A major American city is once again under water after a huge tropical storm: this time it’s Houston, Texas, the oil industry capital of America. One climate scientist has already said human-caused climate change may have amplified the unprecedented weather event. But is it appropriate to mention climate change amid these kinds of natural disasters? We explore that question on this first of two special episodes with journalist Naomi Klein. She says the attempt to shut down a discussion of climate change amid a natural disaster is a destructive political effort to avoid an urgently needed conversation about how to reduce carbon emissions. She also warns that Republicans may try to turn the disaster into a rationale to further expand fossil fuel development.
Here are some scary questions: How worried should we all be that our increasingly isolated and erratic president will wake up one day and launch a nuclear war? Are there any systems in place to prevent Donald Trump from doing that? Does he need to get signoff from anyone? On this episode, we explore those questions with Garrett Graff, the author of the new book “Raven Rock: The Story of the U.S. Government’s Secret Plan to Save Itself–While the Rest of Us Die.” Graff has answers to all those questions about whether and how fast Trump can launch a nuclear weapon — and whether or not Trump needs signoff from anyone else. Warning: Graff’s answers to those questions may terrify you.
This past weekend, a Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia spotlighted what many say is the rising power of white supremacists, who feel newly emboldened under President Donald Trump. The rally came as civil rights activists have mounted an increasingly effective campaign asserting that America’s criminal justice system has become an inhumane instrument of racial oppression. On this episode, I talk to James Forman, Jr. — the author of a new book that explores the roots of that criminal justice system. He says the system emerged from both white conservative demagogues looking to stoke racial resentment — and also from African American leaders who were desperate to protect the gains of the civil rights movement.
This month, former Vice President Al Gore has a new film out about climate change — and the effort to fight it. His film is well timed — it follows New York magazine’s July article asserting that “absent a significant adjustment to how billions of humans conduct their lives, parts of the Earth will likely become close to uninhabitable, and other parts horrifically inhospitable, as soon as the end of this century.” That’s a terrifying message — but is it necessary and is it accurate? Is our planet on an irreversible path to apolcalypse? On this episode, I talk to Michael Mann, the renowned climatologist who is the director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University. He has been sounding the alarm about climate change for years, but he also has also argued that there is “a danger in overstating the science in a way that presents the problem as unsolvable, and feeds a sense of doom, inevitability and hopelessness.”
Imagine a time when a Native American tribe was one of the richest groups of people in the United States, all thanks to oil. It actually wasn’t that long ago — but then came a spree of murders in a state whose law enforcement apparatus and political system was so corrupt, it did almost nothing to stop the crimes. On this episode, I talk to New Yorker author David Grann about this terrifying tale, recounted in his new book called “Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI.”