In part one of the Breitbart News Network’s interview with Seth MacFarlane, we covered a host of issues, including Jenny McCarthy, Frank Sinatra, Seth’s new Christmas album (which is terrific), and our shared love of 70’s sitcoms. We wrap things up here with an in-depth debate on the issue of Global Warming.
This was, for me, an opportunity to do something I’ve always wanted to do: talk in-depth about this issue with an intelligent, thoughtful individual who knows his stuff and is passionate on the subject. In the hurly-burly of the Inter-web-dot-nets and the 3 minute cable segment, the opportunity for this kind of public deep-dive is rare.
BNN: We’re now going to get into an area of total and complete disagreement. Earlier you talked about how anti-vaccination celebrities were setting us back. That is precisely how I feel about the Global Warming movement — that you’re going to set us back.
“Cosmos” did a fine job covering this issue. People who disagree weren’t mocked, which was nice. I even appreciated the episode devoted to Global Warming that took on directly a number of reasons why some of us don’t believe. But some in this movement seem to want to hurl us back into the Dark Ages where we again go back to sun and wind power.
SM: Nobody wants to shut down technology.
BNN: Doesn’t always seem that way.
SM: That’s where I believe there might be a misperception. Listen, I’m no scientist or climatologist but if 99% of doctors are saying smoking kills you, you listen. That’s why Climate Change is kind of hard to ignore. As are photographs of melting glaciers. There’s very little disagreement in the scientific community. And the message is that we are in big trouble.
If an asteroid was coming our way we wouldn’t do nothing because the asteroid wasn’t our fault. We’d act.
For argument’s sake, hypothetically, let’s say the scientists are wrong. To be clear we can’t afford to take that risk because we’re pretty much screwed if we don’t act. But even if all these scientists are wrong, we gain a lot through the development of other sources of power. We have less reliance on foreign oil, which is a limited resource. We also turn to the sun which is this massive fusion reactor spitting power towards our planet that we’re currently not taking full advantage of. We haven’t made enough effort to turn that into what could be a limitless source of power.
What’s the downside? Cleaner air. Cleaner water. If we learn in the end that Climate Change was not caused by humans, we still come out on top.
BNN: I have so many scientific and ethical issues with this movement it’s hard to know where to begin. You haven’t said this and this wasn’t said in “Cosmos,” but one of my primary issues is the “97% consensus” canard. It’s repeated again and again as gospel when it just isn’t true. I’ve seen 2 recent polls of scientists that puts it closer to 52/48. And then there’s the East Anglia emails where climate scientists are caught hiding scientific information.
One of the things I really liked about “Cosmos” was this running theme of questioning authority. And you told these great stories about how the science was supposedly settled on certain things. And then one person would come along and upend everything, but only after being ridiculed and shunned by the scientific community.
What I see in the scientific and political movement behind Global Warming is that same shutting down and shunning of Global Warming skeptics; the use of the “settled science” talking point to kill debate.
When I hear the United Nations say, as they did recently, that the planet hasn’t warmed in 15 years but, you know, eventually it will…. I laugh. This lack of warming has undermined the “settled science” Global Warming models that got these last 15 years wrong.
And I’m old enough to remember a handful of other environmental scares that never came to pass: the population bomb, global cooling, celebrities assuring me 25 years ago that the oceans would be dead in 10, acid rain…
It’s political and it always feels like Global Warming is a half-truth hustle designed to get me to buy into every item on the Left’s political wish list.
And It’s not just our standard of living that’s under attack. The real crime is what environmentalists and environmentalism are doing to developing countries: urging them not to develop their own resources, which keeps how many millions living in squalor?
I’m just not buying it.
SM: The question is what do people have to gain by making this up?
BNN: Like I said, this crisis fulfills the left’s long-held wish-list for, among other things, centralized government control. Fracking for natural gas should be one solution to this argument: We get the energy we need and natural gas doesn’t put anywhere near the carbon in the air coal petroleum products do. But these people oppose fracking, which just tells me they just oppose progress.
If environmentalists embraced fracking, I would look at them in a whole new way. There’s no good reason not to frack unless what you really want is to tear down our standard of living. No reasonable alternative makes these people happy. Which tells me it’s not about saving the planet, it’s about politics.
SM: Look, I don’t want to give up my iPhone. For me it’s not about that. It’s about the fact that the past year was the hottest year on record since we’ve started tracking temperature in the 1880s. We keep breaking these records. Two years ago it was the same thing.
BNN: Not to berate this point, but the planet as a whole isn’t warming and hasn’t in 15 years. We might be having these hot spots in different areas…
SM: Fair enough, it is important to distinguish between weather and climate, but there’s no denying that a glacier the size of France in West Antarctica has already melted past the point where we can do anything about it. That’s kind of unprecedented. Photographs don’t lie, and when you see the ice shrinkage the fact that this is all occurring post-Industrial Revolution is not a coincidence — a small microscopic period as far as geological time.
I’m a “Star Trek” fan. I’m all about the technological advancement of the human race. We should be on other planets by now. I’m not about reverting to an agrarian society. I just think we should take these threats seriously.
BNN: I’m with you on that, but I’m telling you right now that if we actually came up with actual Dilithium Crystals the political Left would declare them bad for the environment and call for a ban. Just like fracking and nuclear.
SM: Let me put it this way: I don’t agree with a lot of the politics of the Right, but I can at least understand why they believe what they believe. Climate Change is the one issue where I am utterly mystified. The right can be good on scientific issues. For example, there have been periods in history where the right has been better on forwarding the cause of human space flight and exploration — better than the left.
Newt Gingrich came out and said we should have a base on the moon by now…
BNN: Amen to that.
SM: …and everyone laughed. But I remember thinking, ‘Of course he’s right about us having a base on the moon, there’s nothing funny about that.’ If this were 1969, people would just assume we would’ve accomplished that by 1990. He was not wrong.
But back to this one issue of Climate Change, if I could diagnose and fix what it is that creates this resistance on the right, I kid you not, I would gladly join the NRA.
BNN: Let me try and help. All I can add to what I said before is that when Al Gore says more than 5 years ago that the polar ice caps are going to melt in 5 years, and they don’t melt at all; when I’m told to brace myself for monster hurricanes and we have the calmest season in 30 years, despite three decades of additional CO2… Listen, I don’t doubt humans and CO2 affect the environment. It’s the alarmism I’m not ready to buy into.
SM: I would join the NRA.
BNN: (Laughs) Okay, let me try one last thing. Have you ever seen the reality show “Doomsday Preppers?”
SM: My television viewership doesn’t extend beyond old “Honeymooners” episodes.
BNN: Bear with me a second. The show is about real people who believe the end of the world is coming and how they prepare for it. Some of them are crackpots, no question. But they all take their preparations seriously. I may not believe the end of the world is coming, but I believe these people believe. But when you look at the Climate Change movement, I don’t see anyone preparing for the catastrophes they predict.
SM: That’s the problem. No one is preparing.
BNN: But I’m not talking about waiting for the government. I’m talking about individuals and big corporations like General Electric behaving in a way that shows me they truly believe the planet is in jeopardy.
The same coasts that are supposed to be flooded due to Global Warming are the most left-wing parts of the country. Why aren’t these believers moving inland?
SM: The truth is grim and it just happens to be true that one person cannot make a difference in this case.
BNN: I do agree with that.
SM: I drive an electric car, but if I throw out my cell phone — one person cannot make a difference.
BNN: I’m not even talking about the hypocrisy angle. It’s fun to mock Al Gore’s electric bill, but I get that one person can’t make a difference. What I’m talking about is the political left preparing for their own dire predictions –which they make from the coasts where things are supposedly supposed to be the worst.
When I see a mass migrations of San Francisco hippies into Kansas…
SM: It’s absolutely true that there have been doomsday soothsayers for as long as the human race could walk upright. The difference here is that it’s only in the past few centuries with the creation of the scientific method that we’ve been able to back up this prediction.
