Why Haven’t We Declared War on Global Warming?
In Partnership with Nissan’s A Journey to Zero Project
The obvious questions provoke the obvious answers, and the responses seem to be too timid. From my reading of the literature over the last month, and from everything I have learned at Cop 15, there can be no doubt that the scientific consensus on climate change is consistent and overwhelming. So it leaves us with a quandary. All of these researchers, across a half dozen academic disciplines, are either right or they are terribly wrong. If wrong, it calls into question our entire cult of modernity, which in good measure is based on our faith and confidence in the scientific method and the brilliance of the technologies it has spawned. If however the scientists are right, as I believe them to be, then it begs an obvious question.
If, as they suggest, the entire fate of the world hangs in the balance, if a rise in sea levels promises to inundate much of the Nile Delta, as I heard just yesterday from a remarkable Egyptian business leader Rawya Mansour, if by 2030 nearly half of the world’s population will live without certain access to water, as reported in a white paper released at COP 15 by Yale and TERI (The Energy and Resources Institute), if the glaciers of the Andes and the Tibetan plateau, source of life for much of Asia, will largely be gone, then why has not our response been in any way commensurate with the severity of the crisis? Why have we failed to respond with even a modicum of the intensity of devotion and sacrifice that we have brought to other moments of national and international crisis? Why have we not fully mobilized, declared war on global warming?
According to the Chair of the IPCC, Rajendra Pachauri, who spoke two nights ago at the conference and dinner I attended at Kornborg Castle, the climate crisis could be fully mitigated and the world’s economy transformed with an investment equivalent to some 3% of global GNP. During World War 2, the United States devoted fully 38% of GDP to military victory. Nobody complained. The allied world recognized a mortal danger, reached an inescapable conclusion, and went to work. If Climate Change is the threat we now know it to be, why has the international response, all bureaucratic and diplomatic efforts aside, been so fundamentally tepid? Why are just the kids out screaming in the streets?
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