Earth Matters: With 100% clean energy mandate, Michigan Democrats show elections have consequences

Two years ago, wagering that Michigan would enact a clean energy package like the one Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed Tuesday would be a good way to lose your rent money. The state House of Representatives had been in Republican hands for a dozen years, and Democrats hadn’t held a majority in the state Senate since 1984.

But the 2022 election was a stunning disaster for the state GOP. With abortion literally on the ballot, Democrats got control of the legislature and won every statewide office as voters enshrined reproductive rights in the state constitution. And this week, in another prime example of elections have consequences, the state joined 11 others mandating a rapid switch to 100% clean energy. This got done despite relentless hammering from Republican opponents spouting the usual objections to such mandates, including utter nonsense that would get a high schooler kicked off the debate team.

Every state that has set a goal with a deadline for reaching 100% clean energy—that is, cleanly generated electricity—does it somewhat differently in order to navigate local politics. Although Democrats gained control of the Michigan legislature, the sliver-thin margins mean nothing gets anywhere without compromise. Advocates of clean energy may call that compromising “watering down,” but we’ll get to that in a moment. First, the good stuff.

The Clean Energy Future Plan the legislature passed took its cues from the liberal Whitmer’s 58-page “MI Healthy Climate” plan. It mandates that utilities generate at least 15% of their electricity from clean energy sources through 2029, a paltry amount. Afterward, however, the requirement rises to 50% by 2030, 60% by 2035, and 100% by 2040. That’s very ambitious in the 16-year timeframe set out for it to be achieved. According to the Energy Information Administration, renewable sources of energy, mostly wind turbines around Lake Huron, made up about 12% of Michigan’s power mix in 2022.

Climate activists want a still faster pace. Indeed, an earlier version included a 2035 deadline but this was removed. Utility engineers are uncertain the goal can even be achieved in twice the time, citing numerous obstacles, including an inadequate and antiquated grid as well as a shortage of workers trained for green transition jobs. Moreover, certain politicians are no doubt wondering how soon they can get back into office and sabotage the plan they opposed from the outset. Senate Minority Leader Aric Nesbitt issued a statement after the signing saying that the new law creates “far-left, unworkable energy mandates that will further increase energy costs and make Michigan energy less reliable.” It’s clear that implementing the 100% plan has many hurdles, technical and political, to overcome. 

As part of the clean energy package, Whitmer also signed a bill to establish a “community and worker economic transition office.” It is tasked with reducing the economic burden that the transition to clean energy places on workers who are directly or indirectly linked through their jobs to production of fossil fuel energy or internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. The office’s deadline for presenting a report to the governor and legislature on how to accomplish this task is the end of 2025, two years from now.

Another bill in the package requires utilities to provide energy waste reduction programs with assistance directed specifically to low-income customers. It also mandates that they invest in hiring a diverse workforce if they serve more than 50,000 customers. (Shouldn’t a utility hire a diverse workforce period, full stop? But I digress.)

One of the 475 turbines in Huron County, Mich.
One of the 475 turbines in Huron County, Mich.

Other bills in the legislation include: more opportunities and funding for consumer, environmental, and other public interest groups to participate in Michigan Public Service Commission policy considerations; a reform of the siting and approval process for utility-scale renewable projects; allowing farmers to lease their land for solar utility projects while maintaining farmland preservation standards. Other features of the bills include:

  • An energy storage standard of 2.5 gigawatts by 2030
  • Raising existing caps on distributed energy sources such as rooftop solar
  • Increasing electric utility energy efficiency savings requirements and making clear that efficiency programs aren’t to be implemented in a way that discourages electrification of buildings

We should not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Advocates shouldn’t refuse to accept half a loaf when the alternative isn’t even crumbs. Like its predecessors elsewhere, the Michigan plan includes much for other states to imitate. The backers did good work here, and they didn’t delay once they knew they had the votes. Overall, it is a bold, strong package. However, it isn’t flawless. As James Gignac, Midwest Senior Policy Manager for the Union of Concerned Scientists, notes with some constructive criticism:

But the package also is significant for what is not in it. Specifically, it weakened or completely eliminated environmental justice communities’ key priorities regarding affordability, reliability, and equity. Going forward, Michigan policymakers must incorporate these policies, which will mean standing up to utilities and other corporate interests. […]

An equitable clean energy transition is not just about the technologies used to generate electricity. It must include changes that address fundamental injustices under our current system.