Between Galileo first looking through a telescope to when we first landed a man on the moon, look at what happened and how quickly it happened. In just three hundred years, a very short period of time in human history, science has given us anti-biotics and flown an airplane. We can’t just start ignoring science with Climate Change. It would be foolhardy. We can’t afford to be wrong. Science says this is happening. We can’t gamble.
Moreover, science is telling us that the 4 degree global temperature rise that’s considered acceptable, could very well become a 6 degree rise. According to the New York Times, that’s the choice between a really unpleasant world and an uninhabitable world.
BNN: If the New York Times believes that, why does the New York Times stay in Manhattan, which is supposed to be hit the hardest, according to their own predictions. If the New York Times moved to Kansas out of the fear that Manhattan will soon be underwater, that would have an impact on me.
I’m not a scientist but that is observing human behavior on my part. Why should I believe believers when they don’t behave like believers?
SM: The hope is that we don’t reach that point; that we get our act together in time. The other problem is money. It’s an expensive pain in the ass to have to deal with this. No one wants to do it.
Back to my earlier point, science has done so much for us and now we’re ignoring this community. It’s also a competitive, cutthroat community where if you publish a paper that says something extreme like aliens used to live on Earth, you better have some proof. The greater the claim, the greater the evidence that’s required to back it up.
When you’re talking about a claim like Climate Change, where you’re talking about a massive global transformation that could seriously jeopardize civilization, you better have some damn good evidence to back it up. Not every one of them, but a vast majority of scientists accept that evidence.
BNN: And that’s a great point, but I have seen the left take over institution after institution and corrupt it — like the media and academia. I myself have worked in a lot of cultures, from McDonald’s to a very unimpressive level in Hollywood to where I am now in media and politics, and there’s always been a culture, a pressure to conform. For example, after this interview publishes, read the comments. Some of our readers are going to blister me for simply hearing you out.
That corruption is everywhere and my concern is that the left has grabbed hold of the scientific community and are using this crisis — like they did in the past with the population bomb, acid rain, global cooling, etc. — to further their political agenda.
I honestly believe that if the answer to solving Global Warming was Reaganomics and robust capitalism, the Left would drop it because the solution isn’t politically convenient. The solution really is fracking and nuclear power, and the Left opposes both.
SM: Again, while I disagree with my many friends on the right about many things, this is one that just baffles me. We should all be on the same page on this as we argue about other things.
BNN: So I have failed to help you see where we’re coming from.
SM: It’s just not a political issue for me. It’s a science issue. You can make an argument either way about gun control. I have my beliefs but both sides can make valid points. Same with abortion. My view on that probably wouldn’t surprise you, but I don’t find the other side’s argument absurd. Climate Change is an issue of science and data.
Listen, if it’s being used in a political fashion by the left or the right; using a crisis for political purposes is wrong.
I’m not listening to the politicians. I’m not listening to Obama, who hasn’t given this the attention it deserves. I’m listening to scientists and climatologists and astrophysicists. What’s the agenda for them to lie? Grant money? That would be absurd at that level. And the data and records exist that show glacial deterioration over time.
BNN: You and I agree the planet is billions of years, and you’re convinced none of that is cyclical?
SM: At this speed, it can’t be cyclical. We’re not talking about geological time here. We can see the deterioration in our time, over a very short and accelerated period of time. This stuff genuinely scares the shit out of me, and I’m the biggest skeptic on the planet.
It takes a lot for me to believe in an extraordinary claim of any kind. I don’t believe we were visited by aliens, or that 9/11 is a conspiracy, and you’ll never convince me my horoscope means shit.
I’m a rational left-wing liberal, not a crazy one.
BNN: I could talk to you forever about this and pretty much anything else, but I’ve already taken you way over time. Thanks for a great conversation.
SM: My pleasure. Thank you.
Breitbart News again thanks Seth MacFarlane for a great discussion, his time, and his willingness to open himself up to what he knew would be an adversarial conversation.