Climate change leadership sorely lacking in D.C

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A recent article in The Atlantic, by Vann R Newkirk II, spells out what we’ve already known … and then some. It’s not just the dire warnings we’ve been receiving, which seem to occur on a weekly basis. No, it’s even worse than that. The gist of this piece centers around how climate change is already damaging our democracy … and it’s only going to get worse.

The fact is, our governments; local, state, and federal, are failing us. And they’re failing badly. The recovery efforts that follow each and every one of these catastrophic climate events are slowly but surely breaking the bank. And, according to the recent report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC), the droughts, floods, rising seas, and famines will be an absolute calamity for populations in future years.

The report also refers to the advent of human movement because of these events, which will wreak havoc upon coastal and wetland boundaries, exacerbating the already troubling trends of poverty and disadvantage. Even the Department of Defense has warned that climate instability will lead to instability in geopolitics and impact American military operations around the world.

But even with all of this bad news, if governments actually began to tackle the issue with the laser-like focus needed, we may be able to start reversing this terrible trend. But there is one big problem, and it’s a problem that’s not going away soon: lack of leadership.

The action required goes beyond the piece-meal approach the United States currently operates under. What’s needed is beyond the scale that most people would consider reasonable. A Manhattan Project type of response is the only thing that may prevent us from entering the abyss. But to implement such a project, the United States of America would need a president that actually believed in global warming.

Unfortunately, we do not have that luxury right now.

Perhaps 2020 will bring us new leadership to Washington D.C. It better, because the alternative is not something I want to think about.

It’s not like we haven’t had the type of leadership in years past that we now need to address climate change. We’ve had presidents who have exhibited the bold, visionary, and inspirational style we need today. I’ve got to think that person is out there somewhere in our great country.

Recently, I was able to attend a showing of the movie, First Man. The film chronicles the trials and tribulations of our space program in the 1960’s, centered around Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon. There was a moment in the movie where they showed a clip of President John F. Kennedy proclaiming that the United States would embark on a journey to safely land a spacecraft on the moon by the end of the decade. The quote I remember most was when Kennedy said, “We choose to go to the moon, not because it’s easy, but because it’s hard.”

And after I heard that quote, I got emotional. I realized what a bold proclamation it really was. I was moved. I was inspired. Unfortunately, my emotions quickly came into balance when I realized who currently occupies the same office that JFK did, some 56 years ago. I went from emotional inspiration to grudging despair … in record time.

But, as Barrack Obama used to say … despair is not an option. Leadership is occurring as it pertains to climate change, mostly at the state level. California, for example, has been at the forefront of much of it and has pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. And in this election, the state of Washington has Initiative 1631 on the ballot that would impose a carbon fee on polluters for the right to emit carbon dioxide and other potent greenhouse gases. Needless to say, the fossil fuel companies are not amused and have spent millions trying to defeat it. But, Washington deserves credit for trying something bold. They would be the first state in the union to adopt a type of policy called a carbon tax, as well as being the first to do so by ballot referendum.

This is leadership folks.

But on the national level … especially in Washington D.C … it’s just not happening. Yes Democrats, for the most part, are on the side of doing something and doing something big. But without control of any branches of government, there’s only so much they can do.

The lack of leadership, especially at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, is depressing. But I’m going to remain hopeful that in 2020, we find someone who is willing to step up to the plate and take this country where it needs to go as it pertains to combating climate change. A JFK … a Franklin D. Roosevelt … hell, an Eleanor Roosevelt … is somewhere out there in America.

And while I believe the current occupant of the White House has been an abject failure, I have to commend him for one thing: he is inspiring a new generation of Americans. Unfortunately, it’s not because of his success … it’s because of his failures. It’s because of his divisive rhetoric. It’s because of his lack of moral clarity. It’s because of all of these things that I believe we will find our next great leader.

It’s already unleashed a wave of women and minorities who are for the first time, getting involved in the political process. They’re throwing their hats in the ring with a vengeance I haven’t seen before. And perhaps it’s out of this group that we will find the type of inspirational leadership needed for the race to save our planet.

For that President Trump … we thank you.


  1. had not thought of that and you are right.
    i was reading about hurricane katrina in a book. one guy was working super hard for years to get the wetlands back. saying that the wetlands were half the size they were just a short time before and that would make a hurricane worse. it detailed all the opposition he got and how all the local and state officials were acting as though it was somebody else’s problem. can’t remember name of book but it was by a former security official in WH and something about harbingers or something. people that saw big problems first and nobody listened.


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