SPECIAL EDITION: EARTH CRISIS GLOBAL CLIMATE STRIKE

Today in New York City and around the world students and activists took to the streets for a “Global Climate Strike” in response to climate change inaction. Even large companies are joining the fight to protect our planet ahead of the United Nations Climate Action Summit. In a Peril and Promise special roundtable conversation, we discuss whether we have reached a critical turning point in the fight for our very existence.

Peril and Promise is an ongoing series of reports on the human impact of, and solutions for, Climate Change. Lead funding for Peril and Promise is provided by Dr. P. Roy Vagelos and Diana T. Vagelos. Major support is provided by Marc Haas Foundation and Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III.

Aired on September 20, 2019. 

TRANSCRIPT

ARE THE STRATEGIES AND TACTICS THAT HAVE SO FAR BEEN USED IN THAT WAR BEEN EFFECTIVE?

> TONIGHT ON 'METROFOCUS,' SPECIAL EDITION -- EARTH CRISIS, GLOBAL CLIMATE STRIKE.

NEW YORK CITY PUBLIC SCHOOLS DECLARE AMNESTY FOR STUDENTS WHO WANT TO JOINT WORLDWIDE STRIKE AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE IN ACTION.

AS GLOBAL LEADERS ARRIVE AHEAD OF THIS WEEK'S UNITED NATIONS CLIMATE SUMMIT, THE U.N. ISSUES A DIRE WARNING ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE.

HAVE WE REACHED A CRITICAL TURN POINT?

AND WHAT'S NEXT?

THE ANSWERS ON THIS SPECIAL EDITION OF 'METROFOCUS,' STARTING RIGHT NOW.

Announcer: THIS IS 'METROFOCUS' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD, AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY JAMES AND MERRYL TISCH SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ ROSALIND P. WALTER BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG AND BY -- [ CROWD CHANTING ]

WHAT DO WE WANT?

CLIMATE JUSTICE!

WELCOME TO THIS SPECIAL EDITION OF 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M RAFAEL PI ROMAN.

THE WAR AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE IS ARGUABLY THE MOST CRITICAL CONFLICT OF OUR TIMES, AND MANY OF OUR CHILDREN HAVE NOW VOLUNTEERED TO BE AT THE VANGUARD OF THAT WAR.

IN COORDINATION WITH STRIKES THAT HAPPENED IN 150 COUNTRIES, NEW YORK CITY YOUTH ANSWERED THE CALL AND GOT A LITTLE HELP FROM THE NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION WHICH ALLOWED THE SYSTEM'S 1.1 MILLION STUDENTS TO SKIP SCHOOL IN ORDER TO ATTEND THE DEMONSTRATION AHEAD OF MONDAY'S U.N. CLIMATE SUMMIT.

THE U.N. HAS RELEASED A REPORT ARGUING THAT THE DEVASTATION WREAKED BY DORIAN IN THE BAHAMAS IS A WARNING THAT, QUOTE, SUCH A CATEGORY HELL HURRICANE IS JUST A GLIMPSE INTO A FUTURE POWERED BY CLIMATE CHANGE.

SO HAVE WE REACHED A CRITICAL TURNING POINT IN OUR WAR AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE?

ARE THE STRATEGIES AND TACTICS THAT HAVE SO FAR BEEN USED IN THAT WAR BEEN EFFECTIVE?

AND WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

AS PART OF OUR 'PERIL AND PROMISE' INITIATIVE, THESE ARE JUST SOME OF THE QUESTIONS WE'LL BE POSING TO OUR PANEL OF GUESTS OVER THE NEXT HALF HOUR.

BILL ULFELDER IS THE CHAIR OF THE NEW YORK NATURE CONSERVANCY.

REBECCA FAIRWEATHER IS A HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT.

AND GAVIN SCHMIDT, A MEMBER OF NASA, JOINS US ON SKYPE.

WELCOME TO ALL OF YOU.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING US FOR THIS IMPORTANT TOPIC.

THERE SEEMS TO BE A QUALITATIVE CHANGE IN THE NATIONAL AND GLOBAL DEBATE ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE.

AM I RIGHT ABOUT THAT?

ABSOLUTELY.

WHAT WE HAVE TO REMEMBER IS THE UNITED STATES IS REALLY THE ONLY COUNTRY THAT STATES THAT IT'S NOT BELIEVING IN CLIMATE CHANGE.

SO WE'RE THE OUTLIER, WE HAVE TO REMEMBER THAT.

WHAT WE'RE SEEING NOW IS STATES ACROSS THE COUNTRY, CITIES LIKE NEW YORK CITY, AND MAJOR COMPANIES MAKING MAJOR STATEMENTS THAT THEY'RE GOING TO BE WORKING TOWARDS NET ZERO EMISSIONS BY 2050.

