Filmmaker and liberal activist James Cameron appeared on MSNBC, Tuesday, to “bemoan” the climate “denialists” on “the right” who won’t face up to the “biggest crisis” for Earth. Talking to All In's Chris Hayes, the director lamented, “I felt hopeless for a long time watching a government that's paralyzed by denialism on the right, about what I think of as the biggest crisis that our society and our global civilization faces.”
Hayes echoed Cameron, complaining that “Republican denialism continue tosses block progress at the national level.” He queried, “So our system 60 vote filibuster, It's hard to see a path from A to B to getting to say carbon pricing or a carbon tax or something like that.” The director of Avatar proceeded to link ISIS and the refugee crisis to climate change:
JAMES CAMERON: If I can give you an example people are not connecting the dots on, you know, we've got this big crisis with the Syrian refugees pouring into the EU. So you've got this big immigrant refugee crisis. Well, that's caused by rise of ISIS and the collapse of Syria as a state. It's now a failed state. Well, why? It all began as a result of a drought. Farms collapsed. One and a half million farmers moved off their farms into the cities. The government didn't help them. They had no jobs. They rose up to challenge the Assad regime. It resulted in a civil war. And now we have one of the biggest crisis on the global map right now as a result of an unprecedented drought that researchers are now connecting to climate change.
This type of hyperventilating is common in the media. In 2008, then-ABC weatherman Sam Champion wondered, “Could global warming one day force us into space to live?”
A transcript of the September 14 All In segment is below:
CHRIS HAYES: Despite efforts by President Obama and others to put climate change at the top of the agenda, Republican denialism continue tosses block progress at the national level. That's why state and local governments have been taking matters into their own hands. Today in Los Angeles, community leaders from around the U.S. met with their counterparts from the world’s other biggest polluter, China, at a summit following up the major climate accord reached by President Obama and the Chinese president Xi Jinping last year. One of the speakers at that event was filmmaker, explorer and environmental activist James Cameron, probably most famous for Oscar winners Titanic and Avatar. James Cameron, that one and only, joins me now live from L.A. James, I had you in my monitor here as we were playing the Trump sound and you were shaking your head dolefully. What is your response?
JAMES CAMERON: I know. The ironies are running rampant here. You’ve got the Reagan library almost burned down by epic wild land fires here in California. We’ve got major wild land fires burning up in northern California on the same day that we have an unprecedented, historically unprecedented deluge here which stretched all the way to Arizona and caused that kind of tragic event there. And so you see climate completely out of control. There was an article in the L. A. Times today that the snow pack is at the lowest level since they've been able to measure going back 500 years, going down to three percent of what it normally would be this time of year. And yet, here you know, only a few miles from where the last big fire was locally, they're going to have this debate and they won't talk about it.
CHRIS HAYES: What does that mean though? I mean, you're someone who's worked a lot on this issue. You're a very smart guy. You’re fairly technically adept, I think it's fair to say. I think about this all the time. So our system 60 vote filibuster, It's hard to see a path from A to B to getting to say carbon pricing or a carbon tax or something like that. So, then, what's the path forward? Tell me what you're doing and what you’re doing today about that?
CAMERON: Yeah, look, I felt hopeless for a long time watching a government that’s paralyzed by denialism on the right, about what I think of as the biggest crisis that our society and our global civilization faces. And you know, I think the answer is that it's got to come from the bottom up. If people on the — in the Clinton campaign, for example, are talking about climate change, it's going to come up. It's going to be forced into the spotlight. President Obama is taking action. It's not coming from the leadership down. It's coming from the people up. Where, you know— It's people like myself and my colleagues that work in media who have to get the facts out there and let people judge for themselves. People are getting concerned. It kind of went away right after 2008 and the financial downturn and it's coming roaring back now because we see the evidence all around us. If I can give you an example people are not connecting the dots on, you know, we've got this big crisis with the Syrian refugees pouring into the EU. So you've got this big immigrant refugee crisis. Well, that's caused by rise of ISIS and the collapse of Syria as a state. It's now a failed state. Well, why? It all began as a result of a drought. Farms collapsed. 1.5 million farmers moved off their farms into the cities. The government didn't help them. They had no jobs. They rose up to challenge the Assad regime. It resulted in a civil war. And now we have one of the biggest crisis on the global map right now as a result of an unprecedented drought that researchers are now connecting to climate change. So that's the climate change is not something in the future. It's happening it right now all around us. We're just not necessarily connecting the dots.
HAYES: And you're also seeing -- that's a good point about the ways in which societies, political systems respond to any kind you have forcing mechanism, any kind of stress. So you see what happens in societies in which jobs get scarce, right, after a financial crisis. It's very easy under conditions of constrained resources for some of the worst impulses in politics, doesn't matter the society, to come out. That's a real thing to worry about.
CAMERON: Well, I think it is. People have to understand that the cost of not fighting climate change now is going to be much, much greater later to our economy. So, but, it's not an issue of what's really best for the economy. It's really an issue of what's best right now, next quarter, for the entrenched interests who have their hands unnaturally on the levers of power in our so-called democratic system. That's why it needs to come bottom up in this country. Now, you look at China who are meeting us halfway on this. You know, right here in Los Angeles with this historic summit. And China is very much a top down system and they can pivot quicker than us even though they're a much bigger system and much bigger population, 1.4 billion people. But they're outstripping us in solar, in all across the renewable energy spectrum. They’ve put in — In 2013, alone, they put in more solar than the United States has since solar was invented and it was invented here.
CAMERON: So, you know, we're hopefully we'll be able to meet in the middle because if solutions have to be global on this. They can't be -- he we can't solve it here or in Europe or in China. We've got to all work together on this.
HAYES: Well, t's interesting you bring this up because the sort of cutting edge of denialism you'll see in politics, folks have increasingly gotten embarrassed by denying the actual data. Right? It ends up, you look a little ridiculous. Right? So what you see now particularly in the Republican field is, this kind of shoulder shrug which is “yeah, it's a problem but China's never going to do anything about it. We can't be suckers. We can’t be the ones that take the first step.” You were at this conference with Chinese officials there. You know, what's your sense about the seriousness of China?
CAMERON: I think they are very serious. I think that they understand that it’s threat. It's a very immediate threat for them. Their industrialization has come at a rate much, much faster than ours and they've grown their economy so rapidly, they're getting overwhelmed by environmental problems. And they know they have to do something about it because there is a certain bottom-up pressure in their system. They've got to keep the people happy and their business community happy. And so they have to do something about it. And they're acting as quickly as they can. That's why I think that President Obama and President Xi have come together on this. But I think the action is going to happen at a kind of state, regional and city level like this summit right here is mayors from China. Now, that may not sound that powerful. But you've got to remember that a mayor in China may be a government, a government headed by a single person over 19 million people, 25 million people. These cities there are like major state governors here. So, they can actually take pretty decisive action.