Former comedian and current Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) has teamed up with David Letterman to produce a new digital series to make serious conversations about climate change a little funnier.
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Natural gas is often considered the cleanest fossil fuel, but could it actually be dirtier than coal?
Watch as New York Times reporter Mark Bittman, in the above Year's of Living Dangerously video, investigates how much methane is leaking at fracking wells. Find out how the natural gas industry's claims compare to what scientists are reporting.
See what happens when Gaby Petron, an atmospheric scientist with NOAA, converts her van into a mobile methane detector and sets out across northeastern Colorado for two years, taking thousands of readings to uncover the truth.
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump met in St. Louis last night for the 2nd Presidential Debate moderated by Anderson Cooper of CNN and Martha Raddatz of ABC. It wasn't until the bitter end that the issue of energy and climate change came into the discussion when Town Hall participant Ken Bone asked:
"What steps will your energy policy take to meet our energy needs while at the same time remaining environmentally friendly and minimizing job loss for fossil power plant workers?"
"Absolutely. I think it's such a great question, because energy is under siege by the Obama administration. Under absolute siege. The EPA—the Environmental Protection Agency—is killing these energy companies. And foreign companies are now coming in, buying so many of our different plants and then rejiggering the plant so they can take care of their oil. We are killing, absolutely killing our energy business in this country."
Thanks to NPR's Scott Horsley, we find Trump's response skewed. Horsley noted, while fact checking Trump's response:
Domestic oil and gas production have increased steadily during President Obama's time in office. The U.S. has been the world's leading producer of natural gas since 2011 and the top producer of oil since 2013.
The Energy Information Administration says gasoline prices averaged $2.25 a gallon last week—about seven cents a gallon cheaper than a year ago, and about 20 cents a gallon less than Obama's first year in office.
Clinton's initial response to Bone's question, "We are, however, producing a lot of natural gas which serves as a bridge to more renewable fuels. And I think that's an important transition," took a hard hit on Twitter:
#debate. Who lost in the debate tonight? Planet earth. Trump believes in "clean coal" and Clinton believes gas is a good "bridge" fuel.— Dawn Dannenbring (@Dawn Dannenbring)1476067968.0
First discussion of climate change. Answer from Clinton: "Natural gas is a great bridge fuel." #debate https://t.co/suUhzy2EtL— Kate Aronoff (@Kate Aronoff)1476067091.0
However, Clinton followed her bridge fuel remarks saying she has "a comprehensive energy policy but it really does include fighting climate change because I think that is a serious problem" and that she supports "moving to more clean and renewable energy as quickly as we can. Because I think we can be the 21st century clean energy superpower and create millions of new jobs and businesses."
Sierra Club's Executive Director Michael Brune praised Clinton for her plans. "With each answer tonight, Hillary Clinton showed that she has thought about the challenges facing our country, developed solutions to address them and—as even Donald Trump admitted—she'll never give up fighting for the American people," Brune said.
"By contrast, there is a reason people are fleeing from Donald Trump in droves. Neither his temperament nor his ideas are a match for what the country needs."
There no room for #debate: It's clear that electing Donald Trump President would mean #climate disaster.— Sierra Club (@Sierra Club)1476067362.0
Greenpeace USA's Executive Director Annie Leonard showed disappointment at the lack of conversation on climate change during last night's debate.
"In addition to more targeted insults to women, communities of color and immigrants on a regular basis, Donald Trump also insults the entire human race on a daily basis with his aggressive denial and inaction regarding climate change," Leonard said.
11 Times Trump Said 'Climate Change Is a Hoax' https://t.co/yPSAirwPia via @EcoWatch #debates #debatenight… https://t.co/WhQfXPTAzK— The YEARS Project (@The YEARS Project)1475066424.0
"The candidates spent very little time talking about climate change during tonight's debate but it is on the minds of so many Americans, especially as Hurricane Matthew continues to take a heavy toll here and in Haiti," Leonard continued. "Climate change demands the attention of both candidates and their parties, and it is shameful that it was given so little."
