Climate Change Interview 16: Philosopher - Minneapolis, MN

Updated: Apr 4, 2020


Photo: Joe Lynde


Live Interview: Clem Samuels


1. What are your thoughts when you hear the claims that the earth is warming, the environment is being destroyed and that humans are the cause?


Duh! There is no question that it is happening. I’ve always thought that people who say, “No, that’s not happening,” should stop and think. I tell them that if you hook a hose up to your house and, let’s say the Atlantic Ocean is drained, you can put that hose out and it will take a long, long time but eventually you are going to have the ocean back. OK? My point is that when people say, the atmosphere is so big it can absorb this stuff, they have to realize that while it is big, there is a limit. I use that as an example. A little garden hose isn’t much but after a while you have an ocean.


We’ve been putting a little pollution in the every year since the Industrial Revolution – a couple hundred years. And now we had more than a little each year. We are adding a lot. Now you have an ocean of emissions.


I think, too, that most people think about their grandkids and how their life is going to be different and about what they can do to help them. I don’t know what we can do to help them. I’d like to protect them from all that but…..


2. In your mind, what are the driving forces of climate change and environmental degradation?


I think consumerism is one of the big problems. For that matter I think the ‘American Ideal’ is working against us. You can come to this country and work hard and build a future. I mean, our history is an example for everyone. Our ancestors came and cut down all the trees in the way of progress. Now everyone is saying, “Don’t cut those down!” We didn’t set a very good example when we got here. I’m not sure it isn’t too late for us.


Take a look at the fires in Brazil. Here you have scientific proof that the amazon jungle is one of the most important eco-systems as far as the atmosphere is concerned and they are doing absolutely nothing to stop it. The President of Brazil is saying, “Hey, come on you guys, we want a piece of the apple too.”


Some private citizens are doing a better job but it’s hard for me to believe that every city in America hasn’t banned plastic bags for instance.


3. Has your life been affected in any way? If so, how?


I think if you embrace the idea of climate change it affects your life. I mean we’re not perfect but we’re much more aware of little things we do that might have a negative effect on the climate. I mean there are the plastic bags, eating more plant-based foods to cut down on methane.


If you could go back one month in a time machine ask people if much changed over time they would say no, of course not. Even two months ago wouldn’t seem to make that much difference. If you did that every month back like four years slowly the answer would change. The changes are so incremental they are hard to see. Thirty years from now this will be an entirely different world.