Voices from the front line of the climate crisis

Climate Voices

Voices from the front line of the climate crisis

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The earth is experiencing the hottest days ever recorded since instrumental measurements began in the 1850s. For each degree of Celsius warming, the atmosphere holds 7 percent more water vapor, driving the extreme weather events we have seen in the past month. The blistering heat, raging wildfires and surging floods are breaking more than records. They are smashing assumptions and raising profound questions about the effectiveness and ability of humans to manage the rapidly escalating climate crisis. A key driver of global warming is fossil fuels whose use shows no signs of abating. BloombergNEF estimates total fossil fuel supply investments worldwide by 2050 will be almost $31 trillion.

Touching on the hidden fears of many, Jia Tolentino, a staff writer at The New Yorker and National Magazine Award-winning columnist, wrote: “It may be im­pos­si­ble to se­ri­ously con­sider the re­al­ity of cli­mate change for longer than ninety sec­onds with­out feel­ing de­pressed, an­gry, guilty, grief-stricken, or sim­ply in­sane.”

This week, we offer a special report that tells the story of the recent record-breaking heat through the words, charts, and pictures of the scientists, bankers, national leaders, meteorologists, journalists, environmental activists and climate deniers reporting from the frontlines of climate change.

Credit: WFLA

The meteorologist

June 29, 2023, Tampa, Florida
“I have never observed so many of Earth’s vital signs blinking red. It’s astonishing to see global weather patterns yield extremes modern man has yet to experience. Meteorologists and climate scientists worldwide are in awe by the simultaneous literal “off the charts’ records being broken.”

Jeff Beradelli was recently named “top local meteorologist” in America.

The charts



The scientists

July 19, Lubbock, Texas
“The greatest uncertainty is us. Our decisions will determine our emissions, the amount of change we experience, and the vastness of the suffering that results. What can each of us do?”

Connect the dots between what, where, and who you love and how they are being affected by the devastating heatwaves, fires, and droughts occurring around the world right now.

Help others out by sharing — what emergencies are you reading about? What impacts are you witnessing?”

Katharine Hayhoe is the Chief Scientist of The Nature Conservancy, a professor at Texas Tech University, and an evangelical Christian.

June 11, Philadelphia, PA
“Sure, weather is weather. It’s going to happen — rainfall, flooding events are going to happen. What climate change is doing is supercharging them. We should understand that the choice is ours. We can make it much worse by continuing our reliance on fossil fuels. Or we can rapidly decarbonize our economy, prevent a worsening of many if not all of these impacts, and remain within our collective adaptive capacity as a civilization.”

Professor Michael E. Mann is a climate scientist and distinguished professor at the University of Pennsylvania and author of the recently published, The New Climate War.


The king, the president, the UN Secretary-General

July 5, The United Nations, New York, NY
“Climate change is out of control.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

July 10, Windsor Castle, UK
“Thank you very much, Your Majesty and Mr. President. The bottom line is that folks like us represent some of the most powerful and successful institutions in the world. Evidence of the last few weeks piling on, and when scientists are telling us they are terrified by what they are seeing and when we hear we are in uncharted territory, this group comes together and has to figure out how do we deploy the funds necessary to create the new clean energy economy. They represent trillions of dollars either invested or assets under management.” 

Grant Shapps, the British Energy Security, and Net Zero Secretary, speaking on behalf of 23 leading philanthropists and financiers following the “Climate Finance Mobilization Forum.” The group announced a trifling $2 billion climate aid pledge. Last year, Forbes 2022 Global 2000 companies accounted for $47.6 trillion in revenues and $5 trillion in profits.


The bankers

July 10, Washington DC
“For years, the World Bank Group, governments and other multilateral institutions have tried — and fallen short — to mobilize meaningful private investment in emerging markets. Given the urgency and scale of our intertwined challenges, we must try a new approach to catalyze private capital more effectively.”

Ajay Banga, World Bank President, after naming 15 chief executive financiers and asset managers to the Private Sector Investment Lab. The World Bank has provided nearly $15 billion of finance directly to fossil fuel projects since the Paris agreement was signed in 2015.

July 10, Sydney, Australia
Harnessing the large global pools of private sector capital is key to driving better outcomes for emerging markets. The World Bank and other MDBs have a critical role to play in catalyzing this capital, including through structures to allocate and manage early-stage risks.”

