How do we explain the urgency of climate change? | Meet The Press | NBC News

Repost from NBCUniversal Media Village AND Meet The Press | NBC News
[Editor: NBC’s Meet The Press devoted its entire show today to the Climate Change crisis!  Chuck Todd summarizes, then interviews Michael Bloomberg, but the best part in my opinion is a panel discussion (video and transcript  below) with Kate Marvel, scientist at Columbia University and NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies; Craig Fugate, President Obama’s FEMA administrator; Michèle Flournoy, under secretary of defense under President Obama, responsible for national security threats created by climate change; Anne Thompson, chief environmental affairs correspondent at NBC News; and Congressman Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.), co-founder of the Climate Solutions Caucus.  After that, Todd interviews CA Gov. Jerry Brown.  Full transcript below – and you can see the Bloomberg and Brown videos at NBCUniversal Media Village. – RS]

[See NBC’s full transcript below, or go to NBCUniversal Media Village, for videos OR Meet the Press for the transcript.  – R.S.]

TRANSCRIPT

CHUCK TODD:

This Sunday, the climate crisis.

INTRODUCTORY SNIPPETS:

LESTER HOLT:

Brace yourselves for dangerous heat.

FELICIA MARCUS:

The drought we’re in is disastrous. Everyone ought to be worried about it.

GABE GUTTIEREZ:

Rainfall amounts really are staggering.

HURRICANE VICTIM:

About everything we own was destroyed.

KERRY SANDERS:

Water rushing into the streets. This is the eye wall hitting right now, the strongest winds.

ANNE THOMPSON:

Annual average temperatures in the U.S. could increase anywhere from 2° to 11°.

GADI SCHWARTZ:

Two fast-moving firestorms within miles of each other.

KATHY PARK:

So you can see how intense the flames are right now.

WILDFIRE VICTIM:

The garden of Eden just turned into the gates of hell.

CHUCK TODD:

The evidence is everywhere.

REPORTER:

How are you?

HURRICANE VICTIM:

That’s my place, so you can answer yourself.

CHUCK TODD:

The science is settled.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG:

It’s ridiculous to say it wouldn’t be better if the administration in Washington didn’t deny science.

CHUCK TODD:

But the politics is not.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN:

Climate change is real. And it is an urgent problem that we need to bear down on.

SEN. JIM INHOFE:

It’s a snowball from outside here. So it’s very, very cold out, very unseasonable. So Mr. President, catch this.

CHUCK TODD:

This morning, we’ll report on the challenge of climate change, the science, the damage to our environment, the cost, and the politics. Welcome to Sunday and this special edition of Meet the Press.

ANNOUNCER:

NBC News, the longest-running show in television history, this is a special edition of Meet the Press with Chuck Todd.

CHUCK TODD:

Good Sunday morning, and a happy New Year’s weekend to everyone. This morning, we’re going to do something that we don’t often get to do, dive in on one topic. It’s obviously extraordinarily difficult to do this, as the end of this year has proven, in the era of Trump. But we’re going to take an in-depth look, regardless of that, at a literally Earth-changing subject that doesn’t get talked about this thoroughly on television news, at least, climate change. But just as important as what we are going to do this hour is what we’re not going to do. We’re not going to debate climate change, the existence of it. The Earth is getting hotter. And human activity is a major cause, period. We’re not going to give time to climate deniers. The science is settled, even if political opinion is not. And we’re not going to confuse weather with climate. A heat wave is no more evidence that climate change exists than a blizzard means that it doesn’t, unless the blizzard hits Miami. We do have a panel of experts with us today to help us understand the science and consequences of climate change and, yes, ideas to break the political paralysis over it. Kate Marvel is a scientist at Columbia University and NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. And she writes the Hot Planet column for Scientific American. Craig Fugate was President Obama’s FEMA administrator for eight years. And he led emergency response for republican governor Jeb Bush of Florida before that. Michèle Flournoy served as undersecretary of defense under President Obama, where she dealt with the national security threat climate change poses. She’s also the cofounder and managing partner of WestExec Advisors. Anne Thompson is our chief environmental correspondent right here, at NBC News. And Congressman Carlos Curbelo represents the southernmost part of Florida, which is particularly threatened by climate change. Coming up, I’m also going to have conversations with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and California governor Jerry Brown, both of whom have been on the front lines, dealing with climate change over the last few years. But we’re going to begin with a look at a crisis that’s been ignored for too long.

REPORTER:

They say economic impact would be devastating.

DONALD TRUMP:

Yeah, I don’t believe it.

REPORTER:

You don’t believe it?

DONALD TRUMP:

No. No, I don’t believe it.

CHUCK TODD:

But in a new NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll, two-thirds of Americans believe action is needed to address global climate change. 45% say the problem is serious enough for immediate action, a record high. Climate-related disasters, from wildfires–

WILDFIRE VICTIM:

We lost a lot.

CHUCK TODD:

–to more intense storms, extreme rain events, and floods, are already a serious threat and getting worse.

HURRICANE VICTIM:

House is flooding. And it’s rising way too fast.

HURRICANE VICTIM:

I just was in such denial. I didn’t put anything up. I didn’t grab anything.

HURRICANE VICTIM:

I saw the water mark in my basement. It was over my nose. The drive down here was almost as bad as seeing my just gone.

CHUCK TODD:

Glaciers are disappearing. And Arctic ice melt is producing rising sea levels and rewriting global weather patterns. All five of the warmest years on record in the Arctic have come since 2014. And these rising temperatures have already cost the U.S. economy.

