Maddow Asks: Will Accelerating Climate Change Finally Change Us?

If you’ve tuned into MSNBC the past few days, you may have noticed they’ve ramped up their coverage of the climate-related disasters. Not only are they covering the disasters, they’re tying it into the larger existential threat — as Rachel Maddow did last night.

“Torrential flooding has just drenched the Northeast in the last 24 hours. There has been catastrophic flooding in parts of Vermont. Dozens of people have had to be evacuated or rescued from their homes so far. This is the town of Ludlow, Vermont, which the National Weather Service says got about a month’s worth of rain in less than 24 hours yesterday. They got a six-inch rain dump in one day yesterday,” she said.

That was less than what parts of New York got yesterday, she noted.

“The same storm dumped nine inches of rain in one day, in much of New York’s Hudson Valley. At least one person in New York State has died. A 43-year-old woman officials say was trying to escape rising flood waters when she was swept away and killed. These images that we’re showing of water just overtaking big parts of Vermont and New York, this may not be the worst of it.

“Rivers across the Northeast are expected to reach their highest peaks either late tonight or early tomorrow morning. There are still flood watches in effect in parts of Vermont and New York. Western New England just getting pounded. So that’s what’s going on in that part of the Northeast today.

In the Southwest, she said, it is the killing heat.

“It was 110 degrees in Phoenix, Arizona today. And, you know, maybe that doesn’t sound crazy. Maybe that sounds kind of normal for this time of year. Look, it’s the tenth day in a row that temperatures have been at or above 110 degrees in Phoenix. It’s on track to be the longest and worst heat wave on record. The heat wave has been smothering the Southwest and Texas.

“In Southern Florida, extreme heat has been wreaking havoc on the temperature of the ocean. The sheer ocean temperatures across the whole globe have been warming at a faster pace than they have at any previous known year. The average surface temperature of the ocean off the Florida Keys this time of year is usually in the 80s. Because of the heat wave, we’re now seeing surface temperatures of around 96 degrees in the ocean around the Florida Keys. Ninety-six degree ocean temperatures.

“For context, the average hot tub can be heated somewhere around 100 degrees. It’s 96 degrees in the ocean. and temperatures are expected to get worse as the week goes on there. And the Coachella Valley in California, temperatures this weekend could creep as high as 120. While we’re on the subject of California, I should also mention the landslides.

She showed a landslide in a development on the south side of L.A. County that destroyed 12 homes.

“They’re not certain what caused the landslide but they suspect it could be a result of all the rainfall this season, which softened up the ground until it just slid away. Oh yeah, also, the sky is the wrong color. As you know, parts of the Northeast and Upper Plains states have been choking on smoke pouring in from the wildfires in Canada, pushing the air quality into dangerously unsafe territory that, you know, if you were caught in the middle of it, just felt like nothing so much as the climate apocalypse.”

She pointed out that destructive weather events are happening way more often than they used to.

“Forty years ago, the average time between billion dollar disasters was about two and a half months, disaster that incurred more than a billion dollars in costs, would happen every 82 days. In the last five years, extreme weather events on that scale have happened every 18 days. And yes, that is controlling for inflation.

“We are in a period of chaos being unleashed by the changing climate. And now that we’re experiencing these devastating events with not just alarming frequency, but accelerating frequency, now that we are sort of getting used to experiencing multiple unprecedented devastating events at the same time, all the time, the question is whether that changes us. Have we changed the climate enough that now the climate will change us? Have we reached a tipping point where we’re galvanized to move beyond panic and worry and and do something?” she concluded.

I’ve been thinking about this for a long time. We have a nation so controlled by powerful money interests, the president of the United States delicately tiptoes around calling out those responsible for obfuscating the climate crisis — because doing so would risk his reelection, thus handing the country over to the same fascist interests that got us here. And as much as we’d like to think that people would rise above their own political biases to support taking action, we already know they won’t. Because for decades, with rare exceptions, the media has absolutely refused to sound the alarm, or even connect the dots.

Thanks, corporate media!

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