Communities should be able to develop locally owned solar and utilities should be mandated to provide bill credits to customers that subscribe to such community solar facilities. The legislature should advance policies such as those contained in HB 4464 and SB 152/153 to require that utilities create community solar programs, expedite MPSC review and approval of those programs to leverage federal funding, and allow greater numbers of subscribing customers to benefit from community solar projects.  […]

Unfortunately, utilities’ undue influence in the negotiating process prevented the passage of stronger and more equitable legislation by eliminating crucial provisions addressing the concerns of environmental and energy justice advocates.

In other words, our job is not done. Disadvantaged communities’ priorities must be fully addressed. We must not allow utilities and other corporate interests to continue to block critical reforms addressing affordability, reliability, and environmental justice. The Union of Concerned Scientists will continue to work with our partners, allies, Gov. Whitmer, and Michigan legislators to secure an equitable clean energy future for all Michiganders.

There are other issues, too. What constitutes “clean” is a matter of definition. The legislation allows for natural gas to be considered clean if 90% of its carbon dioxide emissions can be captured. This measure is fraught with potential trouble. For one thing, the leakage into the atmosphere of natural (mostly methane) gas from fracking, wellhead, and pipelines is not well accounted for. In fact, the self-reporting that the industry has provided for methane emissions has been notoriously understated, so much so as to be disinformation rather than data. Allowing for natural gas with 90% carbon capture to be called “clean” for 2023 is a stretch; but for 2040 it’s BS. 

Officials in 38 other states have so far chosen not to set clean energy mandates for their utilities or taken other steps like those included in Michigan’s Clean Energy Future Plan. Most of them are, of course, run by Republicans. Though not all Republicans are aghast at the very thought of clean energy sources replacing fossil fuels, the party’s least rational actors are in charge. It’s wonderful that Michigan has flipped and awakened to reality, policywise. But expect it to be a long time between the 12th state and the 50th to enact a clean energy mandate. Chalk it up to a combination of ignorance, malevolence, and avarice, although each participant may not check all boxes.


cop28 in dubai

I’ve already offered my views here and here in the run-up to the two-week COP28 climate summit that officially got underway Thursday. Regarding expectations for COP28 being already low even before it was learned that presiding officer Sultan al-Jaber would be using the conference to make oil and gas deals (which he unconvincingly denies), my friend and veteran climate hawk RL Miller points out in an email, “This breathtaking corruption sinks to scum-at-the-bottom-of-the-oil-barrel levels.”  The early news is decided mixed. 

Fifty oil and gas majors, representing 40% of global production, have committed to reached net zero emissions by 2050 from their operations. But this leaves out what are called Scope 3 emissions, those caused by actually burning fossil fuels, which make up 80-95% of the sector’s carbon footprint. 

Vice President Kamala Harris in a speech noted: “Clock Is No Longer Just Ticking—It’s Banging,” in which she announced the United States will put $3 billion into the Green Climate Fund. That fund was established nearly 15 years ago. President Barack Obama pledged $3 billion in 2009. But only $2 billion was actually contributed. So the new pledge of $3 billion is actually just $2 billion new dollars and another billion to fulfill Obama’s pledge. You can read a list of pledges made and pledges delivered here.

Unlike usually, the media is brimful of climate stories for the moment. There are numerous online places you can follow the goings-on. One I recommend is Climate Home News. 

Here is a handful of stories from the deluge:

• COP28 bulletin: US GCF pledge and ‘greenwash’ oil and gas charter • US tees up Congress battle with $3bn Green Climate Fund pledge  COP28 begins: 4 issues that will determine if the UN climate summit is a success, from methane to money   Meat Companies and Lobbying Groups Plan to Present Meat as ‘Sustainable Nutrition’ at COP28, Documents Reveal  US Pledge to Loss and Damage Fund Calling ‘Insulting… Paltry… Shameful’ • Companies made big climate pledges. Now they are balking on delivering • 22 Countries Pledge to Triple Nuclear Capacity in Push to Cut Fossil Fuels


Headlines declare the EV transition in America is stagnant because of less demand than expected, with GM, Ford, and Stellantis all cutting back or delaying the billions of dollars in EV and battery factories they just a couple of years ago had announced with considerable fanfare. The problem, they say, is lack of consumer demand. 

