In This Episode
- New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his resignation yesterday, one week after New York Attorney General Leticia James’ office released a damning report detailing allegations of sexual misconduct leveled against the governor by 11 women who worked for him. Cuomo’s resignation will take effect on August 24th, at which point Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul will take over.
- The International Panel on Climate Change released a report on Monday presenting clear and unequivocal evidence of the human impact on climate change. We talked to Dr. Kim Cobb, the Director of the Global Change Program at the Georgia Institute of Technology and one of the 200 authors who worked on the report, about the consequences of global warming and what world leaders can do about it.
- And in headlines: the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal finally passes in the Senate, Prince Andrew is sued for sexual assault, and hermit crabs are getting horny from plastic pollution.
Gideon Resnick: It’s Wednesday, August 11th. I’m Gideon Resnick.
Erin Ryan: And I’m Erin Ryan, and this is What A Day, reminding everyone to look out for counterfeit vaccine cards. Easiest way to spot them: they’re written in crayon.
Gideon Resnick: If a baby gives you a vaccine card, don’t accept it.
Erin Ryan: Beware of that baby. That baby is up to no good.
Gideon Resnick: On today’s show, chemicals leaching from plastic trash in the ocean might be making hermit crabs horny. OK. Plus, the one trillion dollar infrastructure bill moves one step closer to passage.
Erin Ryan: Oh, Gideon. I almost forgot. Blessed Infrastructure Week, to you and yours.
Gideon Resnick: Well, thank you so much. Blessed Infrastructure Week to you and yours as well.
Erin Ryan: Exactly. But first, the latest on the resignation of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
[clip of Andrew Cuomo] The best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to governing. And therefore, that’s what I do.
Erin Ryan: Point of fact, though, the best way for him to help would have been to step aside like a week or more ago. But that’s fine. We’ll take it. That’s Cuomo making the announcement yesterday. This is information that the general public could have had about 15 minutes sooner if Cuomo could have resisted the urge to soapbox about what an awesome governor he was before announcing that it was time to say goodbye.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, I was watching both his lawyer before this statement, and then the fact that the statement was actually going to be made and then the actual full statement itself. I had it all on TV for like an hour before he announced his resignation. And I thought it was going to be another one of these like pro-wrestling type monologues about how he’s just a misunderstood dad whose only crime is caring too much and touching various strangers, as it was for like 20 to 30 minutes. So joke’s on me, I guess, for turning the TV off here. I digress. Erin, what else do we know so far?
Erin Ryan: Well, you’re never going to get that time back, Gideon.
Gideon Resnick: I wont.
Erin Ryan: Cuomo’s resignation announcement came one week after New York A.G. Leticia James’ office released a damning report detailing allegations of sexual misconduct leveled against the governor by 11 women who worked for him. The report concluded that in creating a hostile work environment, Cuomo broke both state and local laws. Frowned upon for governors. Don’t break laws.
Gideon Resnick: Yes. No, and since then, the walls really have been closing in on the governor with almost every prominent Democrat, that includes the state senators, President Biden, calling on him to step down. Members of his own party in New York State Assembly were barreling forward with an impeachment investigation before yesterday. But Cuomo held on for longer than a lot of people wanted him to.
Erin Ryan: Yeah, and in the process, he took some powerful people down with him. His top aide, Melissa DeRosa, announced this weekend she was resigning. Her effective end date is the same as Cuomo’s. And lawyer Roberta Kaplan, who co-founded the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund has cut ties with the organization after it was widely reported that she was also helping Andrew Cuomo discredit the women that Andrew Cuomo harassed. Yikes. And as of right now, Chris Cuomo, the employed Cuomo brother, remains in his anchor post at CNN despite advising his brother on how to beat the sexual misconduct allegations behind the scenes.
Gideon Resnick: He will survive forever and ever. And, you know, it is notable that this is what actually led to Andrew Cuomo s resignation, right, and not the other stuff that he was in hot water for, like allegedly lying about how many nursing home residents died of COVID in the state, for getting five million dollars to write a book about what a great job he did fighting COVID in said state. So what do we expect happens now?
