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On climate: instead of denial or despair, there’s determined resolve

ATLANTIC PLANET Scylla and Charybdis, Beyond climate denial and despair,   The Atlantic, LAWRENCE WESCHLER  16 Oct 20 ”……………………..There is only one truly serious political problem facing all of us today, and that is climate change. Judging whether or not the human prospect on our planet is worth saving is the fundamental question confronting Americans in particular these coming weeks. Everything else—the fate of the Affordable Care Act, especially in the context of a rampaging pandemic; whether identity politics ought to supersede class solidarity; whether immigration controls should be tightened or loosened; even what to do about that Supreme Court vacancy—comes afterward………..

The denialists stubbornly insist that climate change need not be confronted, because, worldwide scientific consensus to the contrary—and notwithstanding all the now-common once-in-a-century storms and conflagrations and droughts and locust swarms and red tides and coral-reef die-offs—climate change simply is not happening, or if it is happening it is not caused by humans, or even if it is so caused it is no big deal, and hence need not be addressed.
Despairers, meanwhile, have simply surrendered, curling in on themselves in stupefied passivity: Climate change need not be confronted or even thought about anymore, because what’s the point? It’s too late, or at any rate, we will never be able to marshal the necessary political resolve—the forces and lure of denial can never be upended. Such thinking leads to a paralysis no less debilitating than, and hardly distinguishable from, denial.

But it is possible, and urgent, to imagine a third possibility in lieu of Denial and Despair, a path forging clean between them: the course of Determined Resolve.

It’s worth remembering, for example, that the entire Manhattan Project in its Los Alamos incarnation, from soup to nuts—from the erection of those barracks and the ingathering of those scientists through the dropping of the first atomic bomb in Hiroshima, as hideous as that outcome proved—took less than three years. And if the prospect of climate disaster indeed calls us to what William James once cast as “the moral equivalent of war,” what would it be like if a president (or, for the time being, just a candidate for the presidency) promised to exercise his considerable authority by bringing together the finest minds in the country (not just scientists but educators and social workers and writers and artists and thinkers and managers as well) to brainstorm better battery technologies; quantum improvements in solar, tidal, and wind technologies and disbursements; desalinization; carbon-capture technologies; meat replacements; massive reforestation; resilient coastline and floodplain projects; ….—all on a virtually wartime footing, worthy of the urgencies and streamlined exigencies involved?……..

And as for all those other campaign issues, almost all of them can be subsumed within the wider climate debate, or at least viewed in ways that render the climate component crucial. Black lives matter, to be sure, but that’s all the more reason to foreground environmental-justice initiatives. This current pandemic may well turn out to be just the first of many more occasioned by mankind’s relentless encroachment on nature. If you think tidal migrations are politically destabilizing now, just wait until the migrations necessitated by the rising seas caused by polar melts or the narrowing zones of habitability caused by droughts, their attendant firestorms, and the ensuing wars for arable land really begin to kick in. ……..

October 17, 2020 - Posted by | climate change, election USA 2020

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