April 14, 2017 by John Crapper
Climate mobilization needs to happen now! This is a post written for the site Daily Kos on which I regularly blog. It is the largest progressive Democratic blogging site in the United States. Markos founded the site and I’m writing an open letter to him to consider making some changes to the site’s overall mission.
There is a crisis afoot in the world that needs our focus and attention. It is not incompatible with the current goal of this site. That crisis is climate change. With the election results we just had in 2016 it is more imperative than ever to give this issue the attention it deserves.
I’m going to argue in this post it is time to adjust the Daily Kos overall mission to that of electing more and better Democratic Climate Hawks. Personally I’d prefer removing the Democratic label and just say Daily Kos is about electing more and better Climate Hawks, after all climate change is a bipartisan issue, but that is probably asking too much.
The 2016 Democratic platform called for a World War II type national effort to tackle the global climate emergency. Hillary Clinton’s planners even agreed to make plans for an urgent summit of climate scientists, engineers, policy experts, indigenous communities and activists to chart a course for this effort within the first 100 days from taking office.
As Bill McKibben quoted in his article appearing in the New Republic in August, 2016:
“It would be a grave mistake for the United States to wait for another nation to take the lead in combating the global climate emergency,” the Democratic platform asserts. “We are committed to a national mobilization, and to leading a global effort to mobilize nations to address this threat on a scale not seen since World War II.”
Well, as we know, Hillary Clinton is not sitting in the White House and those plans were not made. Instead we’ve got a climate change denier in the Oval Office with numerous fellow climate deniers serving in his cabinet. That translates, at best, into more time-wasting delay.
And it is clear that time is of the absolute essence. Scientists tell us there is only a small window of opportunity to mobilize before our basic social and economic systems start collapsing.
As Naomi Klein stated in her latest book, This Changes Everything:
“the ‘this’ in This Changes Everything is climate change. … And what we mean by that is that climate change, if we don’t change course, if we don’t change our political and economic system, is going to change everything about our physical world. …That’s the road we are on. We can get off that road, but we’re now so far along it, we’ve put off the crucial policies for so long, that now we can’t do it gradually. … (It)requires such a radical departure from the kind of political and economic system we have right now that we pretty much have to change everything.” (emphasis mine)
Regardless of the fact that this nation saw fit to elect a climate change denier, it does not change the fact that climate change is waging war against us. We may have a President that believe that climate change is a hoax conjured up by the Chinese but the fact is the burning of fossil fuel is as lethal to us as the mushroom cloud war we’ve feared for many decades. Climate change is a force capable of impoverishing our entire civilization.
Just to refresh memories let me list some of the changes to our world currently being caused by climate change:
- Heat waves
- Intensified flooding
- Migration of diseases
- Melting of Glaciers
- Polar ice sheet collapse
- Coral bleaching
- Ocean acidification and oxygen loss
We are also dangerously close to triggering positive feedback loops such as the thawing of Arctic permafrost which contains twice as much carbon as the entire atmosphere currently contains.
The question we need to answer is not, are we in a world war? The question is what will we do to fight it?
The last time the United States focused on a single, all-consuming goal was in WWII. For four years, we focused on the global threat posed by the Axis powers of Germany, Italy and Japan. It was a clash of humans with different societal and political goals that had human villains like Hitler and Mussolini. And we had our Peal Harbor moment to jolt us into taking action and focus our attention and resolve.
Our WWII mobilization required enormous sacrifice of human life, economic costs and quality of life. Ironically, if we were to mount a similar effort to fight climate change, it could in contrast result in enormous reductions in the loss of life, huge economic benefits such as massive job creation and leave us with a much better quality of life after we’ve defeated the threat.
To launch this effort common purpose is key. People who lived through WWII are referred to as the “Greatest Generation” and they deserve that label. They are rightfully proud of what they accomplished and speak fondly of that time period referencing the unity of purpose, the working together to overcome an external threat and the shift in self-focus to collective focus. We now need to pursue our own “unity of purpose” and “collective focus”.
But chances our we’re never going to have our “Climate Pearl Harbor”? CO2 doesn’t care about our politics. It is completely indifferent to the winds of change in our human world. It doesn’t care how much CO2 we put into the atmosphere. It doesn’t care about issues like civil rights, LGBT rights, a woman’s right to choose, repealing Citizens United or what justices are sitting on our Supreme Court. Its attacks on us are insidious and stealth like. But our lack of a galvanizing event such as a Pearl Harbor does not negate the urgent need for us to act in similar fashion.
Climate Mobilization has written a Victory Plan that outlines what a national program to tackle climate change might look like. It draws heavily on the history and lessons learned during WWII. I encourage all to read. It offers a good starting point blueprint to follow.
Personally, I spend almost all my activist energy trying to make the issue of climate change go viral. Through my Church of the Holy Shitters efforts I’m attempting to create a platform for this to happen. But Markos, you already have that platform. I’m asking you to consider using it.
Markos, I know you care about the environment. Your postings outlining the myriad of steps you’ve taken in your personal life attest to that fact.
But taking personal steps is not enough. You’ve got a unique opportunity to take the issue of climate change to a higher level.
I know what you’re thinking. Climate change is a buzz kill and people don’t get excited or inspired with the issue. It’s not good for site clicks and traffic. I get that. But that does not negate the fact that the issue needs attention and focus. And you being the owner of your site puts you in a unique position to effect change. You have the power and the sway here to literally “change the climate” at Daily Kos. And I believe, handled properly projecting the right message of optimism and positive outcomes instead of a doom and gloom mime so often posited by the environmental group people could be sold on participating in solving this crises similar to what happened in WWII.
What is the best reason for you to consider doing this? In one word – children. Last time I checked you have them. I’m not sure exactly what that feels like because I don’t have my own but taking a wild guess I’m pretty sure you want the best for them.
So, for your children’s sake, I’d ask you to consider making a few changes at Daily Kos. With the right tweaks, proper packaging of message and viable options for people to take effective action, I think Daily Kos could serve as a catalyst for the “change” we so desperately need.
I offer the following suggestions.
a. Feature climate change on the front page main menu bar. I would personally like to see the group Climate Hawks elevated with the mission of the Climate Hawks Vote Super Pac, founded by our very own RL Miller, promoted.
b. Initiate a series, minimally posting weekly, discussing the efficacy of a WWII like Climate Mobilization effort.
d. Initiate front-page blogathons with VIP postings revolving around the climate change issue.
e. sponsor petition drives to advocate for WWII type climate mobilization.
These changes would not eliminate all the other wonderful causes promoted on this site but it could serve as a unifying issue all could rally around in common purpose for a better future for us all.
I respectfully ask you to think about it.
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