Erin Ryan: Besides well-known Cuomo enemy Bill de Blasio running up Lexington Avenue, pumping his fists and whooping? Probably. I’m just imagining. Can’t confirm. A lot of things in New York politics are now big question marks, starting with the next two weeks. Cuomo’s resignation won’t take effect until August 24th, which is 13 days from now.
Gideon Resnick: Ah, so two weeks’ notice. So now Cuomo is deciding to act like a professional?
Erin Ryan: Yes, at the very last possible minute. Cuomo says that’s because Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul will need that time to ramp up in order to take over the state. Which is an interesting thing for Cuomo to say, since according to a senior staffer, Kathy Hochul and Andrew Cuomo haven’t spoken since February. According to The New York Times, Hochul has a lot of hiring to do. As of Tuesday, she only had nine people working in her office. There are 19.45 million people living in New York State. Doing a little napkin math here, only nine staffers is . . . not enough.
Gideon Resnick: Coming up just short. Yeah.
Erin Ryan: Yeah. Big state, not a big staff. There are also questions about what will happen to Cuomo was old staff and the people he nominated for high-level positions in the state government, like, for example, heading the MTA.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, my full expectation is somehow he finds a way to ingratiate himself into the government for the rest of time in New York State.
Erin Ryan: Right. If New York state government were like a giant elevator right now, Andrew Cuomo is eating a bunch of beans and winding up to let out the world’s biggest fart before he gets off. And there are many more questions you’ll be getting answers for in the coming days, Gideon. Like if the state assembly might continue the impeachment process, any lawsuits he might face, and who might run for governor when Hochul’s time in office wraps up by the end of Cuomo’s term, which is January 1st, 2023. But now, let’s turn to our scarily warming planet and what we’ve learned about it this week.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, I did want to go deeper and share more from the latest report from the International Panel on Climate Change.
[clip of Dr. Kim Cobb] The main takeaway is that beyond the shadow of a doubt, humans are causing the planet to warm. And that signal is clear everywhere across the planet.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, that was Dr. Kim Cobb. She’s the director of the Global Change Program at the Georgia Institute of Technology. And Dr. Cobb is one of over 200 authors who worked on this most recent report, and I spoke to her on Monday after it was published. So it’s the first of its kind in about eight years, and it relied on more than 14,000 studies across the planet. And the big message is that there is clear and unequivocal evidence of the human impact on climate change, and what that could mean for the future of humanity.
Erin Ryan: And we’re seeing those effects up close. This summer has been massive fires, heat waves, floods, and much more, one after another. But here’s what’s new here: the science they use to make a direct connection between the intense weather we’ve seen, and the climate change and human error—human actions that have actually caused the intense weather. So it’s sort of like before climate scientists were trying to solve a crime by dusting for fingerprints at the crime scene, and now they have new tools that enable them to more directly implicate the direct cause. Like it’s almost like they have like DNA software in order to determine what exactly caused different weather events. So the U.N. Secretary General referred to the new IPCC report as a, quote, “code red for humanity.” Let’s talk through some of the major takeaways within it.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, there is a lot. So we’re not going to get to all of it, but it really should come as no surprise that the past few decades have been hotter than any prior decades they concluded, going all the way back to 1850. The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has peaked at a level the Earth has not seen in two million years. And the burning of fossil fuels has already warm the planet by about 1.1 degree Celsius since the 19th century. What’s more is that at this stage, global warming is likely to rise 1.5 degrees Celsius or more in the next decade or so, even if the world were to drastically cut emissions immediately, which is one of the thresholds that was initially targeted by the Paris agreement. Here’s how Dr. Cobb put it that I thought stuck with me.
[clip of Dr. Kim Cobb] A science is very clear in that we are already dealing with a host of extremes that are directly and scientifically tied to human-caused warming right now. And this may not be a surprise to many, but it’s important to tie these links together scientifically, and that’s what this report does. So if you don’t like what’s going on today, you certainly won’t like when the volume turns up more over the next couple decades.
