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Fareed Zakaria GPS
Violent Clashes in Venezuela Over Aid Deliveries; Vladimir Putin Threatens Europe and the United States; Trump-Kim Summit Previewed; Evangelicals Exerting Influence in Latin America; Potential Effects of Climate Change Examined. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired February 24, 2019 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:21] FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: This is GPS, the GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE. Welcome to all of you in the United States and around the world. I'm Fareed Zakaria coming to you live from New York.
ZAKARIA: Today on GPS, the showdown in Venezuela. President Maduro versus self-declared President Guaido. How will this all end?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The eyes of the entire world are upon you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: We will bring you the latest with Guaido's representative to Washington, Carlos Vecchio.
Then the Trump-Kim summit. Russia's nuclear arsenal. And Donald Trump's border wall. We'll talk about all that and more with an all- star foreign policy panel.
And what do the extinction of an Australian rat, a massive hole in an Antarctic glazier, and America's recent polar vortex have in common? They're all believed to be related to climate change. My guest says it really is time to panic.
ZAKARIA: But first here's my take. It's refreshing to see the Democratic Party bubbling with new ideas. But its new thinking seems starkly different from the party's reform efforts of the past three decades. The wonky proposals of the Clinton-Obama era were pragmatic and incremental, and they mix market incentives with government action.
Today we have big, dramatic stirring ideas, and that could be the problem.
In their zeal to match the sweeping rhetoric of right-wing populism, Democrats are spinning out dramatic proposals indeed but in which facts are sometimes misrepresented, the numbers occasionally don't add up and emotional appeal seems to Trump actual policy analysis.
When Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was confronted recently by Anderson Cooper on "60 Minutes" about an egregious misstatement about Pentagon spending she responded.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D), NEW YORK: I think that there's a lot more people more concerned about being precisely, factually and semantically correct than about being morally right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: Perhaps this casual attitude towards facts explains the way that she and many others on the left have misrepresented the deal that New York offered Amazon to bring a new headquarters there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OCASIO-CORTEZ: If we're willing to give away $3 billion for this deal, we could invest those $3 billion in our district ourselves if we wanted to. We could hire out more teachers. We can fix our subway. We can put a lot of people to work for that money if we wanted to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: But as Mayor Bill de Blasio explained.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY: This was a deal that was going to bring $27 billion in revenue to the state and city for things like public education, mass transit, affordable housing. And that $3 billion will go back in tax incentives, and it was only after we were getting the jobs and getting the --
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: There's not $3 billion in money that exist anywhere.
DE BLASIO: There no money -- right.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Correct?
DE BLASIO: Exactly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: Or consider the race by prominent Democrats to embrace Medicare for all. A variety of expert studies have estimated that the total increase government spending would be between $2.5 trillion and $3 trillion a year. Few of the many proposals being floated would likely raise anything close to that in revenue. And if herculean effort were made to raise revenue for Medicare for all there would be few easy avenues left to fund any of the other ambitious proposals on the new Democratic wish list. Let me be clear, universal health care is an important moral and
political goal. But the U.S. system is insanely complex and getting from here to single-payer would probably be so disruptive and expensive that it's just not going to happen.
Now there is a path to universal coverage that is simpler. Switzerland has one of the best health care systems in the world, and it is essentially Obamacare with a real mandate. But that probably feels too much like those incremental policies of the past.
Or consider the tax proposals being tossed around on the left including a wealth tax championed by Elizabeth Warren. I understand the appeal of tapping into those vast accumulations of billionaire loot. But there is a reason that nine of the 12 European countries that instituted similar taxes have repealed them in the last 25 years. They massively distort economic activity. Often incentivizing people to hide assets, devalue them and create dummy corporations.
There are smarter, better ways to address inequality. Raise the capital gain state tax to the same level as income taxes, increase the estate tax, get rid of the massive loopholes that make the American tax code one of the most complex and corrupt in the world.
[10:05:11] But again this is less stirring stuff than burning the billionaires. AOC's comments on "60 Minutes" reminded me of a July 2016 exchange between Newt Gingrich and CNN's Alisyn Camerota.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Violent crime across the country is down. This is of FBI's statistics. They're not a liberal organization.
NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: No --
CAMEROTA: They're crime --
GINGRICH: People feel more threatened.
CAMEROTA: Feel it, yes. They feel it, but the facts don't support it.
