On Monday evening’s episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live, the ABC late-night host tackled something that isn’t in your average topical monologue: the scientific consensus on climate change. And he made a video featuring real climate scientists responding to climate denial in a fashion one doesn’t see in the National Academy of Sciences.
The catalyst involved a climate denier-produced movie, “Climate Hustle,” which has been called “amateurish” and “not very watchable.” Specifically what Kimmel seized on were comments former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin gave last month while promoting the movie.
Before going into how Donald Trump is “so reasonable and so full of common sense” to believe that the “climate change agenda is really just a political agenda to stymie development,” Palin last month said in an interview promoting the movie that it’s important to question the scientific consensus on climate change.
“It’s perpetuated and repeated so often that too many people believe that, ‘Oh, well, if 97 percent of all scientists believe that man’s activities are creating changes in the weather, who am I to question that?’” she said.
“Exactly. Who are you to question that?” Kimmel replied. He joked that his theory was that Palin wants global warming to happen because it’s cold in Alaska (though with regular headlines reporting record-high temperatures, it’s less so recently).
“But, the idea that she knows more than 97 percent of scientists is offensive and dangerous,” Kimmel said. “No matter what Sarah Palin and these geniuses she surrounds herself with try to tell you, climate change is not a liberal versus conservative thing, but the people who profit from ignoring it want you to believe it is.”
Kimmel introduced a video focusing on the topic with a self-aware dig at his own resume.
“Now I know I’ll get beaten over the head by every wacko website, and I know there’ll be a lot of ‘what the hell do you know, go back to girls jumping on trampolines’ — this is not about what I know,” he said. “This is about what scientists know, so I hope that for the next two minutes, put your political leanings aside, forget about whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, forget the labels, and pay attention to the following message, decide for yourself.
“The people you’re about to see are scientists, they’re Americans, they’re not part of some imaginary conspiracy, they’re just a smarter version of us. Watch this, and if at the end, you disagree, while we’re all underwater I hope you’ll be the last one who gets a snorkel.”
There isn’t much hyperbole here: leading scientists have said sea level rise poses a “global emergency” while others found 2014 to be the hottest year on record before 2015 beat it. And 2016 is well on its way into the record books.
“We’ve had 15 of the 16 hottest years ever since 2001. That’s not an opinion. It’s a fact,” Kimmel said, prompting (assumedly sarcastic) applause. “For some reason whether or not humans are contributing to this has become a left versus right issue. Our politicians debate this but our scientists don’t. A huge majority of climate scientists say climate change is happening. They say we’re causing it and we need to do something about it before it has a terrible effect on all of us.”
“There’s no debate about the greenhouse effect, just like there’s no debate about gravity. It someone throws a piano off the roof, I don’t care what Sarah Palin tells you, get out of the way because it’s coming down on your head.”
He promoted NASA’s excellent climate website which explains the scientific consensus on climate change.
“Almost half our representatives in Washington apparently know more about science than our scientists,” he continued. “Or they pretend to, because big corporations give them a lot of money to make sure they can keep doing the destructive things that they do.”
Indeed, in the current congress, there are 182 climate deniers — 144 in the House and 38 in the Senate — who have received $73,294,380 from dirty energy companies in the coal, oil, and gas industries.
A good joke by Fallon, but far more profound than he knew. Climate change is unpredictable, plain and simple. pic.twitter.com/rrLUGVi7L3
— Texas Mike (@myanof) September 25, 2014
Ironically, when President Obama announced his Climate Action Plan in 2013, late night comedy shows devoted time to it while the Sunday news shows completely ignored it. Before he went off the air, David Letterman hosted climate activist Tim DeChristopher.
Last year, NBC’s Seth Myers confronted Ted Cruz on his climate denial. The year before, HBO’s John Oliver lampooned the false balance perpetuated by many news programs that give equal time to climate deniers. Oliver illustrated the scientific consensus on the reality of climate change by having 97 people on to represent this position compared with three people to represent climate deniers.