The harm reduction phase of the fight against climate change

Hello. I’m Paul Thornton – back after my colleague Kerry Cavanaugh covered for me last weekend – and it’s Saturday, April 9, 2022. Let’s take a look back at the week in Opinion.

I wanted to start this week’s newsletter with a full-throated defense of columnist Robert Greene after he was attacked by Alex Villanueva during a Facebook Live event (more on that in a moment). But there are, alas, bigger problems right now than the pugilist Los Angeles County Sheriff.

Like climate change, which poses a far greater nuisance to life on Earth than an army of trolls from an excitable sheriff to an editorial writer.

I’ve written here about the need to view federal inaction on climate change as the scandal of our time, and as several opinion pieces in The Times have noted this week, the United Nations has made a bigger point accurate on the immediacy of the threat: its intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned that humanity is about eight years old – not a century or a generation or even a decade, but less time than “Seinfeld” on television – before crossing a critical threshold to avoid some of the worst effects of the global crisis. warm up the line.

Note the harsh reality here: We are long past the point where we can prevent the climate anomalies already underway from intensifying. So the Bobcat Fire that scorched parts of the San Gabriel Mountains in 2020, the Caldor Fire that scorched 220,000 acres near Lake Tahoe last year, back-to-back fire seasons that killed d ancient giant sequoias – there will be more than, even if we drastically reduce emissions now. But if humanity continues to accelerate its production of greenhouse gases, then I fear we are left to our imaginations to predict what lies ahead.

And the saddest thing about it (leaving aside all the death, misery and displacement to come)? We have the technology and the know-how to make the necessary changes. What we don’t have, says the Times Editorial Board, is the political will:

“The IPCC assessment makes it clear that preventing catastrophic climate change is no longer about science, technology or even money – the cost of solar, wind and battery power has dropped by 85 % over the past decade, according to the report, and generating renewable energy is now often cheaper than burning fossil fuels Barriers are entirely political at this point, maintained by politicians and fossil fuel interests that they support.

The drafting committee also urged President Biden to invoke the Defense Production Act if Congress does not act. In a separate article, columnist Nicholas Goldberg explores why humanity refuses to change course:

“Neuroscientists, psychologists and human behavior specialists have tried to answer these questions. Daniel Gilbert, a Harvard psychology professor, argues that we react instinctively to protect ourselves if a baseball hurtles toward our heads, but we’re not biologically hardwired to prepare for big, slow threats.

“Here in the United States, our democratic political system is not suited to implement policies that require sacrifice and suffering today in exchange for future gains; politicians who support such strategies get fired from office.

“Our economic system rewards corporate behavior that maximizes short-term profits for shareholders rather than long-term planning for a better, more stable world.”

So it’s money. Kind of puts a modern, environmental spin on the “banality of evil”.

Finally, a black woman has her place on the bench of the Supreme Court. The Editorial Board is delighted with Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation to the high court, but apart from the historical significance of this event, they find little else to celebrate: “As groundbreaking as his confirmation , the current era is not as racially, sexually and politically evolved as it should be, and the process it has endured shows that. How ignobly partisan and unwarranted it was for 47 Republicans – some lawyers themselves – to vote against the nomination of such an extraordinarily qualified candidate. Yet, given the politics of the day, we were left heartened that all 50 Democratic caucus members and three Senate Republicans voted to confirm it. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) released a statement saying he didn’t expect to always agree with Jackson, but found her to be a “well-qualified jurist and person of honor” .

About the sheriff, as promised: He didn’t like the editorial our board wrote after his bizarre approval meeting where he baselessly accused the county inspector general of holding Holocaust denial views, so he belittled columnist Robert Greene during a Facebook Live event this week. Instead of linking to Villanueva’s video, I’ll take the opportunity to highlight Greene’s Pulitzer Prize-winning journalism on criminal justice in California, the recent Times reporters investigation into the Sheriff’s Department cover-up and journalist Cerise Castle’s work on deputy gangs. If I missed any important journalism on our sheriff’s department, please let me know by email.

Gun violence is America’s way of life and death. There is another way to unnecessarily sabotage our chances of survival (at least in America), and it was demonstrated in Sacramento last Sunday. The Editorial Board writes, “In the aftermath of the Sacramento Massacre, President Biden called on Congress to enact sensible gun restrictions by banning shadow guns, assault weapons, and high-capacity magazines; require background checks for all arms sales; and the repeal of liability immunity for firearms manufacturers. But after years of inaction despite the country’s mounting death toll, we have no reason to think Congress will suddenly heed Biden’s call. Los Angeles Time

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A high school student says the Holocaust is barely taught in his history class. This lack of education was a theme in our recent Holocaust remembrance package featuring letters and videos from aging survivors. Sadly, these survivors’ fears seem to have been confirmed by Gabriel Ascoli, a high school student from Virginia, in a Times editorial this week: “I heard so little about the Holocaust during my school years that if I didn’t have an intimate personal connection with her, I could easily put it in the back of my head. My 10th grade history class in Virginia spent weeks elaborating on the way of life of ancient Mesopotamians and less than a day on the Holocaust. It’s hard to understand.” Los Angeles Time

The GOP wants voters to see pedophiles all around us. We saw it in the Ketanji Brown Jackson hearings: Republicans exploit the innate desire to protect children to portray Democrats as pro-pedophiles. Columnist Jean Guererro links this far-right hysteria to the “satanic panic” of the 1980s and 1990s: “California was an epicenter of the panic, which resulted in dozens of convictions for satanic ritual abuse and numerous long prison sentences nationwide, according to Kurt Andersen’s “Fantasyland: How America Went Wrong.” In 1983, in Manhattan Beach, McMartin Preschool was allegedly the site of demonic abuse of hundreds of children. … A disorderly police and media response contributed to what was then the longest and most expensive trial in US history. One of the alleged victims later shared that he was pressured to make up his abuse stories. National hysteria, with echoes of the Salem witch trials, was fueled by ubiquitous images of missing children on milk cartons at the time. Los Angeles Time

Teresa H. Sadler