GINGRICH: Right. As a political candidate I'll go with how people feel and I'll let you go with the theoreticians.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: We already have one major political party that now routinely twists facts, disregards evidence, ignores serious policy analysis, and just makes stuff up to appeal to people's emotions and prejudices. If the Democrats now start moving along this path as well, American politics will truly descend into a new dark age.
For more go to CNN.com/fareed and read my the "Washington Post" article this week. And let's get started.
The weeks long standoff over the presidency of Venezuela has become a physical standoff and a deadly one at that. Yesterday played out at the Colombian border as Venezuelan troops loyal to President Maduro prevented aid from coming in. The self-declared President Juan Guaido had declared Saturday that the deadline for getting a large backlog of aid into the country was there.
A Guaido supporter tells CNN that at least five people were killed in the clashes that ensued between the two sides. 285 people were injured according to the Colombian Foreign Ministry when Venezuela fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters.
As for the U.S. response Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Maduro a sick tyrant for blocking the aid deliveries. Tomorrow Vice President Pence will meet with Guaido in Colombia.
Joining me now is Guaido's envoy to the United States, Carlos Vecchio.
Mr. Vecchio, let me ask you, is the bulk of the aid getting through the Colombian border, and why is it not getting through the Brazilian border since both the Colombian government and the Brazilian government back Mr. Guaido and are harsh critics of the current president -- of Nicolas Maduro?
CARLOS VECCHIO, VENEZUELAN OPPOSITION'S ENVOY TO THE U.S.: Well, thank you, Fareed, for this opportunity. Just let me tell you the following. I have seen human right abuses since this regime took power particularly since 2014. But yesterday was a tragedy, was a crime against humanity.
What we saw yesterday was a regime killing innocent people trying to bring food and medicine to our country. So therefore, Maduro is not only creating the human crisis in Venezuela, is also blocking the solution of the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, and that has to be rejected by the entire international community.
ZAKARIA: But let me understand whether it is getting through. How much is getting through. And again, why is it not getting through in Brazil -- from Brazil but from Colombia?
VECCHIO: Yes, as you know, I mean, yesterday three trucks reached our territory in Venezuela and all of them were burned by the regime. So unfortunately the food and medicine couldn't reach the people that need that food and medicine. And that's why we decided just to stop the humanitarian aid. The humanitarian aid will remain in Brazil and Colombia, and then we need to discuss with the Colombian and Brazilian authorities the path to come in the next day. So we will preserve that humanitarian aid and then we will work together in when that humanitarian aid will enter into our country.
ZAKARIA: Your boss, Juan Guaido, has called on the army to get on the right side of history. So far the army has not listened to him. It is still backing Maduro. What would it take to get the army to flip?
VECCHIO: Well, Fareed, we need to keep the pressure in different levels. On the streets, using our national assembly as the only elected institution in Venezuela and also put pressure for the international community. And yesterday something happened which is very relevant. Sixteen members from different forces of the military institutions decided to support Guaido. And many of them, some of them, spoke to us saying that inside of the military institution there is a huge discontent against the regime and that will be expressed soon. So we need to increase the level of pressure and to force the military force to back what we want to achieve which is the recovery of our democracy.
[10:10:09] ZAKARIA: President Maduro routinely in every rally -- he danced the salsa yesterday. He says Guaido is backed by Trump, is Trump's puppet. You guys, the Venezuelan people should stay with me. He said this at that salsa dance.
How much is that working? In other words, how effective is it for Maduro to tell people it's the Americans who want Guaido and we are preserving Venezuelan nationalism?
VECCHIO: I mean, the only puppet is Maduro. He's a Cuban puppet. That's the reality. This is a Venezuelan movement led by the people of Venezuela under the leadership of Juan Guaido as an interim president. They are putting their life at risk, as you saw yesterday, in order to recover our democracy. And what we have seen is a fight between democracy and dictatorship, and the free world is supporting our movement, and we need to see it in that way.
This is not a problem of ideology. This is not a problem of nationality. This is again a fight between democracy and dictatorship, and this is a clear Venezuela movement led by Venezuelan with a clear agenda set by Venezuelans. And what we are getting, the support of the international community, and I feel so proud to be a Venezuelan and to be a Latino because the cost of democracy in this hemisphere is taking place in Venezuela due to the courage of the Venezuelans.
