Saturday, July 2, 2022

Freedom's Cost

Americans are a strange and contradictory lot, to put it mildly. They claim (not unlike a certain candidate running for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada) to love freedom, yet that love of freedom clearly has its limits. For example, many of them exult in the recent decision of the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v Wade, claiming a victory for the unborn and the sanctity of life. Yet that same reverence for life apparently ends at birth, if you consider even one of several metrics, not the least being the fact that they have the highest incarceration rate in the world. If that isn't an indictment of an uncaring society, I don't know what is. And don't get me started about gun rights vs. the killing of school children.

But instances of their hypocrisy/contradictions abound. Another is the the crazed right-wing, of which America seems to have an unusual concentration, and its hatred of regulations or, as they view it, government intrusion in their lives (see the above for a glaring exception). The latest example is reflected in the Supreme Court decision to neuter the Environmental Protection Agency.

... the court released a ruling in West Virginia v EPA limiting the Environmental Protection Agency’s power to regulate emissions from fossil fuel-fired power plants, in a major environmental case with far-reaching impacts. This has been classified a “devastating” outcome by environmental lawyers, climate scientists and activists alike. One with far-reaching implications for the future of the country, and world.

Despite Americans' professed reverence for life, this ruling will have the opposite effect:

“At this point, for those in positions of high power to deny the urgency and the stakes of the climate crisis is to condemn everyone alive today and generations to come to life in a sick and impoverished world,” said Ginger Cassady, executive director of Rainforest Action Network.

Distilled to its essence, the Court decision removes much of the EPA's regulatory power to limit pollution, the argument being that only Congress has such power. Given the partisan dysfunction of Congress, this means a major brake on greenhouse gas emissions has been removed. leaving it up to states to determine their own rules. It would therefore appear that any national climate goals Joe Biden has are now impossible to achieve.

Regulating emissions from power plants is a vital piece of climate mitigation, as the power sector is the second largest planet-warming polluter in the US, making up about 25% of national emissions. 

In the meantime, experts noted the domino effect of not rapidly eliminating national greenhouse-gas emissions will disproportionately fall to Black, brown and Indigenous communities, as worsening climate crisis deepens racial and social divides.

“There are so many paths to climate justice still, but what we’re seeing is a supreme court that is, I would call them ‘Supreme Climate Deniers’, that are trying to put themselves in a decision-making position,” said US Climate Action Network’s executive director, Keya Chatterjee. “That sends a signal that they will want to make it hard for the federal government to protect people in communities where right now the fossil fuel industry is running the show.”

“Decisions like WV v EPA make it clear just how much the system is rigged against us. A supreme court that sides with the fossil fuel industry over the health and safety of its people is anti-life and illegitimate,” wrote the Sunrise Movement, a youth-led climate organization.

I sometimes think that the Ugly American would be far more tolerable were they to cast aside their cloak of self-righteousness, false piety, hubris, over-the-top patriotism and jingoism and admit to themselves and the world exactly what they really are.

But a capacity for self-reflection and honesty really isn't the American way, is it?




  1. d God turned to Gabriel and said, “I shall create a land called Canada of outstanding natural beauty, with majestic mountains and soaring hawks, sparkling lakes abundant with bass and trout, forests full of deer, and rivers stocked with salmon. I shall make the land rich so the inhabitants prosper, and call them 'Canadians', and they shall be praised as the friendliest of all people.”

    “But Lord” asked Gabriel, “is this not too generous to these Canadians?”

    And God replied, “Just wait and see the neighbours I shall inflict upon them.”

    1. An excellent story that really puts things into perspective, jrkrideau!

    2. Thanks but not mine. Unfortunately, I failed to save the attribution so that the author gets due credit.

  2. And what our neighbours conjure drifts across our border.

  3. And sometimes the stench is unbearable, Owen.

  4. The EPA was established under Richard Nixon's administration. Obviously a raving commie to this band of judging lunatics, to whom a good lungful of coal-burning emissions is a tonic to set oneself up for a wonderful day.

    If the EPA is illegal, and Congress critters need to manage emissions, then what of all the other myriad agencies of the US government? Are they illegitimate too?

    It's like the hearings into the Jan 6 riots. On my hobby forums, it has become clear to me that Republican voters have simply tuned them out. They pay no heed whatsoever to the revelations coming out, and simply do not listen. The Democrats running that show are dismissed as lying partisans

    On the emissions front, the SCOTUS majority decision simply means environmental disaster will happen sooner, given the US's profligate use of energy. Not that we're any better on a per capita basis, but we do have a lot of hydro. Never fear, the UCP is poised with shovels at the ready at the tarsands to dig us deeper and faster into oblivion when the right wing of America gives the OK.

    1. We live in strange times, don't we, Bill, when we can see Richard Nixon as a kind of environmental exemplar, just as Brian Mulroney is when it came to acid rain. Truly, the race to the bottom that the Republicans are currently running has accelerated precipitously.

      Here at home, I can well imagine the old rhetoric of the right being resurrected, the one Harper liked to use: for competitive purposes, we can't hobble our businesses by saddling them with environmental restrictions the Yanks don't have.

  5. CBC’s the “House” this morning with Chris Hall was interesting and surprising. Anyong

    1. I did not hear it, Anyong, but will see if it is available at the CBC website.