07/23/2014 04:31 pm ET Updated Jul 23, 2014

Neil deGrasse Tyson: America Will 'Sink Lower' Before Congress Acts On Climate Change

Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson predicted during an interview with Salon published Wednesday that climate change will have to "get very bad" before Congress feels threatened enough to advance meaningful environmental legislation.

"In my read of history, when things get very bad, people tend to come into agreement about what next steps they need to take and there's less arguing," Tyson said, citing the United States' reluctance to invest in space exploration programs until the Soviet launch of Sputnik in 1957.

"So I think maybe we have to sink lower before the pistons of Congress and the electorate align to take meaningful action, to protect the planet going forward," Tyson continued.

Expressing concern over some policymakers' "misinformed, or-under-informed" scientific views, the outspoken critic of climate-change denial maintained that his chief role in the science community is to educate the public on the "emergent scientific consensus." He said climate scientists should take a more vocal role as well.

"I'm just trying to get people as fully informed as they can be so that they can make the most informed decisions they can based on their own principles or philosophies or mission statement," the "Cosmos" host told Salon. "What concerns me is that I see people making decisions, particularly decisions that might affect policy or governance, that are partly informed, or misinformed, or under-informed."

In June, Tyson also criticized wealthier citizens for turning a blind eye to the threat of climate change, warning that even the affluent will soon be forced to address the issue out of basic economic necessity.

"If they start to lose their wealth, they change their minds real fast, particularly in a capitalist culture,” Tyson warned during an interview last month on MSNBC's "All In With Chris Hayes." "Don't expect to conduct civilizations the way we now do, because all the coastlines will get redrawn.”



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