On Sunday night’s episode of Last Week Tonight, John Oliver joined the growing chorus of voices pointing out that we aren’t doing enough to save our planet.
Oliver sounded the alarm in light of a new report on climate change from the United Nations that warns that lasting change is coming to the planet as soon as 2040. “That’s just 21 years from now,” Oliver pointed out. “By that point, Finn Wolfhard will only be 37, Ariana Grande will only be 46, and Lou Dobbs will only be dead for 30 years.”
To avoid the consequences, unprecedented climate-saving steps need to be taken around the world. In the U.S. the Green New Deal is meant to kickstart the conversation about what the country can do to save the planet. As Oliver noted, the Green New Deal is a nonbinding resolution that sets out goals like net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, moving towards clean energy, and creating jobs.
“The whole Green New Deal is just 14 pages long,” Oliver noted. “That is seven pages shorter than the menu for the Cheesecake Factory.”
The Senate voted down the Green New Deal six weeks ago, but Oliver noted that the issue is very much on people’s minds. Because the potential legislation stemming from it could be complex, Oliver pulled out one area to focus on—specifically, carbon pricing, or how much it costs to release carbon, the largest source of greenhouse gas, into the air.
Currently, it’s free to release carbon, but taxing it could cut emissions. To help deconstruct carbon pricing, Oliver brought in an expert—Bill Nye, the Science Guy—who explained that “when something costs more, people release less of it.” In the U.K. carbon pricing caused carbon emissions to drop to levels not seen since the 1800s a.k.a. “before Mary Poppins danced with Burt the chimney sweep.”
While the Green New Deal has gotten people to start talking, according to Oliver that is not going to be enough. To drive home the message, Nye returned with a “gritty reboot” of his friendly science guy message, lighting a globe on fire to show that the planet really is in a state of emergency. “You’re adults now, and this is an actual crisis,” said Bill Nye. “Safety glasses off, motherf—-ers.”
Correction, May 13
The original version of this story misstated what John Oliver said about the length of the Green New Deal. He said it was “14 pages long,” not “40 pages long.”