Changing Planet Town Hall at Yale

Air Date: 01/25/2011
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Tom Brokaw
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Tom Brokaw joins a panel of experts at Yale University to discuss how climate change is affecting human health, economic opportunity and competitiveness and moral and religious values, as well as how young people are getting involved in finding solutions. Included in the discussion are Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC and director of Yale's Climate and Energy Institute, Billy Parish, co-founder of the Energy Action Coalition, author Katharine Hayhoe, and Linda Fisher, the chief sustainability officer at DuPont. This is the full hour-long program, the first of three "Changing Planet" Town Halls being produced in partnership with the National Science Foundation.

Changing Planet Yale Town Hall - Full Program

TOM BROKAW, anchor:

Climate Change. Will it put us at greater risk for disease? What kind of an economic impact will climate change have? Could it actually create new jobs? How are concerns about climate change bringing faiths and religion together? And how different will your world be in 2050 and beyond? Welcome to Changing Planet.

Hello, I’m Tom Brokaw. We’re gathered here at Kroon Hall, a truly sustainable building on the campus of the Yale University – it houses the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies here at Yale. In partnership with the National Science Foundation and Discover magazine, NBC News has gathered a distinguished panel of experts to explore the impact of climate change on our world. With me here on stage are Billy Parish, who founded the Energy Action Coalition. It’s the largest youth climate advocacy organization in the world. He dropped out of Yale in the middle of his junior year to do just that. Linda Fisher is the chief sustainability officer at DuPont, which is changing the way it does business. Rajendra Pachauri – he likes to be called “Pachi” – is the director of Yale’s Climate and Energy Institute. And, with us as well is Katharine Hayhoe, a research associate professor of Atmospheric Sciences at Texas Tech University. She’s also written a book on faith-based approaches to climate change. So, let’s get started. Let’s begin by watching a clip about a major study on climate change from, where else? NBC News.

NBC News Clip:

ANNE THOMPSON (file): The forecast is alarming and detailed. In Africa, the most vulnerable continent, two hundred fifty million people could face water shortages by 2020. If the world’s average temperature climbs just three degrees, twenty to thirty percent of plants and animals will likely face increased risk of extinction. All projected consequences of global warming, says the report creating climates of extremes.

STEPHEN SCHNEIDER: Don’t be poor in a hot country, don’t live in Hurricane Alley, watch out about being on the coasts or in the Arctic.

ANNE THOMPSON: There will be more strong storms, more drought, more coastal flooding, less snow cover around the world, including the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We’re talking about significant declines in the snow pack out west that drives most of our water in our rivers, in our streams.

ANNE THOMPSON: The snow-packing glaciers are nature’s reservoirs and they’re shrinking, scientists say. The Southwest, already in a drought, is likely to see a decline of up to thirty percent in available water by mid-century, leading some to predict Dust Bowl conditions. Heat waves will be longer and more intense, impacting public health, particularly the elderly. Yet, rising temperatures in the first few decades could lead to bigger harvest in some places. The issue of global warming stirring up evermore controversy and projected trouble.

TOM BROKAW: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued that report back in 2007, and since then, scientists’ predictions about a warmer planet have borne out. 2010 was tied for the hottest year on record, according to the NOAA, that’s the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. But not everyone believes that climate change is a real issue.Yale University recently conducted a research study and found that American opinions on climate change break down into six categories: Fourteen percent of Americans are alarmed; thirty-one percent are concerned; twenty-three percent are cautious; ten percent are disengaged; four percent are doubtful; and eleven percent are dismissive. Our audience of Yale students and New Haven high school students has been chosen to reflect the views of the four middle groups. They were surveyed before this program began, and they will be surveyed at the end to see if there’s been any shift in their attitudes.

Doctor Pachauri, why do you think thirty-one percent of the people still have doubts?

RAJENDRA PACHAURI: I think there’s a variety of reasons. Firstly, I think the scientific community hasn’t done a very good job of communicating the message of science. I think this is also a period when the economy is not doing too well. So, you know, if you play up people’s fears by saying they’ll lose jobs and the economy would get worse, they see any action on climate change as a threat to their wellbeing. And let’s face it, there’s also a systematic and sustained campaign by those who don’t want to accept the reality of climate change to see that science is dismissed. So, it’s really a combination of factors. But, I believe that in the end truth will prevail. Science will have the final say. And I’m sure public opinion will start building up once people realize the facts.

