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Where's our will to fight climate change?

John Hess Published: August 11, 2017 4:00 AM

During the recent G20 summit there was a vote to affirm commitment to the Paris Climate Treaty. The results: 19-1 with the US alone in opposition.

There is no better illustration of our failure to address climate change, perhaps the most urgent crisis of our time. More than government inertia or lobbying by fossil fuel companies, the main reason we don't take action on climate change is because it feels impossible.

This looming catastrophe gets the only response we can think to give such a threat, denial. But it doesn't have to be that way.

Last year, Bill McKibben, of 350.org, made a bold call: We must declare war on climate change. This seemed odd to many, given America's history of defeat in wars against nouns: poverty, drugs, terrorism.

But the logic and urgency of this call are undeniable. According to multiple studies, we already have the technological and logistical capacity to make a 100 percent transition to renewable energy. The only resource we lack is willpower.

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The precedent that McKibben cites isn't recycling or pollution control. His model is World War II. Years ago, the world faced an existential threat. In response to this, we did not hide.

We stepped up. With all our might, all our will, we revolutionized our country and reoriented everything toward meeting that challenge. And we won.

With a major offensive against climate change, we can bring an entire new renewable energy infrastructure into being, provide literally millions of jobs and usher in a new "post-war" golden era for our country and the world. It might seem impossible but we've done the impossible before. We can revolutionize our society, rejoin the community of nations, and lead it to a better future. We have the resources and the strength. All we lack is the will and leadership capable of turning that will into action.

John Hess


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