MSNBC’s Chris Hayes: ‘The Time For Choosing Sides On Climate Change Is Now’

Carbon emissions are trapping extra energy in our atmosphere, and with extra energy come more extremes: higher sea levels, dryer droughts, hotter heat waves, and heavier, wetter storms.

We need a crash program in this country right now to re-engineer the nation’s infrastructure to cope with and prepare for the climate disruptions that we have already ensured with the carbon we’ve already put into the atmosphere, as well as an immediate, aggressive transformation of our energy production, economy and society to reduce the amount of carbon we’ll put into the atmosphere in the future.

The above science-based statements by MSNBC’s Chris Hayes should be widely accepted across the political spectrum. They should serve as the basis for a political debate about how best to act.

But that’s not where we are, thanks in large part to the most successful disinformation campaign in history along with fossil-fuel funded politics and a fatally docile media.

And so Hayes continued his post-Sandy plea:

This is as fundamental, as elemental as human endeavors get. The story of civilization is the long tale of crusaders for order battling the unceasing reality of chaos. And it is a kind of miracle that we have succeeded as much as we have, that airplanes fly through the air, and roads plunge beneath the water and the entire teeming latticework of human life exists in the manifold improbable places it does. But it is the grand irony that in imposing this improbable order on the world, we’ve released millions of years of stored up carbon into the atmosphere, which is now altering the climate and threatening the very monuments of civilization that we so cherish.

We absolutely have it within us, collectively, to beat back the forces of chaos once again. But we must choose to do so. And the time for choosing is now. You are either on the side of your fellow citizens and residents of this planet, or you are on the side of the storms as yet unnamed.

You cannot be neutral.

Which side are you on?

Watch it:


So, which side are you on?

40 Responses to MSNBC’s Chris Hayes: ‘The Time For Choosing Sides On Climate Change Is Now’

  1. Jean Netherton says:

    I love Chris Hayes. As usual his comment are spot on.
    We can call our legislators and call out corporate greed…and we can petition.

  2. Steve says:

    MSNBC’s Chris Hayes: ‘The Time For Choosing Sides On Climate Change Is Now’

    No Chris the time was 2003.

  3. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    It has been an undeclared War, a genocidal war against our species, our families, friends and communities and those of every other society on Earth, for decades. It is being waged by the fossil fuel industry and the ideological Right, and they are, in my opinion, the Enemies of Mankind. This is a battle far more deadly dangerous than that waged against fascism and if we continue to refuse to fight they will win, and we will all lose. There is no chance whatsoever that the Right will desist from the behaviour that has characterised them since time immemorial, so we either fight or die.

  4. Superman1 says:

    “It is being waged by the fossil fuel industry and the ideological Right, and they are, in my opinion, the Enemies of Mankind.”

    I view them as ‘enablers’ and ‘pushers’, much like the drug cartels in the drug world. The problem is, we are complicit in the expenditure of fossil fuels by our ‘addiction’. That’s what makes the solution so difficult. How many of your neighbors would want to live like the Amish in Pennsylvania? That’s what it would take to give us even an outside chance to survive the transition period past peak temperature (if that is possible now). Metaphorically, we have 95% of the population as chain-smokers, and you want to enlist them in a war against the tobacco companies. Interesting to see the makeup of your recruiting posters.

  5. Paul Magnus says:

    “We need to reinvest in infrastructure….” we have this infrastructure because of cheap oil basically. Those days have gone…

  6. Paul Klinkman says:

    The climate disinformation campaign my in fact be the greatest sales job in history, but it owes a debt to the old tobacco industry. In the 1920s they could hire doctors to pitch their product for them. For many decades the AMA was afraid to speak out against cigarettes.

    The moral is to never underestimate the crass shallowness of any huge entrenched industry.

  7. BigAppleBucky says:

    Couldn’t watch the video. Ad just kept on running and running and running . . . .

    Too bad.

  8. Mike Roddy says:

    Eloquent words from both you and Chris, thanks.

  9. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    1988, actually, if the politicians had listened to the scientists, not their business owners.

  10. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    People will live differently, ie sufficiently, if given the option. At present they have no choice but to be mindless consumers and wage slaves, because the system gives them no other way to live. Dropping out means a descent into poverty and homelessness, unless you are independently wealthy. It would only need returning to the living standards of the rich world in the 1930s, hardly hell on earth, and, absolutely crucially, the confiscation of the stolen property that is the huge wealth of the parasitic elite, larcenously acquired by these kleptomaniacs over centuries. So we need a change at the top, either voluntarily, or forced. No other course of action will save us.

