Guest: Dr. Leah Stokes, UC-Santa Barbara climate policy expert, on what Biden and YOU can do to defeat our climate crisis; Also: UK shatters all-time heat record; MD's gubernatorial primary...
By Brad Friedman on 7/19/2022, 6:15pm PT  

It appears to be Climate Week on The BradCast. Who knew? Simultaneous record-smashing heat waves across the globe (as discussed in some detail on our previous show) from Asia to the U.S. to Europe (where more than a thousand have already died because of it) will apparently continue to continue all week and, likely beyond. Especially after recent actions by our corrupt Supreme Court and the corrupt Sen. Joe Manchin. But there is still plenty that President Biden and you can do about it. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

In Britain, unlike these United States, they have kept records of temperatures for hundreds of years. And never, until today, has the thermometer broken 40 degrees Celsius. Today it did. Smashing 2019's record of 38.7C (or 101.7 Fahrenheit) to hit a remarkable and sweltering 40.3C (or 104.5 Fahrenheit). As Desi helps to put that into perspective today, Britain is more northern in latitude than Calgary, Canada!

While many meteorologists thought, when they saw 40C predicted by computer models a few weeks ago, that it must have been in error, turns out it wasn't. The Chief Scientist at the U.K.'s Met Office today said this kind of temperature in Britain was "virtually impossible" before human-caused climate change.

Here in the U.S., temperatures in much of the country are also breaking records this week, with heat alerts in more than 20 states. All of that on the heels of the corrupt U.S. Supreme Court, last month, making up a pretend "doctrine" to declare that the EPA may not regulate carbon emissions, even though both the Clean Air Act and the Court's own previous ruling mandate that they must. And on the heels of West Virginia's corrupt "Democratic" Senator Joe Manchin, who makes millions --- both personally and to his campaign coffers --- from the fossil fuel industry.

So, what now? Following Manchin's latest Lucy with the football stunt late last week, President Joe Biden declared he would "use every power I have as President to continue to fulfill my pledge to deal with global warming." That pledge includes cuts to man-made greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming to bring carbon emissions down to 50% of what they were before 2005 by 2030 and to reach net-zero by 2050. But with 50 obstructionist Republicans and (at least) one obstructionist Democrat in the Senate, and a corrupt Supreme Court, what tools are available to Biden at this point?

Plenty, suggests our guest today, DR. LEAH STOKES, author, podcaster, and climate policy expert at U.C.-Santa Barbara. Before we get there today, she offers her thoughts on the corruption of both Manchin and the High Court.

Democrats, she explained, when discussing how far they were willing to go to get Manchin to "yes" on a climate deal, pretty much offered him everything he could have wanted through what amounted to 18 months of his bad faith "negotiations."

"It wasn't far-fetched that he would get to 'yes,' because they were willing to give him a lot of things that he wanted --- things that would have helped invest in jobs in West Virginia. For example, there's a program that helps create manufacturing jobs in coal communities. That was in this package. There was also money for things like carbon capture and sequestration, a technology that Manchin really wants to see happen, as well as hydrogen," explains Stokes. "The [Chuck] Schumer team gave him everything he wanted and he still couldn't get to 'yes' --- claiming that somehow it was inflation, when the reality is that economists have told us that the package would fight inflation."

But, of course, Manchin personally makes millions from his family's coal business. So, as Stokes observes, "It's really not that complicated" as to why he was never negotiating in good faith. "There's that Upton Sinclair quote, 'It's hard to get a man to understand something when his paycheck relies on him not understanding it.' Senator Manchin personally profits from the fossil fuel industry. He's making half a million dollars a year --- that's three times more than his Senate salary --- directly off of fossil fuels. So he is lining his pockets when it comes to the fossil fuel industry. He is in bed with the fossil fuel industry both for his personal profit and for his role as a Senator."

As to the Supreme Court, she notes that, even after their recent opinion, "trying to delay progress from the Biden Administration, just like Sen. Manchin," there are still options left for the President. She explains how "the EPA still retains a lot of authority" and that "the Biden Administration retains very important tools, and they need to start using them right now."

We discuss the potential Executive Actions that Biden can now take --- including the declaration of a National Climate Emergency, which may free up even more actions that he could take --- as well as how his Administration is also now free to block many of the programs that they had been holding out as fig leaves for Manchin (and his fossil fueled GOP pals) on hopes of making a deal, including something called the Mountain Valley Pipeline in West Virginia.

But could the Supreme Court subsequently block Biden's Executive Actions as well? We discuss that too. Ultimately, however, as Stokes wrote in her New York Times op-ed over the weekend, despite Manchin, despite SCOTUS, she ultimately remains bullish. "In the long run," she argued, "fossil fuels are just too expensive, dirty and dangerous."

Whether or not humanity will survive that long, remains a separate question, but Stokes cites actions that not only the President can take, but that Governors across the country are already taking, and actions that we can all take which she explains, make an important difference in this fight.

"We should not underestimate the power that we all have," she says, before detailing a long list of things that individuals should be looking at in "our own lives, looking at the fossil fuels that we use," from moving to electric cars and e-bikes, to induction stoves and heat pumps. Especially in states like California, where "a lot of us are going to need air conditioning who haven't had it in the past, and a heat pump is a clean, electric appliance that both heats and cools your home." She notes that CA's Gov. Gavin Newsom recently passed incentives in the budget "that will pay people $3,000 through their contractors to help them afford to put an electric heat pump into their home."

"The solution is not about sacrifice," argues Stokes. "We're talking about cleaner and better technology. It's not about sacrifice, it's really about better solutions. And that's why we're going to win."

Also today, a preview of the closely contested primary races being held today in Maryland, particularly the race for Governor, in one of the few states where Democrats believe they may have a chance of flipping the seat from Red to Blue.

And finally, as our accidental "Climate Week" continues, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report with much more on all of the above...

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