Democracies Are Our Best Chance to Stop Climate Change

Filmmaker and Writer
Academy Award-winning documentarian Charles Ferguson says there is a good reason why authoritarian oligarchies are the worst nations at dealing with climate change.
  • Transcript

TRANSCRIPT

Charles Ferguson:  If we don’t deal with climate change we and certainly our children are in for a very rough time. We’re already seeing heat waves and extreme weather and droughts and wildfires as a consequence. That’s extremely clear. I come from California and you don’t need scientists to tell you about climate change if you come from California. It’s all over the place. It really is. It’s very obvious just wandering around the state. Spring comes a month earlier than it used to. It’s much hotter in the summer. There’s much less rain. So there are those kinds of consequences but if we let this problem continue to worsen then 20, 30, 40, 50 years from now our children are going to suffer a lot. About half of the world’s largest cities are on coastlines and if the Greenland ice melts then the sea is going to rise by over 20 feet. And half of the world’s cities will be underwater literally. And weather will be far more extreme. The last time that the world was as hot as it will get this century if we don’t fix climate change was about 100,000 years ago and scientists have found evidence of extremely destructive storms. Storms that were strong enough to lift very large boulders from the bottom of the ocean and put them on top of mountains. So Hurricane Sandy is very, very minor trouble compared to what we’ll face if we don’t handle this problem.

But in the last decade there’s been remarkable progress in renewable energy technology, in electric cars, in sustainable agriculture. And now we know how to solve this problem. And in fact we could solve this problem in a way that would make the world more prosperous and healthier and happier. Renewable energy is becoming quite competitive economically with energy from fossil fuels. Within five years electric cars will be fully competitive with gasoline powered cars and they’re much less expensive to operate and maintain. They’re also quieter. They also accelerate faster by the way. In most regards we could have very useful, happy, productive, prosperous, healthy lives by dealing with this problem.

The countries in the world that are the most prosperous and have the most equal distribution of income and wealth and also the longest life expectancies are in general the countries that are dealing best with climate change. Germany, Scandinavia, Japan, a number of European countries. And the countries that are behaving the worst are countries that are very corrupt and that have a great deal of poverty and inequality. It’s not a coincidence that countries like Venezuela and Indonesia and Russia and Saudi Arabia are the countries with the worst records with regard to this problem and are also countries that are dependent on fossil fuels or on industrial agriculture controlled by a very small number of people very politically corrupt. And so I came to realize that if we deal with political corruption we’ll also be dealing with climate change. And conversely if we deal with climate change we’ll also help the world a lot with regard to corruption and inequality.