Will Climate Change Force You to Move? (with Jake Bittle)
Droughts, rising sea levels, and extreme weather events are forcing Americans to move. In his new book, “The Great Displacement: Climate Change And The Next American Migration,” Jake Bittle follows the people leaving their communities to find out what final straw forced them out, where they went, and what it means for our country. Andy speaks with Jake about how the US should prepare for more climate refugees as the problem gets worse.
Keep up with Andy on Twitter and Post @ASlavitt.
Follow Jake on Twitter @jake_bittle.
Joining Lemonada Premium is a great way to support our show and get bonus content. Subscribe today at bit.ly/lemonadapremium.
Support the show by checking out our sponsors!
- Click this link for a list of current sponsors and discount codes for this show and all Lemonada shows: https://lemonadamedia.com/sponsors/
Check out these resources from today’s episode:
- Read Jake’s new book “The Great Displacement”: https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/The-Great-Displacement/Jake-Bittle/9781982178253
- Learn about Blue Acres, a program Jake points to as an example of good climate migration planning: https://dep.nj.gov/blueacres/
- Find vaccines, masks, testing, treatments, and other resources in your community: https://www.covid.gov/
- Order Andy’s book, “Preventable: The Inside Story of How Leadership Failures, Politics, and Selfishness Doomed the U.S. Coronavirus Response”: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250770165
Stay up to date with us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at @LemonadaMedia.
For additional resources, information, and a transcript of the episode, visit lemonadamedia.com/show/inthebubble.
Andy Slavitt, Jake Bittle
Andy Slavitt 00:18
This is IN THE BUBBLE with Andy Slavitt. What if I told you that there are millions of people, hundreds of 1000s of people here in the US who are leaving their homes, not by choice every year. Just picture your relationship to where you live. I don’t know how long you’ve lived there. I don’t know what it means to you. I don’t know if you think about that being in jeopardy. But I’m hard pressed to think about the more disruptive event, then, one day, being forced out of my home for things that I really felt like I had no control over. More people have been forced to migrate across the world now, then, from the wars, more people in the US are migrating than since the Great Migration. And it’s all happening for one cause, and that causes changes to the planet climate. And I think we have this sense that climate change and climate migration will be this thing affecting people in the Global South, or on coastlines, or sometime in the future. Yet, if you think about it, all this street flooding, mudslides, terrorized by fire, hurricanes, these things are happening. I don’t need to tell all of you now every day. And so people are kind of being pulled out of their homes. And all we can surmise is, however many people that’s happening to you today, as the climate warms by another one and a half to two degrees or even more, that that’s going to happen in great numbers of people. As I talked about with our guests debate, there’s one estimate that for every degree of temperature rise, there’ll be a billion displaced people on the planet, many of them poor, maybe even from the poor parts of the world. But not all of them. Those effects are going to be felt here in the US not just by people migrating here, but by people here losing their homes as they already are. And so what is that all about? What do we need to do? I learned a lot on today’s episode, I learned a lot about how this touches on so many of the things that we should be caring about affordable housing, equity, appropriate representation, political will, and taking care of the planet and kind of decarbonizing as fast as we can. Jake Biddle is my guest today. He has written a book called The Great displacement, climate change and the next American migration. Jake is a guy who writes a lot about climate change in energy. He’s written for the New York Times he’s written for The Guardian. He’s written for Harper’s Magazine, and other places, thoughtful, good conversation. Exactly the competition, you want to have to kick off your weekend. Of course, this was a week filled with happiness and good stories. We’ve talked about COVID in prisons. We’ve talked about Alzheimer’s, although we did talk about a cure to Alzheimer’s. And now we’re talking about people losing their homes from floods. So I promise next week, we’ll bring you happier news. But these are really important topics. So appreciate you tuning in. Here’s Jake.
Andy Slavitt 03:47
Jake, welcome to the bubble.
Jake Bittle 03:48
Thanks so much.
Andy Slavitt 03:50
So we talk a lot on this show about decarbonizing the planet. And it’s worth it to spend some time now with you on what the slow pace of decarbonization is actually meant for people in terms of the real life results. And you’ve written a great book, and you’ve written extensively about the hundreds of 1000s of people in America every year that are losing their homes from climate change. And it’s got a really big, powerful title. And it’s a really big, powerful concept. And it feels so very far the future, but I’m wondering if you can just start with a sort of tickets to some of the places in the country where this is happening. You know, Louisiana, California, Arizona, tell us what it’s like, what are these communities in the people who live there going through?
