Jul 29, 2021 - Podcasts

What this summer means for the climate crisis

From Portland to New Orleans, heat watches, warnings, and advisories are in effect across 19 states. It’s just the latest in a series of extreme heat waves, floods and wildfires across the world that have been made worse by the ongoing climate crisis. How should we be thinking about how to solve all of these climate calamities?

  • Plus, what it takes to put up a monument.
  • And, U.S. women win gold at the Olympics.

Guests: Author of Ida B. The Queen, Michelle Duster, Axios' Andrew Freedman, and Ina Fried.

Credits: Axios Today is produced in partnership with Pushkin Industries. The team includes Niala Boodhoo, Sara Kehaulani Goo, Dan Bobkoff, Alexandra Botti, Nuria Marquez Martinez, Sabeena Singhani, Amy Pedulla, Naomi Shavin, and Alex Sugiura. Music is composed by Evan Viola. You can reach us at [email protected]. You can text questions, comments and story ideas to Niala as a text or voice memo to 202-918-4893.

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NIALA BOODHOO: Good morning! Welcome to Axios Today!

It’s Thursday, July 29th. I’m Niala Boodhoo.

Here’s what we’re covering today: what it takes to put up a monument.

Plus, US Women win gold at the Olympics.

But first, today’s One Big Thing: what this summer means for the climate crisis.

From Portland to New Orleans, heat watches, warnings and advisories are in effect across 19 states. It's just the latest in this summer of extreme weather - not just the heat, but also wildfires and floods across the world.

How are climate scientists thinking about this summer? And how should we be thinking about all of this? I thought the perfect person to answer both of these questions is Axios's Andrew Freedman. Hey Andrew!

ANDREW FREEDMAN: Hey, thanks for having me.

NIALA: So Andrew, when we look at what has happened already this summer, do climate scientists think that we are much worse off than they thought at the beginning of the summer?

ANDREW: Scientists are questioning whether or not they have gotten key details wrong based on what we are seeing this summer because the Pacific Northwest heat wave was so far out of the ordinary that it really shocked a lot of scientists. You know, scientists are really deeply searching for answers as to the pace at which extreme events are intensifying, the extent to which they're doing that, and what does this mean for us? What does this mean for how we get through each summer and winter and you know, how we prepare for what's in store in the very near future?

NIALA: So this week I was reading a story that was referencing this 1972 MIT study that basically predicted the complete collapse of our civilization in 2040 if we don't do anything. And they updated it to say, we're kind of still on track for that if we don't do anything. This is so grim and I wonder how you think about what's happening now and put it in context to where we're headed?

ANDREW: I don't want so much of our climate coverage, the climate coverage that I do and the climate coverage that the broader journalism community does to be immobilizing, to be scaring people into a corner of the room where they just sort of cower and think about the end of the world because there's also tremendous opportunities in front of us to do things differently. You know, the likeliest scenario to me is that we get started when we get started on, you know, meaningful carbon emissions reductions. We could choose to start in 10 years. It means more consequences but we still can choose to start at that point.

NIALA: We have already started right?

ANDREW: Yes and no. Carbon emissions are still going up. Carbon concentrations in the atmosphere are still going up. So there are countries that are reducing emissions and countries that are being more ambitious, but it's going to be a real big slog at the Glasgow climate summit in November when countries meet to really hash some of this, the more ambitious climate plans out.

NIALA: Andrew Freedman covers climate and energy for Axios. Andrew, thank you for sharing this with us. I appreciate it.

ANDREW: Thanks for having me.

NIALA: We’ll be back in 15 seconds with the great-grandaughter of civil rights icon Ida B. Wells.

[ad break]

NIALA: Welcome back to Axios Today! I’m Niala Boodhoo.

As more confederate statutes are coming down around the U.S., more memorials to civil rights icons are going up. A monument to Ida B. Wells was unveiled a few weeks ago in Chicago, honoring the civil rights icon who was born into slavery in 1862, and went on to become a journalist, activist, and a founder of the NAACP.

