Gov. Jerry Brown is about as close as it gets to being a climate change celebrity, and in the Eternal City he has been in high demand.
This means media interviews – lots of them – and, even in less than ideal conditions, Brown has taken advantage of the platform that he has.
So, following his speech at the Vatican on Tuesday, the fourth-term governor zipped over to a TV station across town, up the elevator and onto the roof. It was 97 degrees at street level and baking upstairs.
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“You think you can turn that light a little bit to the side, or do you need every bit of it?” he asked a cameraman, who had pointed a studio light at Brown’s head.
“I need to fill your face,” the cameraman said.
Brown shrugged, but he offered this: “You know, a few shadows look good.”
Off camera, first lady Anne Gust Brown asked the governor, “Do you need any powder?”
He didn’t. It was one minute to air, and then the first question came through Brown’s earpiece from a remote location.
“Well, what I hope to get out of it is waking up more national leaders through the powerful influence of local mayors,” Brown said. “On its present course, the world is headed for … rising temperatures in our climate, rising sea level, more hunger, species extinction, mass migrations and all manner of deep and profound disruptions.”
Heavy stuff. Surely other things are going on?
The questions couldn’t be heard on set, but it appeared the interviewer might have found his or her way to Donald Trump, the Republican presidential candidate making news for his rise in public opinion polls and inflammatory remarks.
“Look, I’ve been around politics for, I don’t know, 50 years, and if you’re in a field of 15 or 20 candidates, you have to distinguish yourself,” Brown said. “And doing these extreme rhetorical moves gets you a lot of attention. But it’s very short term. It will prove to not have worked in the way that I think is wanted.”
A few minutes later, Brown was back in a Mercedes-Benz van and back to Vatican City for several more hours of climate talks.