The Zombie Apocalypse Is Real | Crooked Media
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December 16, 2022
The Zombie Apocalypse Is Real

In This Episode

This week, Amy and Mary discuss zombie ice viruses, the Keystone pipeline spill in Kansas, a global biodiversity crisis, the degrowth movement, and more.

Follow us on twitter @RealHotTake




Mary Annaise Heglar [AD]


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


Mary Annaise Heglar And I’m Mary Annaise Heglar. And this is our second to last episode, Amy.


Amy Westervelt It is. And it’s our last news digest.


Mary Annaise Heglar It is.


Amy Westervelt So we’re going to take this opportunity to look at some news stories that are kind of a window into broader topics that we’ve been wanting to talk about, including stuff like degrowth and hope.


Mary Annaise Heglar And defeatism.


Amy Westervelt Defeatism, exactly. Exactly. Yeah.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.


Amy Westervelt Plus, a little update on what’s been happening in the news this week. One thing that I’ve been seeing a lot of, unfortunately, is climate deniers kind of coming back from the dead.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.


Amy Westervelt And also like the stories that they like to tell. Coming back in a big way.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah, the trolls are back out hardcore.


Amy Westervelt Big time. This getting. Like. I feel like it’s getting blamed on the Elon Musk Twitter thing. And that’s certainly a factor like I’m hearing from climate scientists on there that like they’re all of a sudden getting harassed like never before. And.


Mary Annaise Heglar Aren’t you getting it, too? I’m getting it.


Amy Westervelt I have like a pretty solid block list now and so,.


Mary Annaise Heglar Me too!


Amy Westervelt Like, I am, but I’m like not I’m not really seeing them and I don’t. Like I have my setting set so that I don’t automatically see replies from anyone that I don’t follow, so I just ignore them.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah. So I’ve got a pretty strong block and mute situation going too. And you know, Twitter has kind of learned my preferences, but they’re still cracking through. That’s how I know there’s definitely a lot of them. And they follow the hot take account on Twitter too. And I’ve noticed more and more of them like and it’s like, you follow me. So that’s how you know it’s a troll. But anyway.


Amy Westervelt Yeah. Yeah, yeah. So there’s definitely a bunch of those. I’ve definitely noticed a major drop in engagement on climate stuff and just in stuff showing up in my feed, which is weird because I pretty much only follow climate people. So it’s very strange for me not to be seeing as much climate coverage, and that’s indicative of stuff that’s happening with the algorithm in general. But the other thing that’s happened is the passage of the IRA. Which.


Mary Annaise Heglar Oh, right. That.


Amy Westervelt You know, it was like the first big piece of climate policy and it hinges quite a bit on implementation at the state level. Right. So there’s all this budget that’s been made available, there’s incentives, subsidies, all of that stuff, but they require states to actually to implement. And there are, let’s not forget, like several goodies for the fossil fuel industry in here, too. So they’re really looking at this and going, okay, how do we maximize the benefit for us and minimize the growth of renewables? And you’re seeing I mean, it’s crazy. It’s weird. It’s honestly, it’s like a time machine. It’s like so many old zombie climate deniers narratives coming back like CO2 is good for the earth. It grows plants and like wind turbines kill birds and all of this shit that’s like, oh, wow. Okay, it feels like the late nineties again.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah, but see, this is why I’ve been training for the zombie apocalypse for all this time.


Amy Westervelt It’s true.


Mary Annaise Heglar I always know the zombies are coming, so here we are. But also in honor of our last episode, Amy, I’ve prepared a little or second to last episode, I should say. I’ve prepared a little surprise for you.


Amy Westervelt Oh boy. Oh, boy.


Mary Annaise Heglar This is the Amy WESTERVELT impression that I have been working on for three years and never had the guts to try it out in front of you.


Amy Westervelt Let’s hear it.


Mary Annaise Heglar So if you know, Amy has another podcast called Drilled, which is an amazing podcast, and it’s also why I got really Twitter weird and slipped into her DMS one day. And it eventually turned into this friendship. So this is where Amy sounds like on Drilled. Welcome to Drilled. I’m Amy Westervelt. Hang on a second. I got to, like, hold it together. The republic *bursts into laughter*. I can’t do it. Shit. I worked on that for three years and I can’t do it. You sound so serious?


Amy Westervelt I’m Amy WESTERVELT. And this is Drilled.


Mary Annaise Heglar And like there’s this very small tone of. I’m so sorry. I have to tell you guys this.


Amy Westervelt I know. Just buckle up, guys.


Mary Annaise Heglar Exactly. Yeah, that’s exactly your tone on Drilled. Its almost like. I hate myself for having to tell you how. That’s horrible. I’m sorry.


Amy Westervelt I’m sorry. It’s true.


Mary Annaise Heglar But follow me down this road,.


Amy Westervelt It’s bad.


Mary Annaise Heglar But also it’s an amazing, amazing podcast. And I’m a huge fan of it. So. But that’s my Amy WESTERVELT impression.


Amy Westervelt Thank you. That was good, actually. I was like oh, yeah. But that is the way I said my name.


Oh, my God. I have the mirror and everything. Okay. All right. So Larry is hilarious. All right. And with that, I think it’s time.


Amy Westervelt It’s time to talk about Clive. It. Okay. Okay. Mary, speaking of zombies and the zombie apocalypse you’ve been training for, my biggest zombie fear is the return of long dead viruses.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.


Amy Westervelt As the permafrost melts and it’s fucking happening. Oh, my God. There is a zombie virus found in the ice.


Mary Annaise Heglar Why were they in the ice tho? The ice didn’t melt. They just went in the ice.


Amy Westervelt No, no. No, no, no. They found it thawing. So scientists found a 48,500 year old virus thawing in the permafrost in Siberia. This is so terrifying to me. It’s a team of researchers from Russia, Germany and France. They said the biological risk of reanimating the virus that they’re studying is, quote, negligible. That’s not good enough for me.


Mary Annaise Heglar It’s not.


Amy Westervelt I’m sorry.


Mary Annaise Heglar Its not going to do it. It doesn’t clear the threshold.


Amy Westervelt No. Yeah. And also, like, let’s face it, the risk is going to increase as more viruses make their way out of the permafrost that was never supposed to melt.


Mary Annaise Heglar Okay. You know, what that makes me think of is when people talk about, like, where to move during the climate crisis, they always point to these really far north places. Right. And that Siberia and Russia is actually going to do better in the climate crisis than anywhere else. Almost to the point, they pick this paint this picture where they’re good and this doesn’t sound good. Zombie viruses, my dude? Zombie viruses.


Amy Westervelt No, no, no, no.


Mary Annaise Heglar Like what? They don’t even have alcoholism under control.


Amy Westervelt It’s true. It’s true. Our producer just put an excellent permafrost dad joke in the notes here. Maybe it should be called Temp Frost.


Mary Annaise Heglar I don’t get it.


Amy Westervelt Mary. Instead of permafrost.


Mary Annaise Heglar Oh, God.


Amy Westervelt *Laughs* That’s so good.


Mary Annaise Heglar Alright.


Amy Westervelt That was good.


Mary Annaise Heglar Alright. Not bad. It’s a thinker. But, yeah, um, this is bad.


Amy Westervelt It’s real bad. Some better news? Actually, it’s still bad news in the Arctic, but I find it amusing and cute even though it is bad is that the fucking beavers are taking over in the Arctic.


