Background Briefing: December 29, 2020

A Look Back at the Impact of Global Warming in 2020


Australia as the Chernobyl of the Climate Crisis

We continue to look back on the stories that dominated the headlines in this tumultuous year of 2020 which is fast coming to a close. This year saw mounting evidence of climate change impacting the environment in destructive ways that add to the pace of global warming, in particular the massive forest fires. We begin with a broadcast from January 8 when we went to Australia to speak with that country’s leading novelist Richard Flanagan, the winner of the Man Booker Prize whose latest book is “First Person”. He joined us to discuss his recent article at The New York Times, “Australia is Committing Climate Suicide” and elaborate on his comparison of a continent of fire to the collapse of the Soviet Union as Australia is becoming the Chernobyl of the climate crisis. With its appalling leadership void and a media dominated by Rupert Murdoch, Australia will never be the same lucky country as now its angry populace is poised to rise up from the ashes and take back their country from those who abandoned them, the useless global-warming denying politicians in the pockets of coal barons.


As the West Burns, 9 Times More CO2 Enters the Atmosphere Than All the Reductions From Californias Green Initiatives

Then we go to an interview from August 26 when we looked into the wildfires in the West with more dry lightning storms in the forecast which have proved deadly in spite of the fact that these many devastating fires are not driven by winds. Another factor in making the task of battling the many fires more difficult is the lack of prison labor due to the pandemic having hit prisons in California depleting the ranks of firefighters. Joining us is David Wallace-Wells, a national fellow at the New America Foundation and a columnist and deputy editor and climate journalist for New York Magazine. His latest book is The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming and he joined us to discuss his article at New York Magazine, “California Has Australian Problems Now” and we assess what can be done to mitigate the twin crises of wildfires and housing shortages, as well as the acceleration of global warming caused by the fires which release nine times more CO2 into the atmosphere than all the reductions of CO2 emissions as a result of California’s green initiatives.


With the West of Fire, Trump Puts a Global Warming Denier in Charge of the Weather

Then finally we go to an interview from September 15 when we looked into the worst possible leadership the country could have to deal with the challenges of climate change as Trump ignored global warming and the record heat behind the massive fires across the West suggesting out of thin air that “It’ll start getting cooler”, at the same time appointing a global warming denier in a key role involving the weather at NOAA. We spoke with Naomi Oreskes, a professor of the History of Science and Affiliated Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University. The co-author of Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming and her latest, Why Trust Science?, she joined us to discuss her article at CNN “America’s devastating divorce from science.”