The Normalization of TS/TG Along with the Normalization of Gay and Lesbian

Transsexual and Transgender people are everywhere, for good or bad, in high positions in life and low

We are not just sex workers and murder victims even though we are often stereotyped as such.

Like other minority groups we are remarkably diverse.  So much so that describing ourselves as either transsexual or transgender says virtually nothing about us as an individuals.

I never saw us as a single community.  TS/TG as identity seemed to form very weak bonds between us.

Often times friendships required additional shared interests.

Identity politics tells us we should make the TS/TG cause the main focus of our lives.

I found that really problematic right from the start because over the years I  started seeing not only the LGBT community as my community, but generally the left wing progressive world as my community

The idea that I should consider myself primarily a member of the “Transgender Community” seemed stifling.

Huffington Post had an article the other day: Jacob Rudolph, Teen Who Came Out In Awards Speech, On Why He Identifies As LGBT   (Rather than Gay)

When the push for transgender as umbrella effort started in the 1990s, I was a volunteer at the LA Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center.  I even celebrated the 25 anniversary of my surgery at Pride Day in 1997.

If people tried to pin me down as to identity I would have said lesbian or maybe bisexual.  I was out about being transsexual, but I never treated transsexual as though it was the only thing about me or even the most important.

As I’ve said in the past I never wanted either transsexual or transgender as a honorific preceding my name.  Now I know there has been a good deal of debate over the proper use of transgender or transsexual as adjective rather than noun, but I find the practice of using it as a title to be far more offensive.  I’m also troubled with it being used as an adjective modifying a profession.  I am a writer/photographer etc who happens to be transsexual.

Last week there was an article on Raw Story:  Colin Powell asks O’Reilly: Why do you only see me as an African-American?

It is the same thing: Why should any of us be seen as only TS or TG?

Seriously what do the terms transsexual or transgender really say about us?  I mean beyond the obvious.

I always felt more a part of the queer alphabet soup than any one particular identity. I suspect many people do.

Because I feel a part of a bigger community I tended to sort things like the passage of laws along lines based on the dialectic of whether they are good for the LGBT etc community or bad for the LGBT etc community.

Now we (TS/TG) people are becoming common place.  For both positive and negative attention.  While we still have the radfem assholes beating on us we also have a lot of feminists including us in things like the Violence Against Women Act.

In the 1970s it Gay and Lesbian people wore buttons and carried signs that read: “We are Everywhere!”

Now TS/TG people are everywhere and while the struggle is far from over we are at least starting to be part of the discourse.  Even when that means speech editors  wind up tacking us on to inclusive speeches, “And transsexual/transgender people too.”

Even though we watch some people strain to be properly inclusive more and more people in not only the LGBT communities but in the progressive communities are starting to make the effort.

After years of being shut out of the elections and watching a right wing minority pull together a coalition of racists, homophobes, and religious fanatics; we’ve started to work together.  Obama may not be our ideal but we overcame the differences of the identity politics that kept minority groups apart for all these years.

We showed up at Occupy.  We show up at anti-globalization rallies, anti-tar sands and pipeline rallies.

More importantly people are beginning to see how diverse a minority group TS/TG people actually are.

While we haven’t gotten the big Federal Inclusive ENDA we have had far greater success in getting major corporations to write TS/TG non-discrimination measures into corporate policy.

So we are getting to a place where we receive the same crappy treatment as the rest of the work force.  We are part-timers with no benefits, no sick time or vacation time.  We are over-worked and over-stressed just like the rest of the work force.

I realize there are way too many throw away and runaway as well as adult homeless TS/TG folks.  We really treat the homeless and disenfranchised in a manner that is unconscionable.  There was an article in the December 10, 2012 New Yorker titled “Netherland” about a young lesbian who ran away to NYC and wound up homeless, as so many LGBT kids do.  She was one of the better equipped homeless LGBT kids and became part of a crew that helped each other survive.  That crew included a trans guy.  They all did sex work and a number of them wound up HIV Pos as a result.  But they were the strong ones and managed to work their way through the social services net work.

