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The COVID pandemic makes much more challenging all the issues surrounding the evacuation, response, and rebuilding of the areas of Louisiana and Texas hit hard by Hurricane Laura. As National Public Radio explains, many families are now essentially homeless because their houses were ruined by the storm and they lack running water and electricity. Many were already out of work, and now they are waiting in long lines in their cars to get the survival basics: ice, water, a hot meal. It is miserably hot, and even getting around is difficult — the major interstate is clogged with emergency vehicles and utility trucks, and traffic accidents and debris still block many roadways. Because they live in a high-risk COVID area, they must stay in hotels they cannot afford because large shelters are not safe and they have nowhere else to go – the need is unprecedented due to the pandemic.
Why This Matters:67,000 people have already registered for Federal disaster assistance but it will not get better any time soon for those hit hardest by the storm. They are likely to become “domestic” climate refugees who will have to rebuild their lives somewhere else — just as the residents of Puerto Rico did after Maria, New York and New Jersey did after Sandy, and New Orleans did after Katrina.
NPR tells the stories of some of the storm’s victims. “‘It’s just kind of hard right now,’ says Trichee Abraham, who lost her job as a cashier recently, one of millions of Americans pushed to the brink by the financial crisis that accompanied the pandemic. Like many evacuees, she chose to ride out the storm in a hotel. She says she used up her savings to pay for the stay, and she has yet to receive any aid from the local, state or federal government.” And as another victim explained, she “evacuated to Austin with her 5-year-old son and mother as the storm approached. Now she’s come back to take stock of the damage and get back to her job. ‘It’s rough staying safe when you don’t have water at the moment or electricity, to try to keep everything clean,’ she says.” And those who have generators are the lucky ones — but a few people have died from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by them.
Yesterday, in his inaugural address, President Biden asked the nation to come together “join forces, stop the shouting and lower the temperature” in an effort to address the crises before us. He asked for a baseline of reality and a true acknowledgment for the challenges ahead, saying that: Every disagreement doesn’t have to be a […]
The January 6th insurrection at the Capitol was the culmination of years of disinformation, conspiracy theories, and false narratives pushed by the GOP, the Trump administration, white supremacists, and the far-right — but these tactics are not a surprise to those who work in the climate movement. Indeed, experts like John Schwartz, a science writer for The New York Times, the lies and rhetoric that fueled the riots felt all too familiar.
Why This Matters: The fossil fuel industry employed the big tobacco disinformation playbook, a strategy that only became more effective with the onset of the internet age.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear arguments on this issue in BP Plc v. Mayor & City Council of Baltimore, which could determine whether or not oil companies are held accountable for climate change damages to cities and states.
Why This Matters: If SCOTUS rules in favor of BP, future climate litigation will likely be fought in federal courts, which experts say are “less responsive to expansive legal theories,” and thus less likely to rule in favor of these innovative new climate cases based on state law. Whoever wins this case will have a leg up in future climate litigation.
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