JOHN GILBERT (IOWA FARMER):

There’s consequences, serious consequences. We’re talking about, not necessarily, whether you and I have something to eat tonight. We’re talking about the survival of the human species over the long term.

CHUCK TODD:

This year, a series of climate reports, including one produced by 13 agencies in Mr. Trump’s government, issued dire warnings of economic and human catastrophe, if there is not immediate action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But the federal response to the climate crisis has been political paralysis and denial.

SEN. JIM INHOFE:

We keep hearing that 2014 has been the warmest year on record. I asked the chair, “You know what this is? It’s a snowball.” And that’s just from outside here. So it’s very, very cold out, very unseasonable. So Mr. President, catch this.

CHUCK TODD:

While the federal government lags behind, cities and states are attempting to lead their own climate efforts.

DALE ROSS:

We have wind turbines and solar panels.

CHUCK TODD:

Georgetown, Texas, mayor, Dale Ross, voted for Donald Trump. Last year, his city became the first in Texas to convert to 100% renewable energy to power its grid.

DALE ROSS:

What can those knuckleheads in D.C. do to regulate that that increases our cost?

CHUCK TODD:

Now, a growing group of democrats in Congress, pushed by grassroots progressives, who want aggressive climate policies, are calling for a Green New Deal.

REP-ELECT ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ:

This is going to be the Great Society, the moon shot, the civil rights movement, of our generation.

CHUCK TODD:

While some Democrats are mindful of the yellow jacket protests in Paris, sparked by anger at a fuel tax, a majority of Americans believe that failing to address climate change will be more economically costly than new regulations designed to prevent global warming. And Democrats eyeing the White House are highlighting an issue once considered a political liability.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN:

Climate change is real. And it is an urgent problem that we need to bear down.

GOV. JAY INSLEE:

Every democrat running anywhere in America needs to make it a central message. Because the American people are with us.

CHUCK TODD:

And joining me now is the former mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg. He’s the U.N. Secretary General’s special envoy for climate action, and the co-author of Climate of Hope. Mayor Bloomberg, welcome back to Meet the Press.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG:

Thank you very much.

CHUCK TODD:

So let’s start with — I just want your takeaway on the yellow vest movement in Paris. What, what went wrong in how France implemented what they did? What lessons are you taking away from what you’ve seen so far?

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG:

Well, what you have there is people who were asked to do something and didn’t understand what they were going to get out of it. You can take Jerry Brown, who stood up for a gasoline tax. Some people didn’t like it, but he got it through because people understood there was a problem. They didn’t have the infrastructure they needed. They needed to raise the revenue and they went and took that and taxed themselves, because there was a value to them. And I think the big problem that we have right now is we have a climate change problem. The world is getting hotter. There are bigger storms than ever before. There are droughts where we used to have floods, and vice versa. Our water is getting less, and we’ve got to do something about it. And so we have this great challenge, and we have an opportunity. The challenge is what we do about it, and the opportunity is the value of what we do. And that gets back to the same thing you were talking about in Paris.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to get you to react to something. You know, we picked a state randomly out of the hat to find people on the street to ask questions to you. So what did we choose? Iowa. I half kid. But this is Moe Cason, some barbecue fanatics will know who he is. Made an interesting observation about various climate change proposals. Take a listen.

[BEGIN TAPE]

MOE CASON:

I don’t care how good the idea is, I always feel that in the end someone or some organization is going to benefit financially from it. And the person that is getting it– hit at the end are the people that didn’t even craft it. Who didn’t even design it? You know, it’s your truck drivers, it’s your farmers, your people out on the road that are trying to make a living

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

This to me goes back to yellow vest, right? It is — when you talk do them, some of these yellow vest protesters are very much environmentalists. They’re just sitting there going, “I can’t afford this. How am I — I don’t live in Paris. I don’t have the same access to public transportation.” How do you solve that problem?

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG:

We have to find a ways — this guy you just had on television. He says somebody else is going to make money. We want to make sure that he is one of the beneficiaries. So what I’ve been doing is spending my own money helping to train him, and lots of other people like that, and they are the ones that I’ve got to make sure wind up with the skills to take advantage of the new jobs. People want recognition and respect. And too many people think, “I know what’s right for you, and don’t bother me with the details. I’ll — just let me do it.” That is why you had people in Paris in yellow jackets. That’s why you have people here who voted for Donald Trump, I would argue, is exactly that. That’s what Brexit is all about. Macron’s all about.

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG:

People are saying, “I don’t want to be told what to do.” I think that you can show somebody what’s available, and convince them to want it. And that’s what nobody’s done with the guy who just said somebody else is going to get rich. He can be one of the beneficiaries. He does — and incidentally, if companies don’t make money, they’re not going to create jobs, so you want them to be able to make money. But we have to match the skill sets with the needs.

CHUCK TODD:

What would be the impact if we re-join Paris today? The Paris agreement.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG:

Not a lot, because we are halfway there towards meeting our goals already. Somebody said, “Oh, you know, you’re never going to get this. It’s ridiculous to think that America is going to meet its goals.” We’re halfway there already, and there’s seven years left to go. The economics of coal mean nobody’s going to stop the reduction in the amount of coal. We have gone and done a whole bunch of things that we had promised to do under that agreement that Trump said we’re not going to do. He walked away. So we decided, we in the private sector —

CHUCK TODD:

But he hasn’t fully walked away, has he? I mean we did have representatives in Poland.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG:

He can’t pull out until 2020.

