Notes from a Remarkable Political Moment for Climate Change – By Bill McKibben
On Wednesday the British House of Commons, led by the Conservative Party, voted to declare that the planet was in a “climate emergency.” The day before, a CNN poll found that, in the United States, Democratic voters care more about climate change than about any other issue in the upcoming Presidential election: more than health care, more than gun control, more than free college, more than impeaching the President. Having followed the issue closely since I wrote my first book about climate change, thirty years ago, I think I can say that we’re in a remarkable moment, when, after years of languishing, climate concern is suddenly and explosively rising to the top of the political agenda. Maybe, though not certainly, it is rising fast enough that we’ll get real action.
This is not, in fact, the first climate moment: there have been a few times during the past three decades when it appeared as if our political leaders might seriously engage with the issue. The first was in 1988, when the NASA scientist Jim Hansen’s testimony to Congress took the problem public. People were shocked to learn that the Mississippi River was so drought-diminished that barge traffic had slowed; Time named “Endangered Earth” its Planet of the Year; George H. W. Bush, running for President against Michael Dukakis, promised to battle the greenhouse effect with “the White House effect.”
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