Bill McKibben* has an op-ed in the L.A. Times calling on President Obama to use Big Oil’s Katrina as a springboard for developing clean energy sources once and for all. He “encourages” him (okay, he’s pushing hard) to get on the stick and lead already:
So far, Obama’s barely broken a sweat on climate change — a few paragraphs in a few speeches. [...]
The president already has the podium he needs to start turning history, which means more than merely pushing for the climate and energy bill introduced last month by Sens. John Kerry and Joe Lieberman — a prime example of baby-step politics.
The bottom line from that bill: If you neglect all the offsets and loopholes, we’re aiming for a 4% reduction in carbon emissions from 1990 levels by 2020. Make your blood stir?
Yes. Yes it does. My blood is stirred and shaken. I actually teared up in frustration when I read those words this morning.
You know what else makes me tear up? –and by “tear up” I mean scream– The Party of No that is more interested in politics than in quality of life… or any life at all, at the rate we’re going.
Obama’s not proposing real solutions to real problems; he’s ticking off items on a list. He got a healthcare bill, and just maybe he’ll get an energy bill (though that’s an increasingly slim maybe). But we don’t need the bill. We need the thing.
We need a lot of things, starting with a sense of urgency and a Congress that can get off its collective ass and realize that if we don’t start taking the Big Green Leap now, and in a big way, that whole “pro-life” thing will go right out the oil stained window.
Meanwhile, Mr. McKibben makes a good point that the movement we need to take real action already exists, but is dormant. Obama had that movement, well, moving during the 2008 elections, but…
He was elected with millions of us sending him money, knocking on doors, standing in snow banks with signs. He commands a standing army (albeit one that’s growing rusty from disuse and a little demoralized).
And it’s not just here. Around the world, we at 350.org were able to organize giant demonstrations last year — 5,200 of them in 181 countries. We did it by rallying people around a tough but understandable goal: reducing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million, which, according to NASA scientists, is the most we can safely have in the atmosphere. Since we’re already past that point — at 390 ppm — we need to work harder than we could ever have imagined. We really do need to get off oil in the coming decade.
What does it take to open everyone’s eyes? If a disaster of the magnitude of the oil volcano isn’t enough to convince people, then what is?
*Bill McKibben, a scholar-in-residence at Middlebury College, is the founder of 350.org and the author most recently of “Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet.” A longer version of his piece can be found at tomdispatch.com.