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April 21, 2024 16 mins
Now that flood, drought, fire, storm and pandemic are no longer rare but expected, how are we adapting to our new reality? Is there hope for future generations? In time for Earth Day, our guest is CNN Chief Climate Correspondent Bill Weir, author of the new book LIFE AS WE KNOW IT (CAN BE): Stories of People, Climate, and Hope in a Changing World.
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(00:02):
Welcome to Get Connected with Nina DelRio, a weekly conversation about fitness,
health and happenings in our community onone oh six point seven Light FM.
Good morning, and thanks for listeningto Get Connected. Now that drought,
fire, flood storm, and pandemicare no longer rare but expected, how
are we adapting to our new reality? Is their hope for future generations?

(00:26):
In time for Earth Day. Ourguest is CNN Chief Correspondent to Bill Weir,
author of the new book Life asWe Know It Can be stories of
people, climate and hope in achanging world. Bill Weir, thank you
for being on the show. Thanksfor having me. Bill Weir is a
veteran anchor, writer, producer,and host who came to CNN in twenty
thirteen after a decade of award winningjournalism at ABC News. In twenty nineteen,

(00:49):
he was named the network's first ChiefClimate Correspondent, Drawing on his experience
creating and hosting the primetime CNN originalseries The Wonder List with Bill Weir,
now streaming on Discovery Plus. Thisbook was inspired Bill. I gathered by
your children, in particular your son, a surprise baby born during the pandemic,
and congratulations. Thank you. Onceyour son arrived, you had been

(01:11):
doing this work a while. Howdid you start rethinking the world and the
future. Well, it's interesting.I was holding him this little bundle.
I was a new old dad,my daughter was sixteen at the time,
and looking out at a world inlockdown, really, and I'd just come
back from covering wildfires and California,and masks were hard to come by.
So my son river his mom woreand one of my masks from my go

(01:36):
kit to the hospital there, andI just it seems like such a horrible
place to bring a newborn in.And I started writing these sort of letters
on Earth Day to my child,both letter of apology for how we broke
his sea in sky, but alsothat we're so glad he's here because I
think we need helpers, and Ibelieve he's going to be a net positive

(01:59):
for planet Earth if we can rethinkour wants and needs. And you know,
I grew up at a time whereI never had to think about air,
water, temperature, delter, foodsupplies, communication community in the way
that he'll have to now. Andso just sort of writing a manual about

(02:19):
where to live, what kind ofhouse to build, what kind of food
maybe you'll be eating and growing whenyou're my age. It led me both
for a clear eyed assessment of howbad things are getting, but also a
search for the dreamers and the doersand the helpers, both at the community
level and at the international level,just trying to build some more sustainable world.

(02:39):
Come what may. There are somany people who are thinking about climate
change. Two thirds of Americans saythey're somewhat worried about global warming, but
that same amount of people never talksabout it. They don't talk about it
with friends and family. What doesthat suggest to you? I think that
just the topic has been so politicizedand demagogue for so long, and it's

(03:04):
easy, the easiest path. Whenyou have to come to grips with the
idea that the fuels that built themodern world and expanded our life spans are
now coming back to bite us andshortening our lives of our children and grandchildren.
That's a hard thing to wrap yourhead around, and so you kind
of have to cycle through the fivestages of grief to appreciate the world that
we're losing. In real time,we don't nearly talk about the psychological toll

(03:28):
of this story enough and how toprocess it. And nobody wants to be
the buzzkill at a cocktail party orat morning drop off with your kids.
But I argue that if we connectwith each other around the stuff at the
bottom of our pyramidve needs around thelocal air and water and ideas that present
the possibility of a better future.Doctor King didn't say I have a nightmare.

(03:51):
He said I have a dream.And maybe the way we discuss that
dream is Wow. Wouldn't it becool if the school bus is for our
kids or electrics so they wouldn't breathethe diesel fumes, and maybe they could
plug the school into the bus asa battery at night. What if there
was this way to build this partof our lives, this way to grow
our food that was more regenerative andconnect people, you know, build up

(04:13):
trust and connection around shared values atthe local level, even while things at
the global level can seem which iscompletely out of hand and unsolvable. That's
the time when I argue, ifwe lean into our anxiety with action around
each other, we might end upfilling sort of love and esteem needs that
we're trying to fill. Otherwise,one of the big climate change winners you've
seen firsthand. Actually were penguins inthe Antarctic, the Gentoo penguins. What

(04:39):
is happening there and what is thelesson to take away from that? Do
you think? Well? I wentdown there actually with whale scientists, and
the first time I stepped foot onmy seventh continent was greeted by there's just
thousands of Gentoo penguins who were nestingat the time, and it was heartbreaking
to realize that the chicks that theywere hatching and raising would not survive the
winter because as climate change had ledto a particularly wet nesting season, penguins

