Same Old Political Dance Won’t Work With Climate Change

Climate Change, the great debate of the last 30 years or so, is a waste of time and time is essential. However, our politicians and most of our corporate leaders prolong the dialogue, never even approaching any substance. The debate ensures little or no real transformative action, while propaganda confuses the issue, like so many others. We must emphasize that Climate Change is very different problem. It is about science, about physics, and “physics cares about how much carbon is in the atmosphere”, guaranteeing corresponding events and changes. Our opinions mean nothing, our actions are everything.

Politically, we are caught in a familiar old pattern, trying to reap all possible benefits from the old ways and only changing at the last possible moment, when other options make no financial sense. Again, Climate Change is science, it is physics, it is different. Once unleashed, the dynamics will be largely unstoppable, if they are not already.  To emphasize this urgency, Bill McKibben of recently wrote the article linked below for Rolling Stone magazine. He bluntly says: “Things have to change … Those who believe in climate change have to become aggressive.” Like so many really important messages, most of us never heard what he said, so I will recap some of it here.

McKibben starts off emphatically saying:

“… The time for encouraging messages of support for the climate is over – we need action. This has been a problem for years; Democrats in particular have been able to slip by with simple declarations that they “believe” in climate science. But at this point, who cares? Certainly not the swift heating planet. We need serious and immediate commitment to action.”

From there he goes on to imply that we need to get the right people in political office (local thru national) where they can affect the changes needed. Knowing how difficult it can be to filter through the maze of candidate positions and actually determine whether “politicians are serious enough to pass the climate test”, he poses the following three step checklist which may help. Our politicians must share these basic characteristics:

  1. They are committed to converting to 100 percent renewable energy
    “What was once the environmental movement is now increasingly the climate-justice movement, led by communities that are choking on pollution and workers who know the next burst of good jobs will come from this renewables build-out.”

  2. They will work to keep remaining fossil fuels in the ground
    “As Naomi Klein wrote in The New York Times, ‘Today labor leaders face a clear choice:” Back bogus pipelines or “join the diverse and growing movement that is confronting Mr. Trump’s agenda on every front and attempt to lead America’s workers to a clean and safe future.'”

  3. They understand natural gas could be the most dangerous fuel of all
    Natural gas was touted a our best clean energy, but “two problems soon emerged … contaminated groundwater … [and] … methane gas … If you just talk about ‘carbon,’ then gas looks good. But physics, again, is unimpressed by spin. It just adds up all the greenhouse gases in the air, and then it does its thing. Our job is to make sure that truly clean power comes next – we can’t waste another few decades playing around with gas.”

Remembering that democracy (what little we have) is a participation sport and if we are not actively playing we are part of the problem, McKibben ends his article by reminding us:

“So now it’s up to the rest of us to make sure this dark moment produces real gain. If we let politicians simply “stand up for science” or promise to someday reincarnate the Paris accord, then we will never catch up with climate change. If instead the rage that Trump has provoked catapults us into truly serious action – well, that will be the best revenge.”

It’s time for serious, demanding, no discussion, “do it now, or you’re gone” politics.

Posted in Climate Change, Science, Uncategorized and tagged , .


  1. Completely with you on this! Just spent an hour with the Director of Environment New York discussing their campaign to make NYC 100% solar and to encourage renewable energy throughout the state. Cities and states must lead on this; the federal government is nowhere good. I think local governments will push ahead. The NY Times just published a full page piece detailing the facts and the opportunities. They have excellent web coverage as well:

    • Thank you and you are right about NY being a leader on several environmental issues. Wish CA would also ban fracking but I must admit Big Fossil is much more aggressive and careless back there than it is in CA. Thanks for the comments.

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