Up | November 17, 2012
>>> the first time in what seems like a long while, the reality of climate change is back on the political agenda . like many of you, i spent this election season increasingly depressed about the climate's near total absence from the conversation. 19 days ago, the arrival of sandy and the death and destruction issue impossible to maintain. since then andrew cuomo has talked about climate change and so has president obama both when he was asked about it on his news conference and in his victory night victory speech.
>> we want our children to live in america that isn't burdened by debt, that isn't weakened by inequality, that isn't threatened by the destructive power of the warming planet.
>> what specifically do you plan to do in a second term to tackle the issue of climate change and do you think the political will exists in washington to pass legislation that could include some kind of attacks on carbon?
>> i am a firm believer that climate change is real, that it is impacted by human behavior , and carbon emissions . and as a consequence i think we've got an obligation to future generations to do something about it.
>> we must rethink and redesign for the long-term because extreme weather , as we have learned, is the new normal.
>> and at this week's settlement with bp of wasn't a reminder enough of the hazards of pursuing fossil fuels , there are new pictures of black elk oil rig where an oil k explosion and fire injured 11 people. even as the conversation has shifted, the stakes made more dramatically apparent and polling shows americans focused on climate peril, the basic political physics are almost as clear as the planetary physics. making a serious dent in climate change requires taking action that will cost huge almost incomprehensible amounts of money to the wealthiest and corporate interests in the history of the world . the main challenge climate hawks face isn't absence of policy but building sufficient political power to make those policies a possibility. joining me is bill mckib bon and founder of 350.org which has launched a do the math, alana shore from green wire and a night science journalism fellow at m.i.t. and jerry nadler , an msnbc contributor joy reid. bill mckib bon, i facetiously created you as a rock star because you're selling out big venues across the country. i've been seeing people tweeting about it. people not familiar with the math that you were talking about, what is the math? what are you trying to communicate on this tour?
>> this came out of this piece i wrote for rolling stone this summer that became one of their most shared pieces because it laid out finally the rock and the hard place.
>> we've got -- if we're going to keep the temperature from going up past 2 degrees, which is what everybody in the world, including the u.s. government has said is too high, that's the red line .
>> right. we want to keep it below 20 degrees. even that is going to cause a lot of dislocation and problems.
>> if we were smart we would stop way short of two. that's the best that nel one government will commit to. the scientists tell us we can burn about 550 gig dag tons more carbon, 550 billion tons more carbon which sounds like a hell of a lot but we're burning 30 some billion tons a year. we get about 15 years at current rates before we shoot past that threshold, and that's the good news. the bad news, the third number, the really scary one is that last year a group of financial analysts added up how much carbon the fossil fuel industry had in its reserves. that number's about 2800 gigatons or five times as much, and they're going to burn it. unless we figure out how to stop them, that's what exxon's share price is based on when pea body coal borrows money, that's their collateral. there's no room for doubt where this story goes.
>> we have this graphic to illustrate it. so the total amount of fossil fuel reserves, if you guys can put that up, right? that's $27 trillion. and then the amount that we can safely burn is about 5.4 trillion, right?
>> exactly. and safely in quotes.
>> safely. that little orange slice , that's the budget. right? that's the budget for here until whenever. as long as we can kind of.
>> 150 anyway.
>> we call civilization keep it going. the blue part is the part that has to be left in the ground.
>> exactly right. what that means since the oil industry and the coal industrial are intent on burning the blue part, what it means is, there and what the point we're trying to communicate with this do the math tour is that they're the equivalent now to the safety of the planet that the tobacco industry became to individual health. okay? these are outlaw companies. they're not outlawing against the laws of the nation. they get to write those. but they are outlawing against the laws of physics.
>> i want to jump in and actually deliver even worse news.
>> awesome, great.
>> sorry to bum folks out, but price waterhouse coop ser one of the biggest insurance firms in the world five days before the election came out with a report and the cover said too late for 2 degrees. bill's been doing this for longer than i have. they crunched the numbers. never since world war ii have we gone above 1% in our total decarbonization in terms of how much carbon we're able to stop burning, take out of the atmosphere, et cetera . never above one. they calculated for the next 39 years we'd have to go above 5%. we're currently averaging.7 to.8 decarbonization a year. he global agreement, but is it even possible?
>> unless we change very fast. we're going there.
>> think about the gargantuan sums of money those same industries spent to attempt to elect mitt romney and defeat president barack obama . i mean, these were the people, if you think about the koch amorphous. they are this industry.
>> they're pike teres compared to the biggest fossil fuel companies.
>> the biggest fossil fuel companies, i don't know if the biggest companies care that much who is in office. i feel like they.
>> i agree.
>> they genuinely feel they could basically work their magic on both sides.
>> you know, we're going to have a really interesting early test case. and that's this keystone pipeline thing that went away for a while because the president said we're going to spend a year studying it. well, you know, in the course of that year, mother nature filed her public comments. we will the hottest year in american history . we had epic drought. we melted the arctic and then we had this small storm that filled the new york city subway system with water. that aside, the oil industry is still pretty sure. the head of the american petroleum institute said last week we had implicit promises from the obama administration that we would approve this pipeline. we're going back to d.c. on sunday to thousands of us to remind the white house we haven't forgotten.
>> i want to talk about the pipeline. i do think there's good news on the horizon and some kind of breakup in some of the political stalemate that we've seen right after this break. people