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG:

That’s the deal. Okay?

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG:

But, for example, he stopped — we, America owed some money to help pay for the management of these programs. He walked away from it. In the end, he did some of it, or the federal government did some, and I think my foundation gave them $5 million to pay what our obligation is. So he didn’t walk away from it because he didn’t have a lot to do with it. All of the things that have been done, or most of them, have been done by the private sector, individuals and companies.

CHUCK TODD:

Is that the real answer? Should we give up on government?

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG:

No, government — it would be a lot more helpful if we had a climate champion rather than a climate denier in the White House. You know, I’ve always thought Trump has a right to his opinions, but doesn’t have a right to his own facts. And the truth of the matter is this country and this world is in trouble. The ice caps are melting and the storms are getting greater. In South Carolina about a month ago they had three feet of rain. Do you know how high — three feet is from the floor to here.

CHUCK TODD:

What do you think people — why do you think people want to deny climate change?

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG:

Well, number one, people don’t. Or —

CHUCK TODD:

You think that’s a phony argument when they say they deny it?

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG:

No, some people do.

CHUCK TODD:

Okay.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG:

But we did a lot of polling. I supported 24 Congressional candidates. Twenty-one won. And we did lots of polling as we were creating ads for them. One of the things we polled was climate change. 75% said they believed in climate change. If you go to — you mentioned Iowa. Iowa now generates one-third of its entire energy from wind. They in a few years will be 100%. There’s a town, Georgetown, Texas–

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG:

— with a Republican mayor. 100% renewables. So there are people that are doing things. There are places that are doing things. And people believe. You look out your window and you see forest fires and maybe it’s going to hit your house, you’d become a believer pretty quickly.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. Let’s talk about a – how a presidential campaign, and sort of a presidential focus. There are some people that say climate change is a policy paper you put out, and there’s others that say every proposal that you do now in Washington has to be through the lens of mitiga — of dealing with climate change, whether, you know, whether it’s your economic plan. Where are you on that?

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG:

I think that any candidate for federal office better darn well have a plan to deal with the problem that the Trump science advisors say could basically end this world. Even his science advisors —

CHUCK TODD:

But is that fair that all pres — you know, if you run for president, and if you happen to do it, that all your policy proposals will be through the lens of — is it —

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG:

Look, Chuck —

CHUCK TODD:

— climate mitigation?

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG:

— the presidency is not an entry level job. Okay?

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG:

We have some real problems. If you don’t come in with some real concrete answers, I think the public is tired of listening to the same platitudes that they get. “We’re in favor of God, Mother and apple pie. And trust me, I’ll have a plan when I get there.” No. You have to have a plan. And I can tell you one thing, I don’t know whether I’m going to run or not, but I will be out there demanding that anybody that’s running has a plan. And I want to hear the plan, and I want everybody to look at it and say whether it’s doable.

CHUCK TODD:

Before I let you go, what’s your timeline on deciding whether you run or not? And what would be the factor if you didn’t?

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG:

Timeline is beginning of the year, end of January, into February maybe. There’s no rush to do it. Everybody wants to know what you’re going to do, and the bottom line is I’m not sure yet. I care about a bunch of issues. I care for my kids. I care for this country that’s been so good to me. And I want to see how I can help the best. Right now, my foundation and my company, I give 100% of the company’s profits, or my share of them, to the foundation. We support an awful lot of things that we’re doing that let us explain to people how to do things and give them options. Not telling them what to do, but I think I can make the world a better place in the private sector. Can I make it a better place in the public sector? Maybe. I loved 12 years in city hall. I think it’s fair to say most people liked what we did in city hall. Do I think I could be a good president? Yes. I’m not the only one that could be a good president. I disagree with our current president on so many things that I don’t even know where to start there.

CHUCK TODD:

I assume a lot of this has to, will — are you trying to figure out if the Democratic Party is going to accept you?

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG:

Well, you would have to — I would certainly run as a Democrat. I’m much closer to their philosophy, although I don’t agree with any one party on everything. You would have to run as a Democrat. You would have to get the Democratic nomination. And I think if you go out and you explain to them what you do — keep in mind, I got elected in New York City, an overwhelming Democratic city, an overwhelming minority city, and I got elected three times. So I must know something about this.

CHUCK TODD:

Michael Bloomberg, it’s always a pleasure to talk with you. Thanks for coming on and sharing your views.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG:

Thanks.

CHUCK TODD:

When we come back, it’s our panel of experts. They join us on the environmental and economic risks and consequences of climate change.

[BEGIN TAPE]

REGGIE DUPRE:

We are sinking by, I think, it’s 3 millimeters a year. And that doesn’t sound like much. But you go into 40 years, 50 years, and you start to notice differences when you already are only slightly above the water.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

Well, let’s jump right into the panel. And as I said at the beginning of the show, no offense to everybody else here, but we’re going to start with the scientist. Dr. Marvel, I think the question here is, how do you explain the urgency to Americans, right? That has been, I think, the challenge. And I think it came through during the Michael Bloomberg interview. Explain the urgency of what we’re facing.

KATE MARVEL:

Oh, my gosh. I wish I knew. I wish a had a good answer for this. Because as scientists, what we want to do, what we’re always tempted to do, is show more data and more graphs, like there’s going to be some magic equation that’s going to convince everybody. And there isn’t. You know, I don’t think that a lot of the reluctance to accept climate change, I don’t really think that’s about the science. I think that’s about values. I think that’s about the sort of deep story of how people see themselves. So I think it’s really important for scientists to go out in communities, engage with what’s important to people in communities.