  11. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Different, localised, infrastructure is required. Long distance travel by hydrocarbon fueled vehicles must go, for a start. I do like the look of local solar farms to bring energy to those communities for one example. There has to be radical downsizing in consumption as a priority.

  12. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The so-called World Health Organisation has had a secret agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency since 1957 to keep the criticism of the health dangers of radiation kept suppressed.

  13. Mark E says:

    Is Obama hiring speechwriters? That was great!

  14. David Goldstein says:

    This is my 3rd time posting this comment and I will cease if it is deemed annoying. But…it may apply to the sole relevant questions that remain-‘Choosing sides is well and good, but once you have chosen…then what? And, if you are read this climate blog, are not willing to put your body in the way, how can you expect others to?’: It all may amount to futile gesture at this point, but…for a few years now, some of us have been posting on climate blogs and watching as the world simply goes even more quickly in the wrong direction. Has the time come to ‘put down our pens’? The scientists have done their good work. The politicians have NOT. The only possible bridge that I foresee (aside from scrambling responses to undeniable shock and catastrophe down the road) is this: For a critical mass of the people to bring pressure to bare- which means, essentially, getting out in the streets and, most likely, perform non-violent civil disobedience a la Vietnam war/civil rights. (along with financial pressure a la divestment campaigns) Here’s my question: If this is so, are you (the reader) willing to do this? Are you willing to ‘put your body’ on the line? Are you? To do so would be to ‘speak’ powerfully to your children and their children “I am doing what I can, though it may not suffice”. Lastly, I am not entirely naive- of course, this would have to occur as part of a sustained and well orchestrated campaign to have any chance of success. But- it IS coming to this. is calling a rally/protest/civil disobedience in Washington Feb 18th. Would you come…put your pen down…and, as well, lay your body down?

  15. Ken Barrows says:

    I think the sides to choose are for industrial civilization and climate chaos or against them.

  16. Joe Romm says:

    one 30 second ad should be all.

  17. Great talk, great comments.

    Question of “Which side are you on?” may be flawed – since only a unified response will work. If half, or even a sizable fraction of humans continue carbon-izing our atmosphere, then all suffer.

    However, this is a binary question: Would you rather our species live longer or die sooner? Unless we unanimously choose sustainability, then we are doomed to a factious end.

  18. Paul Klinkman says:

    If you didn’t plan out in great detail what kind of “crash program” you wanted, you’re going to get dealt a crash. Exxon will run it for you, children.

  19. This year, I was offered a new choice when I voted for Congress. Redistricting moved me from the district of Jerry McNerney, a CA Dem whose previous career was in wind energy, to that of Zoe Lofgren, another Dem and power player follower of Nancy Pelosi. Here is the rub. McNerney was originally elected in a majority Republican district and is still threatened every year with well funded Rep opposition. (Thankfully, the Republicans keep nominating idiots.) Lofgren, on the other hand, is in a very, very safe Democratic district and does not have to listen to anyone other than Silicon Valley Execs.

    There is the problem. Two Democrats who should take stronger stands, but don’t. McNerney does not have the power of seniority and has to somewhat careful of his positions to stay in office. Lofgren could be outspoken, but is not, because it makes no difference for her electoral future. In fact, the only climate statement I have heard from her was to welcome a delegation from the Citizen’s Climate Lobby with a smile and good words… but no action or words of her own.

    As long as it does not threaten their electoral success, you will not find the likes of Lofgren taking a lead and there is no opposition to Lofgren for her to worry about.

    So, what will I do? Maybe we need to find a real opponent for Lofgren who WILL make climate an issue.

  20. LynneMarie Lowe says:

    There shouldn’t be ANY side to choose. Either you’re going to do something to make things better for everything or you’re not.

  21. Tarfpir says:

    I am willing, despite opening a brand new business and having to feed little hungry mouths. However, IF I fly across the continent in a hydrocarbon burning aircraft, to join how many – 20k plus, maybe double that – will it change a thing? AND I will have contributed to more atmospheric CO2 (much more than I would contribute otherwise).
    I was part of one of the largest anti war protests in 2001 in SF, and there were millions of people protesting that war. It did nothing. We need a legitimate strategy, which may include protests, perhaps locally. I don’t mean to say that Im not with you on this – Mulga said earlier as well as it could be stated – we must fight, on several levels and with the utmost thoughtfulness.