ZAKARIA: Let me ask you finally and briefly, Donald Trump says all options are on the table, implying that there is a military option that the United States could use. Do you welcome that kind of rhetoric, or do you want to make it clear that the United States should not use any military force in this issue?
VECCHIO: Again, this is not a fight between the United States and the Maduro regime. This is fight between the free world against the Maduro regime. And keep this in mind, we are dealing with a criminal state. They have been involved in drug trafficking, money laundering, human rights abuses and of course link to terrorist group. And we need to consider this in order to elaborate --
ZAKARIA: But do you want --
VECCHIO: -- a clear strategy.
ZAKARIA: Do you want to keep military options on the table? Do you think the United States should keep military -- VECCHIO: Yes -- we need to have all the options under the principle
of responsibility to protect, which is what's approved by the U.N. We cannot allow that a regime kills his own people. And we have under the principle of the U.N. the responsibility to protect a population that's under fire from his own regime.
ZAKARIA: Mr. Vecchio, very important. Thank you so much for joining us.
Next on GPS --
VECCHIO: Thank you --
ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, President Putin's nuclear threat against America and its European allies. Is the Cold War, at least the nuclear arms race, back? When we come back.
[10:17:25] ZAKARIA: In his annual state of the nation address Russia's President Vladimir Putin made a stark threat to the United States and its allies. If Washington places intermediate range nuclear missiles in Europe Putin said his tit-for-tat response would be to deploy weapons against the countries that threaten Russia.
I have a great panel to talk about that threat and much more. Carl Bildt was the prime minister of Sweden. He is now the co-chair on the European Council on Foreign Relations. Steven Hadley was President George W. Bush's National Security adviser. He is now principal at Rice, Hadley, Gates. And Susan Glasser, a longtime former foreign correspondent and editor is now staff writer at "The New Yorker" and a CNN global affairs analyst.
Steve, let me start with you. That rhetoric struck me. I mean, you had been in government during the Cold War, in very senior positions. It felt very much like the Cold War. What did you make of it?
STEPHEN HADLEY, FORMER U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, you know, this a culmination of a process where Russia has been in violation of the INF treaty but somewhat skillfully put the United States in a dilemma. Do you go ahead and stay in a treaty where the other party is violating it consistently or do you accept in some sense the opprobrium of pulling out?
And I think after efforts under two administrations to get the Russians to return to compliance, the Trump administration has basically bowed to the inevitable and they have decided to pull out.
ZAKARIA: Carl Bildt, does this worry you? Do you feel as though there is a kind of new nuclear tension in the air?
CARL BILDT, FORMER SWEDISH PRIME MINISTER: I believe that that is the case. There's a lot of worry in Europe over this and we all met at the Munich Security Conference last weekend, and this was very much talked about. The European hope is, of course, that the next few months will be used
to go back to the negotiating table one way or the other, and try to see if there is some sort of solution that can be achieved. Putin is now talking developing very new weapons, hypersonic and other things, that's bad and that's threatening. At the same time, as he said, he's saying that if the U.S. doesn't deploy anything new in Europe, he will not deploy anything new in Europe.
Well, NATO says that he has already done that but perhaps one should take his word and see if one can negotiate something that avoids a new nuclear race over the continent of Europe.
[10:20:02] ZAKARIA: Susan Glasser, you were a foreign correspondent in Moscow I think when George W. Bush, Steve Hadley really, withdrew from the ABM treaty for similar kinds of reasons.
Do you think that there is a plan here that the Trump administration has? Because there's a plausible case to be made that, you know, these treaties need to cover the new nuclear powers like China. And maybe that this is a way to go forward. Or is this just an active peak?
SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, I do think there's a good argument for modernization of arms control. After all this is a legacy that we have of a Cold War that is three decades in our past, on the one hand. On the other hand I'm struck by the fact that right now Carl talked about the possibility of negotiations but I didn't come out of Munich feeling that there were any imminent plans to actually do so, first of all. Essentially that it's a lot easier to blow up agreements than it is to make agreements, especially with this particular American president.
You know, it is an interesting fact of arms control that the Russians and the Soviets before them have always been very invested in some ways, as seeing this as first of all confirmation of their great power status. Vladimir Putin, as you know, is a very prickly figure who is very eager to appear on the world stage as someone that the United States needs to sit down and negotiate with.
ZAKARIA: Speaking of people who enjoy being on the world stage, Steve Hadley, we are in for a new Trump-Kim Jong-un summit.