TOM BROKAW: We know that 2010 was the hottest year on record, but we’re sitting here in snowy New Haven. It’s been a long, cold winter in New England and across America. How much of that anecdotal impact does that have on people in terms of forming their attitudes about climate change?

RAJENDRA PACHAURI: Well, you know, the reality is that we know that when we’re talking about climate change, it’s not just smooth and steady increase in temperatures, but an increase in extreme precipitation events and all of this really translates into the kinds of changes that we’re seeing in our entire climate system.

TOM BROKAW: Mr. Parish, the interest that young people have in energy these days, is it a lifestyle choice or is it a career choice for a lot of them? Do they see this as a chance to develop another Silicon Valley? Only this time it’s not about a computer in every home, it’s about renewable energy in every home.

BILLY PARISH: Absolutely, and a number of us have been advocating for a clean energy corps in this country that can give young people an opportunity to get exposed to these clean energy technologies, to go out in their communities and put solar up on roofs and retrofit people’s houses and gain the skills that they need to get jobs and to create jobs, to be entrepreneurial and create new green businesses. And we need to give young people an on ramp into the green economy.

TOM BROKAW: Mr. Parish, are younger people more inclined to be concerned about climate change than older folks?

BILLY PARISH:  Absolutely. You know, we’ve worked with young people all across the U.S. and found that they get it in a way, you know, they grew up with hearing about climate change and grew up with an environmental ethic and are much more sustainability oriented, I think, than Americans, generally.

TOM BROKAW: And do they have influence on their parents?

BILLY PARISH: I did. Yeah, there are lots of stories of political leaders and corporate leaders who became converts around the issue of climate over the dinner table with their kids, who talked about how much the issue mattered to them and how much it was going to impact their lives in the future. And, you know, “Mom, dad, what are you going to do about this? Are you going to leave this mess for us?”

TOM BROKAW:  What did you have, an intellectual influence on them or are pragmatic influence on them? Do they begin to change their way of live, the kind of car that they bought; the kind of home that they had, whether they retrofitted it and made it more energy efficient, for example?

BILLY PARISH:  Yeah, so just in the last couple of weeks, my mom bought a Prius for the first time and my dad, now volunteers for our local environmental organization in New Jersey, working on climate and energy issue, so.

TOM BROKAW:  This has caught on in the business community, Miss Fischer, and no one was really more and involved, more central to that than DuPont, given the kind of business that it was in. It was very carbon-based business before.


TOM BROKAW: Are you finding that it’s not just good public relations but, in fact, it’s good business?

LINDA FISCHER: We’re finding it’s good business in a number of ways. You were talking about the youth, let me just start there. We find our ability to recruit from campuses such as Yale and other places is greatly enhanced when people hear our sustainability story and our commitment to brining alternative fuels to the market; our commitment to Photovoltaics to alternative fuels. It really has resonated with young people. We’re the kind of company people want to work for. From a growth opportunity, we’ve really targeted solutions to climate change. Decreasing dependence on fossil fuels is a huge growth area for the company, and it’s where we’re investing a lot of our research dollars.

TOM BROKAW: Katharine, you live out in the oil patch. You live in Texas, which is synonymous with big oil and drilling and carbon use. Big outfits, big hair, big hats and big appetites. Is it changing in Texas?

KATHARINE HAYHOE: Yes, it is. Every time I drive south of Lubbock, where we live, I see a new field full of brand new wind turbines. Hundreds and hundreds of them covering the plains, surrounding the rusty oil rigs that now sit in the fields.

TOM BROKAW: But we ought not to think that wind power is going to deliver us from oil tomorrow, should we?

KATHARINE HAYHOE: One of the main challenges we face is that there’s no one silver bullet for climate change. Rather it’s a portfolio, a collection of different solutions that depend on where we live and what we have. But what we do know is that we have ample bounty from nature to supply our energy needs. It’s just a matter of what fits us best where we live.

TOM BROKAW: Well, we’ve heard from the panel. Now, we want to hear from our student audience. We have students, as I said earlier, from both Yale University and from New Haven. I don’t know about the New Haven students, in terms of what their ambitions are. They may want to go north to Cambridge and never be able to come back to New Haven again. So we just want to alert our audience to the fact that we’re going to be hearing from these high school students from New Haven and from Yale. But, first we’re going to say, what is the impact of climate change on our health? That’s a critical question for all of us. And we’ll be back with more on that in just a moment.


UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: Um, we had severe climate changes way before our time, like let’s take the Ice Age, for example. Someone somewhere lived. If no one lived then, we wouldn’t be here right now. Why are we so worried now?

TOM BROKAW: The species were sustained even during dramatic climate changes in the past so what makes this one more profound and more dangerous? I think that’s a very good question. Let's begin with Pachi and see what he has to say about it.

RAJENDRA PACHAURI: Well, I think the issue that we really should be concerned about is the rate of change. The climate has always changed on account of natural factors. But what we human beings have done is to have superimposed a set of forces that are now bringing about climate change much faster than has been the case in the past.

TOM BROKAW: Katharine, do you have anything to say or add to that.

KATHARINE HAYHOE: Sure. Um, to put it in perspective, after the last ice age, there was about a thousand years for the world to warm. A thousand years is a really long time to adapt. You know, to pick up your house and move it. But what we’re looking at is we’re looking at a similar size of change, a similar magnitude of change happening in less than a hundred years. And that’s why it is so important.

TOM BROKAW: I think another way to think about it, if I may just add to that, is that let’s say all the theories and all the facts about climate change are wrong. What’s wrong with going to another way of living? What’s wrong with getting ourselves off an oil diet of some kind? What’s wrong with having more efficient transportation or better food production? What’s wrong with lowering the chances that we’re going to have infectious diseases? It’s another way of working at all of this.That’s a critical question for all of us. And we’ll be back with more on that in just a moment.

SUZIE JING, Yale University Student [in interview]: For me, I think of heat stroke, and also famine. So, just the way that global warming is going, we’re not hit as much in the U.S., but in areas of the world like Bangladesh, and in areas of the world like Ethiopia, they have nothing to eat because the droughts have been going on forever.

RAYMOND CARLSON, Yale University Student [in interview]: I know that, for example, in Kenya, there’s a lot of issues with malaria resulting from mosquitoes moving to higher elevations, compared to in the past. So in a lot of ways, I think there are serious health concerns.

TOM BROKAW: We’re back and talking about the Changing Planet and the impact of climate change on all of us. Last year was the wettest year on record. As Discover magazine recently reported, the combination of hotter temperatures, rising carbon dioxide levels and heavy rains is spurring a rise in allergies and asthma worldwide. In this NBC Nightly News report, you’ll see that climate change is also triggering outburst of infectious diseases.

IAN WILLIAMS (file): On the frontline, the battle against the mosquitoes, which carry dengue fever can be intense and personal.

WILLIAMS: It feels like a war against mosquitoes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, yeah, it’s a war.

WILLIAMS: But it’s a war the world is losing. A warmer aquatic climate is triggering more outbreaks of mosquito-borne diseases. Medical experts warn that more than five billion people could soon be at risk from dengue fever alone.

DR. SAMLEE PLIANBANGCHANG: Dengue will be a global problem in term of health because of the change in the climate.

WILLIAMS: Dengue used to be a disease largely of Southeast Asia. Now it’s spread to more than one hundred countries, including Australia and in Africa and South America. Last month it reappeared in Florida for the first time in more than fifty years.

The number of cases worldwide now tops one hundred million per year with around twenty-five thousand deaths.

Groundbreaking research in this Kuala Lumpur laboratory confirms the potential impact of rising temperatures from climate change. It shows a rise of just four degrees Fahrenheit could almost double the speed at which the dengue virus develops in a mosquito.

DR. LOKMAN HAKIM SULAIMAN: The incubation period of the virus becomes short, so they become very effective, much faster.

WILLIAMS: Other new research suggests mosquitoes bite more frequently in hotter temperatures. And because the dengue-carrying Aedes mosquito breeds in stagnant water, a less predictable rainy season means it’s now a year-round threat.

TOM BROKAW: Katharine Hayhoe has studied the impact of climate change on specific locations around the world. Besides infectious diseases, Katharine, what did you see as the impact in our overall health as a result of the changes that are going on in the climate?

KATHARINE HAYHOE: Well, we are very sensitive to extremes, both cold and hot. And what we are seeing is that our high temperature extremes are increasing, while some of our cold temperature extremes decrease in frequency. When we look at major heat waves we’ve had, back in 2003 they had a huge heat wave in Europe. Over here, we’ve had similar heat waves in Chicago and the Midwest, and in the future, we see those heat waves recurring more and more frequently to the point where, by the end of the century, if we continue on our current pathway, we could see heat waves like the 1995 Chicago heat wave occurring three times every summer.

