Remember climate change? The issue barely came up during the presidential campaigns, and little has been said since. But bringing climate change back into our national conversation is as much a communications challenge as it is a scientific one. Scientist Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, joins Bill Moyers to describe his efforts to do what even Hurricane Sandy couldn’t — galvanize communities over what’s arguably the greatest single threat facing humanity. Leiserowitz, who specializes in the psychology of risk perception, knows better than anyone if people are willing to change their behavior to make a difference.
“[A] pervasive sense up to now has been that climate change is distant — distant in time, and distant in space,” Leiserowitz tells Bill. “And what we’re now beginning to see is that it’s not so distant. It’s not just future generations. It’s us and it’s our own children. I have a nine-year-old son — he’s going to be my age in the year 2050. I don’t want him to live in the world that we’re currently hurtling towards.”
BILL MOYERS: So if the president asks you to suggest what he should say, to send him a draft of what he should say about climate change in his upcoming State of the Union message, what would you urge him to do?
ANTHONY LEISEROWITZ: I would ask him to do two things. One is to say I have consulted with the nation's leading climate scientists including the National Academy of Sciences which exists to guide the nation on science and science policy. And they all tell me, all of them tell me that this is real, that it's human caused, it's a serious problem but that we have the solutions in hand to do it. So, one, I would want him to carry that message.
But the second thing I would like to hear him say is that this issue has to stop being a partisan issue. The climate -- the earth's climate does not care whether you are a Democrat or a Republican. It doesn't care whether you're liberal or conservative. Sandy did not only destroy the homes of Democrats and not Republicans.
The terrible drought that has gripped the Great Plains and our nation's bread basket has not only gone after liberal farmers and ranchers, it's gone after all of us. The point is that climate change will affect all Americans no matter what your political beliefs, your religious beliefs, your race, class, creed, et cetera, okay. And in the end the only way we're going to deal with this issue is if we come together as a county and have a serious conversation not about is it real, but what can we do about it, okay. And I think that the effort to try to de-politicize this issue so it doesn't just become this knee-jerk-- identity politics: I'm a Democrat, therefore I believe in climate change, I'm a Republican, therefore I think climate change is a hoax. This is crazy, okay. I mean, again the climate system doesn't care.
A full transcript of the show is below the fold.
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