MSNBC Hosts Fret There's Not Enough 'Climate Change' Discussion

Between Friday night and Saturday night, as Ali Velshi hosted some of MSNBC's live coverage of Hurricane Irma hitting Florida, the MSNBC host repeatedly pushed for there to be more discussion of "climate change" and how the U.S. government might try to effect it in the future.

Ironically, on Saturday night, as Craig Melvin hosted MSNBC for a couple of hours, he fretted that there had not been enough discussion of "climate change" even though Velshi repeatedly brought it up earlier that day, and even hosted an entire segment on it that morning.

On Friday night's All In program, host Chris Hayes brought up the issue, and, substitute hosting for The Last Word a couple hours later, Velshi also brought up "climate change" with Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado as a guest.

On Saturday morning, Velshi brought up the issue with Regalado again, and soon wondered if Florida Governor Rick Scott might change his mind about the issue because of the hurricane hitting his state.

At 11:37 a.m. ET, Velshi then held a seven-minute discussion about global warming without dissenting opinions on whether global warming is happening -- and if so, why it's happening -- as he was joined by three guests.

After going to NASA meteorologist Scott Braun for his reaction to EPA head Scott Pruitt's resistance to discuss global warming, Velshi turned to former EPA official Mustafa Ali and brought up Rush Limbaugh as he posed:

What do you say, Mustafa, to people who say this isn't the time for the conversation, or people like Rush Limbaugh who said this is media hype to advance a climate change agenda?

Mustafa charged that those who express such sentiments are being "disingenuous," and that those who oppose more spending on science are "putting people's lives at risk."

The MSNBC host then moved to his other left-leaning guest -- Tom Steyer of NextGen Climate -- who bitingly trashed skeptics of global warming theory, and compared them to a "drunk driver" who has been in a crash and does not want to talk about the problem of DUI:

Look, the fossil fuel interests are intent on keeping the energy system that we have now which is creating climate change. And the politicians who take money from the fossil fuel interests and then lie about what's happening are now watching what's happened as a result. So really the way I think about this is: Of course they don't want to talk about climate change right now because they're the people who have enabled the additional problems to happen.

We're not just looking at Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Jose -- we're also looking at record wildfires across the West. So, to me, this is like a drunk driver after an accident telling me, "Let's not talk about drinking and driving."

Later in the day, as Melvin hosted MSNBC during the 8:00 p.m. hour, he turned to MSNBC meteorologist Bill Karins and worried about whether "climate change" is getting enough attention:

We're of course still recovering from Harvey, there's still Jose that's sitting out -- Jose is out there, Katia tore through Mexico, and here we are talking about Hurricane Irma. We should point out, again, we're not even at the peak of hurricane season, National Weather Service promised us a busier hurricane season than usual. 

It would seem to me that one of the things that's been a bit absent from the conversation the past few days: climate change. It's hard to believe that all of this can be purely coincidental. I don't want to put you on the spot as I put you on the spot.

A bit later, as he brought aboard liberal MSNBC host Chris Hayes as a guest for more discussion, Melvin again seemed concerned there had not been enough "climate change" talk:

There has been a part of this conversation -- at least it has seemed to me there has been noticeably absent over the last few days -- and I know this is a cause that is near and dear to your heart, climate change, and the fact that what we are seeing play out this summer can't just be a coincidence.

As Hayes made an argument that global warming was causing more flooding and more intense hurricanes, at one point he notably admitted that those who think like him on the issue had been "flummoxed" because there was a period of fewer hurricanes.

Below are transcripts of relevant portions of MSNBC's live coverage of Hurricane Irma from Saturday September 9:

11:37 a.m. ET

ALI VELSHI: The fury of Hurricane Irma comes close on the heels of the powerful Hurricane Harvey, and right behind that is a category four hurricane, Jose. Is this climate change at work? For more on how climate change may be playing into this, I'm joined by former EPA environmental justice leader Mustafa Ali; Tom Steyer, founder of of NextGen Climate; and NASA research meteorologist Scott Braun. ... Scott, let me start with you. Donald Trump's EPA chief, the administrator, Scott Pruitt, said, in an interview, amid hurricanes, now is not the time to talk about climate change. 

A lot of people who disagree with that, including the mayor of Miami -- a Republican, by the way -- who says now is exactly the time to talk about climate change because on a sunny day Miami has water coming up from its drains because of rising sea level, and if we don't take this seriously when things like this happen, we don't tend to take it seriously when nobody can feel climate change.