Jake Bittle 04:45
Yeah, so I think that that the overarching theme is that a lot of places that have seen sort of chronic exposure to disasters, whether that’s floods or wildfires, or in some cases, you know, sort of persistent drought there’s a kind have generalized housing instability in those places where the grip that people have on their communities and the grip that they have on their homes is substantially weakened. So, you know, you see people have to leave their home after a disaster, maybe they think it’s for a week, but they ended up never making it back, you know, they get an apartment somewhere else, and then they have to move their kid to a new school district, and then they end up putting down roots in a new place where they’re substantially worse off, you know, maybe it’s less affordable. Remember, they do move back, you know, and they use their insurance to rebuild their house, but then, you know, they decide it’s just too risky. So they leave, but then they move to a place that’s even riskier than the one they left behind, because they didn’t have enough information. I think at the beginning of the book, I describe it as kind of this churning process of it’s almost like a cauldron, you know, roiling as it reaches a boil, it’s just very chaotic. And it happens kind of in slow motion. You know, it’s not like, you know, actually playing a game of musical chairs, which happens very fast. But if you slow it down, it looks kind of like that, where everybody’s just looking for a safe place to stay. And it’s really, really hard to find that.
Andy Slavitt 06:11
help us empathize a little bit more with that picture of, like, what are people facing, and they and I know that we’ve got different types of climate challenges, so you don’t have to speak to all of them. But you know, the images of being ravaged by a fire and being able to return or having chronic issues like, like floods and flooded streets, or power outages or mudslides, or drought like, what, what’s the flavor of this? When it hits people, as you say, it feels like a slow motion event, but then obviously, one day, it becomes too much.
Jake Bittle 06:48
Yeah, I think in the book that I kind of write that the primary push factors that push people to leave, are usually financial in nature. But I think that the flavor of it for a lot of people is really this sense of alienation from places that they’ve come to understand really well, I mean, even after living in a house, you know, in a neighborhood for a few years, you start to just know it, you know, intuitively Right? Like you don’t need a map to get home, you have landmarks that you know, can look at every day on your commute home. And I think that for most people like the dominant emotion is just the sense of complete bewilderment, you know, the place that they’ve come to know just doesn’t really look the way that it once did. It’s become kind of unrecognizable, right. And that could be as simple as you know, oh, man, you know, that street never used to flood when it was high tide, or it can be as profound as like, you know, there are people who come back to their homes after evacuating a town for wildfire, and literally can’t find the lot that their home was on, because there are no more Landmarks whatsoever, you know, there’s no trees, there’s no homes, there’s no fences, there’s no street signs, all of its gone. And so I think that, you know, whether it’s like a slow or a quick process, I think what it, you know, people usually experience it as is just places become really unfamiliar, they become either strange and unpredictable, or just outright hostile and empty. But in every case, you know, people lose their memory of the plays no longer matches the reality.
Andy Slavitt 08:26
And this is happening now at greater scale. And it’s accelerating. One of the reports that’s out there that I think is memorable for people is this notion that for every one degree and temperature rise, there’ll be a billion displaced people around the globe. So are we sort of at the trickle part of a storm to pick an apt analogy? And it’s really this is really going to pick up in large scale? And if so, like, what can we learn from what’s happening now? That’s going to affect by all estimates billions more people over the next few decades in the US?
Jake Bittle 09:05
Yeah, I mean, I think it’s definitely fair to say that, that what we’re seeing right now is a trickle, right. I mean, I think that most movement decisions in the US are not motivated by climate change right now. And you know, the proportion of all people in the US who lose their homes in a given years is always rather small, you know, it’s a few 100,000 out of hundreds of millions, right. But I think it’s very, very difficult to know what the size of the storm will be whether, you know, domestic migration or international migration, and it’s just, it’s just very, very difficult to predict, because, again, it all depends on the pace of warming, which also seems really uncertain over the next 50 years or so. But I think that what we do know is that even the you know, relatively small amount of migration we’ve already seen, it puts immense stress on the existing systems we have for securing housing, you know, as an investment, and also for providing housing to people, right? So there’s a housing crisis in this country. And there’s a rather brittle set of, you know, financial systems that protect, you know, homeownership, right. That’s insurance. That’s mortgage lending. And we know that climate change is putting immense stress on these systems. And when it displaces people, it’s really, really hard for them to get back on their feet. Because in this country, we just don’t do an adequate job of providing affordable housing, it’s just most people can’t afford the housing in the place where they live. So when they lose their grip on the home that they already own, or, you know, on that they already rent, it’s really hard to find their way to, you know, a sort of safe, ground right to recover. And should the trickle expand into a dorm? I think you’d see, you know, even more significant stress on those specific, you know, systems that have already kind of shown themselves to be inadequate.