TOM BROKAW:  Katharine, you’ve written about climate change and the relationship that it has to your faith. You’re an evangelical Christian.  And, in fact, one of the phenomena of our discussion about all these is in the Evangelical Christian Movement in the country has kind of turned toward climate change in a positive fashion; they want to do something about it. How did that happen?

KATHARINE HAYHOE: It happened through a lot of hard work for many, many people. But, when you think of it, it really fits. It’s a movement that many people call Creation Care. And so if you believe that the planet is a gift from God; if you believe that he created it for us, to live on, then the most natural thing in the world is to want to take care of it.

TOM BROKAW: Miss Fisher, it seems to me that the whole business about climate change and health is one more business opportunity, and I don’t mean that in a kind of just monetary fashion. You can do well by doing good, it turns out.

LINDA FISHER: Well, our piece of it is really around the food and nutrition piece. And we’re talking about what heat can do to people, it also can be devastating on agriculture. Greater number of droughts throughout the heartlands of America can really be disruptive to our ability to produce corn and soybean. So DuPont’s been investing in seeds and crops that will be able to tolerate heat, be much more drought tolerant or heat tolerant, which will allow us to grow corn or soy beans either in areas that, today are too hot or in areas that we grow today but the temperature is going to be very unpredictable in the future.

BROKAW: Mr. Parish, briefly for young people who are concerned about climate change and looking to find their piece of it in terms of doing something: it seems to me that there are two opportunities that we’ve been talking about here. First of all, you might have medicine that is driven by climate change, people who become more interested in infectious diseases. And then, in the kind of Peace Corps way, they could out go around the world and help those countries with new ways of irrigation and food production and that kind of thing. Is that something that you have in mind for your movement?

BILLY PARISH: Absolutely. You know, I think it’s almost every aspect of our economy is going to need to be rethought, redesigned and rebuilt. You look at cars again, you know, we’re using technologies that were developed over a hundred years ago, and there are new technologies that need to be implemented all across the world. The same with energy. You know, we’re using old, dirty coal-fired power plants and oil, and we can replace those with clean energy. But it’s going to be a staggering amount of work and that’s work that young people can help drive.

TOM BROKAW: I think we have a question from the audience.

WESTON VACCARI: Hi, my name is Weston Vaccari (ph). I’m a junior here at Yale. I’m studying economics. People are concerned right now with the rising cost of health care, and I’m wondering how will climate change affect the cost of health care?

RAJENDRA PACHAURI: Overall, I would say that the cost of adapting to the impacts of climate change will certainly lead to an increase in the health care costs, there’s no getting away from it. And that’s precisely why, I think, we have to look at the balance in terms of what is cheaper: can we reduce emissions of greenhouse gases today so that we can stabilize the earth’s climate, rather than adapt to the impacts of climate change and incur much higher costs over a period of time? So, I think this is an economic issue quite apart from an ethical and equity issue. And I think decision makers and the public, at large have to consider these very carefully.

TOM BROKAW: We’ll be back in a moment, and we’re going to be talking about what students are doing to make a difference when it comes to climate change.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 1 (file): I think my generation has been more aware of it because of, like, the media, and I think our parents’ generation may not acknowledge it as much. And I think it’ll definitely be a problem that we’ll have to deal with more as we get older, and maybe our kids will deal with.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 2 (file): There’s always things to worry about in the future, as we move forward. You want to know how you’re going to be affected by it, and how my kids are going to be affected. But our generation, kind of, until we feel the effects, we won’t really do anything about it. We’re not as proactive as we probably should be.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 3 (file): Thirty or forty years down the line, I feel like my generation will bear the consequences of global warming.

TOM BROKAW: Welcome back to the Changing Planet, here at Yale University, the Impact on the Lives and Values. During the 2008 presidential election, young Americans got very involved in the political process during that election cycle and one of their primary issues was climate change. That makes sense because climate change will have the most impact on those young people as they grow older. Now, Nightly News and this clip showing the work that some young people are already doing to try to make a difference when it comes to climate change.

JOHN LARSON (file): At a high school in San Gabriel, California, kids are working on a solar electric boat. Their classmates are tweaking a hydrogen fuel project, building a new electric bike and converting vegetable oil into bio-diesel. All, by the way, during their week off.

AMANDA MARTINEZ: A lot of these people here, all they want to do is make a difference--change the world, and I think we can do it.