CHUCK TODD:

It feels overwhelming.

KATE MARVEL:

It is overwhelming.

CHUCK TODD:

The science feels overwhelming. I’ll be honest. It just does. Is there a way of figuring out how to prioritize the challenge?

KATE MARVEL:

I mean, that’s the thing. It is overwhelming. Because we are talking about something that affects the planet that we live on. We’re talking about global warming. But we’re also talking about changes to rainfall patterns, changes to extreme events, like heat waves and floods and droughts and hurricanes. So it should feel overwhelming, because it is overwhelming, I think.

CHUCK TODD:

Anne, you’ve traveled the globe for us to try to show us what’s happening, not just say what’s happening, show us. And we’re doing our best to show pictures. It’s a challenge.

ANNE THOMPSON:

And that’s important. Because I always liken climate change to cancer. They’re both such huge issues. They’re really hard to get your head wrapped around it, if you will. But if you look at pictures, take a trip to Glacier National Park, out in Montana. In 1850, when the Industrial Revolution started, and we started burning coal and sending greenhouse gases in the air, there were 150 glaciers in that national park. Today, there are 26. And they’re in danger of losing those 26. They’re really threatened. If you look at things that we just know are happening around us, growing zones are moving north. Fish are migrating north to get to colder waters. We’re seeing changes here. That’s what convinces people that it’s happening. And I think the reason why we’re seeing more people believe in it today is because we’re now starting to live climate change in real time in the United States.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, speaking of that real time, I think it’s the financial impact that, maybe, will start sparking things. The National Climate Assessment, it said the following, “With continued growth in emissions at historic rates, annual loses in some economic sectors are projected to reach hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century–more than the current gross domestic products of many U.S. states.” And just to put a finer point on this, look at this year. These are just headlines, quickly. This year alone disaster — the cost of three disasters. Hurricane Michael, $25 billion. Insurance claims for the California fires were up to $9 billion. $50 billion for Hurricane Florence. Craig Fugate, can you convince people with dollars and cents?

CRAIG FUGATE:

I don’t know if you’re going to convince them with dollars and cents. But I think you can convince them with just the sheer frequency of the events that are occurring. I mean, think about it. Every time they say, “This is a record-setting event,” almost all of our practices of how we prepare for disasters is looking at the past to prepare for the future. It’s not working. And look at all the money we’re spending. And the thing I like to remind people, when FEMA’s spending money, that’s for uninsured losses. We’ve seen one of the largest transfer, in the last 20 years, from private insurance to federal programs, like FEMA, HUD, the National Flood Insurance Program. Organizations like the Pew Charitable Trust is actually actually looking at the policy of, why are we growing disaster risk in the face of climate change, with policies that incentivize growth? We’re still providing flood insurance for people who build in a flood zone.

CHUCK TODD:

We shouldn’t be doing that?

CRAIG FUGATE:

And we just reauthorized it and punted again. There’s a lot of things we need to do with flood insurance. I have one simple answer. Why don’t we stop writing flood insurance for people in flood zones and let the private sector insure it? And if they don’t, why is the public insuring it?

CHUCK TODD:

All right, so if dollars and cents won’t do it, what about national security, Michèle Flournoy?

MICHÈLE FLOURNOY:

Well, it’s interesting. Because I think there is a very strong consensus, in the U.S. military and in the national security community, that climate change is real. This is a sort of pragmatic, clear-eyed view. And for the military, they see this as leading to a change in their mission, more humanitarian assistance, disaster-relief missions abroad and at home. They see the melting of the ice cap in the Arctic, that’s going to open up an area of strategic competition with both Russia and China.

CHUCK TODD:

Just pause. I mean, I don’t want to gloss over that. So here we are, worried about what the melting ice caps are going to do to our life. Meanwhile, it’s going to become a military fight.

MICHÈLE FLOURNOY:

Absolutely. There’s going to be new channels of commerce. And China and Russia have already kind of staked claims and made it very clear they intend to contest the space. But it’s also an infrastructure problem for the military. More than half of U.S. military bases and bases overseas are estimated to be severely impacted by climate change, either severe weather and/or flooding. That’s our ability to project power overseas. That’s our ability to operate our U.S. military. 50% of the facilities are going to be affected.

CHUCK TODD:

And we would have to redo — think about the cost of defense as it is today.

CRAIG FUGATE:

Look at Tyndall Air Force Base. It got hit by Michael. You had F-22s in hangars that were destroyed. And think how few of those we have.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. As you can see here, I was trying to make a point here. Can the economy do it? Can national security do it? Maybe the state of Florida can do it. Most important state in presidential politics, Carlos Curbelo. If Floridians change their mindset on this, it may force the country. I want to put in a few stats from that National Climate Assessment. There’s a one-in-20 chance that nearly half a billion dollars in property value in the state of Florida will be under sea level before the end of this century. And then I’ve got to play for you this. This is our hometown, not just your hometown, mine too, Miami, what a University of Miami geologist had to say about this. Take a listen.

[BEGIN TAPE]

HAROLD WANLESS:

I think somewhere, later in the century, Miami, as we know it, is going to be unlivable. So in reality, in south Florida, we’re just going to be leaving. We don’t have the problem. You, up in Orlando, you’d better set aside your groundwater resources. And you’d better plan for us. You really better plan. Because we are coming.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

Does Florida change the country’s mindset on this?