Andy Slavitt 11:02
Yeah, I mean, I get this image that people are in the sort of disappoint very targeted communities. And one of the first questions they have to deal with is what is really the public attitudes towards these people going to be? Are people going to say, hey, you know, what, you know, you live in a low, low playing area, that’s what you should expect? Or is public attitude, hey, this is going to be heavy handed and of scale, that we really have to have an answer for it. Or even better, we have to answer for it. And we need to protect these people. Like, do you have a sense of kind of how public opinion is shaping up on? What’s going to end up being? That the very least you know, millions of people in our country?
Jake Bittle 11:44
Yeah, yeah, that’s a really good question. I mean, I think that, that there is this sense that a lot of people have, you know, to kind of gawk at people who live in in really vulnerable places, right, like, and to say that they, in some measured deserve the outcome that they get, I think it was Dennis Hastert, after Katrina, who got on the floor of the house and said, you know, we should not rebuild New Orleans? And I think I mean, that’s a vile statement.
Andy Slavitt 12:14
He wasn’t, he wasn’t alone. I mean, no. I think people like reasonable people like Wonder, because like, they don’t, if they’ve never been in the world to attend tonight, where they’d understand people’s lives, they’re a little bit distant from it, and they kind of go, boy, it should. It’s just gonna keep happening. And it’s time to just accept reality. I think, do people have that question, which then shows up at a more negative way in the way you described?
Jake Bittle 12:36
Right. But I don’t, I don’t know that there’s that much, you know, opposition to the idea that the government should spend to help people get back on their feet after this disaster. And one thing that you see, especially this is especially true in Louisiana, is that a lot of, you know, conservative places, there’s a lot of support on a on a bipartisan basis for the kind of infrastructure investments that would be needed to protect against sea level rise, right? I mean, climate change is not necessarily the word that they use to describe the process. You know, usually they say, coastal erosion, or they talking about hurricanes, right. But there’s not an you know, even among fiscal conservatives, there’s not a ton of opposition to the idea that we should be, you know, outlaying money to, you know, make sure that this isn’t as bad as it as it could be. Right. And I think that like, you know, the process of passing bills to allocate money to HUD to recover, to help, you know, long term recovery of these disasters is quite politicized because of congressional gridlock. But there’s not a ton of, you know, actual opposition, in most cases to this kind of spending, it usually ends up getting passed, right? Because there’s just a sense that if we’re going to spend money, this is a pretty good thing to spend it on. You know, so I think that that is that’s probably like a silver lining is that that’s not an argument that needs to be won. Really.
Andy Slavitt 14:09
There’s no greater political gift for Governor than a hurricane. Because it’s a victimless crime. I mean, people in this country, who are fiscal conservatives spent time looking for, it’s who’s to blame and when you can only blame the weather, and you’re not willing to blame us even for the causal weather, then, you know, I think you’re right, people probably do react better to that.
Jake Bittle 14:29
It’s analogous to the, you know, Republican legislatures legislators, excuse me who, you know, touted the projects that were funded by the infrastructure investment in JOBS Act, right. I mean, they voted against the Right, exactly, but, you know, it’s really difficult to argue against the results, right. I mean, you can argue against spending in the abstract and people do, but I don’t think you know, on the ground, voters don’t oppose the things that this stuff is buying, right? They just don’t in almost every case. So like that, I think is like and that’s like the principal ingredient that you need him to soften the blow of That’s right.
Andy Slavitt 15:02
Well, yeah, we all kind of wonder like, what’s the helping hand? You know, that’s available to you if this something like this does happen to you? So maybe let’s go with that question a little bit interested, like, what does good look like? Like, would you if you’ve seen situations where people who have been displaced? What’s been the sort of best type of reaction in response to model ourselves around?
