2022’s Biggest Environmental Ghouls

A protest outside the Supreme Court in December.

A protest outside the Supreme Court in December.
photo: Andrew Harnik (AP)

The past year was one of the worst climate warnings bombshell IPCC reports to a summer of floods and fires to worrying droughts around the world. And yet there were entrenched interests quiet 2022 work harder than ever against climate protection.

The usual climate suspects fueled their decades-old tricks. (We’re looking at you, Big Oil, and you, GOP politicians.) But some notable — and unusual — parties joined in (Taylor Swift, alas). Let’s take a look at some of the year’s biggest environmental and climate wasters standing in the way of meaningful progress.

Big Meat

Beef cattle in China.

Beef cattle in China.
photo: Imagine China (AP)

The meat industry has been promoting its products for decades; the power of his Lobbying is nothing new. But last year, the first was that the IPCC recommended that countries focus on reducing methane emissions in the near term, and countries began making concrete pledges to reduce methane over the next decade. The beef industry, meanwhile, is a major source of methane: cattle farming accounts for around 100% 9% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Any concrete plans to reduce global methane pose a threat to beef producers and the industry appears to be intensifying its PR response and positioning Academics in Defense of Beef Production to policy makers and the public and the introduction of various malicious scientific arguments to convince us that meat is not a problem. If I had to guess, this climate ghoul is just getting started on a whirlwind, malicious PR spree.

Transphobes protest against a lithium mine

The Thacker Pass site in 2018.

The Thacker Pass site in 2018.
photo: Suzanne Featherston/The Daily Free Press (AP)

The energy transition is becoming complex, and as demand for materials such as lithium, cobalt and nickel increases, it is imperative that the world find ways to source these minerals – many of which are found on land belonging to indigenous peoplesenvironmentally sensitive land and/or mined in a way that involves questionable human rights practices. The proposed Thacker Pass mine in Nevada seems like ground zero for these fights. The project would mine lithium from a region that is both environmentally sensitive and important to indigenous groups.

A grassroots environmental group called the Deep Green Resistance garnered national media attention when they staged a protest to protect the country from mining. But in January E&E News carried the story how the group is virulently transphobic documents how transphobia is woven into the fabric of the group’s environmental philosophy — yet has gone largely unnoticed by the mainstream outlets and environmental groups that work with them.

It should serve as a reminder to the environmental movement that the complex discussions of what needs to be done about climate cannot leave room for fascist philosophies like transphobia to tie everyone under one larger tent.

Elon Musk

Musk at an event in 2020.

Musk at an event in 2020.
photo: Hannibal Hänschke/Pool (AP)

We get it: you’re sick of hearing about this doofus. We also!

Elon Musk has been spreading the word in good faith to the public thanks to his supposedly clean energy through his work with Tesla. But as we wrote back in May, when the billionaire was vying to buy Twitter, Musk’s status is a climate hero nothing but smoke and mirrorsas he holds a uniquely capitalist, for-profit vision of climate progress while his own company faces repeated charges of labor violations and fails to disclose its own emissions.

Musk’s increasingly chaotic decisions with Twitter over the past few months have only served to make the point that he is a right-wing reactionary who doesn’t care how he disrupts a flawed but essential tool of public discourse and global activist engagement . In addition, his actions could have real impacts on the climate and environment. Several reports have noted that in the weeks since Musk took the helm at Twitter headquarters and began welcoming back previously banned users, climate denial has flourished on the site. And if Musk manages to significantly transform the way Twitter works and how its user base works — or if he completely razes the platform — it could destroy one of the most climate-sensitive aspects of the site: disaster relief.

So Elon, if you’re reading this: cut your losses, mate. If you really care about the climate, ditch the Twitter thing and go back to playing with rockets or whatever. (Actually, do not do that.)

Bret Stephens

Stephens at an event at Purdue University in 2016.