What struck me about the article was how the trans-guy was just casually accepted as part of the LGBT mix.  And why not?  They were united by shared problems associated with being young, poor, homeless, and part of the alphabet soup.

But homelessness isn’t just a problem for TS/TG folks or even LGBT folks.  It has become systemic and hits many working class people.  The Nation recently ran an article:  Old, Female and Homeless.

Our employment issues are intertwined with the same issues of employee abuse that all working people face.  Part time, no benefits low paying work in a fire-at-will environment.  Older workers and workers  whose professions have become obsolete due to either automation or off-shoring are particularly hard hit.  See the recent New York Times article:  In Hard Economy for All Ages, Older Isn’t Better … It’s Brutal.

I’ve heard a lot of people use the term “intersectionality of oppressions”.  Indeed most of us live lives that are filled with an intersectionality of oppressions.  Identity politics asks us to make one aspect of our lives the primary source of oppression and focus.

When we do that we miss out on the opportunity to form coalitions across the array of intersectional issues.

Educating people to treat TS/TG people with respect and decency requires effort.  We have already made that effort with other members of the Gay and Lesbian Communities, now we need to reach beyond LGBT.

As TS/TG people we share the same issues as non TS/TG people.

Women in society be they cis or trans, often share the same issues.  Gay or lesbian transfolks share the same issues as non-trans gay and lesbian folks.

Our elderly are often without families and dependent upon Social Security as well as other public services.  Our immigrant sisters and brothers face the same issues other immigrant people face, no matter their document status.

The environment impacts all our lives.  Access to health care, the right to marry.  the right to housing and travel without fear of having your papers challenged are basic rights.

We’ve won two Presidential elections and while it is true Obama isn’t as progressive as we might wish, he is a damn sight better than the alternatives we were presented with.

We need to branch out beyond being TS or TG or even LGBT and form coalitions on the community state and national levels to work together to insure the rights of all.

From Huffington Post:  Why LGBT Equality Means Equality for All


The LGBT movement is not just about what most people would commonly label “LGBT issues,” such as same-sex marriage. LGBT Americans reflect the full diversity of this country, in every way. Our sexual orientations and gender identities cut across every race, ethnicity, age, religion, class and national origin. And the issues that influence our lives are at the intersections of all those distinctions, just as they are about what connects us all: poverty, racism, sexism and systemic economic and legal inequality.

When it comes to immigration, our movement is again deeply intertwined with the struggle for equality for all immigrants — which the president emphasized as another crucial component to our national journey in both speeches. There are an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country, 11 million who have no clear path to citizenship, who must hide the truth about how they came to this country, who must live their lives in constant fear of being forcibly separated from their families and from the people they love most, and who are at continual risk of being detained and subjected to appalling abuses. Many of these individuals and families are LGBT, and our movements have united out of the common cause that no one should be forced to hide any aspect of their identity. LGBT people have joined in calling on the president and Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform and in taking a stand against blatantly discriminatory laws such as Arizona’s S.B. 1070, and Latino and immigrant rights organizations have joined in taking strong stands in support of LGBT equality.

And one of the pillars of the LGBT rights movement is this truth: The government does not have the right to control our bodies by legislating on the basis of a narrow standard for sexuality. But that same controlling impulse is behind the right wing’s efforts across the country to restrict abortion and access to contraception, and to mandate abstinence-only education. Their intent is clear: to deny women control of their own sexuality. On the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, LGBT Americans are among the strongest advocates for reproductive freedom, because our cause is one and the same: to live our lives as we wish, without anyone imposing their judgment and will on our most personal decisions.

Finally, when it comes to economic inequality, we know that LGBT people face this reality firsthand. LGBT people of color, especially transgender people of color, have among the highest rates of poverty and HIV infections and face among the harshest discrimination in our society, whether in employment or in incarceration rates. We join our allies in demanding solutions not just to anti-LGBT discrimination but to the underlying crisis of poverty and racial injustice in America.

