tv 2018 Annapolis Book Festival - Discussion on the Environment CSPAN April 29, 2018 2:15am-3:16am EDT
conversations]. welcome back to the 2018 annapolis book festival it's great to have you all here here in annapolis not far from the sea which is rising as we speak. those of you at home or in high ground you can watch it for the next hour. we've a couple of good books to talk about on the subject of climate change i should
tell you that the term of art in the science is a tipping point and i think there are some reasons to believe when it comes to politics and public perception we might be at a tipping point but it's truly the best of times in the worst of times. i fewer debates in newsrooms about getting the other side to talk about climate change i tell them now we don't get the other side to talk about the merits of whether the earth is flat or not. and it usually allows the discussion to move on. i spent a lot of time fending off the journalistic constraint on the one hand. it is bought and paid for to so-called balance out. review science.
another piece of good news. seven and ten americans now believe climate change is happening we should applause -- applaud that. that was not given too long ago. 51% say we should do something about it but only half of them think all of this has to do with human activity. we still have some work to do. when asked if they would spend $10 a month more for climate change acts in policies 60% are opposed to that idea. we have this mess in washington that we don't need to detail too much for you. i will tell you this in the absence of leadership by the administration they had deniers and skeptics. in the absence of that icy some good news in places like annapolis in sacramento.
and new york city where local leaders and state leaders are taking action and this is my attempt to where rose-colored glasses. to the extent that what is happening at epa and mr. pruitt has perhaps ignited some grassroots concerns that maybe wasn't there. maybe they poked at the bear a little bit. maybe people are coming around and just maybe this could backfire on those that want to continue business as usual with the calamities that lie ahead. they are detailed starkly frankly in these books. it's written by denise robbins who is sitting here right now.
with the teams of authors give us a little talk. that should give us about 20 minutes for questions afterwards. and then the madhouse effect. and driving us crazy michael man who is a legend among atmospheric scientists. for those of you that follow the story. many times over now. the bunkers could've debunked it by now. the pulitzer prize winner.
it has done very well. thank you for assigning your life to that. i would also like to honor and the co-author who could it be here today. if you'd like to see the picture he's there. if he's there today. he would i was 25 and 75. it's about climate refugees and i just wanted to let out what is a target refugees. someone his home has been coming uninhabitable. they have no choice but to
they are displaced due to climate and weather events. that's about one person getting displaced from climate and weather events every second. about 200 million people by 2050. the region of the world most well-known. people feel like they have to move if they want to live. the former president. who held a press conference underwater. right before the united nations conference in 2009 to lower their carbon emissions.
there is also a lot of interesting cases right now happening in the past several years. we had people seeking refugees. and they are not formally protected. it is a very rigid definition. you need to be clean because you are persecuted. for your race or ethnicity. interesting case is when a lawyer try to argue on behalf of the family leaving. they were being persecuted by puzzle -- fossil fuels. that doesn't really work out because the question then becomes why are you trying to move to a place it's more of what you are being persecuted by. it doesn't hold up to this definition.
the definition needs to change. and the type of people that seek refuge should get that help. while this is an issue in the pacific islands. right now it is seeking into the gulf of mexico. it has lost 98% since 1955. in a native american tribe there has no to write very for the climate refugees because they actually refused government assistance. to go to higher land in louisiana. that has been in many years many years in the making and they haven't actually moved yet. it has been solved under the trump administration.
with stream weather. hurricane maria and puerto rico was the worst hurricane in the past 100 years. resulted in the entire island having a blackout. and hundred 85,000 puerto ricans have been permanently relocated. i will say it's interesting that no one brought up the refugee versus the evacuate debate with hurricane maria. and may because people don't consider them to be americans. that was another interesting thing to come out of that. warmer oceans and air.
