On April 22, we celebrated Earth Day. Once more we honored the Earth, talked about our environmental challenges, felt good for having done so, felt depressed about climate change and moved ahead to another year of doing...well, we’re not quite sure yet.
But we better do something, and we better do it fast.
According to climate scientists (although they vary in their appraisal of how long this could take), there’s no doubt that the trajectory we’re on could lead to social upheaval the likes of which we’ve never seen in the modern era. Entire swaths of nations, even continents, could become uninhabitable due to heat. Such a predicament would create massive food shortages and the implosion of entire economic systems. That in turn would create hundreds of millions of climate refugees, a number vastly beyond anything our systems would be able to absorb.
Imagine the equivalent of today’s southern border crisis happening pretty much all over the developed world at once, at the same time as once-in-a-century storms occurring throughout the world, at the same time as a global collapse of our food supply, at the same time as all the humanitarian crises that would result from any one of those, and you begin to grasp the enormity of the threat that stands before us should we not act boldly, and act now.
President Joe Biden’s proposed infrastructure plan devotes five times more financial resources to mitigating the effects of climate change than did former President Barack Obama, but we really need to get this: That is not enough. We should face the challenge of climate change with a mobilization no less massive than that with which we faced World War II. No one put a price tag on how much we were willing to spend to win that war, and we shouldn’t be putting a price tag on how much we’re willing to spend to win this one. The answer should be, “Whatever it costs.” Right now, it’s not just that we’re not spending enough to combat the problem; we’re still spending tens of billions in tax breaks and corporate subsidies to companies that create more of it.
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