Washington governor says 'the climate change bomb has gone off' as West Coast bakes

Washington governor says 'the climate change bomb has gone off' as West Coast bakes
Image via Gage Skidmore.

"What the scientific community is telling us now, is that the Earth is screaming at us," said the Washington governor. "We need to stop using fossil fuels. That is the only solution to this massive assault on humanity."

As record-shattering heat persists from Phoenix, Arizona to southern Europe, Democratic Washington Gov. Jay Inslee highlighted on Sunday that humanity already knows how to combat climate chaos: ditch planet-warming fossil fuels.

With tens of millions of Americans under heat alerts, Inslee—who ran a climate-focused 2020 presidential campaign—appeared on ABC's "This Week" to discuss current conditions and solutions with co-anchor Martha Raddatz.

"Look, the climate change problem, the fuse has been burning for decades, and now the climate change bomb has gone off," Inslee said. "The scientists are telling us that this is the new age. This is the age of consequences because whatever we thought of climate change last year, we now understand that the beast is at the door. We knew this beast of climate change was coming for us, but now, it's pounding on the door."

"What the scientific community is telling us now, is that the Earth is screaming at us, and that is the situation," he added. "I talked to a leading international scientist the other day who told me that we knew this was going to happen to us, but it's happening to us maybe two decades earlier than we really thought could be in the realm of the possible."

"We have to dramatically increase our efforts. That is necessary."

Scientists have long warned that driving up the global temperature will make heatwaves worse—with dangerous consequences, including for the world's food system. Last month was the hottest June on record and the trend is expected to continue during what Malta residents are calling the "summer of hell."

Already, July has seen the warmest day and week ever recorded, and much of the Northern Hemisphere is still enduring extreme heat. Campaigners held an international day of action on Saturday as the "Climate Clock" dropped below six years, a warning of how close humanity is to using up the carbon budget and likely killing any hope for the Paris agreement's 1.5°C limit for global temperature rise this century.

"We have to dramatically increase our efforts. That is necessary," Inslee said of action to cut emissions. "There's good news here. We can do this. Look, we're electrifying our transportation fleet. We're electrifying our homes. This is a solvable problem, but we need to stop using fossil fuels. That is the only solution to this massive assault on humanity."

The governor argued that the United States needs to lead on a global scale but also emphasized that "this is not just something for the federal government. States can act. Our state is acting. We have 23 states in the U.S. Climate Alliance. And this is necessary."

"We've had tremendous action under President [Joe] Biden's leadership with the Inflation Reduction Act. And, unfortunately, the Republicans are trying to repeal that now," Inslee noted. "But we need to go further and faster. And states can go further and faster. And we are doing that."

Biden, who is now seeking reelection in 2024, campaigned on bold climate pledges going into the 2020 contest. While he has taken some of those promised actions, the president has also faced criticism from green groups, voters, and some Democratic lawmakers for backing fossil fuel initiatives—from the Mountain Valley Pipeline to the Willow oil project—and so far declining to declare a climate emergency.

Meanwhile, many Republican lawmakers and presidential candidates—including former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis—are pushing policies even more hostile to the climate and friendly to the fossil fuel industry.

Kyle Jones of the Center for Policy Advocacy at the Natural Resources Defense Council said earlier this week that legislation marked up by the GOP-controlled U.S. House Appropriations Committee "reads like a 'how-to' manual for destroying the planet."

Raddatz asked how to convince people to care given that there are "candidates out there like Donald Trump, who mock the idea of climate change, and there are a vast number of Americans who ignore it, don't care about it, or don't believe it."

Inslee insisted that "we can't wait for Donald Trump to figure this out. We don't have time to mess around to wait for this knucklehead to figure this out. We just got to make sure he's not in office. And the way we do this is vote against climate deniers."

"Vote against people who refuse to assist this moral and economic crisis that we have," he advised. "You can't wait for these folks, you've just got to make sure they're not in office where they can do damage. Let them go off and play golf. We'll solve this problem. It's a solvable problem if we work together."

"And people are coming around to this very, very rapidly because their homes are burning down. They're choking on smoke from the Canadian fires," he said. "When Ron DeSantis wants to go swimming, he can't because the water is like a sauna, like a hot tub off his beaches. We've just got to make sure those folks are not in office. We don't have the luxury of allowing these people to destroy the planet."

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