  22. prokaryotes says:

    Re Extra Energy:

    The Clausius-Clapeyron equation shows that water vapour increases roughly exponentially with temperature, at approximately 7% for typical temperatures

  23. fj says:

    Hurricane Sandy won’t be the last doozy

    Kevin Burke, chief of Consolidated Edison Inc., says volatile weather isn’t going away and that planning for it can only help city officials.

  24. Superman1 says:

    David Goldstein #10,

    “’Choosing sides is well and good, but once you have chosen…then what? And, if you are read this climate blog, are not willing to put your body in the way, how can you expect others to?’:”

    With all due respect, I think the model is wrong. It reminds me of the War on Cancer, or the War on Drugs. We use the terminology of a battle against a foreign invader, like the War against Fascism, but that analogy is mostly wrong. While there are genetic and heritable ’causes’ of cancer, the modern research is showing for most people, it is defective lifestyles that are the main factors. Over-eating, over-drinking, over-smoking, etc are what drives cancer. In essence, ‘we’ are the enemy when it comes to cancer, but rather than admit it, we keep our focus and our dollars on some external unknown causes.

    That’s the problem with climate change. It is our voracious consumption for ‘things’ and other luxuries, almost all of which require cheap energy in their construction and utilization, that is driving climate change. Our multiple vacations abroad every year, our SUVs, our McMansions, our processed food, our importing of food from thousands of miles away, etc; this is what drives the climate change problem.

    Yes, the energy companies, media, deniers, are all villains, but in the sense that the drug cartels are villains or pushers in the drug problem. Just as the drivers of the drug problem are the addicts, with their insatiable desire for drugs, the drivers of the climate change problem are the cheap fossil fuel energy addicts, with their insatiable desire for those ‘things’ and luxuries that only cheap energy allows.

    So, while putting your body on the line for a cause is noble, unless it’s directed against the real enemy, it is a futile gesture.

  25. Superman1 says:

    I have worked in different aspects of science and technology for over fifty years, including my dissertation. On every project, my attitude ranged from mildly excited to very excited, depending on the topic. I was always motivated and incentivized by the challenge of problem-solving.

    I have come to climate change late. About a year ago, I decided to write a paper on climate change, using some analytical techniques I have developed. I started doing some background reading. Initially, I felt slight encouragement. As time has passed, and my reading increased, and especially as new data and observations emerged, I have become increasingly depressed about the problem. I have seen a downplaying of the potential consequences from scientists across the board (and I’m not talking about the deniers). Kevin Anderson outlines how various studies used misleading carbon emissions and other data to downplay the seriousness and immediacy of the problem, but even his grim computations exclude the positive feedback effects that we are observing and that e.g. Lewis Cleverdon has accurately summarized.

    We need radical changes in our fossil fuel use yesterday, radical changes in our present deforestation yesterday, and in reality, radical changes in our unlimited consumtive lifestyle. Right now, we are doing nothing to solve the problem. If President Obama includes one sentence in a post-election speech saying climate change is a problem, we view this as though Moses has parted the Red Sea. If Mayor Bloomberg says that climate change may be important after the devastation of Sandy, or if Chris Hayes says we need to ‘take sides’ in the present article, we treat it as though these were the Ten Commandments being delivered on Mount Sinai.

    That’s what I find depressing! The coming climate catastrophe is clear as a bell, and our response on the ground is zero. What is even worse, we refuse to recognize the real problem – us! We focus on the energy companies, the media, the ‘deniers’, with the belief that if we could overcome their roadblocks, the problem will be almost solved. Yes, they are culpable and they are villains, but they are not the central problem. Even if we could resurrect the guillotines and dispense with all of them, the real problem would remain: our gluttony for what cheap fossil fuel can buy.

  26. Gingerbaker says:

    I disagree. The failure to solve the AGW problem lands squarely in the lap of our politicians as well as the propaganda merchants.

    Solving national/international problems is the duty of government, not individuals.

    There is also nothing inherently immoral or unethical with any individual happily using energy per se. When we finally convert to 100% non carbon-based energy systems, there is no real reason to not be profligate with our use, so long as we have enough to go around for everyone.

  27. Will Fox says:

    Climate Models Project Increase in U.S. Wildfire Risk

    “… high fire years like 2012 would likely occur two to four times per decade by mid-century, instead of once per decade under current climate conditions.”

  28. Gingerbaker says:


    First world nations have standards of living that should be celebrated, not shamed. The only reason these lifestyles are reviled is because they come at the expense of emitting greenhouse gases. But the lifestyle itself is not the problem, only the pollution.

