We didn't debate when Pearl Harbor was attacked... photo: Wikipedia.
After a whole slew of less-than-encouraging news regarding climate change this morning -- much of it centered on the US political process -- I came across a piece from Greenpeace's former executive director over at Climate Progress. Employing the now-familiar (if apt) description of combating climate change as preparing for war, Paul Gilding says 2009 is to climate change what 1939 was to World War 2: Scientists & Business See Different Risks
Gilding describes a deep disconnect between the scientific and business communities.
Scientists increasingly say with certainty climate change is happening and, if we don't do something to stop it, there's a potential threat to all of human civilization at worst, and undoubted destabilization of nations and the global economy at best -- not to mention the effect on countless other animal and plant species.
Parts of the business community in the US, and ones with deep pockets being emptied into the political process, talk about protecting jobs and the uncertainty of acting alone on climate change and what that might do to vague notions of competitiveness if other nations don't act as well.
Then Gilding really hits it out the park, in my opinion -- apologies for the longish excerpt:
What Would Churchill or Roosevelt Have Done?
I wonder what it was like in the lead up to WWII, the last time we had a serious and clear global threat. When Hitler invaded Poland, did Winston Churchill order an economic modelling exercise to understand the implications of spending over a quarter of GDP on the war effort? When Pearl Harbour was bombed, did US industry argue we shouldn't over-react, that America shouldn't respond until there was a global agreement to act so as to avoid a disproportionate share of the cost?
No, fortunately for us, that wasn't their response. In fact, just four days after Pearl Harbour was bombed, the auto industry was ordered to cease all civilian production in order to focus on the war effort. Such actions soon spread across the economy. I imagine US political leaders thoughts were something like this: "Well damn the objectors, this is a threat to our freedom and to our way of life. In fact, this is such a profound threat we will throw everything we have at it and make it work, even though we don't know whether we will succeed nor the costs of trying."
They would have said: "We will have to do this because if we don't, our children will curse our lack of courage and our selfishness. If we act we may fail. But if we don't act, we won't be able to live with ourselves for not trying."
Read all of Gilding's opinion piece: Climate Progress
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