Face the Nation Transcripts April 6, 2014: Pfeiffer, McCaul, Friedman, Cullen

BOB SCHIEFFER: One other question. David Ortiz took a selfie with the president. When the Red Sox visited the White House everybody thought that was kind of cute. And then it turns out that he has apparently signed some sort of a deal with Samsung. And this was all part of a promo. Did the president get caught here? Did he appreciate that?

DAN PFEIFFER: Well, he obviously didn't know anything about Samsung's connection to this. And perhaps maybe this will be the end of all selfies. But in general, whenever someone tries to use the president's likeness to promote a product, that's a problem with the White House--


BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, are you going to take any kind of legal action? Or--

DAN PFEIFFER: Well, we've had conversations with Samsung about this and expressed our concerns.

BOB SCHIEFFER: And what did they say?

DAN PFEIFFER: We've (UNINTEL PHRASE) conversation (UNINTEL) lawyers.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Okay. Dan Pfeiffer, thanks for being with us this morning.

DAN PFEIFFER: Thank you, Bob.

BOB SCHIEFFER: We'll be back in one minute to talk about one of the most serious problems facing the world today, climate change. Stay with us.


BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, last week marked yet another round of whacky weather throughout the United States. There were giant lightning strikes near the St. Louis arcs. There were huge snowstorms in parts of Montana and Minnesota. And enormous hail stones fell in Kansas. The unusual seems to be the norm these days with the weather, which bring us to the best-selling author of Hot, Flat, and Crowded, our friend, New York Timescolumnist Tom Friedman and Heidi Cullen, who is the chief climatologist at Climate Central. And they are here today because they're both involved in our partner Showtime's new documentary on climate change. It is called Years of Living Dangerously. Tom, this is a multipart series. You take part in one of the episodes. What's the bottom line here? What did you all find out?

THOMAS FRIEDMAN: Well, Bob, it's actually a nine part series. And people can watch the first one tomorrow, actually, on YouTube, YearsOfLivingDangerously.com, get it for free. For me, it's been really the most remarkable documentary project I've ever been involved with. I'm looking at the environmental and climate stresses in the Middle East.

So I actually go to Syria and show how the drought in Syria is connected to the revolution. Get to go to Yemen, look at the first city in the world that may run out of water. And then Egypt to look how climate stresses were involved in the revolution there. Participating in the series, you know, we have Arnold Schwarzenegger, Matt Damon, Harrison Ford, Don Cheadle, Mark Bittman. Lesley Stahl from CBS. Remarkable group of people. The whole idea is to bring this home to personal stories. And it does amazingly effectively.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, Heidi, what is the conclusion of this series? You were their chief science advisor for the series. What do you say to those who question whether global warming exists (UNINTEL)?

HEIDI CULLEN: Well, you know, I think the series meshes very nicely with the I.P.C.C. reports, which have just come out. They basically show conclusively that climate change is very real. We're experiencing it right now. And that it is manmade, that is primarily caused by the burning of fossil fuels, oil, coal, natural gas. And we're already feeling the pain from it, right?

So, you know, the title we use of Living Dangerously I think it really hits home that these are important years that we're living right now. We're beginning to see the effects. The effects will only get worse. And if we do nothing to stop it, we're going to look back and ask ourselves, "Why didn't we do something when we had the opportunity?" The I.P.C.C. report made very clear that now is the time to act.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, help me with this. For example, the recent storms we've had, the thing that hit New Jersey, with Sandy and all of that. Is that the cause of global warming, the cause of climate change?

HEIDI CULLEN: There is no doubt in my mind that Hurricane Sandy was made worse as a result of global warming, specifically the sea level rise component. So you think about that massive storm surge during Hurricane Sandy. There's an additional foot of sea level rise that we can tie directly to additional flooding. We look at New Jersey, for example, an additional 25 square miles were flooded.

That's about 40,000 people that were impacted who wouldn't have been. And then look at how bad Sandy was. $60 billion in damage, more than 125 dead. And then fast forward to a point where sea level is now four feet higher. And we're talking about a Sandy level flooding event in a place like New Jersey happening every year. So we've got to think about the fact that if we don't do anything now, our grandchildren are going to be dealing with risks they cannot cope with--


BOB SCHIEFFER: Tom, let me just ask you this question. In our politics now, everything breaks on these ideological lines. It just breaks. Is there such a break in the scientific community? How does the scientific community come down on this whole idea of climate change?

THOMAS FRIEDMAN: Let me put it in personal terms. So your son or daughter has a disease. And you go to a hundred doctors. 97% of them, 97 of a 100 say, "This is the cause and this is the cure." And 3% say, "This is the cause. This is the cure." That's what it is on the climate science. 97% of experts say this. 3% say that. And conservatives are saying, "I'm gonna go with the 3%." That's not conservative. That's Trotskyite radical, okay? That you would go with the 3% not the 97%.