    If we provide enough renewable carbon-free energy for all, there is absolutely no reason that our quality of life, our standard of living needs to be reduced. This idea – and the resulting associations of “gluttony” or guilt – is really a fossil fuel industry shibboleth, a scare tactic that renewables must imply reduced standard of living.

  29. Carol says:

    Many people are looking for something that they can DO besides writing responses on blogs, driving Prius’s, having solar panels, learning “Language Intelligence”, cheering the upcoming celebrity studded (replete with the “King of the World”) Hollywood CBS specials, pontificating, analyzing, predicting, gathering more facts from web sites such as CP . . .
    we know this is not even close to being enough . . we want to do more.

    I continue to be drawn to this blog . . like watching a train wreck or being part of a gaper’s delay due to a multiple fatality auto accident. I take in the graphs/figures/words that clearly spell out what looks to be the worst fate for this earth. Read the responses, chuckle (in a sad way) over M.M’s dark yet often humorous words that ring of truth—- then pull myself away even more discouraged than ever, feeling a sense of utter doom/despair and tell myself not to read these articles anymore! Here I am again—with the terrifying knowledge that I am part of this train wreck and there is no way out and nothing we can do. But is there ????

    Clearly there needs to be direction about what we can do.
    Right now, Bill McKibben is the only one offering humble yet strong and consistent leadership. He is encouraging young/old/rich/poor to come together . . to coalesce and start a movement. Offering us an alternative to hand wringing!

    It is far from perfect and may not be the ultimate solution but at least McKibben’s group is generating a movement that has an ACTION plan vs. seemingly never ending pontification and paralyzing analysis.

    The divestment focus may be largely symbolic but it is bringing people together . . it is all inclusive AND it is mobilizing college students (finally —and without a draft!).

    Being part of a group that is united, one with a plan to make a difference can be hugely empowering and can fuel a larger movement. One doesn’t have to travel far and wide via fossil fueled machines to be part of it.
    Local chapters are springing up throughout the world.

  30. Stephen W says:

    You are being very naïve. If you think that the only problem with our majority world lifestyles is the sources of our energy you need to think. Again.

    Raw material extraction levels. Nuclear waste disposal. Obesity. Stress. Habitat destruction. Number of cars and associated fatalities. Over fishing. Factory farming. Obscene levels of material and personal waste …

    I could go on and on but it seems redundant. And to think that this way of living should be celebrated?

    And from where are the renewably powered aeroplanes going to source their fuel?

  31. Superman1 says:

    “The failure to solve the AGW problem lands squarely in the lap of our politicians”

    No way!!! What steps could Obama et al take? Look at the history of similar addictions to energy: heroin and cigarettes. For heroin, we physically attacked the producers and distributors, and exacted stiff criminal penalties against the users. How successful has that been? For cigarettes, we increased the financial burden on the users through higher taxes, and we implemented mandates restricting where they could be used. More effective, but it took 45 years to cut the number of smokers by half. In both these cases, the majority were non-addicts, so these sterm measures could be implemented through the will of the majority.

    Which of these measures would the politicians implement against the energy addicts, realizing that probably 98% are in the addict group? And, rather than a 50% reduction that takes 45 years like cigarettes, we need a much higher reduction percentage over a 5-10 year period. What is it, exactly, that you want the politicians to do?

  32. Superman1 says:

    David Goldstein #10,

    “Choosing sides is well and good, but once you have chosen…then what? And, if you are read this climate blog, are not willing to put your body in the way, how can you expect others to?’”

    At some point, sooner rather than later, a number of people are going to have to put their bodies on the line, if there is even to be an outside chance of saving civilization as we know it. But, it has to be targeted surgically if it is to have impact. Jonestown 1979 had many people giving up their lives for no purpose; we don’t need a repeat of that.

    The types of demonstrations you are proposing have little chance of success, because I believe you are aiming at the wrong target. The main culprits are the energy consumers, you and me. We are the ones against whom the main efforts have to be targeted. The approaches tend to break down into three categories: incentives, mandates, and the outright use of force. The latter involves physically ‘laying your body on the line’: destroy the energy producing/refining plants; lay down in front of the gas station entrances; block the delivery of jet fuel to the airports. Are you willing to do that, because that is where the real problem lies?

    You’ll never get the mandates necessary to force us to live like the Amish in Pennsylvania for two to four decades as required by the increasingly dire climate model results; there will not be the public support for such extreme measures in a democratic society. If we try to apply economic disincentives, through higher effective taxes, the levels needed for drastic reductions would again not receive the necessary public support.

