Every Election Is a Climate Election with Rhiana Gunn-Wright | Crooked Media
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November 04, 2022
Every Election Is a Climate Election with Rhiana Gunn-Wright

In This Episode

This week on Hot Take, Amy and Mary speak with Rhiana Gunn-Wright – Director of Climate Policy at the Roosevelt Institute and one of the architects of the Green New Deal. With the midterms right around the corner, they discuss shifting narratives around climate, the IRA, and much more. Later on, Amy and Mary make sense of the phenomena of flying soup that’s taking the art world by storm, and break down a horrific take from a New York Times opinion writer.


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Mary Annaise Heglar [AD]


Mary Annaise Heglar Hey, hotcakes. We are planning a mailbag episode. But first we need a bag full of mail. So we need questions from you. Send your questions to hottake@crooked.com. That’s hot take at crooked dot com and remember that’s just for questions. Please continue to send all hate mail to Brian Kahn that’s bkahn@protocol.com.


Amy Westervelt That’s right and you can send us anything questions about policy.


Mary Annaise Heglar Who’s taller?


Amy Westervelt Who’s taller, actually.


Mary Annaise Heglar It’s me.


Amy Westervelt Movies, TV shows, politics, movement stuff.


Mary Annaise Heglar Mm.  What we had for breakfast.


Amy Westervelt Yeah, whatever. Our cats.


Mary Annaise Heglar Oh right. Because you have multiple cats now.


Amy Westervelt Yeah. Yes, I do. Anything you want. Send it. If we don’t know the answer and we want to include your question, well at least try to figure out the answers. So. So, yeah, don’t be shy. If you want to be anonymous, you can note that in your email too.


Mary Annaise Heglar Send us your questions. We will answer them to the best of our ability. Amy, what’s your Social Security number?


Amy Westervelt No, no.


Mary Annaise Heglar Okay fine.


Amy Westervelt No. Hottake@crooked.com. Send them in.


Amy Westervelt Hey, hot cakes. Welcome to Hot Take. I’m Amy Westervelt.


Mary Annaise Heglar And I’m Mary Annaise Heglar. And this is our last episode before the midterm elections are over with.


Amy Westervelt Ahhh.


Mary Annaise Heglar I know.


Amy Westervelt It’s nerve wracking.


Mary Annaise Heglar It is. But as a little ray of hope, there was some good election news coming out of Brazil this week.


Amy Westervelt I know. I can’t believe it. Lula beat out Bolsonaro. Surprising kind of everyone, I feel like. So that was some good news, genuinely like good news for the entire planet.


Mary Annaise Heglar Well, he was leading like people expected him to win in the first election. So I’m just I’m glad that the predictions ultimately became true and hoping for a peaceful transfer of power. And no, no funny business, because who knows what can happen in this world we live in right now. But for right now, we’re going to take this ray of hope and we’re going to hold on to it for dear life because that’s what’s at stake here. So.


Amy Westervelt Yeah.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.


Amy Westervelt Yeah. Totally. Also this week, another ray of lights, Rihana Gunn-Wright, is joining us. Rihana is one of the, she’s the best. She’s one of the architects of the Green New Deal. She’s the director of climate policy at the Roosevelt Institute and a second time guest on Hot Take and one of our faves always. But especially around the midterms.


Mary Annaise Heglar Exactly. Always good to hear what she thinks because this woman is brilliant. So with that, I think it’s time.


Amy Westervelt It’s time to talk about climate.


Mary Annaise Heglar We welcome Rihana Gunn-Wright. It’s such an honor to have you.


Rihana Gunn-Wright Oh, I’m so excited to be here. Thank you for having me.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah, I can’t believe it’s been two years since you were on the show. Right around this time, too. And we’re still hearing, actually, some of the same old narratives that progressives are causing Democrats to lose elections. I know that’s really tiring for you. And this is happening even as support grows for progressive values and as progressive politicians win races despite their party’s efforts to take them. And more importantly, progressives actually energize their bases.


Amy Westervelt It’s true. Yeah. I mean, I do think there there are some promising turns. I don’t know. I know that like looking back, even just over the last, I don’t know, five years or something, I feel like the way that people talk about climate now in particular is way more through like a green New Deal lens than it was one where, you know, people are no longer thinking about labor as being totally separate. Yeah you know, immigration. So that’s kind of promising. Yeah. But I don’t know. It still feels like we’re we’re. We got a lot a lot of room.


Rihana Gunn-Wright And there’s certainly lots of promising changes. I mean, even the IRA for like all of its flaws, a lot of the way that the IRA tries to address climate like through industrial policy, through public investment, you know, even if those investments are tax credits. Right. It’s a lot of it is very much like it’s very clear how the Green New Deal influenced that. Like, we’re not talking about a carbon tax anymore. Right. Like we are talking about addressing climate change through essentially in lots of ways, like building things and putting having the public sector put a thumb on the scale for renewable energy and low carbon goods. And that is all very green New Deal esque, even if the bill itself has a lot of neo liberal elements. And that’s not to say that, like we’ve won, it’s more that it’s the reason that we have the things that we have, even on climate is largely because of progressives, even as people say. Progressives are the reason that Democrats are losing races. They’re also the reason Democrats care at all about climate. And so at this point, I’m just like. Our role is to push, right? Like we push, you build power and you push. And like most people don’t like to be pushed and. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t need to happen. And so it is what it is.


Amy Westervelt Yeah, yeah, totally. I know. I’ve heard I’ve heard lots of people talking about how progressives are really responsible for Ira passing, too, despite the fact that, you know, they were blamed for being the biggest obstacle to it. Ahhh


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah, yeah. yeah. But we’re we’re going to talk about the IRA in more detail. But first, we want to talk about just like how the midterms are shaping up and some of the narratives around some of these campaigns and what’s missing and what’s not. And I know, Amy, you had a question.


Amy Westervelt Yes. Okay. This might be a dumb question, Rihana, but I know from just I don’t know, research and reporting and stuff that the Republican and conservative groups in general have had a strategy to defend dirty air and dirty water for like 20 years. And they still haven’t had to use it because Democrats have not done a very good job of promoting the benefits of clean air and clean water. Like there’s there’s all these Republican operatives that are like, oh, man, if they ever start talking about clean air, we’re done for. And yet I don’t see people doing it. And I’m curious if you have any thoughts on that or like or maybe they have been doing it, but the public just doesn’t.


Mary Annaise Heglar It’s a secret.


Amy Westervelt Grab hold of it. I don’t know.