TODAY AMAZON ANNOUNCED A $100 MILLION COMMITMENT TO NATURE CONSERVATION AS A WAY TO COMBAT CLIMATE CHANGE IN COLLABORATION WITH THE NATURE CONSERVANCY.

THESE ARE SIGNS OF HOPE GALVANIZED BY THE YOUTH MOVEMENT WE'RE SEEING TODAY.

REBECCA, WHAT DO YOU THINK?

DO YOU THINK THIS CHANGE IS HAPPENING, AND DO YOU THINK THAT YOU AND YOUR PEERS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS QUALITATIVE CHANGE?

I THINK THESE ARE DEFINITELY POWERFUL AND THE WORK WE'RE DOING IS SHAKING SOME PLACES UP.

IT'S IMPORTANT THAT WE NOT ONLY ADVOCATE FOR THE REST OF THE WEEK, UNTIL THE 27th, BUT ALSO HOLD COMPANIES ACCOUNTABLE.

A LOT OF TIMES WE SEE THAT COMPANIES POLLUTE OUR OCEANS THE MOST.

PEOPLE WILL SAY, YES, GO VEGAN, YES, RECYCLE, AND IT DOES HELP, BUT THERE IS MORE OF AN IMPACT FROM WHAT LARGE COMPANIES DO.

GAVIN, I KNOW IT'S A TALL ORDER, BUT CAN YOU GIVE US A SUMMER OF WHAT THE MOST RECENT SCIENCE TELLS US ABOUT HOW THE CLIMATE IS CHANGING AND WHAT THE LIKELY CONSEQUENCES OF THOSE CHANGES LOOK LIKE?

IT'S VERY IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER THAT THE SCIENCE THAT UNDERPINS WHAT'S HAPPENING IN THE CLIMATE IS ACTUALLY QUITE OLD.

WE'VE BEEN MAKING PREDICTIONS ON WHAT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN AS WE INCREASE THE AMOUNT OF CARBON DIOXIDE IN THE ATMOSPHERE FOR DECADES.

AND THOSE PREDICTIONS HAVE IN FACT COME TRUE.

SO WHAT'S BEEN HAPPENING MORE RECENTLY IS THAT WE ARE NOW SEEING THOSE EFFECTS, EVIDENCED IN THE ARCTIC SEA ICE, IN SEA LEVEL, IN HEAT WAVES, IN INTENSE PRECIPITATION, AND IN A WHOLE SUITE OF DIFFERENT VARIABLES IN THE OBSERVED CLIMATE THAT ARE MAKING PEOPLE REALIZE THAT CLIMATE CHANGE IS HAPPENING HERE AND NOW.

IN TERMS OF THE SCIENCE, THE MOST INTERESTING NEW WORK IS BEING DONE ON THE SCIENCE OF EXTREME ATTRIBUTION.

SO WHEN WE SEE AN EXTREME EVENT SUCH AS THE RAINSTORM THAT'S HAPPENED IN HOUSTON, OR THE INTENSE FLOODING THAT WE'VE SEEN BECAUSE OF FLORENCE OR OTHER STORMS IN THE MIDWEST OVER THE WINTERTIME, WE'RE SEEING MORE CONFIDENCE AND MORE PRECISE ATTRIBUTIONS OF SOME FRACTION OF THOSE EVENTS TO CLIMATE CHANGE.

SO WE'RE SAYING THAT THESE THINGS ARE BECOMING MORE LIKELY WITH CLIMATE CHANGE TO AN INCREASING DEGREE.

BILL, THE PROGNOSIS, WHAT THE FUTURE MAY LOOK LIKE IF WE DON'T DO ENOUGH, YOU KNOW, THERE'S A RANGE OF INVESTIGATIONS THAT ARE PROVIDED US.

ONE IS APOCALYPTIC, THAT IN TEN OR 12 YEARS, FLORIDA WON'T EXIST ANYMORE.

FROM THERE TO PEOPLE, AND I JUST HEARD THIS YESTERDAY, THIS PROFESSOR SAY, LOOK, I'M NOT WORRIED ABOUT FLORIDA FALLING INTO THE OCEAN, WHAT I'M WORRIED ABOUT IS THE WORLD THAT MY KIDS WILL LIVE IN WILL BE MUCH, MUCH A WORSE PLACE TO LIVE.

WHERE IN THAT RANGE DO YOU THINK THINGS ARE GOING?

I THINK I -- I'LL CALL IT A RELATIVELY OPTIMISTIC MIDDLE.

SO UNQUESTIONABLY, AND DAVID WALLACE WELLS HAS RECEIVED A LOT OF ATTENTION WITH HIS BOOK 'THE UNINHABITABLE EARTH,' DROUGHT, HEAT, FLOODING, EVERYTHING THAT GAVIN HAS DESCRIBED, I THINK IT'S UNREALISTIC TO GO AROUND AND SAY, OH, HUMANKIND, WE'VE GOT THIS.