Jake Bittle 15:26
Yeah, right. So I think the current, you know, the basic framework, you know, where FEMA doles out, you know, individual assistance grants, in most cases, and then, you know, provides temporary housing stipends, and then, you know, the full recovery is usually contingent on having insurance, you know, adequate insurance, that’s like not really working very well. But there are and also tends to reproduce, you know, people end up in the same places over and over again, like they really do. But I think that like one example of something that worked pretty well is like, so the federal government has this, this program where they, you know, give localities money to buy out homes, and tear them down and move people elsewhere. And then in a lot of cases, this has turned out really badly, it’s caused a lot of pain. But in state of New Jersey, they’ve managed to take this pretty bare bones program and turn it into a permanent part of the state government, not just a post disaster sort of funding spree. And basically, what they’ll do is they’ll work with homeowners, you know, over a long time to take them through their options and say, Well, you know, one option is the state will buy your house from you, we’ll give you know, probably a little more than the market value, and we will work with you over the long term so that you can find another home that is not, you know, in a flood zone. So instead of just giving them the check and walking away, or you know, showing up and saying Take it or leave it, they take people through the process, which is a long process of recovering and weighing the options of should I stay or should I go, and then they give them you know, enough money to ensure that they can make a good transition to a new home. And most importantly, they don’t have to just start this over again, after every storm. It’s like a permanent.
Andy Slavitt 17:05
It’s a state agency that does that. So that’s an interesting model. Alright, why don’t we take a quick break, and come back and talk about where the responsibility for this climate displacement lies, who’s gonna fix it, and where the money is going to come to do things like you describe in New Jersey. I kind of still a little bit caught up in what is available, and where the help and responsibility lies. And where it should lie. For people are in these types of situations. It feels like increasingly, things like insurance, I live in California, where earthquake insurance is pretty nonexistent at this point, where, you know, fire insurance is, to the extent that it exists, it doesn’t really protect people unless they have really a lot of assets, and they can withstand spending. It’s I envision a lot of people over the coming years that are not only without a home, but are sort of wiped out financially at the same time. And it feels like building back your life at that stage, if that’s happening with lots and lots and lots of people is a really significant event. But the other thing I really wonder Jake, is about this, the best cure is prevention. Right. And so, are there efforts that are being made should be made need to be made to keep people out of harm’s way?
Jake Bittle 17:07
Yeah, yeah. So I mean, I think that what you’re kind of getting at is that the way that we currently do it is like, incredibly inefficient, right? So for FEMA to go to a place after disaster and start just paying, you know, spending and spending and spending to try to help people kind of turn back the clock and get back on their feet. It’s so expensive, right? And I mean, they don’t do it adequately. There’s not enough money. But even if they could, I mean, this is just, it’s a lot of money to even do a semblance of, you know, getting people back to normal. Right. And so I think, you know, there’s a statistic that often gets used in this context that, you know, for every $1 you spend on what’s called resilience projects before a disaster, you know, installing an absorbent shoreline or, you know, elevating homes, you save $6 of post disaster spending, right. So this is a you are fiscally conservative, it makes a lot of sense to do this kind of this kind of spending beforehand. I think that you know, the pre disaster, buyout or movement argument is a really, really salient One. And I think that the issue in this country right now is that there’s not really a lot of money available to do that without a disaster declaration from the federal government. So it’s difficult to find the funds. But in some cases, you know, people have proposed basically like the government buys your home out and then rents it back to you. And then this has never been put into practice. But it’s been talked about in California and also in, in coastal Virginia, to basically people could, you know, if you’re elderly, for instance, you could live out the rest of your life in this home, or if you’re not elderly, you can just, you know, once it floods, you no longer have to worry about it. But until it does, you can rent it ad infinitum from the government who you know, then retains the right to destroy it after you no longer live there?
Andy Slavitt 20:43
Well, it here’s an idea. Here’s an idea. Why don’t we pay for all of that with a carbon tax?
Jake Bittle 20:51
I mean, it’s much easier said than done, seemingly. But I think that like that makes a lot.
Andy Slavitt 20:57
Can’t that happened, just because you and I just said it. I mean, this is that all it takes?
Jake Bittle 21:01
Yeah, I think so. Right. I mean, it’s just that I’ve never been on this.
Andy Slavitt 21:05
If you said on the podcast, I’m pretty sure. A leprechaun will take it to Congress and we’ll be all set.