Rihana Gunn-Wright I think they do. Um. I think a lot of people do. I think it is. I think part of a lot of people sort of just like environmental messaging writ large. But I will say, I think there is an increasing focus on talking about or like tying. Climate policy to economic. Gains and the opportunities there, which again we deal with the Green New Deal. So I definitely get it, especially at a time where there’s like so much inflation and people are worried about cost of living, talking and climate policy has often like doing anything about climate has often been painted as like just a drain, right? It’s just going to cost a lot of money and have no discernible upside except clean air and clean water. But people don’t even say that, right. They have no discernible upside. So I think connecting it to, you know, these plants that are, you know, going to bring a lot of jobs to places that haven’t had that level of job creation, concentrated job creation in a long time, connecting it to, you know, the building of new facilities, just connecting it to honestly. Both jobs, but also images of America as like a builder. Right. And hearkening back to times where you could make like a really good living and factories, etc.. I think that is where a lot of the narratives are turning. And I think it also can mean, like not talking about benefits that aren’t directly going to go to like GDP. Right? Like it’s you can’t really you can talk about like the health benefits, right? How it might cut down like hospitalization or, you know, health care costs. Right. That’s one way. But really, you’re talking about something that is just good because it’s good for lots of people. It’s public. It’s, you know, the idea that, like, it’s going to benefit us all. Right. It’s going to. And then not only us all, but it would disproportionately benefit people of color, like all of those, I think are. Things that like a really strict economic framing of climate as like an economic good can really sort of. Push aside because those things don’t fit into their framework. They’re not. They’re not. Quantifiable. Right in there in those ways in terms of your wages will go up. Right. Or whatever. And so I think like though clean air and clean water poll really well, particularly among Republicans. Like it really resonates the idea of like, environmental stewardship?


Amy Westervelt That’s why all those strategists are so worried.


Rihana Gunn-Wright Yeah. Like environmental stewardship, having clean air, clean water. Like, it resonates, like, across the board for people. I’ll be honest, I think some some people think of that framing as sort of, like, soft.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.


Amy Westervelt Yeah.


Rihana Gunn-Wright Not just soft, but like that sort of old environmentalism. Like, you do it because it’s the right thing to do, which I think is actually never framing. People should give up. Like you should do. Think of the right thing to do.


Amy Westervelt I wonder if that’s like partly informed by the whole. Like, I don’t know. You know, there’s this, like, this kind of tech bro libertarian thread of like hippie punching in the climate space three. Now do that. I feel like the mainstream orgs and whatnot are really trying to appeal to, you know, like, yeah, totally. We can have a technological, you know, market approach to this that’s going to be great. And, and none, nothing about clean air and clean water if it’s.


Rihana Gunn-Wright Yeah.


Mary Annaise Heglar I think it’s like the over rationalization and masculine ization of climate action. Like we do this because it’s like the rational thing to do is the practical thing to do, right? Like this anti alarmism, which is really just patriarchy. The other thing is that if you don’t, there’s no such thing as dirty air, dirty water. If you have lead in your water, if you have, you know, oil in your water, you don’t have water. You have poison. Right. Like, let’s just go ahead and say that if your air is like if you can see your air, you do not have air, you have smog. That’s a very different thing. You’re not breathing air. You’re breathing poison. Right. So let’s just call it thing a thing. But one of the things you touched on, Arianna, is that if we do these things, they will disproportionately benefit black and brown people, and not because of anything other than the fact that not doing these things disproportionately takes advantage of those communities. So one of the things that we’ve been talking about on this show, and just like in general in climate discourse, is that does that framing or saying that out loud, does that hurt us for climate action? Right. Because we’ve been hearing that once people heard that COVID was a bigger burden for black and brown communities, white people stopped caring about it. And there’s a fear that if we start talking about climate change in that way, that white people, a.k.a powerful people, will stop caring about it. And I wondered if you had thoughts on that.


Rihana Gunn-Wright Yeah, I do. I mean, I think just looking at American history, there’s always that threat, right? When an issue gets painted as predominantly or like primarily an issue that affects black and brown people, both sort of mainstream attention for it drops or the narrative shifts to one that’s like much more punitive, whether that’s like. Welfare policy or criminal justice, right. We’ve seen it all in a lot of places. And so I think that’s always a risk. But the Green New Deal, even if you’re just looking like in the last five years there’s been a lot of more discussion about climate and the ties between climate change and environmental justice and racial justice and how you need to deal with the climate crisis. And I actually think that like that discussion both, I think has become a lot more accepted. Like I do think you would be hard pressed to find someone who’s not a conservative talk about climate without mentioning environmental justice like at all. But I also think that like more than that, the sort of discussion of climate, like expanding the vision of what the climate crisis means, who it affects. What does it mean to be a climate activist? I actually think that’s broadened the number of people who care about it and can see themselves attached to it and actually helped it become much more of like a broad based movement. And I think that that is been like very powerful and a big reason that we even have the IRA. Right. I think it’s helped actually build that pressure. And I think for something like climate, where like where you really have such powerful, entrenched, entrenched interests, especially like from fossil fuel companies and industries, you really, really, really need mass support and pressure for. Climate policy to happen. And so I actually think this is an area where that risk. We definitely run that risk. But actually getting more people of color to care, right? Like really making those stakes clear and the benefits clear. And how they will disproportionately benefit people of color, I think is actually important. We just can’t, I don’t think, play a deeply, deeply inside game when it comes to climate. Like we don’t have the money.


Mary Annaise Heglar Right. I’ll just say and I know this has come up in, you know, our conversations, but people of color do care about climate change. They’re just not empowered yet. So how do how do we empower more? And I know that’s what you meant. Real quick question, though. What’s a potato’s favorite horror movie?


Rihana Gunn-Wright Wait, I don’t know.


Mary Annaise Heglar Silence of the yams. Rihana? Come on.


Rihana Gunn-Wright *Laughs*.


Amy Westervelt Wow.


Rihana Gunn-Wright *Laughs.*.


Amy Westervelt Hmmm, well, I feel like that. I feel like what you were just talking about kind of plays into what we’re seeing in the midterms this year, where you’ve got a lot of high profile candidates who’ve crafted electoral platforms that do seem somewhat climate informed. And I don’t know, I just I wonder I wonder what you think about this shift in how the Democratic Party talks about climate and the fact that I think it is mostly black and brown candidates. They have have like re reframed the messaging in a way that that seems like the rest of the party has accepted. Whether they give credit for that or not is a different story. But. But yeah, I just. I don’t know. Like, what do you think about this kind of long held assumption that that people of color don’t care about climate change and how the party’s dealing with that and how that’s changing?