    While my language about blocking or removing production and distribution facilities may sound extreme, it crystallizes what needs to be done physically or metaphorically. Unless we accept the necessity of this, forget about any hope of solving the climate change problem.

    Thirty years ago, making the necessary transitions to a non-fossil fuel self-sustaining economy could have been done relatively smoothly, although not without some sacrifice. Now, according to the models, we have run out of room. There is no slack remaining, if we incorporate the effects of positive feedbacks in the models. In fact, the reality is probably negative slack.

  33. Raj says:

    You have to weigh the cost/benefit that you might spew more CO2 in attending the protest in DC versus the impact a large protest could have on the conscience of the populace. Think about the effect the tea party had on the media and civil rights movement.
    If the protest could get close to 100k or better yet a million folks, wouldn’t that change the media talking points for a week and also connect with others in the country that it is a major issue with a greater number of people. I bet there are lots of poeple in this country now (about 60-70%) that believe climate change is happening. Wouldn’t a protest with huge turnout finally show solidarity with that 60-70%?
    What else do we have to go on to build momentum? It would be better if the majority came within the northeast area from a reducing carbon perspective

  34. Gingerbaker says:

    ” If you think that the only problem with our majority world lifestyles is the sources of our energy you need to think. Again.”

    Forgive me, but I thought the topic of discussion was energy sources. Not over fishing, the number of automobile accidents, or issues of overpopulation.

    Why not add kitten killing, the hideousness of low-rider pants, and the state of most popular music since the early seventies to the list of items I am supposedly defending, while you are at it? ;D

  35. David Lewis says:

    Here’s what the 1988 Toronto Changing Atmosphere conference organizers said 95% of climatologists agreed with in 1988, i.e. the conference statement

  36. David Goldstein says:

    Superman- thanks for your comments, I think you make a lot of good points. What strikes me perhaps most strongly is just how few folks seem to comprehend the extreme and fast approaching consequences of continued inaction. They do not ‘get’ the non-linearity of change and the unpredictable and, possibly, irreversable nature of tipping points. If scientists told us that a massively destructive asteroid was on a collision course with Earth and that we had 5 years to figure out a way to avert its course- well, there would be no question- the technologically advanced nations would put all efforts forward. Is it hyperbole to say that we are, in fact, facing a similar situation (staring at 4-6 C rise this century)? It’s beginning to feel for all the world exactly like a science fiction story where a handful of characters are desperately trying to wake up the rest- but they just can’t get through- not to the politicians, not to the media, not to the ‘money’ people. It’s all so strange.

  37. Brooks Bridges says:

    I question the “there were millions of people protesting that war” unless you include world wide. If there had truly been millions in US, who knows:

    “On September 29, 2001, as many as 20,000 people demonstrated in Washington, D.C., United States, denouncing the impending invasion of Afghanistan. The protests were organized by the recently formed A.N.S.W.E.R. coalition. Thousands gathered at Meridian Hill Park (Malcolm X Park) and marched downtown, while elsewhere members of the Anti-Capitalist Convergence clashed briefly with police on their way to Edward R. Murrow park, across from the headquarters of the World Bank and the IMF. Both groups of marchers converged on a rally at the Freedom Plaza.[3]
    In San Francisco almost 10,000 people converged on a park in San Francisco’s Mission District to denounce the Bush administration’s plans for military intervention in Afghanistan.[4]”

  38. Gingerbaker says:

    Fossil fuel economy = addiction to cigarettes? Worst analogy ever.

    You think the Federal government has no role to play in a national energy policy? Seriously??

  39. Solar Jim says:

    Not to mention Mulga that the entire atomic scheme, much like fossil “fuels” except based on uranium, is dependent on an extremely powerful nation-state sanctioned economic devise called “Indemnification.” This holds the entire process essentially “free from harm” by negating “free market risk assessment,” ie. insurance.

  40. Solar Jim says:

    In the dystopic movie Doctor Strangeheat: Tales of Carbonic Acid (imagined) the better part of a trillion dollars each year are moved from public treasuries of nation-states to corporate-person-sociopaths. This amount just so happens to equal annual global investments in fossil “exploration and development” of the “free market,” all while some of the public wonders which light bulb is best for “the environment,” and seven million cubic miles of land ice prepares for a swim.

    The economic construct of fossil/uranium “fuels” is primarily that of explosives for militant power and corporatism. The spin heard of “cheap” is laughable.