Mary Annaise Heglar Were they like beating up polar bears and shit?


Amy Westervelt Yeah, I guess they’re just moving. Like they’re moving in as the as the Arctic kind of melts. They’re just like, fuck it. We like it here now. Speaking of people like migrating in climate. They’ve decided it’s time to move into the Arctic.


Mary Annaise Heglar So they said, fuck your borders.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah. And I kind of love that, for them.


Amy Westervelt I do. It’s not great for fish or for the indigenous communities living there that rely on the fish because beaver, beaver dams fuck, shit up, man. They really they reroute everything. So. So, yeah. But on the flip side, I don’t know, maybe. Maybe they’ll start hunting beavers.


Mary Annaise Heglar I mean, it’s hard for me to root for the beaver now. I don’t. I don’t know what to do with this information.


Amy Westervelt Yeah. That whole area, the fact that it’s melting, it’s not just viruses that are getting out, it’s also going to be a huge amount of trapped methane, which is not what we want.


Mary Annaise Heglar There are beaver climate refugees my dude.


Amy Westervelt Not what we want. It’s pretty crazy.


Mary Annaise Heglar I you know, we always talk about these bingo cards. Of all the things I’ve thought about, about the future of climate change. And I’ve thought about a lot. Beaver climate refugees was really just hadn’t crossed the mind. I mean, I guess I should have.


Amy Westervelt Pretty far down the list.


Mary Annaise Heglar I guess I should have I guess I should have envisioned this exact scenario. But I didn’t.


Amy Westervelt Oh my god. Yeah. Yeah. Well, there you go. The beavers, they’re building dams. They’re fucking up stuff with the fish there. They also make the water deeper. So that contributes to more permafrost melts, which means maybe more viruses getting out or whatever the fuck else might happen as permafrost melts.


Mary Annaise Heglar Damn Beavers.


Amy Westervelt More methane getting out too. Beavers


Mary Annaise Heglar Get it?


Amy Westervelt Bad Beavers.


Mary Annaise Heglar Get it.


Amy Westervelt Bad beavers.


Mary Annaise Heglar Dam Beavers.


Amy Westervelt That’s a good one.


Mary Annaise Heglar Thank you. Thank you.


Amy Westervelt Nice.


Mary Annaise Heglar Oh, dear. And it’s going to happen with more and more animals over the course of time. Like more and more people are going to be like, well, I guess we got to go. You know?


Amy Westervelt That’s right.


Mary Annaise Heglar You know.


Amy Westervelt Animals, trees, actually to lots of like plants are migrating. Birds are getting all fucked up. Its not good.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.


Amy Westervelt Not good.


Mary Annaise Heglar Someone at a dinner party told me that climate change makes snakes get bigger, too. And. Yeah, so.


Amy Westervelt Ugh. Stop. Ahhh.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah. So I went home and went home like.


Amy Westervelt I’m out. I’m out. I’m out.


Mary Annaise Heglar I was just like, I got to go. I can’t take this. Yeah. At the same time, over in the causes of the converse of the climate crisis situation. The Keystone pipeline is spilling in Kansas.


Amy Westervelt Oh, what a shock.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah. That. That, um, that pipeline we thought we had gotten rid of. Nope. Alive and well.


Amy Westervelt That’s right. Yeah.


Mary Annaise Heglar Like a lot of folks think Keystone XL, Keystone Pipeline, like. No, there different pipelines. There’s so many fucking pipelines. So many fucking pipelines anyway is spilled as of now 14,000 barrels of oil. And so a creek in Washington County, Kansas. Yeah, is the biggest spill in the history of the Keystone pipeline, more than 22 previous posts combined since 2010.


Amy Westervelt The I feel like the fossil fuel industry is constantly talking about how like they basically act like, oh, we don’t even have spills anymore. Yes, they do.


Mary Annaise Heglar All the time.


Amy Westervelt They’re like, Oh, we’ve totally figured this out now. No, you haven’t.


Mary Annaise Heglar Right. And these are the people that we’re supposed to trust to figure out, like green hydrogen and whatever it is they do to algae.


Amy Westervelt That’s right. And and let’s let’s not forget building a whole new pipeline infrastructure for compressed carbon as part of all these capture projects.


Mary Annaise Heglar We’re supposed to trust them?


Amy Westervelt This is fucking poisonous if it if it escapes. So like.


Mary Annaise Heglar They don’t know how to do the shit they been doing it. You know, they’re not smart.


Amy Westervelt Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. Yeah. Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. I just. I don’t know. I feel like it’s weird. I almost feel like there’s less. Sometimes there’s, like, less attention paid to the more immediate negative impacts of oil and gas. When we talk about climate. And it’s really important to remember that they are very much still there to, you know, like the noxious fumes that are emitted at refineries, the spills that are like a very regular occurrence, you know, that like those creeks now that’s like water, that’s that’s poisoned. That’s going to affect fish. It’s going to affect all of the surrounding ecosystems. It’s going to affect.


Mary Annaise Heglar Right.


Amy Westervelt Water, all of it.


Mary Annaise Heglar That which was more apparent to people that fossil fuels have been killing people. It wasn’t until like it didn’t wait until climate change. If you lived anywhere near this infrastructure. It would kill you. It has been deadly from jump.


Amy Westervelt Mm hmm. Yeah, that’s right. Yes. Speaking of Dudley. Do you like that smooth transition? Speaking of death caused by oil and gas?


Mary Annaise Heglar It works.


Amy Westervelt Let’s talk about all the data on what happened in the 2022 European heat wave, because that’s starting to come out.


Mary Annaise Heglar Oh, yeah. Just a few months ago.


Amy Westervelt That’s right. And apparently it was responsible for more than 20,000 deaths.


Mary Annaise Heglar Wow.


Amy Westervelt So, yeah. So there’s a new report that came out. There was an article in Reuters about this. These are the official figures from the summer heat waves in France, Germany, Spain and Britain. They led to 20,000 excess deaths. So this is really interesting. There’s a big thing that’s starting to happen with what’s called attribution science in the climate space, where they’re better able to say, look, in the absence of climate change, we would have had X number of fewer deaths, you know, in this hurricane or this flood or now these heat waves. And I think, like the more of these kinds of studies that stack up, the more we’re going to start to see wrongful death suit tied to climate change. It’s really like, you know, it’s it’s interesting from that standpoint. It’s also incredibly sad that 20,000 people died unnecessarily because we haven’t been able to get climate change under control. Yeah.


Mary Annaise Heglar That also makes me wonder, you know, who’s doing that type of science about heat waves and in Africa and Pakistan and India, because those are going to be some really high numbers, too.


Amy Westervelt Yeah, well, especially like in the last year, India have like something like more than 70 days that were like, you know, temperatures where your body doesn’t even sweat anymore.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah. And that’s really dangerous.


Amy Westervelt Unbelievably.


Mary Annaise Heglar That’s really dangerous. So I’m sure somebody is doing that research. So I, I don’t know if it’s been published yet. I haven’t seen anything about it, but I’m sure those numbers are coming out from somewhere.


