This is no time for despair or cynicism. This is a time for transformative change.
*We have the technology available now to drastically decrease emissions and build a post-carbon America. There will be hard choices and sacrifices involved, but we can do it. We have the ability to choose our destiny, to choose resiliency over collapse. There are an abundance of wise, effective ideas for adaptation, too. We know the science, and we have the technology. All we need is the political will.
*When we mobilize, we can achieve incredible things. After Pearl Harbor, FDR told Congress and the American people, "We need to raise our sights all along the production line. Let no man say it cannot be done." President Roosevelt then outlined soaring goals for military production for 1942: Sixty thousand planes, forty-five thousand tanks, twenty-thousand anti-aircraft guns, and six million tons of ships. The country was in disbelief. How could these production goals possibly be met?
Amazingly, once the mobilization got into full swing in 1942, we actually overshot FDR's unbelievable targets, and increased munitions production by another 83 percent in 1943! During the same period, American scientists and researchers were making advances in field medicine, aeronautics, code-breaking, and a huge swaths of other fields. The home front efforts proved that when Americans mobilize for a common goal, we can shatter even our own expectations.
*There is a moral imperative not to give up. Some people overwhelmed by the enormity of our situation decide that humanity's fate is sealed, and that nothing can be done to remedy the situation. This attitude, while understandable in the face of such grave threats, must be vigilantly guarded against. There is no good evidence that civilization will collapse or humanity will become extinct, regardless of our actions today. These are potential futures and nothing more. These grim prophesies are not, by any means, ensured.
Giving up hope that humanity can fight climate change is not just suicidal, it is homicidal also. By saying, "We're doomed," you resign yourself to the collapse of civilization, and the early, painful deaths of billions of people in the near future. It is an abnegation of the social contract - a dereliction of responsibility. Every generation has its own challenges. This is ours. We didn't choose it - no sane person would. But here we are. Now what are we going to do?
We have the technology possible to transition to a post-carbon America:
- The Solutions Project
- Michael Hoexter, "Effective Climate Action is a Building Project." New Economic Perspectives (2014).
We need a wartime-equivalent economic mobilization:
- 2011 open letter by 23 high-ranking officials of American energy, climate and environmental NGOs: US and China must reduce carbon emissions 80 percent by 2020 in a wartime-like mobilization.
- Bryan Walsh, "How to Win the War on Global Warming." TIME (2008).
- Bill McKibben, "The World at 350: A Last Chance for Civilization" (2008)
- James K. Galbraith, "No Return to Normal." Washington Monthly (2009).
- Michael Svoboda, "Covering Climate: World War II-Scale Coverage For a World War II-Scale Effort?" (2010)
- Lester Brown, Plan B: Mobilizing to Save Civilization. PBS video (2011).
- Thomas L. Friedman, "The Earth Is Full." New York Times (2011).
- David Spratt, "Scientists call for war on climate change, but who on earth is listening?" Climate Code Red (2012).
- Joe Romm, "'Hell Is Truth Seen Too Late': WWII and Climate Change." Climate Progress (2009).
- David Roberts, "What would ‘wartime mobilization’ to fight climate change look like?" Grist (2013).
- Laurence L. Delina & Mark Diesendorf, Is wartime mobilisation a suitable policy model for rapid national climate mitigation?. Energy Policy (2013).
- Naomi Klein, This Changes Everything (2014)
- Paul Gilding, A Super National Mobilisation. Breakthrough (2014)
- David Ray Griffin, "Can civilization survive the CO2 Crisis?" CNN (2015)
- Bill McKibben, "A World at War" (2016)
History of successful U.S. mobilization:
- Doris Kearns Goodwin’s riveting history of the WWII homefront mobilization: No Ordinary Time (1995)
The Climate Crisis demands a courageous response:
- Fred Branfman's From “Politics of Hope” to “Politics of Heroism” (2012)