Do you worry that the president is so eager to get that Nobel Peace Prize that Shinzo Abe has already nominated him for that he might cut a deal that isn't in America's interest?
HADLEY: No, I'm not worried about that. He has given the lead on this to Secretary Pompeo. Steve Biegun, who is the special envoy for Secretary Pompeo, is working this issue, is a very seasoned person. And we know that John Bolton is actual very skeptical of the whole proposition of negotiating. So I think there's in some sense a healthy and dynamic tension within the president's National Security team.
I think they are going to try to make some progress. I think they're going to probably try to work somewhat incrementally, a step for step. At this point in time, that may be the best approach. But I think this is a different approach from the president. It's much more top down with the meeting with the leaders.
I think, though, since the bottom up approaches of two prior administrations have failed, we ought to give this one the benefit of the doubt and see what they can come up with.
ZAKARIA: Susan Glasser, Trump does seem particularly fascinated by Kim Jong-un.
GLASSER: Indeed he does. One of the most extraordinary developments of the last couple of years is watching the president of the United States, a great democracy, fall in love with the dictator of North Korea. He calls him Chairman Kim. When visitors come to President Trump's office he literally calls out as he did at that interview with "The New York Times" a couple of weeks ago, bring the letters, bring the letters, let me show you the letters from Kim Jong-un, which essentially are a series of boilerplate, you know, generic flowery phrases.
And you know, the unease, we can describe it as healthy tension, but the deep unease that the president's own advisers on foreign policy have about the president's approach to handling one of the most significant security challenges in the world today, it's something that is a marker of this moment, right? It's just -- it's both crazy and yet completely not surprising at this moment that, you know, we're going into a summit with North Korea and the stories are about the president's own team not being happy with the strategy.
ZAKARIA: Don't go away. Next on GPS, the sentiment at last week's Munich Security Conference was pretty tough on Donald Trump. Europe isn't united on much these days but it seems to have found common cause in concern over Trump and his policies.
At the same time a movement was revealed there in Munich to reaffirm democracy around the world. What does it mean? Will it work? We'll talk about that when we come back.
[10:28:23] ZAKARIA: The rise of authoritarianism and extremism around the world has meant increasing attacks on very essence of democracy. That sentiment was at the heart of a declaration made by a very high powered group at last weekend's Munich Security Conference. This declaration of principles for freedom, prosperity and peace called for a reaffirmation of the rule of law, free and fair elections, free markets and other key freedoms that have ruled the West and much of the world since the end of World War II.
The co-chairs of this declaration were former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former Japanese Foreign minister, Yoriko Kawaguchi, and two of my guests, Carl Bildt and Stephen Hadley. My other guest, Susan Glasser, was also in Munich covering the conference and the declaration.
Carl, what is the point of a declaration like this? It feels as though it's certainly not going to move Vladimir Putin or Xi Jinping or Erdogan. You know, there is this troubling trend that you point out. But do you think that this is best dealt with by paper declarations?
BILDT: Well, I don't think it's going to move those particular individuals at least initially. But going back to why did we do this. The foundations for what we referred to as liberal global order was put 70 years ago, it's a long time ago, immediately after two devastating global conflicts. So it is fairly obvious at that time that a global order was needed.
That has been fraying, that has been losing strength, that has been losing a certain amount of -- a lot of people don't remember how it was. So we felt first the need to reaffirm, see what is relevant today, and secondly to reach out. Those principles were, sort of, formed and set down in what was essentially an Atlantic-dominated world. We now have a much larger world.
We were keen to look at the possibilities of writing something that would resonate all over the world, in Brazil and Mexico and Indian and Iran and Indonesia and Japan and see that eventually this is possible, we could also have it resonate in some of the countries that you alluded to, which is a somewhat difficult task ahead.
ZAKARIA: Steve Hadley, the -- the problem a lot of people say is that the United States has lost faith in this liberal world order; it is retreating from core principles like free trade. The Trump administration does not seem particularly interested in promoting human rights or democracy abroad. In fact, Trump has a -- seems to have a greater fascination with strong men; and that, you know, that's the real problem; it isn't all these places in the periphery; it's that, at the core, there is a loss of faith in the mission.