Sure enough, demand for their particular models is not going nearly as well as they had forecast. For instance, GM sold 674,336 vehicles in the U.S. during the third quarter of 2023. That’s up 21% over last year. But just 20,092 of those were EVs, less than 3% of GM’s total sales. Ford sold 20,962 EVs in the same period, 4% of its total. But 313,085 all-electric vehicles were sold in the U.S. in Q3, according to Cox Automotive and Kelley Blue Book research, a 48.9% surge year-over-year. Of those sales, 156,621 were Teslas, just under 50% of the total. And for the first nine months of 2023, Tesla accounted for 493,513 of the 873,082 EVs sold in the U.S., 56% of the total. Together, GM and Ford, the two next most successful EV sellers in the U.S., sold 103,085 EVs, an eighth of Tesla’s output. 

And yet Ford has delayed $12 billion in EV investments, and GM, after whining about the costs of the United Mine Workers agreement, has not only retreated on its plans to build 400,000 EVs by mid-2024, it authorized a larger dividend and a $10 billion stock buyback. That’s $10 billion that GM could be spending on EV innovation and supply chain improvements. When each EV the company sells loses thousands of dollars, there is clearly some work to be done. While the buyback’s stock-boosting move may assuage short-term investors, it’s not doing smack for GM’s future. And whatever hiccups may be encountered along the way, the future is electric whether or not GM (and other longtime automakers Ford, Stellantis, VW, Toyota, and Mercedes) manage to survive the transition. 

Higher interest rates, a lack of knowledge by 40% of the public about the generous tax credits available to EV buyers, continuing range anxiety, and the rebellion of the nation’s car dealerships are all no doubt having a big impact on sales. But the U.S. electric-vehicle market is nevertheless well past the tipping point for mass adoption—and its sales growth reinforces that, as reported by Eric Wesoff and Dan McCarthy at Canary Media. Through the first nine months of the year, U.S. EV sales are up nearly 50%, already ahead of the full-year sales total for 2022. They’ll exceed 1 million annual sales for the first time ever this year. In fact, EV sales are on track to make up 9% of U.S. new car purchases in 2023, according to Atlas Public Policy. In 2022, the figure was 5.7%.
Electric Vehicle Sales in the U.S. Q1-Q3 2023

GM and Ford apparently hope to slow the EV transition while continuing to sell vast numbers of internal combustion engine vehicles as well as plug-in hybrids, which are cheaper to produce by far than EVs. These hybrids have battery packs that are typically 25% or less than the size of all-electric vehicles. For instance, the Chrysler Pacifica plug-in hybrid, which has been around for six years, is powered by a 3.6-liter V6 and two 60-kilowatt electric motors powered by a 16-kilowatt lithium-ion battery pack, good for about 33 miles of range, after which the gasoline engine takes over. The cheapest fully electric Tesla Model 3 Highland has a 60.9 kW battery providing an EPA-estimated 261 miles of range. Yet both of them are eligible for the full $7,500 federal tax credit.

Lumping these plug-in hybrids in with fully electric vehicles makes no sense and contributes to putting the brakes on the transition to an all-electric future, exactly the opposite of what the credit is suppose to achieve. The Treasury Department recently adopted one excellent change in the tax credit, making it apply at the point of sale instead of forcing buyers to wait until they file their taxes. Also, as of January 1, 2024, the full credit will be available regardless of the buyer’s tax liability, making it easier for lower-income Americans to afford to make the switch from ICE cars to EVs. Treasury should rejigger the hybrid tax credit to more fairly reflect plug-in hybrids’ real contribution to emissions reductions. 



A wolverine in a quiet moment

Wolverines Listed as ‘Threatened’ Under the Endangered Species Act by Kate Hill at Outdoor Life. A decade of research, litigation, and listing proposals has resulted in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service classifying wolverines as threatened in the Lower 48, the USFWS announced Wednesday. This classification will add the elusive animals to the federal endangered species list and apply the protections of the Endangered Species Act to every wolverine across its home range in the Rockies, Cascades, Sierra Nevadas, and other high-alpine mountain ranges in the Lower 48. For more on the history of wolverines and the listing debate, read here. The USFWS is considering an additional rule that would exempt the take of wolverines by researchers and forest managers from federal charges stemming from ESA violations. It would also protect lawful trappers who accidentally catch wolverines while targeting other furbearer species. Under the ESA, to “take” includes to “harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct.” Any take of a listed species can result in $25,000 to $50,000 in fines and potential jail time. Here’s a link for how to make a public comment on the listing. Deadline: January 29, 2024.

