Penn & Teller: Bullshit! (2003–2010): Season 1, Episode 13 - Environmental Hysteria - full transcript

Penn and Teller look at some of the more extreme claims of the various environmental organizations.

1971 the first official Earth
Day celebration

on the unicycle here.

This is

Penn jillette.

And this is his partner Colin

And that

was bullshit


It's 2003 and this is Penn
jillette and this is his

partner Teller and this

is bullshit.

OpenSubtitles recommends using Nord VPN
from 3.49 USD/month ---->

This may look like 1971 but
actually it's today

once again.

People are taking to the
streets and protesting what

they say is a Global
Environmental catastrophe.

What could be more fulfilling
than getting together to dance

yell and save the world from
environmental catastrophe but

is it the same catastrophe as

Is it a different catastrophe
or is it the same catastrophe

only now, it's really a

Whereas 32 years ago.

I really wasn't that bad.

I can't ask for me.

Even though at the time they
said it was you know,

it can get confusing this
environmental hysteria, but

one thing is clear.


some bullshit.


here in Washington DC on a
beautiful day with the trees

and flowers blooming and not a
cloud in the clear blue sky and

environmental March will
proclaim the Earth to be a

cesspool of pollution and Decay

and one of the main groups
participating is the

rainforest Action Network.

We asked the group to hook us
up with someone we could spend

the day with a knowledgeable
representative of there.

They introduced us to this

I think we're at a period of
environmental crisis around

the world, but that we have
the power to change it.

I'm Kate low a global Justice

Kate is an organizer for the
rainforest Action Network.

We need to get the message out
clean your act.

We need to be concerned because
we're all interconnected.

We need to be concerned because
we want the planet to survive

for our children and our

Jade is Young passionate.

Means well,

but she's also a little
alarmist and naive and she's

not alone right now.

We're facing a global
ecological crisis.

We do not know if we're going
to be able to have our forest

left in 50 years.

We don't know if we're going to
have enough water for the

planet as global warming

It's definitely going to cause
some of the polar ice caps to

start melting,

you know, in 50 years.

We might not have Florida
because the ocean levels

Rising I've been really afraid
like there's an issue that

keeps me awake at night.

It's global warming.

Where do these well-intentioned
young people get ideas like

these from role models who
should know better.

I think a lot of people don't
acknowledge this problem

because it's overwhelming.

It's really scary.

I'm Ross Gelbspan, and I'm an
environmental journalist.

There's no debate that the
Glaciers are melting that the

oceans are warming up that
species are going extinct that

forests are dying.

There's no debate about that

No debate about these stuff?

There always has to be debate.

Basically, they are using

Misinformation and scare
tactics, I'm Patrick Moore an

ecologist and lifelong

The environmental movement was
basically hijacked by

political and social activists
who came in and very cleverly

learned how to use green
rhetoric or green language

to cloak agendas that actually
had more to do with anti

corporatism anti-globalization
anti-business and very little

to do with science or ecology

and that's when I left and what
did he leave the Greenpeace



Patrick Moore is he's a founder
and former president of the

granddaddy of all
environmental groups.

I realized that the movement I
had started was being taken

over by politico's basically
and that they were using it

for fundraising purposes.

In fact, if you listen to the
protesters you start to wonder

are they really for the
environment or they just

against anything to do with

What is creating Global Warming
is preparations and the

institution their bottom line
is how much money is in the

bank at the end of the day

Isn't the definition of bottom
line on money at the end of

the day?

For the rest of us the bottom
line is: do we have air to


Do we have water to drink are
there still for us on our


I know the answer is yes.

Yes, and yes,

it's important to note that if
you're Pro Socialism or anti

globalism or anti Corporation.

Those are all I'll find
debatable ideas,

but couching them
environmentalism is bullshit.

Just say what you mean don't
say corporations are bad

because the water is worse
today because the water isn't

worse today.

We're not going to say there
are no good Arguments for

socialism, but the environment

ain't one of them.

We're to participate in

action to quarantine corporate

Most of the environmental
movement is composed of white

upper middle class people

who are

I think incorrectly telling
people in the rest of the

world what to do where people
don't live in nice houses and

don't have good drinking water
and good health standards.

