Capitol Alert

World leaders ‘goofing off’ amid climate change threat, Jerry Brown says

Gov. Jerry Brown, continuing his broadsides against those “sworn to deny,” accused world leaders Friday of “goofing off” and averting their collective gaze from the existential threats of climate change and nuclear war.

Brown noted that the the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists a day earlier moved the clock up 30 seconds to 2 1/2-minutes before midnight, saying his sense of urgency derives from his perception that China, Russia and the United States are not talking to one another about the most important threats.

“That is dangerous,” Brown told Ira Flatow on the public radio program “Science Friday.” “Very dangerous.”

Flatow repeatedly returned to Brown’s State of the State address this week in which the fourth-term Democratic governor challenged Republicans in Washington over their skepticism of climate change, plainly asserting that “the temperatures are rising and so are the oceans. Natural habitats everywhere are under increasing stress. The world knows this.”

Brown, echoing those themes in the wide-ranging radio discussion, said he walked into a restaurant this week and “the whole place erupted in applause.”

“That is not so much me as it is the fear of what people are seeing coming out of Washington and my words that we are going to defend California,” he said. “And when we do, because we are such a vital part of America, we are defending the country itself.”

Brown also said California offers an historical warning for Republicans who control Washington.

Without naming former GOP California Gov. Pete Wilson, Brown said he “unmercifully attacked immigrants ... undocumented people who had come here,” via 1994’s Proposition 187 to limit their use of state services. “That completely turned the state around” to Democrats, Brown said.

“And I would say the extremism of the Republican majority and other interest groups that have temporarily taken hold of Washington are reducing to an absurd level the conservative cause, and there will be a backlash,” he said. “And that backlash will be similar to the backlash that came in California that essentially swept out the extreme Republican position.

“They may come back in a more intelligent and moderate guise, but I would say that the Republicans in Congress are flirting with real political danger by their uncritically accepting the nonsense, the lies and the dangerous policies that are now being espoused.”

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago