Despite continuing recall woes for Toyota, the automaker spared no expense last night in promoting the launch of the new Lexus CT 200h hybrid car. It's an undeniably hot car, though I admit I'm already a big fan of sport hatches, like the "Saabaru" and the Volvo C30. Celebs showed up in force to promote the car, and watch an entertaining debate on climate change hosted by quirky comedian Sarah Silverman.
First, the celebs who showed up to Skylight West, at 463 10th Avenue: The Daily Green crew got a good look at the Revered Run from Run-DMC (pictured), Zach Braff (ZB4ever!), model Tyson Beckford, some minor stars from the Twilight movies and a couple of dudes from The Daily Show. We heard that Kevin Bacon and wife Kyra Sedgwick were there, but none of us saw them. Good old-fashioned vinyl was spun by Paul Sevigny, who is Chloe Sevigny's older brother.
The main event was an entertaining debate between experienced environmental journalist Amanda Little (author of the recent book Power Trip and global warming skeptic Phelim McAlee (behind the Gore-bashing Not Evil Just Wrong film), moderated by Sarah Silverman. Silverman was hilarious and a spunky moderator, challenging each respondent, following up with intelligent questions, and injecting humor at nearly every turn. It's clear she knows a thing or two about the issues, and was well prepared on current debates around climate science.
Silverman started the raucous debate by asking Little, "Why do you have a problem with the world potentially being like California all the time?...And it will melt all the guns, why are you against that?" Little responded gracefully, answering that her position is the same as ExxonMobile, NASA, the Pope and others, that "The appropriate debate is not whether [climate change] is happening, but what to do about it." Little characterized the fight to address global warming as the "single biggest job creation engine of our time," and she pointed to the Lexus in the back of the room as an example of "an innovation in response."
McAlee criticized Little as a journalist who would agree with oil companies, the Pope, the Pentagon and other powers that be. Silverman quipped to the Irishman, "You're not a fan of the hockey stick graph because you don't have hockey in Ireland, or because you don't like science. Pick one." McAlee responded by saying that climate scientists and their supporters are anti-business and anti-capitalist, and "maybe didn't get along with their mothers."
Little countered, "Ninety percent of U.S. scientists polled say they fully accept the science. You make it seem like it's some fringe [global warming], but that's not true." Silverman chimed in that all the drama around it should be called "Climategate Gate." In regards to the hacked emails that set off so-called Climategate, Little said, "I have no compassion for a scientist who withholds any data, but its such an infinitesimal drop that it can't poison the well." (A British House of Commons committee has just exonerated Professor Phil Jones and the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.)
McAlee made appeals against global warming on behalf of Middle America (he's not even American) and the developing world (which will be most impacted by the effects of global warming, and can most benefit from "leapfrog" technologies like solar and microhydro power). He received quite loud boos from the audience in response. Silverman asked him why he hates polar bears and disdains puppies, and he responded by asking why supposedly left-wing journalists suck up to "billionaires" like Al Gore. Little responded that she didn't think it was really about polar bears, it's about jobs, and creating millions of new ones through investing in clean technologies. Someone in the audience shouted, "Polar bears have jobs too!"
Little said she thought all roads lead to electric cars, and that hybrids are a transitional technology. She admitted that she doesn't win favor from her neighbors in Tennessee for her own Prius. She praised China for their stated commitment to green tech, to which Silverman responded, "For every female body in a dumpster they're going to get a car off the road."
Silverman asked McAlee if it was better to be safe than sorry, to which he responded that environmentalists shouldn't have pressured the ban on DDT, and that "Africa needs more energy, not less." Little responded that Africa needs energy, just not fossil fuels.
Who won the debate? Little, judging by the crowd response, which loudly applauded her and booed McAlee. She also presented more facts and statistics to back up her claims, while McAlee had little to say about climate science itself, instead focusing on broad and philosophical attacks.
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