WE DO ALMOST TECHNOLOGICALLY HAVE IT.

THE TOOLS ARE AT OUR DISPOSAL TO SOLVE THIS.

IT'S ABOUT HAVING THE TECHNOLOGY AND THE WILL.

BUT THERE'S A LOT THAT'S ALREADY BAKED IN, LITERALLY.

WE HAVE TO SAY GOODBYE TO A LOT OF THINGS.

WHAT JUST HAPPENED IN THE ABACOS WAS TRAGIC.

I WAS JUST THERE A YEAR AGO.

I KNOW THOSE COMMUNITIES.

THE NATURE CONSERVANCY HAS TEAM MEMBERS DOWN THERE.

IT IS TRAGIC TO SEE WHAT'S HAPPENING.

AND MORE OF THAT IS COMING.

BUT IT IS A MATTER OF DEGREES.

THERE'S NO CLIFF WE DRIVE OFF.

EVERY POSITIVE THING WE DO TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE TO REDUCE GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS WILL HAVE AN IMPACT ON, HOW IT'S REALLY ABOUT 2 DEGREES CELSIUS, ARE WE GOING TO 2 1/2, 3.

AND THOSE HALF-DEGREE CELSIUSES ARE VERY IMPORTANT.

THE NEXT TEN OR 15 YEARS, YOU DON'T DRIVE OFF A CLIFF IN THAT TIME, BUT WHAT WE DO IN THAT TIME WILL BE INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT FOR THE FUTURE.

AND BY THE WAY, WE HAVE WHAT WE NEED AT OUR DISPOSABLE TO MAKE A HUGE AMOUNT OF PROGRESS IN THAT TIME.

REBECCA, WHAT DO YOU AND YOUR FELLOW ACTIVISTS SEE AS THE LIKELY FUTURE OF OUR WORLD IF WE DON'T DO ENOUGH?

I THINK A LOT OF US ARE SCARED OF WHAT THE WORLD MIGHT LOOK LIKE.

I KNOW THE 2030 REPORT CAME OUT AND ALL OF US WERE LIKE, OH, IT'S TOO LATE TO DO ANYTHING.

AND IT'S NEVER TOO LATE TO DO ANYTHING.

WE'VE REALIZED THAT RECENTLY, ESPECIALLY WITH GRETA SPEAKING OUT --

GRETA THUNBERG.

YES, SPEAKING OUT ABOUT SO MANY ISSUES THAT WE JUST DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT.

I KNOW A LOT OF MY FRIENDS IN MY SCHOOL ARE LIKE, DO WE EVEN BOTHER HAVING CHILDREN AT THIS POINT, DO WE WANT TO RAISE A WHOLE OTHER GENERATION IN A WORLD THAT IS NOT HUMANE FOR THEM?

ALTHOUGH THERE IS THIS UNDERLYING FEAR THAT GOES WITH WHAT THE WORLD MAY LOOK LIKE, I PERSONALLY AM VERY OPTIMISTIC, SEEING MORE OF THE OLDER GENERATION REALIZING, OH, YOUTH IS NOT AS DUMB AS WE THOUGHT THEY MIGHT HAVE BEEN.

THEY DON'T JUST STAY ON THEIR PHONES ALL THE TIME, THEY ACTUALLY GO OUT AND PROTEST AND GO TO LOBBY AND PUT IN NEW LEGISLATION.

AND I THINK THAT IS IMPORTANT, THAT WE HAVE TO REMAIN OPTIMISTIC.

AND THOUGH IT MAY LOOK LIKE THE WORLD IS ENDING, WE HAVE TO MAKE SURE THAT IT WON'T.

YOU MENTIONED GRETA THUNBERG FROM SWEDEN, CLEARLY A LEADER IN THIS CLIMATE CHANGE BATTLE.

I'VE BEEN THINKING A LOT ABOUT HER LATELY, AS MANY PEOPLE HAVE, PARTICULARLY IN THIS CONTEXT.

YOU KNOW, AND I'LL BE VERY FRANK, I'LL BE VERY PERSONAL, WHEN I -- I BELIEVE IN CLIMATE CHANGE AND I BELIEVE WE MUST ACT.

AND WHEN I SEE, WHEN I HEAR STORIES ABOUT CELEBRITIES AND POLITICIANS WHO TALK ABOUT THE EXISTENTIAL THREAT THAT CLIMATE CHANGE POSES AND THEN YOU SEE THEM TRAVELING TO CLIMATE CHANGE SUMMITS IN PRIVATE JETS OR BUYING HOMES THAT, YOU KNOW, CONSUME INCREDIBLE AMOUNTS OF ENERGY OR BUY HOMES BY THE SEASHORE WHEN THEY'VE BEEN TELLING US FOR YEARS THAT THE SEA LEVELS ARE RISING, I'VE TENDED TO DISMISS THOSE STORIES BECAUSE THEY USUALLY COME FROM CONSERVATIVES AND PEOPLE WHO DENY OR ARE SKEPTICAL ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE.

