Neil deGrasse Tyson: Climate Change Will Challenge Our 'Capitalist Culture'

Neil deGrasse Tyson On When The Rich Will Address Climate Change

Neil deGrasse Tyson says the wealthy will soon be forced to pay attention to climate change: Not because of any political movement, but because of basic economics.

During an interview on All In With Chris Hayes on Monday, the renowned astrophysicist said the evidence is mounting that climate change will have extreme economic ramifications. And that, in turn, will get the rich to pay attention.

"If they start to lose their wealth, they change their minds real fast," Tyson said. "Particularly in a capitalist culture."

If steps are not taken to fight climate change, many of the global economy's key coastal cities and commerce hubs could be lost to rising sea levels, said Tyson, who is the host of the television series "Cosmos" and the director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History.

"Don't expect to conduct civilizations the way we now do, because all the coastlines will get redrawn," he warned.

To illustrate just how high sea levels could rise, Tyson used an example many can appreciate: the Statue of Liberty.

"Here in New York, if we lose the ice caps ... [the water] would come up to the Statue of Liberty's elbow, the one that's holding the Declaration of Independence," Tyson said. "That's where the water line will be."

Tyson also took the well-funded climate-change denial movement to task. Everyone is entitled to a personal opinion, he said, but those in a position of power have a responsibility to rely on something more than faith.

"I'd like to think that governance is based on objectively verifiable truths," he said. "Otherwise, what kind of culture have we created?"

Correction: A previous version of this article identified Tyson as working for the American Museum of National History. He in fact works at the American Museum of Natural History.

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