Crossfire: Bill Nye vs. S.E. Cupp on Climate Change "Scare Tactics"

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S.E. CUPP: 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 --

VAN 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.

(CROSSTALK)

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.

(CROSSTALK)

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?

LORIS: No.

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 350.org, 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 --

(CROSSTALK)

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.

(CROSSTALK)

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.

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