The Government Spends Billions on Food. Who Benefits? by Lisa Held at Civil Eats. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has an array of programs aimed at helping farmers grow food that supports rural communities and the environment, but its own purchasing has long revolved around sourcing the cheapest foods available. Last week, lawmakers in both the House and Senate introduced legislation that could transform the agency’s food purchasing processes, directing the USDA to seek out not just the most affordable foods but also to consider factors including supply chain resiliency, environmental impact, and labor policies when deciding which companies are on the receiving end of the billions of dollars it spends on food each year. “USDA has an opportunity to use its sizable purchasing power to address our agriculture sector’s compounding crisis of agri-business consolidation, climate change, and worker mistreatment,” said Senator Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts), a lead sponsor of the bill in a press release.

Escaping Public-Transit Quagmires by Gabrielle Gurley at The American Prospect. Boston and New York’s transit systems have faced budget shortfalls, system-wide service nightmares, and revolving-door general managers since well before the pandemic. But in response to the latest disaster, caused in part by diminished ridership as central business districts struggled, New York state and city officials finally put their collective shoulders to the fiscal boulder crushing the system. Boston, however, continues to flub the basics of moving people safely from one destination to another in a reasonable space of time. How is it that New York has cleaned up its act, while Boston doubles down on disastrous transportation decision-making? […] what sets New York apart from Boston is an intrinsic understanding that public transportation, the subway in particular, is indispensable and is what makes New York work. When the subway reached a breaking point with service snafus in the summer of 2017, then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency, which helped him get the congestion plan moving. Boston has a similar relationship with its transit system, but its officials and political leaders don’t seem to be able to devise reforms that dent the agency’s unresponsive culture.

Greenpeace activists next to the MV Coco, a vessel researching deep sea mining on behalf of The Metals Company.
Greenpeace activists next to the MV Coco, a vessel researching deep sea mining on behalf of The Metals Company.

A Showdown Over Deep Sea Mining Is Taking Place in the Pacific by Todd Woody at Bloomberg Green. Activists from Greenpeace International have boarded a ship that is conducting deep sea mining research in the Pacific Ocean, vowing to occupy the vessel until it abandons the expedition. It’s the latest collision between a nascent industry intent on mining the seabed for minerals potentially worth trillions of dollars, and environmentalists and scientists who warn that doing so would irreparably harm biodiverse deep sea ecosystems. The confrontation unfolding on the high seas comes as the expedition’s backer, The Metals Company (TMC), prepares to apply to become the first venture licensed to conduct deep sea mining in international waters. TMC has said it will submit its application after a July 2024 meeting of the International Seabed Authority (ISA), the United Nations-affiliated organization that regulates deep sea mining. “The fact that The Metals Company is pressing ahead despite mounting opposition to deep sea mining, we believe really justifies us shining a light on this and showing the resistance that is growing across the world,” Greenpeace deep sea mining campaigner Louisa Casson said in a phone interview from the organization’s own vessel, Arctic Sunrise. TMC Chief Executive Officer Gerard Barron accused Greenpeace of hypocrisy for insisting on more scientific studies looking at deep sea mining’s impacts while interfering with the company’s research expedition. “They’re slowing down, and in some cases, stopping the very environmental science most NGOs, and certainly all member states of the ISA, say we need more of,” Barron said. “So the question is, why are they doing that?”

Fervo Energy
Fervo Energy’s 3.5-megawatt enhanced geothermal plant in Nevada.
America’s first ​”enhanced” geothermal plant just got up and running by Maria Gallucci at Canary Media. (I’ve been intrigued over the past few years by the prospects of deep geothermal, which has the potential to generate electricity 24/7, making it a good choice as a supplement to batteries for when the sun isn’t shining or wind blowing—MB). Although direct use of geothermal sources dates back 10 milleniums, and it has been used since 1904 to make electricity, it’s good to see that a small, next-generation geothermal plant backed by Google has started sending carbon-free electricity to the grid in Nevada, where the tech company operates some of its massive data centers. Google and geothermal developer Fervo Energy say that electrons began flowing from this facility in early November. The 3.5-megawatt operation, called Project Red, is now supplying power directly to the Las Vegas–based utility NV Energy.  The announcement comes more than two years after Google and Fervo signed a corporate agreement to develop the enhanced geothermal” plant. Unlike conventional geothermal plants, which tap into heat found close to earth’s surface, Houston-based Fervo uses advanced drilling techniques to access resources that are deeper or trickier to reach than hot springs or geysers. While the Fervo plant employes a first-of-a-kind technique, worldwide there are 40 “enhanced geothermal” plants using various methods. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, deep geothermal could reduce its costs by 90% to $45 per megawatt-hour by 2035 and provide potentially 90 gigawatts of power to America’s grid by 2050. Currently, the U.S. has a total generating capacity of about 1,100 gigawatts from all sources.
Australia’s largest-ever civil disobedience protest stops half a million tonnes of coal exports by at Oil Change International. They are calling it the largest civil disobedience climate protest in the history of Australia. Over last weekend, thousands of activists, young and old, from across the country descended on the world’s largest coal port at Muloobinba (Newcastle), on Awabakal and Worimi land and water. The organizers labeled it a family-friendly event with live music and speeches. The plan also included blockading the plant by a sea blockage by kayak, boat, or even surfboard. It was the first time a blockage was planned overnight. The protest was a huge success. In the end, some three thousand people prevented coal ships leaving for 32 hours and stopped half a million tonnes of coal from being exported.


