THE BLOG
11/07/2014 11:36 am ET Updated Jan 07, 2015

'Orange Is the New Black' Versus 'Star Trek Voyager' on Climate Change

Diane Bondareff/Invision/AP

I have come to realize that Kate Mulgrew's contrasting roles represent all that is wrong with climate change policy in the United States.

Mulgrew, the well-regarded American actress, is especially known for her work on the television series, Star Trek Voyager where she played Captain Katherine Janeway, and on Orange is the New Black (OITNB) where she currently plays the lovable, but flawed, prisoner Galina Reznikoz, better known as Red.

In my mind, the two characters, Captain Janeway and Red, represent the way that America is divided on climate change.

Star Trek's Captain Janeway found herself stranded in the Delta Quadrant millions of miles from Earth. It took her years to get home. Along the way, she trusted in science and technology to solve numerous problems.

Janeway was politically part of the Federation of Planets, a highly organized network that promoted cooperation, trade, and science in the universe while also enforcing a strong code of ethics supported by technology and engineering. People like Red are rarely seen in Janeway's world unless they are another species.

OITNB's Red is a tough character who finds herself stranded in a women's correctional facility in Connecticut with years to serve. She is in charge of the prison kitchen -- one of the most coveted and powerful spots. During her time served so far, she encountered numerous social and economic challenges that were solved through political posturing, hard work, and a bit of violence. She deeply distrusts those in charge of the prison, while also manipulating them to her advantage.

Red is also part of a loosely organized prison gang that enforces an unwritten code of behavior supported by intimidation, race and class motivations, and an unregulated prison currency.

In our country, we seem to be split between the Janeways and the Reds.

The Janeways are relying on science to guide appropriate decision making. They are utilizing models of what is likely to happen to forge policy that is global in scale, regardless of local costs. Educated individuals in our country who have faith in science and technology tend to fall into the Captain Janeway camp.

The Reds of the world are largely distrustful of scientific models and those in charge. They are concerned largely with their relationship with the present and the local and are motivated by their economic and social status in their community and the health of the economic systems that support them. They are also fiercely defensive of the status quo which supports their power base and economic interests.

While it would be easy to classify Janeways and Reds into one of the political parties in this country, and I know some of you might have thought that this is where this column was going, the reality is that Janeways and Reds are found in both parties.

In our current political landscape, it is clear that we need to find ways to bridge the divide between the Reds and Janeways of the world in order to find compromises that make sense for our current political landscape. Based on what the Janeways tell us, time is running out. We need to motivate the economic and social interests of the Reds while also addressing the international scientific and technological challenges brought forward by the Janeways.

How can we do this? I think Kate Mulgrew needs another role.