LARSON: Environmental consciousness, building among young people for years is gaining momentum with a focus on global warming.

This month's Step It Up demonstration involved hundreds of thousands of Americans in more than fourteen hundred events across the nation--all to demand drastic cuts in the carbon emissions believed partially responsible for global warming.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I really want my kids to have a good life and I don't want them living in a smog-filled world.

LARSON: The event was planned by Internet savvy students at Middlebury College in Vermont, and rapidly went viral on the web with such speed it surprised even the environmental writer who encouraged the students to launch the campaign.

BILL MCKIBBEN: I think especially with young people, it's the understanding that this is going to be their lives for the next fifty, sixty, seventy years.

LARSON: Not since the sixties have campuses coordinated such a national event--student activism like the Earth itself, appears to be warming.

TOM BROKAW: Mr. Parish, are younger people more inclined to be concerned about climate change than older folks?

BILLY PARISH: Absolutely. You know, we’ve worked with young people all across the U.S. and found that they get it in a way, you know, they grew up with hearing about climate change and grew up with an environmental ethic and are much more sustainability-oriented, I think, than Americans, generally.

TOM BROKAW: And do they have influence on their parents?

BILLY PARISH: I did. Yeah, there are lots of stories of political leaders and corporate leaders who became converts around the issue of climate over the dinner table with their kids, who talked about how much the issue mattered to them and how much it was going to impact their lives in the future. And, you know, “Mom, dad, what are you going to do about this? Are you going to leave this mess for us?”

TOM BROKAW: When we come back, a youth movement on climate change.

KATHERINE GRUNZWEIG, Yale University Student [in interview]: As somebody who’s studied the sciences, I’ve heard a lot about, over the past 150 years we’ve had a lot more carbon emissions, we’re burning a lot more fossil fuels, industrialization is just increasing exponentially. And I think that that does have some sort of impact that we wouldn’t have seen 150 years ago.

PATRICK PITONIAK, Yale University Student [in interview]: I feel that the Earth is going to naturally change its temperature just because that’s the way climate works. And so when people are just ujumping to one side, saying, you know, “It’s all our fault, we have to stop using fossil fuels,” I think we have to be careful. We should wean ourselves off of fossil fuels, but it’s not all our fault.

RAYMOND CARLSON, Yale University Student [in interview]: I’m definitely concerned about climate change. I feel as though really, as a student, there’s very little that I can do as one individual to change it. In many ways, all I feel that I can do is use a Nalgene bottle, or you know, try recycling different things like paper, that sort of thing. But beyond that, I really feel powerless against this major global problem.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 1 [in interview]: I think global warming is happening. And I don’t think enough people acknowledge that it is going on.

TOM BROKAW: Back at Yale University. Billy Parrish dropped out of Yale and he now heads Solar Mosaic, a company designed to encourage solar energy use but he got his name, galvanizing America’s young people on climate change and doing something about it.

Billy, a question that always occurs to me about these kinds of efforts; you’re out there working with young people, you got them fired up about it. I know a lot of work is being done at Yale. It’s being done at MIT. It’s being done at Berkeley and at Sanford. Do you have connective tissue among the young people in this country? Are they all working together, or are you working in pods?

BILLY PARISH: In 2004, we created something called the Energy Action Coalition that brought over fifty different youth organizations into a unified coalition to build a strong voice for young people across the country. And we’ve been working together in that coalition ever since. So we have state networks all around the country. We organize national conferences.

And we’re now seeing it all around the world. There are coalitions and networks forming in almost every country in the world. And we’re networking across borders and working to organize national and Global Days of Action to show the world that young people care and want to see this transition.

TOM BROKAW: There are hundreds of millions of young Chinese, however, who are moving from the rural area into the urban areas, a lot of them have been living kind of primitive lives. Now, they’ve got their first shot at having a motorcycle, or having a car, or having all the toys that we take for granted here, do you think that they are going to be any easy sell on climate change?

BILLY PARISH: Well, I think part of the answer is smarter design. We can design technologies. Motorcycles, for example, that are sustainable. They just haven’t been in the past. But there are these new technologies and innovations that are solving that problem. But, I think all of us need to learn how to live in a healthier, you know, more sustainable, more balanced way. And I think the leadership needs to come from here in the U.S. where we’ve been consuming too much without care for the impacts.

