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New Climate Change Warning; What's Worse: Climate Change or Its Solutions?

Aired May 06, 2014 - 18:30   ET


VAN JONES, CO-HOST: Great news, Wolf. I am so happy, because President Obama is going to go around the Republican Congress and finally get something done about climate change. It's a great day.

S.E. CUPP, CO-HOST: Well, there's a reality check, Van. Politically and economically it's ill-advised. The debate starts right now.


ANNOUNCER: Tonight on CROSSFIRE, super storms, fires, floods. The White House warns more weather chaos is on the way.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Longer, hotter, drier droughts, and it will only get worse.

ANNOUNCER: Can Washington come together with real solutions?

On the left, Van Jones. On the right, S.E. Cupp. In the CROSSFIRE, Bill Nye, the Science Guy; and Nick Loris of the Heritage Foundation. What's worse for America's economy? The dangers of climate change or the solutions? Tonight on CROSSFIRE.


CUPP: Welcome to CROSSFIRE. I'm S.E. Cupp on the right.

JONES: I am Van Jones on the left. In the CROSSFIRE tonight, we've got an economics guy and a science guy.

So today we have even more proof, climate disruption is not some crazy far-off liberal concoction. Climate change is a real and present danger. It's already happening right now.

Millions of you at home are facing water shortages. There's floods; there's heat waves this year. And a new White House report out today details the real-life impact of us dumping mega tons of carbon pollution into the atmosphere.

For instance, in North Carolina they're having to raise U.S. Route 64 by four feet, in part so it won't get swallowed up by the rising ocean. And in Alaska it's worse. They're moving an entire village called Nutoch (ph) away from the eroding shoreline. Now, if that's not scary enough for you, if we wait until the end of the century, Miami, Tampa, Charleston, New Orleans, will all be flooding. So I guess we're going to have to move them, too.

Is that your strategy, the Republican strategy, to start moving cities, or are we going to do something about it?

CUPP: Well, I think you should be careful, Van, because you're about to become the new face of the preppers. It sounds like a cottage industry there.

All right. In the CROSSFIRE tonight, Bill Nye, the Science Guy, is with the Planetary Society; and Nicolas Loris, an energy and environmentally -- environmental policy with the Heritage Foundation.

Bill, let me start with you. Even if what Van and the White House are saying is all true, the scare tactics have not worked.

BILL NYE, THE SCIENCE GUY: Before you go on --

CUPP: NO. Let me finish my question.

NYE: Let's talk about the facts. You're saying --

CUPP: No, let me finish my question, Bill. I want you to take a look at this polling. Only about 36 percent of Americans think global warming is a serious threat to our way of life.

Now, again, let me posit everything that Van and the White House have said is true, however, the scare tactics have not worked. And don't you need public consensus to move the needle on this?

NYE: So, how do you want to get public consensus, by saying that it's not happening, that it's not serious, that shorelines aren't flooding? That we're not --

CUPP: No, I want you to advise the politicians --

NYE: Oh, advise the politicians.

CUPP: -- because whatever they are doing, whatever Van is doing to scare the public, is not changing public --

JONES: Inform the public, but go right ahead.

CUPP: Tell us, Bill, how to use the science to actually change public consensus.

NYE: Well, you get the message out. This is serious business.

You know, if you live in Oklahoma, where tornados have wiped your town out a couple times, and you chose Alaska, which is remote, generally, but when you start -- remembering Hurricane Sandy, the bottom half of Manhattan was flooded. The economic effect of that alone is enormous, let alone the rebuilding infrastructure. And we're in the developed world, where people can get on the highway and drive. You know, when you say moving a highway four feet, doesn't sound like very much, but you're talking about millions of tons of road that have to be lifted, and that energy has to come from somewhere. And that's just the start of things. When we start having crop failures and the drought that's in California continues, the economic costs --

NICK LORIS, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: Well, you can look at these things and you can look at the climate realities. And even this NCA report says that the trend on tornados isn't certain. The IPPC report says that the trend on hurricanes is uncertain when the longest hurricane -- I'm not a denier. I'm not a skeptic. What I'm saying is climate is changing, yes. Manmade emissions are some part to that, but we haven't seen these extreme weather event trends. The observed data doesn't prove that.

NYE: Well, so, I --

LORIS: More importantly, the policy prescriptions, these greenhouse gas regulations coming down, prohibiting building new coal-fire power plants, is just going to make us less equipped, less economically prosperous to handle these problems, whether they're, you know, more frequent or not.

NYE: So let's start with we don't agree on the facts. So this third report came out saying it's very serious. You say, no, right? There's the essence of the problem, S.E. The science, the researchers say yes. You --

LORIS: Not all the researchers. Even the IPPC says that there's no frequency or intensity when it comes to hurricanes.

