By Jim Thompson
I recently realized that in whatever time period I lived, I would get old and die. Had I lived before we all knew what climate change was doing to our only planet, I would have (hopefully) gotten old and (eventually) died.
Given that the realities of my individual life are the same now or in another era, I asked: what might the benefits be of living in this era?
Then, I remembered some lines from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar:
There is a time in the affairs of men (sic)
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat;
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.
This is an Amazing Time to Be Alive.
We have the chance to work on the most important threat in the history of humanity. We have a tide, which, if taken at the flood, can lead on to fortune for our planet and all its life forms, and away from out-of-control climate change. We have the ability to resist losing our ventures at the most crucial time. As someone who has sought out a greater purpose in my life and work, I welcome this opportunity for meaning in the rest of my life.
Recently I heard two of former Vice President Al Gore’s speeches to the Climate Reality Project. I had heard Mr. Gore give multiple talks when I became a Climate Reality Leader in Minneapolis several years ago.
The difference in his rhetoric was significant. He covered much of the same realities of climate change, but the difference was the anger and vitriol in his voice. Mr. Gore is pissed, and he repeatedly showed his contempt for the fossil fuel industry leaders and the politicians who support them in a markedly different way than 3 years ago.
I suspect that he was influenced by AR6, the latest report from the United Nations’ IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), which had recently been released.
United Nations’ Secretary General António Guterres also had some sharp things to say upon the release of AR-6, including the image of “climate time-bomb ticking.” Mr. Guterres called for an “Acceleration Agenda.” He said, “We’ve never been better equipped and we need to move at warp speed.” Warp speed, here, is about cutting carbon emissions dramatically in the next eight years.
Bill McKibben, in his book, Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?, made this striking statement about the fossil fuel industry:
“There should be a word for when you commit treason against an entire planet.”
Are We Ready for a New Era in Fighting Climate Change?
I just watched a terrific new documentary on Hulu called To the End, about four dynamic women of color who are leading the fight against climate change. The film begins with the effort by the Sunrise Movement and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) to promote the Green New Deal after the 2020 election. The trailer is available here.
The Sunrise Movement immediately picked the Green New Deal (GND) as the most important policy needing to be enacted. I was surprised at the vehemence against the GND by corporate Democrats. Nancy Pelosi referred to it as, “the Green dream or whatever they call it.”
In our work at THIS! Is What We Did, we have worked with many others to help move climate change into the Overton Window. Issues that reside outside the Overton Window don’t get covered by the media nor addressed by governments. Let this sink in.
I think the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act happened largely because the effort to drag climate change into the Overton Window has been successful.
Now for the big lift: can we drag “effective, drastic action” (from our mission statement) into the Overton Window?
In To the End, we see how much the Green New Deal was talked about right after the 2020 election, partly because the Sunrise Movement conducted a sit-in in Congresswoman Nance Pelosi’s office, and AOC joined them there to say how proud she was of them.
I believe the fossil fuel industry and its acolytes also understand the Overton Window, are scared to death of the $16 trillion Green New Deal, and are doing everything they can to keep it from getting into the Window.
Very simply, I think our next crucial task is to drag the Green New Deal and/or UN Secretary General Guterres’ Acceleration Agenda (or something bigger and better) into the Overton Window.
The time for half-measures and business-as-usual is over. Now is the time for effective, drastic action to combat climate change — it is time to take action at the flood.