Short Version: Getting Warmer
Tuesday grab bag edition, here we go.
High and Rising
Looking back on this summer a generation from now, if there’s one story people will remember, it probably won’t be COVID, the postponed Olympics, or any of the horsetrading on Capitol Hill. It will be that this was the summer when global warming finally and irrevocably began taking hold of our lives. 2021 is the year of worldwide fires and floods, of visibly melting polar ice caps; it is the year the phrase “heat dome” entered the American public consciousness.
Capping this summer of awakening is a brand new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. To call the reports’ assessments “stark” is an insult to the English language. The notoriously reserved bureaucratic panel was blunt: Earth, our home, is now warmer than it has been in 125,000 years, it is getting irreversibly warmer, and it is our fault. We are now all but guaranteed to reach 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels in the next few decades, bringing with it the attendant sea-level rise, water scarcity, and ever-worsening infernos and floods.
That is the awful news. The urgent news is that it is still, according to the scientists, possible to avoid warming at the rate that could culminate in civilization or species ending catastrophe. Essentially, greenhouse gas emissions, not only carbon, but also other emissions such as methane, have to reach global net-zero by 2050, or else “limiting warming to close to 1.5°C or even 2°C will be beyond reach.”
That means acting now. There is no time to wallow or argue with bad-faith actors. It’s been said before, but climate inaction is now the same as climate denial. Maybe the hardest thing for Americans in particular to understand is that individual consumer choices aren’t going to be enough to get us out of this mess either. Big collective action is needed, such as a federal clean electricity standard (which unfortunately got left out of the horsetrading on the big infrastructure deal). Check out the Sunrise Movement for more.
Gangsters of Capitalism won’t be out until January 18, but readers of The Atlantic got a sneak preview of some of the issues it will cover today. Staff writer Emma Green and I sat down (by phone) for a conversation about journalism, language, and America’s Empire. We dove into my bowdlerizing past as an Associated Press reporter, patriotism in the face of history, coups, rebellions, and the CIA.
It also marks the first time my immigrant great-grandfather, Aron Katz—who escaped the pogroms of Eastern Europe to take refuge in New York—had his name in the pages of the magazine that once published Ralph Waldo Emerson and Oliver Wendell Holmes. The Bronx is undefeated.
You can check out our conversation here.
I followed up last Friday’s issue of the Long Version with a Twitter thread on the dodgy effort to rehabilitate the image of the “Central Park Karen” Amy Cooper—an effort which, I learned today, coincides with an important development in her lawsuit against her former employer. If you missed that issue, you can read it here.
Tomorrow and Thursday mark the four-year anniversary of the 2017 white supremacist rampage the rest of the world calls “Charlottesville” and Charlottesvillians call “A12” or the Summer of Hate.
Tonight (Tuesday, Aug. 10) at 7:30 pm ET / 4:30 pm PT, the group Integrity First for America is hosting a conversation with local and national leaders to discuss what has changed, what hasn’t, and how IFA’s lawsuit against some of the Nazis and others involved is fostering accountability.
You can learn more about the event here.
(And a reminder that Donald Trump did, in fact, call the Nazis who tore through Charlottesville “very fine people.”)
That’s all for now. Thanks as always for reading. If you like what I’m doing here, sign up below to get The Long Version in your inbox. If you already subscribe, consider pitching in for a paid subscription. Until next time.
Jonathan Myerson Katz is the author of the upcoming Gangsters of Capitalism: Smedley Butler, The Marines, and the Making and Breaking of America’s Empire. On Twitter @KatzOnEarth.