April 13th, 2014
10:46 PM ET

Friedman: So, what if the climate deniers' nightmare came true?

Fareed speaks with ‘New York Times’ columnist Tom Friedman about the latest report by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Watch the video for the full interview.

What for you is the headline of this new IPCC report?

I think the headline is simply greater certainty among the vast majority of climate scientists, the people who truly know and study these issues, that if we don't begin to take the steps needed to prevent the kind of what they call doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere, that will lead to the kinds of rise in global average temperature that will put us into a much more unstable world.

And is there a sense of greater urgency or a kind of warning that we haven't been doing much yet? You know, if you think about it, we've been hearing these reports. And all of them have kept saying we need to start in some way having these CO2 emission levels start plateauing or even declining.  And as you know in totality, largely because of China's growth and a lot of the emerging world, CO2 emissions continue to rise quite substantially.

Well, of course, and that's really been the problem, getting governments to act.

Now, you know the debate in our country.  And it's echoed in the world.  There are people who don't think this is really happening, don't think it's important, we can adapt.  I was thinking, driving over here, what if the nightmare of the climate deniers came true and we really decided in America to take this seriously and act? What would we do? What is the nightmare that would happen?

Well, the first thing we would do is actually slash income taxes and corporate taxes and replace them with a carbon tax so we actually encourage people to stop doing what we don't want, which is emitting carbon, and start doing what we do want, which is hiring more workers and getting corporations to invest more in America. That's the first awful thing that would happen.

The second awful thing that would happen is that we would actually borrow money, the federal government would borrow money at almost 0 percent and invest it in infrastructure to make our cities not only more resilient, but more efficient.

The third thing we would do is make permanent the wind and solar and other renewable energy tax incentives so we would actually stimulate more innovation and ensure that our companies are going to lead the next great global industry which is surely going to be clean water, clean power, etc.

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Topics: Climate • GPS Show

soundoff (69 Responses)
  1. ✠RZ✠

    Global warming started about 18,000 years ago. Though after this winter it would almost seem like our current interglacial has abruptly ended. Hopefully our messing with the global Co2 levels has not had some kind of reverse effect. The next ice age isn't due for at least another 12,000 years.

    April 13, 2014 at 11:43 pm | Reply
    • tomharrisicsc

      No, the next glacial period (which is, I assume what you mean by ice age; we have been in an ice age for several million years as it is defined as a period where significant permanent ice cover exists on Earth) could start any time. It is overdue and will be here no matter what within 5,000 years if past cycles are any indication.


      April 14, 2014 at 3:12 am | Reply
      • ✠RZ✠

        Oops! 'my bad. If any experts from the IUGS on the ICS wish to chime in and further clarify things like Ice Age, Holocene/MIS1, Anthropocene, global warming and recent/weather instabilities, I'm good with that. But for a lowly GPS follower like myself I thought I did ok at trying to touch on most of it in only about 3 lines.

        April 14, 2014 at 7:47 am |
      • waxliberty

        Absurd and not remotely supported by mainstream science (or any published science whatsoever). The orbital variation effects that drive ice age cycles are very subtle and take hold over very long periods of time. Human-driven warming is completely overwhelming these effects. Linking to an anti-science site doesn't help your cause.

        We *were* in a long slow cooling trend in the Holocene, that would have probably dropped into an ice age at some point. The radical warming spike of the last one hundred years makes it clear that trend has been dramatically reversed. Just look at the global temperature trend.


        April 23, 2014 at 10:59 pm |
    • SeniorPerson

      Ice Ages are unpredictable, but largely determined I understand by ocean temperatures which in turn determine weather and over a long enough time climate. The idea that ice ages occur every 12,000 years is absurd. See: http://geology.utah.gov/surveynotes/gladasked/gladice_ages.htm for more accurate information.

      April 14, 2014 at 7:58 am | Reply
      • ✠RZ✠

        Who said "every" ? I said next. Which should have been "glacial" as correctly pointed out by tomharrisicsc who further points out that we're still in an ice age. The question is when might the interglacial end.

        April 14, 2014 at 8:31 am |
  2. BillB

    Just one question...since there is no evidence of an increase in global temperature for the last 15 years, how can these scientists be so sure that temperatures will ever rise? They ignore Urban Heat Islands and seem to be agenda driven to defend their models. We have a warmer world at the moment, but do we have a warming world?

    April 14, 2014 at 12:20 am | Reply
    • tomharrisicsc

      Considering the devastating impacts of global cooling yes, we should hope warming restarts.

      April 14, 2014 at 3:14 am | Reply
    • corey todnem

      The evidence for continued heating since the 1998 El Niño is abundant and available all over the web. Try climate.nasa.org or the NOAA sites, or Real Climate, or Skeptical Science, or.... These are sites with links to the actual data, not doctored charts and unscientific analysis a la Anthony Watts.

      Or keep posting ignorant statements. The choice is yours.

      April 14, 2014 at 2:19 pm | Reply
      • corey todnem


        April 14, 2014 at 2:23 pm |
      • Joe Mota

        I bet BillB opts to keep posting stupid comments because he's too lazy to learn about real science.

        April 14, 2014 at 3:54 pm |
      • corey todnem

        The NASA link should be climate.nasa.gov, not "dot org".

        April 14, 2014 at 4:49 pm |
      • alcheson

        CAGW is a failed religion. CO2 is not a poison. These are facts that the CAGW crowd won't tell you. The CAGW climate models are completely worthless for predicting the future but yet the CAGW types claim with almost 100% certainty that humanity faces near extinction by 2100 if we don't give up fossil fuels and cease CO2 emmissions.

        1) Total sea ice same now as in the 1980s. Arctic ice down, but Antarctic ice way up. Models say Antarctic ice should be down as well. Model failure.
        2) No temperature increase in over 15+ yrs. Model failure.
        3) Sea level rise (at a lowly 1.8mm/yr by tide gauge) is NOT accelerating. In fact, if anything it is slowing down. Model failure.
        4) AGW hot spot missing in atmosphere. Model failure.
        5) No increase in severity or frequency of hurricanes or typhoons. Model failure.
        6) Crop yields continuing to increase and earth is 11% greener. Models say crops should be failing and earth getting browner. Model failure.
        7) Intensity and duration of droughts wildfires should be increasing. They are not.... model failure.
        8) Hansen predicted East Manhatten would be under water about now. Climate scientist prediction failure.
        9) Catastrophic Climate scientists of all stripes have been telling us that the increase in CO2 has been very harmful so far and will get even worse in the near future. In fact, so far the increase in CO2 has been net beneficial.... crop yields way UP and earth 11% greener. Average temperature is about 1.5C above the LIA. Those to me sound like great benefits, not negatives as they would have us believe, that is of course, unless you think the famine and misery experienced during the LIA is something to go back too.

        April 20, 2014 at 12:15 am |
  3. Partha

    About time US and allies got out of giving sops to oil companies to increase exploration, increase prices and
    increase pollution as in India and China and start giving tax breaks to companies producing solar and wind energies
    on a commercial scale. Economic growth bought by increasing consumption of fossil fuels is inherently unstable and is
    causing huge uncertainties in EMs which run up deficits that cannot be financed as the era of easy money thankfully
    comes to a stop.

    April 14, 2014 at 1:14 am | Reply
  4. surrealistimpression

    Who are the "we" who are going to do [this]?

    April 14, 2014 at 2:10 am | Reply
  5. Brian

    Thomas Friedman – "Well, the first thing we would do is actually slash income taxes and corporate taxes "

    Brian – "HAHAHAHAHAHA"

    April 14, 2014 at 5:04 am | Reply
    • Dreaming

      I realize this is Friedman's fantasy, but I thought he was attempting to be reasonable and present a logical position. Fantastical claims like that don't make him seem at all believable or his position well-thought out. In his defense he did say he just thought it up "driving over here"... maybe traffic was bad and occupied most of his mind on the drive.

      April 14, 2014 at 1:42 pm | Reply
  6. dearmrputin

    Endgame: "we actually encourage people to stop doing what we don't want... and start doing what we do want."

    April 14, 2014 at 6:33 am | Reply
    • what1ever

      Is that somehow a bad thing? Isn't that the whole concept of a society?

      May 5, 2014 at 1:48 pm | Reply
  7. Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

    What would happen if we just stopped breeding too many people, perhaps by encouraging Choice regarding abortions? I understand that elections would be affected by the altered rate of demographic change.
    I believe that the imposition of laws to "Stop the Warming NOW for Your Child" is inevitable, regardless of reality.
    Public projects to create Stop-Warming jobs will raise taxes, not lower them.

    April 14, 2014 at 9:12 am | Reply
    • what1ever

      Not in the long term. If we produced all of our own energy that would be literally billions of dollars that would stay in our economy every year and not end up in the Middle East.

      May 5, 2014 at 1:49 pm | Reply
  8. GOP Prayer - GOPers, Read Together and Out Loud With Me

    The GOP Prayer/Mantra/Solution: Dear God...With your loving kindness, help us to turn all the Old, Sick, Poor, Non-white, Non-christian, Female, and Gay people into slaves. Then, with your guidance and compassion, we will whip them until they are Young, Healthy, Rich, White, Christian, Male, and Straight. Or until they are dead. God...Grant us the knowledge to then turn them into Soylent Green to feed the military during the next "unfunded/off-the-books" war. God...Give us the strength during our speeches to repeatedly yell........TAX CUTS FOR THE RICH!!!..........and........GET RID OF SS AND MEDICARE!!!
    In your name we prey (purposely misspelled, or is it?)........Amen

    April 14, 2014 at 11:51 am | Reply
    • alcheson

      Here, as a GOPer, let me rewrite this for you so it is proper. The GOP Prayer/Mantra/Solution: Dear God...With your loving kindness, help us to turn all the Old, easily fooled, clueless and somewhat evil progressives into slaves since that seems to be what they want for all of us. Then, with your guidance and compassion, we will ship them all off to a place where they establish a life for themselves they seem to desperately want, free of ANY reliance whatsoever on the fruits of our labor. Grant us the knowledge and determination to actually give them what they think they want, so that they can finally realize that what they think they want, is actually a life of poverty, crime and despair. They can then be free to increase the TAX Rate to 100% for any of their own citizenry, to freely support ALL who don't want to work for a living, after-all everyone should enjoy the wealth equally regardless of how hard one works.
      A please God, we ask that you continue to bless all of us GOPers and Tea-partiers, regardless of whether they are Old, Sick, Poor, Non-white, Non-Christian, Female, and Gay people as long as they believe in Freedom, Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In your name we pray ........Amen

      April 20, 2014 at 12:04 am | Reply
  9. smendler

    Here's the deniers' REAL nightmare: if AGW is true, then their precious capitalism-as-we-know-it is doomed. Why? Because it assumes unlimited capacity for growth, and unlimited opportunity to externalize costs onto other sectors of society. If AGW is true, all that becomes hiokum. AGW requires that we undertake responsible, sustainable stewardship of our natural resources – and that this stewardship becomes MORE IMPORTANT THAN PROFIT.

    April 14, 2014 at 12:20 pm | Reply
    • Jeff Redmon

      Is that why all of the socialists are the ones pushing AGW? That's their only weapon to fight it now.

      April 14, 2014 at 2:35 pm | Reply
  10. Bob

    Talk to a few folks who have had their roofs covered with solar panels, and see how much they're saving. Not much bang for the buck.

    April 14, 2014 at 1:06 pm | Reply
    • tulipbread

      I've got solar panels – they are saving me buckets of money – 5 year return then it is all upside. Look into it if you live in the sunny states – they are a no brainer plus you get 30% tax credit.

      May 2, 2014 at 8:41 pm | Reply
  11. Jeff Redmon

    "Well, the first thing we would do is actually slash income taxes and corporate taxes and replace them with a carbon tax ..."

    Where has any government body talked about slashing income or corporate taxes? The carbon taxes that the alarmists want are on TOP of existing taxes, there won't be any tax cuts.

    April 14, 2014 at 2:33 pm | Reply
  12. rtomlinson


    Now scientist are calling for an ice age.....should I buy an AC or a snowblower?

    What a joke this whole topic is.

    April 14, 2014 at 8:45 pm | Reply
  13. Ferhat Balkan

    Climate change is very real. The deniers see this as some sort of a conspiracy plot by the UN to take away freedom. From the very beginning (back in the mid 90s) they've fought not only the science, but the scientists themselves. Most scientists today will agree that climate change is caused by Carbon emissions produced by man and the fossil fuel industry. Who are we to argue with those who understand the mechanics of weather and the science to back it up? The time to act is now. We need to build a global consensus and forge international agreements to fight global carbon pollution, plant more trees, invest in cleaner energy & transportation technologies etc. We need to be more responsible for the planet that sustains us. If we take care of Earth, the Earth will take care of us.

    April 14, 2014 at 9:23 pm | Reply
  14. russ

    One step at a time is what it takes, lots of steps needed. Here's one.

    We’ve shown that millions of tonnes of CO2 can be repurposed into ocean life and fish. By doing more of the same vastly more CO2 can be inexpensively and immediately repurposed into ocean life. Our large scale trial in 2012 replenishing and restoring tens of thousands of sq. kilometers of ocean pasture in the NE Pacific proved it. The results began to swim home to us last fall when the largest catch of salmon in history (“our pasture fed” salmon) were caught in Alaska, 226 million Pink salmon instead of the 50 million expected. http://wp.me/p3kcsV-1cX

    Why? Because when they went to sea instead of mostly starving we treated them to a feast. They grew and grew and before too long they came back to our rivers. Now all along the Pacific coast salmon are returning to streams and rivers in record breaking numbers.

    As an unexpected consequence of that record Alaska catch the USDA (agriculture) has just purchased 60 million servings of our nutritious Alaska salmon bounty and is delivering it to American children through USDA food aid programs. http://wp.me/p3kcsV-1jU

    The really good news is that the methods and technologies we employed in our 2012 demonstration project are ready to deploy in many regions of the world. Instead of merely repurposing millions of tonnes of CO2 that is harming the ocean we can repurpose billions of tonnes of CO2. The result will be restoring ocean pastures everywhere to historic abundance and supplying billions of healthy nutritious fish for hungry people around the world. http://wp.me/p3kcsV-1fP


    April 14, 2014 at 9:50 pm | Reply
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

      The abundance of salmon, said to be so healthy, for the hungry children crowding the globe is lovely for the world's increasingly abundant children.
      I wish that the USA could work its way back to the economic environment in which most USA children could afford to consume the red meat produced in the USA for export to economically thriving nations.

      April 15, 2014 at 6:38 am | Reply
  15. JC

    The real issue is and always will be population. There's no sugar coating it, there's no hiding it. Everything related to AGW, clean water, air, etc is a result of problems caused by population growth. I would argue that without the Green Revolution beginning in the 1940's we would not be having the AGW discussion today.

    Simply put the earth is one big petri dish and we're running out of room.

    April 15, 2014 at 12:33 pm | Reply
  16. mememine69

    Science is 100% certain the planet is NOT flat and smoking will cause cancer and comet hits are inevitable, yet they refuse despite 32 years of “warnings”to be 100% certain their own comet hit of a climate crisis is as real as they love to say their comet hits are.
    But you remaining “believers” and your tiny mobs of determined “disciples” are “believing” that billions of children are doomed?
    Who’s the neocon?

    April 15, 2014 at 12:44 pm | Reply
  17. chrissy

    Well it wont do much good yelling about population growth if you refuse to condone planned parenthood, birth control and abortion now will it? Kinda hypocritical in fact. Not to mention the abuse unwanted children have to go thru. And if our government cant AND wont handle government issues than they need to stay out of personal ones! The largest group of dysfunctional people are the ones running the US!

    April 15, 2014 at 1:50 pm | Reply
  18. chrissy

    And sorry i forgot, my previous post was to @ JC just so there is no confusion. I pretty much agree with @ Joey!

    April 15, 2014 at 1:59 pm | Reply
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

      Well, frequently I pretty much agree with @ chrissy's common sense.
      Nevertheless, chrissy, whatcha gonna do to fill the churches' collection plates if we allow the sale of condoms and even legalize planned parenthood?
      Some folks even advocate giving out free condoms.