REP. CARLOS CURBELO:

It can. Because it’s where the effects of climate change are most evident. So we get tidal flooding in south Florida. In the Florida Keys, we get tidal flooding.

CHUCK TODD:

Explain what that is.

REP. CARLOS CURBELO:

So a king tide comes, meaning a lunar cycle. The tide is the strongest. And our roads literally flood.

CHUCK TODD:

This is once a month.

REP. CARLOS CURBELO:

That’s right.

CHUCK TODD:

No rain, no anything. That’s — okay, I just want to remind people what this is.

REP. CARLOS CURBELO:

Big threat to our drinking-water supply. The Everglades houses all of the water for south Florida. As the saltwater comes in, it threatens that drinking-water supply. Ocean acidification, as we get higher carbon dioxide content in the ocean, that kills our reefs, which of course, reefs are essential to ocean ecosystems. So I think the point Anne made is so important. We need to stop covering the debate and start covering the story, so that people see that this is real, and so that politicians take a more-pragmatic approach and find solutions that are actually achievable.

ANNE THOMPSON:

And if you think those high tides bother you once a month, wait until they happen every day. And that’s what the reports say. If we don’t do something about cutting our greenhouse gas emissions, that’s going to happen. And it’s not just going to happen in Miami. It’s going to happen in Virginia, in Newport News, where the naval bases are. And they’re already dealing with that high tide flooding. And it’s going to affect places like New York and Boston and Cape Cod and New Orleans. We’re going to have big problems.

KATE MARVEL:

I just want to say, I live in New York. And the subway is projected to flood every five years by the middle of the century and every year, by the end of the century. I don’t want the subway to flood.

ANNE THOMPSON:

Yeah. You think it’s miserable now, right?

CRAIG FUGATE:

I mean, this goes back to 2012, Superstorm Sandy makes landfall. We’re flying up to go see Governor Christie. And President Obama turns to me. He says, “Craig, the debate about climate change is over. We have to start talking about adaptation.” And this is what’s really hard. We’ve built so much infrastructure with lifespans and financing over the span. We always thought this was going to be something 50 years away. It’s now. And we haven’t built for this. And to change and to build for it, while we’re still denying it, we’re losing.

CHUCK TODD:

What’s the line — I mean, the displacement of Americans, how many millions of Americans, right now, live, basically, in an area that could be unlivable in 50 years? We’re talking millions, right, Dr. Marvel?

KATE MARVEL:

Many, many. Because the thing is, it’s not just Florida. It’s not just coastal communities. Warm air holds more water vapor. And so that means, even if you live in the Midwest you’re going to see increased downpours. The rain is really going to dump on them.

CRAIG FUGATE:

And for agriculture, the consequences are significant.

MICHÈLE FLOURNOY:

And if you look globally, you know, we are a pretty strong economy. We’re a very powerful nation. Think of all the countries that are going to experience massive population movements and have no wherewithal, whatsoever, to deal with that kind of pressure and the instability and conflict that that can create.

CHUCK TODD:

Okay, do you see how overwhelming this feels? And that’s why, I guess, Dr. Marvel, let me ask, what’s the one thing we can do right now? I mean, I think everybody wants to say, “Give me one thing.”

KATE MARVEL:

So the thing that I actually find kind of perversely comforting is the fact that we know exactly what’s causing this. Can you imagine if this were a natural cycle that we didn’t have any control over? But we know exactly what’s causing this. It’s us. It’s greenhouse gas emissions that we are putting in the atmosphere. And as a scientist, I can tell you, let’s not do that anymore.

CHUCK TODD:

So really, it’s just about those guys.

KATE MARVEL:

About these guys.

CHUCK TODD:

No offense.

REP. CARLOS CURBELO:

Well, yeah. And I’m not a scientist. That’s a phrase that’s been used in the past by politicians. But I do know this. There are two halves to this, right, mitigation, which means we reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and adaptation, where I think we’re starting to make some progress in the Congress, investments in coastal infrastructure, that will protect properties and will protect people from these effects.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. Well, we’ve done a lot on the science and a lot on the impact. Later, I want to get into sort of some practical ideas, including the carbon tax. Is that the right way to go? But let me pause here. When we come back, few states have been hit harder by climate change than our biggest state, California. Governor Jerry Brown joins us next.

[BEGIN TAPE]

FIREFIGHTER:

We’re charting areas and terrains, literally, that we haven’t been before in the last couple decades.

CHIEF BRIAN FENNESSEY: :

It’s no longer the new norm. This just is our norm. And we’re going to continue to see large fires grow faster than we’ve ever seen them.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. This year, California endured its deadliest, most-destructive wildfires in the state’s history. And that’s saying something. In early November, multiple fires burned at once, including what became known as the Camp Fire, which killed at least 86 people and destroyed close to 14,000 homes. The man who has led the state of California for a combined 16 years as governor is outgoing governor Jerry Brown. He’s been a champion of environmental causes and has been outspoken on this issue since his first term in the 1970s. And this morning, Governor Brown is at the state’s Office of Emergency Services outside of Sacramento, where the state’s emergency management personnel oversee disaster preparedness, response, relief, and recovery, which means it’s a 24-hour operation, sadly, all the time, these days. Governor Brown, welcome back to Meet the Press, sir.

GOV. JERRY BROWN:

Great. Good to be here.

CHUCK TODD:

So look you don’t say —

GOV. JERRY BROWN:

In fact, the first time I was here —

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah.