to rebuild these communities. sometimes there is no turning back. to the communities that are going to get rebuilt. when we were working on this book the syrian refugee crisis really took off and exploded and it was also very interesting. connecting the root causes of this crisis to climate change. and that has to do with farmers. what happened in syria among many other things to make it drought and i forget which is exact scientific term. this caused 75 percent of agricultural land to suffer
80% of the cattle the million farmers ended up leaving their communities and moving into the cities because that way of life was no longer obtainable. we have this massive influx into the city and people of different ethnicities and backgrounds meeting for the first time. that then led to crackdowns. and massive civil war. scientists are able to point back to that and say climate change made this three times more likely to happen.
from the southern state. it's a very difficult decision to make. leaving your community and trying to make a new life. in fact there is a lot of cases like this. i want to mention we also have solutions to addressing these threats. on one of them is to address agriculture practices. that have historically been large monoculture basically a
lot of farming practices can be changed to address things like drought in africa as an example of that it's pretty cool. the region right under the savanna desert has been facing a lot of several african countries got together and decided to address this and came up with something called the great green wall. they would literally fill the forest and try to stop this from happening. that would keep moisture in the ground and help the natural ecosystem regrow. it didn't exactly work out but ended up being a metaphorical
wall. that have actually been working and stopping that there. a sealevel rise. by adapting to it. there are also humanitarian measures that countries can take to take the definition into their own hands. new zealand has this pilot program where they are issuing a hundred visas to claimant refugees a year. so people in the pacific islands can achieve refugee status in the country. due to climate change. this is just a pilot program and it's something that could be dial-up if it works. it elsewhere. the best way to solve the problem is try to prevent it from happening in the first place.
very quickly doing everything we can to switch to renewable energy very quickly doing everything we can to switch to renewable energy is just some other campaigns that my current organization is working on in maryland. just to close before we turn it over i wanted to emphasize that we wrote this book to emphasize that climate change is a human problem not an environmental problem these times and in numbers and statistics they aren't personal accepting the fact that they show how this problem is going to touch every person in the world. eventually and if you know anyone that was in puerto rico or texas or california you probably already know this. it's just a hammer home the idea that climate change is not about saving the cheese is
a world of action and a world of acceptance. is a world of action and a world of acceptance. i appreciate that. take it away with michael and tom. while we're waiting for were waiting for that i will just jump in here and think denise very much this is a title the title of our book to the left and the authors standing in the little tiny thermometer world on the right. i want to think all of you for taking the time to come and listen to this. it means you some interest meetings like this are an example of the failure in the salvation about democracy the
failure is people and government are not responding to a problem that is a crisis it's groups like this that come together that can help put the pressure on to get the the governmental problems solved in the climate problem solved. michael is a hero of mine. think about how funny it is a claimant scientist is here in a room like this talking about getting people to understand this problem. his job is to do the science and is laid out. his work has been done for the most part 20 years ago that is all he needed to do in theory he and other scientists discovered the problem communicated the problem and in all these decades we had been pestering this question
from every single possible way. there is nothing left to debate about it and yet here we are he's in the position not only that his science it was deliberately made. to destroy him personally and professionally. he is still fighting for the climate and if that is not a definition of a hearing i don't know what one is. for the work that he is doing over the years using this part. for doing some of the hardest hittingcommentary in our
meeting today. many of the issues that challenge us but of course climate change in particular so it was a delight with this project came together working with them to tell the story. it's a story about the science and about the politics. the climate change denial is driving us crazy. we've a book about climate change based on cartoons. that's something we might be
able to get the president to read the paperback edition of the book comes out later this spring and tom and i have a lot of trouble getting everything that's happened over the last year and a half into one chapter we strived to do so and the chapter is returned to the madhouse. we will talk a little bit about the way we like to do this we have a tagteam approach where we put up our cartoons and tom provides the artist and the commentary and i comment on the science. this came up earlier this issue of skepticism. it's a very important thing science. the great carl sagan described as the connecting machinery of science. too often we allow those who are not at all skeptics their contrarians they are climate change deniers projecting the