I think the environmental
movement is basically elitist.

We came down to see the
Washington Monument.

We've been here for two days

I think some of them are here
that don't know what they're

here for.

I really do.

I think there are people that
they've just gathered together

and I don't really think that a
lot of them know that they're


they're here for drumming and

There's nothing wrong with
drumming and dancing but maybe

drumming and dancing and
studying the scientific data

will be more effective.

I know that the data

that every year it has gotten


Across the entire world and I
think that's definitely

a trend that

that is substantiated by

by data

like ozone depletion

is a big thing


very powerful.

You know, it's a little bit
warmer out right now.

It's kind of a nice thing.


I mean, I got to sit out in the
sun on in October and get a tan.

Our big question here is why
our cameraman was on this side.

Anyway, the idea that these
folks didn't really know what

they were protesting was a bit

the check this possibility.

We sent one of our Pals Chris

to a rally to collect
signatures for a petition.

She's going to ask people to
sign a petition Banning



That's di



water that's right water

and she's not going to lie or
even stretch the truth.

Not at all.

She's just going to talk about
what water is and what it does

with vocabulary and tone of
environmental hysteria.

This is a petition for
dihydrogen monoxide.

What it is is it's a chemical
that is found now in

reservoirs and lakes
pesticides to be kind of

companies are using this
styrofoam companies nuclear

nuclear companies.

And now when they using
pesticides when we're watching

our fruit and things like that,
it's not coming out which of

course means that it's end up
in the grocery stores and then

our baby's food and stuff like

causes excessive sweating
excessive urination anything

to help the environment. These
people signed.

We don't know if they thought
but they sign there we are.

Meanwhile, let's go back to

Once again.

She's the hand-picked
representative from the

rainforest Action Network

She's hip to the real data on
global warming.

or at least their official
stance how big a threat to the

Earth is global warming?

Global warming or global global
chat climate

hard to say global warming is a
big fat to the planet increases


It makes

some species


So how big is global warming?

Let's start over Okay.

So the spokesperson for the
rainforest Action Network is

not much of an expert on
global warming,

but who is? No one can agree on
what causes global warming or

even how bad it is?

There are some that say it is
not happening at all.

If the science is that

if it's possible that the
weather changes in the world

are a natural process and what
the fuck is all the hysteria


We're living in an increasingly
narrow margin of stability and

the evidence is all around us
journalist Ross kelp span is

an influential
environmentalist author and


He likes to present an alarming
view of our Earth's future.

In fact, he seems to get off on

Even if these students don't
the climate change Is

Happening Here and Now

In the year 2002 we've seen a
thousand people die of heat

waves in India and after us
and drought conditions, we've

lost something like six
million acres in the western

Us in Northern Canada to
forest fires.

We've seen this catastrophic
floods in

Germany and Russia and the
Czech Republic.

If you read any paper, you can
read a lot of stories about

environmental disaster, but
what you have to understand is

bad news sells

on Bjorn lomborg.

I'm a skeptical

Bjorn lomborg is Public Enemy
Number One among


His book The skeptical
environmentalist pissed them

off more than the sight of a
Ford Excursion caring only one


It's important to get the
record straight.

What I've done here is really
I've tried to look at the data

that we've taken for granted
and say everything is going

downhill and looked at it and
said is this actually true

it turns out no, it's not

if our understanding is based
on myths.

We're likely to make bad
judgments. Lomborg's

Extensive research shows that
right now the health of the

planet is improving on almost
all fronts

and in areas where it's not
getting better.

It's getting worse at a much
slower rate than in years past.

So this guy looked at the same
data and killed with the

opposite conclusion

and that's not the end of
Bjorn's heresy.

He's raised the ire of his
critics because he doesn't

believe in just throwing money
at environmental problems.

A lot of the environmentalist
will tell us.


If this is a good cost we
should do it.

It shouldn't Matter how much it
cost. Using a cost-benefit

analysis is somehow immoral,
it somehow put a price tag on

life, and a price tag on
those things seems immoral.

I can certainly understand that
emotional response because I

feel exactly the same
emotional response.