A climate changed hurricane just killed 900 people in Haiti and 17 in the United States. Perhaps that should be part of the #debate.— 350 dot org (@350 dot org)1476064704.0
David Letterman is taking a break from retirement and is returning to TV to lend his voice to the important issues of climate change.
Letterman will lend his wry humor and interview skills to National Geographic Channel's Emmy-winning climate change documentary-series Years of Living Dangerously Sunday, Oct. 30, at 8 p.m. ET. It will be his first work on television since he left The Late Show a year-and-a-half ago.
Here's a clip from the episode:
The show's producers, Joel Bach and David Gelber, told Rolling Stone they reached out to Letterman after noticing his particular interest in the environment during interviews with scientists on The Late Show.
"He seemed to perk up when this issue came across his lap," Bach said. "We reached out to him to see if he'd want to be part of this, and he said, 'Absolutely.' He said [that climate change is] something he does think about a lot."
While walking through a field of solar panels, Letterman announces in the promo video below:
"Think about the coal-fired, dangerous, smoke-belching generating plants, and then you look at this and it's friendly. There's something very appealing about this, and it's smooth. Look at it: I can touch it and it's safe. I put my head right there on it."
In Letterman's episode, Into the Light, he traveled to India to interview Prime Minister Narendra Modi about how that nation provides energy to its people.
Season 2 of Years of Living Dangerously will include hosts Ty Burrell, Cecily Strong and Jack Black, as well as returning correspondents Don Cheadle, Olivia Munn, Ian Somerhalder, Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Cameron.
By Eric Pooley
In the studio of a Los Angeles radio station, host Tina Mastramico was kicking off another edition of her show Celebrity Chat. "We're here with Don Cheadle," she said, "to discuss the Environmental Defense Fund [EDF], his new movie."
Cheadle, the actor-director and climate activist, seemed taken aback. "Um, EDF isn't a movie. It's an organization that helps protect the planet."
Environmental Defense Fund
"Oooh … like an alliance of superheroes?"
Cheadle chuckled. "Sort of. They've found ways for both parties in Washington to make our air and water cleaner, and the products in our home safer."
"Interesting plot," Mastramico replied.
"It's not a movie."
It wasn't a radio interview, either. Cheadle and Mastramico were taping a public service announcement for EDF at KSWD, a Southern California classic rock station that's part of the Entercom radio network.
The nation's fourth-largest radio broadcasting company, Entercom Communications had given us a generous gift of free airtime on its network, which includes 124 stations in 25 markets around the U.S. (Our thanks to Entercom and all of the great people there who made this happen!)
The PSAs began airing across the network Thursday.
A Witness to the Impacts of Climate Change
We needed a celebrity voice and reached out to Cheadle who donated his time and talent to help more people learn about our work. (Thank you, Don!)
We'd long admired his own work in films from Boogie Nights to Miles Ahead and we also admired his stance on climate change, an issue highlighted in the new radio campaign.
As an on-air correspondent for the television news magazine Years of Living Dangerously, for example, Cheadle explored with great sensitivity how the people of Plainview, Texas, were coping with the crippling drought that shut down the town's biggest employer.
Cheadle told me that he'd first noticed the impacts of a changing climate during his high school years in Denver, "when we could only water our lawns on certain days because of the water shortage."
"I have been watching the steady increase in the effects of climate change ever since," he said. "I'm happy to have thrown my lot in with organizations like United Nations Environment Program, EDF and the Citizens Climate Lobby, as well as the people behind Years of Living Dangerously ... to wake people up and raise the alarm. Climate change is real and we must act."
'Hope Without Action Isn't Worth Much'
For Cheadle, there's a strong connection between acting and taking action.
His Oscar-nominated role in Hotel Rwanda, the true story of a Hutu hotel manager who saved Tutsi refugees from genocide, led Cheadle to become a leader in the campaign to end genocide in Darfur and Sudan.
And his work on Years of Living Dangerously, he said, "expanded my horizons with regard to climate and continues to open my eyes and introduce me to more soldiers in this fight."
I asked Cheadle how he stays hopeful while chronicling the harsh impacts of climate change.
"I do have hope," he replied, "but hope without action isn't worth much. We need leadership and follow-through. EDF is providing a blueprint. Let's all execute."