A Call to Action
December 21, 2009
“We’re not going to let jobs be destroyed in America for some esoteric environmental benefit 100 years from now.”
These are the words of Joe Barton, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Texas. To tear this argument apart, piece by piece, would be easy. It would also be a colossal waste of time, given that Mr. Barton traveled all the way to Copenhagen to push this disregard for science on an unsympathetic European audience without the slightest intention of reexamining the facts or reestablishing his position. Like many, he came with an agenda. The actions taken at COP15 had the potential to have enormous impact on the world. The words of Joe Barton, too, have this potential. It’s time to show the impact of his actions.
If this quotation and others like it frustrate you, make you question the sources that thought these words fit to print, cause you to wonder where we would be in our pursuit of a sustainable future without these unnecessary roadblocks, then I have a challenge for you. We face a critical crossroads in our history, and our story can be one of triumph if we choose. I challenge those of you bothered by these unnecessary hurdles to speak out against them. The scientific evidence shows unequivocally that our planet is warming as a result of our behavior, yet public opinion (in the US) does not reflect this. Nearly all scientists agree with the consensus without a doubt, yet the few skeptics receive almost equal attention in the media. We may not be able to change the media or convince skeptics to reverse their views, but we can use our overwhelming numbers to drown out the few proponents of inaction. We can’t quiet climate change deniers but we can make ourselves louder. The two most powerful tools in the pursuit of a sustainable energy future are the consensus science and the huge majority of people who understand its significance.
President Obama described the result of COP15 as a small step in the right direction. Indeed, it is a very small step, though significant nonetheless. But we are reaching a point where we can no longer afford small steps.
So this is our task. Call and email your congressmen and senators letting them know that climate change skeptics don’t represent your views. Make it known that although the voices of inaction can be heard, so, too, can the voices of the vastly more numerous supporters of climate change action. Make COP16 a discussion of 80% cuts by 2020 or 2050, not whether or not to cut at all. Reach out to others and make sure their voices are heard, too. A global accord can still provide the answer to climate change (and it might just be the only way), but it will take a little more help from us than some expected. Let COP15 be a lesson to us that we have more influence than we may have thought. And let COP16 be the proof that when we stand up for a cause in overwhelming numbers the right way forward cannot be denied.