Erin Ryan: Wow. Joke’s on you, science, I’m going to be in space like a billionaire. No, I’m not. None of us are going to be in space. We are all stuck here. I hate to ask, but what is that worst-case scenario if governments, companies, etc., all over the planet don’t take decisive action?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, I mean, think about right now what our world looks like with this amount of warming. It is already terrifying. You mentioned a bunch of the examples of what the summer has been so far, and we are effectively in some ways locked in for a worsening climate in the next few decades. And scientists emphasize that each additional half degrees Celsius of warming, even if that number sounds small, would lead to huge jumps in how frequently we are witnessing effects of global warming and how intense those effects are. So if, for instance, in worst-case projections, there is no reduction of fossil fuel emissions, you could be talking about a jump of 3-6 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. That would have truly cataclysmic consequences for the world. Disappearance of coral reefs and the Greenland ice sheet, intense, rare heat waves that typically would come every half century or so would be regular occurrences. And there is an exponential factor to this. The more the planet warms, it is harder for scientists to actually ascertain exactly how extreme things can get. If you want to have even more nightmares, you can Google the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation.”
Erin Ryan: That is a mouthful, but Gideon, I am fresh out of time to Google terrifying things today, as just before we recorded, I Googled brain-eating amoeba—fresh out of fear until tomorrow. But those outcomes, as you said, are not set in stone.
Gideon Resnick: That is right. The solution has been in front of us for quite some time and the only better time to do something about it than today is yesterday. The IPCC report suggests that if we rapidly eliminate emissions from fossil fuel industries, focus on curbing more short-lived greenhouse gases like methane, nitrous oxide, etc., get to net zero emissions around mid-century, then we could stabilize at around one and a half degrees of warming and perhaps even slightly reduce that in the second half of this century. And Dr. Cobb says that is all achievable, even if it’s daunting.
[clip of Dr. Kim Cobb] What we need to do is keep this as a topic of conversation, keep asking ourselves what we can do, what our communities can do, what our city can do, what our state can do, what our nation can do, and start doing it. So, you know, we don’t have to wait for green lights from powers that be. Many people can begin to make these changes in their lives and slowly work towards that kind of collective scale engagement and action that we need while policymakers do whatever they can to develop and enact ambitious goals around emissions reduction. So it’s going to take top-down and a bottom-up approach to get this done. And that’s where I’m committed to continue working for the rest of my life.
Erin Ryan: Well, I am daunted but inspired by our guest today. And there is some political action to watch for in the coming months, right?
Gideon Resnick: Yes, there is a UN summit in November during which world leaders are going to face even more pressure to deal with this burgeoning climate catastrophe. And next year, the IPCC is expected to release two more reports. One is going to outline how climate change will impact human society more directly, and the other is going to explore some of these actions that governments can take to eliminate emissions on a massive scale. More on all of this soon, but that is the latest for now.
Erin Ryan: [ad break]
Gideon Resnick: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.
Erin Ryan: Yesterday morning, a bipartisan infrastructure deal finally passed in the Senate with 19 Republican votes and Vice President Kamala Harris gaveled the vote to a close.
[clip of VP Kamala Harris] On this vote, the yeas are 69, the nays are 30. The bill as amended, is passed.
Erin Ryan: Nice. This sweeping one trillion dollar package includes funding for roads, bridges, modernizing public transit systems, and improving the nation’s broadband—because the government is sick and tired of watching you freeze on Zoom calls, which means, I guess correspondingly, you can no longer pretend to freeze on Zoom calls in order to get out of them. I know, that’s over. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell supported the bill, even though former President Donald Trump released a statement urging Republicans to block the vote. It’s almost like former President Donald Trump is not a very effective leader. I don’t know. I guess we’ll have to wait for more information before we make that determination. The bill still has to pass the House before it heads to Biden’s desk. And progressives there and Speaker Nancy Pelosi say they won’t support it until Senate Democrats pass a 3.5 trillion dollar reconciliation package with funding for climate programs, health care, education and child care. This is the one that contains paid family leave. And it is very, very important. So I’m going to say I’m with the progressive Democrats there.
