“Common Sense Revolution” needed to tackle Climate Change

Common Sense by Thomas Payne

Common Sense

Common Sense is a pamphlet written by Thomas Paine. It was first published anonymously on January 10, 1776, at the beginning of the American Revolution.

The phrase “Common Sense Revolution has been used as a political slogan to describe ‘common sense conservative’ platforms in Australia and the state of New Jersey in the 1990s. However, it is most widely known as the name of the political movement which caught fire under the leadership of Mike Harris, the Progressive Conservative premier of Ontario from 1995 to 2002.

It was a time for people to be introspective and take a sober look at the politics of the day, government waste, the role of government, taxation, social services and public debt. There was a sense of urgency about setting the clock back to a more rational approach, about doing things right and doing the right things. Change was in the air! Change was needed!

Crisis of Confidence

We see that same level of urgency in the United States of America. A return to common sense – a Common Sense Revolution – is imminent. The most powerful empire in the world is being challenged from within. And maybe like Rome, the U.S. empire will fail and collapse. There are signs of domestic systemic failure – inequality, economic collapse, chronic unemployment, stagnation, political ineptitude and gridlock. America’s international problems are equally daunting – chronically at war, instability of oil supplies, target for terrorists, loss of credibility and the growth of China.

There is a crisis of confidence in the heart of Americans. US Citizens have lost faith in their politicians and their leaders. They no longer believe what mainstream media are telling them. They know fundamentally that something is not right. Their democracy is broken; their liberties are curtailed by an overzealous Homeland Security behemoth and the 1% own more than the bottom 100 million Americans combined.

Summer of Discontent – the Turning Point

Adding to current political and economic crises is the emerging realization that climate change is a very real threat that can no longer be ignored. This summer, much of the country is witnessing a heat wave never felt by anyone. The disastrous Colorado fires, the unrelentingly scorching heat  and widespread droughts have now convinced dozens of millions of Americans that climate change is real.

This summer has done more to galvanize public opinion, that climate change has already started, than the world-wide campaigns by activists, organizations, scientists, climatologists and environmentalists combined. Consumers are also feeling it with rising corn and soya prices which are sure to lead to much higher food costs in the future. Climate change is becoming an issue of far greater concern than that of terrorism, war, the economy, gay marriage, abortion, education and gun control. It is the only issue that truly affects every single living thing on the planet.

Fred Krupp (Environmental Defense Fund and co-author of “Earth: The Sequel”) says that:

One scorching summer doesn’t confirm that climate change is real…….what matters is the trend—a decades-long march toward hotter and wilder weather. But with more than 26,000 heat records broken in the last 12 months and pervasive drought turning nearly half of all U.S. into disaster areas, many  climate skeptics are reassessing the issue.

According to a recent report in Bloomberg Business Week, a poll taken in July by UT Energy  shows that 70 % of respondents now believe that climate change is real compared with 52 % in 2010.  Climate change deniers who say it’s not taking place fell to 15 % from 22 %.

Feeling the Fear

Fear is a powerful and primitive human emotion. It alerts us to the presence of danger and was critical in keeping our ancestors alive. The long trends are ominous! For the first time ever, Americans fear the effects of climate change. They wonder if the droughts will persist year after year; they muse over the crop failures, depleting water supplies and aquifers; they are asking questions about how their children and grandchildren will deal with these conditions as they worsen.

Americans are seeing and feeling the symptoms of global warming like never before in recorded history. In recent years,  interest in warming statistics has been overshadowed by more immediate concerns such as terrorism, war, and a poor economy.  Americans now are starting to feel the fear.

Scott Stenholm reports in Huffington Post that:

this summer has marked the dawn of a new era where a poor economic climate will not only pale in comparison to, but will be exacerbated by, actual climate. Global warming is literally cooking our lakes, rivers and oceans as evident when it was recently reported that hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, of fish have died as a result of water temperatures reaching as high as 100 degrees in Iowa and Illinois at an enormous cost to the fishing industry there.

Fear is a great motivator, it is the ultimate motivator. As reported by Bill McKibben, in an email sent to subscribers of 350.org:

Just last week, the US climate movement showed us just what it means to organize with courage, even when faced with foes like the fossil fuel industry. Across the country, protests rumbled the industry, and it looks like it’s just the beginning……doesn’t sound like a movement that is paralyzed by its fear. In fact, that sounds like a movement that is ready to end business as usual for the fossil fuel industry.

