Hi! I’m Sarah. Minimum Viable Planet is my weeklyish newsletter about climateish stuff, and how to keep it together in a world gone mad. I’m always curious to know what you think. If you like this newsletter, subscribe?
This newsletter is about climate, but climate is tied to everything. So while the fact that nearly 70,000,000 votes were cast for a candidate who will exacerbate the climate crisis is a crushing blow on its own, the fact these votes were cast for a racist, misogynistic, fraudulent, authoritarian liar who has openly encouraged violence and let hundreds of thousands of people die makes it ... that much worse.
We always knew the path was going to be hard. The fact that nearly 70,000,000 Americans voted for said racist climate denier just makes it that much harder. And though the path is steeper than we’d hoped, visibility is clear. There’s no ambiguity when it comes to what people feel — the hate isn’t lurking in the shadows but is open and vile and wearing an ill-fitting made-in-China minidress with Trump’s face printed all over it. The voting priority of maintaining patriarchal, white supremacy above all else makes it clear that people will fight, fist and gun, for their power, even as the tides of brackish water swell around their ankles. It’s existentially bonkers and ideologically consistent. And it makes this Florida girl cry tears of hot frustration.
So, a bummer.
But at the risk of being a toxic positivist, I’m going to go forth with optimism. Not with blind hope, but with ambitious courage. It’s true that I did feel a Biden + Senate win was our last, best shot for staving off the worst of the climate crisis. But there are other avenues that are both more arduous, more centrist, and in some ways, more true to where the world is now. A resounding Biden victory would have been another chapter in the mythic story of American Exceptionalism. But a lot of the ideas about not being able to do this without the US of A are just that — ideas. Even as those millions of Americans rushed to cast their ballots against climate, the world was pulling away. China further strengthened its climate commitments, and a slew of other countries committed to Net Zero. Even your favourite shirtless horseman is committing to climate, if only to goad you know who. As the US struggles with white supremacy, other countries are building hydrogen opportunities and solar panels and their future economic viability and power. As Gernot Wagner puts it, the future always bats next.
It’s sad to watch a country lose its game so vigorously, especially when it’s your country. And the geopolitics of a world where power rests in different places presents its own complications. But we live to breathe another day. And we will put all our might and money into Georgia. And we will build on. And we will convince our neighbours that racism and misogyny and the climate crisis and Emily in Paris are all bad things that need to be fixed. And we will turn this world around yet.
Eric Holthaus already has a great list of things a bicamerally-hampered Biden can do and guess what — there’s a ton!
Gernot Wagner also wrote a perfect column on what kind of climate action Biden and the world can take. The whole thing’s not online yet, but let’s start here:
Still, there’s a lot a climate president could do. Even the simple step of returning to science-based policymaking would be an enormous improvement and an important first step. A task force put together during the campaign and led by former Secretary of State John Kerry and Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, identified 56 policy moves on climate and energy that that don’t need help from Congress.
To those who want to take us back to the unjust past, we must bring our empathy, and we must not patronize. To those who have done the work and knocked on the doors, and built the coalitions and tabled through the vitriol (I see you, mom!), we must add our support.
So shake that rage into a Patrick Dempsey-inspired dance, get some sleep, hug the people you love (if they’re in your bubble), eat a nice sandwich, fortify yourself with some good music, get help from your helpers, and let’s keep going!
And finally -
How are you doing? LMK!
Thanks to my friend Jess for alerting me to the #joytothepolls hashtag. Dance against the injustices!
Have a wonderful, sleepful weekend after this most enervating week!
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Fellow Floridian. Thanks for the encouragement. We will fight another day! And God Bless and Keep Stacy Abrams!!