Amy Westervelt I hope so. I sure hope so. And worth pointing out that in 2003, there was a European heat wave that caused more than 70,000 excess deaths. That study was actually one of the first to look at the impact of climate change on heat related deaths. So that was the biggest one, but this is the biggest one since then. And the death toll was way higher than expected. And, you know, of course, as we start to see these really incredibly long heat waves, high temperatures, we’re you’re going to see impacts on not just human health, but also on the grid and its ability to deal with these things. Right. So, you know, which further exacerbates health problems, death toll, all of that stuff. It’s like this vicious cycle where, you know, people, if they have air conditioning, they’re running it that’s causing brownouts. Some people don’t have access to air conditioning. You know, it’s it’s not great. Not great. Yeah. The other big study out this this week is on coral. Currently, 70% of Florida’s coral reefs are eroding. 70%? That’s crazy.


Mary Annaise Heglar I know. I know. Coral reefs are hotbeds of biodiversity. They’re these essential ecosystems for the aquatic life. But they’re also big carbon sinks. They protect you from storm surges and floods. And they’re just. We need them. They’re They’re really beautiful. But also like we need them. They’re incredibly important for our ecosystems. So, yeah, this is devastating news.


Amy Westervelt It’s really. Yeah, it is. I feel like this is like a good one to talk about something that we’ve been talking about among ourselves for a while. But like, I don’t know if we’ve had a chance to talk about it on the show yet, which is this whole way that, you know, for a long time the climate movement was too focused on nature and polar bears and all that stuff, and then it’s now almost overcorrected in the opposite direction where like, I pretty routinely see climate people kind of being like, fuck nature, you know?


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.


Amy Westervelt This way that I find really troubling. I’m kind of like, Oh, you know. Yes, we absolutely need to care about humans, but also like. People were concerned about need, while some people were. But concern for nature is not just about it being pretty or a liking to look at it like. You know.


Mary Annaise Heglar It’s not just esthetics.


Amy Westervelt It’s our ecosystem man.


Mary Annaise Heglar We live here. Yeah, we’re part of the earth. We’re part of the planet. Like if. You know,.


Amy Westervelt And the reality is like we don’t know what happens totally when these things go away. Right? Like we have we kind of know we have some projections, but like, I don’t know, I’m like, I don’t I don’t know that we have a really great grasp yet on how losing so many ecosystems will impact humans. So and not just, again, not just like, you know, people being sad because they can’t go scuba diving. Right?


Mary Annaise Heglar Right. It’s like I like my skin, but not just to look at it. I like it because, like, it’s it’s my skin.


Amy Westervelt It protects you. Yeah. Exactly.


Mary Annaise Heglar It’s part of my body. And I need it to hold my organs in.


Amy Westervelt Exactly. Exactly. It’s exactly like that. Yeah. Yeah. So, yeah, I just. I feel like you know, when we hear news like this, like it’s not just, “Oh corals pretty to look at.” It’s like, oh, this is a really, like, integral part of our ecosystem. And there’s lots of other things that will be impacted if it goes, including lots of things that impact us.


Mary Annaise Heglar Not cool.


Amy Westervelt I don’t love it. Okay, so the other there’s the other kind of like big news story this past week or two weeks really is in the legal side of things.


Mary Annaise Heglar Your favorite?


Amy Westervelt My favorite, yeah. James Hansen, like legendary NASA’s scientists, he’s like the guy that first testified to Congress about global warming being here right now in the in the late eighties. He has sued the EPA, Mary. He’s he has sued the EPA like. He and a few other folks sent a petition to the EPA back in September asking the agency to regulate greenhouse gases as pollutants under the Toxic Substances Control Act. And their argument was like, look, you guys keep trying to use the Clean Air Act and it’s not working. Like that’s what ended up in court under West Virginia versus EPA. And it kind of like has that ability. You know, it’s like they’re almost guaranteed to have a lawsuit if they use the Clean Air Act. But the Toxic Substances Control Act is actually really explicit. It says, look, the EPA has the authority to regulate any pollutant that poses an unreasonable risk to human health and the environment. And I think these gases qualify. So why aren’t you doing your job in regulating these things under this law that already exists and already gives you the authority? The EPA said, no we’re already doing enough.


Mary Annaise Heglar Oh, word.


Amy Westervelt Yeah, they did. And part of what they said in their response was that the path that they pointed to, the passage of the IRA as proof that they’re already doing enough, which is very interesting because the IRA sort of famously includes absolutely no regulation.


Mary Annaise Heglar Famously so.


Amy Westervelt It’s it’s like.


Mary Annaise Heglar All carrots, no stick.


Amy Westervelt Exactly. So so, yeah Hansen and his his co plaintiffs said, I don’t think so and filed a lawsuit in Oregon a couple of weeks ago. And they are trying to compel the the EPA to regulate these these greenhouse gases under the Toxic Substances Control Act, which is really interesting. It’s like it’s an interesting suit. It’ll be interesting to see because how embarrassing will it be if the EPA has to stand up in court and prove how it’s actually totally effectively regulating greenhouse gases? Like. Come on. Come on, guys.


Mary Annaise Heglar Oh, boy. Well, he’s still got big hero vibes after all ths time.


Amy Westervelt I know, I know, I know. Yeah. The other big one is the first climate RICO case was filed. So this is fascinating because RICO laws were passed in the seventies to deal with the mob.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah, I remember all of those sorts of mob stories. Yeah.


Amy Westervelt Exactly. Exactly. So, like, so, you know, people have been saying for quite a while that why aren’t we seeing racketeering laws being used in some of these suits against oil companies? Because they were clearly colluding. There were, you know, these third party entities that are coordinating some of these deceptive campaigns, all that kind of stuff. So now there has been one and I love this. It’s been filed on behalf of 16 Puerto Rican cities pegged to Hurricane Maria.


Mary Annaise Heglar Oh, so who are they suing?


Amy Westervelt They’re suing everybody, Mary. Everybody.


Mary Annaise Heglar Okay.


Amy Westervelt It’s like the oil companies, the American Petroleum Institute.


Mary Annaise Heglar Nice.


Amy Westervelt All the like old school climate deniers as individuals like the heart, like. The Cato Institute.


Mary Annaise Heglar Oh wow.


Amy Westervelt Like all of them.


Mary Annaise Heglar How much are they suing for?


Amy Westervelt Well, they’re actually not even claiming damages, which is very interesting, because part of part of why people often use RICO is because you if you win, you get treble damages. So three times what you’re asking for.


Mary Annaise Heglar Oh, wait.


Amy Westervelt They’re um.


Mary Annaise Heglar Does this count is suing or charging someone.


Amy Westervelt Suing because it’s not being brought by the federal government. So it’s not a criminal charge. It’s a civil suit which you can use RICO to do. I think there is some amount of money that will be asked at some point. That’s not clear yet. But they’re claiming that these entities perpetrated fraud. They are they’re they’re making like quite a few different allegations in this suit. They haven’t brought up wrongful death yet, but I think that that is potentially in the cards as something that might get added to this, which would be huge. They’re adding more cities now to the case and yeah, I don’t know. It’s going to be really, really interesting to see what what happens with that case. Definitely one to watch.


Mary Annaise Heglar There are so many climate court cases going on.


Amy Westervelt It’s crazy. It’s crazy. According to the latest IPCC report, there are over 1800 climate cases in the world right now and like 80% of them are in the US wild.


Mary Annaise Heglar Amy, do you feel like they get enough coverage in the media?


