Eight of America’s late night talk show hosts joined forces this Wednesday, each using their shows’ platforms to address climate change in a special cross-network “Climate Night.” Of course, being late night hosts rather than scientists, politicians, or mining CEOs, their version of addressing the issue primarily consisted of global warming gallows humour.
“And don’t even think about switching to another show — we’re all focused on this topic tonight, you can’t escape,” said Jimmy Kimmel in his opening monologue. “It’s basically an intervention.”
Assembling like insomnia television Avengers with the diversity to match, late night hosts Samantha Bee, Andy Cohen, Stephen Colbert, James Corden, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Seth Meyers and Trevor Noah all tackled our increasingly erratic planet in their own various ways, from speaking to experts to cracking turtle sex jokes.
On the list of topics were wildfires, floods, heatwaves, melting ice caps, and the general conversion of the entire world into a literal hot mess, all of which got their required shout outs. However the hosts also covered other effects of global warming that don’t get quite as much attention.
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee examined the impact of increased rainfall on America’s ancient sewerage system, and how Black communities are disproportionately impacted by their white neighbours’ overflow.
“As with virtually every other problem in this country, racism plays an unfortunate role in our sanitary system dysfunction,” Bee noted. “Water horror stories like these can be found in many predominantly Black communities, as opposed to predominantly white communities where the worst water horror story is when the waiter says, ‘We’re out of sparkling.'”
Meanwhile The Daily Show‘s Noah discussed various smaller, less widely noted ways climate change is impacting the world. This included the fact that warmer sands mean the overwhelming majority of green sea turtle eggs are hatching females, putting the entire species’ future in danger.
“For the male turtle, this delicate [mating] ritual is part of an endless, nightmarish orgy from which he cannot escape,” says Noah, mimicking a nature documentary narrator. “Dignity, a distant memory. He is nothing more than a communal reptilian f**kstick attached to a shell, passed around from female to female and expected to slam turtle puss 27/7. He pumps joylessly.”
Finally, Jimmy Kimmel Live!‘s titular host tore into politicians across the political spectrum for their inaction or active agitation towards climate change.
“Maybe the craziest group of all is these jackals who admit that climate change is our own fault, but say we can’t afford to stop it,” says Kimmel. “[Florida senator] Rick Scott is worried that fighting climate change will destroy jobs, which even if that was true — which it isn’t — you know what else will destroy jobs? Armageddon.”
Kimmel further invited actual climate scientists to deliver a profanity-riddled plea and warning, recreating a climate change segment he did five years ago and allowing them to delivering a well-deserved: “We f**king told you so.”
“[We’re] f**ked right up the greenhouse gas,” said marine environmental scientist John Dorsey.
“As you can see, five years ago we were here, at medium f**ked,” said climate scientist Alex Hall, gesturing to an illustrative graph. “Now we’re closer to here, mostly f**ked. And we only have a few years left to take drastic action before we wind up here: totally and irreparably f**ked.”
“Yes, there are other issues that are all very important — the pandemic, systemic racism, income inequality, immigration, gun violence,” said Kimmel. “But here’s the thing. If we don’t address climate change, none of those issues will matter at all. The car is going off a cliff and we’re fiddling with the radio.”
Our climate situation is frighteningly dire, and it’d be easy for us to simply slip into hopeless climate despair. Fortunately we can still mitigate global warming and work to right it if we act immediately and drastically. But to do that we’ll need to throw our support behind the politicians meaningfully tackling the issue, and who’ll back packages such as the Build Back Better Agenda which will invest $2 trillion in clean energy over four years.
“The rest of us, our responsibility is to do everything we can to let these politicians know we want the bill passed,” Kimmel concluded. “Tell the people that represent you that you care about this. It does make a difference when you call. And tell them that if they don’t do something about this catastrophe that’s coming our way, when the food supply gets low they’re the ones we’re going to eat first.”