NOW with Alex Wagner | June 04, 2012
>>> a new study shows that rising temperatures are creating pop-up forests in of all places the arctic tund ra. this is a photo of west siberia , and the scientists now say that in the last half century tiny shrubs have blossomed into small trees which comes as expert sas they 2012 is the warmest year in record for the u.s., but with all signs pointing to a changing earth why has the debate of global warming cooled? joining me is michael mann , author of "the hockey stick and the climate wars," and david de rothschildt, environmental and arth arthur. i want to start with you first, david , because you are furthest away and harder for you to jump in. as environmentalists and as the temperature of the earth increases the public appetite for climate-related issues seems to go down. a gallup poll from two months ago says, asks americans, how much do you personally worry about global warming a great deal or fair amount,55%, or little or not at all, 45%. now, the economy is certainly one motivating factor behind this, but what else do you think accounts for the broader sort of sense of disinterest around the environmental concern these days?
>> well, it is a good point. one of main thing is the narrative and the words that we are using to explain thing, and we went from global warming to climate change and now from climate change to energy security and kind of put it in a consumption issue rather than pollution or issue where we have to, you know, sort of act upon our everyday habits. we have changed the thenarrative a little bit. i always feel that if we were to turn around and call it flying fists of death or something, and people would sit up and go, oh, my god, this is sounding horrible. and change is good, and warming. who doesn't want a little warming? we have made the narrative sound a little bit too comfortable, and we are also getting green fatigue where i think that we have had the top-down approach and told people, you know, the massive issue, and do a little something small and it will be all right. and the energy of that is lost. so we have to stop personalizing it and really start articulating the severity of the situation at hand. really allow people to find the horizontal buy-in and not the top-down which makes people run away , and when you start to talk about the parts of carbon per mill meter in the air, you have to make it real in the narrative. so i pass the buck back to you and say it is the media's representation and how we talk about it.
>> i will be certainly talking about flying fists of death to gin up interest. and michaelle in the book, you talk about in the community dealing with tissue. you say that scientific truth at the end of the day is not enough to carry the court of public opinion . the resources necessary to amplify it play a dominant role, and those seeking to communicate the message are outfunded by powerful self-interests by a single goal to thwart efforts to regulate carbon emissions . and you point out that coal equals jobs, and how did we get to that?
>> well, we got to this curve called the hockey stick demonstrating that the recent warming is unprecedented in more than 1,000 years. we found ourselves at the center of these attacks funded in large part by the fossil fuel industry, and the front groups and individuals allied with the front groups who were seeking to discredit us, because our graph was an icon and it told a simple story, you don't have to understand physics and math to understand what the curve is taking you, there are unprecedented changes taking place in the climate, and if we continue on the course, we will see far greater impacts in the future.
>> the effort to discredit scientific study is breathtaking, because you talk about the e-mailing hacked into and a sort of, i won't say public witch hunt , but a version of that to really sort of undermine the information that you are putting out there.
>> absolutely. i have had a senator denounce my work on the senate floor, james inhofe who has declared that climate change is an elaborate hoax, and a hoax that we have the ice sheets and the global temperatures playing along with the hoax.
>> and it is a massive hoax if that is the case. go and i have been subject to attacks by people like joe inhofe, and joe barton the former chair of the house energy and commerce committee attempted to subpoena all of my personal e-mails, and the attorney general of virginia basically took a page from his playbook trying to do the same thing.
>> but, jonathan, when we talk about the political tactics and sort of the road forward for this, it is important and relevant to note that the koch brothers whose interests are in the oil and the gas industry are expected to spend $400 million on this november 2012 races.
>> which is more than mccain spent on everything.
>> on the entire -- yes. exactly. how do you change the thenarrative or at least move the ball back towards reality as it were?
>> clearly part of it is interest here, and like you say, fossil polluters who want the protect the business model , but there is more to it. if you go back and way back to 100 years the whole progressive tradition was to idea of bringing disinterested expertise and science into the policy-making and following the dictates to the extent that you could use these experts to help you craft better solutions to the public policy problems, but the conservative political tradition never bought into that. now, you had a long period in american life where the republican party made its peace with the new deal and government and had its own experts, and was part of this consensus style policymaking and we came to associate technocracy to create policy, but it is not. conservatives have gone way to the right and attacking this notion of government altogether.
>> david , we are going to have to leave it there, but i want to say, if you did the plas teaky teaky -- plasticy before, and are you taking the flying death, and have environment al issues drawn from that.
>> well, i will keep trying and we have to do our bit to move it from the political arena and take it to the people, and say this is much more than election year issue, but our future and we have to do something about it.
>> thank you, michael mann , and "the hockey stick of climate wars" and that is a great read. i encourage you the pick it up. and