overwhelming consensus of the world scientist based on the flimsiest of arguments that don't hold up to the slightest bit of scrutiny. and too often those who call themselves as skeptics in the climate change discourse are really just cranks dressed up as galileo for every galileo there are thousand bozo the clown's. and too often it's the voice owes voices -- the bozo i will just add to that. it's actually worse when they're not genuine skeptics they are deliberate liars they are taking the vocabulary and the methodology of science and deliberately prostituting it to make political points to
confuse the public to give that motivated policy for elected officials a cover to not do anything but the fundamental aside from the fact that we are destroying the planet which is a big enough planet -- problem the policy issue that is so egregious here is the introduction of the lie into public discussion everybody comes to policy discussions every american and everybody in the democracy with some level of evidence of fact k we will present your case with a certain emphasis here and there. we are past that. this is the introduction of the big lie into american
politics and it is destroying we are destroying our politics as a functioning democracy by allowing the sly and the acceptance of line just out and out lying is an acceptable part of american politics i'm not kidding about that. i'm in washington every day. i know the people and government. even the bad actors know that they are lying. they understand it but they feel like they can get away with not addressing the problem under the cover of life and its corrupting every single conversation that is happening in that city. and it has gotten at least twice as bad since 2016 and it
will continue. >> since this is a literary event we will quote upton sinclair. it's very difficult to get a man to understand something if his salary depends on him not understanding it. to interpret the ongoing campaign. and those who advocate for them to deny the overwhelming evidence of climate change. one of them is the way that we frame discussions denise did a really nice job in talking about these super storms this is not a coincidence. the fact that we are seeing record intensity around the world and the theory is actually pretty basic care.
it goes back to the laws of thermo dynamics. it provides more energy to intensify these storms and by the way a warmer ocean surface produces more moisture. when you have a system stall like harvey did in houston there were to record amounts of moisture in that storm available to produce record flooding. these unprecedented and super storms and wildfires in droughts and heat waves it's not a coincidence the impacts of climate change are no longer subtle we are seeing them play out in real time on our television screens in our newspapers. and the idea that you can't prove that. .. ..
there is no question that we are. this is a loophole that this is -- that we can lose a planet through. >> climate change denial, there is this hierarchy, the stages of denial. the most severe stage, the most fundamental stage of the nihilist estate is not happening. how many in this room have heard the claim by talking tos that global warming stopped, there was a hiatus in global warming? 2014 was the warmest year on record until 2015, which was the warmest year on record, until 2016 which was the warmest year on record, good news, 2017, not the warmest
year on record, only the second warmest. it is happening, it is not natural. as al gore tells us you do have to remove the frog at the end of the experiment. stuffed temperatures change all the time stovetop temperatures change all the time. no, the fact that people die of natural causes is not used as an argument to absolve the murderer. this is as absurd an argument as that. we can't explain the warming we have seen and all the other changes we have seen in the climate, increases in extreme weather eventss from natural causes. if it was natural causes alone the climate would have actually cooled over the last half-century. natural causes were acting in slightly the opposite
direction. some of the warming is caused by human activity, that is a copout, still a denial. what the science says is more than 100% of the warming is caused by us. natural factors were offsetting some of the warming. >> if you followed the history of the argument, the climate changes all the time is a recent addition. early on in the first half of the argument, the warming is going to show up, you will see the warming even if you don't see it now. the deniers said we don't see any evidence, there is no evidence. there was evidence but it was more subtle than it was now. they say if there were warming you would see it. where's the evidence? during that time the evidence became unmistakable. the atmosphere and the planet were warming, it was irrefutable. as soon as that happened, then they said it is warming but
that happens all the time. a new argument, when somebody keeps changing the rationale for doing what they are doing but the outcome is the same, protect the fossil fuel industry, a really good indicator of what the actual motivation is. >> it is happening, okay, maybe it is happening but it is natural. it is not natural, maybe it will be self-correcting, hundreds of feet of shiva level rise will the topical powered power plants. if it is not self-correcting it is a good thing. our epa administrator, scott pruitt, recently migrated to the new stage of denial that it is a good thing, it will help human beings flourish. what is magic about these arguments is they go down the same path of inaction and that is what special interests care about. they don't care about the nature of the argument but where it leads them.