NYE: Hurricane, shmurricane, if I may.


LORIS: This one says about tornadoes. Although it's retracted. It's increasing at a slower rate over the past few years. We've had arctic ice globally increasing.


CUPP: Bill, isn't it a problem when science guys attempt to bully other people? I mean, Nick here had to say, "I'm not a denier." He had to get it up, "I'm not a denier," because really, the science group has tried to shame anyone who dares question this, and the point I'm trying to make --

NYE: Why is that bullying?

CUPP: It's not working with the public.

JONES: Let me ask -- let me ask you a question. First of all, I don't think -- I think the scientific community has been very patient. We have the same problem with cigarettes for years and years. Cigarette manufacturers were trying to convince people that cancer wasn't caused by cigarette smoking. My father died, having been a pack a day smoker. So I think the fact (UNINTELLIGIBLE) very good.

You're an economist, though. You have to make decisions, choices. You have to make predictions. We can actually get out ahead of some of this stuff.

You aren't saying that there's no danger, are you?


JONES: You want to make sure -- you in the politics, you want to make sure that we use our money wisely and don't waste our money and come up with good, effective solutions.

So let me make you a bargain. You mention the IPPC. They say for .06 percent hit on global growth, we can stay below 450. In other words, we can have --

NYE: Four-fifty parts per million.

JONES: We could have a sustainable global environment and, instead of having a growth rate of, say, 2.5 percent, it will be 2.4 percent. Is that a good deal? From an economist's point of view, is that a good deal?

LORIS: I don't think it's a good deal, because you have --

JONES: You would not take a .06 percent hit?

LORIS: The moderation in global temperatures is the result of that. And if you want to get back to, which is what Bill's organization, how do we get there then?

JONES: Listen --

NYE: So you're saying because you can't see how to do it, we shouldn't even bother?

LORIS: No, I'm saying that these huge policy prescriptions, these things that will shut down fossil fuel use, drive up energy costs.

JONES: Let's have a fight. Let's have a fight. This is a talking point. First of all --

LORIS: It's not.

JONES: Let's talk about cap and trade, then. The Heritage Foundation, your organization supported, if we had gotten --

LORIS: No, no, no. Not for greenhouse gas emissions.

NYE: Go to the next one.

LORIS: Greenhouse gas emissions. JONES: That would have been fully implemented, it would have cost American families about a postage stamp a day, a postage stamp, and you guys were screaming bloody murder.

LORIS: That was a static analysis.

NYE: Maybe not the best solution. Here's our problem, everybody. We have to agree on the facts.

My understanding, listening to you just now, you don't think it's a very serious problem. You don't think 400 parts per million that we have this year is that big a deal, and certainly not worth shutting down --


LORIS: We're not headed towards a catastrophic warning.

NYE: Are you --

JONES: Let me just ask you a question here. Are you willing to spend any money? We put out -- when I was in the Obama administration, we put out a proposal that we had support from the business community to do, was going to cost a postage stamp a day. You thought that was too much. I'm talking for .202 percent you can solve problems.

LORIS: That postage stamp analysis is bogus.


CUPP: Let's let Nick -- let's let Nick answer a question.

LORIS: If you want to talk about the things that states can do to better prepare for these things, whether they're called (UNINTELLIGIBLE) emissions or not, they should be doing those things. And you can look at people who have dealt with heat waves, for instance, which has been a problem, but heat rate mortality has actually decreased over the past several decades. And even more so --

JONES: Answer my question.

LORIS: While greenhouse gas emissions are increasing.

JONES: Are you willing to spend any money to prevent this?

LORIS: I'm willing to devolve and decentralize the decision making to the ones who are impacted by these decisions, whether -- whether it's climate-related or not.

JONES: We'll come back.

CUPP: All right. I have one more question, and then we've got to go to break. Bill, President Obama has warned that we have to cut carbon emissions now or pay a billion-dollar debt in the future. That was also true --

NYE: I think isn't it more like trillions?

CUPP: According to him, it's a billion-dollar debt. But this is also true of other urgent issues. You can look at entitlement reform, which will bankrupt this country long before climate change destroys us.

Heart disease kills 7 million a year worldwide. Eight hundred seventy million suffer from hunger. I want you to look me in the eye and tell me in good conscience that climate change is our most urgent, No. 1 priority right now.

NYE: Climate change is our most urgent No. 1 priority right now.

CUPP: That's what I thought you would say.

NYE: Here's the thing. It is anybody, anyone who's in government could make the choice, teachers' salaries, new baseball stadium.

