Addressing climate change is now not only about how to reduce our carbon emissions, but how to learn to live with the environmental damage that’s already been done. So says The Nation’s Mark Hertsgaard, who joined Democracy Now! on Friday to discuss his new book, Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth, which explains why this country’s inaction when it comes to climate change is a crime. The victims of the crime, he says, are the two billion kids who have been born around the world—since scientists alerted us about this problem—who face a life sentence dealing with the consequences.
The recent budget deal approved by Congress cuts $1.6 billion from the Environmental Protection Agency. This 16 percent decrease reduces funding for a climate desk at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and eliminates the position of assistant to the president for energy and climate change.
These cuts are a direct result of the fact that the United States is the only country where the legitimacy of the science behind climate change has been called into question, Hertsgaard says. Even other countries run by conservative governments have been more willing to confront climate change than the Obama administration.
The solution lies in investing in energy efficiency, not nuclear energy. “The reality is, going nuclear will make climate change worse, not better,” he says. “Look at the economics. It costs so much money to build a plant, it takes so long to build that plant, that by the time you’ve got it online, if you invested that same amount of money in energy efficiency, you would get seven times more greenhouse gas emission reductions.”