Briefly

Stuff that matters


solid red

It’s not just D.C.: Republicans dominated elections at the state level this year, too.

And that does not bode well for climate action.

As of January, Republicans will control both chambers of legislatures in 32 states, up from 30 today. And the GOP will control the governor’s seat as well as the legislature in 24 states. Or 25, depending on what happens in North Carolina. Pat McCrory — coal-friendly Republican N.C. governornarrowly lost his reelection bid but is contesting the result.

By comparison, Democrats will control just 13 state legislatures, and will fully control just six states.

Post-election, progressives have suggested that states and cities could lead the way on issues like climate climate, where no progress is expected from the federal government. The thinking here is that states can do things like raise renewable energy standards.

But while Dem-dominated states like California and Oregon might take further action, gains elsewhere won’t come so easy. And it doesn’t make sense to only measure progress in terms of blue states, while a bunch of red states go in the opposite direction.

So out of necessity, progress at the state level will require getting more Republicans on board. Some conservative lawmakers already back clean energy and funding for climate adaptation. Could more come around? We’ll see.


But Is It Art

Humans have been exploiting the world for so long that there’s a museum about it.

The new Museum of Capitalism in Oakland, Calif., explores “the ideology, history, and legacy of capitalism.” Surprise! One of the most detrimental legacies of capitalism is … climate change.

Bear with us (and the Museum’s curators): The fossil fuel production that drives climate change is due to global (read: American) desire for profit and growth.

The museum — funded largely through a grant from the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation — exhibits several works examining how humans despoil the environment in our quest for more things. Some are simple, like a bright blue baseball cap emblazoned with “COAL = JOBS” in white, akin to the ubiquitous MAGA accessory.

“American Domain,” an exhibit curated by Erin Elder (below), explores the ways in which land in the U.S. has been “continually staked and claimed.” Photographs of the Mexican-American border hang alongside images of drilling equipment, suggesting inconsistency in the U.S.’ attitude toward borders when it comes to fossil fuel access versus immigration.

“American Domain”Brea McAnally/Brea Photography

In another section of the museum, a video by Kota Takeuchi shows a worker undertaking cleanup of the Fukushima disaster. The worker slowly points at the audience through the camera lens, a designation of blame lasting over 20 minutes.

It’s a succinct gesture that gets to the point of the whole museum: We’re all complicit.


get your facts straight

A top scientist “felt bullied” to downplay facts by EPA chief of staff.

Recently revealed emails show that Deborah Swackhamer on the EPA’s Board of Scientific Counselors was asked to downplay the dismissals of several members of the scientific board during her May 23 testimony.

Swackhamer had been prepping to testify before the House Science Committee when she received emails from EPA Chief of Staff Ryan Jackson. Jackson said to use EPA “talking points” and say that “a decision had not yet been made” about the dismissals … despite several scientists on the board already receiving notices that their terms wouldn’t be renewed.

“I was stunned that he was pushing me to ‘correct’ something in my testimony,” Swackhamer told the New York Times. “I was factual, and he was not. I felt bullied.”

Swackhamer added that member count on the scientific review board will drop from 68 to 11 by September, “essentially suspend[ing] scientific activities.”

The Democrats on the committee asked Pruitt to investigate the email exchange. The scientists’ dismissals come on top of the Trump administration’s recent anti-science maneuvers, including Secretary of Energy Rick Perry’s open climate denial. In the words of DJ Khaled, this feels like another one.


I'll stick with the salad

Okja promises gorgeous scenery, gruesome animal slaughter, and a whole lotta tears.

Imagine you have a pet that’s been genetically engineered to be delicious meat. The people who engineered said pet are eventually going to come after it for its intended purpose — what do you do?

This is the premise of Okja, the new film from Snowpiercer director Bong Joon Ho. Mija is a tween desperately trying to save her giant, genetically-engineered pet pig, Okja, from the hands of corporate butchers. It’s a guaranteed heartwrencher set against the lush mountains of South Korea.

In an interview with the New York Times, director Bong Joon Ho disclosed that he’d visited a Colorado slaughterhouse to prepare for the film’s graphic scenes. The experience pushed him to go temporarily vegan — and he wants to convey those horrors to the audience. “I wanted to inflict certain psychological pain [on the audience] because in reality, that’s what the animals go through,” he said.

Certain scenes succeed so well in this regard that the film was initially turned down by multiple studios. Netflix, however, will be streaming the film starting on June 28. Keep your tissues close and your tofu closer.


Climate change for dummies

This professor made a climate change PowerPoint for Trump, and it will make you smile.

Ken Schultz, a political science professor at Stanford University, shared the presentation on Twitter over the weekend.

The snarky explainer lays out climate change in terms President Trump can understand — you know, golf, big/beautiful walls, and YUGE Electoral College victories.

Check out the hilarious thread below:

So simple, even a Trump can understand.


ICYMI

It’s ‘Energy Week.’ Here’s how Trump could convince America to care.

The White House has cooked up several themed weeks, including “Infrastructure Week” and “Tech Week,” to refocus our attention from distractions — like the Russia investigation — to the president’s agenda.

This week, Trump will attempt to train eyes on his “America First” plan and away from the dramatic showdown over health care in the Senate. He’s unlikely to be successful. After all, there’s nothing like energy policy to get people excited! (Alas, we kid.)

Here are a few tricks he could use to drum up additional interest:

  1. Rent a big ol’ blimp emblazoned with “America First Energy Plan.” Park it over the Capitol to literally overshadow the health care debate.
  2. Actually devote some Donald J. Trump tweets to energy policy — instead of, ya know, Russia and Hillary Clinton’s collusion with the Democrats.
  3. Pay Melissa McCarthy to perform a dramatic reading of the energy plan in the style of Sean Spicer. The crowd loves that bit; 28 million views on YouTube!
  4. Propose adding solar panels to the U.S.-Mexico border wall. Oh wait — Trump already did that.

Still Rickin', Still Rollin'

Al Franken had to explain the scientific method to Rick Perry.

During his Thursday testimony before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee about his department’s 2018 budget request, Minnesota Senator Al Franken decided to take Energy Secretary Rick Perry to task for statements he made on Monday.

Perry claimed that most changes in climate are due to “naturally occurring events, the warming and the cooling of our ocean waters, and some other activities” rather than CO2. What?

“Don’t you think it’s okay to have this conversation about the science of climate change?” Perry said. “What’s wrong with being a skeptic about something … that’s going to have a massive impact on the American economy?”

Franken was quick to point out that Perry is describing our old friend “the scientific method,” the type of skeptical analysis that is “exactly how science works.” Scientists have exhaustively debated and examined the cause of increasing global temperatures and concluded that, yes, it’s man-made climate change. The warming oceans are the result of climate change, not a cause of it.

“There’s no peer-reviewed study that doesn’t say this is happening,” Franken said.