Jake Bittle 21:11
Yeah, I mean, I think that it’s there’s a lot of room for innovation here and very little, you know, money obligated, historically, you know, just very, very little, you know, in the single digit billions. And I think that the Biden administration has opened some of this up, you know, there’s novel programs that they’ve started under FEMA to try to test some, but we’re really like in kindergarten on it, really just experimenting, and a full scale investment would do a lot.
Andy Slavitt 21:41
Yeah, in Look, I’m just trying to think about what the framework for that investment is because I have spent some of my life, helping to make the case that certain things like, for example, universal health care, to some extent, climate, other types of things, need to be national priorities and working with Congress to get those things to happen. And, you know, a lot of it is just giving people a way to think about it at the Congress. So, you know, the topic of the day is, of course, public health. Congress has wanted to fund public health, but they do want to fund biosecurity. Right. So I think at some level, we have to think about, you know, what this means, from, from, from a lot of our perspective, polluting, is that something you should be able to do for free? So, like, at some level, I come away from this conversation, thinking about how do you create the political will to make this a priority? And to say that there’s going to be a tax borne by all of us, to me, it’s a smart move, because then you’ll get people going, Wait a minute, I’m not a big polluter. Why don’t we make the big polluters pay the most? Right. And so that, to me feels like there’s some way to draw the contours of this discussion to become, as you said, a more mainstream funded program.
Jake Bittle 22:56
Certainly. Yeah. I mean, I think that that such a tax, right, I mean, the revenue from that could be spent quite effectively on some of this stuff. Right. And I think it’s certainly like the rhetorical case for carbon tax. I was at Aspen Ideas climate last night, and Bill Nye gave a talk. And he said, Well, you know, like, conservatives will never buy a carbon tax. So we could just call it a fee, like a carbon fee. And I think that there’s certainly like a strong rhetorical as well as like policy case to be made for that. And I think that on the adaptation side, like some of this stuff has sold quite well as disaster preparedness, right? I mean, it’s not the most, like eye catching. Nobody really thinks preparedness is like all that sexy, like, I grew up in Florida, and there were so many PSAs of you must have a gallon of water per person per day for a hurricane. And nobody ever listens, because no one never listens to the preparedness.
Andy Slavitt 23:49
You know, Republicans love preparedness. They just want federal money, as much as they might say they don’t like federal spending, state governors being written checks by the federal government to put in place projects, whether shoring up the shoreline, or the bridges, or maintaining forests, or whatever. And so to a certain extent, I think where the compromise lies, may have to be in the fact that FEMA might not be able to control all the money, they may have to be, the seal may have to be money that’s more in the hands of some of the states, which has plenty of its own drawbacks,
Jake Bittle 24:26
Right, but they need it. You know, these things are really expensive, and they can’t, in most cases, can’t really be funded without some kind of contribution from the federal government. But like the only place I can think of one of the only place I can think of off the top of my head where this has been done solely by you know, local state revenue is like the Outer Banks of North Carolina where they’re not the federal government can’t in many cases spend money to replenish the beaches because it’s under a thing called Cobra, the coastal barrier resources act. But you know, because there’s a strong tax base and the Outer Banks As the tourism industry, they have been able to, in some self-finance the replenishment of the beaches, most communities don’t have that kind of resources. Right. And so they need help from the federal government, especially rural communities, and, you know, which tend to be conservative. So there’s some strong incentives to find something that works. I think there.
Andy Slavitt 25:18
What do you think about the money that was it the inflation Reduction Act for the broad heading of climate justice on these communities? Is that get to any of this? Is that a headed in the right direction?
Jake Bittle 25:29
Yeah, I think that that is, as with the pre Disaster Mitigation stuff that FEMA has done, I think it’s really important for the government to experiment in this space, and to try to find a bunch of different stuff, you know, and see what works, I think there’s a lot of conversation about the market, you know, being able to solve the problem of, of energy production, right. And I think that like, at least from my perspective, one thing that the market probably won’t solve on its own, or will be less likely to solve on its own would be, like the historical harms from two fenceline communities as a result of living near, you know, polluters, and I think that like, there just isn’t a strong case to provide, you know, reparation or redress to those communities. That’s like, where, you know, we really have, there’s a strong sort of moral imperative to work on some of that environmental justice stuff.
