Politicians, journalists and activists all love to use the phrase “last chance, best” when talking about climate. As in: The Glasgow climate conference is the world’s last, best chance to avoid the terrible devastation of the climate. Or: The United States now faces its last, best chance to solve the climate crisis.
It’s a catchy phrase. But that is a flawed idea.
The devastation of climate change is not a binary issue, naturally. Many problems, such as increased flooding, wildfires, heat waves and severe storms, have already begun. How much worse they will be shaped by how actively the world acts to slow climate change – both now and in the future. Immediate action may have a greater impact, but future action will be irrelevant, scientists say.
Nat Keohane, president of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, told me: “The reason I push back against the ‘last, best hope’ framework is that we need to recognize that addressing the problem of climate change Climate change is both urgent and a long game. . “We need to accelerate the transition to a low carbon economy and it will take decades.”
It’s true that many experts feel particular urgency about climate legislation – but the reason is more political than scientific: If Congress doesn’t pass a bill to slow carbon emissions over the next few months, it may not. did so for many years.
‘Make or break’
In America today, only one of the two major political parties is worried about climate change – the Democrats. Republicans in Congress have opposed almost any major effort to resist change in the 21st century. So have the last two Republican presidents, George W. Bush and Donald Trump. Some Republicans say they support certain climate policies, like a carbon tax, but they tend to do so only when the policies are in theory, not when they walk away. promissory note.
This opposition differs from the approach taken by many other conservative parties around the world. But there’s no sign that Republicans will change their stance anytime soon.
If the US is going to act on this situation in the near future, it will almost certainly need to pass a Democratic bill, partisan passage in Congress and signed by a president. Democracy.
Right now, such a bill is conceivable. Democrats control both chambers of Congress as well as the White House. After 2022, however, Democrats may need to wait years before taking control again. Republican Party is very potential to retake the House of Representatives in the midterm elections. In the Senate, where small, rural states have a lot of power, Republicans enjoy an inherent advantage.
More broadly, the Democrats have been losing the working class vote for years and don’t seem focused on reversing the trend. Many Democratic politicians continue to support a socially liberal agenda, with positions that are at least slightly left-leaning on religion, guns, crime, abortion. , immigration, affirmative action and American history, among others.
The agenda is strongly supported by university graduates who run and shape the Democratic Party – but not shared by many working-class voters. And college graduates are still a minority in the electorate, which helps explain why Democratic candidates have struggled in so many states and congressional districts, includes people of racial diversity.
Together, these political forces mean the next few months are a rare opportunity to pass major climate legislation. “This is the moment to start or break the climate crisis,” said Jamal Raad, executive director of climate advocacy group Evergreen Action.
Seven out of seven
In President Biden’s press conference on Wednesday, he said he now wants to split his Build Back Better legislative program into at least two parts. The climate provisions appear to have firmer Democratic support than proposals on taxes, health care and other issues. (Here’s the latest on the Capitol Hill talks, from The Times’ Emily Cochrane.)
Just hear from Senator Joe Manchin, the most prominent Democratic opponent of Biden’s full plan: “The climate issue is an issue where we can get a deal much easier than any other. anything else,” he said this month. Manchin doesn’t support all of Biden’s climate proposals, but he does support many, and it’s not hard to envision a compromise, like New York Magazine’s Eric Levitz explained.
My Colleagues Coral Davenport and Lisa Friedman report that a growing number of members of Congress are in favor of prioritizing climate provisions. Coral and Lisa also wrote: “The New York Times asked each of the 50 Republicans in the Senate if they would support the climate provisions of the Better Rebuilding Act if they were presented. in an independent bill. No one said they would. “
Many scientists believe those climate regulations are ambitious enough to make a difference. They will cost about $555 billion over 10 years, about a quarter of Biden’s full plan. Among the main ingredients:
The biggest will subsidize wind, solar and nuclear power, making them less expensive for companies, communities and households.
Many consumers will get a $7,500 discount on an electric vehicle — and another $4,500 if union workers in the US assemble it. Consumers can also get subsidies for solar panels and energy-efficient appliances.
The bill would fund research into technology that could capture carbon after it is released, rather than allowing it to contribute to the greenhouse effect.
During the 2020 campaign, Biden and many other Democrats vowed to do everything they could to slow climate change and mitigate its damaging consequences. The next few months will determine if they succeed. As Keohane says, the concept of “last, best chance” is now closer to the truth than usual.
Related: Last year was The fifth hottest on Earth on record, my colleague Raymond Zhong explains. The seven hottest years, by a considerable margin, were the past seven years.
Other great stories
Meat Loaf, singer and actor bigger than life, has died. His “Bat Out of Hell” is one of the best-selling albums of all time.
One report shows that Retired Pope Benedict XVI failed to fend off abusive priests earlier in his career, when he was archbishop.
Intel will spend 20 billion dollars on new factories to make more chips in the US and ease shortages.
Federal prosecutor drop their case against an MIT professor who allegedly concealed his ties to China.
The Nazis planned the “final solution” 80 years ago. Takes 90 minutes.
The political situation in the United States is make us sick, speak Michelle Goldberg.
Restore to normal more important to Biden’s fate than the passage of legislation, Matthew Yglesias write.
Advice from Wirecutter: An elegant glass of wine not too expensive.
Life Lived: Hardy Kruger left war-torn Germany to pursue an acting career. As one critic put it, he “helped Germany create a new image for itself in the world” in films like “Flight of the Phoenix” and “A Bridge Too Far”. He died at the age of 93.
ARTS AND IDEAS
‘Passion and pain’
Blushing at first, Jasper Johns’ 1961 painting “In Memory of My Feelings – Frank O’Hara” is a sea of cold gray. The Times critic Jason Farago wrote: “Saturine, sly, elegant, discreet. Master of retention. ”
In fact, the painting bursts with emotion, as Jason explains in a new installment of the “Close Read” series, in which Times writers guide you through great works of art.
Some clues are hidden in the paint; Others come from details about Johns life, friendships, and pain. With its meaning revealed, Jason writes, the work “brings a storehouse of passion and pain.”
The work is on display at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York through February, part of a Johns retrospective exhibit. (Normally at the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art.) If you do, Jason encourages you to spend a little more time on this painting—especially the lower right quadrant.
The secret to making homemade pizza easy? French bread – buying at the store is fine.
What to read
The Times Editor introduced 11 new books, which includes novels by Noah Hawley and debut author Xochitl Gonzalez.
What to see
“A hero, the latest film by Oscar winner Asghar Farhadi, about a good Samaritan under suspicion.
The presenters looked back Biden’s first year.
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PS Edward VIII becomes king of England 86 years ago. He abdicated less than a year later.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/21/briefing/climate-change-bill-democrats.html Climate Action Will Happen Now?