Joe Manchin and the End of the World

Your weekly down note.

Joe Manchin is going to remove the only part of the Biden Ultimate Stimulus Plan™ that would benefit all 7 billion people on Planet Earth—taking a step toward junking coal and gas-fired power plants.

What does that tell us?

If there’s one thing the democratic senator hates, it’s the beautiful mountains, valleys, and scenic byways of West Virginia. He also hates fishing, though he’s awfully fond of water in the form of flooding. 

He’s looking for a huge increase in deer, which is great for hunters, but terrible for practically any other animal that enjoys a plant-based snack. But maybe there won’t be so many plants, anyway, because of the droughts the state can expect because of global warming.

Manchin is one of climate change’s great allies and owned by Big Coal.

Which—and this is the pathetic part—isn’t that big. 

His state produces 12 percent of the coal used in the United States, and coal contributes $14 billion to the state’s GDP of $79 billion. That’s a lot, but not as much as the $25 billion the state can count on from the federal government every year. In fact, West Virginia is one of the most heavily subsidized states in the Union, getting back $2.12 for every $1 it pays in taxes.

And that doesn’t count FEMA dollars for natural disasters. And there will be more of those as the climate keeps changing.

Nationally, almost $2 trillion was spent on natural disasters last year. That’s a number that grows every year and the growth is linked by scientists—and common sense—directly to global warming.

But Big Joe is more worried about his state’s second-largest cash crop–behind government handouts–than he is the lives of his people. In reality, only 13,000 people work the coal anymore in West Virginia, out of a population of 1.8 million. That’s less than 1%.

But for Joe Manchin that math works. Instead of thinking about his own ruined land, or the 330 million people who pay far more of West Virginia’s freight than coal, not to mention the other 7 billion people who have nothing to say about this at all, he’s proud to strip out one of the only measures that could have a true impact on controlling greenhouse gases.

And because of that one man, 13,000 jobs, and those $14 billion, we’re all going to die.

I exaggerate. Only several billion of us will die. Some of humanity will live on in a diminished state as a 1.5 degrees centigrade rise in global temperature flies by in the rear-view mirror.

If we were being honest here, we weren’t going to make that number, anyway. In fact, we’re unlikely to prevent a far more devastating rise in temperatures of more than 2 degrees, which could be the tipping point where the planet starts to become downright hostile.

In fact, studies show that there’s a 90% chance we’ll warm the Big Blue Marble by between 2 to 4.9 degrees. When you get around 5 degrees centigrade there’s a good chance humanity will be literal toast.

That being the case, why do we care about Manchin and his short-sighted, downright moronic priorities?

Because this man, who represents just more than .6% of the U.S. population, this mouse that roared, is helping to remove any chance of any mitigation at all.

We’re at the stage of things where we aren’t going to be able to keep things as they are. It’s too late. Forget about it. People telling you everything is going to go back to “normal” are lying, even if everyone in the whole world ran out and bought a Tesla.

But the hotter the world gets, the worse things become. So, if the United States, all by itself gets rid of these plants, it’s still better than no one doing it. And if the United States doesn’t do it by legislative fiat, no one else is going to do it either.

But if the United States gets rid of its plants, it’s good for everyone. If America turns on the technological tap and shares, it’s good for everyone. Things are going to be bad, but there’s no reason to make them worse than they must be.

Right now, there is a short-term energy crisis. It’s acute in some parts of the world, like China, but the causes are artificial and won’t last long. There’s lots of coal in the ground, so production will just go up, electricity prices will go down and the world’s smokestacks will continue to spew.

Just like Joe wants it.

The market is not here to help. It’s here to be a market. Instead, legislation is intended to keep humanity away from its worst self. We have legislation against murder. There’s even an international law against genocide.

Laws that shut down coal- and gas-fired powerplants are laws against complete humanicide.

But for the sake of .03% of the world’s people —Joe Manchin’s people—we’re not going to do it.

They won’t thank him for it.