BUT THEN I SEE GRETA THUNBERG, NOT ONLY DID SHE NOT TAKE A PRIVATE PLANE, SHE DIDN'T TAKE A COMMERCIAL PLANE, SHE TOOK A ZERO EMISSION SAILBOAT TO NEW YORK.

I SAID, WAIT A MINUTE, MAYBE WE'VE BEEN GIVING A PASS TO PEOPLE TOO MUCH, ESPECIALLY SINCE PEOPLE LEARN FROM EXAMPLE AND BAD EXAMPLES ARE BAD LESSONS.

THE YOUTH, THOSE OF YOU WHO ARE NOW THE VANGUARD OF THIS BATTLE, WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUTYPOCRISYHYPOCRISY?

I THINK WE'RE NOT AFRAID TO CALL PEOPLE OUT ANYMORE.

SEEING GRETA TRAVEL HERE ON A SAILBOAT, I LOOKED AT MY INSTAGRAM AND WAS TRULY SHOCKED.

I SAID, THAT'S A LOT OF WORK.

I KNOW THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO THINK, I COULD EASILY TRAVEL THROUGH PRIVATE JET, I DON'T HAVE TO DEAL WITH OTHER PEOPLE.

NOT ONLY AS IT INCREDIBLY EXPENSIVE BUT IT HARMS THE PLANET.

EVERYBODY WANTS TO LIVE A LAVISH LIFESTYLE WHERE THEY CAN BUY A MILLION DOLLAR MANSION AND THEY CAN FLY PRIVATELY, BUT YOU HAVE TO REALIZE IT BENEFITS YOU BUT IT DOESN'T BENEFIT ANYONE ELSE.

ONE OF THE BEST THINGS ABOUT MY GENERATION IS WE'RE VERY COMPASSIONATE.

WE REALIZE, WE HAVE TO LIVE NOT ONLY TO CHANGE OUR OWN LIVES BUT TO CHANGE OTHERS.

SO I THINK IT IS IMPORTANT THAT WE HOLD OUR CELEBRITIES AND POLITICIANS ACCOUNTABLE, THE EMISSIONS THEY'RE CREATING, THEIR CARBON FOOTPRINT.

I KNOW THERE'S APPS NOW THAT YOU CAN SEE HOW MUCH OF A CARBON FOOTPRINT YOU PRODUCE A DAY.

AND IT SCARES PEOPLE.

AND I THINK THAT BY SEEING IT IN NUMBERS AND SEEING WHAT'S HAPPENING GLOBALLY, IT WILL EVENTUALLY MAKE PEOPLE THINK, OKAY, WE NEED TO HOLD EVERYBODY ACCOUNTABLE.

BILL, HAVE WE GIVEN TOO MUCH OF A PASS TO SOME OF THESE LEADERS?

THEY BRING IN MONEY, THEY BRING IN ATTENTION TO THE CAUSE, ON THE ONE HAND.

I THINK BEHAVIORS ARE CHANGING BECAUSE THE COLLECTIVE PAIN IS GROWING SO MUCH, THE IMPACTS, WHETHER IT'S DROUGHT, WHETHER IT'S FLOODING, HURRICANES, OTHER KINDS OF EVENTS.

IT'S SO IN FRONT OF US NOW ALL THE TIME.

I THINK PEOPLE ARE BEGINNING TO REFLECT MORE AND MORE AND MAKE CHOICES, AND, YOU KNOW, IN THE CASES WHERE PEOPLE ARE DOING THINGS THAT ARE EMITTING, HOPEFULLY OFFSETTING MORE AND MORE.

THAT'S THE BEAUTIFUL THING ABOUT OFFSETS, YOU RECOGNIZE HOW MUCH YOU EMITTED AND YOU INVEST.

THAT DOESN'T LOOK GOOD, IT LOOKS LIKE SIN EATERS, I'VE GOT A MILLION BUCKS, I'LL PAY FOR MY LAVISH LIFESTYLE.

IT'S OF A PIECE.

AT THE END OF THE DAY, WE CAN'T ELIMINATE ALL EMISSIONS.

I WAS THINKING ABOUT THIS, YOU CAN'T ROAST A MARSHMALLOW AND NOT RELEASE GREENHOUSE GASES.

A FOREST FIRE WILL ALWAYS HAPPEN.

SO THERE HAS TO BE ROOM FOR OFFSET.

YOU HAVE TO BE CAREFUL ABOUT THEM.