Rihana Gunn-Wright Yeah. So I mean, there’s definitely a long held assumption, even though it’s not supported by any research, people of color are more likely to care about the climate crisis. Our electoral system in particular is not set up to. Accurately represent their voices or empower them. And so we end up really like stuck in a place where we’re continually trying to I’ll be honest, it feels like we’re continually trying to convince white men of varying ages. Like, that we should do something about this, even as like. Masses of people who do not look like them would really like to do something about it. And so I am I am pleased in in so many ways by seeing, like, black and brown candidates lead the charge, because I think it just reflects a reality, which is that people of color, especially indigenous folks, but I think of like black let necks have really. Taking the lead often and being like stewards of our land. And I’m just glad to see them lead on that, because I think so often, like you said, the narrative is that people of color don’t care about climate and that this is a space where, like, we really need white saviors who like understand the data and are the real adults in the room to come and handle this very serious situation. I think my enthusiasm is tempered, of course, because it’s not for me. The question is never just like, will we do anything or won’t we? But also how? How are we handle this crisis? Who is benefiting? Like, is this really entrenching, you know, unequal power distributions, like the ones that we have? You know, is it the market handling this? Is it the public sector? What are the those relationships? All of those things are still at play. And so I’m excited. But I recognize that like everybody’s saying, we should do something about climate does not share at least my vision for what that would mean.


Mary Annaise Heglar Absolutely. I’m I’m thinking about last time you were on the show, you talked about, you know, your grandmother, who is not a climate scientist, as I recall, but is very much a climate voter and kind of always has been like always will choose the candidate who’s more forward on climate. And so what I think is that a lot of like I like to tell people that I cared about climate before I knew I cared about climate.


Rihana Gunn-Wright Totally. Like I think I talked about last time, like my grandmother, you know, until she was in her nineties. She’s had a garden. Right. Like she’s planted her own food. She will fight you if she sees you not recycling a bottle or something. Like she in the ways that she knows how to care about climate. And she’s from the Gulf South. So, like, she has a lot of memories of, like, shrimping and crabbing. Right. And her mom having growing food. And so she’s actually the one I feel like really taught me about having respect for the earth. And I remember her talking about she didn’t call it climate change, but like when I was talking about. Leaving the like our physical world. She was thinking mostly about, like, nature and the earth. Worse than she had gotten it. When I was like a little kid. And her being worried about that, about pollution and whatnot. And so, yeah, I think that’s the case for a lot of people. And I think like so many things, often the barrier comes down to language. Right. As in. As a lot of people. I mean, I know that people don’t talk about the climate crisis or climate change the way that I do. Right. Being in the field that I’m in. But it doesn’t mean that they’re not talking about it. So like the ways that I remember hearing about it growing up was a lot of discussion about pollution. About


Mary Annaise Heglar In the ozone layer, right?


Rihana Gunn-Wright Right. The ozone layer about, you know, a health related effects people getting sick from like air or we weren’t thinking a lot about water then, but like in particular, air pollution. And so I think there. When people are talking about that and now with, you know, extreme weather events. Right. Like that’s also a language that people are using to talk about climate crisis. So I often think like especially for those of us who are in the climate movement, our work on climate every day, sometimes we really have to like get off our high horses and realize that. People are talking about it, even if they’re not talking about it in the ways that we do. Yes.


Mary Annaise Heglar I think I’ve maybe talked to at least one of you about this. I’ve been so floored living in New Orleans and realizing that literally every black person in New Orleans is a climate expert and has a shit ton to teach the rest of us who are out here pontificating like we know every little thing. And so like that lived experience is a type of expertize. And yeah, it needs to be honored. So yeah, I’ve been really, really thrilled to see so many black candidates, the cycle owning climate as a central platform. And I feel like those are the ones who are talking about it. Like head on. Not like finding other ways around it. Or if they do, they bring it back and educate their their constituents about some of the ins and outs of climate change that they might not be feeling, you know, tangibly today about what’s coming down the line. And I feel like a lot of the Democrats that came before them didn’t really do that. They were just kind of like, well, our constituents aren’t really talking about climate change, so we’re not going to talk to them about it’s like, well, then, you know, it’s kind of your job as a communicator.


Rihana Gunn-Wright 100%. And I think that just gets back to I feel like a lot of. Folks and I include myself in this in terms of when you work in politics or politics, adjacent fields like policy, you can get a mall where you just sort of scan for the keywords, you know, where you’re just waiting. You’re looking for people to say the list of terms. And.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.


Rihana Gunn-Wright Not necessarily listening for comprehension. Right? Like, really, I understand why people do this. Everyone is tired and busy on every level course. But it really does, I think, end up in taking for granted. How. Smart. The average person really is especially about gluttony.


Rihana Gunn-Wright Yes. Yeah. You said the last time you were on the show. The people aren’t stupid. They’re just busy.


Rihana Gunn-Wright Yes.


Mary Annaise Heglar And that’s. Yeah. I want you to know, I quote you on that all the time.


Rihana Gunn-Wright People aren’t. I mean.


Amy Westervelt Yeah.


Rihana Gunn-Wright People. I’m. They just aren’t I’m sorry, is one of the things that gets my goat every time. Because when you think about even how you, each of us move through the world, especially if you have people that you’re taking care of, which most people do, whether that’s a child or a family member, you know, a parent or whatever, you are constantly trying to. Make choices that will help you and often to a larger extent, them live well. Right. Like no one’s out here trying to be stupid. Right. Right. That just doesn’t make any sense. And it just really bothers me the way that I feel like sometimes we will. Think very highly of how we try to go about the world and conduct ourselves and then not extend that same. I guess, grace or consideration to other people. I mean, now there are some dummies out here. I won’t lie about that, but.


Mary Annaise Heglar Sure.


Rihana Gunn-Wright But.


Mary Annaise Heglar To be fair.


Rihana Gunn-Wright I think a lot of people are not.


Amy Westervelt Yeah. I feel like the lived experience thing is becoming more and more important in politics too. Like I feel like part of the reason that the candidates that you were just talking about, Mary, are good at talking about this stuff is is like it’s not just because they’re good at talking about it or because they have particular lived experiences. I think it’s also that they’re relatable to voters in this way. You know, like like I just I was talking about this with some of the other day and I’m like, I just don’t think that, like, there’s a way to talk to voters about, like, energy prices, for example, in a credible way. If you’re someone who has, like, never, ever experienced being really worried about being able to pay a bill that, you know.


Rihana Gunn-Wright Or someone who doesn’t even know how to, how much your utility bills usually run.


Mary Annaise Heglar Mhm.


Amy Westervelt Is exactly, exactly. I’m just like man I’m sorry but I look at some of these folks in DC and I’m just like, yeah, you’ve never had to look at your pantry and figure it out like 50 ways to cook lentils, friends, you know what I mean? Like, it is not as hard to relate to.


Mary Annaise Heglar Oh, my God,  Amy, get out of my Internet search history like.


Rihana Gunn-Wright I can’t do lentils. I’m sorry. I will be hungry. Out between hunger and a bowl of lentils. I’ll be hungry. It’s fine


Mary Annaise Heglar Girl, I love me some lentils.