HADLEY: There is a lot of concern about that reflected in Munich in statements about the administration. But remember, I think the Trump election was a -- a reflection as much as it was a cause. We have seen within populations in democratic states a crisis of confidence, a questioning of whether democratic principles and free markets are really the proper foundation for societies. And that frustration and disaffection was reflected in the Brexit vote, in the rise of extremist parties on the right and the left that are anti-trade in some sense, anti-E.U., and in the disaffection with globalization here in the United States.
So we -- in some sense we have a crisis of confidence within our democratic societies about our commitment to democratic systems and principles. And as Madeleine Albright said, it's time for us to renew our vows to those principles; to update them to reflect the new context in which we are operating, which is what we tried to do in this document; and then to mount a campaign to reach out to our citizens to explain these principles, why they make sense as a foundation for societies that can better deliver for their people and states that can live together in peace. And that's the campaign that we're going to try to kick off, having rolled out these principles at Munich. ZAKARIA: Susan Glasser, I come back to this issue, which is it does
feel as though the Trump administration embodies some of the problems that people are talking about. You've been writing a lot for The New Yorker about Trump and, you know, the way in which he's -- he occupies the presidency. I was very struck by a piece you wrote about Trump and the Republicans, in which you said the Republicans have finally arrived at the one strategy which they have -- they can agree on, as to how to handle Donald Trump.
And Charles Grassley, the senator from Iowa, expressed it very succinctly, which is to pray. Can you elaborate on that?
GLASSER: Well, you know, he said that it was -- it seems like a year ago, but it was actually only a little bit more than a week ago. Remember, in our great national shutdown crisis, it literally was down to the wire whether the president was going to sign the bill that Democrats and Republicans had agreed upon essentially to make a spending deal and make sure there wasn't a second government shutdown after the 35-day government shutdown. And here Chuck Grassley is presiding over the Senate; there's hours to go, and they've reached this consensus; and they don't even know what the president is going to do. He said "We should all pray."
And of course what happens then was just as revealing as Senator Grassley's own statement, which is that the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, apparently got word that the president was not committed to the agreement that his party had reached and once again was threatening to blow it up. And so Mitch McConnell had to call back and forth very anxiously and essentially concede to do something that he had already publicly warned the president against, said that it was not a good idea. He basically was forced by Trump to endorse the declaration of a national emergency, to go around Congress and arguably to subvert the congressional powers that are the foundation of Mitch McConnell's entire public philosophy.
And I think, you know, the last couple years has been a very difficult one for Republicans, as they are faced with a constant series of confrontations between their principles -- and this goes to this statement of Atlantic principles. You know, Steve Hadley was pointing out free trade, internationalism. Those have been at the bedrock of Republican party orthodoxy. And to -- over and over again, Republican public officials are forced to confront this contradiction between the principles that they say that they support and have for a long time and the lead -- leadership of their own party, the president.
And, you know, I think that's the moment that we're in right now.
ZAKARIA: Well, I think clearly the Republicans need to pray harder.
Thank you all -- fascinating conversation.
Next on "GPS," we will bring you to a region of the world that is getting religion and seeing a backlash as a result against all kinds of human rights, including gay rights. I will tell you about it when we come back.
ZAKARIA: Now for our "What in the World "segment. We've talked a lot about Venezuela, but today history is being made in another part of Latin America. Right now, Cubans are voting in a referendum that is expected to usher in a new constitution. The document contains plenty of good reforms, including the right to private property, finally, but there is one conspicuous absence. Lawmakers abandoned language that would have unequivocally opened up a path to legalizing same-sex marriage.
That idea was met with ardent opposition from a community with growing clout throughout the region, evangelical Christians. According to the Pew Research Center, in 1970 just 4 percent of Latin Americans identified as Protestant, which, for the most part in the region, is synonymous with evangelicals. In 2014 that proportion had grown to 19 percent.
In the New York Times the political scientist Javier Corrales writes that politically, evangelicals in Latin America resemble their counterparts in the U.S. On gay rights and gender identity, they're conservative, even reactionary.
So the growth of evangelical churches has awakened a culture war in the region. Nowhere is this movement more dominant than in Brazil, where a strong evangelical lobby backed the far-right president Jair Bolsonaro. On his first day in office Bolsonaro removed LGBT issues from the purview of the human rights ministry. The Washington Post notes that his evangelical supporters are advocating a bill that would require people to use bathrooms according to their biological sex. According to The Economist, some of Bolsonaro's evangelical supporters want to ban any progressive language about gender and sexuality from classrooms.
And religion is mixing with politics beyond Brazil. Evangelicals in Argentina, along with Catholics, mobilized to fight against a proposed law that would legalize abortion. Even Mexico's leftist president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, came to power with a coalition including a small evangelical party that explicitly opposes abortion and same- sex marriage.
What makes this burgeoning culture war so noteworthy is the fact that much of Latin America has had an extraordinary liberal tradition when it comes to gay rights. As discussed in a New York Times op-ed, that is owed in part to the fact that many constitutions in the region are relatively recent, forged in the last few decades, often in the wake of dictatorship.
Because of that history, they often stress human rights, and some even offer explicit protections for gays. In many cases courts and legislatures have followed suit. Argentina legalized same-sex marriage in 2010, which is five years before the U.S. Supreme Court did. Gay marriage is also legal in Brazil, Uruguay, Colombia and several Mexican states. But a backlash is mounting. What we're seeing is the very beginning of
a new identify politics in Latin America, says Shannon O'Neil of the Council on Foreign Relations. But this is an identity politics rooted not in ethnicity but evangelical Christianity, fired by discomfort with modern, open, diverse societies. And it could derail one of the great narratives of progress in the developing world.
Next on "GPS," concern about climate change appears to be rising, but my next guest says it is not enough. We need to panic. Find out why when we come back.
Don't forget, if you miss a show, go to cnn.com/fareed for a link to my iTunes podcast.
ZAKARIA: On Wednesday The Washington Post reported that the White House was preparing to name a climate change skeptic to head a panel tasked with determining whether climate change was a national security threat. This skeptic, William Happer, said in 2014.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM HAPPER, PRINCETON PHYSICIST: The demonization of carbon dioxide is just like the demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: Yes, you heard that right. So this White House panel's findings could be a foregone conclusion. And of course it fits perfectly a pattern of administration actions and presidential tweets. Donald Trump is not worried about climate change.
Well, my next guest is. And he's very worried. David Wallace-Wells is the climate columnist for New York magazine and the author of the new book, "Uninhabitable Earth."
So, David, what makes you so worried, so alarmist, now? It feels like there's an urgency to what you're writing.
DAVID WALLACE-WELLS, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: We're headed for some really bleak outcomes. So if we don't change course on fossil fuels, by the end of the century we'll get to about 4 degrees of warming. That would mean total global economic damages of $600 trillion, which is double all the wealth that exists in the world today. The U.N. says it would mean hundreds of millions of climate refugees, perhaps as many as a billion climate refugees.
It would mean twice as much war as we see today because there's a relationship between temperature and conflict. And that happens at the national level. It also happens at the individual level. So rates of murder and rape would go up. It has an impact on agricultural yields. It has an impact on public health because mosquitoes will be flying ever farther afield.
For all of these reasons, it is an all-encompassing problem. It changes, or threatens to change just about every aspect of modern life as we know it. And we have it within our power to change that course and to pull up short of 4 degrees, well short of 4 degrees, but we've done so little to signal that we're serious about that, that it makes me worried that we won't do enough in time to avert some of these catastrophic impacts.
ZAKARIA: But do you know the basic problem is with this -- with this analysis, which is that even you said, at the end of the century. So the problem is that, you know, it's -- the costs are very long-term for, you know, not doing something. And the pain is very short-term for doing something, carbon taxes, massive shift in your lifestyle, things like that. So at the end of the day people just don't worry about stuff that's so far in the future.
WALLACE-WELLS: Well, I think that we're beginning to learn that it's right with us. The wildfires are a very vivid example of that. It made a lot of people feel like climate threat was right around the corner. And I think this is a big breakthrough. It used to be that we thought of climate change on this timescale of centuries, maybe even millennia. And we're starting to think of it in the timescale of decades.
More than half of all the carbon that we've put into the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels has come in the last 25 years. That's since the U.N. established the IPCC. It's since Al Gore published his first book on warming. It's since the premiere of "Seinfeld." This is -- we've done this damage in 25 years. Twenty-five years ago we were in a relatively stable climate. Now we're on the brink of catastrophe. And the damage that we've done in just those 25 years has brought us there.
On the question of long-term impacts versus short-term impacts, I think you're right that this was one way that climate change was conceived for a very long time, that saving ourselves from real devastating impacts would be very expensive; it would mean foregoing economic growth; and that while climate change promised humanitarian costs, that if you added up the dollars and cents, the total really wasn't that much. But all of the new economic research in the last few years really reverses that logic. There was a major study last year that said that the world would add $26 trillion to the global economy just by 2030 through rapid de-carbonization. That's an incredibly fast pay-off, really, when you think about it. And if we could avoid those $600 trillion of impacts at the end of the century, obviously we want to.
ZAKARIA: So if you read Bill Gates's annual letter, he talks about climate change. And again, he's very concerned about it, but what he says is you have no idea the scale of change you have to take -- that has to take place because people just think about fossil fuels; they think about, you know, coal for electricity. But, you know, 20 percent or 30 percent of it is agricultural. A lot of that is cows, the methane, you know...
ZAKARIA: ... being released, as you put it, at both ends... (LAUGHTER)
... the mouth and the -- and the other side -- which means essentially going to a much more vegetarian, plant-based diet. This seems unimaginably hard.
WALLACE-WELLS: Well, there are other solutions to it. For instance, lab-grown meat has no carbon footprint, and there have been some small trials that show that, if you feed cattle seaweed, it reduces their methane emissions by as much as 95 percent or even 99 percent, which means that, if we fed our beef cattle seaweed, we could completely eliminate the carbon problem of eating beef.
And I think, even more than how much you and I are willing to change our diets, the question is what the growing middle class in China in particular will be -- how their diets will be changing over the course of the century. And really, ultimately, the future of the planet's climate will be determined by China and its path of development. As much as we think in the U.S. that our patterns of behavior are important, which they are, China already has the biggest carbon footprint in the world. And since they're building so much of the infrastructure of Asia and Africa right now, they're going to be determining the carbon footprint of the future.
ZAKARIA: What do you think about the United States? Donald Trump, as you say, has stepped back dramatically from any kind of leadership position. Can the governors and the mayors fill that gap?
Is America a kind of -- you know, I always worry that that sounds good, but at the end of the day you do need the federal government, if you want the whole country involved.
WALLACE-WELLS: I think you basically need action at every level. So the community level, the state level, the national level and the international level. That, to me, is the most important because, even if we get our policymakers to really focus on aggressive action on climate, which I do think some of this new economic research will make them focus, there is this collective action problem. Everybody -- every individual nation's incentive is to slow-walk action on climate and let others clean up the mess.
And there needs to be a system that makes sure that everybody honors their commitments. Paris was an effort to do that, the Paris Accords, but no major industrial nation is on track to honor those commitments. And even if they did, we'd be on track for 3 degrees of warming, which would mean a total loss of all ice sheets. It would mean hundreds of millions of climate refugees. It would mean our agricultural yields would be 30 percent lower than they would be otherwise.
The impacts are everywhere you look. And we need a truly global system but also a local system dealing with it at every level. It's that big a problem. It touches every aspect of modern life.
ZAKARIA: All right. I was going to try to end on a cheery note, but I think that's the more accurate note to end on. David, pleasure to have you on. WALLACE-WELLS: Thanks for having me.
ZAKARIA: And we will be back.
ZAKARIA: And now for the last look. Last week I gave you my take on anti-Semitism. Some of you were skeptical that it is such a growing problem. Well, consider this. In eastern France close to 100 graves in a Jewish cemetery were desecrated with swastikas early this week.
In response to a string of anti-Semitic attacks, tens of thousands marched in the streets in protest and President Emmanuel Macron delivered a blistering rebuke to anti-Semitism. The French ministry of interior said anti-Semitic incidents were up a staggering 74 percent last year.
In Britain a group of M.P.s resigned from the Labor Party, citing, among other things, the party's mishandling of anti-Jewish sentiments within its ranks. A U.K. charity that tracks anti-Semitism reported a new record for last year, more than 100 anti-Jewish incidents every month.
And anti-Semitic offenses are also on the rise in Germany. The newspaper Der Tagesspiegel reports that physical attacks were up 60 percent in 2018.
Continent-wide, anti-Semitic tropes are commonly held views. A recent CNN poll found that a third of Europeans said Jews used the Holocaust to advance their own positions or goals, and that about a quarter believed Jews have too much influence in business and finance or conflict in wars around the world. Perhaps most frighteningly, a third of the respondents said they knew just a little or nothing at all about the Holocaust. This is a real problem and it is getting worse.
Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.