The Past Week in D.C.
The Latest Extreme Weather:
- Last Friday, tornadoes ripped through six states killing 80 people with dozens still missing, leaving in their wake “devastation unlike anything I have ever seen,” according to Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear. The recent uptick in tornadoes, similar to the record-setting extreme weather events we have seen throughout the year, are a result of a warming planet due to climate change, as CBS News meteorologist and climate specialist Jeff Berardelli explains here.
- In addition to extreme storms, climate change is also creating some of the warmest December weather ever in Michigan. (2021 as a whole was the hottest year on record, including the hottest ever months of June, July, August, September, and October). Temperatures today and into tomorrow are 25 degrees above average, and are expected to shatter records that have over 100 years of data all across Michigan.
- Yet another ongoing trend from this year was the vast increase in power outages resulting from climate-induced extreme weather. This past weekend, wind storms exceeding 60mph swept across Michigan, leaving over 200,000 Michiganders without power for days.
The U.S Senate is poised to punt the key climate and social spending bill to 2022. News out of Washington D.C suggests Leader Schumer is turning his focus to passing voting rights legislation after reports that Senator Manchin is nowhere close to voting for the Build Back Better Act. It’s unclear what path there is for voting rights legislation without filibuster reform that Senator Manchin is also blocking. While the Build Back Better Act is still alive, Sen. Manchin’s latest qualms with the bill suggest that the hurdles remaining are higher than previously thought.
Satellite images taken last month and presented on Monday at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union show shockingly large cracks in the ice shelf supporting the Thwaites Glacier, a Florida-sized piece of ice in Antarctica. Based on the images, experts believe that the ice shelf could shatter in the next 3-5 years, tripling the speed of melting of the massive glacier and potentially leading to sea level rise of up to several feet, putting tens of millions of people in coastal communities at risk.
Michigan LCV Perspective: What does this mean for Michigan?
In lieu of a news update on climate policy, this week’s newsletter — the final one of the year — is dedicated to a guest author, Michigan LCV’s Federal Government Affairs Coordinator Hudson Villeneuve. Hudson has spent the past year working on federal climate policy for Michigan LCV, including the passage of the Build Back Better Agenda. Below, he shares his perspective on living through the current climate crisis from the lens of both his personal and professional life.
Growing up in the Anthropocene
For us nineties babies growing up in Michigan, we have never really known what is normal when it comes to our climate. We’ve experienced a different reality from our parents and grandparents and have developed new senses of what is normal. We have come to expect warm Decembers followed by frigid temperatures swooping down from the Arctic during a polar vortex. We hesitate to chase our dreams of moving out west because of the devastating fires, scorching temperatures and insanely high housing prices. We rush to travel to the national parks and see the glaciers before they are gone. But most drastically, we don’t know what to do with our future because of the anxiety that there won’t be one.
This anxiety comes in waves. One moment you think “we’ll be alright.” After all, Michigan is supposed to be the best place to live on a warmer planet. Then, like a bull in a china shop, the feeling of utter hopelessness crashes in completely numbing all sense of direction.
“That’s it, I’ll never have kids,” you say. “I need to buy property up north before it’s too late. What about the billions of people around the world who don’t have these opportunities? How can we act like this is normal??”
Then comes the gaslighting from older generations who won’t have to live with the consequences of their actions. It’s not the outright climate deniers that get me, it’s those that believe in climate change but either think it will be fine, or have given up caring because they don’t think anything they do will matter.
That’s the thing — what we do now is the only thing that matters. We are dangerously close to tipping points that will trigger feedback loops locking in a disastrously different climate. And I’m not talking about personal choices like taking the bus or recycling, I am talking about using your political voice to advocate for systemic change.
Countries, including the U.S., still plan to drill enough oil and gas to rob us of our future. Massive investments in renewable energy like the Build Back Better Act can help right the ship, but it’s only a start. We have to keep fossil fuels in the ground.
The only thing that’s ever changed anything in this world is everyday people coming together, in solidarity, to take on the status quo. And that is good news because what better group to come together than all of humanity?
A Deeper Dive
If you’re looking for some entertainment over the holiday break, consider checking out the newly-released blockbuster movie “Don’t Look Up,” which opened in select theaters this past week and will be available on Netflix starting on December 24. In addition to the star-studded cast which includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Johan Hill, and Meryl Streep, among others, the movie is one of the first to highlight climate change and our society’s shocking lack of urgency to solve a problem that will, eventually, destroy humanity. The dark comedy parodies the climate crisis with a story about a massive crater that is going to hit earth and kill everyone on it — and the completely dismissive response by elected leaders and the media to that inevitable conclusion. Obviously, the parallels to climate change abound. Watch a trailer here and read the NY Times review here. Afterwards, consider what you can do to help avoid that same fate for our planet and species when it comes to climate change.
Michigan LCV offices will be closed for the next two weeks. Our next Washington Weekly newsletter will be in your inboxes on January 5, 2022. We hope you and your families have a safe and happy holiday season.