Rihana Gunn-Wright What are these like tiny bean hybrid. Like, what is this? I don’t understand. I didn’t grow up eating lentils. I have not acquired the taste. I just truly do not understand why I want to eat these tiny, dry, flat beans.


Mary Annaise Heglar I feel incredibly attacked right now and I’m just going to say this without Googling it. But lentils are very climate friendly food. You need to eat more of them. Brianna, you feel good about potatoes, right?


Rihana Gunn-Wright I mean, I’m from the Midwest. Of course, I lovea potato.


Mary Annaise Heglar You should also love lentils being from the Midwest. But anyway, what disease is the biggest killer of potatoes?


Rihana Gunn-Wright Oh. I’m trying to think of a play on, like, bird flu. Let me think. Ugh.


Mary Annaise Heglar You give up?


Rihana Gunn-Wright No, I don’t know.


Mary Annaise Heglar Tuberculosis.


Amy Westervelt Tuberculosis. That’s actually really good.


Mary Annaise Heglar All right. Let’s go to an ad break.


Amy Westervelt [AD].


Amy Westervelt So I think some of our listeners might think of you as the woman who wrote the Green New Deal. And I know that you took issue with that. So correct them. Correct them.


Rihana Gunn-Wright Yes. So I led a team that worked with a number of other people to both research the Green New Deal, figure out what could be in a Green New Deal, what shape it could take. And then. After the resolution was written based on a lot of that research, then went out and tried to sort of help figure out what the next steps for policy that was developed in the framework of a green deal could look like.


Amy Westervelt Mm hmm. Can you talk a little bit about what? I don’t know. I guess. Like, what? What. What does the Green New Deal look like today? Like, what are the the ways that it comes up in in conversation? I feel like it’s become kind of shorthand for a certain type of climate policy. Yeah.


Rihana Gunn-Wright Yeah. It has. The Green New Deal has definitely become shorthand for a type of climate policy that is. Very focused on decarbonization, but is also about creating. Jobs. Ideally, millions of jobs and also has a really keen eye on justice, particularly racial justice and environmental justice. But a type of climate policy that essentially is not just about reducing GHG emissions, but is also about reducing environmental inequality, is about reducing pollution, and is ultimately about helping to. Rebalance power like through climate policy, because people often just think about like, what do we do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which is very important, but because climate greenhouse gas emissions are the result of economic activity. Right. We have a tagline at Roosevelt, like all economic policy is climate policy. It’s about actually how do we address climate change in ways that help. Right. Those types of power imbalances. So we don’t end up here again. Because what we do know is that if power is not concentrated in the hands of so few, particularly so few people that don’t know what their utility bills look like and are disproportionately white men, we probably will not end up here before again. Right. We will make different decisions. And so the Green New Deal, I think, has become shorthand for that kind of like progressive justice minded climate policy, which I mean, of a number of people would argue is not really about climate, quote unquote. But that’s something we’ve been dealing with since the Green New Deal emerged. And now it’s interesting because the Green New Deal, I mean, and to be clear, the Green New Deal was never like a single policy proposal. It was a framework about how to approach the problem of decarbonization and what types of policies and projects and areas should be like, areas of focus. And so the Green New Deal, I think, has continued to be that kind of framework. It’s also now like a movement, right? There are a lot of groups that have organized themselves around the vision of a Green New Deal from like the Green New Deal Network, which is at the national and state level to like there are I remember I think they’re still in place but there is like a group of like architects and designers who are organizing around a Green New Deal and like the questions that that brought up for how we design do like urban planning and design of buildings and spaces. Right. And so it’s also a movement of folks who are invested in. Getting this type of climate policy passed. I mean, it’s also like an international, right? There’s green new deals in other countries that are based on a lot of these same principles. And now, in a lot of ways, although, you know, I think the IRA does not do nearly as much as around the question of power and rebalancing power as we would have liked to see in the Green New Deal. It is in terms of industrial policy. And like I said, an approach to decarbonization that is about sort of rebuilding a real economy and public investment, etc.. It is a real antecedent of the IRA.


Mary Annaise Heglar I also just want to underscore that the Green New Deal is the only even close to a piece of legislation that came close to addressing the science. The Paris Agreement didn’t do that. Build Back Better didn’t do that. The IRA didn’t do that. None of those addressed what the IPCC report said to do. And I also want to ask, though, what the IRA was in play. You found yourself portrayed as an activist instead of a policy expert like you were. Everybody’s like darling policy expert during the Trump years when we were trying to get the Green New Deal. And I just I feel like I know. But I just want to give you a chance to talk about how did that moment feel to you?


Rihana Gunn-Wright Um. I still think I’m processing my feelings about this moment because on the one hand, it was exciting to see so many of the things that I had talked about for the last three years down to look what things we should build, like heat pumps, you know, and the idea of like building the government, investing to like help build facilities that would produce low carbon goods and how many people could be employed by that? Which that resonates for me, even with all the masculinity. The idea still of there being like good jobs available for people in their community without without having to do like a very traditional path that really resonates for me, especially having worked in Detroit, where people like you really I really get so many people whose lives have changed because their parents, I got to work in those factories like that was exciting. And so there was some excitement. There was definitely some disappointment because like I said, I felt like the I.R.A. pursued a lot of the means that we fought for. But like I said, without a lot of the same commitment to power or like directly investing in communities and renegotiating a relationship with the market. That is more equal. You know, I didn’t see a lot of those elements and that was disappointing. And I think some of it was hurtful, if I’m going to be honest, because I think a lot of us and not just me, a lot of folks who came behind the Green New Deal, whether they were like economists or activists or, you know. Everyday people. A lot of people who this vision resonated with really took a lot of flak for it for a long time. And. Won’t take him particularly seriously. And to see that. The ideas come to fruition. But then no one actually acknowledged the work that you did to get there. That’s hurtful. I can’t lie. That hurt. And it also was hurtful to all of a sudden the. Work that I can have contributed to a work that I had done that was really about like laying out an intellectual economic case and like laying out, if not the exact policy, like the backbone and the framework. All of a sudden just swept up in being like if it was acknowledged, this was the work of like social movements. Right where it’s like it wasn’t just that we put pressure, like we actually put forward a vision that was based on actual research, but it felt like what it was that was swept aside and it was sort of like, let’s get the real adults in the room who by and large were much. Older, whiter and male. More male.


Amy Westervelt Right. Yeah. Like you put actual research and consumption and strategy.


Rihana Gunn-Wright Yeah.


Amy Westervelt Like into it. Not just, like, making a cool protest sign. Not that that’s not also it’s, you know, not not a slam to people, but like, yeah.


