'Climate change is not a religion. Climate change is science'

Energy and climate change are up for discussion tonight in a new Weather Channel program called "Changing Planet." NBC correspondent Anne Thompson tells SmartPlanet what worries her about our clean energy future.
Written by Boonsri Dickinson, Contributing Editor

It bothers NBC News chief environmental affairs correspondent Anne Thompson when people ask: "Do you believe in climate change?"

On Tuesday, Thompson clears the air in a program called Changing Planet, which will be broadcast on The Weather Channel at 9 PM EST. This is the second show of a three-part series,  which focuses on why the United States is falling behind other countries in the area of clean energy developments.

SmartPlanet interviewed NBC News' Anne Thomspon to find out her views on clean energy and climate change.

SmartPlanet: What concerns you most about energy and climate change?

AT: As a reporter, I think climate change is still a very confusing subject for the public to comprehend. I can't tell you the number of times I have heard the question "do you believe in climate change?"

Climate change is not a religion. Climate change is science.

There is plenty of evidence that the earth is warming, that the chemistry of the oceans is changing, that growing zones in our country are creeping northward. The question is not "do you believe in climate change?" but "what, if anything, are we going to do about it?"

On energy, we talk a lot about "energy independence" but we are not doing much to get there. We import about half of the oil we use. There is talk about increasing domestic oil production but there appears to be a math problem.

The United States has only have three percent of the oil reserves and yet as a nation, we consume 22 percent of the world's oil. So, if the U.S. is to become truly independent or significantly less dependent, we have to find other sources of homegrown energy.

SmartPlanet: What did you ask the panelists?

AT: I am involved because as the Chief Environmental Affairs Correspondent I cover the efforts to "green" America's economy. Moderating a panel such as this one, gives me a chances to probe some of the issues I report on in stories for "NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams" or "Today."

Among the topics we covered: can "green jobs" provide the kinds of wages and benefits that jobs in fossil fuel industries, such as coal and oil, do today?

Can "green jobs" help sustain the middle class?

How do you convince a seemingly reluctant nation that a transition to a "green" economy is necessary?

How can the pain of that transition, and the elimination of some jobs in certain businesses, be eased?

SmartPlanet: You did a series of videos with NBC Learn. Which one resonated most?

AT: What is endlessly fascinating about covering environmental issues is that they are so intertwined.

You can not talk about coral reefs without considering the impact of ocean acidification or rising ocean temperatures. The methane released in the melting permafrost is a greenhouse gas that contributes to melting glaciers. Melting glaciers are caused in part by black carbon.

The good news is that there is technology available to mitigate many of these problems. The question is do we have the political will? And I mean not just the United States, but the world.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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