ONE OF THE THINGS THE NEW YORK CLIMATE LEGISLATION DOES IS SAY, WE RECOGNIZE OFFSETS WILL BE PART OF THE SOLUTION BUT WE WON'T ALLOW THEM IN VULNERABLE COMMUNITIES WHERE IF WE ALLOW POLLUTING INDUSTRIES AND CORPORATIONS TO KEEP GOING, THERE'S GOING TO BE ENVIRONMENTAL INJUSTICE.

SO PROUDLY, NEW YORK RECOGNIZED THAT, SAID THOSE ZONES ARE NO-GO ZONES AND OH, BY THE WAY, WE'LL BE INVESTING SIGNIFICANT RESOURCES IN THOSE MOST VULNERABLE COMMUNITIES.

SO I BELIEVE THE AWARENESS IS GROWING AND GROWING AND GROWING.

BUT MAYBE NOT COMMENSURATE WITH THE PACE OF CLIMATE CHANGE.

YOU KNOW, GAVIN, AS YOU KNOW, ALL OF YOU KNOW, MUCH OF THE REPORTING ON CLIMATE CHANGE CONSISTENTLY REFERS TO THOSE WHO DISSENT FROM THE SCIENTIFIC CONSENSUS ON CLIMATE CHANGE AS CLIMATE DENIERS.

BUT I WAS SURPRISED IN READING THE MATERIAL, PREPARING FOR THIS SHOW, TO SEE HOW MANY OF THOSE SO-CALLED CLIMATE DENIERS ARE ACCEPTING THE FACT THAT THE CLIMATE IS WARMING, ARE ACCEPTING THE FACT THAT TO SOME DEGREE HUMAN BEINGS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THAT WARMING, AND THAT TO SOME DEGREE THEY BELIEVE ACTION NEEDS TO BE TAKEN.

WHERE THEY DISAGREE WITH THE CONSENSUS IS THE LEVEL OF THREAT FACING US, AND THE ACTIONS THAT NEED TO BE TAKEN.

GAVIN, IS THIS A STEP FORWARD, A POSITIVE STEP FORWARD?

IS THIS JUST A CHANGE OF TACTICS BY THE SKEPTICS?

THERE HAVE BEEN THROUGHOUT THIS CONVERSATION, AND THE HISTORY OF THIS TOPIC, PEOPLE WHO DON'T WANT ANYTHING TO CHANGE.

PEOPLE WHO ARE INVESTED IN THE STATUS QUO.

AND WHEN WE WERE PREDICTING WARMING, THEY SAID THE PREDICTIONS WERE NOT REAL AND THERE WASN'T ANY WARMING.

WHEN THE WARMING CAME TRUE AND WAS EVIDENT, THEY SAID, OBVIOUSLY YOU'VE GOT IT WRONG, IT'S NOT RIGHT, BUT WE STILL DON'T WANT TO DO ANYTHING.

AND NOW THAT THE WARMING IS UNDENIABLE, OF COURSE WE ACCEPT THE LOVING, WE LOVE SCIENCE, BUT WE STILL DON'T WANT TO DO ANYTHING.

SO YOU'RE SEEING THIS EVOLUTION OF THE ARGUMENT THAT THE FACTS ON THE GROUND HAVE CHANGED, BUT THE PEOPLE THAT REALLY WANT THE STATUS QUO TO CONTINUE, THEY HAVEN'T GONE AWAY.

AND I THINK THAT THAT WAS FOOLISH 30 YEARS AGO, IT IS EXTREMELY AND EVEN MORE FOOLISH TODAY.

TALKING ABOUT FOOLISH POSITIONS, I RECENTLY READ AN ARTICLE WHERE A BRITISH EXPERT ON CLIMATE CHANGE WROTE THAT HE REFUSES TO GO TO THE BBC ANYMORE BECAUSE HE WILL NO LONGER WANT TO BE PRESENT WHEN THERE'S SO-CALLED CLIMATE DENIER SKEPTICS ON THE SHOW.

I WAS SPEAKING ABOUT THAT ARTICLE WITH A FRIEND OF MINE WHO IS A CLIMATE CHANGE ACTIVIST ON THE WEST COAST AND HE SAYS, I THINK THAT'S EXACTLY WRONG, THIS IS WHAT WE'VE BEEN DOING WRONG FOR MANY YEARS.

WE HAVE THE TRUTH ON OUR SIDE, WE HAVE THE FACTS, AND PEOPLE TEND TO SEE PEOPLE WHO DON'T WANT TO DEBATE AS PEOPLE WHO ARE AFRAID TO DEBATE.

SINCE WE HAVE THE FACTS, WE'LL TALK TO ANYBODY AND WE'LL WIN.

WHAT'S YOUR TAKE, WHO'S RIGHT?