Rihana Gunn-Wright So all of a sudden it was like, you know, and I lead, I’m literally the director of climate policy at a think tank and all of a sudden, everywhere I was an activist and I was an activist and I was like critical of the IRA and that was hurtful because it was like that. I didn’t become an activist overnight just because I don’t agree with all the parts of this, you know, and I think that happened to a lot of people of color in this moment. And I think that even beyond feeling like my own work wasn’t acknowledged, I think what was even more hurtful was. Seeing the concerns of a number of people of color sort of set aside as them just saying no. Right. Just saying, no, we don’t want to build things. No, we don’t. You know, it’s just anger.


Mary Annaise Heglar NIMBYism basically.


Rihana Gunn-Wright Yeah, they’re NIMBYs and it’s just anger and they’re just saying no. And which just means that, like, you’re not actually listening. And that was really hurtful because they felt like beyond just the work on the policy, a lot of my life since the Green New Deal has been about building, helping to build a much more intersectional climate movement where sort of more traditional climate policy folks were working alongside folks at environmental justice and like really seeing each other as experts equal of equal regard. And to feel like now that this happened, all of that gets set aside. And these people who like you, sit at the same tables with and you’ve been talking about building and coalition with now that they don’t agree around this policy, they just can’t see the forest for the trees.


Mary Annaise Heglar Mm hmm.


Rihana Gunn-Wright Right. Like in they’re treated as though. They’re not as smart and strategic as they were just a few weeks ago when we didn’t think we were going to have any policy. And, you know, people wanted them on like podcasts and whatnot. Like that was hurtful. Like, it was, it was really hurtful because it just felt, again, like. We have to be a movement that can stand together when the stakes are lower, when the stakes are high.


Mary Annaise Heglar Mm hmm. Mm hmm.


Rihana Gunn-Wright Otherwise, who are we really? To each other?


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.


Rihana Gunn-Wright Yeah.


Amy Westervelt Yeah. Yeah.


Rihana Gunn-Wright And, like, we can disagree, but, you know, there should just be some, like, respect. Right. And.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.


Rihana Gunn-Wright And that it felt like that respect often was getting, like, lost in the mix, and that was really hurtful.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah, it was a sucky moment.


Rihana Gunn-Wright And also, I was just a blur. I have an 11 month old child. I don’t. I’ll try to keep up.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah you had a baby.


Rihana Gunn-Wright I was like feeling all these feelings and then, you know, wiping somebody’s butt. So, you know.


Amy Westervelt Yeah, yeah. It’s humbling. Yeah, yeah. Oh, man. It’s so true, though. And I. Because I feel like even. I don’t know. Like one of the things that that, like I kept seeing in a lot of the conversations around the IRA was like that. We couldn’t even talk about big. Like, I don’t know, we couldn’t even talk about it as, like a step on the path towards something better. You know, it was like, nope, you have to be an out now, you know, booster for absolutely everything in this policy or you’re being an unrealistic idiot, you know?


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah. The tone policing was un fucking real around that. It’s like you I. I don’t do jigs on command. You know. And like this, this is the same movement that, like Rihana was saying, like a couple of years ago, was all about listening to black women. And now all of a sudden, it’s trying to control what black women say and trying to force us to celebrate in public. And like I, I can’t get crunk about a policy that’s going to sell off the Gulf Coast for parts. I just can’t. Yeah, that still allows for sacrifice zones. I can’t celebrate that. Like, yeah, I can allow it because what the fuck else am I going to do? But to me that does not constitute a victory is better than nothing. Yes, but the bar is on the floor when it comes to climate action. And just like the demand that everybody celebrate this in public, because we have to give people hope, like, I’m sorry, that’s that’s bullshit.


Rihana Gunn-Wright Yeah, there just was it was a moment where I really did wish there was just more empathy for where. In particular, people of color were coming from, you know, in an allowance of like. Why why people would be very excited. Right. And why they might be angry.


Amy Westervelt Yeah.


Rihana Gunn-Wright And the fact that like people are allowed to have big emotions and I mean in all directions, but it felt like really allowance for people to be overjoyed and happy was their. Right. Like we didn’t actually have to allow that. Like, what’s happening?But allowing people to be angry or feel hurt or let down. Yeah, it did feel like there was a lot of hush that, you know. And that was. And that was hurtful or, you know, and just seeing people who, you know, I respect all of a sudden. You know, when they saw someone who was critical just to be like, they’re not realists if they don’t get it. And it was like really that that’s the only conclusion you can draw from this.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah. I want to bring this back to the election. So as we’ve talked about here, there’s a lot of problems with the IRA, but there’s also this paradox where it remains true. There’s the biggest piece of climate legislation.


Rihana Gunn-Wright And it does do some good things like we all can involve that too. Yeah, it’s yeah, a lot. Just a lot overall.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah. So I wonder, what are your thoughts in this midterm season about how Democrats should own or not own that as a victory in their midterms messaging?


Rihana Gunn-Wright I mean, that’s hard. I’m like no politician. But I do think like, listen, it passed. The things that are important to communities in it, you should definitely people should, I think, celebrate that and say why that happened, especially when it happened because of now. I’m not a big fan of tax credits. But listen, as the public investment we got, whatever. But when plants are being built because of public money, that’s important to say, right? Because I just think that the for a very long time, we have hidden the fact that any sort of public sector involvement in the market and which has allowed people to think that good things that happen in part because of public money were just the work of like the company itself. And we just have to push back against that narrative for people to understand why it’s important to have a government that will invest in stuff. Um.


Mary Annaise Heglar MmmHmm.


Rihana Gunn-Wright So I think that that is definitely important. And so I think, yeah, to the extent that people want to celebrate it. And I think if there are things that folks want to do that move beyond the IRA that feel some of his gaffes that they’re that’s part of their agenda if they are elected, I think that’s you know, that’s important to share, too. Well, yeah. So in short, yeah. On it. And I oh, I was going to say, I think it’s especially important because this money is flowing through agencies. Right. The IRA, the Inflation Reduction Act is not regular order legislation. Right. In the sense of my it’s a it’s an appropriations bill, essentially, which means that if control is to switch, there is no guarantee that these dollars will do what they’re supposed to or go out that or much less be subject to the kind of tussling that is starting to happen to make sure that they benefit disadvantaged communities as much as possible. Like all of that is not set in stone. So I think that that’s also important to let people know because I think for a lot of people, they don’t understand that here’s the biggest client investment and they think it’s like a law in the way that you traditionally think of a law. Yeah, not that that’s an ongoing process that’s subject to all sorts of contestations and possibly lawsuits. Right. Like, it’s it is a thing that is going to be ongoing and happening. And it’s important that that folks who actually believe that the climate crisis is a thing are in place so that these investments are actually made.


Amy Westervelt That seems like an incredibly compelling argument for doing everything we can to to keep control of the House, too. Right. And also like for down ballot state elections, too, because so much of this hinges on having, you know, people in place at various levels of the government to actually get that money flowing in the right direction.


