’t agree on many things, but one of them is that global deforestation is a problem. If deforestation were a country, it would be the world’s third-largest source of climate-warming pollution, after the United States and China. (It would also be a terrible place to live—bulldozers everywhere and no shade to speak of.) Parts of the Amazon now emit more carbon pollution than they capture because of deforestation, a recent study found.

Rivian Wants to Be the Apple of Electric Pickup Trucks

This is an excerpt from The Atlantic’s climate newsletter, The Weekly Planet. Subscribe today.Many fights about climate policy have been raging, basically unbroken, for the past 40 years. But something that sets this moment apart is that a subset of people who care about climate change, and who have founded companies to fight it, is becoming extremely wealthy.On Friday, the electric-car start-up Rivian filed for its initial public offering.

Big Business Is Bankrolling an Effort to Kill the Democratic Climate Bill

Four years ago, when President Donald Trump announced that he would take the United States out of the Paris Agreement, the world’s largest companies leapt into action.Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, personally beseeched Trump to remain in the pact. Bob Iger, Disney’s chief executive, resigned from a White House advisory council in protest. Goldman Sachs’s CEO, Lloyd Blankfein, sent his first-ever tweet just to denounce the exit. Within days, hundreds of U.S.

Electric Cars Have Hit an Inflection Point

This is an excerpt from The Atlantic’s climate newsletter, The Weekly Planet. Subscribe today.One theme of this newsletter is that the world’s physical infrastructure will have to massively change if we want to decarbonize the economy by 2050, which the United Nations has said is necessary to avoid the worst effects of the climate crisis.

Democrats May Be on the Verge of Climate Disaster

This is an excerpt from The Atlantic’s climate newsletter, The Weekly Planet. Subscribe today.I’m starting to become concerned about President Joe Biden’s ability to pass a climate bill. They’re speaking sotto voce, but still: In the past few days, Democrats on the party’s left and right flanks have started to hint that, well, in some circumstances, given some contingencies, they might prefer no bill to a negotiated compromise with the rival flank.

Why I’m Thinking About Alcohol Taxes

This is an excerpt from The Atlantic’s climate newsletter, The Weekly Planet. Subscribe today.The climate scientist Ken Caldeira recently tweeted a joke meant to charm carbon-tax advocates. “If we don’t want people to drink so much alcohol, rather than taxing alcohol, we can subsidize everything that is not alcohol,” he wrote. His point, if I may ruin the punch line, is that the United States’ approach to combatting climate change is kind of silly.

When the Climate Crisis Becomes Unignorable

Every week, our lead climate reporter brings you the big ideas, expert analysis, and vital guidance that will help you flourish on a changing planet. Sign up to get The Weekly Planet, our guide to living through climate change, in your inbox.In retrospect, last week was an interlude.

The Planet Needs Jerome Powell

In recent weeks, the climate movement has become caught in the middle of a fight that seemingly has nothing to do with the environment: Should President Joe Biden renominate Jerome Powell to lead the Federal Reserve?The choice of who should run the country’s central bank has historically not captivated climate advocates—or many Americans, for that matter—yet it has carved the left into two opposing camps, each claiming to fight for a greener economy.

We’re Hitting the Limits of Hurricane Preparedness

Seventy-four hours.That’s roughly how much time separated the moment that Tropical Depression Nine formed in the Caribbean from the moment that the storm, transformed into a ruthless Category 4 hurricane named Ida, made landfall at Port Fourchon, Louisiana.

How the U.S. Could Slash Climate Pollution by 2030

President Joe Biden has been giving climate advocates heartburn.In April, soon after rejoining the Paris Agreement, he set a goal: The United States would cut its greenhouse-gas pollution by 50 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. The White House promised that “a careful interagency process” had produced that goal, and at least a dozen reports from outside scholars and nonprofits argued that such an ambitious cut could be done.

The Bill That Could Truly, Actually Bring Back U.S. Manufacturing

On paper, Cadenza Innovation is everything a modern American start-up is supposed to be.The Connecticut-based company was founded by an award-winning Swedish chemist who first came to the United States to work at MIT. It promised a major breakthrough: lithium-ion batteries that were far less likely to explode than conventional designs. It soon found R&D support from the federal government, eager to promote an industry as essential to smartphones as to addressing climate change.

It’s Grim

A new United Nations–led report from hundreds of climate scientists around the world makes it clear: The human-driven climate crisis is now well under way. Earth is likely hotter now than it has been at any moment since the beginning of the last Ice Age, 125,000 years ago, and the world has warmed 1.1 degrees Celsius, or nearly 2 degrees Fahrenheit, since the Industrial Revolution began—an “unprecedented” and “rapid” change with no parallel in the Common Era.

The Infrastructure Deal Is Not Not a Climate Bill

Last week, Senate negotiators released the text of the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal. For the first time since the deal was announced in June, we can actually see what’s in it.On its face, this isn’t a climate bill. It invests significantly in a federal road and highway system that encourages fossil-fuel-based travel in private cars and trucks.