See also: The Georgia Voice:  Activists: LGBT communities must ally with others to ensure equality for all

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UK: Housing association refuse to relocate trans woman away from phobic neighbours and say it is ‘lifestyle choice’

From Pink News :

1 February 2013

A trans woman in Middlesbrough who tried to change her housing after being harassed by neighbours was refused help by staff, who told her it was her “choice” to be transgender.

Staff of Erimus Housing told Stephanie Elliott Lowther, 46, that they could not help with her request to move away from neighbours who subjected her to transphobic abuse as her gender identity was a “lifestyle choice” that she could opt out of, according to the Northern Echo.

Ms Lowther said: “Erimus has a plaque on its wall about supporting diversity but I came away from there believing that they did not understand what being a transsexual was about.

“I was frustrated and told her that if I had any choice in the matter, I would not choose to be transgendered [sic].”

Ms Lowther sent a complaint to Erimus Housing, who apologised. They have committed to carrying out diversity training for their staff, and Ms Lowther is to help them deliver it.

“I hope this ensures others who go down this route find an easier reception when being dealt with. Only time will tell but it is encouraging to see Erimus tackling this matter head on,” she said.

Saliah Hameed, the Diversity Manager for Erimus Housing’s parent company Fabrick, said: “We are committed to equality and diversity and will not tolerate discrimination on any grounds.

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The Party Isn’t Over, But It’s Well Past Midnight for Homophobia in America

From Huffington Post:


Responding to the Boy Scouts of America’s plan to ditch their ban on gay Scouts, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said, “A departure from their long-held policies would be devastating to an organization that has prided itself on the development of character in boys.”

The problem that Perkins and other culture warriors are encountering is that each day fewer people believe their hyperbolic and hyperventilating warnings about LGBT people. The  terrifying “Gay Agenda” and “Special Rights” rhetoric worked well in the 1980s and 1990s when homosexuals were thought of as a far-off species that only existed in San Francisco’s Gay Pride parades. It was easy to spook the suburban masses by exploiting fear of the unknown.

However, now that gay people are coming out quicker than Perkins can invent new lies — and straight allies are joining our cause faster than new homophobes are minted — the outcome appears to be a foregone conclusion. The only rationale for Perkins and his ilk to continue their losing crusade is to suck every last cent out of their aging, gullible followers’ pockets before they expire.

The Boy Scouts story was featured in today’s New York Times on page A13. However, all one has to do to understand the reason for their policy shift is read the story on page A12, “Sewers, Curfews, and a Ban on Gay Bias.” It is about Vicco, a poor, abandoned Appalachian coal town in Kentucky, which has a gay mayor and a city council that just passed an anti-discrimination ordinance.

Similarly, a bill that would give same-sex couples the majority of the legal rights afforded heterosexual couples cleared a Wyoming House subcommittee by a 7-2 vote and is headed to consideration in the full House. According to the Los Angeles Times, the bill’s sponsor is State Rep. Cathy Connolly of Laramie, the first openly gay representative in Wyoming.

If Perkins’ prejudice isn’t playing in rural Kentucky and Wyoming, it soon won’t be resonating in too many places.

Sensing this trend, Dave Kochel, an Iowa Republican operative who served as senior adviser to Mitt Romney, declared this week on a local television show his support for marriage equality and said, “The culture wars are over, and the Republicans largely lost.”

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Obama: Boy Scouts Should Be Open to Gays

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HHS takes final steps toward near-universal contraception coverage

From Raw Story:

By David Ferguson
Friday, February 1, 2013

Reproductive rights groups are applauding the latest announcement by the Obama administration of proposed policies aimed at providing contraceptive coverage to women employed by religious organizations. NARAL Pro-Choice America, Planned Parenthood, the Guttmacher institute and other organizations have enthusiastically greeted the news that under the provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, steps are being taken to remove the onus of providing contraceptive coverage from employers in instances where providing such coverage would violate religious principles.

“This is very much what the administration spelled out a year ago,” said Adam Sonfield, a Senior Public Policy Associated at the Guttmacher Institute, an international nonprofit dedicated to the advancement of sexual and reproductive health. In an interview with Raw Story on Friday, he said, “There is a religious exemption for churches and other purely religious organizations. There’s also an accommodation for a broader range of nonprofit organizations that put themselves out as being religious.”

The new proposals, said Sonfield, “set up a mechanism so make the accommodation work so that that employers don’t have to touch contraception in any way. They won’t have to contract for it. They won’t have to talk to their employees about it. They won’t have to pay for it.”

Instead, a “third-party issuer” will handle issues related to birth control and contraceptives. Sonfield emphasized that for the employees, this coverage will be “seamless and automatic,” by dint of a “small, separate policy,” usually with their own insurer, dedicated solely to contraceptive coverage.

NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue released a statement praising the administration.

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See Also The New York Times:  Birth Control Rule Altered to Allay Religious Objections

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Senate Democrats Achieve 60 Votes For Violence Against Women Act

From Talking Points Memo:

Sahil Kapur
February 1, 2013

Next up in the Senate: The Violence Against Women Act.

Senate Democrats have achieved the 60 votes necessary to bypass a filibuster and reauthorize the domestic violence legislation.

“JUST TOPPED ‘magic number’ of 60 bipartisan cosponsors of my #VAWA legisl.; We’re moving briskly toward Senate vote on the Leahy-Crapo Bill,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) wrote Thursday afternoon on Twitter.

The seven Republicans who have joined 53 Democrats in support of the legislation are Sens. Kelly Ayotte (NH), Susan Collins (ME), Mike Crapo (ID), Dean Heller (NV), Mark Kirk (IL), Jerry Moran (KS) and Lisa Murkowski (AK).

A floor vote is expected as early as next week.

“The Leahy-Crapo VAWA bill seeks to protect all victims of domestic and sexual violence, including tribal women, college students, and members of the LGBT community,” Leahy said in a statement Friday. “For nearly 20 years, the programs supported by VAWA have been a lifeline to so many. They deserve swift action in Congress.”

VAWA originally passed in 1994 and was reauthorized without incident in 2000 and 2005. It expired in 2011 but has continued to receive funds. The reauthorization has fallen prey to disputes between a Senate supermajority and House Republicans on whether to expand coverage to gays, illegal immigrants, college students and Native Americans.

The Senate bill dropped a provision to expand the number of U Visas available for abused undocumented immigrants to achieve legal status, which law enforcement consider useful in helping prosecute offenders by encouraging victims to speak up. The reason for omitting that, Leahy said, was that Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) objected to it, noting that it raises some revenue and bills that do so must originate in the House.

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In Hard Economy for All Ages, Older Isn’t Better … It’s Brutal

From The New York Times:

Published: February 2, 2013

Young graduates are in debt, out of work and on their parents’ couches. People in their 30s and 40s can’t afford to buy homes or have children. Retirees are earning near-zero interest on their savings.

In the current listless economy, every generation has a claim to having been most injured. But the Labor Department’s latest jobs snapshot and other recent data reports present a strong case for crowning baby boomers as the greatest victims of the recession and its grim aftermath.

These Americans in their 50s and early 60s — those near retirement age who do not yet have access to Medicare and Social Security — have lost the most earnings power of any age group, with their household incomes 10 percent below what they made when the recovery began three years ago, according to Sentier Research, a data analysis company.

Their retirement savings and home values fell sharply at the worst possible time: just before they needed to cash out. They are supporting both aged parents and unemployed young-adult children, earning them the inauspicious nickname “Generation Squeeze.”

New research suggests that they may die sooner, because their health, income security and mental well-being were battered by recession at a crucial time in their lives. A recent study by economists at Wellesley College found that people who lost their jobs in the few years before becoming eligible for Social Security lost up to three years from their life expectancy, largely because they no longer had access to affordable health care.

“If I break my wrist, I lose my house,” said Susan Zimmerman, 62, a freelance writer in Cleveland, of the distress that a medical emergency would wreak upon her finances and her quality of life. None of the three part-time jobs she has cobbled together pay benefits, and she says she is counting the days until she becomes eligible for Medicare.