Gideon Resnick: That is right. Prince Andrew is facing a lawsuit by Virginia Giuffre, who has publicly accused him of sexually assaulting her when she was a teenager. Giuffre had also publicly accused Jeffrey Epstein of assaulting and trafficking her as well. Earlier this week, she filed the suit under the Child Victims Act. That is a 2019 New York law that opened a window for people to file child abuse civil lawsuits without a statute of limitations. According to Giuffre’s lawyer, if Prince Andrew fails to show, the court could enforce a default judgment in the US and elsewhere. In 2019, Prince Andrew attempted to deny her allegations in a train wreck of an interview. Since then, he’s been retired from royal duties.
Erin Ryan: That is also a wise move for him, step back from royal duties. Dominion Voting Systems hunger for revenge reached John Wick levels yesterday with new lawsuits against Newsmax and One America News for defaming their products following the 2020 election. Considering their existing lawsuit against Fox News, Dominion is now suing right-wing television’s unholy trinity, AKA the Anti-vaxxis of Evil, AKA the insurrector set. All of those are great. The company is seeking $1.7 billion dollars in damages from both Newsmax and OAN, stating that the lies the networks spread about their machines rigging ballots for Joe Biden led to threats against their employees and vandalism of their offices, and require them to spend $600,000 on security. One particularly rich detail of the lawsuit highlights a man who OAN presented as a, quote, “expert mathematician” with proof the election was stolen. In reality, that man had no qualifications in math and his job was installing swing sets. So, look forward to OAN trying to prove that this is some sort of conspiracy brain Good Will Hunting situation. Dominion also sued Patrick Byrne, the former CEO of Overstock, for 1.7 billion for funding and participating in the misinformation campaign against them.
Gideon Resnick: I am also looking forward to an OAN lawyer doing an elaborate how do you like them apples type situation? Court representation of this Good Will Hunting situation. A lot, a lot to love there, and to frankly not love. Anyway, hermit crabs are showing us all the different ways oceans can be hot and trashy. Plastic pollution is causing the ocean’s tiniest crustacean perverts to be sexually aroused. Yikes. That’s according to a new study from a group of really specific researchers in the United Kingdom. Plastics release a chemical additive called oleamide, which has already been identified as a sex pheromone for insects. So that chemical caused hermit crab respiration rates to increase, indicating they were seconds away from trying to create the first ever crab/shopping bag hybrid baby. Whoo. In a twist straight from the mind of Armie Hammer, crabs also mistake the love chemical for a food source, potentially increasing their consumption of microplastics. Now, even though the crabs are probably having a blast, the lesson here is for individuals and corporations to avoid single use plastics that will inevitably turn into free floating ocean Cialis.
Erin Ryan: You know, Gideon, I feel like this was us being granted some kind of fucked up monkey paw wish. Like we wished for a summer of unbridled hedonism following COVID-19 ,we wanted people making out, people are going to resume dating, people are going to party really hard and dress slutty and have a great time. Hot girl summer was what we wanted. What we got was Hot Girl Summer, but for crabs. That’s so cruel. It’s so 2021.
Gideon Resnick: It is. This is actually the better twist that M. Night Shyamalan could have gone with in Old.
Erin Ryan: [laughs] His next movie is going to be called Crab’s. It’s going to be about horny crabs?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, I cannot wait. Please pay me for that idea. And those are the headlines. One more thing before we go this week on America Dissected. Host Dr. Abdul El-Sayed is joined by Dr. Angela Rassmussen of the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization to discuss the latest developments around Delta. Check this out and find even more conversations like these by subscribing to America Dissected wherever you get your podcasts.
Gideon Resnick: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, make the ocean less hot and trashy, and tell your friends to listen.
Erin Ryan: And if you are into reading, and not just the deranged manifesto of conspiracy brain Good Will Hunting like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Erin Ryan.
Gideon Resnick: And Gideon Resnick.
[together] And crush the Anti-vaxxis of Evil!
Gideon Resnick: It’s time.
Erin Ryan: Good job.
Gideon Resnick: It’s time to get them. They’ve been running amuck.
Gideon Resnick: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media,. It’s recorded and mixed by Charlotte Landes. Sonia Htoon and Jazzi Marine are our associate producers, and Kelly Sadikun is our intern. Our head writer is Jon Millstein, and our executive producers are Leo Duran and me. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.