it is not a good thing, it is too late to do anything anyway, this is a brilliant cartoon that appeals to my artistic sensibilities. it conveys how ridiculous that is. it is not too late. we can still take the action necessary to avert catastrophic warming of the planet but we have to act now, we have to transition dramatically away from fossil fuels towards renewable energy. anything to add? >> i want to save some time. >> geo-engineering, the title of our chapter, the idea here, maybe we will continue to burn fossil fuels but we will do
something else, we will engage in another unprecedented planetary intervention, shoot particles into the stratosphere, dump iron into the ocean and maybe we will get lucky and this will magically cancel out the effects of global warming. the title of our chapter is geo-engineering or what could possibly go wrong? i will leave it at that. the real path forward is policy, the paris accord, a monumental achievement that doesn't get us -- it gets us on the right path. it doesn't solve the problem but gets us on the right path. all the countries of the world save one, one president threatened to leave the paris accord, to pool out of the paris accord, the president appears to have problems with pulling out. the path forward. we run into this wall. it is not the wall that trump promised to build. it is this wall between the
evidence of climate change and the reality that trump himself denies. tom and i realized -- in august a year and a half ago, we didn't have a trump cartoon and realized may be this guy could be relevant to what happens in this election, we should include one and this was the cartoon. so what we have seen under trump is an effort by him and those he has appointed 2 offices like scott pruitt, the real ethical lapse we should talk about with scott pruitt, the real ethical lapse is to dismantle half a century of environmental protections that
were put in place by both republican and democratic administrations. that is the true ethical lapse for which you should be removed from office. we do face an uphill battle right now and it feels like the forces are aligned against us when we look at congress, when we look at the presidency and who occupies the oval office right now. the good news is a lot of progress taking place, seem to be turning the corner in how we frame this discussion. in public discourse, the state level, the city level, states banding together, northeastern states with virginia and new jersey joining in. all of these efforts to accelerate the transition, and to incentivize renewable energy, to accelerate the transition that is already
underway. if we don't like the directions our policies are taking, in 250 days we have an opportunity to say we want to see a different direction. we are making progress everywhere else, we need to make progress at the national level. we need a president who will get behind the global efforts, a prisonlike macron, and a congress that will support that action. we can make sure our voices are heard again. in 250 days at the voting booth we can say we once politicians who will act in our interests rather than for the special interests. the planet really does lie in the balance. >> i think -- >> thank you, gentlemen.
>> and start lining up. this goes back to what tom was talking about. in the scientific community. they call it the carl sagan effect, scientists, those days of publishing in the ivory tower, sending out papers and hoping it will change the world are over. you and jim henson and others, when you got into the scientific world, are you comfortable with it. i feel obligated to tell you you got to keep doing it.
it is a mission at the heart and soul of science. a couple words. >> i didn't come to politics, politics came to me. the atty. gen. of virginia tried to subpoena my personal emails. the effort was struck down by the courts, he went on to run for governor of virginia. i went on the campaign trail with his opponents, terry mcauliffe because i fully understood the threat the governor would represent to the governor of virginia. he won that election. can -- just to the south of us in the chesapeake bay area to work on an oyster farm on this island's upcoming to the effects of sealevel rise. it is true.
it is real. i didn't come to politics, politics came to me. when i realized i had an opportunity it wasn't what i signed up for, to do climate modeling but when i realized whether elected or not i was put in position to influence the conversation about the greatest challenge we face as a civilization. i feel privileged to be in a position to do that. if i were to do it over i would make the same decision. >> thank you for the dramatic -- [applause] >> you are focused on chesapeake bay now. i ran into an oyster man doing this story and he might be in tangiers which is greatly at risk and i was asking his thoughts on climate change.