Stephens at an event at Purdue University in 2016.
photo: Richard Chambers/The News Dispatch (AP)

Musk’s big competition for the high-profile, noise-making right wing this year is New York Times columnist Bret Stephens. This year, Stephens tried a different strategy than Elon: a redemption arc. In October, the longtime climate contrarian came out with a splashy feature in the New York Times who described his trip to Greenland to visit the melting ice sheet there, explaining that he came back with “newfound concerns about climate change.”

Unfortunately, as I wrote at the time, this is mostly BS. Full of bad faith, Stephens’ essay claims that industry, not political solutions, should be enough to address the catastrophic ecological changes we are wreaking on the planet, while ignoring the financial powers in the US that have prevented climate change mitigation in the first place in politics. Conveniently, many of Stephen’s arguments also jibe well with the messages the fossil fuel industry is now trying to convey to us.

An op-ed in the New York Times might seem like a minor offense for ending up on this list, but it’s only a guarantee of what’s next. It seems likely that Stephens will continue to champion anti-climate corporate interests for years to come – albeit with a renewed green glow he can flaunt thanks to his little vacation in Greenland.

celebrities in general

Swift in November 2021.

Swift in November 2021.
photo: Evan Agostini/Invision (AP)

It’s been a great year to find out how much more the rich and famous are responsible for polluting the planet than the rest of us. Tools like Twitter’s Celebrity Flight Tracker collected publicly available flight information for private jets and calculated the emissions associated with those flights. Meanwhile, the punishing drought in the west has seen citizens face increasing water restrictions – and people are increasingly curious about who is breaking those rules. Among the big culprits was Taylor Swift (whose private jet was deployed in the first half of 2022 more than 165 times what the average American household emits each year) and the Kardashians (who, in addition to outrageous flight emissions, used more than 25 times more water per day than the average household and far exceeds their water budget despite restrictions).

The silver lining is that calling people out for shit like this is starting to become the norm. It’s heartening to see that in 2022, if a celebrity tried to beautify their image, they could be taken to the mat. And they should also be careful who they work for. Even previously beloved environmental celebrities like Bill Nye have been called to the call this year Shillings for Coca Cola, the world’s largest plastic polluter. This is Hollywood-style practice.

Oil company PR

Image for article titled 2022's Biggest Environmental Ghouls

photo: Aaron M. Speaker (AP)

Yes, yes, this is a perpetual entry; Oil companies were arguably no less or more damaging to the environment in 2022 than they had been in the past. But in a year of particularly startling energy developments, from the Ukraine crisis to soaring gas prices to the historic passing of the first US climate law, Big Oil has worked as hard as ever to get its message across — with some particularly creative tricks . One strategy oil majors seemed to favor this year was to bypass potentially critical reporters entirely and simply create their own forms of media. Chevron was a particular offender here: by Advertisement for reporters for your own “newsroom” to one ill-advised campaign with Houston Public Media and the Semafor newsletter to Set up your own news agency in the Permian Basin. Don’t expect these strategies to ramp up until 2023.

The Supreme Court

A protest outside the Supreme Court in December.

A protest outside the Supreme Court in December.
photo: Andrew Harnik (AP)

On the one hand, the June Supreme Court ruling in West Virginia vs. EPA was not as disastrous as it could have been. On the other hand, it was still a very bad judgement: The court’s decision effectively limited EPA’s ability to regulate emissions from coal-fired power plants and hints at how that court might act to limit other environmental regulations in the future.

This year’s other rulings, including the abolition of national abortion rights, showed that the decades-long Conservative project, funded by polluting interests, installing allies in court to systematically dismantle personal rights and environmental protection was a devastating success. While the great climate case didn’t turn out quite as badly as it could have, it still doesn’t bode well for the future of climate action – or, for that matter, everyone’s rights – in the hands of a conservative supermajority.

https://gizmodo.com/environmental-damage-2022-climate-change-oil-1849920262 2022’s Biggest Environmental Ghouls

Zack Zwiezen

Zack Zwiezen is a USTimesPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Zack Zwiezen joined USTimesPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing zackzwiezen@ustimespost.com.

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