Last year, I used the final climate culture of the year to take a look at “brutal” by Olivia Rodrigo. She sang, and I affirmed, that yes, “it’s brutal out here.” In 2022, it still is. But things have also changed since then.
When I think back on this year, I am reminded of unthinkable tragedies, like the flooding of Pakistan that, by one estimate, affected 33 million people. Or Hurricane Ian and Hurricane Fiona, two of the most devastating storms in an Atlantic hurricane season that caused $110 billion of damage (the 3rd worst on record). Or the worst drought on record in the Horn of Africa threatening 21 million people with food insecurity.
But I am also reminded that we have made progress in real ways. Progress that eluded us in 2021. We passed a $370 billion climate bill in the United States! At the international level, we finally — thanks to brilliant advocacy from the most affected peoples and areas — committed to a loss and damage fund that would have wealthy countries who overwhelmingly cause the climate crisis fund recovery efforts for low-income nations who overwhelmingly suffer the effects.
Nevertheless, when the world is at stake, there are never clear wins. We simply did not do enough. There are concerns over what potentially harmful things are funding by the Inflation Reduction Act. The loss and damage fund still needs funds. We get to celebrate 2022, kind of.
This is to be expected. To achieve climate justice, we don’t just need electric cars, but an entirely new culture. The longer that I do this work, the more clear it becomes to me that the status quo — burning fossil fuels — is not just a technological choice. It is a culture tied up in such longstanding systems of oppression as racism and misogyny. Transitioning to clean energy requires saying, “yes,” the lives of marginalized people matter, and “no,” the people who have profited off of fossil fuels for centuries (old white guys) don’t deserve all that money. Not everyone agrees.
This week, this dynamic was out on full display. Andrew Tate, who in one headline was called a “self-described misogynist influencer” tweeted at Greta Thunberg out of nowhere.
This was Greta’s response.
Hello @GretaThunberg I have 33 cars. My Bugatti has a w16 8.0L quad turbo. My TWO Ferrari 812 competizione have 6.5L v12s. This is just the start. Please provide your email address so I can send a complete list of my car collection and their respective enormous emissions. https://t.co/ehhOBDQyYU
Just take a look at those likes! Leave it to Greta to make Twitter relevant again. The thing went viral. But in all seriousness, shortly after this exchange, Andrew was arrested and charged with human trafficking and rape. It didn’t seem like a coincidence to me that someone doing such horrible things to women would be against climate action.
What I took away from this exchange is that most people were laughing at Andrew Tate. We are, by and large, on the side of decency, climate action, and well, humor. We’re with Greta. But, we’re not just asking for some solar panels. We are asking for fundamental changes in our culture, and there is real pushback by an establishment that’s been propped up for ages by oppressing people who are different. Some of these people who have historically had power are going to act out. They are going to do horrible things, and they are going to do everything they can to shut us down.
That’s why we can’t be silent. If you’re ready to take action, head to the Climate Action Explorer to start the new year off right. This year, I wasn’t listening to “brutal.” Songs for the revolution was my soundtrack, because folks, it’s just beginning.