Rihana Gunn-Wright Yeah, I think a lot of people just and not again, not because they’re stupid, but because like these things are complex and most people don’t explain it. You know, it’s not like it’s explained on the news, the different, you know, reconciliation bill, etc.. So I just think a lot of folks are aware of how unfinished it actually is in lots of ways.


Amy Westervelt I want to like tie that to the stuff around the mansion permitting bill because I feel like I don’t know, I feel like there’s a there are a lot of narratives around permitting right now that are very like overly wonky and in the weeds, and it’s allowing for a lot of pretty misleading narratives, I would say, like the idea that, oh, you know, progressives just don’t want to permit anything. They want little bit of anything. And I’m, I’m yeah, like I’m curious where you see potential there for, for Democrats or progressives to put forth like a better more positive permitting reform option. Like I like I also hate this idea that the only way to reform permitting is the way that Manchin tried to do it.


Rihana Gunn-Wright Yeah. No, that’s not the case at all. It’s not true at all. I think there is a lot a lot of room. I think the reason the conversation has stopped at the mansion bill was in large part, like you said, because that was what was put out first and it was attached to the IRA. But there are lots of other ideas and I think that there is is definitely space to put those forward. And I think it actually makes sense to take the time to make sure that sort of unlike the IRA communities, especially environmental front line communities and communities disproportionately affected by environmental injustice, are at the table right in our consulting and permitting bill. Like I think, yeah, we actually have the time now to put forth something that’s better and is more thoughtful.


Amy Westervelt Mm hmm. That’s right. That’s right. I mean, I just I feel like it’s been presented as like, oh, the like, you know, these crazy, naive environmentalists want it to take even longer to permit and build things. And it’s like, no, there’s a way to streamline things that that gives communities more input and fossil fuel companies lessen. And instead of the inverse, which is what Manchin was proposing. And we should do them in. Yeah. Yeah.


Mary Annaise Heglar In our last couple of seconds, Rihana, why shouldn’t you give a zombie mashed potatoes?


Rihana Gunn-Wright Cause he’ll mistake them for brains? Actually, that’s a reason you should. Ummmm. I don’t know.


Mary Annaise Heglar What? what do your mashed potatoes look like?


Rihana Gunn-Wright I mean, they’re soft.


Mary Annaise Heglar I guess. Ugh. But the answer is because they’re already a little grave-y.


Rihana Gunn-Wright Oh, that’s too much of a headache. That’s too much of a thinker.


Mary Annaise Heglar It’s a thinker. Okay. Okay. Well, I know we were arguing earlier about lentils, and I know I was right, but how do legume wars end?


Rihana Gunn-Wright Oh, I don’t know I want to hear this one.


Mary Annaise Heglar What’d you say?


Amy Westervelt Is this a fart joke, Mary?


Mary Annaise Heglar No, it’s not a fart joke. I have never told a fart joke.


Rihana Gunn-Wright I love a good fart joke.


Mary Annaise Heglar This is how I know y’all got kids. Legume wars end with a peace treaty.


Amy Westervelt Oh, good one.


Rihana Gunn-Wright I got it.


Amy Westervelt I get it.


Mary Annaise Heglar All right. Thank you so much for doing this, Rihana.


Mary Annaise Heglar Of course.


Mary Annaise Heglar It’s always a joy to have you on.


Rihana Gunn-Wright It was good to talk to you all.


Mary Annaise Heglar Thank you. Of course. Thank you.


Mary Annaise Heglar [AD].


Amy Westervelt All right, Mary. It’s time to talk about what everyone on Climate Twitter was talking about last week. Soup.


Mary Annaise Heglar You know? Yeah. Yeah. So if you’ve not heard about this, congratulations to you. But a couple of climate activists in the U.K. went into a museum and threw soup onto a Van Gogh painting. Not too long after that, some other protesters threw mashed potatoes onto a monet painting, I believe it was. And these both of these protests have come from a group called Just Stop Oil. And there was it was a polarizing event, to say the least. People had a lot of feelings about it. Some people felt like, you know what, if Van Gogh ever do to you and he suffered so much during his lifetime and now you’re hurting his his art. But no art was harmed in these protests. Okay. These pieces of art.


Amy Westervelt Right, we should be clear.


Mary Annaise Heglar Were behind glass. So if there’s going to be a problem with this, it shouldn’t be about the art getting harmed. But yeah, I know that I said one thing about one of the protests and people got very upset with me. Amy, you said nothing, so you start. What do you think?


Amy Westervelt Yeah, I didn’t say anything because I honestly, I looked at the discourse happening and I just thought. Whoo. Too tired for that. I’m too tired.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah. I got in early. I got in early. I didn’t realize it was going to turn into like this huge thing.


Amy Westervelt I was going to say. What was interesting about those, I feel like previous times when, you know, I think like the initial reaction to this was like, I don’t know that this really hits the audience that you’re going for, right? It’s like some someone who, like, works in maintenance is going to have to clean this up. Museums are not like necessarily particularly advancing climate injustice, although they do take a lot of fossil fuel money, to be fair, you know. And there were a lot of people that were like, I don’t think this does the climate move by any favors, which I feel like in like I don’t know. I feel like previous discourses around protest that was kind of like not that controversial to say, you know, like when Extinction Rebellion like put the poop in the street or whatever, it’s a block, I think, you know, people commuting or whatever it was like this is just a pain in the ass for everyone. This isn’t doing anything. But this time it seemed like that was controversial, purely based on what I saw happening with you on Twitter. So, yeah.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah. So my thing was that I felt like it was kind of a missed opportunity. And this type of protest is about it’s a performance protest. It’s not the same as like marching in the streets or something like that with placards or whatever. So the symbolism matters in these protests. And so I felt like it was a missed opportunity to highlight the connections between colonialism and and climate change. Right. So if you’re going to be at a protest like let’s talk about these stolen artifacts, right. Like that, I think I like flippantly suggested removing one of them and returning them as as a form of protest, which I know is like not easy to do. But having the protests in that sort of context, I think would have been a neater way to tie a narrative and make it clear to the uninitiated why you did what you did. Whereas pouring soup, like I don’t think most people think of soup and climate change in the same breath. I don’t think most people think of Van Gogh in climate change and this in the same breath. So to the uninitiated, I think they might not get the point and so initiated. I don’t necessarily know that it does much. However, that said, like this was done by a couple of kids. And so.


Amy Westervelt Yeah, yeah.


Mary Annaise Heglar Well, actually, I don’t know how, how old they are, but by young people and I hate.


Amy Westervelt They looked pretty young.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.


Amy Westervelt Yeah.


Mary Annaise Heglar I hate the fact that they aren’t scared enough to do something like that. While I might think it was a missed opportunity that sort of turned into like people saying that I was villainizing these kids are shitting on these kids or that I, I wanted them to go to jail because I had a parasocial relationship to this painting. Let me just be very unequivocal. Fuck that painting. I don’t care about the painting at all. I’m sure Van Gogh wasn’t. I know. I know. Like Jack shit about him. So, like.