We are slowly accepting that new thinking, combined with courageous political determination, rational bipartisan solutions and American willpower, will be essential to win the war on climate change. Nothing less than the American ingenuity typified by the Manhattan Project, in which the US beat the Germans to the bomb and eventually won the war setting off an unprecedented economic boom, is required.  A return to commonsensical solutions that address both climate change and its effects on economic health is fundamentally critical for success.

The Link to Common Sense

To ignite the forces of revolution you need to light a match. Occupy Wall Street provided that spark. Occupy has exposed corporate greed, lawless bankers, massive campaign donations choking the political process, a broken dysfunctional democracy, rising inequalities between the rich and the middle class, an unsustainable debt load that will be passed on to future generations.

But to sustain a revolution, you need to build a fire. Fear of climate change may just be the fuel that feeds that fire. When fear is present, common sense solutions are sure to follow. One can either be immobilized by fear or motivated to take action. And a growing number of people are recognizing that the warming of the planet is caused by human activity. Fear can be quite paralyzing but can also lead to extraordinary courage in the face of seemingly overwhelming odds.

Seeking solutions that are logical and rational and making decisions that will have a positive impact on our environment is common sense. Rampant economic growth must be replaced by sustainable activities that will not rob future generations of their right to the same opportunities we have enjoyed. That too is common sense.

Emerging Consensus

The recent emergent conservative view is evidence that common sense has a chance to succeed. In the same article, A New Climate-Change Consensus, Krupp establishes the emerging consensus:

Respected Republican leaders  have spoken out about the reality of climate change………….these views may turn out to be a welcome turning point. For too long, the U.S. has had two camps………. one camp tended to preach about climate science…….the other camp claimed that climate science was an academic scam designed to get more funding, and to strangle economic growth…………. constructive conversation rarely occurred. If both sides can now begin to agree on some basic propositions, maybe we can restart the discussion.

Proposition 1 – uncomfortable for skeptics, but it is unfortunately true: Dramatic alterations to the climate are here and likely to get worse—with profound damage to the economy—unless sustained action is taken. As the Economist recently editorialized about the melting Arctic: “It is a stunning illustration of global warming, the cause of the melt. It also contains grave warnings of its dangers. The world would be mad to ignore them.”

Proposition 2 – uncomfortable for supporters of climate action, but it is also true: Some proposed climate solutions, if not well designed or thoughtfully implemented, could damage the economy and stifle short-term growth. As much as environmentalists feel a justifiable urgency to solve this problem, we cannot ignore the economic impact of any proposed action, especially on those at the bottom of the pyramid. For any policy to succeed, it must work with the market, not against it.

Richard Muller, Berkeley Physicist

Richard Muller of Berkeley

In a 2011 study, funded by climate-skeptical industrialists David and Charles Koch, University of California, Berkeley physicist Richard Muller (also a climate skeptic) confirmed that temperatures have been climbing over the past five decades. His conclusion: “You should not be a skeptic, at least not any longer.”

A more recent analysis by Muller’s Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature research team has produced a new analysis of global temperatures over the past 250 years. The conclusion is that “climate change is “almost entirely” due to greenhouse-gas pollution.”

………..

Are we witnessing the beginning of an intellectual revolution? Can we hope to see the emergence of common sense in our politics and economic systems now focused on perpetual growth? The fear of annihilation, our responsibility to future generations, the threat to survival are basic rudiments of the human species. Humans have been adapting to a changing planet for thousands of years but can we adapt to massive global climate change?

The successful revolution in the final analysis requires conviction of the need for change in attitudes and values. We are not there yet. But it might be a beginning.

Aung San Suu Kyi

Aung San Suu Kyi

In the words of the great Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi:

‘The quintessential revolution is that of the spirit, born of an intellectual conviction of the need for change in those mental attitudes and values which shape the course of a nation’s development. A revolution which aims merely at changing official policies and institutions with a view to an improvement in material conditions has little chance of genuine success.”

6 Responses to “Common Sense Revolution” needed to tackle Climate Change

  1. I
    don’t know where to start in this nationally self-centred article.
    America, America, America. I believe that America has done more than
    any other nation in bringing about the situation we are now in, but
    it requires a combined effort by many countries if a solution is to
    be implemented (the US being one of the least willing to do so).

    First,
    let me say emphatically that America did NOT win the war against Nazi
    Germany. If any one country has a right to claim that it is the
    Soviet Union, bitter as that truth might be to Americans. A country
    that makes such a fuss about 9/11 could NEVER have borne the hardship
    suffered by Russia and Europe. And the Manhattan Project involved
    scientists from many nations. And why should the growth of any
    country (e.g. China) be a problem for the US, unless it wants to
    dominate everyone else?