” ‘Green capitalism’ doesn’t mean capitalism is internalizing its environmental externalities and becoming “sustainable.” It means economic sectors and investment linked to renewable energy, adaptation, or mitigation are new sites of accumulation, class conflict, and geopolitics.”—Thea Riofrancos


Climate adaptation funds are not reaching front-line communities: What needs to be done about it by Katherine Browne at The Conversation. I am a researcher who has studied international climate finance for seven years, both at the annual COPs and through research in Madagascar, Mauritius and Namibia. My work explores how to make climate finance more equitable and accessible for vulnerable communities. It’s my view that the countries that contribute the bulk of the funding for climate adaptation can ensure more money reaches those who need it most. To do that they must first understand why financing isn’t reaching frontline communities. Otherwise money will continue to fall well short of need. The clearest reason why adaptation finance does not reach these communities is that there is simply not enough of it. Wealthy countries have consistently failed to deliver on the US$50 billion commitment. Every year the gap between needs and support grows. The latest Adaptation Gap Report estimates that international adaptation finance is 10–18 times below need.

 James Gustave Speth
James Gustave Speth

Clearing Skies: Opening a New Path on Climate and the Future by James Gustave Speth at Yale Environment 360. Adapting to climate change does not address the societal systems and values that spawned the current crisis. What’s needed is “systemic adaptation” that fundamentally changes our economy, our politics, and our priorities in ways that put community and the planet first. f the many climate struggles going on today, the great one, played out in hundreds of arenas around the world, is the struggle to rein in and then halt the buildup of greenhouse gases. Gaining ever-more attention is the struggle to adapt to the climate impacts already upon us. But there is a new struggle that needs to be joined now: the struggle to learn from our mistakes — the Big Mistake of climate catastrophe. What is it about our society, our economy, our politics, and our culture that has let this giant failing happen? What is it that has led us to this tragedy?

Brilliant: a COP28 to save the planet – staged by oil barons who imperil it by Marina Hyde at The Guardian. How do the omens for Cop28 look? It emerges that protests at the event have been “approved” in that authoritarian way that the form book suggests means they will take place in a fenced-off somewhere out near the airport. Joe Biden isn’t even going to turn up to it. Meanwhile, though it was only a couple of weeks ago that his climate envoy, John Kerry, was declaring it “an experiment” to put an oil and gas-producing state in charge of a climate conference, the experiment certainly seems to be grippingly under way. In fact, COP28 seems to be taking on the character of one of those late-stage Fifa tournaments, where World Cups are really just an international bribery exchange to which the football merely serves as the backdrop. How else to explain Monday’s revelation by the BBC and non-profit Centre for Climate Reporting that Al Jaber and the UAE planned to use the conference to pitch and promote oil and gas deals to foreign governments including China, Brazil, Germany and Egypt? We have to say “planned”, because COP28 spokesfolk now say the documents detailing the strategy “were not used by COP28 in meetings” and that “private meetings are private.” No doubt, no doubt.