To pick up on something that Heidi said, I actually don't like to use the term "global warming." Because that sounds so cuddly. To a Minnesota, Bob, that sounds like golf in February. I much prefer the term "global wierding", okay? Because that's actually what happens. The hots get hotter. The wets get wetter. The dries get dryer. And the more violent storms for the reasons Heidi outlined are most likely to become more severe. And that's what we saw in Syria. We saw a four-year drought, worst in Syria's modern history, that preceded the revolution there and produced a million refugees that basically laid the predicate for that revolution.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, we're going to continue this on part two of the broadcast. And we'll be back in a moment with a look at a very important (UNINTEL).


BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, welcome back to Face the Nation. We are back now with Tom Friedman and Heidi Cullen of Climate Central to continue our conversation on climate change. The World Health Organization put out a report last month saying that seven million people worldwide were killed by air pollution. One in eight deaths tied to dirty air, which is twice that previously estimated. How can that be?

THOMAS FRIEDMAN: Well, it can be because while we're cutting back on coal use here, Bob, we're like an addict who's given up heroine, but we've decided to go into the business of being a pusher. Because we're sending that coal all over the world. And other people are still burning it. And it gets back to a central point. Some people say, you know, "Climate change is a hoax."

Which I say, you know, if it's a hoax, it'll be the greatest hoax that ever happened to us. Because if we do everything we need to do (UNINTEL) prevent climate change and it doesn't happen, we will be like someone who trains for the Olympic triathlon and the triathlon never came. We'll be stronger. We'll have cleaner air. We'll have healthier society. We'll have more innovative industry. We'll have a stronger dollar. We'll be less dependent on the worst petro dictators in the world starting with Vladimir Putin and the likes of him. So to me, I don't think it's a hoax in the least. But if it were and we did everything we could to prevent it, we'd only be stronger. By the way, if it's not a hoax and we don't do anything, we will be a bad biological experiment.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Heidi, what do we need to do?

HEIDI CULLEN: I think that these reports from the scientific community make clear that strong sustained leadership is so important. (UNINTEL) report came out, second year in a row, China, who we've all seen these awful pictures of pollution in China. China is the world's leader in investment in renewables. $54 billion for China. About $37 billion for the U.S.

We need to really move towards making this a nonpartisan issue here in the States. And there's a great scene, actually, in the Years project, where Bob Inglas, former Republican congressman fro South Carolina, sits down with Michael Grimm, a Republican from Staten Island, where I grew up. Grimm has been dealing with the awful impacts of Sandy. And Inglas says to him, "You know what? I'm Republican. And I believe in climate change. You've just been through a terrible experience, where you've seen your community ravaged by, in part, climate change. Maybe it's time to rethink this. You know, the Chinese certainly didn't treat this as a partisan issue." And I think that's really the direction that we need to move in.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Tom, tell me about your part of this, where you went into Syria of all places.

THOMAS FRIEDMAN: So between 2006 and 2010, Syria actually experienced the worst drought in its modern history. And as a result, about a million Syrian farmers and herders left the countryside, flocked to the cities, where they completely overstressed, already stressed in part by Iraqi refugees as well. And it basically, when the (UNINTEL PHRASE) starting all these Arab Springs. So climate change didn't cause Assad to kill Syrians and be an oppressive dictator. But it was what Hayden said. It was a stressor that when the revolution came, you had a million climate change refugees who the Syrian regime had completely ignored, a million environmental refugees. And so when the revolution came, they couldn't wait to join.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right, well thank you all very, very much. This sounds like just a fascinating series. We're going to ask both of you to stick around for our panel. And we'll be right back.


BOB SCHIEFFER: We're back now with Tom Friedman of the New York Times, Todd Purdum, who writes for both Politico and Vanity Fair. He has a new book out called An Idea Whose Time Has Come: Two Presidents, Two Parties, and the Battle for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. We're also joined by the national editor for the Cook Political Report, Amy Walter, and our own John Dickerson. And Todd, let me talk to you first about your book. Why did you decide this was the time to do this book?

TODD PURDUM: Well, obviously, the anniversary's coming up, Bob. And it also seemed the more I researched it, a wonderful story that contrasts to our dysfunctional Washington today. It really was a time when people of both races, both parties could manage to work together in a time that was certainly as divided if not more so than our own on the most controversial issue of the day. And we tend to forget just what a bipartisan achievement this was. It passed the Senate 73 to 27, with 27 out of 33 Republican votes. They couldn't agree on the shape of a table today by that margin.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, and, you know, some people say, "Well, yes, but Lyndon Johnson had a Democratic Congress. He was able to push his will." Most of the people in his caucus started out against him. It was the Southern Democrats who posed the real obstacle to getting these laws passed.

TODD PURDUM: Exactly. And so the size of those majorities were (UNINTEL). And he really had to depend first in the House and then in the Senate on the Republicans. And Republicans at that point in time still took very seriously their heritage as the party of Lincoln and worked to an extraordinary degree, in an election year remember, 1964, willing to work with the president to basically neutralize the hottest political issue of the day, instead of sticking it to him and saying, "Why can't you get your own party to pass it?"

BOB SCHIEFFER: You know what I find? That is very interesting, because this went on deep into the year into summer--


BOB SCHIEFFER: --before they actually got this thing passed. For all practical purposes, our Congress has already put out the "gone for the election" sign. And both parties have served notice they're not going to do anything for the rest of the year.