First, I need to point something out. While there have been individuals who warned of the coming climate crisis, national media companies and local affiliates as a rule have covered extreme weather events in a deliberate vacuum. ("Boy, this is an awful lot of snow! Guess there's no global warming here! Ha, ha!") If global warming had been seriously addressed in the coverage of increasingly severe weather patterns for the past 15 years or so, politicians would have been forced to do something.
The media did not do their job. Instead, they made Al Gore jokes and chose advertising dollars and political access over the well-being of our nation, and that's why this segment starts like something from "The Day After Tomorrow."
"Temperature records are falling faster than the mercury is rising across North America. Spokane, Washington, set an all-time high of 109 degrees. Some roads as you can see there are buckling in the heat near Seattle, where the mercury hit 108 on Monday. Portland, Oregon, 116 degrees on Monday. That is the third record-setting day in a row," Erica Hill said.
"And in British Columbia, the temperature in one city climbing to a shocking 121 degrees Tuesday. That is a new all-time record for the area. With all of this, with Portland hotter than Las Vegas, it's getting more and more difficult to deny climate change, as John Avlon explains in our Reality Check."
"This could be the summer when climate change denial finally goes the way of the dodo. Because of the pain in the stakes, the need for mitigation and adaptation is clear," Avlon said.
"The heat wave in the Pacific Northwest is horrific. And no, it's not just seasonal extremes. Not when Portland, Oregon, sees its hottest day on record, 116 degree heat in June. When Seattle hits temperatures higher than any recorded in Atlanta, making the highways there buckle. Canada is suffering as well with British Columbia cracking 121 degrees. Passing the hottest temperature in Las Vegas, with more than 230 heat related deaths reported to date. Farmers in the western U.S. are fearing for their crops and livestock amid a massive drought, and peak fire season hasn't even started yet. And yes, this spike in extreme weather is driven by climate change. It's part of an undeniable pattern. Washington State Governor Jay Inslee gets it."
"Now, in this record breaking heat wave, much more collective attention has been focused on the horrific building collapse in Surfside, Florida. It's an urgent as opposed to slow moving crisis. While still too soon to know the precise cause or triggering event for the collapse, the structure seems to have been stressed over time by king tides that come from rising sea levels which flooded the building's parking garage on a regular basis, according to residents.
"There's talk about how the building was old at 40 years. That's only old for South Florida. But the not so stable combination of concrete and saltwater can be doubly dangerous, given how much the Florida coast is built not on bedrock, but on porous limestone and landfill. I want to be clear: There's no reason to believe the adjoining properties are at risk at all, but this is a wake up call. And the broader toll of climate change on our coastal communities can no longer be ignored.
"So who could have seen this coming? Pretty much anyone who paid attention to the science. But instead we've seen decades of political foot dragging by climate change denialists, some who hail from the worst-hit Southern Sunbelt states. We've seen belated changes from folks like Governor Rick Scott who didn't want to mention climate change when he was governor, now he's admitting it's real. Maybe he took a hint from the Republican mayor who spent $192 million on sea rise and flood mitigation.
"We're beyond the piecemeal approach. Abraham Lincoln once said, 'The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do it all or cannot do so well for themselves in their separate and individual capacities.' That's climate change. That's infrastructure. And that's why there should be additional urgency in passing an infrastructure bill that can help mitigate the effects of climate change.
"We need to strengthen our cities, including our roads and bridges, to deal with extreme weather conditions including flooding. We need to strengthen our electrical grid to make it more resilient. That includes you, Texas. And we need to innovate our way from fossil fuels.
"Here's the bottom line. Short-term thinking helped get us into this mess. Long-term thinking and action will help get us out. And that's your reality check."
Maybe if news organizations had connected the dark money from fossil fuel companies that motivated politicians to do climate change "foot dragging," or exposed organizations like ALEC who exist to protect fossil fuels, pounded the toxic effect on our political process, and gone after the politicians so beholden to destroying our world, something might have been done. But we'll never know, will we? And that's why this seems more like a documentary and less like a Hollywood disaster movie these days.