SPECIAL EDITION: EARTH CRISIS GLOBAL CLIMATE STRIKE

September 20, 2019 at 6:30 pm

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. 

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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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