But my argument is to say the
danger of the Doomsday waiting

around the corner

is that we end up prioritizing
it incorrectly.

But if you even suggest a
lowering of the volume makes

the environmentalist even more
hysterical. The question in

action will be unbearable. You
are talking about

crop failures.

You're talking about industry
shutting down

you're talking about lots of
unemployment unchecked global

warming will bankrupt the
global economy by 2065.

Where did Ross get that data?

How did he choose that date?

I'll tell you how this asshole
should be dead by then.

And won't have to own up and
that respect.

He's a lot smarter than the
people who in 1970s and we'd

all be in Hell by two thousand

a lot of them still alive and,
ho ho,

if they were still famous.

We could point and laugh

we need to get the debate back
to level where we say.

This is a good idea.

This might be a little better.

This is certainly not
worthwhile doing right now.

This is a very important issue

that we can discuss this in a
fairly level-headed matter.

That's the only way

That we ensure that we get a
correct or good prioritization

and democratic debate. A
serious level headed debate.

Okay, Ross.

Give us your worst.

First of all from what we know
in recent history 16 to 17

hottest years on record have
happened since 1980

the five hottest consecutive
years were 91 through 95.

1998 is the hottest year on

That's it.

We're through the peak

1998 was a few years ago.

Does that mean we're now
heading into an ice age?

Should we run our SUVs Full
Throttle Round the Clock to

stop this horrible cooling Trend

if we plot

temperature patterns of the
last hundred years observe

surface temperature records
that we're all in agreement

about put them on a graph

and draw a trend line.

We all know what's going to
happen with global in the next

hundred years.

I'm Jared Taylor and I'm the
director of natural resource


He's with a Cato Institute a
Libertarian think tank in

Washington DC.

The warming will be relatively
moderate about 2/3 degrees.

higher over the next hundred

It seems relatively manageable
given the fact we've had a one

degree Fahrenheit rise in
temperature in the last

hundred years and we've seen
the greatest increase in the

standards of living and
economic productivity of the

history of mankind and we've
also seen environmental

improvements all during that

Well global warming is not
going to kill off Humanity.

It is certainly going to break
apart a global economy.

It's going to break apart a
coherent political system and

it's really going to pit
people against each other and

put us much more in a

Survival mode and it's really a
big step backward toward the

caveman era, you know, he may
have something there; Teller

gets grumpy when it's hot out.

If we don't do anything.

We're going to see a

breakdown of infrastructures.

We're going to see
interruptions in the food


We're going to see big
increases in infectious diseases

with a deterioration of
resources to deal with those


I mean, it's a really ugly
regressive kind of a prospect

that we're facing. Again and
again and again, you see

environmentalists making
predictions that hold up about

as well as Jean Dixon's
predictions in the National

Enquirer in the mid 70s.

We were told the pollution was
going to cause a new Ice Age

because we had seen Trends
towards cooler air.

It turns out that was wrong and
many of the very same

scientists who argued that an
ice age was coming because of

industrial pollution then
shifted gears and argue that

no industrial pollution will
bring on a greenhouse warming

world with virtually no breath
in between. The hypothesis

that a warmer world will lead
to more extreme weather events.

Is being cast into doubt by the
last hundred years where it's

not a current

the big point is that science
changes as we gather more data,

we advance our ideas and our

It's okay.

The environmental movement is
gone from global cooling the

global warming, but they must
remember that we're still

gathering information.

We're not sure.


meanwhile back of the rallies.

They were hot and heavy on
global warming then

Well just about anything else
they could yell about

thank you very much

and our petition woman was
getting signatures left and


Okay mostly left, but

There's a lot of people against
that evil water.

It's everywhere and we just
really need to ban it to more


These passionate inform people
didn't even need to ask what

the hydrogen monoxide is.

They didn't even ask

is Passion supposed to replace
Common Sense.

We understand the desire to
join up and do something


It's sexy to save the world, but

it got to spend a couple of
minutes to find out if you're

really saving the world and
not just being herded around

by some politically-motivated
assholes who may not really

care that much about the

But see this is some chance to
raise money for ever.

They think is a good idea.

No end justifies the means of

because man, there were a lot
of people who signed the

petition and we're not talking
a handful of thoses.

We're talking hundreds

a lot of urination


I will sign


even the head organizer of this
rally signed the petition


Thank you very much.

Meanwhile, the hysteria
continued. It is critical to

the planet that we have our
forests intact.

We're actually gotten to the
point where we have less than

20% of our old growth forest
left globally.

Nobody's going to listen to you.

If you say the world is not
going to come to an end.

But if you say that the world
is coming to an end you get


and so sensationalism,
especially when it's combined

with misinformation leads to a
situation where people send

gobs of money to these groups
for campaigns that are

actually totally misguided.

We could face a situation where
our children have to go to

museum to see what an old
growth forest.

Looks like.

She's quoting Joni Mitchell's
ancient Big Yellow Taxi,

Just talked to the spokesperson
for the rainforest Action

Network about something
specific to the rainforests.

Are there any logging methods
that don't hurt the environment?

You know,

I'm not an expert on logging.

I know that the lugging methods
that I'm here in the streets

today that I work on in my life

destroy the environment and
destroy people's lives.

I know.


Well maybe spokesperson Kate is
not much of an expert on

logging either.

So for answers, we went to one
of the leading Authorities on


Yes, indeed ladies and
gentlemen, I am a tree hugger.

I'm Julia Butterfly Hill.

I'm a person who cares
passionately about life and

I'm willing to do Something
about it in December 1997.

Julia made International
headlines when she climbed in

a redwood and lived there for
two years straight in an

effort to save the tree from
being cut down by a Logging


I climbed up in the worst
winter in recorded history of


El Nino of 97 90, mile-an-hour
wind sleet and hail and rain

and snow every day.

I climbed up into an active
logging plan.

So I had to Bear witness to the
devastation of a forest that I

know we Can't replace

I'm not against somebody living
in a tree

to bring attention to that
particular tree.

I mean it was a very old tree
and in the end it was

protected so she won and that
was good.

But on the other hand, there's
a tendency among environmental


to resort to emotionalism kind
of 100% I didn't climb into

the tree expecting nature to
communicate but the longer I

stayed there the more I
realized nature was

communicating with me when
they were cutting

Down trees all around the tree.

I was in the tree started
pouring sat

and I realized that that was
the tree communicating its


to talk about how the tree is
alive and has feelings and it

hurts it when you cut it down
and that sort of stuff.

That's pretty well kindergarten

I mean it's not true trees are
plants like carrots and

cabbages, but it's tough to
give money to protect carrots

even tougher has been two
years living in one

Nice tree

I would never take something
from life that I don't need

and I think that's our biggest
challenge as people


we are destroying what we need
for what we want.

We're addicted to our desires
without paying attention to

the responsibility of our

So I wouldn't cut down a tree
for paper because I think it's

a stupid waste of a gift of a

She hates paper?

She'd rather have every single
tree of a medical textbook or

a Picasso painting.

You know the action they are
taking is turning incredible

magnificent trees like this
one into clear Cuts so that

somebody can have Decker siding

or a treehouse.

Where does she think her Lumber
came from? The campaign against

forestry is a classic case of
absolutely and totally

misleading the general public.

It's true that we are losing
forest in the Tropics of this

world, but it's not because of
logging companies.

It's because of of poor people
millions of them who are

trying to make a living and
grow some food for their


The fact is in North America.

They're still as much Forest as
there was a hundred years ago.

And the reason there's so much
Forest is because we use wood

because we cut trees down to
make our houses,

but the environmental groups
have got people thinking that

when you go into a lumber yard
and by would you're causing the

force to be destroyed when in
fact what you're doing is

ordering new trees to be

It is something we have to do
in order to feed and house.

The six billion people on this

Meanwhile, the thousands of
people the rally were really

Cutting Loose up in Portland,
Oregon primate Center they are

actually selling monkeys. We
want to offer a solution,


We can oppress people can press
animals and cut down


We do anything we want for

Hi Lisa,

and our petition was still
getting signatures

companies, like pesticide
company styrofoam companies

nuclear companies all of these
people use it.

Finally we let her tip it. Are
you concerned about water?

I am

Is water something that

should be banned?

what sort of wattage? Water.

Should be banned?


No, I don't think so.

I think we need to drink water

I don't know what you mean by
water should be banned.


petition is to ban water

Hydrogen monoxide is water







we set these folks up but it
does show that maybe they're

not so much environmentalists
as they are joiners

of anything.

One of the reasons people like
environmentalism is that for

years and years and years.

They've been guilt-tripped for
having a car for having a big

house for having things like

I think that's what
environmentalism really is


It's a way for people to get
rid of guilt feelings.

They have about the way they

If everything's fine,

why is there a global corporate
anti-corporate movement saying

enough is enough you're
destroying the planet? And it

drives me even further crazy
to have them say they're

against globalization when
their main tools of trade are

cell phones and the internet
it just makes no sense at all

to be

against science and technology
and then to use It's

technology whether it's jet
planes to get to International

environmental meetings or cell
phones or laptop computers you

are part of globalization.

So, how can you be against it?

Let's check back in with Kate.


She's a prominent member and
chosen spokesperson for the

rainforest Action Network.

Maybe she can clarify another
argument of environmentalist

species Extinction Kate.

I think something like the
Smithsonian Institute says

we're losing 300 species every
day, I think.

Something to be concerned about
and and logging is a direct

part of that.

Why should the average American
be concerned about whether

plant and animal species
become extinct.

We keep saying that Kate is the
chosen spokesperson for the

rainforest Action Network
because if we don't keep

saying that it seems like
we're just picking on somebody

she's not some poor little girl.

She's a woman and she's the
woman they chose to represent

them sure, we're a piddly
stupid crap show.


maybe they said in the junior
varsity speaker, but has no

one ever asked any of these
very basic questions that we


has she never asked these
goddamn basic questions of the

group that she so fervently

Let's hear from another
alarmist on species Extinction


It looks like we're on a crash
course towards massive species

extinctions in the next 20

I'm Nina feste own vice
president of species

conservation with Defenders of

We could lose 1/5 or 20% of our
species within the next two


That's a very short amount of

Well Greenpeace and the World
Wildlife Fund actually try to

convince us that 50,000
species are going extinct

every year in this world when
there isn't one shred of

evidence for that.

We're talking about the full
gamut of species plant and

animal and within animal
amphibians reptiles birds and



Is safe when it loses when it's
a result of habitat loss and

they say the main cause is

Of course, they love to blame
logging for just about

everything bad in the world,
but it's absolutely


There is no evidence of 50,000
species going extinct the best

science tells us that less than
1% of the species in this world

will go extinct in the next
hundred years.

So what about this?

It's difficult to pin down hard
numbers on this ha ha

on this issue, but it's

to point out that

if you're on a ship heading
toward an iceberg, you don't

wait until you have the exact
measurements of the iceberg

before you put on the brakes
and you have to try to not

become obsessed with that
great fictitious white whale

people care about species more
now than they used


so therefore when species go
towards the brink of

Extinction, we generally put a
program in place to help them.

That's a good thing.

But to scare people into
thinking that half the world's

species are going to die off in
the next 50 years is absolutely


There's really no need anymore
to spread guilt and fear about

the environment.

The solution side is to try and
figure out how to do things


not to have campaigns against
everything in the world.

But rather to have campaigns in
which you are shifting from the

way you did things before into
doing things in a new way that

still provide the goods and
services we need but do so at

less cost to the environment.

Of course, there are

real problems with Environment
and it's a natural thing to

want to save the world to be
the hero to purge the

corruption to lead the

and revolutions are essential
Revolution gave us freedom

Revolution gave a science
without Revolution.

We shrivel

we die.

But when we feel that sexy
instinct to save the world

were especially vulnerable

if we don't stop and do our
homework, we can waste our

noblest instincts on bullshit.

It's easy to feel like a hero.

It's a little harder to be one.

Do you feel that

each person has a an individual
personal responsibility?

I do. Do you do you do that

I myself I don't.

So our day with Kate has come
to a close.

We've marched alongside these
joiners and we've seen their

commitment, but what's behind
it all let's ask the

spokesperson for the
rainforest Action Network Kate.