What’s Barack ever done for the world?

Obama’s climate legacy

I have a feeling history is going to be kinder to Barack Obama than he deserves, and not only because of the caterpillar-haired, climate-denying demagogue who’ll take his place in January. The president’s record on climate is a lot more nuanced than the White House would have you believe, but my guess is these subtleties will be swept aside the moment Donald steps into office, making Obama a climate saint by default.

Before that tide of fear-induced nostalgia washes over us, it’s worth taking an honest look at what Obama has done, and what he’s failed to do. There’s the bittersweet possibility that all the positives will be undone come January, but that’s the bed America has made; it will have to share with a large orange man and his angry friends for at least four years. Read more

The Gift of Not Giving (Socks)

How to give a crap instead of giving crap

“Only a few more days of shopping left before your family finds out how little you know them” –internet meme

There are only so many novelty robot pepper shakers and cat manes you can receive before you realise Christmas involves giving too much crap. There’s an easy answer to this, and it doesn’t involve gift vouchers, otherwise known as the ‘handshake without making eye contact’ of the gift world. This year I’ll give some money to a charity for each of the folks I want to buy for, in place of a substantial gift.

Wait, seriously? Read more

No more heroes

Stop expecting the US to lead the way; they were adrift before the Sea of Trump

Watching Leonardo DiCaprio in Before the Flood being uncomfortably grilled on the American way of overconsumption by Sunita Narain, words landing like hammer blows on his eternally perplexed features, she asked something that made me sit up and pay attention: “what is America going to do about this?” It’s a fair question: given America carries the much-vaunted title of highest-consuming nation (and are past holders of the Biggest Polluter Award), it seems reasonable to expect them to carry the heaviest burden of all in fixing the problem.

Except it isn’t. Read more

A letter from: Donald

A letter from president-elect Donald Trump to the people of the world

 

[Letter dictated but not read, 10/11/2016. Links added by outgoing secretary Janet, because you still owe me two months of backpay.]

Some of you may be shocked to see me about to step into the oval office in a few months, and I can tell you – no-one is more surprised than me. I have the most surprise. But we ran a good race, me and Mike and I. Well mostly me, because Mike doesn’t like to talk so much, do you Mike? It’s a rhetorical question Mike, you don’t have to answer. Read more

The $1 billion drop in a warming ocean

Fossil fuel companies have just pledged to invest one billion dollars in renewable energy investment over the next ten years. Wait, really? The fossil fuel companies? The ones who directly profit from burning ancient marine life and try – sometimes laughably – to smear renewable energy? Why would an industry actively fund its successor / competitor? That’s like handing your girlfriend’s number to the guy who’s been making eyes at her from the bar.

Read more

Death by Air

How long before we treat fossil companies as murderers?

I’ve always thought that ice would make a pretty fine murder weapon, given that it disappears swiftly after you use it. Lava would work well too, though it tends to be in short supply when you most need it, and luring your enemy to an open volcano can be tricky at best. But I feel the modern, cost-effective way to off somebody is to hand them a one-way ticket to parts of India, or Iran, or China, given their current levels of air pollution – true, it may take a while, but at least the trail of evidence leading to your door is slim at best. Besides, there would be plenty of coal company CEOs in line to take the fall before you. Right? Read more

A Climate of ‘Free Speech’

This is our truth; feel free not to tell me yours.

Tom Harris is worried about free speech. He believes we should all have the freedom to disagree with the science on climate change, without being boxed in by all those pesky fact things. After all, it’s not like he’s involved in any organisation that’s supposed to be based in science, right? Oh wait – he’s the head of three. All with suspiciously similar sounding names ending in ‘Climate Science Coalition’; he simply couldn’t make up his mind on where he’s representing, so he settled on International Climate Science Coalition. Which I’d say was a good choice – after all, if you’re going to cherry pick data and make questionably pseudoscientific claims about global warming, it’s best to at least imply you have some international weight behind you.

Mr Harris treats the unprecedented scientific agreement on global warming as if it were that guy in the pub who always knows what’s true because he once met a man who saw it on the Discovery Channel. Read more

Climapathy

‘It’s the end of the world as we know it / And I feel fine…’

Global temperatures are rising at roughly the same rate as global apathy to being told that temperatures are rising – it seems the more we’re told something, the less we care. ‘We get it; global warming is still a thing and we’re all going to die screaming. Ooh, have you seen this kitten video?’

February’s global temperature beat the previous record so comprehensively that it looks like whoever drew the graph developed a sudden twitch, leaving climate scientists scrabbling for any remaining synonyms for ‘shocking’ they can find lying around the office. The Northern hemisphere warmed by an average of close to 2C, something that was previously thought to be decades off at least, and even taking into account the warming effects of el Niño it’s looking like 2016 is going to be the hottest year on record. Again. So what can we do? Read more

Deal / No Deal

Why we might be better off with an imperfect climate deal

Depending on the grapevine you’re tuned in to, the Paris climate deal should have us cheering wildly for a historic deal that will save the world, or rioting in the streets for the moment we were let down by our world leaders when we needed them most. I say it’s the best of both worlds, and here’s why. Read more

Bernie

I know the gigantic, crawling worm can this sentence opens but I’ll stand by it: the US would give more leeway to Mrs Clinton as first female president, just as it gave more to Obama as the first black president.

Obama rode a wave of progressive optimism so high that for a while it towered above his actions; many ignored the fact that he was stocking the White House with corporate-friendly staff, that he failed to close Guantanamo or end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, that he stood by as banks got billions in bailouts while allowing God knows how many foreclosures. Would we have granted such elbow room to any other incoming president? The achievement peaked on the day of his inauguration, and though the first black president is a mighty achievement it shouldn’t be allowed to hide the fact that – when you get right down to it – he isn’t that progressive at all. My gut tells me Hillary would surf the same sort of wave: ‘First female president! She may be continuing business as usual but by God, she has no Y chromosome!’ Read more