Shemara Wikramanayake is the CEO Macquarie Group and member of the new Investment Lab. Since the start of 2022, Macquarie has taken major stakes in, and issued loans to oil and gas companies with aggressive expansion plans around the world.

July 10, Lagos, Nigeria
“Despite already having the solutions to scale up renewable energy-based solutions to deliver development and climate progress, finance needs to be unlocked at scale in developing countries and underserved sectors.”​

Damilola Ogunbiyi is Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All and a member of the new investment lab. She supports new natural gas infrastructure across Africa.

July 10, New York, NY
“I am honored to be asked to lend my support to this work through my participation in the Private Sector Investment Lab.”

Larry Fink is CEO of BlackRock which has more than $170 billion in fossil fuel investments alone in the U.S.


The fossil fuel chiefs

July 6, London, UK
Responding to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres charge that it is “economic and moral madness” to continue to look for new oil and gas:

“I disagree with him respectfully. What would be dangerous and irresponsible is cutting out the oil and gas production so that the cost of living shoots up.”

Wael Sawan is CEO of Shell, which earlier this year, reported profits of $42.3 billion, the highest in its 115 years of existence

July 6, Vienna, Austria
“We are responsible people. We are serious people, and we are part of the solution. I know the scientists told us you should forget [fossil fuels] — but life is like it is.”

Patrick Pouyanne is the CEO of TotalEnergies which ranks third in the world for approving new oil and gas expansion. For every dollar that TotalEnergies reported spending on low-carbon energies, which include fossil gas, the company spent a combined $8 on investments in oil and gas and dividends and buy-backs.


The conflicted voice of the UN COP 28 President

Al-Jaber meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden, His Majesty King Charles III, U.S. Climate Envoy John Kerry, Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan, and Grant Shapps, the British energy security Secretary of State. Credit: COP28

July 13, Brussels, Belgium
COP28 President-Designate Dr. Sultan Al-Jaber urged the world to accelerate the “inevitable” and “essential” phase-down of fossil fuels, calling for the tripling of renewable energy output to 11,000 gigawatts, the doubling of energy efficiency measures and the doubling of hydrogen production to 180M tons per year by 2030.”I challenge you to act in solidarity, put differences aside, and put the interest of humanity first.”

A press release from the incoming President of COP 28.

July 13, Abu Dhabi, UAE
“The mission for all energy companies is not just to keep up with trends but to stay ahead of the curve. At ADNOC, we are calling this mission ‘Oil and Gas 4.0.’

We plan to tap gas from our onshore and offshore gas caps and unconventional gas reserves, as well as new natural gas accumulations. Under the integrated gas strategy, we will develop the Ghasha ultra-sour gas concession, which is expected to produce over 1.5 billion cubic feet of gas per day, when it comes on stream around the middle of the next decade. At the same time, we will increase production from the Shah sour gas field to 1.5 billion cubic feet per day and move forward to develop the sour gas fields at Bab and Bu Hasa.”

“It is a strategic response to ensure we meet the expanding demand for energy and higher-value products in the fourth industrial age. These changes also sit alongside forecasts of a rapid expansion in the market for products derived from petrochemicals, from everyday plastics to high-grade polymers.”

Al-Jaber is also Group CEO of ADNOC, the national oil and gas company of the United Arab Emirates.

July, 14, London. UK

“The world cannot afford for the COP28 summit to fail. We must triple global deployment of renewables while phasing out all unabated fossil fuels.”

A letter to Al-Jaber in the Financial Times signed by:

Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Canada

Ralph Regenvanu, Minister of Climate Change Adaptation, Meteorology and Geo-Hazards, Energy, Environment and Disaster Risk Management, Vanuatu

Jennifer Morgan, State Secretary and Special Envoy for International Climate Action, Federal Foreign Office, Germany

Ali Mohamed, Special Climate Envoy, Kenya

Leonore Gewessler, Federal Minister for Climate, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology, Austria

Joyce Banda, Former President of the Republic of Malawi

Zakia Khattaba, Minister of Climate, the Environment, Sustainable Development and Green Deal, Belgium


The former U.S. vice president

Credit: TEDx

July 12, Detroit, MI
“The amount of money the fossil fuel industry invests in renewables and carbon capture is one percent. Does that mean they are sincere actors working in good faith? I don’t think so.”