GOV. JERRY BROWN:

I was just going to say, the first time I was on the show was, I think, 1975. So —

CHUCK TODD:

Well, here we are —

GOV. JERRY BROWN:

— we’ve got a long history.

CHUCK TODD:

We do have a long history. It’s, the word, wildfire, is not in print anymore without the word, California, in front of it it feels like these days. You have, you have seen your share of wildfire seasons. You have seen your share of natural disasters. Try to put into context what we’re experiencing, what you’re experiencing this year and why it’s bigger than just a wildfire issue this time.

GOV. JERRY BROWN:

Well, it’s bigger, because the fire season, instead of being a few months around the summer, a little bit in the fall, is yearlong. And we saw that with the fires, both in the north and the southern part of the state at the same time. That hasn’t happened before. Usually, one would burn. Then it would stop. And then the southern part of the state would burn with the Santa Ana winds. So it, it’s new. And it leads not just to fires. It leads to, to mudslides. And then, of course, you’re going to see, with the heavy storms and rains. As the snows melt faster or the rains, or don’t come at all, we’re going to find a lot of inundation of a good part of the state. So we see it. We see it in the fear in people’s eyes, as they fled, many elderly who died. This is real. It’s dangerous. And we’ve got to wake up the country, wake up the world. And we ought to start with the man in the White House, who ought to get off his business that it just requires raking leaves in the bottom of the forest there, a really crazy idea.

CHUCK TODD:

You, you had. I was just going to say, he came out. He came out and, and toured. Frankly, it was after that weird comment he made about raking. And you seemed to, did you feel like you made any progress in convincing him, this is, this is not something that’s distinctive or unique to now, this is a larger issue with the climate?

GOV. JERRY BROWN:

No, I don’t think I did. I do appreciate that he came, that the president has made funding available, under the Emergency Acts of Congress. So that’s all good. But I would say, he is very convinced of his position. And his position is that there’s nothing abnormal about the fires in California or the rising sea level or all the other incidents of climate change.

CHUCK TODD:

You’ve both been a mayor and a governor. You’ve, you’ve had to see people become temporary refugees from their home. At what point do you feel as if that politicians in positions, like the governorship of California, are going to have to start proposing restrictions on where people live and basically saying, “You know what? We just can’t build here. Because we can’t afford to basically maintain people living this close to the water or living this close to wildfire damage or living this close to a place that’s susceptible to mudslides.”

GOV. JERRY BROWN:

Well, look, we, now. We’ve got to keep making, we have to make those proposals now. But we already have restrictions. People want to go build housing in floodplains. California prevents that. But the zone of danger from fire and flood is far bigger, far, much bigger. So the politics of that will unfold slowly. But the facts are on the ground. And the politicians, however painful it will be, politically —

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

GOV. JERRY BROWN:

— will follow a course now to restrict building in areas that are just too dangerous.

CHUCK TODD:

I’ve got to ask you. I’m curious about the yellow vest movement and your, and what you think, why that has been such a struggle for Macron there and what lessons we should take away here. Johanna Heyer, who is a, writes this in CityLab, she is a UC Davis, I think, postgraduate student, she writes this. “If everyone in the state,” talking about California, “If everyone in the state had equal access to quality public transportation, the gas tax would be a fair incentive to motivate people to ditch their cars. As it is, it punishes people for not having access to transit options that meet their needs.” It seems to me the yellow vest movement in France, that’s the disconnect there. You won your gas-tax fight. But rural Californians didn’t like it.

GOV. JERRY BROWN:

No, they don’t. They don’t like a lot of things. They voted against housing bonds. They voted for the Republican, Cox, who didn’t even make 40 percent. So there’s the same divide in Ameri– in California as in America. The red is different than the blue. And it’s associated, definitely, with rural areas. But I would say, in terms of what happened in France, I believe the president cut back on taxes for the very wealthy at the same time he imposed what is, essentially, a sales tax on working and poor people. So that was very different than our own gas tax, when we taxed the wealthy, very substantially. And then we went to the state and said, “Stick and reaffirm this gas tax.” And they did by over 13 points. It’s incredible. So people are ready to build, if they believe that the money will be spent right, and they understand it’s being helping, it’s helping their community. So yes, we need more rapid transit. We need trains.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah.

GOV. JERRY BROWN:

We need more efficient cars. We need all of that. And that’s why this climate change is, is not just adapting. It’s inventing new technology. It’s, instead of complaining about the Chinese putting all their money into batteries and artificial intelligence and new kind of cars, we have to put more money in America. So instead of worrying about tariffs, I’d like to see the president and the Congress invest tens of billions in renewable energy, in more-efficient batteries, to get us off fossil fuel as quickly as we can. I would point to the fact that it took Roosevelt many, many years to get America willing to go into World War II and fight the Nazis. Well, we have an enemy —

CHUCK TODD:

Okay.

GOV. JERRY BROWN:

— though different, but perhaps, very much devastating in a similar way. And we’ve got to fight climate change. And the president’s got to lead on that.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to get you to respond to something that was written in the LA Times earlier this month by Jacques Leslie. And it goes this way. “In recent years, the state has suffered an array of environmental woes, to varying degrees climate-related: the catastrophic fires, drought, heat waves, encroaching sea levels, dwindling fish stocks, toxic air quality, to name just a few. [Jerry] Brown’s climate efforts have been profoundly important; it’s a measure of the breadth of the environmental crisis that they haven’t been nearly enough.” And it was very both complimentary, and at the same time, it wasn’t enough. Is that how you feel, as you leave the governorship? You’ve done everything you can. And you feel like it still wasn’t enough? Or is there more you could’ve done?