(05:05):
need dry rock to nest. Butthen I learned that the gent twos of
all the species down there were thrivingbecause they were adapting. They were moving
from ancient nesting grounds, whereas chinstraps and a dallely penguins were just staying
stuck in their ways, trying tohatch their babies and standing water, and

(05:26):
their numbers were crashing. Meanwhile,the Gentoo penguins are thriving up thirty thousand
percent in some places as they movewith the changes. I think Nature's trying
to tell us that the earth thatwe built our infrastructure around. We don't
live on that one anymore. It'sbeen replaced by a new one, largely
by mistake. We have to bothadapt to the changes that are coming in

(05:47):
and hopefully mitigate the problem to lessenthe effects going forward. But if you
think, like a gentoo, wasNew York City as we know it built
the same way? Is it inthe same place? How will we learn
and adapt using the same frontal brains, the big brains that got us into
the problem in the first place.Our guest is CNN Chief Climate Correspondent Bill

(06:10):
Weir. You're listening to get connectedon one oh six point seven light FM
Imina del Rio. In twenty twentytwo, Bill Weir earned a News and
Documentary Emmy Award for his CNN specialreport Eating Planet Earth, The Future of
Your Food. His first book isLife as We Know It can be stories
of people, climate and hope ina changing world. Air Conditioning and heating

(06:31):
not quite as sexy as penguins,But I tell again something we should be
excited about heat pumps and pre cooling. Can you talk a little bit about
that because it kind of impacts whatwe can do on a personal basis.
Absolutely yeah, you know, Inever had to think about the temperature needs.
But we can see these records beingset every year, and places around

(06:53):
the country that have to deal withthe heat in a much more visceral way
will have to adapt. We'll haveto build brighter cities that reflect heat.
A scientist that Purdue came up withthe whitest paint ever invented that reflects ninety
eight percent of sunlight back into spaceand can lower the temperature of a building
that's painted in this color by fifteendegrees. Heat pumps are the adaptation here

(07:16):
is on par with sort of colortelevisions and refrigerators back in the day,
where people are understanding that there isa much more efficient way to heat and
cool your home in a way thathas horrible branding. If you had asked
me most of my life, Iwould have guessed the heat pump is like
a dance from the seventies. Itturns out that a heat pump your refrigerator
is a heat pump. It justmoves it in one direction. It moves

(07:38):
it from inside next to your groceriesto outside, and the heat pump goes
both ways. It can both findheat and a cold day and bring it
inside and also you move out airout of your home in the summers much
more efficient. The Europe has beenadapting these for a long time, but
now it's exploding. Maine leads thenation and adaptation. They blue pass goals

(07:59):
to install these so they work reallywell. The new ones do even in
colder climates and for folks who maybethe furnaces is getting aging and they have
to think about there are so manynew possibilities. And I never thought about
the fact that in the US webuild houses with skinny walls and giant furnaces
and air conditioning instead of the otherway around. And there's been a resurgence

(08:20):
in passive house construction, which issort of modeled after the Pueblo people,
with really tight insulation in which yourlower your utility bills in shocking ways.
You don't need much energy to heatand cool things. But even for those
folks who don't have heat pumps ordon't have the latest, you can pre
cool a home just by adjusting thetemperature and riding the waves of cheap energy

(08:43):
in the middle of the day.In places like Texas and Miraculously that are
leading the country in clean energy,electricity was free for six hours a couple
of sundays ago. Now the challengeis capturing all that sun and wind energy
and holding it overnight or holding itfor weeks at a time. But if
we think of our homes like batteriesof temperature storage, both our hot water

(09:05):
heaters our batteries in a way thatcan store energy more efficiently, our whole
home can be in ways that cansave you money, make you more comfortable,
and doesn't take that much sacrifice.How you build and where you build
two different things. Perhaps this isan audience who lives on the East Coast,
So I ask this question very delicately. Should we still be building and

(09:31):
rebuilding on coastlines? Is building hurricaneproof homes a sustainable solution? Well,
yeah, we can't build them theway we used to. I think we
so love the water. Everybody lovesbeing near water. It's where the property
values support support the tax bases ofa lot of coastal communities that those high
properties there. But when they arethese communities are devastated again and again.

