With a tip of the hat to Dan Farber, here’s my list of the top 10 climate/environment stories of 2015:
2: Exxongate: InsideClimate News and the Los Angeles Times revealed that Exxon recognized the reality of human-caused climate change as early as 1977–but chose to launch a well-financed disinformation campaign in the name of raw greed, human lives be damned. Exxon’s actions, which constitute perhaps the greatest corporate scandal in United States history, prompted an investigation by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman—and may prompt a Justice Department investigation as well.
3. President Obama says #NOKXL: Obama will be praised by future generations for finally heeding the wisdom of the scientists and activists who literally put their bodies on the line to stop this perverse project, which James Hansen said would be “game over” for the climate if approved.
4. Laudato Si: Pope Francis’s forceful denunciation of the fossil fuel industry’s violent assault on Mother Nature has been credited with ensuring the success of the Paris climate talks.
5. Climate-denier Prime Ministers forced from power in Canada and Australia: Stephen Harper, Canada’s George W. Bush, was replaced by Justin Trudeau in October; Trudeau made it clear that Canada would take science seriously once again. Just a few weeks earlier, Tony Abbott, who undid the hard work of climate-heroine predecessor Julia Gillard during his two tempestuous years in power, was ousted in favor of the less-wingnutty Malcolm Turnbull.
6. Clean Power Plan released: Obama’s bold initiative to curb carbon pollution from power plants was met with the usual lies and lawsuits, but the plan found at least one GOP defender, New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte.
7. What We’re Fighting For Now is Each Other: Wen Stephenson’s majestic book about the legions of climate activists battling–and beating–Big Oil is an instant classic, every bit as good as Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate.
8. GOP’s split personality on climate: With rare exceptions, the GOP’s presidential candidates all deny the reality and risk of human-caused climate change; in the House, Rep. Lamar Smith continues his longstanding war on climate science. Yet a handful of House Republicans—and a major GOP financier–declared that the GOP must grow up on this issue.
9. Californication: The fossil fuel industry used its considerable financial power to kill an effort to reduce petroleum consumption in the Golden State, in one of the most infuriating stories of the year.
10. Ed Schultz’s ouster from MSNBC: Schultz–who, along with Chris Hayes, was a bold voice for climate protection on the cable network—severed ties with the channel, amidst speculation that his strong criticism of the Trans-Pacific Partnership played a crucial role in his departure.