I sat down with Wells’ great great granddaughter, Michelle Duster for an Axios Event, to talk about what it took to get the monument raised. It took more than 12 years to get it up. And a big piece of the puzzle was where to find the money.

MICHELLE DUSTER: In 2018, we had been raising the money for about seven years. And I basically just decided, well, we got to think outside of the box here. Because there were a lot of restrictions on how we could raise the money. And so I just decided to do something different and go on social media, and try to lift up the project to a national level versus a local level and I started tweeting about the project and tagging people and we got national support.

NIALA: I wonder how much you think conversations around Confederate statues and those being removed, raised awareness and helped what you were trying to do.

MICHELLE: I think there were several factors that happened around the same time. Obviously, we know that there are controversies regarding the Confederate statues. There also was a person in the White House who was very hostile towards journalists, in general. And then there was the centennial of the 19th amendment in 2020. There were several factors that all conversed around the same time, that I think made her, her story more relevant and more interesting, and people were really kind of studying her.

NIALA: The Chicago monument is actually called the light of truth based on that famous quote of hers. Are those her words that also resonate the most with you?

MICHELLE: That definitely is one of them. The quote is: the way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them. And I mean, I think it's there-It's true. You have to tell the truth in order to make change. You have to admit that there's a problem before you can solve it. And she was using journalism as a way to shed light on the truth. And she was using the truth as a weapon. She truly believed that the truth would lead to justice.

NIALA: Michelle Duster, a great-great granddaughter of civil rights icon, Ida B Wells, and most recently the author of Ida B. The Queen. Thank you, Michelle.

MICHELLE: Thank you, Niala.

NIALA: You can hear my entire Axios Events conversation with her by going to axios.com. and I'll tweet out the link to it as well.

Earlier this week was the 31st anniversary of the passage of the ADA, the Americans with Disabilities Act. We asked you at the beginning of the week how the ADA has affected your life. Here’s what we heard from two listeners: Aaron in Minneapolis and Malak in Seattle who kindly sent us their thoughts via the Community app.

AARON: While it has had a great but imperfect effect on making public accommodations more physically accessible, those of us with neurological disabilities still face significant discrimination and barriers accessing basic community services. On the autism spectrum, specifically, the unemployment rate was an excessive 85% pre-pandemic. We die at an average age of 36, even though there's no medical reason autism should affect morbidity and mortality. So I think the ADA, while undoubtedly landmark legislation, doesn't go anywhere near far enough.

MALAK: I'm a full-time student at University of Washington and the ADA has impacted my life in giving me crucial accommodations for me to be at the same level as my peers while I attend school throughout the entire pandemic. I worry that it's going to fall short when we return to in-person classes in fall. And there’s no sign of that changing.

NIALA: Thanks again to Aaron and Malak. You can always send me your thoughts on the show or any feedback by texting me like they did. At 202-918-4893.

All week we've been hearing from Axios' Ina Fried who's in Tokyo for the olympics. She sent her latest audio postcard after going to the women's three on three basketball finals which is one of the new games this year and she had some good news to share -

INA FRIED: The exciting thing was that the U S women's team won gold. And also, you know, it was just one of these really cool new sports to see. It's super fast paced, very physical, surprisingly physical. I think you can get away with more in three on three basketball than you could in a traditional basketball game.

NIALA: You can follow her on Twitter @InaFried for her latest updates.

That’s it for us today! You can reach our team at [email protected] or reach out to me on Twitter. My handle is @NialaBoodhoo. For more news before tomorrow, tune into our afternoon podcast Axios Re:Cap that I've been hosting all week. I'll be speaking to How to be an Anti-Racist author Ibram X. Kendi.

I’m Niala Boodhoo - thanks for listening - stay safe and we’ll see you back here tomorrow morning.

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