On Friday of the Thanksgiving weekend, in hopes that nobody would notice, the Trump Administration quietly released the latest National Climate Assessment, a 1,700-page report compiled by 13 federal agencies with more than 300 scientists, including data from over 1,000 peer-reviewed scientific studies. On today's BradCast, we notice. [Audio link to show follows below.]
The report is mandated by Congress every few years, so the Administration had little choice but to release it, though doing so a month earlier than expected over a holiday weekend --- without even notifying the scientists who worked on it --- was as noteworthy as the report's stark contradictions with Donald Trump's own climate change denialism.
Global warming, the report warns, may warm the U.S. by as much as 12 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100. It has already cost Americans $150 billion in various forms of damage since 2015 and, by the end of the century, unless severe steps are taken to curb emissions, climate change will result in a cost of some 10% to the nation's Gross Domestic Product. That hit to the economy will be more than twice that of the Great Recession a decade ago, the report finds, unless a very serious effort is undertaken immediately to curb man-made greenhouse gasses that cause global warming. Such action on a federal level, of course, seems very unlikely given that Donald Trump, when asked about the devastating economic effects detailed by his own administration's report, told reporters on Monday: "I don't believe it."
We're joined today by DR. MICHAEL E. MANN, Distinguished Professor and Director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University, to discuss the troubling scientific findings and the entirely predictable reaction by denialist Republicans and corporate media over the weekend since its release.
Mann's climate science work, as author of nearly 200 peer-reviewed and edited publications, as well as several landmark climate change books, has warned for years of the breathtaking scope of our current climate crisis, illustrated again by recent record hurricanes, wildfires, droughts and floods and outlined by the report. The new study was compiled prior to the recent fires in CA which have, so far, killed nearly 90 people, as well as before this year's Hurricanes Michael and Florence which devastated parts of Florida and the southeast coast of the U.S.
"Simply stating what the science has to say is alarming," Mann tells me. "We are seeing the impacts now play out in real time. That means we are much farther down this road than we ever should have allowed ourselves to get. And time is running out. There is a level of urgency unlike we've seen before. We have to bring our carbon emissions down dramatically now, to avoid ever more catastrophic warming of the planet. And this is what you see in the form of scientists, who are usually quite conservative, coming out and saying, 'Look, we have, in essence, an emergency now.'"
At the same time, Mann notes, "The emergency is heightened by the fact that, at a time when we need to see even more action if we're going to stabilize warming below catastrophic levels, we have a president who is trying to take us in exactly the opposite direction."
Last week, in response to a cold spell just days before his own Administration released its report, Trump tweeted: "Whatever happened to global warming?" When asked about that today, Mann responds today by saying: "I'm looking out the window now and it's dark outside. Whatever happened to the sun? His comments about climate change are about as sensible and intelligent as that. Even a 5-year-old understands the absurdity of the claims that he makes."
As usual, Mann has a lot of important thoughts and science to share on all of this, on whether action at this late date can even make a difference, on the media's coverage of the issue, and even on his "disagreement" with a recent comment made by newly elected Democratic progressive Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Please tune in.
Also today: Speaking of the costs of Trump's reckless deregulation and science denial, last week's E. coli outbreak in Romaine lettuce (and the similar nationwide taint that sickened hundreds and killed five earlier this year), was also entirely predictable. It followed the Trump Administration's rollback of Obama Administration testing requirements for water used by producer growers, which would have kicked in this year. Trump's deregulation was supposed to save growers $12 million a year, while the costs of tainted fruits and vegetables costs consumers about $180 million in healthcare costs annually.
We've also got some more midterm election news as well (no, it's still not over!), including Republican Rep. Mia Love finally conceding her U.S. House reelection bid to Democrat Ben McAdams in otherwise ruby red Utah --- and slamming both Trump and her own party in the bargain. That brings the total to 38 House seats picked up by Democrats, so far, with two more still-undecided races in New York.
It's not just midterm counting that continues, but voting as well, as super-genius GOP U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith faces a tougher-than-expected runoff on Tuesday in Mississippi against Democrat Mike Espy, after a string of disturbing remarks about "public hangings" and voter suppression during her campaign.
And, finally today, listeners ring in with calls on the new climate change report and more...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)