(Getty Images)

Andrew Guzman realizes that his warnings about the human costs of climate change might come across as alarmist. “But that’s because we should be alarmed,” he writes in his new book “Overheated.” The UC Berkeley law professor believes that there has been too much discussion about the science of climate change, and not enough about the likely consequences — things like famine, war and mass migration. Guzman joins us in the studio.

Guests:
Andrew Guzman, professor of law and associate dean for international and advanced degree programs at UC Berkeley School of Law and author most recently of "Overheated: The Human Cost of Climate Change"

  • OldVet

    For your producers, the sequels to this show might first be a glimpse of economic history, and then the analysis of the harbingers of war. To interview A Nation of Deadbeats by Scott Reynolds Nelson covers the history of economic crashes since the inception of the US. Following that, would be a lineage of wars ushering from those crashes, or as they used to be called, panics, that follow about a decade after the crash. Big work. Big vision. I do not know who would do the second part. But it might be worth imagining the consequence of just ten, if not fifty million people seeking higher ground, or relief from forest fires or what are the human results when bankers fool bankers. A Nation of Deadbeats is about bankers…. and their bets, and consequences.

    The consequences are written in blood.

  • Guest

    Isn’t the entire debate about climate change only about humans? After all if climate change wipes out the human race, life on earth may still survive and may even flourish. Or, do we think climate change will wipe out everything else before humans?

    • thucy

      “Or, do we think climate change will wipe out everything else before humans?”

      already happening…

  • Beth Grant DeRoos

    Growing up we lived in a home less than 900 sq ft, with one bathroom, no food waste, lights and water not on unless using either. We got most of our food within 100 miles of where we lived. We walked and biked places and only used the one car we had, for when all three of us went somewhere.

    Now we have even ‘green’ folks who think a McMansion can be energy efficient, ignoring that the more paved over land one has, the more temperatures will rise. More people more cars, more exhaust more pollution that raises temperatures. Look at how many ‘green’ folks love to travel, and what energy that uses up. Or how many ‘green’ folks and decriers of global warming have more than one or two children.

    Of course global warming is a fact. But all the science double talk only confuses the average person who needs a wake up call. Ditch the lofty language and talk like our parents did in the 50’s and 60’s about the price of waste and using to much of any natural resource. As it is way to many ‘green’ folks make being aware of the long term consequences of global warming sound like punishment or class warfare.

    Victory gardens during WW2 were not seen as punishment but as an adventuresome fun challenges. Global warming ‘experts’ could learn a few things from WW2 and how leaders got everyone involved.

    • Kristen Caven

      Well said!

    • thucy

      you make an important point re McMansion lifestyles, but I think you’ve created a but of a straw man – not all of us “greenies” can or even wish to live that lavish lifestyle. And… i think I remember your generation of parents – the ones with the powerboat and seven children?
      As for victory gardens, from available evidence, is it correct to conclude that you’re not eating out of one?

      • Beth Grant DeRoos

        Alas I eat 95% from what I grow myself. Lacto ova vegetarian, although I eat little if any dairy. But do have six hens who are family, and they provide me with eggs. Do use the area farmers markets.
        Let’s cut my parents some slack per their generation and lots of children, since the U S Supreme Court didn’t legalize contraceptives until I was in my late teens. The question for me is why do I see/hear so many ‘green’ folks with more than one or two children. They have NO excuse!
        As for McMansions, I still see way to many folks who talk ‘green’ who live in homes bigger than 1k sq ft.
        Oh and the last vacation I took was with my late husband and child in 1988. Yes, 1988. So I dont travel aside from fifty miles of where I live here in the Sierras.
        I do walk the talk.

        • thucy

          that’s beyond refreshing to hear – it’s inspiring. thanks for explaining

          • thucy

            Beth, it would be great if you were a Forum guest to tell us more about growing your own food. Maybe as part of a panel? I’ve been interested in trying to do something similar, tho we have, I think, less yard than you do. Still, it might help us with some ideas.

        • thucy

          BTW: I agree about the contraceptives. I initially balked at your comment because I thought it came off a bit like, “when I was a kid, we had to walk seven miles through the daily tsunami to go to sch

  • Ehkzu

    One of the most important consequences of human C02 output has nothing to do with climate: it’s the acidification of the world’s oceans. This will virtually exterminate the world’s hard coral reefs and marine shellfish, because the acidified ocean water interferes with the ability of corals and shellfish to form their shells. Coral reef ecology provides most of the protein for tropical lands near oceans, and it’s going to go away.