Amy Westervelt No, I don’t. I don’t because I think that there’s a problem, sort of like a structural problem with media outlets in their coverage of these kinds of cases where usually they’ll have like the legal reporter cover it. But the legal reporter is not often someone who knows much about climate or they might have a climate reporter cover it, but they don’t know that much about the legal stuff you know. And so so you end up with a little bit of a gap in the way that papers and magazines are set up to cover lawsuits is like you make it a story when it cases first filed, maybe you’ll get like an update if and when there’s a ruling, but you don’t get like the whole story behind it. And to me, that piece is really interesting. And also, like, there’s so much evidence that comes out in these cases. Like a lot of the documents that people point to now are things that have come up in these cases, you know, and also then the cases make use of a lot of like the the Exxon new documents and stuff, too. But as these these cases start to go forward and get into actually like what’s called discovery and depositions, like there’s going to be more and more information coming out about what exactly these companies were getting up to in the eighties and nineties.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.


Amy Westervelt Which is super interesting.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah. But yeah, I want the mess. I want the like the juicy stuff.


Amy Westervelt Yeah, yeah. But yeah, I think like the for the most part really like outlets are not set up to cover them all. And I like, I don’t know. I think Bloomberg has someone who’s like regularly covering this stuff. That’s the only one that I’ve seen. The New York Times used to they totally stopped covering the climate cases like a few years ago. And I’m sorry, I have to point out that they happen to use as one of their First Amendment attorneys, the guy who is like the spokesperson for all the oil companies and like the lion’s share of these cases. So I find that to be quite strange.


Mary Annaise Heglar That’s a bad look.


Amy Westervelt It’s a bad look. Optics only bad. You know?


Mary Annaise Heglar Right.


Amy Westervelt Like if only because it doesn’t look so good. I would maybe not do that. But yeah, I haven’t they really haven’t been covering them ever since John Schwartz left. But even before he left, you know, they moved him off of covering those cases for like the last year that he was there. So, yeah, I think it’s weird. Like, I didn’t see a story in the New York Times about the RICO being filed. No, that’s a huge fucking deal. The first climate RICO gets filed and The New York Times doesn’t cover it. Like, weird is weird. It’s weird. Yeah. So, anyway, that’s what’s happening in the legal world.


Mary Annaise Heglar I’m just gonna say. Like, they definitely have. It’s not like it’s a five person newsroom. There’s a lot of people, a lot of resources there. There’s no excuse for that.


Amy Westervelt Definitely. You know, actually, I I had an interview with Representative Ro Khanna this morning and about the the documents that came out through the House Oversight Committee’s investigation. So that just wrapped last week. And they put out their report and they also published like hundreds of documents that they got through their subpoena in that investigation. And I was asking him, like, what were the things that jumped out at you? And one of the things he mentioned, which I was like, Oh, spicy. He was like, you know, these. One of the things that really jumped out to me was like the bullying tactics that these companies use against media. And they really went after The New York Times, too, to, like, discourage them from covering this investigation or the documents that were coming out from it. And you know him. He’s like, and you know what? It worked. Like, the reporter that was covering it got pulled off of that.


Mary Annaise Heglar Mmmhmm.


Amy Westervelt And I was like, whoa, that’s so it’s not great.


Mary Annaise Heglar It’s not. And that’s that’s you know, a thing to underscore is that when we lament the lack of coverage, we don’t mean to, like, beat up on reporters or even editors, because these are complicated situations. With a lot of different decision makers on there’s boards involved, all sorts of things at these big institutions.


Amy Westervelt That’s right. And I think that I do think that the fossil fuel industry has been very good at painting the push for accountability as like an activist thing. Sort of.


Mary Annaise Heglar Biased.


Amy Westervelt A silly juvenile thing, a biased thing. It’s weird. We’re going to actually we’re going to get into that a little bit more after a quick ad break.


Amy Westervelt [AD].


Mary Annaise Heglar You know, let’s talk about doom and gloom versus sunshine and butterflies. Shall we?


Amy Westervelt Yeah, let’s do it. Oh, man, I’m so tired of this dichotomy. It’s not real. It’s not real. It doesn’t exist.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.


Amy Westervelt Yeah, it’s quite annoying, but yet we keep getting long ass stories about it.


Mary Annaise Heglar So we wanted to talk about this is the overall trend that happens in climate coverage and it comes back every you know, I would say two years. We’re worried.


Amy Westervelt Yeah I was just going to say that. Every couple of years.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.


Amy Westervelt Yeah. Yeah.


Mary Annaise Heglar Is the debate about do we tell climate change in terms of like solutions only optimism or do we tell like the pessimism and the doom and gloom of it all? If we tell the doom and gloom of it all, doesn’t that shut people down and become a self-fulfilling prophecy?


Amy Westervelt Mm hmm.


Mary Annaise Heglar So there is a story in October by friend of the show, David Wallace-Wells, that gets into some of this is more complicated because it’s like hopeful, but also a lot of doom and gloom is in here. And the basic the basic argument is like our worst case scenario just got a little bit better, basically.


Amy Westervelt Right, right. Right.


Mary Annaise Heglar That’s the simplest way I can explain it.


Amy Westervelt Yeah. It’s like an update on the worst case scenario, but it’s like it’s sort of I think it’s called the new climate reality beyond climate catastrophe. That’s what it is. And it’s talking about it’s trying to sort of like paint the landscape of this new climate reality that’s like neither great nor as terrible as we thought it might be. And it kind of bounces back and forth between hope and doom. Right. Updates. You know, some of I think like in some ways, it it seems to me like maybe David felt a responsibility to sort of update the prognosis because he’s.


Mary Annaise Heglar He’s still tied to it.


Amy Westervelt Probably the writer most tied to being like guys like this is a big problem. And I do remember when that story came out, the uninhabitable earth came out in New York magazine first, and that was in, what, like 2017. And a lot of people in the climate space really lost their damn minds. Like, they were really like, you can’t tell people this.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.


Amy Westervelt You can’t scare people like this, you know?


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah. He was the first journalist I had ever seen freak out about climate change in public in that way.


Amy Westervelt Yeah, I was. And I would argue that it was really necessary.


Mary Annaise Heglar I really welcomed it. And so he’s written about the thing before, right? What is what they call the business as usual scenario? And it used to be about to a degree like five or six degrees of warming, and now it’s come down to 2 to 3 degrees of warming, which is.


Amy Westervelt Yeah.


Mary Annaise Heglar Orders of magnitude better. But also like that he talks about this dichotomy of like, yeah, that’s true. But also it’s true that that is deadly for a lot of people.


Amy Westervelt Right. And I think it’s Katharine Hayhoe that he talks to in it that points out that like also, you know, a lot of the stuff that we thought wouldn’t happen until you got to higher levels of warming is happening earlier than anticipated. So like we’re not actually totally sure what 2 to 3 degrees mean and certainly not enough to say, oh, it’s okay, guys, don’t worry too much, you know?


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah. Yeah.


Amy Westervelt So, yeah.


Mary Annaise Heglar How did you feel about where he landed in the end?


Mary Annaise Heglar I don’t know that he necessarily landed anywhere like it felt. It felt a little bit like he was working through, you know, a few different things throughout it. The one thing that jumped out at me was like, I don’t know how you write 5000 words. Or it was it might not be that long, but it was very long story and not mention accountability or the fossil fuel industry really at all, especially because there is quite a bit in there about, you know, political will and, you know, things that could happen. Both Olufemi Taiwo and Dr. Kate Marvel were quoted in this piece saying things that, you know, you heard them say on this show as well about how, you know, like Doctor Kate Marvel has says over and over again, like the like the world is will be what we make of it. You know. Like we have actually a lot of control. We can make decisions and all of those things. And then, you know, Femi pointed out like, look, I think we’re going to see an increase in authoritarianism. And he doesn’t call it this, but basically you go fascism and like policing of immigration and all of those kinds of geopolitical things that that we talk about with respect to climate change and large scale migration, both in countries and beyond them. Between them. All of that stuff. I don’t understand how you leave out this massive, incredibly powerful entity that kind of sits over all of that.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.


