Friday, June 02, 2017

Public Will

Note - I wrote this about a year ago, saved it as a draft and never posted it.  Seems appropriate to dig it out after the announcement from the President* re: Paris climate agreement.

I've read a lot about the "Greatest Generation" and the mobilization of the whole country during WWII.  I think you can also point to the post-WWII build-up of the infrastructure of the country - the Interstate system (probably the biggest boon to US business until the Internet), other massive school and municipal building projects that lasted until the 60's, the Space Race of the 60s and into the 70s - as further examples of "think big, do big" capabilities of humans in general and Americans more specifically.  It is a legitimate question to ask whether we as a people are even capable of thinking big anymore (the Internet being something of an anomaly).

There was another mass effort that doesn't get nearly the attention it deserves, I think in part because so many people my age  and younger have forgotten what the US (and much of the world) was like in the 60s.  I certainly sometimes forget the masses of trash along the roadways, rivers so full of filth and toxins that you could walk across them (just don't drop your  cigarette or it would catch on fire), cities (not just LA) where you couldn't see the skyline for the ever-present smoke and smog.  Industries poured untreated toxic waste into rivers and lakes and unfiltered smoke into the skies, creating smog, tree-killing acid rains and 1000s of early deaths from lung-related illnesses.  Cars were over-powered (sorry, but it's true) and horribly inefficient.

At some point in the late 60's and early 70's, there was (suddenly in the grand scheme of things) a popular movement to change things.  In 1970 alone, you got the first Earth Day, the creation (by a Republican administration) of the Environmental Protection Agency, national ad campaigns about littering - attitudes changed quickly and dramatically, forcing corporations and governments to follow suit.  And that happened in the space of a very few years, even while we were still in a war in Southeast Asia and struggling with racial equality and all the other issues of the day.

What I want to figure out is what it would take for another Green revolution aimed at climate change.  Greenhouse gases aren't as easy to see as take-out bags strewn along the highway or oil slicks on the Ohio River, so I get that it isn't as easy.  And maybe it isn't as clear what needs to be done, although I think there are some pretty obvious ways to approach this.  The question is how to get enough people motivated that they take over the conversation (which has heretofore been dominated by the unbelievers) and push industry, government and our fellow humans to take real action.

Added 6/2/2017 - with the abdication of responsibility by the GOP, it is becoming clear that it will be corporations, states and municipalities that will have to lead this fight until we manage a change in the fed government. But I still come back to the public participation in efforts during WWII, the space race (I remember saving quarters to buy savings bonds for NASA funding while in elementary school) and a shift towards protecting the environment and wonder how we get that kind of willpower and personal investment involved again in trying to reduce climate change?

1 Comments:

At 10:12 AM, Blogger Curtis Krumel said...

It's pretty simple actually (and I've been saying this for years now), drop the climate change mantra. That would have worked a lot better without the massive payments to other governments. Once they included those payments, it looked more like a scam and lost a lot of public trust. Add to that the incorrect predictions over the last decade and a few sketchy emails from leaders of the movement and you'll never win a lot of people back.

Go with ridding us of pollution. Everyone has been touched by cancer and we can see it everyday and it can not be argued that pollution is not a large part of the cause. That way you can start to put more pressure on the burning of fossil fuels and all of their results. And move a little slower to give the economy and jobs and programs more of a chance to compensate. My 2 cents.

 

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