Neil deGrasse Tyson takes on his most ferocious opponent yet: Capitalism

The "Cosmos" host calls out the captains of industry for refusing to acknowledge the threat of climate change

Published June 4, 2014 12:31PM (EDT)

Neil deGrasse Tyson                                          (AP/Frank Micelotta)
Neil deGrasse Tyson (AP/Frank Micelotta)

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

AlterNetIf calling out creationists and insulting the religious were not enough for Neil deGrasse Tyson, he has decided to step up his game and go after the very people in the United States who believe they are untouchable: capitalists.

Tyson, the host of Fox’s hit television series  Cosmos, sat down with MSNBC host Chris Hayes to discuss all things science. One topic that came to the forefront and just happened to be the subject of this week's episode of  Cosmos was climate change.

With so many Americans, and almost an entire political party on the side of climate change denial, Hayes wanted to know what would change people’s minds, if the overwhelming evidence is not enough.

“People, if they begin to lose their wealth, they change their mind real fast, I’ve found,” Tyson said. “Particularly in a capitalist culture.”

Will we have to wait for sweeping global policies to slow down the damage we have already done to the planet? Will the Koch brothers finally take a financial hit as a result of the changing climate?

Let’s hope not. Yet melting polar ice caps, animal and plant species going extinct, and war in Syria caused by the effects of climate change are all doing nothing to change the minds of the American people. The Republican Party stands opposed to 99 percent of scientists around the world who overwhelmingly agree that climate change is not only happening, but is man-made.

Yet scientific denialism cannot last forever, and here Tyson seems hopeful, saying to Hayes, “It has been said that every great, emergent scientific truth goes through three phases. First, people say it can’t be true. Second, they say it conflicts with the Bible. Third, they say it’s true all along. And so, there you have it.”

We seem to be somewhere around step two in American culture, as many politicians are of the opinion that climate change is in God’s hands and we don’t have to worry about it.

Congressman Joe Barton (R-TX) was quoted in 2013 as saying, “I would point out that if you’re a believer in the Bible, one would have to say the Great Flood is an example of climate change and that certainly wasn’t because mankind had overdeveloped hydrocarbon energy.” While he sees the climate is changing, he believes it is totally natural and has the ability to write policy reflecting this belief. Unfortunately, many Republican politicians agree with him, or deny the climate is changing at all.

With climate change being the bulk of this week's  Cosmos and President Obama releasing his new climate change initiative just the day after, it is no shock that climate change is all over the media, putting the issue in the forefront of people's minds. Tyson hopes we take notice before it is too late.

Tyson says when explaining climate change to New Yorkers, he has them envision a scene straight from Planet of the Apes. When the polar icecaps melt, the Statue of Liberty will be almost fully submerged, all the way to her elbow holding the Declaration of Independence.

Tyson notes that climate change denialism is absurd, yet in true Tyson fashion he reaffirms that people have the right to believe what they want, as this is a constitutional right in the United States. However, there is a point when one's right to belief interferes with public policy. Tyson says, “The problem comes about if you believe what you want and you are responsible for the governance of the nation. I’d like to think that governance is based on objective and verifiable truths. Otherwise, what kind of culture have you created?”

By Dan Arel


Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Alternet Capitalism Chris Hayes Climate Change Cosmos Global Warming Neil Degrasse Tyson