Amy Westervelt And in many ways controls the the choices that are made. Because I think I don’t know, I honestly and this is where, you know, we were we kind of hinted at this before the break. But like, I feel like there’s this weird sense that, like, you know, just being, like, Exxon’s bad. Yeah. Is is like a sort of reductive and finger pointing and juvenile and maybe a little bit activist and all that stuff. I don’t like I don’t have a particular bee in my bonnet for any one oil company. I’m more I’m just like, look, this industry as a whole, whether you’re talking about nationalized oil companies like Saudi Aramco or U.S. oil companies like ExxonMobil have power that far exceeds their borders. You know, like they have more power than any one government because they have power over several governments, including like Saudi Aramco. They they do a shitload of like lobbying and PR to shape policy in the U.S., for example, because that impacts how they do business globally. Right. So I don’t know this idea. I’m like I don’t like in both this story and the story we’re going to talk about next, which was Elizabeth Kolbert did kind of a similar type of thing that was called Climate from A to Z and gave this sort of overarching like, here’s where we’re at now, you know, as the climate narrative kind of shifts and we’re looking forward to the next decade. You know, here’s what’s happened and what’s happening and what people are predicting and all that. A similar kind of vibe there where it’s like, you know, kind of looking at all of the different factors that have caused climate change, looking at all of the different factors that have caused the climate models to shift over the last few years, looking at the progress that’s been made and the progress that hasn’t been made and looking forward at what might happen and then somehow leaves out this major powerful actor that has their hands in all of those things. You know? And and I don’t think that’s like. Oh like superfluous things.


Mary Annaise Heglar Mm hmm.


Amy Westervelt I don’t know especially like I like it. Well, but. I’m, like, very deep in the weeds. I’m on a in international. A story about the fossil fuel industry. Right. And I’m just like, you cannot look at this situation and not question how is any one government going to get on top of an industry that is more powerful than all of them?


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.


Amy Westervelt And that doesn’t really need to play by the rules of any one government. And honestly, that doesn’t see themselves as having to play by the rules of any one government. There’s this really famous quote from from ExxonMobil’s former president, Lee Raymond, where like during the nineties, when Exxon was starting to expand more internationally and they had quite a bit of bad press like in the nineties and throughout the 2000, because they took on a lot of Mobil’s international oil fields. And they were for for the most part, in countries where there were a lot of of really questionable government policies happening, there were a lot of corrupt politicians that that Exxon was fine kind of playing ball with. There was a lot of bad press around how they were like propping up dictators and all this stuff. And Lee Raymond sort of famously said, I don’t know why people can’t understand that, like, we’re not an American company or an oil company, and that makes us a global entity. And like, it’s not my job to, like, bring American ideas or democracy to other countries. Like, it’s my job to get oil out of this country and sell it, you know? And I’m like, yeah, that’s right. That is their job.


Mary Annaise Heglar I don’t understand the problem.


Amy Westervelt That’s I actually am like, yes, he’s being very upfront and straightforward. The problem is when governments and citizens and media. Don’t acknowledge that. And like you know, and and are like, oh, you know, we should stop blaming them so much and we shouldn’t point the finger and. we should give them the benefit of the doubt. And, you know, it’s not all the oil companies. Yeah, no one’s saying it’s all their faults. What I’m pointing out is that it’s very difficult to just look at policy and not look at the way that that industry is influencing policy.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah, it’s hard to solve a problem when you don’t understand its causes.


Amy Westervelt Exactly. And I think that if you’re doing that, you’re never going to see. Effective solutions. Yeah, I just. I don’t know. I don’t understand how anyone thinks they’re going to get on top of this problem without reining in the power of that industry. Yeah, and I don’t know how you write like thousands of words about climate and not mention that you write both of these cases. Both of these cases, The New Yorker. The New Yorker refused. And The New York Times Magazine piece. It’s it’s wild to me. Wild.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah. Yeah. There was a section in the Elizabeth Kolbert article that I kind of got stuck on where she was talking about all the research says that doom and gloom narratives don’t work on people and they shut people down and it causes paralysis. And so I don’t think that Elizabeth actually takes the perspective on this in the section. She’s pretty much just quoting all other people. But what it sounded like to me was that one, we actually don’t have that much research on what narratives work and which narratives don’t. But also the research that is out there is always interpreted as weighing doom and gloom, narrative versus like solutions oriented and hope narratives. And I want people to understand that there are other options to choose from.


Mary Annaise Heglar Right. You know like I did not get involved in the climate movement because I was hopeful. Now I get involved in the climate movement because I was scared. And I also wonder how much of this research takes the long look at people, because usually what happens is and most people who work in climate can tell you this, that they, when they first grapple with the problem, freaked out and went into a deep pit of despair and grief because they are a normal person with a beating heart. And this is terrifying and overwhelming. And then they came out months later, sometimes years later, ready to fight for their lives because they had processed it. So if we’re saying that all this doom and gloom, which is really just like, I think reality, I don’t think there’s a lot of articles out there that they’re like, we’re doom folks. I actually don’t see those articles, really. But the articles that really like focus on the impacts of climate change and how much worse it stands to get and are realistic about that. I actually think that they do motivate people to be sustained climate activists. It just doesn’t happen in an instant.


Amy Westervelt Well, yeah. And also just it shifts all the time for people. I don’t know that there’s I don’t know how you would even effectively study that, because it changes so often and because, you know, we haven’t really seen yet what the impact of of like the last, you know, stuff that was happening a couple of years ago has had.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.


Amy Westervelt It’s funny because in both of these cases, the authors talk about how there’s been a remarkable amount of action in the last five years. It’s still not enough, but that doesn’t make it any less remarkable. And that has happened in the first few years in which people have been being realistic about it.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah. You know so people are freaking out about this because they should people are angry. And so there’s a point in there in which Christina figure is asked like what the name of the movement for social good that has been motivated by like despair and defeatism. There isn’t one, and I would agree with that for the most part. But like show me the one that was built on like. Hope and sunshine and bunnies. That’s like most of them were guided by anger. When I asked my momma, like, why she wasn’t afraid when Emmett Till was murdered and she learned about it as a little kid and like why they kept showing up even though their lives were on the line. I was like, Weren’t you scared? And she was like, No, we were angry.


Amy Westervelt Yeah. Yeah.


Mary Annaise Heglar You know, and I think that’s true of so many other social movements. Like, I don’t think those kids are out there risking their lives in a run or or you know, all over the world, even right here in America, because they’re, like, out there because of hope. They’re out there because they’re angry.


Amy Westervelt That’s right.


Mary Annaise Heglar Mm hmm.


Amy Westervelt Yeah. Yeah, well, and I think it’s I just. I just think it’s important in general to hold space for, like, the whole spectrum of, you know, emotional response to climate. Like, I think as we’ve talked about many times, like most people cycle through all of them. Right? And there is quite a bit of research on how activating anger in particular can be, which is why I get so annoyed when people act like anger is like an inappropriate emotion about this, you know? But like, yeah, I just. I don’t know. I think, um. I don’t actually think that this dichotomy that people keep wanting to talk about exists.


Mary Annaise Heglar Mm hmm.


Amy Westervelt Um even even the people that are like. I don’t know. Like even the people they get mad about, quote unquote, opium and like, you know, try to police people saying anything positive at all. Like, you know, I will also see those folks talking about, you know, the success of different movements or how important it is to, like, build community or, you know what I mean? Like, no one is just like 100% doom killjoy all the time. And like. Yeah. I don’t know. I don’t know. Anyway, I mean, I think, like, I guess folks were maybe trying to do their end of the year, like, state of play on glamor, but. And I can very much appreciate how hard it is to do that and how tough it is to sort of encapsulate everything in one story and all of that. But yeah, I, I, I, yeah. The thing that really jumped out to me was just the, the lack of any kind of. Accountability piece.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.


Amy Westervelt At all.


Mary Annaise Heglar I guess that’s a pretty big oversight. I didn’t feel like either one of them was trying to tell me how to feel, though.


Amy Westervelt No, no, no. Not at all


Mary Annaise Heglar Which I appreciated, because I actually feel like usually a lot of these sorts of pieces wind up with, like a very strict point of view on how the readership feel at the end.


Amy Westervelt That’s very true. I actually really appreciated that. Like in both of these cases, it felt more like they were both trying to figure out, like their own perspective.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.


Amy Westervelt Like, I think. Like things. Yeah, exactly. Like, okay. Like, things have actually changed pretty significantly in the last five years. Like, I need to. Maybe I need to update my thinking, but, like, I’m not quite sure where I met out, you know which to me, I’m like, Yeah, that seems about right. You know.


Mary Annaise Heglar That feels like big progress, honestly, in the long form. Like, how should we feel about climate change pieces to come out? Like, I’m not really sure. I think that’s actually big progress. And you might say emotional growth on the part of the media that we get stories that are just nuanced and unresolved about climate change. Because I do feel like in any sort of climate change medium, that’s why we’re always told that climate stories are so hard to tell because they don’t have a neat conclusion. You hear that about climate books all the time. There’s no neat conclusion. So the publishing industry doesn’t quite know what to do with them all the time, or in movies or in anywhere else. Like, people want a neat ending and you can’t really get one. So it’s kind of nice to see two articles, two longform articles, a mainstream medium that I don’t think are trying to tell the reader how to feel all.


Amy Westervelt Yeah. Yeah, that’s true. I really appreciate that. And I do think like that two major magazines giving this much space to climate stories period is definitely nice to see. Oh, speaking of which, I want to give a quick shout out completely unrelated to these two stories we were just talking about, but we haven’t talked about it at the Washington Post launched its climate vertical at the end of November and it’s fucking awesome. And I so far I’m like, they’re the only ones that I have seen really follow through on all these promises we heard earlier this year about expanding climate coverage. So like huge kudos to them.


Mary Annaise Heglar Can we get some air horn? Amy is praising a major media institution. This doesn’t on our show every day.


Amy Westervelt That’s true. It’s true. Well done. Like, it’s so. It’s so good. There’s so many different types of stories. There’s such a breadth of coverage. You can tell that they really, like, invested in the coverage. And it’s like, oh, amazing. I just I think it’s so it’s great to see it. I hope that other other outlets follow suit.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah. Yeah.


Amy Westervelt All right. And with that, another ad break, Mary.


Amy Westervelt [AD].


Amy Westervelt Mary. Mary.


Mary Annaise Heglar Amy.


Amy Westervelt Did you know that there’s there’s actually another COP? A totally separate one.


Mary Annaise Heglar Oh, wow. Like you’re like a cop-a-ganda machine. Yes. I didn’t know about this COP15 on biological diversity.


Amy Westervelt Yeah. Yeah.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah


Amy Westervelt I got. I don’t often find PR pitches funny, but I got actually a really funny pitch that was like, hey, have you heard of the the biodiversity cop? No. Yeah. Because the media never covers it.


Mary Annaise Heglar It’s been going on for 15 years, though.


Amy Westervelt I know. I know. Yeah. So this was cop 15. It’s held in. It was held in Montreal.


Mary Annaise Heglar Oh, in the winter. That’s rude.


Amy Westervelt Yeah, I guess that’s true. Montreal’s really pretty in the winter, though, but yes you’re right.


Mary Annaise Heglar If you like freezing to death. Sure.


Amy Westervelt That’s true. That is true. Good food there though. Mhm. Good food city. Yeah.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah, that’s true. So there are delegates from more than 190 countries to come up with a plan to address the eco system and wildlife crises. Because as I learned embarrassingly late in my climate journey, that if the climate crisis does not take out humanity, the biodiversity crisis will. I actually thought the biodiversity crisis was a result of climate change. I didn’t realize that they actually are separate problems.


Amy Westervelt Yes, isn’t that crazy. That’s very crazy.


Mary Annaise Heglar I mean, climate change, of course, exacerbates it. But there is a biodiversity climate crisis.


Amy Westervelt Can we just point out to first of all, there’s a thing that comes out of these biodiversity cops every year that’s called the Convention on Biological Diversity or CBD. Just pause for effect. And every country in the world is a party to CBD, except the Vatican. And guess who else? Mary.


Mary Annaise Heglar Oh, no. United States?


Amy Westervelt Yeah.


Mary Annaise Heglar I really was hoping to be wrong on that. I thought you were going to say like Russia or something.


Amy Westervelt United States! What? Come on. Come on.


Mary Annaise Heglar The biggest petro states in the world are signed on and we’re not.


Amy Westervelt Mhm. Yeah. Yeah. Pretty crazy. The U.S. does always send a couple of of delegates to try to shape the outcome of the conference of course. But. But yeah.


Mary Annaise Heglar But they’re not a party to it.


Amy Westervelt Big focus this year. Was this this 30 by 30 thing.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.


Amy Westervelt You knew about this?


Mary Annaise Heglar It’s protecting 30% of wildlife or or land and water for um, for biodiversity.


Amy Westervelt That’s right.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.


Amy Westervelt That’s right. By.


Mary Annaise Heglar By 2030.


Amy Westervelt Right. And there was some interesting stuff happening around this at the the conference where indigenous folks were saying, yeah, okay. But you have to make sure that you include indigenous land rights in that because actually biodiversity has been used as an excuse to kick Indigenous people off of land, despite the fact that guess what, indigenous land is where the best biodiversity protection is happening.


Mary Annaise Heglar I know.


Amy Westervelt Around the world. Shocker that, yeah.


Mary Annaise Heglar Indigenous practices are actually damn good.


Amy Westervelt Mm hmm.


Mary Annaise Heglar At working in harmony with nature, turns out.


Amy Westervelt Yes. Yes. There’s also, like, I don’t know. I do feel like it’s worth talking about these these weird, sort of like arbitrary number of claims that the Climate Club and biodiversity thats the thing like, you know, people really fetishized 1.5, but like that was sort of just plucked out of the air. Like it’s not there’s no scientific basis for yeah, 1.5 to stay alive or any of that stuff similarly.


Mary Annaise Heglar Its a political goal.


Amy Westervelt Like 30%, I guess that was like 30-30 sounds good, right? You know, 30 under 30, 30 by 30, whatever it is.


Mary Annaise Heglar But what does the sciene actually say?