In the meantime, Ms. Zimmerman has fashioned her own regimen of home remedies — including eating blue cheese instead of taking penicillin and consuming plenty of orange juice, red wine, coffee and whatever else the latest longevity studies recommend — to maintain her health, which she must do if she wants to continue paying the bills.

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The Paranoia of the Superrich and Superpowerful

From Tom Dispatch:

Washington’s Dilemma on a “Lost” Planet

by Noam Chomsky
February 3, 2013

[This piece is adapted from “Uprisings,” a chapter in Power Systems: Conversations on Global Democratic Uprisings and the New Challenges to U.S. Empire, Noam Chomsky’s new interview book with David Barsamian (with thanks to the publisher, Metropolitan Books).  The questions are Barsamian’s, the answers Chomsky’s.]

Does the United States still have the same level of control over the energy resources of the Middle East as it once had?

The major energy-producing countries are still firmly under the control of the Western-backed dictatorships. So, actually, the progress made by the Arab Spring is limited, but it’s not insignificant. The Western-controlled dictatorial system is eroding. In fact, it’s been eroding for some time. So, for example, if you go back 50 years, the energy resources — the main concern of U.S. planners — have been mostly nationalized. There are constantly attempts to reverse that, but they have not succeeded.

Take the U.S. invasion of Iraq, for example. To everyone except a dedicated ideologue, it was pretty obvious that we invaded Iraq not because of our love of democracy but because it’s maybe the second- or third-largest source of oil in the world, and is right in the middle of the major energy-producing region. You’re not supposed to say this. It’s considered a conspiracy theory.

The United States was seriously defeated in Iraq by Iraqi nationalism — mostly by nonviolent resistance. The United States could kill the insurgents, but they couldn’t deal with half a million people demonstrating in the streets. Step by step, Iraq was able to dismantle the controls put in place by the occupying forces. By November 2007, it was becoming pretty clear that it was going to be very hard to reach U.S. goals. And at that point, interestingly, those goals were explicitly stated. So in November 2007 the Bush II administration came out with an official declaration about what any future arrangement with Iraq would have to be. It had two major requirements: one, that the United States must be free to carry out combat operations from its military bases, which it will retain; and two, “encouraging the flow of foreign investments to Iraq, especially American investments.” In January 2008, Bush made this clear in one of his signing statements. A couple of months later, in the face of Iraqi resistance, the United States had to give that up. Control of Iraq is now disappearing before their eyes.

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Al Gore: US democracy has been hacked

From The Guardian UK:

Former VP tells Andrew Marr Show the internet provides a means to rekindle democracy and purge it of corporate influence, Sunday 3 February 2013

US democracy has been “hacked” by big business and needs to be reclaimed using the power of the internet to hold politicians to account, according to former US vice-president Al Gore.

Offering a blunt assessment of the extent to which private companies influence decision-making in the US, he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “American politics has fallen into a state of disrepair,” in an interview to mark the publication of his new book, The Future.

Gore added: “It can be fixed, but we need to recognise that our democracy has been hacked  … It has been taken over  … and is being operated for purposes other than those for which it was intended.”

In the interview, Gore alluded to a 2010 US supreme court decision that banned restrictions on political donations by corporations in the name of free speech.

He agreed that US politics hasd become more divisive, saying: “Certainly the level of partisanship and vitriol has been growing. And I think it is directly connected to the influence of big money – anonymous contributors, corporations pretending to be people and pursuing their business plans in the guise of politics and encouraging many politicians to say things and do things that would not have been seen in the best interests of the public in years past.”

Gore said his own political ambitions had switched from trying to gain elected office to influencing events from the outside.

He said: “I think you can change [politics] from the outside as well. I think a grassroots movement to demand that politics be opened up, and the role of money be diminished, is really more needed now than anything else.”

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The ERA Education Project

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Harnessing Rebel Energy: Making Green a Threat Again

From Truth Out:

By Scott Parkin
Friday, 01 February 2013

The energy was there. It was an overcast spring morning in April 2011 in the nation’s capita1. Thousands had shown up to take action on climate change. The earlier march led us to the Chamber of Commerce, BP’s Washington D.C. offices, the American Petroleum Institute and other office buildings associated with oil spills, coal mining, carbon emissions and more. We heard speakers. We saw street theater. It was all very tame and managed. It lacked confrontation.