TOM BROKAW: Pachi, you’re a student of what’s going on in this country, politically. You know what’s happening there right now, there is a great wall that has been put up on the part of a lot of people who are coming to Washington, having been elected in this last cycle, who are saying “not another dime to be spent.” Former congressman from Katharine’s home state, Dick Armey is saying, get rid of all rail subsidies. And he’s a big political voice at the moment.

RAJENDRA PACHAURI: Well, the fact is, you know we really need to make investments and ensure that we provide the signals through policy, by which investment’s going to these areas. And a person may possess a car, but he doesn’t have to use it every day to commute to work and back from work. If you have public transport as you do in Washington, DC, my God, the metro I think is a roaring success. Otherwise, can you imagine what the streets of Washington would be like? So I think we need to start looking ahead. And government has an extremely important role to play in providing the right signals for business.

TOM BROKAW: Can companies like DuPont lead the way more effectively in some fashion than the government because there’s this big emphasis, at the moment, on the private sector and free enterprise?

LINDA FISHER: There is a role for subsidies as we bring new technologies on to the market. So today Photovoltaic cells cannot compete with electricity in terms of price per kilowatt hour. We need the government subsidies until we can get them at a cost competitive price, and then the subsidies should go away. So they shouldn’t be there forever. So it’s really a bridging.

And I think that these new technologies are going to be for the world. And we’re either going to invent them here and we’re going to create those jobs here, or they’re going to be invented and those jobs are going to be created elsewhere. So I really see it – and we see it at DuPont – as a real opportunity for America to be the innovation leader on these alternative technologies.

TOM BROKAW: We have a question from the audience.

JERMAINE SANCHEZ: My question is, my grandfather lived to be a hundred and three years old, with population growing, how do you think global warming will affect my generation when it grows older? Thank you.

TOM BROKAW: Well, there are two questions in effect there: As they grow older, how will climate change and we are going to have a population base that is different because of the extent of life span that we have. Pachi, you want to take a shot at that?

RAJENDRA PACHAURI: Yeah. I think you need to look at population as well as consumption patterns. You know, we are adding say, three million people to our population each year. So I think the point is the rest of the world can’t possibly emulate the patterns of consumption in the U.S. We have to find a different route, a different path.

TOM BROKAW: That’s a tough sell in this country, however, isn’t it Katharine, you know we have so many people who like to have their toys and they may intellectually understand the demands of climate change and the impact. But we’ve just gone through this enormous boom, in which houses went much larger, people like to have big cars. The fact of the matter is, not enough attention is paid to this: the Internet and all the new IT technology consumes a lot of electricity. I mean, it really sucks it up all day long. And we’ve not talked about that very much.

KATHARINE HAYHOE: It’s true. We definitely have many things that the rest of the world does not. And how can we sit here and say that you cannot have what I have? That message is not really a very popular message. And I don’t it’s the message that we need. I think that this is about learning to do the things that we already enjoy in better, smarter ways that improve the quality of our own lives. Cars that are faster and cooler than the cars we have today. Computers that are much more efficient than the ones we have today, being able to do even more than we do today with the new, more sustainable products that we can get.

TOM BROKAW: We’ve got to get behind just changing the light bulb.


TOM BROKAW: Well, one of my friends who is very active in this movement likes to say, “We have to start asking the question every day. It’s not what I want; it’s what I really need.” That’s the question that we have to address to society.

RAJENDRA PACHAURI: I think that’s absolutely right. I think we have to cut out waste. I mean, there's an enormous amount of waste in different parts of the world. And if we made a beginning with that, we really wouldn’t be making huge sacrifices. We’d actually be able to improve our living standards because you’d have much less dirt, much less waste to manage. And I think we have to do things in a much smarter way without having to live in caves and wrapping ourselves in sheepskin.

TOM BROKAW: Well, we don’t want to – but, although, on a snowy evening in Yale, that may not be a bad idea to do that.

When we come back, is there a green revolution on the job front?


UNIDENTIFIED MAN 1 (file): The big thing about crises are it tends to lend itself towards job creation. Like the Second World War definitely increased jobs. And I think that now the green revolution could tend to create more jobs too.

ARIANNE EASON, Yale University Student [in interview]: I think that it’s going to be a long term problem, and in order to fix it we really have to work on long term solutions.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 2 (file): Businesses are only going to adjust if the government changes it or if, you know, their buyers or demand demands it.