GOV. JERRY BROWN:

No, not enough, not even close, and not close in California, and we’re doing more than anybody else, and not close in America or the rest of the world. Look, we’ve got to get those zero-emission cars on the road. We have to figure out new ways of making cement. We’ve got to clean up our ships, which are creating more pollution than California and Texas put together. The technology, the investment, the lifestyle changes, the land use changes, this is a revolutionary threat. And we’ve got to get off this idea, it’s the economy, stupid. No, it’s the environment. It’s the ecology that we have to get on the side of. And we only do that with wisdom, with investment, and widespread collaboration and working together. So that’s a good criticism. Some of his ideas, I thought, were, were not as important as the ones we’re trying to push.

CHUCK TODD:

But I knew it was going to bring out that final answer. And I think you, it was about as good of a summary of what needs to be done as anybody could have put together. Governor Jerry Brown, as you pointed out, you’ve been coming on Meet the Press since 1975. I hope this is not your last appearance, sir. I look forward to it again.

GOV. JERRY BROWN:

Okay, I hope not, either.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. Up next, when it comes to climate change, everyone agrees it’s happening, well, almost everyone. That’s next.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. Data Download time. After years of contentious debate on climate change, new polling this year seems to suggest Americans are finally starting to form a consensus on this issue. More people are willing to accept that it’s happening and that humans are responsible. But there still is a serious political divide. According to a study from Yale and George Mason University, 70% of Americans say global warming is happening. And 57% believe it’s mostly caused by human activity. And in fact, the 66% of people in our latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll who believe climate change is a serious problem that does need to be addressed, that’s a 15-point increase since 1999. We’re down to just 30% who say we need more research, or we shouldn’t be concerned, a 13-point drop in that same time period. Now, look. This is significant. Because those feelings about climate change are remarkably uniform, no matter your skin tone or where you live. Over 60% of whites, African-Americans, and Hispanics all believe we need to do something about climate change. And more than 50% of those who live in cities, suburbs, and even rural America agree. But if the public has reached a consensus, why hasn’t Washington? Well, we see the biggest disagreement on climate change, when we look through the prism of political parties. 71% of Democrats say climate change is a serious problem, and that we need to take immediate action, a 42-point increase since 1999. 47% of Independents also agree, a 22-point jump. But Republican opinion, stagnant on the issue. Only 15% believe climate change is an urgent problem, the exact same number when we first asked this question in 1999. Look, these numbers, in particular, serve as a reminder that, no matter how much the public at large may agree on something, we live in a two-party, political system. And the two parties simply do not see eye to eye on whether to even address the issue, let alone how to address it. As long as that’s the case, it’s hard to see how the public’s consensus leads to political action in Washington. When we come back, the panel is back with that question, how to deal with the tricky politics of climate change.

[BEGIN TAPE]

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

It is absolutely imperative that we get our act together on this issue. We’re fighting for the future of the planet.

SEC. RICK PERRY:

This science, this idea that science is just absolutely settled, and, and if you don’t believe it’s settled, then you’re, somehow, another Neanderthal, that is so inappropriate.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

Back now with Endgame and trying to break the political paralysis. Carlos Curbelo, you were the, you wanted to introduce a carbon tax. You were trying to, at least, start the debate about a carbon tax. But as we’re watching what’s unfolding in France and the protests and the pushback there, is a carbon tax doable? Is this the way to do it? Is a vice tax the way to go?

REP. CARLOS CURBELO:

It’s the most-efficient, the most-logical, and probably the most-politically viable solution. I think Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Brown tried to make this point, that the key is that the people who are being taxed, in this case, it would be all the American people, trust that the revenues are going to be put to good use. And that’s why, in the bill I filed, we put almost all of it to infrastructure. Because we know that’s popular in this country, and that most Americans believe that we have to invest in our infrastructure. We also set aside some funds to mitigate higher utility rates for lower-income Americans. That is the key. And we know this is true. Because in Miami, recently, they just passed a $200 million bond referendum, property tax increase, to fund coastal infrastructure. Because the citizens understood that the funds were going to be put to good use, in other words, to protect them.

CHUCK TODD:

But it does seem as if the regressive nature, perhaps, Anne, how do you, you know, again, the person that doesn’t live near an easy-to, easy-to-access public-transportation point and the cost of fossil fuels.

ANNE THOMPSON:

Right. But I think, if you can make them see. The question is, can you make people see the value in that tax, that is actually, a tax is the quickest way to change behavior. And if it will help people, if it will ensure that you have cleaner air, that you have less-extreme weather events, that you have access to cleaner water, if people see a value in it, they might buy into it.

CHUCK TODD:

Our most-trusted institutions are the military these days. And it does seem as if, since, in the military, there’s been more experience with seeing it in real time.

MICHÈLE FLOURNOY:

Well, the military tends to be very clear eyed and pragmatic about threats. And it’s a planning culture. So they, they like to look way off into the future. And, and what’s interesting is, while the Trump administration’s been trying to take reference to the word, climate change, out of the national security strategy, out of the defense strategy, out of DoD reports and to cut funding where it can, meanwhile, the Congress, in the last two National Defense Authorization Acts, have played, has played a really, really important role, sort of putting in reporting requirements. Every service has to identify the ten most-vulnerable bases and mitigation efforts. You have to come up with an arctic strategy for when the ice melts. You have to, as a combatant commander, factor climate change into your operational planning. This gives the department top cover. I actually think there’s a role for the military, as that respected institution —

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah.