CUPP: Sure. We have to prioritize, of course.

NYE: Yes. Entitlement program reform, new sewers, potholes. Anybody can do it. OK. No. The problem is to do everything all at once.

CUPP: Oh, so we have an endless supply of money?

LORIS: -- China to do something?

NYE: So here's the problem: we don't agree on the facts, OK, so that's -- we've got to somewhere find someplace --

CUPP: I just asked you about priorities. And that's assuming we agree, we have to prioritize. There's a lot of things we've got to fix. First we need to take a break.

NYE: Carry on. See you soon.

CUPP: Next, get your Bunsen burners ready, because I'm going to put Bill Nye through a little experiment of my own.

And here's today's "CROSSFIRE Quiz": What will release more greenhouse gases in a year? Is it all the cows in the United States, all the oil carried by the Keystone Pipeline, or 25 million cars? We'll have the answer when we get back.


CUPP: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

Surprise, surprise. Today, President Obama is keeping his liberal elite base happy by trying to scare us with new reports on climate change. Hint: your power bills are going to go up.

But in spite of the fact a majority of Americans support it, the president still hasn't approved the Keystone pipeline, which according to his own reports isn't threatening the planet. What is? Just look at the answer to our CROSSFIRE quiz. Cows, that's right. Cows are responsible for releasing more greenhouse gases in a year than 25 million cars or burning a year's worth of oil in the Keystone Pipeline.

Bill Nye and Nick Loris are our guests in the CROSSFIRE.

Bill, shouldn't we all just become vegetarians?

NYE: Well, that actually -- there's a lot of studies about that. But let's just do two things.

CUPP: No, no, if -- wouldn't that be a good --

NYE: Just keep in mind, 25 million cars is nothing. There's 25 million cars within ten kilometers of where we're sitting. So, that's not a very impressive statistic.

CUPP: Wouldn't it be a good policy directive, though --

NYE: Thank you for the distraction, though.

CUPP: -- to force us all to become vegetarian?

NYE: OK. That would be great.

So, here's the thing --


LORIS: What's the end of the day policy recommend --

NYE: Here's the deal, here's what I want you guys to deal with, OK? I did this debate, maybe you heard about it in Kentucky. They asked a guy, a member of the audience asked the guy, what would change your mind? What would change your mind about the evidence of the age of the Earth? It's a very good analogy.

What would change your minds about the seriousness of 400 parts per million carbon oxide, 450 parts per million?

LORIS: The credibility of a science model.

NYE: So, you don't accept it?


LORIS: I mean, we've had this 16 to 17-year hiatus in warning that the climate model has predicted the point --


LORIS: No, it's not, though, because these climate models predicted a 0.3 degrees Celsius warming in this time period.

NYE: So, there's the essence of a problem. LORIS: There's been 16 peer-reviewed articles that says climate sensitivity, what would happen with the doubling of CO2 is much lower, but it's all recent new research. Do you know how huge the economic cost will be?


JONES: About 3,000 reports, I got a question.

CUPP: We're trying to talk about solutions, but you just want to talk about how he doesn't believe you. We're trying to address --

NYE: So, here's --

JONES: Let me give him a better shot.

NYE: The pipeline, what's wrong with that is we will never run out of fossil fuels. That's the bad news. We will never run out. It's very bad news.

JONES: Here's somebody I think you actually respect. He says he doesn't respect the scientist, he doesn't respect the models. You said you don't like the models.

LORIS: I respect the scientists.

JONES: You don't like the models.

How about the Pentagon? How about our generals? The Pentagon says that climate disruption is a national security threat and they say it's a threat multiplier, makes everything worse, including terrorism. Do you disagree with the Pentagon?


LORIS: I do disagree with the Pentagon. Yes, absolutely. The greening of our Pentagon has been a huge problem, the biodiesel fuels that cost 10 times more than regular diesel.

JONES: Hold a second --


LORIS: And the fact that climate is changing over time, you know, our Pentagon, the Department of Defense is going to be able to adapt to these things and any type of national security efforts, humanitarian efforts. We're going to be --

JONES: So, let me ask you a question --

LORIS: Not to mention DOD is a huge user of energy. So, we're going to drive up the energy cost for them and take more away from their budget by driving up their energy costs? All these things make it nonsense for the DOD to say this.

NYE: So, Nick, it's a conspiracy at the Pentagon? LORIS: No, I'm not saying it's a conspiracy. I'm saying it's an attempt to get more money on these battlefields.

JONES: Oh my goodness. That's just terrible. First of all --

LORIS: It's just another government, it's the same thing.