Andy Slavitt 26:22
Yeah, but one of the problems is that, like, who’s your political representation if you’ve been displaced? Right? I mean, where is your power base? Who speaks for you? Are you important enough? You know, are you a big enough numbers? Are you devoted a block? Right? Do you contribute to campaign disproportionately? Is there an interest group in your behalf? I mean, those are the realities of the world today. And you’re not even necessarily going to be part of the same congressional district for very long, because you’re getting displaced. It’s very hard to understand who represents me, who fights my battle for me, when I get hurt.
Jake Bittle 26:56
I mean, after Katrina, you know, people who ended up in Houston, they couldn’t get jobs, because when they would call to apply, you know, the people on the other end would see 504 as the area code and hang up, you know, they were highly unwelcome in many cases. Right. And it took almost a decade, you know, there were like community sort of de facto community organizations designed to represent the displaced populations, but they never gained much traction, certainly at a policy level in the city to remedy some of these issues. I mean, that’s not easy to come by when nobody really has a permanent address, right?
Andy Slavitt 27:35
Yeah. Yeah. Okay, let’s take one more break. And then I want to I want to come back and talk about this topic is a little bit more of a global basis, and how it’s affecting people around the world, and migration here to the US as a part of that. So look, I wanted to focus this conversation where you focus your book, which is on the US, but I don’t think we could get out of this conversation and look ourselves in the mirror without talking about the globe, at least a little bit. Talk about a little bit about the globe, because the scale we’re talking about here is bad but survivable. And what people will be dealing with in low and middle income countries is just horrific to disastrous.
Jake Bittle 28:36
Yeah, certainly. I mean, I think that it’s disastrous, is one word. I mean, you could use the word existential for a lot of countries, especially small island, developing states, you know, which are a really important political presence at the UN Conference of Parties, because they face you know, completely dire, you know, life or death risk as countries from sea level rise, and from the changing impacts of storms, right, I think you can look at, like Pakistan, right, where last year, the floods consumed, you know, 1/3 of the country was underwater, and, you know, multiple millions of people were displaced, you know, without any real hope of finding, you know, a new home anytime soon. I think that like, in those cases, I think you really have to look at the fact that most migration in most countries is domestic. And even though climate change will probably increase the number of people from developing countries that try to enter the United States seeking asylum or seek asylum in Europe, it’s also just going to ravage the already pretty fragile housing systems in a country like Pakistan. Right. And I think you can really, really zoom out here and show that like this could lead to sovereign debt crises, right. I mean, this could lead to deep fiscal crises and a lot of these countries because the already fragile social order just kind of collapses. I think that like it’s a Not so much a matter of a flow of a billion people moving from the global south to the global north, so to speak, it’s more a matter of just a kind of permanent, really, really, really, really severe instability that a lot of these countries will face, or in the case of the small islands, they just won’t have anywhere to go at all, you know, and that, that’s, it’s hard for us to wrap our minds around in the United States, I think. And to a certain extent, the contours of it are still becoming clearer. But it’s really, really hard to look at that situation, and so much of the rest of the world and not see this just dramatic imbalance where, you know, in the United States, it’s kind of like, you know, getting punched in the face of climate disaster wherever you get up afterwards. Well, you know, but elsewhere, it’s, it’s really much worse, you know, it’s a fatal wound. And that that has to raise a lot of really, really, really important discussion here about what the appropriate response is for a country as wealthy as the US.
Andy Slavitt 30:59
and has admitted most of the carbon. And look, we’re gonna face as you said, migration into this country. And one response is to say, hey, let’s lock the doors, let’s tighten up the doors as seems to be one very strong thrust of policy and American sentiment, not just crystal policy. But let’s keep our sights managerial problems in that, in that break, and others, which is a huge departure from kind of what this country was founded on. If you’re going to give someone some counsel, as we sort of closed down Jake, on where they should be thinking about with their productive energy, you know, there’s a few categories I want you to think about speaking to. One is, the difference between one and a half and two degrees or two degrees and two and a half degrees, is profound when measured in the impact on people who just happen to live in the wrong place. It’s in the hundreds of millions of people, or billions per degree if we believe those numbers. So to me that there’s one part of the what can you do about it sits there. But there’s sounds like there’s other things we’ve talked about in terms of making this an important political issue. And there’s a lot of people who would now say, Yeah, I believe in climate change, and I want to do something about it. But I don’t think they quite know what policies they should be saying they should stand behind. And I think a great political movements in this country, civil rights, gay marriage, universal health care, things like that. There became a rallying cry and like a very specific thing to chase. But is there the equivalent here like where, where you would say, this is the kind of thing we all ought to be standing for?