“A lot of people still think so, they think they’re on our side. I don’t think it’s their nature to be on our side. I think they’re driven by incentives that push us in the opposite direction. They have produced no solutions that are scalable or remotely feasible. And they’ve actively fought against the solutions that others are trying to bring.”

Al Gore


The activists

July 9, Wimbledon, England
“An area the size of Portugal burnt down in Canada. New York was covered in smog, and people couldn’t leave their homes. A quarter of a million people were displaced in Somalia, 33 million people were displaced in Pakistan last year, the list goes on and on.”

Simon Milner-Edwards, Just Stop Oil environmental protester after scattering orange confetti and a 1,000-piece puzzle on the grass tennis courts of Wimbledon.

July 6, Toronto, Canada

“If you’re not terrified right now and angry, you’re not paying attention

Tzeporah Berman, international program director with Stand.earth and chair of the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative.”

July 6, Costa Rica
“I have for years held space for the oil and gas industry to finally wake up and stand up to its critical responsibility in history. I have done so because I was convinced the global economy could not be decarbonized without their constructive participation and I was therefore willing to support the transformation of their business model. But what the industry is doing with its unprecedented profits over the past 12 months has changed my mind.”

“Do they want to gain some public license (if any is left for them) by speeding the winds of change, or do they want to be the last men standing? If they choose the latter, the transition to clean energies will occur despite them, but it will likely be too late for humanity. The fossil fuel industry will have powered human development in the 20th century and then destroyed it in the 21st century.”

Christiana Figueres, the former executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and co-founder of Global Optimism. She was a key driver of the 2015 Paris Agreement.


The climate deniers

July 9, Washington, DC
The global-warming industry has declared that July 3 and 4 were the two hottest days on Earth on record. The reported average global temperature on those days was 62.6 degrees Fahrenheit, supposedly the hottest in 125,000 years. One obvious problem with the updated narrative is that there are no satellite data from 125,000 years ago.”

“Average global temperature is a concept invented by and for the global-warming hypothesis. It is more a political concept than a scientific one.”

Stephen Milloy, Energy and Environment Legal Institute senior legal fellow, Fox News commentator, and a paid advocate of ExxonMobil 

July 11, New York City
“The rest of the Biden Ad­min­is­tra­tion and its cli­mate-ac­tivist al­lies should mod­er­ate their apoc­a­lyp­tic rhetoric and can­cel the cli­mate cri­sis ac­cord­ingly. Ex­ag­ger­at­ing the mag­ni­tude, ur­gency, and cer­tainty of the cli­mate threat en­cour­ages ill-con­sid­ered poli­cies that could be more dis­rup­tive and ex­pen­sive than any change in the cli­mate it­self.”

Steven E. Koonin, New York University professor and Hoover Institution fellow


The first responders

July 13, London, UK

“In the 1980s, a 1,000-hectare fire was something big. In the ’90s, it was 5,000 hectares. In the 2000s, it was 10,000 hectares. Now it’s something bigger than 30,000.”

Marc Castellnou, head of Catalunya’s specialist wildland fighting agency

“What’s it like to work at a wildfire? It’s hot. You have to hike a lot with probably 20kg on your back, work 10-hour shifts, sleep max six hours. You are exposed to smoke, fire, and ash all the time, your eyes start burning, trees suddenly fall down around you, it’s noisy, you take naps on the forest floor in between. On the other hand, you get to feel this crazy team spirit.”

Amelie Reichel, a German volunteer whose day job is in IT


The journalists

July 11, Hudson Valley, NY
“Even if you’ve been paying attention to climate change, it can sometimes feel very far away, distant in both space and time. But on Sunday night, as I was writing my first edition of this newsletter, it came roaring into my kitchen.”

David Gelles, The New York Times

July 13, Lincoln, VT
As the world heats up, our benchmarks are becoming increasingly useless — as useless as the notion that there are any places to move to and avoid climate change. Americans suffer from a longstanding delusion, a hangover of sorts from the Manifest Destiny era, that there will always be some corner of our vast country to escape to. Its 21st-century form is the notion that one can just pick up stakes and move somewhere else to get away from all this quickening climatic chaos.”

 Jonathan Mingle is an independent journalist

Written by

Peter McKillop

Peter McKillop is the founder of Climate & Capital Media, a mission-driven information platform exploring the business and finance of climate change.