JONES: Can I have a moment here? Our military, people actually die trying to defend supply lines to try to get fossil fuels to the front lines. The investment our military is making in clean energy so we can actually have more security for our troops will save lives. It's very important that we respect that.

It's not some crazy conspiracy. It's great for talk radio. We're trying to save lives, number one.

But number two, do you therefore think that the government should order our generals to stop preparing for climate disruption? Generals under George W. Bush are talking about this. Obama now has made it part of the climate assessment.

Do you think that's wrong? Do you think the government should order our generals to stand down and stop preparing for climate disruption?

LORIS: No, that's not my call to make. And I think if the national security threat, if they believe it's a threat and they want to prepare for climate disruption, they should have the authority to do.

NYE: But you don't think they should deep down?

LORIS: No, deep down, I don't think they should. I think they'll have the ability over time because the climate is changing over a slow period of time.

NYE: Actually, that's the problem.

LORIS: I think the capabilities they'll have to deal with these efforts as we're talking about an inch of sea level rise over a decade, I think that --

CUPP: They want you to believe that it's within a day. The readiness will be within a day.

NYE: So here is the problem, you guys. It's not that the world --

CUPP: Real quick, Bill.

NYE: It's not that the world hasn't been warmer. It's not that the world didn't have more carbon dioxide. It's the rate at which it's changing --

JONES: Good enough (ph).

NYE: -- that we cannot keep up.

JONES: Well, we give the science guy the last word. But we will be back. We want you to stay here.

We want you at home to weigh in on today's "Fireback" question. We've been debating it here. You get in on it. Is climate change a threat to America's national security? You can tweet yes or no using #Crossfire. We'll give you those results after the break.

We're also going to have the outrages of the day. Now, you remember your mother telling you to keep your hands to yourself? I'm outraged because when a police officer did not do that, groped somebody, the woman he groped is now in big trouble, when we get back.


JONES: OK. Now it's time for the outrages of the day.

Here is mine. During the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations a couple years ago, a female protester threw an elbow at a stranger who was groping her breast. It turns out the stranger was a police officer.

Now, that's outrageous. But that's nothing compared to what happens next. The young woman was actually charged with assaulting an officer, which is a felony. And yesterday, a jury convicted her. So right now she is sitting in jail. She is waiting for a judge to sentence her in two weeks. She could get seven years. Seven years in prison.

Now, this should go without saying -- but in America, a woman should be able to exercise her right to protest without getting groped by police and sent to prison on a felony.

Now, I hope the judge fixes this. If he doesn't, the whole situation is truly outrageous.

CUPP: I don't disagree there.

All right. Today, Hillary Clinton is taking on gun owners like me. Listen to this fear-mongering.


HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: At the rate we're going, we're going to have so many people with guns everywhere, fully licensed, fully validated in settings where they can be in a movie theater and they don't like somebody chewing gum loudly or talking on their cell phone, and decide they have a perfect right to defend themselves.


CUPP: The vast majority of gun crime is not committed against the gum chewer, and it's a pretty silly and irresponsible thing to say when thousands die every year in major cities where guns are illegal because of drugs, gang war, and mental health problems. So, let's focus on those epidemics and not artificial straw men meant only do gin up political support. By the way, she also claimed we'll soon have a country we'll soon have a country where anybody can have a gun any time anywhere. If I told you all the places I'm not allowed to bring my gun, including into my own home if I live in certain parts of the country -- well, it would take me until November 2016.

JONES: We will not argue about that, Annie Oakley.

CUPP: Good idea.

JONES: But we are going to check on our "Fireback" results. Is climate change a threat to America's national security? Right now, 61 percent of you say yes, and 39 percent say no. That's about where we are --

CUPP: That mirror -- that really does mirror sort of the general consensus on the arguments.

Bill, what's your response to that?

NYE: That's a start. We're getting there.


NYE: I mean, we have to get to work on this problem as soon as we can, if you're asking me. And yes, we want to have private businesses come up with new energy solutions. We want to invest in science, basic research. But if we have a situation as we do today where we're disagreeing about the facts, to us on my side of the science, it's really difficult to establish reasonable policy.

CUPP: Nick?

JONES: What's your view of that?

LORIS: And I'm all for the basic research and pulling new energy economies out, you know, so long as they can be funded through basic research and not through the taxpayer and subsidizing loans and loan guarantees. But, yes, I think having these types of conversations are most important because we do disagree on the facts. And these are -- rather than talking past each other, we need to have the conversation about the climate realities.

JONES: Well, thank you for talking with each other today.

And I want to thank you for being here. The debate is going to continue online at, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.

From the left, I'm Van Jones.

CUPP: From the right, I'm S.E. Cupp.

Join us tomorrow for another edition of CROSSFIRE.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.