he doesn't believe in it. i said you are literally campaigning to try to preserve your own island with seewald etc.. what is it you think of doing this? he says it is just the erosion. it is not, it is climate change. he refused to even enter into the lexicon of climate change. the run into that idea? people who are absolutely in the crossroads of this and still are reluctant to admit what is happening? >> yes. first of all, if you live somewhere people are telling you you have to leave, you will do everything in your power to not believe that. if you grew up there all your life, your family is there, accepting the science, taking it to the extreme level of your departure is a reason for people to shut down. especially in the case of tangier island, i recall
reading that the mayor reached out to donald trump early last year and asked him for help because the island is drowning and trump said you are fine. it is erosion. you will be fine. the pres. tells me i am fine, nice thing to hear. the culture of the island is something like 99% -- i can imagine if you're in a community work everyone bands together in disbelief, very difficult until it is at the point of being forced to move. hopefully other people can look at those instances and prevent it from happening to themselves. >> take some questions from the audience. go ahead. >> i want to thank the panel for an excellent overview and compelling subject.
what advice would you give an audience like this, primarily laypeople, on the most effective thing we can do as citizens, in addition to however we might vote and in addition to buying your excellent books? >> i will take a quick stab at that. because the nature of this is a collective action problem, recycling in your kitchen is not going to come as great as it is, is not going to solve climate change. i think the two things, the most important thing, i don't know, michael's reluctance to get into direct political advocacy, but as an opinion commentator i have no such
restriction. november is critical. look at where the biggest problem is, the united states government right now, look what tools are available, i would say do everything in your power to overturn the current house and senate. it will not solve the problem, but it will be a significant step in the right direction. other than that, i would try to become engaged in some environmental organization of your choice, local or national, to reinvigorate those organizations with members, with money, and that is again a large-scale approach. it is such a big problem that you have to think globally, act locally. think globally and act nationally and be my advice.
>> i agree completely. that is critical. we need a check on this white house and the efforts to dismantle half a century of environmental protections. voting is the easiest way to impact that. there are so many ways we can express ourselves, use our voices. what gives me optimism is what we have seen, we talked about tipping points, we are in the midst of a cultural tipping point in how we think about guns. common sense gun laws. we went through a tipping point moment some years ago on marriage equality. we are going through a tipping point moment on guns and one of the reasons is these kids who have found their voice, kids who have grown up in a world of social media and they are
basically out doing nra lobbyists, this huge sort of infrastructure that exists to pollute our public discourse but these kids have found a way to penetrate through that noise and the moral authority of their voice has allowed them to connect with the american people in these kids have been on the sidelines for a couple decades. they haven't been voting, millennials have not been voting. we have seen the reawakening of that demographic and that has huge implications for potential to make progress on this issue. as they realized, if they want to protect their own futures they need to speak out and you are seeing that on climate
change as well. we can do things in our daily lives that reduce our carbon footprint and make us healthier, save us money, things we ought to do anyway to send a good message to friends and family and neighbors but to solve this problem we need action at the highest level and politicians to express our interests, not the special interests. >> i would like to emphasize, states and localities, taking policies into their own hands and federal administration policies. on top of changing the federal landscape, state policies to promote renewable energy and move away from fossil fuels are at a turning point. maryland and fracking last year which was groundbreaking victory. [applause] >> the organization i speak for, chesapeake climate, virginia and dc. getting involved with local
legislators, your voice is so much louder than calling your federal legislator. every single phone call, they actually track, that is important to them. so much higher. i would say to get most effective votes get involved in local policies. >> next question? >> good afternoon. you talk about optimism. if you have a greater sense of optimism, at the state level, we are probably going to hit our paris climates numbers anyway given the decline of coal, rise of renewable energy, i see china tripling use of