MICHÈLE FLOURNOY:

— to sort of be truth speakers on this —

CHUCK TODD:

Yes.

MICHÈLE FLOURNOY:

— and to say, “This is real. We’re planning for it. We’re going to have to spend money on it, to be able to continue to protect the country.” So, you know, let’s get over it and get on with it.

REP. CARLOS CURBELO:

And this is, this is an interesting dynamic in the Congress. As the president has acted irresponsibly on climate and made some, you know, reckless comments, more and more Republicans in the House have moved to embrace this issue, to accept the science. When I got to Congress in 2015, there were maybe two or three Republicans even willing to utter the words, climate change. Today, we have over 40 on the record acknowledging that this is a real issue that requires government action. And they went on the record by joining the Bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, Craig Fugate, we were talking, during the break, about you thought, you were equating it to the tobacco —

CRAIG FUGATE:

Yes.

CHUCK TODD:

— companies and issues. And I’m curious what you make of the lawsuit strategy that we’re seeing now, actually. The crab fishermen, we, four lawsuits we’re outlining here, these are just this year, lawsuits against oil companies: the crab fishermen versus 30 fossil fuel companies, the state of New York versus Exxon, the state of Rhode Island versus Chevron, the city of Baltimore versus B.P., sort of this idea of holding them accountable. Is that a smart strategy?

CRAIG FUGATE:

Well, we saw what happened with tobacco. The individual suits didn’t make any difference. But when all the state attorney generals got together and sued big tobacco —

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah.

CRAIG FUGATE:

— they settled. Investors are going to want to protect their investments. And they see these exposures getting worse. And I think this is the other part of the carbon tax. We have to price risk what it really costs and not continue. I mean, think about over $100 billion last year was put into disasters that could’ve been saved, if we had been doing stuff ahead of time. So I think part of this is, how do we price our risk, so we’re not building it the same way we’ve always done? But I think investors are going to probably drive this even faster than government regulations. Because they’re seeing the short sightedness of investments that have multi-decades to pay back that are going to be, you know, disrupted in years.

ANNE THOMPSON:

Yeah, you’re already seeing that in the energy sector. I mean, we had 20 coal plants that have been retired this year. Coal is at its lowest point since 1979, when Jimmy Carter put solar panels on the White House the first time. And when you look at what utility companies are doing, DTE, in Michigan, in southeastern Michigan, this year, broke ground on a new natural gas plan, a billion investment. They’re retiring five coal plants. They’re investing in renewables. Economically, coal doesn’t make sense anymore. Natural gas and renewables do.

CHUCK TODD:

Dr. Marvel, I’m curious, the impact of, the Trump administration has rolled back a few of the actions that the Obama administration put in that was targeted at some climate issues. They did a freeze on the gas-mileage standards. It sort of reversed Obama regulations. The EPA rolled back some methane rules. Trump’s EPA also rolled back other rules having to do with coal. Has that, how much has that set us back? Is it a decade back? Does it take — how much time does it take to sort of get this, just get back on the path that we were three years ago?

KATE MARVEL:

I mean, it’s, it’s not a good idea. But I think we have seen a lot of action in the private sector and at the state level and, more importantly, I think, at the local level. So I think, you know, that’s not a yes-or-no question. That’s not a black-or-white question. You know, we have, you know, President Trump has signaled his intent to withdraw from the Paris agreement. But we’ve seen this movement called “We Are Still In. People are still adhering to the Paris goals. So, I think, I’m not going to say it’s good news, because it’s not. But I think it’s not necessarily as catastrophic as, as it might otherwise be.

CHUCK TODD:

What, what, I guess, are there, I mean, is there any individual actions anymore? Or is this just so large that individual, I mean, is this one of these, you know, I remember going back to Jimmy Carter. Hey, you know, it was this collective action. If everybody could do their little part. It feels like, with climate change, it doesn’t. It feels like it’s all stuck.

REP. CARLOS CURBELO:

We really do need national policy that will become international policy. That’s why, on a lot of these carbon-pricing bills —

CHUCK TODD:

But when we make changes, as a country, we galvanize. Is there a way to galvanize? Craig Fugate, is there a way to galvanize?

CRAIG FUGATE:

The disasters, I think, are starting this process. This is no longer something that’s in the future. I mean, one of the regulations they rolled back was the Federal Floodplain Management Standard, which says, “Quit building one foot. Let’s build two feet above flood levels.” They rolled it back, which meant all of the disasters in the last two years, we just missed all that rebuilding to build to future risk.

CHUCK TODD:

Could have — what would you do, if you could do this? How would you shake us by the lapels?

ANNE THOMPSON:

I get, I get frustrated. Because I hear this administration say two things. First of all, when they talk about pulling out of Paris, they talk about, they say, “Look, we’ve reduced carb — greenhouse gas emissions.” We’ve reduced greenhouse gas emissions, because people have turned away from coal. And yet, that’s exactly what this Administration is promoting. So it just makes no sense.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. What a tremendous hour. Thank you guys for your time and thoughts on this. Much appreciated. That’s all we have for today. Thank you for watching this Sunday morning. On behalf of all of us here at Meet the Press, I want to wish you a very happy and healthy and safe New Year. We’ll be back next week or I guess I should say, next year. Because if it’s Sunday, it’s Meet the Press.

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