On the urgent need for climate action


You’ve probably seen clips. But please watch the whole speech, it’s less than five minutes.

Thanks. Here are some unordered thoughts (some that I’ve adopted from others).

It feels completely bizarre that people in the room are being chastised, and they are applauding. The people in the room, who have the power to make massive changes, are still not doing everything they can. The applauders think that she is somehow on their side, but really, what is placing the blame in their laps. She’s blaming them for our collective failure. And she’s entirely right.

I feel like this is a defining and galvanizing moment. I think we need this to be a galvanizing moment. A few days ago, we had the biggest collected set of protests around the world. Led by children.

Yes, I think her courage to speech truth to power is inspiring, at least it is to me. But her actions are borne out of absolute desperation about the condition that we are leaving the world for her generation. She’s doing this because there is nothing else to do, except to beg and plead and cajole and be furious with our leaders for dithering on climate action, at a time when the only tenable solution is a rapid global conversion to a clean energy economy. I think it’s okay to focus on her as an inspiration but only if it inspires us to pressure our leadership to make the changes that are necessary. I think we are all living with this desperation quietly, and perhaps subconsciously, and it’s cathartic to see someone express it with such moral clarity. From a position where the only interest she is trying to serve is the her well being and that of the rest of our species. The people who, for whatever reason are opposed to doing anything about the climate crisis, have no means to attack her message because it’s so untainted by ulterior motives. So they will attack her appearance, say she’s a puppet, say all kinds of cruel or irrational things, that are baldly designed to undermine her message. And her message is simply that the science is clear, and that we have to act now, and that the lives of many people are depending on us acting right now. And it’s our duty to act now. Based on the facts of the situation, there’s no rational way to disagree with it.

No matter the color of your congressional district, your representatives have to know that you think that rapid action on climate change is a huge priority for you. We have a lot of other tragedies occurring in the US at the moment, and I’m not asking you to care less about those or to take less action regarding those. I’m saying: this climate emergency is an existential issue for humanity and it will take a long term and concerted effort by many people to fix things. And this requires our reps to know this is where we are.

Climate action means political action. I think it’s quite helpful if we work to reduce our own carbon footprint on an individual level, especially ones that generate a market for clean energy (like buying electric cars, rooftop solar), but pushing for policy changes to occur at the city, county, state, and national levels is absolutely required in our present circumstance. For example, Arizona bizarrely has monied interests inhibiting the adoption of solar energy. in ARIZONA. Clean energy is already as cheap as fossil fuels, and is becoming even cheaper, and it’s politics that is protecting fossil fuel companies from the free market. While climate action is a political fight, it’s one that doesn’t have to be partisan. Because Republicans allegedly love the free market, and because the floods, storms, fires, extreme heat, climate refugees, and resource wars affect us all. We scientists have allowed climate change to become a partisan issue, and somehow, we’ve got to be clear this is a problem that we all share.