“Uncharted Territory of Destruction” Seems a Bit… I Don’t Know… Suboptimal?

Cheery little piece in The Guardian carries an informed warning that we are rapidly running out of time to avoid truly disruptive impacts of climate change:

The consequences are already being seen in increasingly extreme weather around the world, and we are in danger of provoking “tipping points” in the climate system that will mean more rapid and in some cases irreversible shifts.

This latest canary to gasp for air in the mine shaft is a report from “United in Science,” a multi-agency international effort that issues a new climate change report each year. The new entry warns that the Earth is heading into an “uncharted territory of destruction.”

The signs are already clear. We seem to get a new catastrophe every day. Wildfires from Chile to Mongolia, the destruction of Antarctica’s Doomsday Glacier, water shortages in the American Southwest, one-third of Pakistan underwater, and widespread heat waves that pose an immediate threat to human health and the web of life itself.

Meanwhile, here in Vermont, the Scott administration’s top environmental official says it doesn’t really matter if we miss our 2030 emissions reduction target as long as we get where we need to go by 2050.

Thirty-eight years from now.

The news about 2030 came from the latest annual report by the Energy Action Network, which found that Vermont “is not on track to meet our emissions reduction commitments by 2030” because, according to EAN’s Jared Duval, “Vermont has so far failed to adopt at least one of the policies that have been proven… to provide a high degree of confidence in reducing emissions.”

Failed to adopt even one proven strategy.

Julie Moore, secretary of the Agency of Natural Resources, told the Times Argus that she’s proud of the “incredible amount of work” being done by the state and that meeting the 2025 or 2030 requirements isn’t that big a deal as long as we hit the 2050 target. She added the caveat that “This may be me personally more than a position of the agency.”

I don’t believe that, because it’s been the clear position of her boss, Gov. Phil Scott, for quite some time. And her words reinforce the impression that Scott, if re-elected, won’t feel any sense of urgency on climate change no matter how much of the world is on fire, unbearably hot, underwater, or dry as Death Valley.

Scott likes to brag that his administration has made record-setting investments in fighting climate change. It’s true, but only because of the high tide of federal Covid relief funds washing up on our fiscal shore. Absent that federal aid, one has to assume that Scott would stick to his previous position: that he would do nothing to fight climate change that would add a single dime to the cost of living for Vermonters.

He has backed up that assertion by, among other things, vetoing the Global Warming Solutions Act, which makes his and future administrations open to lawsuits if the state fails to meet its 2025, 2030, and 2050 targets. The Legislature overrode his veto, but there he was, an obstacle to taking serious action.

He also vetoed the Clean Heat Standard bill, and that override failed by a single vote. So we don’t have that tool in our toolbox. Nor do we have the Transportation Climate Initiative, which fell apart because when push came to shove, no state was willing to abide by its terms.

Including Vermont, thanks to Phil Scott.

Doubtless things would have been different if David Zuckerman or Christine Hallquist or Sue Minter was our governor, but we have been happy to settle for Phil Scott. It seems likely to happen again this November, unless Brenda Siegel pulls off the big upset.

And if she does, we’ll find out how far the Democratic Legislature is really willing to go on climate change.

The climate is changing even faster than the scientists have warned. We are well past the point where any reasonable person can have any doubt. Scott may be concerned about immediate costs, but there’s an immense price tag associated with a failure to curb climate change. In the last five years, the United States alone has suffered $500 billion in climate change-related damage. One expert estimates global economic losses — right now, not some time in a benighted future — at $13 trillion.

With things getting worse in a hurry, how many more trillions will it be by Moore’s comfy deadline of 2050? Heck, we might be counting it in quadrillions by then, if we’re still around to keep count.

But hey, no rush. Not for Phil Scott, anyway. And not, in truth, for anyone who votes for him.


4 thoughts on ““Uncharted Territory of Destruction” Seems a Bit… I Don’t Know… Suboptimal?

  1. JR

    Hi…I love your reports! So informative.

    However I remember you mentioned a Bradley Toensing…I found this on twitter….I think Victoria Toensing had her phone taken by the FBI. Your thoughts? Thanks. Jimmy

    Here’s the twitter posting: At this point FBI may have more cell phones than a Verizon store Rudy Giuliani Victoria Toensing Michael McDonald Scott Perry John Eastman Jeff Clark Boris Epshteyn Mike Roman Mike Lindell The FBI can’t seize any of them without probable cause they contain evidence of a crime.

    1. John S. Walters Post author

      Brady, not Bradley. Former vice chair of VTGOP and former partner at DiGenova and Toensing. And they’re confiscating so many cell phones because there are so many co-conspirators. .

  2. Michael Pennington

    Great article, I agree 100% with your assessment! Just wanted to point out 2050 is *28* years from now, not 38. Thanks!


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