    • WorseThanPoop

      This is absolutely right. Plus – since we’re talking about human costs – in addition to protein (i.e. fish tacos), coral reefs provide massive protection to coastal areas. UNAM lab measurements in a recent hurricane showed that 90% of the storm surge was absorbed by the reefs off the east coast of Mexico. Without the reefs, hundreds of millions of people lie directly in harms way.

      • Ehkzu

        A town in Bali–Candidasa–once had beautiful coral reefs offshore. Candidasa’s fat cats wanted to build big upscale hotels for tourists wanting to enjoy Candidasa’s white sand beaches. They mined the coral reefs for their limestone to make cement to build the hotels to bring the visitors to enjoy the beaches that all washed away once the reefs were gone…

        • Selostaja

          Classic ignorance and greed. The only consolation is that time heals all wounds, though humanity may not be around to see nature recover. As long as we behave like a disease, the planet will shake us off like a fever to a viral infection. Luckily we are just a blip on the geologic timeline.

  • Jane Wonder

    Everyone – please go to 350.org and learn what you can do to stop the worst of global warming.

  • Devil’s Advocate

    I remember when Al Gore injected himself as the spokesman and the “expert” for Global Warming. In doing so, he changed the public debate from science to politics. Where is he now? We need a more credible spokesman for Climate Change.

    • thucy

      try Bill McKibben, or say, 99% of the scientific community.

  • Lucy

    I’m wondering why your guest has not talked about factory farming as one of the major environmental problems the US is facing.

  • Jane Wonder

    We should all thank Al Gore – for doing the right thing – in spite of his personal goals. It was a big risk to take time out of his career — and put his own professional goals to the side – to try to give a message to the country and the world – a message no one wanted to hear. We can thank him for a clear communication of what is happening, and for kickstarting the dialog in the public forum. Thank you Mr Gore!

    • Devil’s Advocate

      Yeah. Let’s thank Al Gore for the lies in “An Inconvenient Truth” that gave anyone good reason to question his claims of Global Warming. Let’s thank Al Gore for setting his own “personal goals” aside while making millions through his Green Energy and Carbon Credit fiascoes. Let’s thank Al Gore for his lifestyle that continues to burn more energy than almost anyone. He kick started the debate all right…he kicked it right out of the realm of serious consideration.

      It may come as a surprise to you that I believe Climate Change is a deadly serious issue. It deserves more respect than that displayed by Al Gore. Actions speak louder than words.

  • SynerGenetics

    Go ahead focus on the gloom and doom of climate change. Climate change is the procrastinators dream disaster, it will happen some time in the future, it will happen to other people, and it will cost billions that will only have an effect in the future.

    You can’t scare people to death how many people still smoke? How many people really changer their behavior after a heart attack? How many people know the benefits of dieting yet, still do not diet.

    If you want to have people to show more interest in climate change you have to show how their changed behavior has made the environment better now and not some time in the future

    Five Myths about changing behavior
    http://www.fastcompany.com/52439/five-myths-about-changing-behavior

    Dan Ariely: The polar bear and the Prius

    • thucy

      ariely isn’t always right

  • Jane

    I learned from my brother-in-law, a red state libertarian that they GET that Warming is occurring. The Polar Bear photos/films solved that. However, Sadly, a lot of environmental supporters keep arguing the argument that is already won.

    Their disagreement NOW is whether warming human caused – which leads to can humans do anything to change it.

    How can we get more emphasis on the point of controversy instead of the already won argument.

  • Ben Patsch

    one or two degrees how do we measure these numbers reliably on a world scale

  • Natalie DuMont

    Thank you so much for answering the question, “Who cares?”, when it comes to climate change. My degree is in Earth Systems and I think about all the ways we humans depend on the natural world to survive and thrive, but many of my closest friends remain unconvinced that climate change is a concern and that they should do anything about it. I’m so glad you’re helping us understand why we should care in our every day lives and, especially, in the everyday lives of our children and grandchildren.

  • Katherine Forrest

    Climate change is already responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people each year worldwide. Only a small fraction of the deaths are due to extreme weather events like storms, droughts or floods. Many more are due to changes in disease patterns, with spread of conditions like malaria, dengue fever, cholera, asthma aggravation by certain plant pollens, and starvation.

  • Livegreen

    Most U.S. & European consumer products are made more cleanly than in China or India, even if progress needs to be made. For example, among major U.S. manufacturers water treatment plants are ubiquitous .