TOM BROKAW:  Every day there appears to be a new solution on the energy front: solar panels, wind, biofuels, thermal fuels. Discover magazine just reported a novel plan to harvest wind power with flying kites. How realistic are some of these ideas and what’s the cost? This clip from the Today Show explores one new fuel source that was just beginning to attract attention by the big energy companies.

GEORGE LEWIS (file): At this Millbrae, California, deli, there's something cooking besides food. A project run by Chevron Energy Solutions that recycles the restaurant's grease.

Mr. BILL BROCKENBOROUGH (Chevron Energy Solutions): The pump comes on and the grease is sucked out of the truck and put into this holding tank behind you.

LEWIS: It's turned into fuel to run the city's sewer plant.

For Chevron this is one of several projects aimed at tapping into renewable sources of energy as the world's supply of oil continues to dwindle and concerns about global warming continue to mount.

This huge array of solar cells outside the San Francisco post office, plus more energy-efficient equipment inside, are cutting more than $1 million a year off the Postal Service's electric bill.

Critics say that at a time of record-high profits for big oil, Chevron's alternate energy business only accounts for 1/10 of 1 percent of total sales.

Mr. CHRISTOPHER FLAVIN (President, Worldwatch Institute): But I really see little evidence of the kind of serious strategic investment in R&D that would make the American oil companies major players in these competitive new businesses.

LEWIS: With the renewable energy business growing by 30 to 40 percent a year, oil companies may be forced to reduce their own dependence on fossil fuels or risk becoming the dinosaurs of the energy industry.

TOM BROKAW: One-tenth of one percent Chevron's alternative energy programs, that is not a major commitment. At DuPont, Linda Fisher, it’s more than that. I was reading a figure that says you’ve gotten almost seven and a half billion dollars in revenue now from non-depletable sources that you’ve developed. How much did you have to change your R&D budget because DuPont was always on the cutting edge of being innovative anyway? Did you have to expand it considerably?

LINDA FISHER: We’ve definitely shifted our R&D dollars. Today we are investing about eighty-five percent of our research and development dollars in three major areas. One is improving our ability to grow food, increasing the productivity of an acre of land.

The second one is decreasing our dependence on fossil fuels, so we would include that in our investments in better materials for Photovoltaic cells; our investments in cellulosic ethanol; our investments in biobutanol, which is another alternative fuel that we think is going to be much better than ethanol; and our investments in technologies that will improve people’s safety.

So we really are targeting our research dollars. We think the demand from the marketplace is going to be there. We think it’s a great growth opportunity. And your point earlier, we really believe we can do well by doing good.

TOM BROKAW: Pachi, where are businesses most responsive to this? I mean, we know that what’s going on with DuPont, General Electric, which until recently was the majority owner of NBC, it’s got a big program under way. Obviously, the automobile industry is trying to turn to much more energy-efficient automobiles. Is it primarily centered here? Or what’s going on in China, for example, in Southeast Asia?

RAJENDRA PACHAURI: No, I’m afraid the U.S. is behind in this regard. You see what Germany has been doing. They’ve really been able to use renewable energy on a much larger scale. South Korea is making major investments in renewable energy, so is China now.

India has a very ambitious solar energy program, planning to set up twenty thousand megawatts of solar capacity in the next ten years. So the U.S., I’m afraid is also going to lose-out on global markets over a period of time.

But, you know, you also need government policy to move business and consumers in the right direction.

TOM BROKAW: Let’s go to the audience and hear a question from one of our students either from New Haven or from Yale. If you tell us where are you from and what your name is, please?

KATE: Yeah, sure. My name is Kate, I’m a senior at Yale. And I wanted to ask what are some ways of promoting this green economy without relying on government subsidies?

TOM BROKAW: That’s a good question for you Billy, what would you suggest?

BILLY PARISH: Well, you know, the most important thing is that we put a price on carbon, that’s a policy that can generate huge revenues that can then be put into clean energy research and development and be put into programs to get more renewables out there. So, you know, we need to tax what we burn, not what we earn. So right now there is a lot of taxes – payroll tax and other things – on our wages, but we should be taxing the things that we want less of, not the things we want more of like wages. So taxes on coal and oil and put that money into programs.

TOM BROKAW: We have a pro in our midst here, she could be a student, but in fact she is an NBC News employee and she is our chief environmental affairs correspondentm and you have seen her in a lot of the reports here tonight. Anne Thompson. Anne?