SCOTT BRAUN, NASA METEOROLOGIST: That's right, and you got to separate the problems, for example, with rising sea levels, which can exacerbate problems with major storms like this versus what the impact of climate change may be on the hurricanes themselves. ...

VELSHI (after noting measurements have shown sea levels have increased since several decades ago): ...What do you say, Mustafa, to people who say this isn't the time for the conversation, or people like Rush Limbaugh who said this is media hype to advance a climate change agenda?

MUSTAFA ALI: Well, I'd tell them that they're being disingenuous. There is no better time than this moment now. Actually, the conversation should have been started as soon as the new administration came in so that they could begin to think critically about the gaps that may be existing inside some of the policies that they were trying to move forward on and also to help them to make sure that they're making better decisions about the budgets and the impacts that happen especially in our most vulnerable communities when we're not being inclusive.

Also making sure that we're thinking about having the right science in place so if we have a couple of decades still of information that's needed to be garnered, let's make sure that we're supporting science so that we can make sure that we're doing the proper analysis in that space. So, you know, to them I'd say at best you're being disingenuous, and you're putting people's lives at risk.

VELSHI: Tom, I'm a money guy, and we are constantly talking about moneyed interests that are working for their profitability at stifling discussions on climate change because it's going to cause them to do things that are going to cost money. You're on the other side of that -- you are probably the biggest money guy who is trying to get people to talk about these issues. What are you up against? And are you succeeding in your efforts?

TOM STEYER, NEXTGEN CLIMATE: Look, the fossil fuel interests are intent on keeping the energy system that we have now which is creating climate change. And the politicians who take money from the fossil fuel interests and then lie about what's happening are now watching what's happened as a result. So really the way I think about this is: Of course they don't want to talk about climate change right now because they're the people who have enabled the additional problems to happen.

We're not just looking at Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Jose -- we're also looking at record wildfires across the West. So, to me, this is like a drunk driver after an accident telling me, "Let's not talk about drinking and driving."

(...)

8:08 p.m. ET

CRAIG MELVIN: We're of course still recovering from Harvey, there's still Jose that's sitting out -- Jose is out there, Katia tore through Mexico, and here we are talking about Hurricane Irma. We should point out, again, we're not even at the peak of hurricane season, National Weather Service promised us a busier hurricane season than usual. It would seem to me that one of the things that's been a bit absent from the conversation the past few days: climate change. It's hard to believe that all of this can be purely coincidental. I don't want to put you on the spot as I put you on the spot.

(...)

8:53 p.m. ET

MELVIN: There has been a part of this conversation -- at least it has seemed to me there has been noticeably absent over the last few days -- and I know this is a cause that is near and dear to your heart, climate change, and the fact that what we are seeing play out this summer can't just be a coincidence.

CHRIS HAYES: You know, there's a few things that we know about how climate change affects extreme weather. One thing we know is that sea levels are rising, right? So when Bill (Karins) talks about that storm surge -- and storm surges are the most deadly part of any kind of catastrophic storm -- we know sea level rise is adding to that the same way that high tide does. ...

We also know that that water is warmer because ocean temperatures are rising. They're about the hottest they've ever been right now, and warmer water produces stronger storms. We also know, third, and this connects to Harvey, we have seen more extreme rain events. We have seen more and more flooding. 

And a lot of the times, the focus is on the hurricanes, and there was a long period of time when we didn't have a lot of hurricanes -- this somewhat flummoxing hurricane drought that confused a lot of people and a lot of the modelists. But we do know, though, is that during that same period of time, an intensification and higher frequency of extreme rain, which is why we see more and more flooding in places like Houston even before Harvey getting several one-in-500-year storms. All of that now is as more energy is being put into the climate and into the atmosphere by those heat-trapping gases that come from carbon pollution.

And this is, you know, extreme weather is when it rears its head, right? It's easy to sort of say, "Well, it's a little warm today for March," or something like that, but the real tail risk, the real scary stuff is what happens to all the climate equilibriums when you keep forcing more and more energy into the atmosphere.

MELVIN: Chris Hayes, in Naples, Florida. It would be irresponsible for us to talk about the effects without talking at least about part of the cause as well. Chris, thank you.


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NBDaily Environment Global Warming Hurricanes Pollution Hurricanes Harvey and Irma MSNBC MSNBC Live Video Ali Velshi Chris Hayes Craig Melvin Scott Pruitt Donald Trump