MSNBC host Chris Hayes told United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts that "in 50 years, no one should have a job mining coal in the world."
Roberts, who also serves as vice president of the AFL-CIO, pushed back on Hayes's comments, telling him to "accept science" just as Hayes wants him to "accept science" supporting climate change.
"You know and I know that's not going to happen," Roberts said. "Let's talk about reality: Do you really believe that in your lifetime, you're a young man, that you're going to see the day that China stops using coal or even cuts back on using? No, you're going to be 85 years old, heading into 90 years old looking to be on that Smuckers jar, and China is going to be burning more coal than they are right now, and India is going to be burning huge amounts of coal."
Hayes said if that happens, "everyone's screwed," but offered no alternative to help combat climate change. Roberts offered his own solution.
"The answer to climate change is not the devastation of the coal industry in the United States," Roberts said. "If we do not find a way through technology to extract carbon from the burning of fossil fuels, whether it's coal or natural gas, by the way, then we are not going to deal where climate change in your lifetime. That's a fact. That's reality."
"I don't know if that's true," Hayes said, sticking to his original proposal to end the global coal industry.