THOMPSON: Thanks, Tom. Listening to your discussion about the transition from fossil fuels-based economy to a clean energy economy, Big Oil and Big Coal say that will come at a severe economy cost in the form of jobs, as we make that transition. And it particularly resonates in states like Pennsylvania and West Virginia and Louisiana. So, how do you respond to that? How do you tell Americans to make that transition at such a high economic cost?


RAJENDRA PACHAURI: Well, actually it’s just the reverse which is true. There is now adequate empirical evidence available around the world, wherever people have brought about more efficient uses of energy and greater use of renewable energy, you generate many more jobs than if you were to continue with conventional technologies and fossil fuels. So, I think it’s quite the reverse which is true.

And if you look at the true cost of producing fossil fuels, I mean, everyone knows there are lots of hidden subsidies. So you are really not providing a level playing field and we need to create that level playing field.

TOM BROKAW: Here is a number to think about. There's a lot of talk these days about fiscal responsibility and prudent use of the money that we have. How much do you think we spend every week on importing oil to this country? It’s five billion dollars every week that we’re spending, added up.

By the way, what does it mean for religion and ethics when we talk about clean and sustainable energy. We’ll talk about that when we come back.

PATRICK PITONIAK, Yale University Student [in interview]: I think it’s wrong when people hide behind religion when there’s the facts right in front of them. We need to do something. Whether, to what degree is up for debate, but I don’t think religion really needs to have any strong stance. I think it’s just a global issue we have to all have to work on together regardless of faith.

SUZIE JING, Yale University Student [in interview]: I really believe that God, or the spiritual almighty put us on this Earth to take care of our neighbors. And one way we can take care of the other people on this Earth is by taking care of the world.

TOM BROKAW: We’re back at Yale University talking about the Changing Planet. Religious leaders across many faiths have had a big impact on climate change and the discussion of it. They have taken their message to the pulpit, and in this clip from the Documentary Channel, one church leader describes her commitment to linking religious faith to the future of the environment.

REVEREND SALLY BINGHAM (file): Life is being threatened by our warming climate. It’s the most serious moral issue of our time. I’m Reverend Sally Bingham and I serve as the Environmental Minister at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. We each have a responsibility to be a good steward of creation. How we respond to this problem of global warming, identifies what it means to be human today? What kind of humans are we? I think that global warming is the most serious issue facing our generation. We have a campaign that we're focused on called Interfaith Power and Light. It’s a ministry that’s dedicated to deepening the connection between ecology and faith, so that folks who profess a love for God understand that they have a responsibility for care of God’s creation.

TOM BROKAW:  And now to start our discussion on this part of this discussion of this evening, we want to go to the student audience. Please tell us who you are and where are you from?

NEENA: Katharine, you’ve written about climate change and the relationship that it has to your faith. You’re an evangelical Christian. Is that a particular challenge for faith leaders who want to move their flock, if you will, over to the side of doing something about climate change but members of their parish will say, “Listen, Reverend, I’ve got enough trouble just getting through the day these days without worrying about that.”

KATHARINE HAYHOE: Absolutely. I think for all of us the reality is, is that there are a lot of issues that we care about. And climate change is not at the top of the list for many of us. We care about ourselves, our family, our well being, our education, what we have to realize, though, is that it is fundamentally a myth that we have to choose between the planet and better lives for ourselves. Having a better environment with cleaner air, cleaner water and more natural resources available to us, it benefits us, and it gives us a better life at the same time. So it isn’t “help the planet or help ourselves.” It’s a case of “help ourselves by helping the planet.”

TOM BROKAW: I’d like to ask the audience just by a show of hands, how many of you who came in here very skeptical about the reality of climate change had your minds changed tonight in any way. Any of you? How many of you remain skeptical? You’re still skeptical. How many of you thought as you came in here, “I’m kind of in the middle.” Now you’ve move to the other end of the spectrum and you are concerned about what’s going on with climate change based on what you heard? More people doing that. And finally, how many of you’re going to change your lifestyle or encourage others to do that based on what you’ve heard tonight? That’s not an order on my part, I’m just curious, how many of you will do that? So we thank you all for allowing us to share this evening with you in this wonderful setting. We’d like to thank our panelists, obviously, for being so articulate and committed to this great cause and our partners, the National Science Foundation and Discover magazine and Yale University for hosting this event. To get more information, please visit, and also – that’s the National Science Foundation. To make a difference you can visit Thank you all very much for joining us here on Changing Planet.

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