September 19th, 2015. Des Moines, Iowa – Days after Yale historian Timothy Snyder warned in The New York Times that a climate change-induced “ecological panic” could provoke the next Holocaust, a group of “Rosie the Riveters” called on the Republican presidential candidates attending the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Annual Candidate Forum Saturday to respond to the climate crisis with a World War II-scale emergency mobilization of the American economy.
Holding signs reading “Climate change threatens the collapse of civilization!” “WANTED: President to protect America with Climate Mobilization!” “Climate change: The greatest threat to America since fascism,” “Freedom from fossil fuels,” and “We can do it!” the patriotic protesters called on the candidates to champion a full-employment economic mobilization to restore a safe climate for humanity at wartime speed.
In particular, the protesters, who are affiliated with a national campaign called The Climate Mobilization, called on the candidates to pledge to drive America to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 and remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere until CO2 concentrations return to pre-industrial levels. Since there is “no carbon budget left” to burn, they said; only a wartime-intensity mobilization can convert the economy quickly enough to avert runaway climate change.
The protestors held a blown-up version of the Pledge to Mobilize, which demands this wartime-style effort. Invoking the spirit of the WWII home-front mobilization, organizer Shari Hrdina, of Des Moines, called on the assembled candidates to sign the Pledge.
“Rosie is a symbol of American can-do spirit,” Hrdina said. “She reminds us that we can rise above great challenges if we recognize the climate emergency and mobilize accordingly.”
The demonstrators flexed their biceps as the audience entered the candidate forum, proclaiming that America has what it takes to solve the climate crisis. Demonstrators engaged attendees in conversation, all of which were amiable. Several of the attendees were enthusiastic about the mobilization message.
However, when Ted Cruz gave a press conference on foreign policy, Mariam Kashia, a grandmother and one of the demonstrators, pointed out that the Pentagon views climate change as an acute threat, and asked Ted Cruz what he planned to do to protect America. Senator Cruz declined to answer, stating that the woman was not a member of the press and therefore could not ask the question. Senator Cruz continued to ignore requests from Mobilizers to discuss climate change while signing autographs.
Lead organizer Ed Fallon, the head of The Climate Mobilization’s Iowa operation, has been asking presidential candidates across the political spectrum to sign the Pledge to Mobilize since late July. He is also enlisting “climate patriots” or “Mobilizers” across Iowa in an effort to pressure presidential candidates to sign the Pledge and champion a WWII-scale climate mobilization.
“Climate change threatens to cause the collapse of civilization,” Fallon said. “We need a President who is courageous and competent enough to lead us to safety. At this event—a forum focused on preserving and protecting the family–there's nothing more important a presidential candidate can do for families than pledge to confront the climate crisis head-on with a full-scale mobilization of the American economy."
"The Climate Mobilization is working to bring the frightening truth of climate change into the forefront of the public mind, and demanding that our elected representatives commit to preventing climate catastrophe," said Margaret Klein Salamon, founder and director of The Climate Mobilization. "Today’s demonstration is just the beginning."
In an explosive Sep. 12 opinion piece, “The Next Genocide,” Timothy Snyder, a Yale professor of history and member of the Council on Foreign Relations, argued that climate change could cause a global “ecological panic” that could lead countries to pursue policies similar to Nazi Germany's “Lebensraum”:
“It is not difficult to imagine ethnic mass murder in Africa, which has already happened; or the triumph of a violent totalitarian strain of Islamism in the parched Middle East; or a Chinese play for resources in Africa or Russia or Eastern Europe that involves removing the people already living there; or a growing global ecological panic if America abandons climate science or the European Union falls apart,” Snyder wrote. “Today we confront the same crucial choice between science and ideology that Germans once faced. Will we accept empirical evidence and support new energy technologies, or allow a wave of ecological panic to spread across the world?”
For more information on the science and policy framework underpinning the Pledge to Mobilize, see these two reports by leading climate policy experts, David Spratt and Philip Sutton: