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Alison van Diggelen

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Neil deGrasse Tyson Challenges Climate Change Deniers

Posted: 12/08/11 10:16 AM ET

He's known as the "sexiest" astrophysicist alive, host of Nova ScienceNow on PBS, and Stephen Colbert's favorite interviewee. Neil deGrasse Tyson may be more comfortable talking black holes and cosmic quandaries, but on Friday in Silicon Valley, as the Climate Talks wilted in Durban, Fresh Dialogues asked him to weigh in about climate change and he didn't disappoint. Beginning -- like any good scientist -- with the facts (evidence from chemistry, biology and geology), he made this challenge to climate deniers:

"You have to be mature enough to recognize something can be true even if you don't like the consequences of it. That's what it means to be a mature adult."

Tyson shared plans for "an experiment" he will describe during his next appearance on Jon Stewart's Daily Show (slated for February). Here's a preview:

"All climate scientists should announce they're going to take their entire life savings and invest in industries that will thrive under the conditions of global warming. All those in denial of global warming -- which tends to be some of the wealthier people of the nation -- won't do that. As global warming unfolds, that will be the greatest inversion of wealth the world has ever seen. That's all it takes," said Tyson, adding with a smile and a shrug, "I could get rich off this."

He then got serious, "I'm a public scientist and it's not my goal in life to exploit your ignorance 'cause I'll get your money, because you won't believe what I'm telling you. I'd rather you recognize the value of scientific research and we all move into the future together."

Fresh Dialogues wonders if Tyson has shared his plan with green economy investor Al Gore, who's been criticized for "putting his money where his mouth is." Some say Gore is poised to become the world's first "carbon billionaire."

Dr. Tyson was in Silicon Valley as part of the Foothill College Celebrity Forum Speaker Series, hosted by Dr. Dick Henning.

Next year, Tyson will be hosting a new sequel to Carl Sagan's Cosmos: A Personal Voyage TV series.

Watch an exclusive Fresh Dialogues interview about climate change with Robert Ballard, the acclaimed ocean scientist of Titanic fame.

Read transcripts, see photos and check out other exclusive interviews on Fresh Dialogues with Charlie Rose, Tom Friedman, Paul Krugman, Vinod Khosla and many others

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