PBS Suggests DeSantis, Republicans To Blame For Hurricanes

As Hurricane Ian devastates Florida, PBS’s Christiane Amanpour used Thursday’s Amanpour and Company to welcome environmental politics professor Leah Stokes to suggest that Gov. Ron DeSantis and other Republicans are responsible for the storm.

Amanpour led Stokes by wondering where Florida goes from here, “And as you say, it is becoming a recurring pattern. And as the president said, it is still moving across the state and perhaps to other areas. Which means that flooding is going to continue and it is continuing apace. What happens now in the wake of this or in its, literally, its wake, in the waters, that people are finding themselves? And we already heard millions of Floridians and others are cut off from electricity.”

After discussing more immediate concerns, Stokes turned to the bigger picture, “So, this is why we can’t stop ignoring the climate crisis. And unfortunately, the governor of Florida, DeSantis, he is not really willing to talk about climate change. In fact, earlier this summer he said that the state could not be investing pension funds, public dollars, in a way that is aligned with climate change. This is terrible. He is acting in ways that are undermining the safety and well-being of his own constituents in Florida.”

Instead of correcting the record about DeSantis’s ESG order or noting that despite Ian, 2022 has been a below average year for hurricanes, Amanpour expanded the conversation even further:

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Leah, how far out of step is he or not with the majority of American opinion? I ask you this because as you know, in President Trump’s administration, they rolled back some 100 environmental rules and regulations. And the Supreme Court, as you know, just curbed the EPA’s ability to fight climate change. And you just mentioned DeSantis and his views. Have Americans changed their views? Are the deniers less, you know, powerful than they used to be when this was, you know, a matter of debate?

Stokes agreed that they are, but still blamed “fossil fuel companies and electric utilities” that she claimed “spent decades sowing misinformation. They got their talking points into presidents’ speeches. They got them into high school textbooks. So, it’s no wonder that for a long time, Americans were confused about the climate crisis. That was an intentional thing by fossil fuel companies so that they can continue to extract pollution and really endanger all of us.”

After adding flooding at heat waves to the list, Stokes continued to suggest things could be better if only Republicans would get with the program, “They know that climate change is happening now. And we need the Republicans in power, whether that’s Governor DeSantis or folks in the Senate, to actually get on the side of the American people and start working on climate solutions.”

Is there anything more arrogant than the media constantly suggesting that the country is only a few significant pieces of legislation away from taming hurricanes?

This segment was sponsored by viewers like you.

Here is a transcript for the September 29 show:

PBS Amanpour and Company

9/29/2022

11:07 PM ET

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: So, this is just awful. And as you say, it is becoming a recurring pattern. And as the president said, it is still moving across the state and perhaps to other areas. Which means that flooding is going to continue and it is continuing apace. What happens now in the wake of this or in its, literally, its wake, in the waters, that people are finding themselves? And we already heard millions of Floridians and others are cut off from electricity.

LEAH STOKES: Yeah, so– so, often when we have extreme weather events, whether it’s heat waves or hurricanes or extreme rainfall, we are seeing power outages that go alongside that. This is happening more and more as the climate crisis gets worse. So, two-and-a-half million people in Florida right now don’t have power and for some people it could take a very long time to restore power.

It could be weeks, maybe in some cases even months. That’s just terrible for communities because electricity is such a lifeblood, you know. It can keep people alive in hospitals, for example. It provides really important, you know, the ability to boil water, sometimes you need electricity to do that. And many people are under boil water advisories.

So, this is why we can’t stop ignoring the climate crisis. And unfortunately, the governor of Florida, DeSantis, he is not really willing to talk about climate change. In fact, earlier this summer he said that the state could not be investing pension funds, public dollars, in a way that is aligned with climate change. This is terrible. He is acting in ways that are undermining the safety and well-being of his own constituents in Florida.

AMANPOUR: Leah, how far out of step is he or not with the majority of American opinion? I ask you this because as you know, in President Trump’s administration, they rolled back some 100 environmental rules and regulations. And the Supreme Court, as you know, just curbed the EPA’s ability to fight climate change. And you just mentioned DeSantis and his views.

Have Americans changed their views? Are the deniers less, you know, powerful than they used to be when this was, you know, a matter of debate?

STOKES: Absolutely. First of all, why did we have a debate about climate change in the first place? It turns out that fossil fuel companies and electric utilities spent decades sowing misinformation. They got their talking points into presidents’ speeches. They got them into high school textbooks. So, it’s no wonder that for a long time, Americans were confused about the climate crisis. That was an intentional thing by fossil fuel companies so that they can continue to extract pollution and really endanger all of us.

But now Americans see what is happening on their doorstep. They see these terrible hurricanes. They see devastating flooding in places like Kentucky or heat waves baking the entire west coast. You know, year after year, these extreme events are getting more and more common. And so, the fact is from a public opinion perspective, the American people want our governments to act.

They know that climate change is happening now. And we need the Republicans in power, whether that’s Governor DeSantis or folks in the Senate, to actually get on the side of the American people and start working on climate solutions.

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