Biden’s win makes climate catastrophe a little less likely

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Today's Agenda

Biden Win Restores Climate-Change Believers to Power 

An uncontrolled pandemic and an uncontrolled president have temporarily pushed our third existential crisis — uncontrolled global warming — into the background. But a vaccine is coming soonish, as is the day President Donald Trump leaves office. The climate emergency, however, isn't going anywhere. In fact, it will keep getting worse.

At least President-elect Joe Biden, unlike Trump, acknowledges this is in fact a crisis. Soon it will no longer be U.S. policy to actively fuel climate change by propping up the dying coal industry or hacking away at environmental regulations. America will rejoin the Paris climate accords. The new EPA director will not be a fossil-fuel lobbyist. But there's much more Biden can do than that, writes Bloomberg LP founder Mike Bloomberg, and he won't even need the help of a recalcitrant Republican Senate. He can make energy conservation and climate resilience a focus of every agency under his purview, from the Agriculture Department to the Treasury Department. In fact, this sounds a lot like the blueprint Biden already has in the works. "To his credit, his ambitious climate plan recognizes that there is much he can accomplish without Congress," Mike writes. Read the whole thing.

Trump Clings to Power, Day Five

Meanwhile, Trump has fired the scientist who produces the government's regular climate report, because reasons, that's why. It was the latest in a flurry of moves showing Trump either digging in for a purloined second term or settling scores and trying to make Biden's presidency miserable. This includes a troubling purge of top Pentagon leadership, inspiring Bloomberg's editorial board to remind Trump and whoever's minding the store in Arlington that national-security threats haven't gone away and in fact are licking their collective chops at the idea of an America in disarray. It's one reason for that whole peaceful-transfer-of-power thing the GOP has tossed into a dumpster.

Certainly Trump is about as eager to leave the White House as Jerry Lundegaard was to leave that motel at the end of "Fargo." For one thing, he hates to admit losing. But also giving up the presidency means leaving behind a cocoon of legal protections, which Tim O'Brien writes is shielding him from outstanding debts, civil litigation and criminal probes.

Unfortunately for Trump, his legal challenges are too flimsy and too few to even come close to overturning the election, writes Noah Feldman. In the meantime, while we wait for Trump to work through his hurt feelings, he and his many GOP enablers are hacking away at the thin veneer of civility that keeps this democracy from collapsing into anarchy. It's a fitting end to his destructive presidency.

Further Grumpy-Strongman Reading: Trump's fellow populist leaders now regret putting all their bets on him for short-term gain. — Mihir Sharma 

Biden's Economy May Not Be So Terrible

A deep recession. A once-in-a-century crisis. An obstructionist Congress: This was the nightmare facing Biden and President Barack Obama a decade ago. And it feels a lot like the one Biden faces now. But Tim Duy suggests at least six (6) reasons Biden may be lucking into a much better economic situation this time. Number Six will shock you! Actually, it won't: It's the vaccine. 

Still, given how much Wall Street is pricing in a new Roaring Twenties, Bill Ackman is right to hedge a little bit against corporate credit, writes Marcus Ashworth. The economy may end up strong, but there will be little or no stimulus to tide us over until that vaccine comes. The on-ramp to our glorious future may not be smooth.

Bonus Vaccine Reading: Maybe we should be vaccinating young people first, because they are likelier to spread the disease. — Therese Raphael 

Telltale Charts

Consumer goods companies are suffering as people work through what they hoarded during the first lockdowns, writes Sarah Halzack. Fortunately for them, but unfortunately for the rest of us, another hoarding phase may be coming.

Ben Schott wonders why the U.K.'s Covid messaging campaign been so hilariously awful, including this confusing alert-system graphic:

Further Reading

The GOP has finally run out of ways to attack the Affordable Care Act. — Noah Feldman 

There will always be a bit of Trumpism in Republican foreign policy, and that may not be such a bad thing. — Hal Brands 

New console wars begin this week, but Sony is already set to crush Microsoft thanks to its slate of games. — Tae Kim 

Adidas hasn't made the most of Reebok. It may soon give somebody else the chance. — Andrea Felsted 

Settling the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh is a rare diplomatic win for Vladimir Putin. — Clara Ferreira Marques 

ICYMI

Pfizer's vaccine will likely be most accessible to rich nations.

Georgia, where Biden holds a 14,000-vote lead, will recount its ballots.

The Minneapolis Target looted six months ago is open again.

Kominers's Conundrum Hint

If you're stuck on our Wheel of Fortune Conundrum, we're giving you a few extra letters: In addition to the letters we started off with, we've filled in all the letters in "BLOOMBERG":

  • M  _  R  _  /  _  _  _  /  _  /  L  I  T  T  L  E  /  L  _  M  B 
  • _  I  _  E  /  O  R  _  N  G  E , /  T  O  /  S  _  E  R  L  O  _  K
  • _  E  B  R  E  _  /  G  R  _  I  N  /  M  E  _  S  _  R  E
  • B  L  _  _  K  _  _  _  K  /  _  E  _  L  S 
  • _  I  _  /  S  N  E  _  K  E  R  S , /  _  O  _  /  M  I  G  _  T  /  S  _  _

Kickers

NASA lands on an asteroid and discovers it's hollow and spinning to pieces. (h/t Ellen Kominers)

Scientists discover a new primate and immediately declare it endangered

Scientists uncover a 1,000-year-old Viking burial site

Jumping into a black hole won't eradicate you, but stretch you out particle by particle

Note: Please send primates and complaints to Mark Gongloff at mgongloff1@bloomberg.net.

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