Amy Westervelt Yeah.


Mary Annaise Heglar I don’t know. Sunflowers are cool, but, like, I don’t care about that painting. And so yeah, it wasn’t all of these. It became this thing that you kind of like we were saying earlier about the IRA. It’s like you either had to completely celebrate it or completely shit on it. There could be no in between. And I. I want no harm to come to those kids at all.


Amy Westervelt Yeah.


Mary Annaise Heglar Like and I never said that I did.


Amy Westervelt No. I know. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. I feel like and I don’t know if this is also just stop oil. I feel like it might have been. But like a few days after the soup and the potatoes, there was a guy who glued himself to the desk of a of like a talk, like a news talk show and sort of called out the media for being complicit in a lot of climate delay in a way that I was like, see, now this is something that I feel like is, I don’t know, like a little bit more straight forward. It’s easier for people to understand. It’s also like actually interrupting, like he actually interrupted a TV news anchor from doing the thing that he was criticizing the media for doing. And then it was also like it was, I think, visually compelling, too, that this guy ended up being like carried off of the set because he was literally glued half of it.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.


Amy Westervelt So, you know, I mean, I don’t know. I just I feel like. I’m not sure. I’m not sure what to make of it, because on the one hand, I think that, you know, you like you don’t want to have a like a a performance piece or a protest turn off. You know, so many people like turn off people that would otherwise be, you know, allies of yours. But at the same time, like you were saying, like, I feel like, look, these are kids who are scared and they’re they’re doing whatever they can to try to raise, you know, some kind of awareness or be disruptive or whatever. Right. And I think also, like the jury’s out on, you know, there’s been actually some research done on what is and isn’t effective as a protest tactic. And, you know, it’s a lot of people were debating that to like, oh, you know, like trying to sort of say objectively this is or isn’t effective to do protest this way. And it’s like. Like. eh.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.


Amy Westervelt It kind of depends.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah


Amy Westervelt It depends, right. So, like, you know, it remains to be seen. One thing that is pretty unequivocal in the research on on climate and activism, though, is that, like, you know, we are getting to a place where large scale protest and disruption is kind of like what’s needed to move the needle. Like, I think that there are a lot of signs pointing to that, both in the research and just in how especially young people are feeling. So I suspect we will see more protests that people will, you know, have some feelings about. And.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah. I mean, the thing is, no protest is perfect and no protest is above reproach. And we need to be able to have those sorts of conversations. And yeah, those conversations require nuance. And Twitter is where nuance goes to die. And so things just kind of get spiraled out of hand because.


Amy Westervelt Yeah.


Mary Annaise Heglar You know.


Amy Westervelt You’re Flattened, right? Yeah. It’s like you either love it or you hate children. What? No.


Mary Annaise Heglar Like, how did we get here? How do we get here? Like, people are like, yeah. My favorite form of Twitter is when somebody, quote, tweets you and takes literally any kind of nuance out of your tweet and makes it say something completely different. And you’re like, That’s a whole other sentence that I did not say. I don’t know who you’re quoting, but whatever. It’s it’s just annoying.


Amy Westervelt Especially like in your case, because I feel like that it’s such a good point is that like if you’re going to do a protest at a museum and it’s a climate protest at a museum, how do you not talk about colonialism? You know.


Mary Annaise Heglar It’s right there. It’s right there. But again but again, these are these are you know, maybe they haven’t gotten to that point in their climate analysis. And this is what they felt like they could do. And that’s.


Amy Westervelt Yeah.


Mary Annaise Heglar I’m not mad at that. I just feel like that was a missed opportunity. But it’s an opportunity to try again and we need to be able to talk about those things, right. So anyway, but I know one person who is not on Twitter but absolutely would have hated the soup protests. Bret Stephens. This guy kind of kicked off his career as an op ed writer at The New York Times with a with a column called Climate of Absolute Certainty, where he was basically shitting on climate activists for how sure they were about climate change and how alarmist they were about climate change. And just last week, he came out with another column where somebody paid for this man to go to Greenland and see the melting ice for his damn self like. And so now he believes in climate change again. Before he was a climate skeptic. Now he accepts climate change. But we don’t need alarmism.


Amy Westervelt Right? Yeah, he basically did in this column. Like, I don’t know. It’s almost like there’s a there was a paper that came out a couple of years ago about the the tactics of delay. So a group of social scientists and economists looked at kind of like how the the climate denial narrative has evolved into delay. Right. And they categorized all the messages and they made this handy chart. And literally Bret Stephens hit every single point on the this one column. It’s like, wow. It’s, I mean, yeah, like just it’s like, you know, it’s not that bad. Even if it is that bad, the solutions could be worse. We’re out of time to really do that much about it. I mean, it’s just like I don’t even understand how like in one column, you go through that many kind of leaps in in logic. But he he pulled it off.


Mary Annaise Heglar Well, what’s crazy to me is that he needed to go to Greenland to see the ice melting. He couldn’t come to Louisiana and see the coastline eroding. Right. He couldn’t look at Hurricane Iota. He couldn’t look at Hurricane Maria and see it. Right. Like he can’t see it when it’s people and when it’s black and brown people suffering. Right. So his column is still positing that we can adapt our way out of climate change. But where’s the adaptation for the victims of the Nigeria floods, for the Pakistan floods, for the Australia fires of 2020, that almost everybody seems to have forgotten about. If we were going to adapt, how do we adapt backwards? How do we adapt to what’s already been lost? If you think adaptation is the only solution to climate change, then you think it’s still a future problem. And it is a future problem for somebody like Bret Stephens, because his power and his privilege keeps him protected from the effects of it today. And so adaptation for who and when?


Amy Westervelt Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Ugh. I also like, post reading it and he’s like, this guy invited me to go to Greenland two years ago, but, you know, I couldn’t go right away because of COVID. And then he goes through this whole thing of how COVID made him think, like, oh, maybe I shouldn’t be so certain that, like, my take on this is right. Which okay, that’s good. A bunch of like he quotes several scientists throughout that you can tell are trying to very nicely explain to him that like this is not a thing that’s going to happen little by little, which I feel like we’re all seeing and have been seeing for a while. But this is news to Bret Stephens. That that it doesn’t happen incrementally and that it might not be this like slow progression that we even have time to adapt to. It’s like that’s the part that was bizarre to me about this, too. It’s like, okay, you’re quoting all these people who are saying this, and yet your takeaway is still, but we have time to adapt. So like, it’s going to be fine, don’t worry. And it’s like, okay, yeah. It’s just all of the things, right? It’s like, who’s the we adaptation for who?


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.


