Can Biden’s climate bill undo the fossil fuel industry’s decades of harm?

TThe scientists’ warning to the US President on the climate crisis was very harsh: the countries of the world are conducting a huge, dangerous experiment through the massive release of their planet-warming emissions, which threatens to be “harmful from the human perspective”. He appealed that some measures need to be taken for that.

The official warning was not issued to Joe Biden, who is poised to sign America’s first major legislation designed to tackle the climate crisis, but his report Presidential predecessor Lyndon Johnson In 1965, a year when the now 79-year-old Biden was in college.

Despite being responsible for this, it has taken the US almost six decades to combat global warming. A quarter of all emissions It is indicative of a long climate war that has warmed the planet over the course of modern civilization. The fossil fuel industry’s pernicious misinformation, cynicism, and muddled political tactics have blocked any action to prevent catastrophic heat waves, floods, droughts, and wildfires.

If on Friday, as expected, the House of Representatives approves a landmark $370bn climate spending bill in the US Senate and sends it for Biden’s signature, it will be a saga that can be reckoned with throughout his career and a lifetime.

Al Gore was a fresh-faced 33-year-old congressman from Tennessee when he ran for office in 1981. unclear hearing with fellow lawmakers to hear evidence of the greenhouse effect from Roger Revell, his former professor at Harvard and one of the scientists who warned Johnson about climate catastrophe 16 years ago.

Gore, now 74, is a former US vice-president and veteran climate advocate whose urgent warnings on the issue won him the Nobel Peace Prize when Greta Thunberg was just four years old. “I never imagined I would dedicate my life to this,” Gore said.

Al Gore has been talking about the effects of global warming for 40 years. He said, ‘I never imagined that I would dedicate my life to this. Photo: Ian Forsyth/Getty Images

“I thought, naively in retrospect, that we could move faster when the facts were so clearly laid out. I did not anticipate that the fossil fuel industry would spend billions of dollars on an industrial program of lies and deception to prevent the body politic from behaving rationally. But here we are, we’ve finally crossed that threshold.”

Gore called the bill, “a turning point in our fight to tackle the climate crisis,” known as the Low Inflation Act, which would supercharge the deployment of renewable energy such as wind and solar and push fossil fuels into irrelevance.

Many incumbent Democratic lawmakers, who narrowly passed the bill through the Senate, also felt the weight of the moment, many of them Warming stripes color Showing global warming trends. Some were moved to tears as the law passed on Sunday.

“We’ve been fighting for this for decades, now I can look my kids in the eye and say we’re actually doing something about climate,” said Brian Schatz, a tearful senator from Hawaii. “The Senate was where climate bills were dying, and now the largest climate action of any government has ever been taken.”

The list of past failures is long. Jimmy Carter installed solar panels on the roof of the White House, only to be torn down by Ronald Reagan. Bill Clinton tried to impose a new tax on polluters only to see strong backlash from industry. The U.S. refused to join the 1997 Kyoto climate accord under George W. Bush and later, with Barack Obama in the White House, gutted the climate act in 2009 despite a strong Democratic majority in Congress.

Obama’s successor, Donald Trump, torched most modest measures to curb planet-warming gases and campaigned wearing a coal-mining helmet. “I had no doubt we would get there, but there were times when the struggle became harder than I thought it would be, like when Trump was elected,” Gore said.

Climate change has inflicted more and more serious wounds on the American people because their politicians have been deluded or distracted. huge Forest fire California now faces a year-round, possibly worst drought in the American West In 12 centuries. Heavy rains now sink regularly basement In New York, the Appalachians citiesand Las Vegas Casino. The poor fare worst because of scorching heat waves and constant air pollution from power plants, cars and trucks.

NASA scientist James Hansen told Congress A historic 1988 hearing That “it’s time to stop being so steamy and say the evidence is very strong that the greenhouse effect is here” and yet the growing latter warnings showed little difference. Shortly before the Senate brokered the deal, climate scientist Drew Schindel said the lack of action made him “want to scream” and “I’m wondering what’s the point of producing all the science” if it’s just going to be ignored.

Activists carry a sign resembling a red alarm clock that reads 'Wake Up Fed!  Stop funding fossil fuels'.
Activists participate in a Vasundhara Day rally and march in Washington DC. Photo: Michael Reynolds/EPA

Much of the blame for this has been placed on the fossil fuel industry, which Known for decades The devastating consequences of its business model to fund a vast network of operations that only hide this information and Tried to sow doubt In people about science.

“These forces are much more active and effective in the United States than in other countries,” said Naomi Oreskes, an American historian of science who has written on the misinformation spread by industry on the climate crisis.

“For more than 20 years, American public opinion has been heavily influenced by ‘merchants of doubt,’ who have peddled disinformation designed to make the public believe that the science of climate change is far more uncertain than it actually is.”

Industry lobbying and generous donations have ensured that the Republican Party has fallen almost entirely to the demands of the big oil and gas companies. As recently as 2008, Republican presidential candidate John McCain a A recognizable weather plan But the point is now close to party heresy, notwithstanding increasing anxiety Among all Americans, including Republican voters, about climate-induced disasters.

The misinformation strategy “worked more than its promoters imagined,” Oreskes said, adding that every Republican senator voted against the deflationary legislation. Mitch McConnell, the GOP Senate leader, called the bill “Green New Deal bullshit,” according to Americans’ priorities that left much of his home state of Kentucky under water. The worst flood on recordDozens were killed and entire towns were flooded.

The continued, staunch opposition to any meaningful climate action by Republicans means the climate wars in American politics are unlikely to stop anytime soon. But climate advocates hope the pace of renewable energy and electric car adoption won’t stop anytime soon if Republicans win back power.

The question is how much damage to the habitable climate will occur in the meantime. The climate bill is expected to help reduce emissions from the US, the world’s second-largest carbon polluter. By about 40% this decade, which should prompt other countries to do more. Important, upcoming UN climate talks in Egypt suddenly seem more welcoming to the American delegation.

Gina McCarthy, Biden’s top climate adviser, said, “In the previous administration, I think the rest of the world lost faith in the United States in terms of our commitment to climate. “This not only restores confidence in the United States, but it creates an opportunity area that other countries can consider.”

But almost every country, including the US, is still not doing enough, quickly enough, to avoid the prospect of catastrophic global warming. The climate wars helped enrich fossil fuel corporations but cost valuable time without a new climate bill to back down.

“It was a moment of joy and happiness when the legislation was finally passed, but we cannot let this be a once-in-a-lifetime moment,” Gore said. “The path to net zero (emissions) is where we need to go and there is a lot of hard work ahead.”

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