Mewbourne natural gas processing facility in Colorado
Mewbourne natural gas processing facility in Colorado

One of Biden’s Big Climate Bets Follows an Old Logic by Zoë Schlanger at The Atlantic. In a way, the story of American natural gas is a particularly American story, one of entrepreneurial hustle, booms and busts, and a will to find opportunity where nobody’s looked. Of resourceful self-preservation for the sake of self-preservation alone. Of supply needing demand, and of manufacturing that demand through the means at hand, even if the logic is sometimes tough to follow. Natural gas has fueled American homes, American electricity, and, more recently, American plastics, an industry more usually fed by oil. As the grand ambitions for that last endeavor have begun to show signs of waning, the industry has once again pivoted, this time to embrace its potential as part of America’s climate future. When the Biden administration announced this year that its build-out of facilities for hydrogen—a fuel that could help reduce emissions from heavy industry—would have a starring role for natural gas, it was hardly a surprise: The industry appears to have worked hard to ensure its place. The gas industry has had plenty of practice making a case for itself. A few decades ago, when the U.S. as a whole was becoming more environmentally minded, the newly formed Environmental Protection Agency was eying the gas industry, and public-health research was beginning to suggest that gas stoves might be bad for health. In the 1970s and ’80s, the industry went on an offensive to downplay those dangers, using the same strategies, even the same PR firms, as the tobacco industry to avoid regulation, and was largely successful. Preserving demand for the product—gas stoves were “gateway” appliances that made a home more likely to have a gas furnace, a gas clothes dryer, and so on—was key.

The Logjam in Biden’s $50 Billion Dollar Wildfire Plan by Paul Koberstein and Jessica Applegate at UnDark. The administration’s plan to thin forests ignores an important way that wildfires spread and set houses aflame. Wildfires are a yearly threat to anyone living near a forest, grassland, or chaparral, which includes about half of all U.S. addresses. President Joe Biden’s administration has introduced an ambitious 10-year, $50 billion plan it claims will protect those homes, to be funded partly with taxpayer dollars and other sources yet to be determined. The administration’s plan focuses on a massive increase in logging across the country in order to reduce fuels in bone-dry forests. Very little will likely be spent on making homes near forests more fire resilient. But the fires in Paradise and Maui show that the administration is on the wrong course.

CO2 Solutions’ carbon capture unit in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Québec.
CO2 Solutions’ carbon capture unit in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Québec.

The Carbon Capture Sector’s Community-Involvement Rhetoric Doesn’t Match Reality by Dana Drugmand at DeSmog. Increased federal incentives for “carbon management” technologies are catalyzing a surge in proposed carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects in the United States. CCS proponents are touting their support of local community involvement in developing these sites. But residents say they are often left with empty promises. Amid mounting concerns over health and safety risks of carbon capture operations, and fears that CCS serves as a lifeline to the fossil fuel industry, DeSmog finds that communities in California, Iowa, and Louisiana where CCS projects are proposed have limited to no meaningful engagement with developers or government officials. When residents express adamant opposition to these projects, developers continue to push their plans forward, in some cases resorting to legal action to counter public resistance. Manuel Salgado, environmental justice research analyst with WE ACT for Environmental Justice, “I do feel that it’s a mad dash to push this forward. It’s not reliable, None of this feels as if it’s being done in an environmentally just way. It feels like we’re having this stuff just shoved down our throats.

Can We Keep Both Fascism and Climate Doom at Bay? by Stan Cox at Common Dreams. The nation’s anti-democracy, fossil-fuel-loving political minority appears more determined than ever to gain enough power to turn us into a sweltering autocracy. What does all this mean for the perfectly reasonable proposition that anti-democratic movements must be defeated if we are to preserve prospects for a livable Earth? I believe it’s more urgent than ever to prevail over the would-be autocrats. But how we should proceed if, sometime in, say, 2025, we see U.S. democracy, warts and all, survive to fight another round? I have no answer to that question; I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we get there, should we be so lucky. By then, we’ll be almost halfway through the 2020s, the very decade in which we were supposed to make dramatic progress in purging fossil fuels from U.S. society but have not. Intense grassroots activism will be required if we’re to finally drag the federal government across the climate starting line—especially if we’re locked, politically, in a rearguard action to keep the fascists at bay for decades to come.


Antarctic ozone hole getting deeper in mid-spring, research suggests • Converting brown offices to green apartments • Former Coal Towns Get Money for Clean-Energy Factories • U.S. kicks off a spate of oil and gas auctions just as COP28 gets underway • New US solar capacity additions have edged past natural gas in 2023 • The Lower Sioux in Minnesota need homes — so they are building them from hemp • As Greyhound Stations Go Extinct, Low-Income Thanksgiving Travelers are Left Out in the Cold • Sperm Really Is Frazzled by Modern Life, Scientists Say • Former Coal Towns Get Money for Clean-Energy Factories • LNG exports are a really, really big’ climate threat, McKibben says • Scientists Relaunch Campaign to Save the Endangered Axolotl 


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