Amy Westervelt It doesn’t say anything its like protect as much as you can because like we’ve already destroyed too much of it.


Mary Annaise Heglar But didn’t they say like at least 50?


Amy Westervelt Yes, at least 50. Yeah. Is the goal that all of the actual conservation scientists talk about?


Mary Annaise Heglar Mm hmm.


Amy Westervelt But yeah, politicians are like, how about 30?


Mary Annaise Heglar Right? I sell 30.


Amy Westervelt I can sell 30.


Mary Annaise Heglar Right?


Amy Westervelt Yeah.


Mary Annaise Heglar And like not a lot of scientific research went into it before they just ran that out there as the goal.


Amy Westervelt That’s right. And okay. Yes, it is double what we have now. We have about 15% of the unprotected now. So it would double it by 2030, which is eight years away. So I think they probably were like, this is an achievable goal. We could do this. However, of course, as with the other cop, the big question is like, But who’s going to pay for it? Who’s going to pay for it? I don’t know. How about the industries that fucked it up in the first place? Just. Just an idea. Just spitballing. Why can we never talk about including at the Climate One too? Like, why can’t we talk about having these industries that have profited from being able to exploit the commons land, water, air for profit? Why can’t we talk about having them pay into a fund that pays to protect those things for for the public that they have the made, you know, made money off of? I don’t I don’t understand it. I don’t get it.


Mary Annaise Heglar Taxes. I think what you’re proposing is taxes.


Amy Westervelt I’ve got one word for you. Taxes? Yeah. Taxes and fines. We already have all the mechanisms set up to do it. You know, I don’t understand why. Why this is so hard, right?


Mary Annaise Heglar If you don’t pay your parking tickets, you have problems.


Amy Westervelt Like when we. When we, like think about the things that we need to live. It’s like, okay, a livable atmosphere, clean air and clean water land. But, you know like these are all things that are really important for humans to live. It shouldn’t be this hard to get the sort of bare minimum of protections for them.


Mary Annaise Heglar Even if they’re invaluable. Like you, literally.


Amy Westervelt Yes.


Mary Annaise Heglar Can’t put a value on them.


Amy Westervelt Yes. Exactly. Exactly. Unfortunately, CBD has a bad record for doing literally anything. Not talking about the cannabis. Love you. Love you, boo. You get it done. But.


Mary Annaise Heglar I’ve never heard you say boo before.


Amy Westervelt CBD. Great. This CBD not so much. Not effective. Not effective at all, Mary.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah. You don’t think they’re going to nail it in the 15th year?


Amy Westervelt No. Ten years ago, the member countries agreed to a similarly ridiculous 20 by 20 20Targets to protect ecosystems by 2020.


Mary Annaise Heglar How’d that workout?


Amy Westervelt Did not meet a single target, not one of the 20.


Mary Annaise Heglar Oh, wow.


Amy Westervelt Battin zero.


Mary Annaise Heglar Oh, wow.


Amy Westervelt Yeah. Yeah.


Mary Annaise Heglar So my money is on not going to solve it this year.


Amy Westervelt No. And it’s really it’s like it’s getting to a really real crisis point where we’ve already lost half of forests, half of coral reefs, 80% of wetlands.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.


Amy Westervelt 80%. That’s really bad because wetlands are critical to dealing with flooding and storm surge.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.


Amy Westervelt All of that stuff.


Mary Annaise Heglar They’re super clutch in a hurricane I’ll tell ya.


Amy Westervelt Very clutch in a hurricane. That’s right. That’s right. So it’s only going to get worse unless we act now and unless we kind of, you know, rebalance this whole situation, it’s it’s really it’s disastrous. And, you know, even other stuff. Like I feel like I don’t know people this is this is, again, one of those things where I think people think, oh, this nature over there doesn’t affect me. Yeah, it really fucking does. Do you like food?


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.


Amy Westervelt Do you like diversity in your food? Because guess what? You’re going to fucking lose it if you don’t get on top of this stuff. You know? Like, do you like coffee, chocolate, wine, bread, pasta? She, like, all that shit is impacted by this, you know? So, like, even if you don’t care about ecosystems for ecosystems sake, humans are part of ecosystems. Everything we do is impacted by ecosystem collapse.


Mary Annaise Heglar You know.


Amy Westervelt You absolutely will be affected by it.


Mary Annaise Heglar I am absolutely terrified by how many people do not understand that. And also, like most of those people are sick. I think about this when I think about the decline of local media, because so many of the people who see themselves as outside of nature are folks who grew up in big cities, unfortunately. And that’s where all of our media is situated right now. So like, what sorts of stories will we get about climate change if we had thriving local newsrooms in small towns or smaller cities, even just across the country? We have such a richer story.


Amy Westervelt Mmhmmm very very sad.


Mary Annaise Heglar There. That’s. That thought just made me really sad.


Amy Westervelt Yeah. It’s a giant bummer and really, like, who wins when when smaller, local outlets go out of business? It’s it’s big business, you know, it’s people who have shit to hide for the most part, you know. Like, I just. Yeah, I don’t know. That’s actually a huge a huge bummer. Yeah. Right now in in media in general, there’s the, you know, the total decimation of local newsrooms and then really like just an absolute bloodletting across media and in general right now, that includes a lot of of, you know, like local reporters that work for for national outlets, too. It’s. Yeah. Not great.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah. I think that’s why you don’t hear as much about all the like regular spills, pipelines and accidents like that. Even just those stories get lost because there’s not enough journalists to cover them. That’s not enough paid journalists.


Amy Westervelt Yeah. Yeah. Very, very true. I want to talk about one another story that’s kind of related to what we were just talking about with respect to the the biodiversity conference, which is the spread of rights of nature and degrowth as ideas that are starting to actually like get baked into political and legal systems right now. Okay. Not not really in the US so much, but starting there’s a little like bubbling up of that in the US too, but in a big way in a lot of Latin American countries where there’s been kind of major shifts in government over the past few years, and they’re starting to really look at like, okay, what would it look like if we valued, say, biodiversity as like a central marker of success in our economy and our government? You know, like what would it look like if we actually gave ecosystems rights the same way that the US gives corporations rights? What like how would would our decisions be different? What kind of a decision making framework would we have if we had to think through the impact on ecosystems or the impact on biodiversity, or the impact on public health instead of just the impact on corporate profit? Right. That is like a question that really, really, really needs to be grappled with and and I think it’s, you know, like in I don’t know, I feel like in the US this thing comes up all the time where people are like, Oh, so you think capitalism is the problem? What do you want? Communism in the same way that like, you know, despair and hope are not the only options. Communism and capitalism are not the only options either.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.


Amy Westervelt And like, I feel like actually right now, some of the best examples of other ways of doing stuff are in Latin America. Yeah. So there is this great story in the New York Times recently about Uruguay, and it’s called What Does Sustainable Living Look Like? Maybe like Uruguay. And it talks about all of these things that they’re doing there and how they’ve managed to reach, you know, 98% renewable energy and are, you know, just taking some some different paths than we’ve seen in other countries. And weirdly, like most of what they’re talking about in this article is what’s called degrowth, which is, you know, an idea that’s like, look, you can’t have endless growth on a planet with finite resources. Endless growth has been a hallmark of modern capitalism. It cannot continue to be if we’re going to survive. Like what does another alternative look like?


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.


Amy Westervelt You know. And for some reason, this article never uses that word, but it definitely describes a bunch of policies that would fall underneath that kind of rubric. So, yeah, I want to I’m going to read you like a little passage from it.