Jake Bittle 32:36
Yeah, that’s a really good question. I mean, I think that that on the mitigation side, right, I think that, unlike five or 10 years ago, there’s a pretty clear path toward avoiding the tipping points that come with two degrees and trying to restrict warming to around 1.5. Right. I mean, we kind of can already see it, right. Like, and the Biden administration has kind of said as much right, like power sector, decarbonization within 10 years, you know, tailpipe reductions drastically, you know, in this case, driven in large part by the market, but with substantial incentives. And then, you know, a really crucial focus on the hard to abate emissions from industrial, and other transportation and buildings, right, which is kind of the next step. But we could see a way in which, like, this is possible. I think that kind of what I was saying at the end of the book is that it’s really hard to imagine a solution to climate displacement, without imagining a solution to displacement generally. And that’s a very tall order. But I think that it should force us to rethink the way that the government is involved in providing housing in this country and helping people from home to home. Right. So I don’t have to tell you that the federal government, certainly their involvement in providing housing is its de minimis now, which wasn’t always the case. Right? I think that we really have to look at that history, in order to find, you know, a solution to the problem of climate displacement, you really just need to find a way of securing, you know, safe and affordable shelter, as of right, as an entitlement in the US the way that we see and have seen other, you know, rights as entitlements that we’ve tried to enshrine in law. Right. So I think that that’s a that’s a very tall order. And, you know, as with the carbon tax, it’s easier said than done. And I’m not sure what the you know, rallying slogan would be, but I think that that’s the direction that, you know, my thinking kind of led me in on this is like, the impacts of climate change look a lot like the impacts of housing displacement generally. And it just this this instability, that I really feel like the government could and should take a leading role in trying to soften and trying to smooth out and that’s what I would say as the sort of moonshot answer.
Andy Slavitt 34:57
Yeah. What I take away from that, in addition to What is your very, very important point about affordable housing in general? Get away we did an actually one of the episodes we’ve done over the last year that has had the most interesting response, my favorite response from some listeners representatives, wow, you totally changed my thinking I did not understand this issue as well. We did one on the real causes of homelessness, and talked about all the data, which suggests that the problem is almost 100%, about lack of affordable housing, and almost nothing to do with people being schizophrenic or alcoholic or addicted opioids, because those things shouldn’t cause you to have to lose your home, those things happen to people. But in many parts of the world, and indeed, many parts of the US, they don’t cause you to lose your home. But if housing is too expensive, and there’s not enough of it, there’s nothing you can do. And it’s your game of musical chairs. And it feels like this is just one more version of that. I don’t think affordable housing is an issue that, quite frankly, even liberals are behind in the right way. Or if they are they’re behind it somewhere else. So it just it calls that into consciousness along with being a good steward of the climate. We have lots of teacher kids. I don’t know if you get little ones but yeah, they need to. Well, when Yeah, so it’s just got a lot to teach them about how to how to fix it improve the world. Jake, thank you for being in the bubble. This was great and a lot of fun.
Jake Bittle 36:19
Thank you so much for having me.
Andy Slavitt 36:35
Okay, thanks to Jake, thank you for tuning in. Monday’s episode is about what the working world is like, as people have returned to work post, pandemic post COVID emergency. What’s changed about what employers are expecting work from home hybrid jobs? What’s different about the workplace? It’s gonna be a fascinating conversation that I think affects so many of us. Have a great weekend. I can’t wait to talk to you next week.
Thanks for listening to IN THE BUBBLE. We’re a production of Lemonada Media. Kathryn Barnes, Jackie Harris and Kyle Shiely produced our show, and they’re great. Our mix is by Noah Smith and James Barber, and they’re great, too. Steve Nelson is the vice president of the weekly content, and he’s okay, too. And of course, the ultimate bosses, Jessica Cordova Kramer and Stephanie Wittels Wachs, they executive produced the show, we love them dearly. Our theme was composed by Dan Molad and Oliver Hill, with additional music by Ivan Kuraev. You can find out more about our show on social media at @LemonadaMedia where you’ll also get the transcript of the show. And you can find me at @ASlavitt on Twitter. If you like what you heard today, why don’t you tell your friends to listen as well, and get them to write a review. Thanks so much, talk to you next time.