(09:56):
Then they're just rebuilding using the sameold material. That's not sustainable. That
has to change. There are newways to think about construction in these places,
and some places it'll be coded intoexistence because insurance companies have stopped covering
places like California and Florida due tothese unnatural events. In the Northeast,

(10:16):
I just did a story up onthe border of Massachusetts and New Hampshire Salisbury
Beach, where every decade or sothey would go in on a bunch of
sand to fortify their beautiful, youknow, vacation summer homes. And this
last year, after a series offreakish high tide of storms, what they

(10:37):
thought the six hundred thousand dollars worthof sand they bought, they thought would
last them four or five years,washed away in a single storm on a
single night. And so the mindsetin this community has to change. Some
people still think, oh, theyjust got a string of bad luck,
and the state should pit should startpitching in and spending millions on sand to

(10:58):
fortify them. Are coming around tothe reality that at this rate their homes
may not be there in another generationor two, and that's a very difficult
conversation to have. Retreat is notin the American vocabulary, but now is
the time to have these difficult conversations. Coastal communities are doing this instead of

(11:18):
rebuild and repeat. Maybe a communitybuys up condemned property and turns it back
into the part of the ecosystem,mangroves or wherever you happen to be dune
systems that protect the entire community,and those folks who are willing to sell
at market rates do retreat, butit'll be very piecemeal, and unfortunately it'll

(11:39):
be the haves and the have notsin a lot of these cases, where
those who can afford to adapt willand the rest will be left outside.
And part of that, as yousay, is getting people to understand what
we're really talking about. Climate scientistsno more. By the day the science
is more accessible. You're helping makethe science more accessible. Climate change also
has terrible branding. If you wereto rebrand it. Of all your experience

(12:01):
is perhaps traveling the world reporting onthe environment, What would be the story
you would tell to symbolize what thisactually is. Well, the choice the
language that I came across in mytravels because I often thought about we don't
talk about this with the drama deservesthe global warming, Well, people like
warmth, and no one's afraid ofa greenhouse. With the greenhouse effect.

(12:24):
And I was talking to the scientistsfishermen up in Maine who had built an
ocean repair company, and he justblurted out, it's a godzilla. It's
a monster made of carbon dioxide andmethane that we have uncorked from the bowels
of the earth. And at firstit helped with the heavy lifting, and

(12:45):
it was our friend. But nowthat monster made of carbon is so big.
It's eating our fish and destroying ourski resorts and ruining everything we love,
and we should get angry and gofight that thing. And when he
put it in those terms, themission to stop up this carbon godzilla that
we can't see or smell, anddraw that carbon out of the sea and
sky and lock it beneath the groundby the gigaton. This is a job

(13:11):
that will require train, cars andships and a whole new industry of carbon
removal that we're not even talking aboutin our society. If we do that
and even out the parts per millionin the atmosphere, nature can heal.
And you know, people now aretalking about putting artificial sunscreen in the sky
to buy us time, to putsea water misted high in the stratosphere to

(13:35):
like mimic a volcano to give usshade, enough shade to cool the earth
a degree, or to temporarily whilewe prepare for what's coming in. They're
very smart, respected people who aretalking about these ideas which were anathema for
a long time, and so unfortunatelywe've kicked the can down the road.
We've avoided talking about this story fora while, so it's difficult to have

(13:58):
the conversations today. There's no easytrade offs, but there are so many
readically available solutions that will make usmore connected, more protected come what may
if we seize the opportunity. Nowyou quote al Gore in the book,
I love this. If you doubtthat we as human beings have the will

(14:18):
to act, please always remember thatthe will to act itself is a renewable
resource. How much does resilience andoptimism factor into making big impacts on climate
change? I think it's a bigdeal. It is. One of my
heroes is mister Rogers, who gaveme the greatest tip and covering the climate

(14:39):
beat. When he was a littleboy and saw a scary event on TV,
his mom told him to look forthe helpers. There's always helpers.
Rushing into disaster. I now getto meet them when I cover these events.
But there are also the helpers inthe scientific fields, entrepreneurs, you
know, clean water technicians, peoplethinking about these big planetary problems in innovative

(15:01):
ways, and we have incredible potentialas a species. When we work together,
we're the only ones that can shaperivers and change mountains and change the
chemistry at Seeing Scott and together wecan reverse the unintended consequences of those things.
But it really comes down to thestories we tell and what we imagine

(15:24):
the future can look like. Thesedays, most fiction about the future is
very dystopian. We have a hardtime thinking about a future without zombies or
killer robots. But there's so muchpotential for a healthier, stronger communities if
people just pull together and start tellingeach other to write stories, there is

(15:46):
so much more in the book.Life as we know it can be stories
of people, climate and hope ina change in world. By Bill Weir.
Thank you for being on Get Connected. Thank you for having me.
This has been Get Connected with NinaM. Del Rio on one oh six
point seven Light FM. The viewsand opinions of our guests do not necessarily
reflect the views of the station.If you missed any part of our show

(16:07):
or want to share it, visitour website for downloads and podcasts at one
O six seven lightfm dot com.Thanks for listening.
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