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AM NewsBrief: July 22, 2022

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This is the KGOU AM NewsBrief for Friday, July 22, 2022.

Oklahoma's top climate expert discusses heatwave, cites climate change as a potential factor

Heat records are being shattered in Oklahoma this week. On Tuesday, for the first time in its 25 years of collecting this data, the Oklahoma Mesonet recorded temperatures of 103 degrees or higher at every single one of its 120 weather stations around the state.

"It was a day waiting to happen, we just needed the right conditions," said Gary McManus, state climatologist of Oklahoma.

He says much like a wildfire danger day, it was just a matter of the right ingredients coming together at the right time. And while he says he’d bet against the new record falling this year—

"We don't get good rains, we could certainly reproduce a day like this, but it would be rare to have it happen, uh, especially as we get farther into August. But, as they say, records were made to be broken."

And records are falling more frequently due to human-caused climate change.

"There was probably some contribution due to climate change with the magnitude of this heat. We do know that climate change does make these events a little bit more likely to occur. If you're rolling the dice, it tilts the dice a little bit more, weights them a little bit more, to have these things happen," McManus said.

The EPA, the international panel on climate change and the overwhelming majority of climate scientists concur that manmade climate change is driving more frequent and deadlier heat events worldwide.

Quapaw Nation leader to be decided Saturday

The leader of the Quapaw Nation will be decided on Saturday, as Joseph Byrd asks voters for another term.

Two years ago, Joseph Byrd defeated longtime Chairman John Berry, who was indicted on embezzlement charges. Now he faces challenger Buddy Schapp.

The powerful secretary treasurer position is also being contested - between incumbent Guy Barker and Wena Supernaw. Both challengers say they want better communication between citizens and leadership, and are advocating for some kind of term limits for the Nation’s highest offices.

Betty Beard Gaedtke is a Quapaw citizen. She says paying down the tribal nation’s hundreds of millions of dollars in debt related to its two large casino resorts is a priority.

"My whole goal is I want to see us completely get free as a nation because once we have all that money coming into the tribe, I mean, they sky’s going to be the limit for how we can help our people," said Gaedtke.

Two candidates are also running for one seat on the business committee - incumbent Lloyd Buffalo and challenger Mike Shawnee.

Oklahoma U.S. Representatives vote against 'Right to Contraception Act'

A bill to protect contraception access in the U.S. House gets a no vote from all five Oklahoma U.S. representatives.

Several Republicans, including Rep. Stephanie Bice, argued that the bill was a scare tactic, used to stoke undue fears that Republicans would block access to contraception. They also argued that despite the fact the bill states it protects contraceptives, it could be interpreted broadly enough to allow abortion medications.

The measure passed mostly along party lines.

Health officials release state plan to reduce obesity

Oklahoma health officials released a long-term plan to combat obesity this week. StateImpact’s Catherine Sweeney reports.

With more than 36 percent of its population in the obese weight range, Oklahoma ranks ninth in the nation for obesity rates. The Oklahoma State Department of Health worked with hundreds of partners including nonprofits, tribal governments, and state agencies to drafta long-term policy plan 

The 30-page report lays out several problems and potential solutions. Among the problems: Oklahoma kids are less likely than those in the rest of the country to have sidewalks in their neighborhoods, to live near parks and community centers, and to have access to healthy food.

The goals include improving infrastructure in parks, getting the state’s uninsured rate below 10 percent, establishing an obesity clinic in every county, and creating a BMI registry.

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