NOW with Alex Wagner | July 03, 2012
>>> get set for another day of sweltering temperatures across the country, with triple digits expected in the midwest and mid 90s in washington , d.c. nearly two million people are still without power in our nation's capital and several midatlantic states after storms ripped through the area over the weekend, killing nearly two dozen and leaving a path of destruction . meanwhile, crews in colorado are finally gaining control of the most destructive wildfires the state has ever seen. the a.p. reports that climate change appears to be at the root of this wild weather, but newt gingrich says the d.c. power outages may just be a preview of an electromagnetic pulse . he tweeted this yesterday. friend and co-author bill fortune notes washington /baltimore blackout, mild taste of what an emp attack would do. is this just further proof that washington is completely in the dark on the severity of global warming ? joining us now from london is environmentalist and author, david de rothschild . david , always great to see you, always every time i see you, i feel like some horrible environmental catastrophe has befallen us and we once again return to the question of why our political class, our rulers, the ruling elite, do not -- are not more focused on environmental concerns . you would think that this happening in washington , d.c. would spur some sort of action or at least thinking on the subject.
>> you would think that would be the case. it's obvious, when i first heard this story i thought hang on, april 1st , that's past. it can't be an april fool 's story. i think what's happened is obviously sort of the common sense circuit board , if there is a common sense circuit board that goes into politicians' heads has been knocked out by the electrical storms. they are in the dark. it's just like what is going on, why are we seeing such a disconnect between our politicians and this issue of climate change . as you just stated, there is no norm anymore. we are seeing extreme weather patterns, this is not going to disappear. i want to know what are we going to do to start adjusting to the floods, to the droughts that we're seeing. everything is connected. let's not forget that we are on spaceship earth and when you start to think about the planet heating up, you know, we have to start looking at what's happening right now. we've got all the corn and soy which gets exported from the u.s., massive industry, reeling under threat from the heat. that will affect developing countries with the price of meat and commodities going up. all of these are massive issues that are connected. newt needs to get his circuit board back in line, try to plug in, suck up common sense if that's possible and start to rally serious action on this.
>> newt may have been actually the victim of an electromagnetic pulse . david , you bring in a really important point, actually, which is the economic side of this. too often i think environmental concerns are put in a box, sort of like do-gooders box. oh, we should worry about the environment but really, what you're talking about is a domino effect that environmental globalized business. how come that connection isn't made more often by the folks on the eco and environmental side of things?
>> a very good point. our economy is seen as a super structure that ultimately nature is a substrait that holds it all together. we have created this false dichotomy. we do disconnect. everything we touch, taste, wear, everything we rely on, products and services, come from nature. as we start to see resources dwindle, that will have an effect. let's just take the price of oil , if you look back at end of 2007 - 2008 , we saw this big price spike in oil. we see the economic collapse . we are starting to see oil going back up again. food commodities going back up again. it's not going to be a surprise when we see the markets responding with a dip again. it's so intrinsically linked. what we have to do is take our economy and make it a subset of nature in a smart way and say if we don't use these resources in a much more resourceful way, start finding some leadership, we really will see ourselves seeing these price spikes up and down. we're on the cusp of the third industrial revolution which is new forms of energy, clean green energy and we've got this pervasive nature of communication that's taking us horizontal with interaction with mobile devices , so why not start creating smart grids and start relying on other sources of energy. it shows you how reliant we are on one source of energy. if this is any indicator of the weather systems we're going to see we're really in trouble because it will only become more erratic. we need to start putting more eggs out of one basket as it were and start getting on solar, wind and alternative energy .
>> heather, what's really interesting to me, " washington post "/ stanford university poll asked americans is global warming the single biggest environmental problem. in march 2006 , 16% of the country thought it was the biggest environmental problem. in april 2007 , 33%. back down to 25% in july of 2008 . june of 2012 , 18% of the public thinks it's a serious problem. yet, asked subsequently if nothing is done to reduce global warming in the future, how serious of a problem do you think it will be for the u.s. 78% of the country thinks it's a serious problem. only 20% thinks it's not serious. there's a huge discrepancy between our desire to take actionable steps on this and our realization, the acceptance that it's a serious problem.
>> i think the extreme weather is actually really providing a tipping point for people where they're finally seeing how it comes home. there's a poll that showed that upwards of very much the majority, over 75% or 80% of the people were linking the extreme weather to climate change but it really is this question you raise is a very good one about the economic effects. demos has been doing reports to bring it home to different states and say what are going to be the economic effects of climate change in your state, because right now, the only economic consideration that unfortunately our policy makers are making is the one at the oil companies are really selling, this is going to cost oil jobs as opposed to it's going to cost tourism jobs when the beaches erode in florida, it will cost housing and development jobs in places where you won't be able to drive as far. so we just have this sort of narrow really unfortunately because of money and politics, sort of narrow constraint of what kind of economic considerations that we should be taking into consideration.
>> it doesn't help that the koch brother, big players in oil and gas , will spend $400 million on this election trying to make sure their guy's elected. robert, we talk about republicans and climate change and there was a time when republicans like newt gingrich sat on couches with democrats like nancy pelosi and talked about the fact that this was a bipartisan issue where action needed to be taken. i want to play a piece of sound from romney in june of 2011 talking about climate change and global warming . let's take a listen.
>> i believe the world's getting warmer. i can't prove that but i believe based on what i read that the world is getting warmer, and number two, i believe humans contribute to that. i think it's important for us to reduce our pollutants and greenhouse gases that may well be significant contributors.
>> there is mitt romney saying we need to reduce our carbon emissions , our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases .
>> are you surprised? it's a tag line but does anyone do anything? that's the tag line we hear.
>> also, david , months later at a fund-raiser in october, mitt romney said my view is that we don't know what's causing climate change on this planet and the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce co2 emissions is not the right course for us. what happened, robert?
>> well, i guess the republican primary happened. look, there's no question about it that mitt romney has shifted his positions based on the political winds and based on frankly the republican primary . but to go back to your original question, look, republicans from christine todd-whitman to george h.w. bush to newt gingrich to others said we have a major problem here. we can acknowledge we have a problem. the question is how do we solve it. a more progressive angle is maybe throw more money at the problem, perhaps x, y or z. the conservative angle is maybe we should do a, b and c. the question becomes who is that leader, a la al gore or someone like that, that can force a national conversation for republicans and for democrats to literally sit down on the couch and to be able to have a thoughtful conversation about how we move the country forward in a thoughtful way.
>> is that person david de rothschild ? david , are you ready to lead the revolution?
>> no pressure as i hold up the world here. listen, i think exactly the sentiments that are being said here, how do we act upon it. i think we have to basically just say look, conserve our resources, invest in green jobs . that's the real thing. there's a whole innovation race that could unfold that would create real jobs that would boost the economy, they wouldn't be these invisible stimulus checks that disappear into the ether, you know. this is a real problem and so i think we have to sometimes maybe move away from the politicians, look to business leaders, look to citizens on the planet to take control of the situation and vote in people who will use common sense when it comes to this issue. because without nature and without -- we haven't got anything.
>> david de rothschild , thank you as always. it is my great hope the next time you are on this show we will have made some kind of incremental progress toward tackling these problems.