Amy Westervelt And like this, this is not something that’s 50 years away or more.


Mary Annaise Heglar Exactly. And this also comes back to my biggest problem with it is that how is Old Boy qualified to be shaping opinion in the nation’s paper of record? Like I know he was a climate skeptic from jump. So like. You’re out here not believing in reality, but you get to shape how people think about you. Your opinions are worthy of being paid to write. How is like, okay, possible. So I’m going to write a column talking about how gravity is real and let’s see where I get hired.


Amy Westervelt It’s crazy to me. Like I wrote it. Like I feel like I was more fact checked for an opinion piece I wrote for the New York Times about my own life. Then Bret Stephens was about the climate crisis, and I’m not even exaggerating. Like, seriously.


Mary Annaise Heglar I don’t get it at all. And it’s just the the fact that homeboy went to Greenland and told the ice sheet to debate him. Is fucking wild to me, right? Like, how privileged is that? That it’s like, I won’t believe in climate change until it makes itself manifest in front of my face at this exact way. You know.


Amy Westervelt And until. Until a bunch of European scientists tell me exactly where the ice used to be and where it is now. Right. I swear, it was like. And then. A Danish scientist, you know.


Mary Annaise Heglar Right.


Amy Westervelt Showed me this. And then, you know, Fjord Fjorderson showed me where the ice used to be, you know, and I’m just like, okay, Jesus.


Mary Annaise Heglar I know. And as Kendra Pierre Louis pointed out to me on Twitter, he didn’t talk to a single greenlander while he was there.


Amy Westervelt No, I know, I know. It’s.


Mary Annaise Heglar Right.


Amy Westervelt Like.


Mary Annaise Heglar And like climate change has to announce itself to me specifically in the way that I will accept it. Right. Like nothing else counts in like how privileged do you have to be for that to be the case and for you to get paying for that?


Amy Westervelt Yes. And I honestly, I feel like he was expecting like a round of applause for this. Like he’s like, okay, you guys, I have been open to new information and I have exercised the kind of intellectual humility that I have suggested for all of you. Please clap.


Mary Annaise Heglar Please clap. And also, I believe in climate change now, but I also really believe in the market’s ability to fix it. Oh, so you think, Marcus, the same thing that sold slaves is going to fix climate change, right? Like they tried to market slavery. And so they feel they realized that slavery was the market.


Amy Westervelt They tried to let the market fix climate change for the last 30 years. It didn’t work. Ahhh


Mary Annaise Heglar It didn’t work. It didn’t work. You know. We still got half the country with singed trees. You know you see to be like it gets worse every fucking.


Amy Westervelt Wow so yeah. Like you’ve come around to literally the solution that was proposed in the early nineties. Wow. What a like. What an amazing feat, Bret.


Mary Annaise Heglar Why does he still have a job? That’s the thing. It’s like you can be a dipshit off somewhere. Think of some dumb shit. And I, you know, I think it’s great that he changed his mind about the existence of climate change. But why do you still have a job, though? That’s what I don’t know.


Amy Westervelt I feel like it’s all in this, in the service of this, like, false equivalence, you know, proving that they’re not biased thing. But, like, to me, I just feel like. I don’t know. It’s just. It’s. It’s. I don’t understand how you can let someone write things that are not true. And then just putting it off is like, Oh, well, that’s his opinion. So it’s fine, you know? Like, I don’t I don’t get it.


Mary Annaise Heglar I have so many wrong opinions. New York Times If you if you are accepting pitches, I will just fill your pages with wrong opinions. Okay. Like Lentils or the supreme legume. And that’s not even an example of my wrong opinion. That’s an example of my very correct opinion. And I will write a manifesto about it.


Amy Westervelt Beans are the Magical Fruit. By Amy Westervelt. I’m just kidding.


Mary Annaise Heglar This woman is in her forties, y’all. A grown ass woman.


Amy Westervelt I can’t help it. Yeah, I just. I’m like. I don’t like the thing that kept making me think of is like, okay, the New York Times would pretty easily, I think, I hope, say no to someone who is like COVID was just a hoax. Right?


Mary Annaise Heglar Mm hmm.


Amy Westervelt How is this different? I don’t understand. I do not understand. Or someone that was like, you know. I don’t know. Back to the vaccines. The jury is still out on whether the vaccines work.


Mary Annaise Heglar I don’t know what Bret Stephens wrote about COVID. He may have said those exact things, but he has this really deep, visceral, you know, resentment, almost of alarmism. Like he’s he thinks the alarmism is so beneath him. And again, that’s coming from a really privileged place because as a very privileged, cis, straight white man, he has no natural predators. You know, so like he through to him, alarmism is like the thing that vulnerable people do. I don’t even know if he’s conscious of this, but like women, people of color, children, those are the people who are alarmists because they there actually are things out to get them. But he sees it as beneath him, as as this white man. And it’s like that is patriarchy. Because when he says alarmism, what he really means is hysteria and and hysteria is feminized to him.


Amy Westervelt Yeah, I kept thinking that the whole time I was reading, I was like, wow, this. It feels again like this thing of, you know, don’t have emotions, don’t react. You know, over and over again. But also I was like, oh, like I keep seeing white men do this in public over and over again. Like realize that there’s there is this threat that will actually threaten them, too. And like this very slow dawning realization of like, oh, like they go from nope, it’s not happening to wait a minute. It is kind of happening, but it won’t affect me to like, Oh, is it actually going to maybe affect me? What do we have to do so it doesn’t affect me?


Mary Annaise Heglar Right. Right.


Amy Westervelt And like it’s like.


Mary Annaise Heglar Let’s all band together to save me.


Amy Westervelt It is that the first like. You know, it is the first time that a lot of these people have dealt with any kind of. Real threat or, you know, a system that doesn’t give a shit about whether they live. Right. Like you know, and and it’s like a real rude awakening. They’re just like, excuse me what?  Umm.


Mary Annaise Heglar Right. Right. And a lot of them have not gotten the message yet. So, you know, am I mad at the protest? No, but I’m pretty fucking pissed at Bret Stephens and generally The New York Times.


Amy Westervelt Yeah. I’d like to throw soup at the New York Times. I’m just kidding. Don’t do that.


Amy Westervelt Hot Take is a Crooked Media production. It’s produced by Ray Peng and mixed and edited by Jordan Kantor. Our music is by Vasilis Fotopoulus. Leo Duran is our senior producer and our executive producers are Mary Annaise Heglar, Michael Martinez and me. Amy Westervelt. Special thanks to Sandy Girard. Ari Schwartz, Kyle Seglin and Charlotte Landes for production support and to Amelia Montooth for digital support. You can follow the show on Twitter at Real Hot Take. Sign up for our newsletter at Hot Take Pod dot com and subscribe to Crooked Media’s video channel at YouTube.com slash Crooked Media.