15 August 2018

THE Central Concern of our age

 I want to emphasize something to my farflung correspondents. We talk about various issues, and they are important. Criminal justice reform. Racist monster in the White House. Medical care for all. Education reform. Inequality of opportunity, and rigged economic system that perpetuates income inequality, On and on, all important. But if you answer anything other than Climate Change, and taking action to deal with this crisis, when asked what you think is the most important political issue facing us, you are ASLEEP. Almost alone among the issues facing us politically (the only other one being the threat of nuclear annihilation), this issue concerns an existential threat to our civilization. Indeed, best scientific understanding is that "business as usual" over the next century or so will all but guarantee the collapse of advanced economies including our own, because the devastating environmental disruption will likely literally cause a billion people to die in our world. If we are moral human beings, and politics is the art of practical morality (what else can it be?), then we simply cannot allow that to happen. The clock is ticking. It is very late. Bad things cannot be entirely avoided. We will have to do things that would've seemed unthinkable and reckless 25 years ago, such as deliberately modifying the atmosphere's chemistry (after careful consideration, modeling, and examination of all consequences)... and expending major resources to artificially remove CO2 from the atmosphere. But there is simply no excuse not to treat this crisis as the moral equivalent of a war like WWII... a genuine existential threat, and to make it, and the actions that need to be taken to deal with it, THE most central concern of our political consciousness for the duration, which means for all the rest of our lives, and all the rest of the lives of our children and grandchildren, AT LEAST.

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