It was almost a year to the day after the Gulf oil spill, yet offshore drilling continued as usual with little consequence for oil giant British Petroleum. Out west, the Obama administration had just opened up thousands of acres for coal mining in the Powder River Basin. Appalachia’s mountains were still under attack by the coal industry. Natural gas extraction, also known as “fracking,” was spreading like an epidemic through the countryside.

Over 15,000 youth, students and climate activists had gathered at Powershift for weekend of education, networking and keynote speakers. There were keynote speeches by Al Gore and Bill McKibben, yet little was offered in the way of taking action against Big Oil and Big Coal. We are faced with the greatest crisis in the history of the world, so we were told, yet the Beltway green groups had only produced failure in Copenhagen and Washington.

Globally, we had watched the Arab Spring throw out dictators; anti-austerity movements in Iceland and Greece rise up against corrupted regimes and massive protests in the Wisconsin state house fighting for labor rights. We were only a few months away from Occupy Wall Street.

Needless to say, the North American climate movements wanted in on the action.

As the morning march ended that day at Lafayette Park, the unofficial march, spearheaded by Rising Tide North America, formed and headed into the streets of Washington D.C. Tim DeChristopher of Salt Lake City, who had become something of a folk hero to climate activists after derailing a federal land auction and protecting thousands of acres of southern Utah wilderness, announced on the microphone that it was time for more drastic action. Anyone that wanted to take that step should join the Rising Tide march that was heading down 17th St NW to the Dept. of Interior.

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“CHASING ICE” captures largest glacier calving ever filmed

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The baffling response to Arctic climate change

From the David Suzuki Foundation:

David Suzuki
January 31, 2013

The Arctic may seem like a distant place, just as the most extreme consequences of our wasteful use of fossil fuels may appear to be in some distant future. Both are closer than most of us realize.

The Arctic is a focal point for some of the most profound impacts of climate change. One of the world’s top ice experts, Peter Wadhams of Cambridge University, calls the situation a “global disaster”, suggesting ice is disappearing faster than predicted and could be gone within as few as four years.

“The main cause is simply global warming: as the climate has warmed there has been less ice growth during the winter and more ice melt during the summer,” he told the U.K.’s Guardian.

Over the past 30 years, permanent Arctic sea ice has shrunk to half its previous area and thickness. As it diminishes, global warming accelerates. This is due to a number of factors, including release of the potent greenhouse gas methane trapped under nearby permafrost, and because ice reflects the sun’s energy whereas oceans absorb it.

With all we know about climate change and what’s happening in the Arctic, you’d think our leaders would be marshalling resources to at least slow it down. Instead, industry and governments are eyeing new opportunities to mine Arctic fossil fuels. Factoring in threats to the numerous species of Arctic creatures — including fish, seabirds, marine mammals such as whales and seals, and polar bears — makes such an approach even more incomprehensible.

Royal Dutch Shell has been preparing to drill in the Arctic, spending $4.5 billion on operations and lease purchases. But its record shows how risky this is. First, a spill containment dome failed a routine safety test and was crushed by underwater pressure. More recently, a drilling rig, which was being towed to Seattle so Shell could avoid paying some Alaskan taxes, broke free during a storm and ran aground on an island in the Gulf of Alaska. The disastrous BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 showed how dangerous ocean drilling can be even in relatively calm waters and how bogus the claims of the industry are that it can contain or even clean up a spill.

Responding to climate change and vanishing Arctic ice by gearing up to drill for the stuff at the root of the problem is insane. Unfortunately, many fossil fuel companies and governments are engaged in a mad rush to get as much oil and gas out of the ground — no matter how difficult — while there’s still a market. The ever-increasing devastation of climate change means we will eventually have to leave much of it where it is — or at the very least, substantially slow the pace of extraction and use the resource more wisely — if we want to survive and be healthy as a species.

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