George Monbiot on Democracy vs plutocracy: Endgame for our planet / Tom Engelhardt: Life in This Literal Hell

When I began work as an environmental journalist in 1985, I knew I would struggle against people with a financial interest in destructive practices. But I never imagined that we would one day confront what appears to be an ideological commitment to destroying life on Earth. The UK government and the US supreme court look as if they are willing the destruction of our life support systems.

It feels like the end game. In the US last week, the third perverse and highly partisan supreme court decision in a few days made American efforts to prevent climate breakdown almost impossible. Ruling in favour of the state of West Virginia, the court decided that the Environmental Protection Agency is not entitled to restrict carbon dioxide emissions from power stations.

The day before, in the UK, the government’s climate change committee reported a “shocking” failure by Boris Johnson’s administration to meet its climate targets. So stupid and perverse are its policies on issues such as energy saving that it’s hard to see this as anything other than failure by design. On the day of the supreme court ruling, the UK government also announced that it intended to scrap the law protecting the UK’s most important wildlife sites.

But the final straw for me was a smaller decision. After two decades of disastrous policies that turned its rivers into open sewers, Herefordshire county council, following a shift from Tory to independent control, finally did the right thing. It applied to the government to create a water protection zone, defending the River Wye against the pollution pushing it towards complete ecological collapse. But in a letter published last week, the UK’s environment minister, Rebecca Pow, refused permission, claiming it “would impose new and distinct regulatory obligations on the farmers and businesses within the catchment”. This is, of course, the point. It’s the pettiness of the decision that makes it so shocking….

Tom Engelhardt: Life in This Literal Hell

I’m talking about being on a planet already overheating not just politically or militarily, but in the most literal way possible. I’m talking about climate change, of course. And don’t think I’m just focused on the future over-heating of this planet either. What I have in mind is this very palpable present. I’m talking about a country, the United States, that, with heat domes over significant parts of it recently, has been breaking seasonal heat records like mad. Phoenix (114), Tucson (111), El Paso (107), and Las Vegas (104) all set June heat records, as did Birmingham, Chicago, Little Rock, Jackson, Memphis, Shreveport, and Nashville. That’s just to start down an ever-lengthening, ever more broiling list, even as the Supreme Court just acted to ensure that ever more greenhouse gas emissions would continue to pour into our atmosphere.

Only recently, itself undoubtedly a first, the National Weather Service Prediction Center warned 100 million Americans — and that’s not a misprint — from the Gulf coast to the Great Lakes and east to the Carolinas that they should stay indoors due to a dangerous heat wave.

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