    Secondly,
    I doubt very much whether there is any return to commonsense either
    by ordinary Americans or, still less, by their leaders. There is
    absolutely NO sense of urgency. America is controlled by
    multinationals, which gain their profits by exploiting the resources
    of the earth. Of course, war doesn’t bother Americans because they
    do not suffer the ill-effects of war. THEY are a nation of heroes,
    fighting ‘over there’ rather than at home, so it is not surprising
    that Americans should be more concerned about global warming than by
    war. Global warming affects them. Many others are horribly affected
    by war brought to them by the US. It is hardly surprising if they
    feel more threatened by the US than by global warming.

    Finally,
    so as not to make this too long, Americans will continue to vote for
    those whose loyalty is to the multinationals most responsible for
    global warming, rather than to ordinary Americans, most of whom are
    totally brainwashed from 24/7 watching of TV.

    • rmontpellier - BoomerWarrior Reply

      Firstly, let me apologize for not having the courtesy of replying to your comment on my Blog post. I get notified by the Blog whenever there is a comment. I’m sure I simply missed the notification.

      I have no idea if this message will reach you.

      Now about the comment.

      I agree with your observations on the United States. I’ve been following the election very closely as you will see from the various posts on the site. I’m particularly disgusted with the “climate silence” and the unwillingness to discuss the issues of fundamental importance not only to Americans but to the entire globe.

      We pride ourselves on our responsiveness at BoomerWarrior. Again, my sincere aplogies

      R.Montpellier-BoomerWarrior

  2. I am reproducing this comment submitted by Kamal S Prasad. The comment was erased due to a technical glitch. 
    Animal agriculture is the
    leading contributor to climate change. The true revolution would be the one
    that swells from the ground up, by people taking a second look at their food
    sources and changing what they eat, to save the planet. Alternative energy
    sources have existed for decades but they are not mainstream because we are
    relying on government and industry to make it ubiquitous and affordable, and
    they do not seem to have any desire to do so. But everyone has to eat and if
    people truly want future generations to have a habitable planet, they will have
    to start making choices as if they everyday actions, namely what they eat,
    mattered.

    http://www.facebook.com/l/jAQFwNRSuAQEbUHp7WzQRldZRYiiPkxYY7rMhwXAXQ4fYMg/www.ibtimes.co.uk/articles/355150/20120622/eat-less-meat-tackle-global-warming-researchers.htm

    http://www.facebook.com/l/lAQGzYJCKAQEFhMsN-EusCAyM2IFViFAXws7O9FnZJL8Iwg/www.examiner.com/article/environmental-experts-grass-fed-beef-not-more-eco-friendly-than-grain-fed-beef

    http://www.facebook.com/l/DAQGui03hAQFdtGCf1189RCmQ8cl9MllsQpnMTi0RpyATNg/peoplepoweredpeace.org/content/creating-abundance-occupying-your-plate
    (this article was written by Kamal S Prasad

  3. I am reproducing a comment originally submitted by Kamal S Prasad. His comment was accidentally deleted.

    Animal agriculture is the
    leading contributor to climate change. The true revolution would be the one
    that swells from the ground up, by people taking a second look at their food
    sources and changing what they eat, to save the planet. Alternative energy
    sources have existed for decades but they are not mainstream because we are
    relying on government and industry to make it ubiquitous and affordable, and
    they do not seem to have any desire to do so. But everyone has to eat and if
    people truly want future generations to have a habitable planet, they will have
    to start making choices as if they everyday actions, namely what they eat,
    mattered.

    http://www.facebook.com/l/jAQFwNRSuAQEbUHp7WzQRldZRYiiPkxYY7rMhwXAXQ4fYMg/www.ibtimes.co.uk/articles/355150/20120622/eat-less-meat-tackle-global-warming-researchers.htm

    http://www.facebook.com/l/lAQGzYJCKAQEFhMsN-EusCAyM2IFViFAXws7O9FnZJL8Iwg/www.examiner.com/article/environmental-experts-grass-fed-beef-not-more-eco-friendly-than-grain-fed-beef

    http://www.facebook.com/l/DAQGui03hAQFdtGCf1189RCmQ8cl9MllsQpnMTi0RpyATNg/peoplepoweredpeace.org/content/creating-abundance-occupying-your-plate
    (this article was written by Kasal S Prasad)

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