By Zoya Teirstein, The Grist. 1 October 2019
THERE HAVE BEEN a few moments in history when it seemed like the United States was on the precipice of climate action. In the early 1980s, when Congress was alerted to the fact that emissions could indeed affect the climate. Then later that decade, when President George H.W. Bush promised to tackle the greenhouse effect with the “White House effect.” And, finally, at the second World Climate Conference in Geneva in 1990, when it seemed the U.S. was prepared to engage in good faith negotiations with the rest of the globe (spoiler: it didn’t).
Looking back now, each of those moments seems like an excruciating missed opportunity to head off the catastrophe headed our way — some of which is already playing out. Given our history of false starts, it’s easy to look at any new attempts to get politicians to curtail the crisis with an unhealthy dose of skepticism. Are our leaders really going to do something about climate change? Or are they just going to keep kicking the can down the road?
Naomi Klein, climate movement veteran and author of seminal works such as No Logo and This Changes Everything, thinks this moment is different. Her new essay collection, On Fire: The Burning Case for a Green New Deal, makes the case that the current political, social, and cultural zeitgeist is uniquely conducive to climate action. The moment we are in right now could be the one that actually, well, changes everything.
IMAGERY: Screen grab from article video; Vimeo. Framing image, Andrey Popov, Dreamstime.