NBC Reporter: Deadly Disasters = ‘Good News’ for Climate Change Agenda

Appearing on MSNBC Live With Velshi & Ruhle Friday afternoon, newly-hired NBC News Technology Correspondent Jacob Ward argued that a recent string of deadly natural disasters were actually “good news” because such tragedies would help push the climate change agenda. He went on to compare the “doubt industry” skeptical of manmade climate change to cigarette companies denying a link between smoking and cancer.

“Alright, as we gather yet more data points for our warming climate, new studies are supplementing reports from the United Nations and this government showing a dangerous path for the world and for the next generation of Americans and global citizens,” co-host Ali Velshi warned at the top of the segment. He then gushed that he was “very excited” to welcome Ward as a “brand new member of the NBC News family.”

 

 

Velshi eagerly asked the new correspondent: “...what’s the thing that most people have to understand about the role that humanity has in climate change?” Ward blamed everyday human activity: “...we have to understand that each little tiny thing that each of us is doing, in addition to all the other things that support our lives structurally, is making it worse and worse for us.”

Fellow co-host Stephanie Ruhle fretted: “...how do you get people to understand how big it is, the threat it is, and what they can do?” At that point, Ward saw the silver lining to devastating disasters that cost lives and destroyed whole communities:

Yeah, you know, I’m so conflicted on this issue because on the one hand it’s good news in a sense that we can feel it in our lives now. That we’re beginning to see floods and wildfires and all sorts of things that are directly being produced by the forces at work here in our changing climate. And yet, at the same time, scientists have always said to us that by the time we actually tangibly feel it in our own lives, it’s kind of too late. And so, there’s a real sort of real mixed blessing here in the fact that we’re actually experiencing it day-to-day now.

While he said that he felt “conflicted,” he never actually mentioned any of the victims.

After Velshi bemoaned people “denying” manmade climate change, Ward ranted:

Well, here’s the thing that I would say everybody needs to be watching out for is that – you know, back in the ’50s, right, the cigarette industry invented the industry of doubt. They decided, “We can’t blow apart the actual findings on cigarettes and cancer, but we can inject doubt into it. Are we sure about this? Are we sure about this?” And it exploits this loophole in science, which is that there’s always a little bit of doubt, that’s you can trust it....

And so, in this case, you actually have the same thinkers, the same institutes that created that doubt industry to fight off, you know, to fight on behalf of the cigarette industry, those same people have now pivoted to climate change and global warming and they’re injecting the same kind of playbook, you’re hearing it all the way up at the highest levels of government, but don’t let it shake your – faith is the wrong word – but your conviction that scientists have really – they’ve agreed on this.

That echoed a recent sentiment from Velshi, who claimed that climate change skepticism was akin to being on “the wrong side of cancer.”

Velshi wrapped up the Friday exchange by telling Ward: “Jacob, welcome....Look forward to many similar conversations.”

Here are excerpts of the December 7 segment:

1:40 PM ET

ALI VELSHI: Alright, as we gather yet more data points for our warming climate, new studies are supplementing reports from the United Nations and this government showing a dangerous path for the world and for the next generation of Americans and global citizens.

(...)

VELSHI: So we have a problem with the emissions that are causing global warming, unless you’re one of those people who doesn’t believe that.

(...)

VELSHI: I’m very excited, very excited. I absolutely am. A brand new member of the NBC News family, Technology Correspondent Jacob Ward, you’re gonna be hearing from him on a range of topics in our increasingly tech-filled world. This is guy who understands a lot of these complicated issues and a way to explain it to us.

(...)

VELSHI: We talk about this topic a lot, but what’s the thing that most people have to understand about the role that humanity has in climate change?

(...)

JACOB WARD: We have to, in this case, imagine an abstract threat that’s, you know, half a century off, although it’s getting closer and closer all the time, as we’re learning here. And as a result, you know, we have to understand that each little tiny thing that each of us is doing, in addition to all the other things that support our lives structurally, is making it worse and worse for us.

STEPHANIE RUHLE: Then knowing that we are living in a world of short-termism, how do you get people to understand how big it is, the threat it is, and what they can do?

WARD: Yeah, you know, I’m so conflicted on this issue because on the one hand it’s good news in a sense that we can feel it in our lives now. That we’re beginning to see floods and wildfires and all sorts of things that are directly being produced by the forces at work here in our changing climate. And yet, at the same time, scientists have always said to us that by the time we actually tangibly feel it in our own lives, it’s kind of too late. And so, there’s a real sort of real mixed blessing here in the fact that we’re actually experiencing it day-to-day now.

(...)

WARD: You should know, you'll never hear people say it’s an absolute certainty, but we are as close now to scientific certainty as we will ever get, you guys. And so this is the –  

VELSHI: If this doesn’t prompt you to do something, you’re not gonna – it’s not gonna change.

WARD: That’s exactly right.

VELSHI: I don’t know what people get for it, Stephanie. I mean, look, you see your kids every day and you say you don’t want them living in a world that suffers from this. I don’t know what the win is from denying it.

WARD: Well, here’s the thing that I would say everybody needs to be watching out for is that – you know, back in the ’50s, right, the cigarette industry invented the industry of doubt. They decided, “We can’t blow apart the actual findings on cigarettes and cancer, but we can inject doubt into it. Are we sure about this? Are we sure about this?” And it exploits this loophole in science, which is that there’s always a little bit of doubt, that’s you can trust it.

RUHLE: And if there’s that doubt and people already don’t want to change their lifestyle, that’s all the excuse they need not to do so.

WARD: That’s exactly right And so, in this case, you actually have the same thinkers, the same institutes that created that doubt industry to fight off, you know, to fight on behalf of the cigarette industry, those same people have now pivoted to climate change and global warming and they’re injecting the same kind of playbook, you’re hearing it all the way up at the highest levels of government, but don’t let it shake your – faith is the wrong word – but your conviction that scientists have really – they’ve agreed on this.

(...)

VELSHI: Jacob, welcome.

WARD: Thank you, guys.

VELSHI: Look forward to many similar conversations.

WARD: So nice to be here, thank you.

NB Daily Environment Global Warming Wildfires MSNBC Video Ali Velshi Stephanie Ruhle

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