solar, wind power, how much optimism should we have that baby the private sector driven by economics will see the rise of more renewable energy and electric cars, not to discount washington but set them aside and move in that direction? >> there is a saying that the stone age didn't end for want of stones. the fossil fuel age will not end for want of fossil fuels. it will end because we found something better. the rest of the world recognizes that. the world is moving on. we are seeing dramatic movement towards renewable energy. at the stick of the us has gone from being a leader under the previous it ministration to being the skunk at the garden party frankly. the only question, the only decision we have to make is are
we going to be part of the solution, part of the great economic revolution of the century which is the clean energy revolution or are we going to get left behind at the train station? if we follow the current policies of this white house we will get left behind at the train station. this is about our competitiveness. i'm optimistic that the world is moving on and we will solve this problem. i want the united states to be part of that and that is something we can make sure happens. >> i have a different take on that. i'm torn between optimism and pessimism and my optimism is the technology is available, the recognition is coming. the problem is the clock is ticking. i am not sure you can use the word solve the problem at this point. it is making sure we don't -- we limit the number of degrees
and the amount of the problem. we have already got problems. you don't see a way to roll those back, you can build a seawall but that does not make the sealevel go down. it is a matter of time. there is debate how much time and how much warming. i don't think we have the opportunity to wait a second. putting a price on carbon almost by definition would accelerate the progress. >> one quick thought. our former national science advisor, john holderman, back when we had a science advisor in the white house, what is it we need to do, how is that we are going to confront this
problem? a combination of three things. adaptation, adapting to those changes that are now inevitable, and here in annapolis we will deal with several more feet of sealevel rise over the next century so no matter what we do, we have to adapt to those changes that are inevitable. we have to mitigate, prevent the changes that are still preventable by reducing carbon emissions by putting a price on carbon, incentivizing renewable energy. and adaptation, mitigation and one more option, suffering. we have to decide how much each of those is tolerable. it is my hope we will minimize this suffering, engage in adaptations that are necessary but we will mitigate those changes that we still can and we do that by getting off fossil fuels as fast as we can. >> one more question. >> good afternoon.
getting off fossil fuels faster. one of the ways we can do that, we can in our own communities start to change their home. i have a proposal, our proposal, nonprofits, if you create a foundation, nonprofits changing, green energy, you will show everyone how to do it and how it can be done and in addition you will learn what it costs and the cost to educate a full generation and a lot of kids are interested. witnessed the marjorie stoneman kids. they want control of their lives and their future. i say the name of the foundation -- >> can you get a question?
>> i have no question. >> say the name of the foundation. >> magical.org. i have copies of proposals with my website on it. >> one more question and we will call it. >> i am an educator and i teach fifth grade. the curriculum we have is filtering in education for our environment which is a wonderful thing, we have great problems -- programs going on. what i find difficult is the level of reading material that comes out for our students is way above their heads. very technical. >> pictures are good. >> my question -- >> oval office ready. probably good for fifth-graders. >> that is fantastic.
can you suggest any other resources as far as literature and if not, my challenge is the two of you, if you want to start developing educational material because we are here because we believe in this but i have a captive audience every day for 180 days. i can do so much with them and get them on board because they are the ones who will eventually make the policy decisions. >> i promise this lady and i did not talk before the event. my latest book which just came out on earth day is available online. a children's book, i collaborated with a children's author and illustrator. the title of the book is the tantrum that saved the world.
it is about a girl, becoming very frustrated because these animals keep showing up at her door, polar bears, swarm of bees, sea turtle, people as well who are displaced by climate change. she gets so upset that she throws this tantrum and decides she has got to do something about the problem. it is empowering and she creates the change she wants to see in the world and makes sure the adults in her life do the things necessary to make sure we don't degrade the planet for future generations. it is -- a sort of susie and quality. there is a second section which will provide context, the science behind how climate changes impacting them. the book is aimed at 55 to 10-year-olds and we think it
can grow with children. they can read the story, parents can read the story to them when they are younger. over time they can really appreciate the additional contextual material we provide and there is an action plan with it. how kids can make a difference now. thank you for that question. >> thank you for that one. we need a tantrum or two to make some change. michael man, denise robbins, thank you for being with us. [applause] >> sign some books now. [inaudible conversations]