    However outside of the food industry, consumers largely refuse to pay more for greener products, and buy mostly on price alone. The International community is doing little to mandate pricing environmental costs into consumer products, so the dirtiest products sell the most and the dirtiest manufacturers & countries thrive. Hence the “Chinese miracle”.

    How does your guest suggest solving this conundrum? Or do we just continue with the status quo letting the problem fester?

  • thucy

    Guzman gave a GREAT, thoughtful, REAL response to the man who called in wanting to blame poor folk in undeveloped countries who need to burn wood to stay warm and cook food (and probably sterilize their drinking water)

  • Ehkzu

    Currently a majority of Americans believe climate change is no biggie; that it’s a controversial issue within the scientific community; that if there is climate change, the human input is negligible; and that if it isn’t negligible, China and India and the rest of the “global commons” vastly outweigh any difference America can make by itself.

    These ideas–all false–have been implanted in the American psyche by the Republican Party working for its patrons in the petrochemical industry. You can’t work on solutions to global warming until you can counteract this long-running, lavishly funded propaganda campaign that has made global warming denial a keystone of being Republican today.

  • Selostaja

    I don’t understand the fixation on constant growth of our GNP. It seems the overall acceptance of economic growth leads to endless growth of consumerism driving our global impact.The similarity of our effect on this planet to that of cancer to an organism mustn’t be lost. We all need to live within our means – on a planetary level. Resources should be quantified and budgeted.

  • thucy

    gotta thank Forum staff for picking a terrific guest – Guzman is brilliant!

    PS: hoping the next legal eagle Forum hosts will be (formerly) local girl Michelle Alexander, best-selling author of “The New Jim Crow”. She’s featured in the award-winning documentary “The House I Live In”, which also features David Simon.

  • Jim Mott

    I don’t believe that human beings will do anything about global warming, based on our failure to limit on own population. I think that the standard of living possible by using energy to make it possible for average people to have so many appliances, and cars, and travel halfway around the globe in a day is too attractive. The only brake on global warming is that rising sea levels will destroy the coastal energy infrastructure (roads, refineries, factories), that the collapse of the food supply from the oceans as the smallest creatures in the ocean food chain (plankton) cannot form cells, and larger animals will starve. The collapse of the land based food infrastructure as mono-crops are decimated by migrating insects and drought. The earth will stabilize as the human population drops due to famine, disease and natural disasters. Consider that even at a local level, it is hard to build subways that are energy efficient, homeowner associations ban solar panels on rooftops, (and clotheslines), and most people don’t have enough space to even have a vegetable garden. All these simple things would cut energy use.

    By the way, the IEEE Spectrum Magazine from January 2007 (page 16) says that humans use a cubic mile of oil each year and that to replace just ONE YEAR’s oil use would require building one of the following:
    4 Three Gorges dams a year for 50 years. or

    52 Nuclear power plantrs a year for 50 years or

    91,250,00 solar panels (2.1KWh each) a year for 50 years
    32, 850 wind turbines a year for 50 years or
    104 coal fired plants a year for 50 years.

  • Andrew Guzman told about the disastrous consequences of climate change: famine, war, mass migration. Then he said that the thing to do about it is to reduce the emissions that cause warming. therefore, I ask Michael Krasny to present a guest on Forum who can show the best way to reduce these emissions: eliminate burning fossil fuels to generate electricity, and replace those plants with plants using energy from liquid fluoride thorium reactors (LFTR, aka molten salt reactors). They are safe and economical: cheaper than coal and more practicable than renewables. A guest who can do this is Alex Cannara, Ph.D., 2043 Sterling Avenue, Menlo Park, CA 94025. Tel. 650-400-3071. Check him in GOOGLE to see his qualifications. Hershey Julien, hrshjulien37@gmail.com

  • Kurt thialfad

    This phenomenon has taken several forms in its evolution. First it was the ozone hole (caused by human activity), then the greenhouse gas effect, then global warming, now climate change. Why not call it what it really is: Human OverPopulation!!!
    Look at the hockey stick. Never in human history have we exceeded 1 billion until the 20th century. Now we are over 7 billion.

    Now look again at the hockey stick. And don’t try to be politically correct.

  • One of the most powerful things I heard during Andrew Guzman’s bit today was his notion of incentives. What incentives exist for the U.S. as a nation and as a global citizen to reduce carbon emissions?
    T.J- Anthropology Major

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor