Welcome to Episode 2 of HEATED, a podcast for people who are pissed off about COVID-19 and the climate crisis. Today, we’re talking with The New Republic’s Kate Aronoff.
Kate’s been writing brilliantly about creative policy solutions to the pandemic for a long time now—weeks, even, before COVID-19 took over the national discussion.
These solutions would not only help revitalize the economy; they would help it become resilient against the next global crisis: climate change. They include a green stimulus, a green jobs guarantee, and nationalizing the fossil fuel industry.
And yet, when Kate and I chatted, no one in power seemed to be talking about forward-looking solutions like these.
We spoke on Monday, and things have changed a little bit since our discussion—but not by much. The basic elements are the same: our political leaders have utterly failed to imagine what a better world could look like after this pandemic.
What has happened is that fossil fuel interests are currently capitalizing on that failure.
As thousands of Americans have been suffering and dying from COVID-19, the EPA stopped enforcement of environmental health regulations. The country’s pipeline safety regulatory agency relaxed compliance enforcement, too. The Trump administration rolled back public health regulations to reduce pollution from cars. And three states signed laws restricting the ability of climate activists to protest fossil fuel projects.
In the last two weeks alone, the plastics industry—which is part of the fossil fuel industry—successfully lobbied several states to bring back single-use plastic bags. The National Mining Association asked the White House to let it stop paying into the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund..And today, to top it all off, several oil and gas executives are meeting at the White House, because they want the next coronavirus relief package to include bailout provisions.
All the while, Republicans have been claiming that anyone who introduces climate policy into the COVID relief conversation is taking advantage of tragedy. Trump called it “ridiculous” and “nonsense” to address climate change in a COVID relief package. Benny Johnson from Turning Point USA said Democrats were “bastards” for using “a national crisis” to push for “Green New Deal goodies.” Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders accused Democrats of “leveraging Americans’ suffering during this crisis to win concessions on their Green New Deal.” The list goes on and on.
The whole thing makes me think of the song, “You,” by the rapper Q-Tip. He says, “The things that you would accuse me of/It seems were the things you were doing, love.” This is the pathology of the fossil fuel industry—and it’s why they’re winning the fight against climate change now. Because they’re not afraid to take what they’re doing, and project it onto their opponents.
Democrats, meanwhile, have been suckered into silence. Too scared to be accused of taking advantage of a crisis, they allowed a $2 trillion spending package to be passed with no climate provisions whatsoever. And they called it a victory. Pathetic.
Apparently the next spending package is going to be different. This week, Democratic leaders in Congress said they would push for several green infrastructure provisions, including a "substantial investment" in high-speed rail, in the next COVID relief bill. Joe Biden has also said he’d like to see the next relief package include elements of his “green deal,” as he called it. We’ll see what happens.
In the meantime, enjoy my conversation with Kate, audio file above. I’ll send out an email with the written transcript when I get some time. (Sorry guys, I’m exhausted).
You can also listen to the podcast on your podcast app of choice, thanks to Amy Westervelt at Drilled, who’s letting us drop into her feed. Just search DRILLED on your favorite podcast app, or find it directly by clicking HERE.
SPEAKING OF PODCAST FEEDS: The second episode of the HEATED podcast is also featured on the feed of The New Republic’s podcast, The Politics of Everything. This is also a good podcast that you should check out if you have time. In the most recent episode, the Pulitzer-prize-winning science writer Laurie Garrett talks about the making of a pandemic: how years of budget cuts, privatization, pharmaceutical consolidation got us here. Check it out HERE.
ONE LAST THING: The HEATED newsletter is a one woman operation, but the HEATED podcast is produced by a team of four. This team came together in the span of a week, because we wanted to make sure people were regularly getting up-to-date information about how the climate crisis and the coronavirus are connected.
Because the podcast team is separate, our financial operations are separate, too. We fronted everything to create it, and are depending on donations from listeners like you to keep it going.
If you find value in the podcast, please consider making a donation at our GoFundme. 100 percent of what you give goes to production costs and supporting the four person team who is producing the series. If fundraising goes well, we can keep the project going beyond the six-episode series.
The HEATED podcast is produced by HEATED, with support from Limina House. Our production team is my co-executive producer Mikel Ellcessor, Paul Chuffo is our engineer and producer, and Jessica Frantz runs our operations.
Remember to stay hydrated, eat plants, and do push-ups. I’ll see ya next week.
OK, that’s all for today—thanks for reading (and/or listening) to HEATED!
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See you on Monday!