Congress Is Slashing a $30 Billion Plan to Fight the Next Pandemic

President Joe Biden campaigned as America’s pandemic fighter. So it will be strange, to say the least, if his infrastructure bill fails to significantly increase the country’s pandemic-preparedness budget.But it could happen. Biden proposed $30 billion to address the issue, which advocates say could permanently mitigate the risks of future outbreaks.

Unfortunately, I Care About Power Lines Now

Every week, our lead climate reporter brings you the big ideas, expert analysis, and vital guidance that will help you flourish on a changing planet. Sign up to get The Weekly Planet, our guide to living through climate change, in your inbox.A terrible thing happened to me recently. I started to care about electricity-transmission policy.In energy circles, the people who work on transmission are feared and respected in the same way a shriveled and reputable local mage might be.

Carbon Tax, Beloved Policy to Fix Climate Change, Is Dead at 47

The American carbon tax, an alluringly simple policy once hailed by environmentalists, scholars, and politicians as a cure-all for climate change that, for all its elegance in economic models, could not overcome its enduring unpopularity with the American public, died last month at its home in Washington, D.C. It was 47.The death was confirmed by President Joe Biden’s utter lack of interest in passing it.

The Green New Deal Does Not, Strictly Speaking, Exist

Every week, our lead climate reporter brings you the big ideas, expert analysis, and vital guidance that will help you flourish on a changing planet. Sign up to get The Weekly Planet, our guide to living through climate change, in your inbox.Since its ascension in 2018, the Green New Deal has defined the terms of the global climate debate. Perhaps no other climate policy in history has been as successful. Democrats and Republicans alike have been judged by how closely they seem to hew to it.

The Energy Revolution Is Tweaking OPEC Out

Yesterday, the oil-producers cartel OPEC—which is now somewhat cheekily called “OPEC+,” because Russia joined in 2016—failed to reach an agreement on increasing oil production. Stick with me for a second, because this may not seem like it has much to do with climate change, but in fact it reveals how decarbonization is already shifting how money is spent and how geopolitical power is exercised.

A Major New Index Fund Should Unnerve Climate-Skeptical CEOs

Every week, our lead climate reporter brings you the big ideas, expert analysis, and vital guidance that will help you flourish on a changing planet. Sign up to get The Weekly Planet, our guide to living through climate change, in your inbox.Last month, a tiny hedge fund called Engine No. 1 staged a coup of sorts at ExxonMobil—a shareholders’ revolt that unseated three members of the oil company’s board of directors and replaced them with more climate-concerned candidates.

How the U.S. Made Progress on Climate Change Without Ever Passing a Bill

Here, at least, is the standard story: The past decade has been abysmal for climate-change policy in the United States. In 2009, a handsome new president took office pledging to pass a comprehensive climate bill in Congress. He did not. The Environmental Protection Agency sought to meaningfully reduce carbon pollution from power plants. It did not. The United States joined the Paris Agreement. Then we elected President Donald Trump, and we left.

Why the U.S. Doesn’t Dominate the Solar-Panel Industry Anymore

Every week, our lead climate reporter brings you the big ideas, expert analysis, and vital guidance that will help you flourish on a changing planet. Sign up to get The Weekly Planet, our guide to living through climate change, in your inbox.You wouldn’t know it today, but the silicon photovoltaic solar cell—the standard, black-and-copper solar panel you can find on suburban rooftops and solar farms—was born and raised in America.The technology was invented here.

Wall Street’s ‘Monumental’ Skirmish With Exxon

Every week, our lead climate reporter brings you the big ideas, expert analysis, and vital guidance that will help you flourish on a changing planet. Sign up to get The Weekly Planet, our guide to living through climate change, in your inbox.Here’s a question that has recently become surprisingly important in the battle against climate change: What is a company?There’s a legal answer, of course.

Stop Worrying and Love the F-150 Lightning

1. Start with the price—how could you not? The Ford F-150 Lightning, the new electric version of the ur–American pickup truck, will go on sale next spring for $39,974. Because Ford vehicles still qualify for the federal EV tax credit, most Americans will pay a little less than $32,500 for this truck.Thirty-two grand after subsidies—an astonishing price.

The Climate Clock That Starts Right Now

Every week, our lead climate reporter brings you the big ideas, expert analysis, and vital guidance that will help you flourish on a changing planet. Sign up to get The Weekly Planet, our guide to living through climate change, in your inbox.In February 2020, I traveled to New York to celebrate a zeroth birthday and an 80th birthday. First, I saw a close friend’s baby, who had been born only a month earlier.

This Is Not a Review of Ford’s New Electric Mustang

Every week, our lead climate reporter brings you the big ideas, expert analysis, and vital guidance that will help you flourish on a changing planet. Sign up to get The Weekly Planet, our guide to living through climate change, in your inbox.The Ford Mustang Mach-E is, at first glance, what a new car is supposed to be in 2021. On the outside, it borrows iconic Mustang styling for a family-friendly but sporty crossover, the fastest-growing car segment in the United States.