      April 15, 2014 at 3:25 pm | Reply
      • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

        I say that it would be a far, far better thing to do if we limited the sale of motor cars to, perhaps, one shared small car for every five houses on the street.
        We must not limit birthing babies.
        Children are the future of the world. In fact, They Are the World.

        April 15, 2014 at 3:33 pm |
      • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

        Speaking of shared motor cars, don't many of us in this forum love Communism?
        It has been my experience, when working in communist countries, that the simple act of sharing motor cars offers a fine opportunity to meet one's neighbors and even total strangers.

        April 15, 2014 at 3:51 pm |
  19. David

    Wind power is the cleanest source of utility-scale electricity production. Since wind power’s fuel is free, utility system operators use available wind power first, displacing the most expensive (and typically most polluting) power plants. U.S. wind power will avoid 115 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions from the electric power sector in 2014 – enough to take the equivalent of 17 million cars off the road.

    Find out more facts about wind power and it as a leading solution to carbon emissions here: http://www.awea.org/MediaCenter/pressrelease.aspx?ItemNumber=6320

    David Ward, AWEA

    April 15, 2014 at 3:42 pm | Reply
    • alcheson

      Wind power is an expensive source of energy and unreliable. We already killing thousands of birds every year and the landscape is getting uglier every day with those things going up. Can't imagine what the environment is going to look like if we increase our windmill usage by a factor of 100. All of those things will eventually wear out and will be an awful eyesore and as well as an environmental hazard. Imagine all the birds that will be killed needlessly as well as more and more of these things get built. CO2 is NOT pollution and Catastrophic Global Warming is NOT happening.

      April 19, 2014 at 11:40 pm | Reply
  20. chrissy

    Lmao @ Joey so true! And that does seem to be the case already in my neighborhood considering how much driving i do for all my neighbors! Lol you would think i had a taxi business...a very cheap one at that. My point was...there are far TOO many UNWANTED children born who suffer simply because ppl cant or wont control theirselves. And others think its their business to bring these children into the world regardless if they will be adequately provided for or not! So no im not concerned very much with the collection plates of any organised religion, im more concerned with abused, unwanted, unloved children! And so should others because those children grow up to be uncaring adults more times than not. Evidence is the rising crime rate of late in schools across the country. I also do not endorse "limiting birthing babies!"

    April 15, 2014 at 3:50 pm | Reply
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

      "Control themselves," @ chrissy? What are you talking about? This is the year 2014.
      As for "unwanted" children, don't you know that there is no such thing? If God had not wanted that fetus inside a 15-year-old girl, He would not have put it there.

      April 15, 2014 at 4:08 pm | Reply
  21. chrissy

    You must be using sarcasm @ Joey! At least i hope you are. And im very certain you KNOW exactly what i mean when i say "control themselves!" Unprotected s e x seems to be the norm these days! And most times it isnt a momentary lapse in judgement and quite often its just repeated behavior that becomes as common as breakfast, lunch and dinner! And i did NOT say children were unwanted by God but many are unwanted by those that have them. And society as a whole just doesnt give a crap either!

    April 15, 2014 at 4:20 pm | Reply
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

      Yep, @ chrissy, that is old JIF's sarcasm back in blossom. My bad, imported StupidPhone has no sarcasm button.

      April 15, 2014 at 4:27 pm | Reply
  22. chrissy

    Society does however object quite a bit if even one dollar of THEIR tax money provides a free lunch for these kids! But hey lets spend billions on all the wars of the world! Makes little sense to me!

    April 15, 2014 at 4:27 pm | Reply
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

      Of course the USA could afford free lunchrooms in schools. I never paid for lunch in my (outstanding) public schools. A starving kid cannot learn.

      April 15, 2014 at 4:40 pm | Reply
  23. chrissy

    Lmao none of them do @ Joey!

    April 15, 2014 at 4:36 pm | Reply
  24. chrissy

    Well i understand that @ Joey but you know as well as i do how MANY ppl are against free ANYTHING for the poor. Especially if they think it might cost them a buck or two! Welfare is what they call it even if it is for children. And it should be called "well being!" Yet they dont object the our "high end welfare recipients" otherwise known as Congress! Ya know the ones...our shining examples of work ethics of toads!!!

    April 15, 2014 at 5:30 pm | Reply
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