Mary Annaise Heglar Okay.


Amy Westervelt While the math of decarbonization and electric mobilization is clear, the future lifestyle it implies isn’t always very true. Right wing commenters sometimes seize upon this fact to caricature any climate policy as a forced retreat from modernity. Americans forced to live in eco pods while on the left. Any accounting seems to cloud the urgency of the moment. A majority of emissions come from just 100 or so corporations. Activists argue a concentration of industrial production that once decarbonized could slash the footprint beneath every wall, sconce and sandwich. Even if it were true, these arguments conveniently ignore one uncomfortable fact Walmart, Exxon Mobil and Berkshire Hathaway didn’t burn that fuel on their own. We paid them to or burned it ourselves because the way we live depends on it. So.


Mary Annaise Heglar Hmm.


Amy Westervelt It kind of it asks the question of like, okay, we need to actually look at how we’re going to systemically drive broader changes in our, quote unquote way of life. Which is interesting because I feel like that is the big argument that you always hear against climate policy is like and in fact, we’ve heard president say before, our way of life is not up for negotiation. You know?


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.


Amy Westervelt I like. Okay, but when did we. All really, like, collectively decide that our way of life was going to be, like, high consumption, you know, endless growth? I don’t know. It’s I kind of.


Mary Annaise Heglar Think this is why energy efficiency doesn’t get the love it needs, right? Because it’s like, yes, it would cut down on the way that we live. It would cut down on our own impressions of our excess and and our like. You know. Abundance


Amy Westervelt All that excess as Yeah. As being like a marker of success and well-being. Right. Like, so it’s really interesting the, like, the, the movement that’s kind of underfoot to really redefine what people need to live well in a society and like how you then structure government and economy around fulfilling those needs as opposed to fulfilling the desires of corporations for endless profits.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah, I feel like if like this sort of mythology is becoming a threat to our very existence, it might be time to let them go. Maybe it was a bad myth.


Amy Westervelt That’s right. Exactly. And the reality is, you know, people are like, oh, socialism, blah, blah, blah. Without government subsidies, fossil fuels are not actually the best markets.


Mary Annaise Heglar Exactly. We have socialism just in the wrong direction.


Amy Westervelt We have corporate socialism.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.


Amy Westervelt You know, so the idea that, like oh, you know, we have to let the markets decide, but but the markets are very much rigged and tampered with.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.


Amy Westervelt And and they’re they’re all kind of set up around a value system that maybe doesn’t serve the interests of the public. You know, I think there’s there’s a lot of assumptions around. Oh. This is what Americans value. Oh, I don’t know that that’s true.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.


Amy Westervelt Oh, yeah. But I hear this a lot from from not just right wing folks, but also from a lot of like kind of more technocratic folks. A lot of the the people that you often see getting accused of climate delay, too, is like, well, you know, we can’t have a reduction in quality of life or we can’t stop the Global South from having an improvement in their quality of life, you know, just to to get rid of fossil fuels or whatever. And and I kind of feel like. They’re they’re sort of stopping short of thinking the whole thing through. You know, like even actually in the most recent IPCC report, there was some really interesting. Well, it drew on some really interesting new work in the field of economics where people are really starting to look at like, okay, what are the like the services that people actually need to have a good quality of life? And how can we supply those things without starting with the assumption that quality of life is fueled by fossil fuels, which has been a really baked in assumption in economics for a really long time by the way, it’s like fossil fuels equals improved quality of life. Fossil fuels equals increased life expectancy. Like that’s been a thing that’s been just like a hard and fast rule, right in economics forever. And finally, in the last ten years, there’s been a bunch of research that’s like actually, we’re not sure that’s true.


Mary Annaise Heglar I would also say that if you’re a coal miner, it’s drastically reduces.


Amy Westervelt Yeah. Yeah. Or if you live next to a coal mine or you live next to a refinery, like, I mean, I don’t know this whole thing. Like the the phrase energy poverty has been coming up a lot from the fossil fuel industry and folks that want to see the fossil fuel industry continue as is. And I think like and it refers to, you know, a lack of access to affordable energy, stable energy, all of that kind of stuff. Right. Like not not being able to turn the lights on, not being able to to cook on a stove. That’s not like a wood burning or coal burning stove, those kinds of of kind of basic energy needs. But the reality is, like, I’m not like there’s not a lot of great data on, you know, fossil fuel companies going into countries that have a high level of energy poverty and actually solving that problem.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.


Amy Westervelt And instead, what you see is fossil fuel companies going into those countries and making a shitload of money off of exploiting those countries resources which they then export to other countries.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah. You know one thing I will never forgive the fossil fuel industry for is when the American Petroleum Institute published that report saying that maybe black people aren’t getting sick because they’re near fossil fuel infrastructure, maybe it’s just their bad genes.


Amy Westervelt Oh, my God, I forgot about that. And it’s so fucking awful.


Mary Annaise Heglar I’ll never forget that.


Amy Westervelt Wow.


Mary Annaise Heglar Maybe it’s just bad genes.


Amy Westervelt Wow. Wow.


Mary Annaise Heglar Pay no attention to the noxious fumes in the air? Maybe they just get cancer because that’s what they do.


Amy Westervelt Oh, my God.


Mary Annaise Heglar Never going to forget it.


Amy Westervelt Wow. But they would like you to believe that they are single handedly lifting the entire continent of Africa out of poverty.


Mary Annaise Heglar Out of the goodness of their hearts, of course.


Amy Westervelt Yeah.


Mary Annaise Heglar You know, just because it’s the right thing to do.


Amy Westervelt Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. All right. That’s it for this time, I think. I think we covered most of it. Right, Mary?


Mary Annaise Heglar Yep. Do you do any impressions?


Amy Westervelt I could do an impression of my husband.


Mary Annaise Heglar Oh, my gosh. Please.


Amy Westervelt And his Scottish accent. Do you want me to do that? All right, big man. Shut it.


Mary Annaise Heglar Is that really what he sounds like?


Amy Westervelt Alright, let’s go.


Mary Annaise Heglar He really sounds like that?


Amy Westervelt Yeah, he does. I’m sorry to say it’s true. All right. Oh, actually, I’ll give you an impression of him watching the Harry and Meghan Netflix docu series.


Mary Annaise Heglar You guys did that?


Amy Westervelt We watched the first episode and he spent the entire time going I fucking hate these people.


Mary Annaise Heglar Which ones does he hate?


Amy Westervelt All of the royals. All of them. Yeah.


Mary Annaise Heglar Yeah.


Amy Westervelt Yeah. He’s like oh was it hard, Meghan? Was it hard having shitloads of money? Was it. Oh, poor Harry.


Mary Annaise Heglar Hot Take is a Crooked Media production.


Amy Westervelt It’s produced by Ray Pang and mixed and edited by Jordan Kantor.


Mary Annaise Heglar Our music is by Vasilis Fotopoulos. Leo Duran is our senior producer.


Amy Westervelt And our executive producers are Mary Annaise Heglar, Michael Martinez and me Amy Westervelt.


Mary Annaise Heglar Special thanks to Sandy Girard, Ari Schwartz, Kyle Seglin, and Charlotte Landes for production support and to Amelia Montooth for digital support.


Amy Westervelt You can follow the show on Twitter at Real Hot Take and subscribe to Crooked Media’s video channel at slash Crooked Media.