“A version of this article appeared in Salon

The most significant images from Hurricane Ida’s devastating landfall on the Gulf Coast are the ones we are not seeing: no refugees huddled in the Superdome, no shots of block after block of New Orleans under water, no miles of overtopped and crumbling levees. As the table below suggests, Ida, which hit New Orleans more directly than Katrina did in 2005 — and mustered greater and more concentrated destructive power — wreaked only a fraction of the loss of life and property damages.

Why is this so significant? Because the biggest reason…


“A version of this article appeared in Bloomberg

The trillion-dollar spending package that the Senate has passed along to the House is being described as a once-in-a-generation fix for America’s deteriorating infrastructure. It should be viewed as only the first in a long series of such big investments, because Earth’s climate is changing faster than America’s existing roads, bridges and other infrastructure can withstand.

In the past 12 months, weather-related events have illustrated what’s happening. Salem, Oregon, hit 117 degrees Fahrenheit. The West is coping with its worst drought on record. …


“A version of this article appeared in Salon

Alfie the mute swan may be the world’s first jet-ski refugee. Alfie has been forcibly expelled from his home in Seawood Harbor, New Jersey, to a relocation center in nearby Popcorn Park. His offense? Protecting himself from harassment by jet skiers invading his home waters. It’s not clear exactly what his crime was: Most likely he hissed at them. The New York Times reported that his fate came “after some users of Jet Skis and other personal watercraft complained to federal wildlife officials that he had been dangerously aggressive in their interactions…


“A version of this article appeared in Salon

Few days spell out the future as clearly as this Wednesday did in terms of energy and climate action. The dikes of denial behind which Big Carbon has sheltered their deadly oil, coal and fossil gas were breached not once or twice but three times, and are now irreversibly crumbling.

Chevron shareholders rebuked the oil company’s refusal to commit to reduce climate emissions from both its production and sale of oil and gas. A Dutch court told Shell, which had already made such a commitment, but an inadequate one — pledging a…


“A version of this article appeared in Salon

Here’s the biggest problem with Republican complaints that President Biden’s American Jobs Act puts too little money — $621 billion — into ports, roads and bridges: Their so-called alternative would spend less than half as much on those urgent needs, only $236 billion.

So, when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is asked why he opposes the act, which would fund desperately needed enhancements to the bridge which crosses the Ohio River between Kentucky and Ohio, carrying 3% of America’s GDP across it every year, he doesn’t say his alternative would fix it…


“A version of this article appeared in Salon

Breakthrough: That’s the best way to describe President Biden’s Earth Day climate summit. Setting aside the Paris Climate Agreement, that was clearly the best week in history for climate progress, and the most important Earth Day since 1970.

The most unexpected, good news came when Vladimir Putin, in the midst of Russia’s mini-Cold War with the U.S., stepped forward to pledge to “significantly” decrease Russia’s emissions. More important, Putin belled the cat on the urgency of methane, in advance of a UN report sounding precisely that alarm on Friday.

“The fate of…


“A version of this article appeared in Salon

Reporting on the Biden administration’s Build Back Better Bill — aka the infrastructure bill — has been is particularly uninformative, Paul Krugman thankfully aside, on the crucial issue of what, besides a massive economic stimulus, America will get out of it. What are the long-term returns on these massive investments? Indeed, one major Washington Post article referred to all the actual economic or social value of the proposed investments as “ancillary” to the number of dollars expended and jobs created.

We need to be analyzing and debating what this will all mean…


“A version of this article appeared in The Bulwark

by JOSEPH MAJKUT AND CARL POPE

Hot on the heels of the large COVID recovery package, President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced a major new policy priority: infrastructure. Looking to make good on his campaign promise to “build back better,” the president is proposing a package of spending and investments totaling $2 trillion across this decade, with a particular focus on climate change. …


White supremacy and the filibuster: From John C. Calhoun to Mitch McConnell

“A version of this article appeared in Salon”

Mitch McConnell’s claim that “the filibuster is the essence of the Senate” has been tossed aside by his opponents as bad history, violently inconsistent with how Jefferson, Hamilton or Madison aimed to structure the Senate, and perhaps even unconstitutional. All true. But what McConnell’s screed should remind us is that the filibuster has always been the essence of the politics of white supremacy — even as it now poses a broader threat to democracy itself.

McConnell draws on a playbook…


Why Texas froze (and California fried): This disaster was 90 years in the making

“A version of this article appeared in Salon

The catastrophe that swept Texas last week was 90 years in the making. Its roots lie in a decision during the 1930s to escape federal regulation of power rates under the terms of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal by forcing all Texas utilities to avoid importing or exporting power across state lines, thereby pretending that Texas electricity was not actually part of the national economy.

As the biggest oil and gas producer in the world, Texas had already set itself up in the business of regulating the global price of oil through…

Carl Pope

A veteran leader in the environmental movement, former executive director & chairman Sierra Club and Senior Climate Advisor to Michael Bloomberg

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