Al Jazeera America Interview 2014.09.22

Al Jazeera America
Tony Harris interviews Margaret Klein live [transcript]


TH: Hundreds of thousands of people marched through Manhattan on Sunday — boy was this huge! — to call for action on climate change. The People’s Climate March took place two days before dozens of world leaders attended the Climate Change Summit at the United Nations. Look at this! There were similar events in cities around the world. The March is one of a series of climate-related events in New York this week. Joining me now is Margaret Klein. She is the founder of the advocacy group "The Climate Mobilization," she participated in yesterday’s demonstrations. Margaret, good see you, good to have you on the program.

MK: Thanks for having me.

TH: How good was that yesterday? Tell me about it, from your perspective. 

MK: It was a wonderful experience to have so many people in one place who understand the threat of climate change, and who are demanding action. The spirit was wonderful.

TH: So your advocacy group, The Climate Mobilization. Tell me about your group and what you want to do here.

MK: Correct. The Climate Mobilization is a social movement start-up that launched at the climate march. And our advocacy is the Pledge to Mobilize, which is a political platform and social movement strategy that demands a World War II scale intervention on climate change.

TH: Excuse me — a ‘World War II scale intervention’?

MK: That’s right Tony. We as a society have faced terrible threats before. 

TH: Yeah?

MK: The Axis powers threatened everything America stood for, and threatened our safety. And we rose to the challenge.

TH: Tell me about this pledge!

MK: The Pledge to Mobilize is a political —

TH: You have a note there? Good, good, good, walk me through it!

MK: This is the Pledge!

TH: Well, I don’t have time for all those points, give me the key ones! [laughs]

MK: So, it’s a political platform, and a social movement strategy. The political platform says “I call on the United States federal government to commence a WWII-scale mobilization to fight climate change, and specifically to reduce the United States’ net greenhouse gas emissions 100% by 2025. Ok? Carbon neutral. 2025. And after that, we need to continue removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, because we’ve actually already gone too far.

TH: Yeah, yeah. How many points are on your pledge here? Two, three, four, what am I looking at, five points?

MK: Five political points on the platform, and three social movement points. 

TH: Ok now the social movement part of it, what do you want done? People take the Pledge, I take the Pledge, what do I do then? 

MK: You’re agreeing to three conditions. One — I will vote for candidates on the local, state, and national level who have signed over those who haven’t.

TH: Oh! Put your vote where your Pledge is.

MK: Absolutely. I will vote climate over all other issues, because it is the most important thing we’ve got going on in the world today. We’re facing a threat to all of civilization.

TH: Oh, that’s hyperbole. Come on!

MK: I wish you were right. I wish the situation were—

TH: Give me some parameters on the threat here. Because I think that’s one of the issues that your group is challenged with, is sort of making this message clear and unequivocal in the cities, the hamlets, the towns all over the country.


MK: So the threat of climate change, scientists try to project precisely what’s going to happen. How many degrees, how much emissions is going to lead to how many degrees of temperature rise. But the truth is, we’re finding out as we go, because this has never been tested. We’re partaking in a massive, very dangerous experiment.  

TH: It’s true!

MK: And one thing we’re seeing is that the climate system is incredibly sensitive. And another thing we’re seeing is that our civilizational systems are incredibly sensitive to climate disruption. So, in parts of the world such as Syria, you see droughts causing, or fueling, civil war!

TH: Yeah, pretty nasty drought in California as well. So you got a wonderful moment here this week. Those who believe fervently in what you believe in, you’ve got a summit tomorrow. What do you expect to come out of that summit, where people are talking about this issue in front of world leaders? What do you expect?

MK: My expectations are not very high for the UN Summit.

TH: Well why not?

MK: Well, because in history, looking for international agreements is not generally how we solve our biggest problems. 

TH: So what do you want to happen if you’re not expecting — someone’s got to make a big move on this, if not governments at this summit, then who makes the move? Individuals?

MK: Every one of us. 

TH: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

MK: Every one of us has to demand massive political action from our governments. Demand that they fulfill their fundamental duty as leaders, which is protecting their citizens. 

TH: Yeah. Margaret, great to see you. Margaret Klein, she is the founder of the advocacy group, "The Climate Mobilization." 

MK: Thank you very much!

TH: See you next year! Or earlier, right?

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