YOU'RE ON TV, AND EVENTUALLY YOU UNDERSTAND THAT THIS IS A VISUAL MEDIUM.

AND PEOPLE DON'T OFTEN ACTUALLY PARSE VERY CLEARLY WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING.

THE TWO TALKING HEADS SHOUTING AT EACH OTHER REALLY JUST GIVES THE IMPRESSION THAT NOBODY KNOWS ANYTHING, IT'S ALL CONTENTIOUS.

THAT'S ACTUALLY MISLEADING, WHEN THE BULK OF THE EVIDENCE AND ALL OF THE SCIENCE IS ON ONE SIDE OF THE QUESTION.

IF YOU INVITE PEOPLE WHO WANT TO CLAIM THAT THE EARTH IS FLAT OR THAT WE NEVER LANDED ON THE MOON, YOU KNOW, PEOPLE WHO ARE WATCHING CAN'T TELL WHERE THE WEIGHT OF EVIDENCE LIES.

I DON'T THINK SO, GAVIN.

I THINK PEOPLE WOULD BE ABLE TO TELL THAT THE FLAT EARTHER IS A DOPE AND THEREFORE HE WOULD LOSE BADLY.

BUT LET ME GO TO THE OTHER GUESTS.

BILL?

I THINK THERE ARE AREAS WHERE THERE IS AGREEMENT AND UNDERSTANDING.

AND I'LL GIVE YOU AN EXAMPLE, LIKE NOT TOO LONG AGO, I WAS WITH A GROUP OF NEW YORKERS AND A GROUP FROM KANSAS.

AND THE CONVERSATION STARTED OUT WHEN THE NEW YORKERS USED THE TERM CLIMATE CHANGE.

THE KANSANS SAID, NO WAY, WE CAN'T HAVE THIS CONVERSATION.

AFTER SOME TIME, AND IT WASN'T SHOUTING, IT WAS CONVERSATION, THERE WAS TALK FROM THE KANSAS, WELL, WE LOVE WIND TURBINES, BECAUSE THEY PUT REVENUE IN THE POCKETS OF FARMERS AND RANCHERS.

SO THE MORE WIND TURBINES IN KANSAS, THE BETTER OFF OUR FARMERS AND RANCHING FAMILIES ARE.

THEN WE STARTED TALKING ABOUT DROUGHT/FLOOD, DROUGHT/FLOOD, AGAIN, NOT TALKING ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE.

THAT LED TO A WHOLE DISCUSSION ABOUT HOW CAN YOU START REPLANTING FORESTS AND NATIONAL VEGETATION ALONG THE RIVER SYSTEMS AS A WAY TO PREVENT FLOOD, KEEP TEMPERATURES COOLER IN SUMMERTIME.

EVEN WITHOUT SAYING 'CLIMATE CHANGE' AND HAVING AN ARGUMENT, WE FOUND A WHOLE BUNCH OF THINGS TO AGREE ON.

LOOK, THERE ARE PLACES, NEW YORK IS A LEADER, WE'VE GOT THE NATIONAL LEADING CLIMATE LEGISLATION NOW IN THE UNITED STATES.

ZERO NET EMISSIONS BY 2050.

KANSAS ISN'T ABOUT TO HAVE THAT LEGISLATION.

BUT THERE ARE A LOT OF THINGS THAT CAN GO ON IN THESE PLACES.

TEXAS IS A HUGE WIND ENERGY PRODUCER.

SO THERE ARE POSSIBILITIES WORKING AT THE STATE LEVEL, WORKING WITH LOCAL CORPORATIONS AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS.

HOPEFULLY WE'LL SEEING A CHANGE, WITH UPCOMING ELECTIONS ONLY A YEAR AWAY, IF FOLKS ARE VOTING FOR ELECTED OFFICIALS WHO BELIEVE IN CLIMATE CHANGE, THAT COULD CREATE A SEA CHANGE IN RESPONSE TO THIS YOUTH MOVEMENT AND EVERYTHING WE'RE SEEING TODAY.

I JUST WANT TO GET YOUR TAKE ON THIS, REBECCA, TO DEBATE OR NOT TO DEBATE, WHAT'S YOUR VIEW?

THIS IS A DIFFICULT TOPIC BECAUSE IN SCHOOL, YOU DEAL WITH PEOPLE YOU DON'T LIKE EVERY SINGLE DAY.

YOU WILL BE PUT IN CLASSES WHERE YOU HAVE TO TALK TO PEOPLE WHO HAVE OPPOSITE OPINIONS AND VALUES THAN YOU DO.

AND I THINK SOMETHING THAT I REALIZED OVER TIME AND SOMETHING THAT I FIND SO BENEFICIAL ABOUT HIGH SCHOOL IS THAT YOU LEARN TO PUT ASIDE YOUR EGO AND ACTUALLY HAVE DISCUSSIONS.

AND YOU FIND OUT THAT PEOPLE, REGARDLESS OF POLITICAL AFFILIATION OR REGARDLESS OF BELIEF, WE ALL WANT TO COME TO THE SAME SOLUTION.

WE ALL JUST HAVE DIFFERENT METHODS AND WAYS TO GET THERE.

AND I THINK THAT WE JUST NEED TO HAVE MORE DISCUSSIONS AND LESS YELLING, LESS FIGHTS, LESS ARGUMENTS, BECAUSE IT'S GETTING US NOWHERE.

WE'LL CLICK ON A TV PROGRAM AND SEE PEOPLE SCREAMING AT EACH OTHER.

YES, WE'RE DRAWN IN, I LOVE THE DRAMA, BUT WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?

LIKE, I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU'RE SAYING.

THAT'S THE CONCERN THAT GAVIN HAS.

OBVIOUSLY THEY HAVE TO TURN TO PBS.

GAVIN, LET ME GO BACK TO YOU.

AGAIN, READING THE MATERIAL, IT SEEMS TO ME LIKE CLIMATE CHANGE DOUBTERS, AS THE AP PUTS IT, HAVE A LIMITED REPERTOIRE OF ARGUMENTS THAT THEY USE TO MITIGATE OR DISMISS THE SERIOUSNESS, THE GRAVITY OF THE CONCERN.

I WONDER IF I CAN HIT YOU WITH A FEW, FOR YOU TO RESPOND TO THESE ARGUMENTS THEY USE.

ONE ARGUMENT IS THE EARTH HAS SEEN PERIODS OF GLOBAL WARMING BEFORE IN THE HISTORY OF THE PLANET, EVEN LONG BEFORE HUMANS WERE AROUND TO EMIT CARBON DIOXIDE INTO THE ATMOSPHERE.

OH, OF COURSE.

AND HOW DO THEY KNOW THAT?

THEY KNOW THAT BECAUSE CLIMATE SCIENTISTS HAVE TOLD THEM, RIGHT?

WE'VE BEEN RESEARCHING THE HISTORY OF THE PLANET AND ALL THE DIFFERENT THINGS THAT CAN CAUSE CLIMATE CHANGE FOR A CENTURY.

YOU KNOW, WE HAVE THE ICE AGES, WE HAVE WOBBLES IN THE EARTH'S ORBIT, WE HAVE ASTEROID IMPACTS, EVEN THE EVOLUTION OF LIFE ITSELF HAS CHANGED THE CLIMATE OF THE PLANET.

BUT NONE OF THOSE THINGS ARE RELEVANT RIGHT NOW.

RIGHT NOW WE'VE LOOKED AT ALL THE DIFFERENT THINGS THAT COULD BE GOING ON, THE SUN, THE VOLCANOS, THE ORBIT, DEFORESTATION.

WHEN YOU ADD IT ALL UP, WHEN YOU PUT IT ALL TOGETHER, WHAT YOU FIND IS THAT THE RECENT TRENDS ARE ALL BECAUSE OF US.

SO BILL, THIS IS ONE THAT YOU AND I HAVE TALKED ABOUT BEFORE.

WE SHOULDN'T ASSUME THAT GLOBAL WARMING IS A ZERO SUM GAME, THAT WHILE SUM PARTS OF THE WORLD WILL BE DAMAGED BY CLIMATE CHANGE, OTHERS WILL BENEFIT AS WILL SOME ANIMAL SPECIES.

YEAH, THE WAY I THINK OF IT IS, THERE ARE JUST GOING TO BE -- THE PEOPLE WHO ARE GOING TO LOSE ARE GOING TO LOSE SO, SO BADLY.

AND THIS IS SOMETHING THAT'S GOING TO BRING HOME THE INEQUITIES IN THE WORLD.

SO THE COUNTRIES THAT HAVE MAJOR RESOURCES WILL FARE MUCH BETTER THAN THOSE WHO DON'T.

IN A COUNTRY LIKE OURS, THE STATES THAT HAVE MORE RESOURCES.

EVEN PLACES THAT PEOPLE THINK ARE GOING TO BE CLIMATE HAVENS SOMEHOW, YOU KNOW, WE HAD 2 MILLION REFUGEES A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO MOVING AROUND AND GOING INTO EUROPE.

PREDICTIONS ARE BY THE END OF THIS CENTURY, 100 MILLION CLIMATE REFUGEES.

EVEN IF YOU'RE IN A PLACE THAT'S FARING BETTER AS A RESULT OF CLIMATE CHANGE, THERE'S GOING TO BE A LOT OF PRESSURE ON THOSE PLACES BY PEOPLE WHO ARE LITERALLY REFUGEES FROM PLACES THAT ARE SUFFERING FROM CLIMATE CHANGE.

SO THAT DON'T CARRY ANY WATER FOR ME.

WHAT ABOUT THIS, REBECCA, THAT WE SHOULD NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE HUMAN ABILITY TO INNOVATE AND ADAPT TO CONSEQUENCES THAT SURROUND US, THAT EFFECT US, THAT WE'VE DEALT WITH CRISES BEFORE BY INNOVATING AND ADAPTING.

WHAT DO YOU SAY?

I THINK THE HUMAN RACE HAS INNOVATED SOME INCREDIBLE PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY.

BUT SEEING HOW RAPID AND HOW FAST CLIMATE CHANGE IS GROWING, I THINK THAT THE HUMAN RACE ISN'T DOING ENOUGH AS QUICKLY AS WE SHOULD.

YES, THERE COULD BE TECHNOLOGY THAT COULD STOP CLIMATE CHANGE BUT THE ONLY TECHNOLOGY THAT WE REALLY NEED IS US.

WE NEED TO STOP POLLUTING THE EARTH AS MUCH AS WE ARE.

WE NEED TO HOLD OTHER PEOPLE ACCOUNTABLE.

YES, TECHNOLOGY CAN HELP US TREMENDOUSLY, BUT WE NEED TO TAKE A STEP BACK AND REALIZE, OKAY, YES, WE'RE CREATING MORE TECHNOLOGY, BUT WILL THAT POLLUTE THE PLANET MORE?

HOW CAN I HELP THE PLANET WITHOUT SPENDING SO MUCH MONEY?

I CAN SAVE SO MUCH MONEY BY USING LESS PLASTIC BOTTLES.

ALTHOUGH IT'S SMALL PERCENTAGE, HOW MUCH IT'S GOING TO AFFECT THE CLIMATE, IT'S DOING SOMETHING.

SO WE'VE TOUCHED ON THIS A LITTLE BIT THROUGHOUT THE HALF HOUR SO FAR.

GAVIN, LET ME ASK YOU, WHAT IS TO BE DONE?

WHAT ARE THE IMMEDIATE STEPS THAT WE NEED TO TAKE IN ORDER TO MITIGATE THE POSSIBLE WORST CONSEQUENCES IN THE LONG RUN?

WE NEED TO BE REDUCING CARBON DIOXIDE EMISSIONS AS SOON AS WE CAN.

WHETHER THAT IS A CARBON TAX FOR CAP AND TRADE, OR MANDATES.

IT COULD BE A WHOLE SUITE OF DIFFERENT THINGS, IN DIFFERENT SECTORS AND IN DIFFERENT REGIONS.

BUT THE KEY THING FOR REDUCING FUTURE DAMAGES IS TO REDUCE EMISSIONS.

AND THAT IS SOMETHING WHERE THERE REALLY IS A WORTHY DEBATE TO BE HAD.

WHAT DO WE NEED TO DO?

I THINK IT'S BE COURAGEOUS.

IT'S, HAVE THE WILL, HAVE THE DETERMINATION.

THE TECHNOLOGY IS HERE.

WITH THE TECHNOLOGY WE HAVE TODAY WE COULD MEET OUR 2050 GOALS BY 80%. WIND AND SOLAR COULD GET US 50% OF THE WAY THERE NOW.

THAT GIVES US THE TIME TO DO THE INNOVATIONS, FIGURE OUT THE THINGS WE NEED, USE NATURE, A THIRD, MORE THAN A THIRD OF GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSION REDUCTIONS CAN BE ACHIEVED THROUGH FORESTS, WETLANDS, HEALTHY GRASSLANDS, BETTER AGRICULTURAL PRACTICES.

THIS IS ALL AT OUR DISPOSAL.

IT'S REALLY JUST ABOUT COURAGE.

REBECCA?

I THINK WE JUST NEED TO GET OUT THERE AND VOTE.

YOU KNOW, THE ELECTION IS COMING UP.

WE NEED TO VOTE OFFICIALS AND REPRESENTATIVES WHO WE THINK WILL REPRESENT US.

I THINK WE SHOULDN'T BE AFRAID.

WE SHOULD BE COURAGEOUS AND GO AND LOBBY AND PUT NEW LEGISLATION IN AND HELP OTHERS REALIZE THAT CLIMATE CHANGE IS A REAL THING, AND IT'S NOT GOING TO STOP ANYTIME SOON UNLESS WE DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

ON THAT POSITIVE NOTE, WE'LL END IT THERE.

GAVIN, BILL, REBECCA, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US FOR THIS VERY IMPORTANT CONVERSATION.

THANK YOU.

Announcer: 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY JAMES AND MERRYL TISCH SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ ROSALIND P. WALTER BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG AND BY -- ♪♪ -- Captions by VITAC --

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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