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Bill Moyers: Why Are We Giving the Silent Treatment to the Crisis Which Could Make All Others Irrelevant?

Global warming is a planetary emergency on that should be on every politician’s mind, so why are any of us still silent? And what can we do about it?

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ANTHONY LEISEROWITZ: Well, the first thing I would do is I would listen, I would really listen. Because I'd want to know really what are the depths of, not just their concerns about this issue, but what are their aspirations? What do they want for their children? What do they want for their grandchildren? What kind of community do they want to live in? What are the values that really animate and motivate them?

And I would try to find some way to then meet them where they are first. So let’s just take the religious side. There are wonderful activities going on by all of the world's major religions right now including the evangelical churches to say this is a moral and religious issue, okay.

From our worldview, from our standpoint, this is crucial both because we were commanded by God in Genesis to till and tend the garden, to care for his creation which when he created he kept telling us, "It is good." Okay, it is our responsibility they would say to take care of his creation, and that the kinds of things that we are currently doing to the planet are essentially violating that promise.

But moreover, we're also seeing the theme of social justice, that we've been commanded, they would say, to take care of the least of these: the poor, the sick, the powerless both in our own country and around the world. And many churches, in fact, have invested enormous resources, I mean, sending their young people abroad to do great works to try to help people who desperately need that help.

Their argument would be how can we in good conscience ignore a problem that's just going to push millions of more people around the world into those exact same kinds of circumstances we're trying to help them with, okay. So all I'm saying is that the faith community itself is not monolithic, it isn't homogenous. And it too is trying, currently, struggling to make sense of this new issue and what is the role of religious faith in answering it.

BILL MOYERS: What do you say to the secularist?

ANTHONY LEISEROWITZ: I say let's engage on the science. Let me hear what your arguments are and then let's respond to them. And I would ask in turn that you listen to what the scientific community has to say. It's perfectly fine to have a great conversation with many people about the science itself because the science is so robust at this point. I mean, we have basically known for over 20 years now that, and it actually boils down, for all the complexity of the science it's really quite simple.

It's real, okay, climate change is real. It is mostly human caused this time. There have been climate changes over many millions of years in the past that had nothing to do with human beings. This time it's mostly being caused by our activities. Third, it's going to be bad. In fact, it's bad now and it's going to get worse.

Fourth, there's hope, that there are lots of solutions already on the table that are in fact already being implemented in this country, communities all across this country as well as around the world. There's an enormous amount of work that we can do right now with things that we have in hand.

And then last but not least, what we also know is that many Americans don't understand this one last crucial fact, and that is that the vast majority of the experts, the people who study this day in, day out for a living agree that it's happening, that it's human caused and that's going to be serious.

 
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