We Could Have Stopped Climate Chaos But We Were Too Damned Cheap

What a beautiful Friday morning in my part of the world. The sky is blue and clear on a minus 16 degree C March 1st day.  I’m watching two pileated woodpeckers enjoy the suet in the bird feeder just outside the window. They certainly are impressive birds, especially close up! I took this picture earlier in the year:

pileated woodpeckers

Meanwhile, this week in climate news, thirty eight leading U.S. national security experts released a letter urging action on international climate change initiatives. Their press release reads:

Today, Partnership for a Secure America (PSA) launched their newest open letter, signed by 38 Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, on the national security threats of climate change at a bipartisan panel event on Capitol Hill.

In the midst of sequestration’s looming budget cuts and White House promises of Executive Action on climate change, should Congress fail to act, the letter’s signatories stress the urgent need for action to prevent disastrous impacts on U.S. national security interests. Mobilizing public and private support for international mitigation and adaptation projects in vulnerable communities must be a priority, the letter states.

R. James Woolsey, former Director of Central Intelligence, and Wayne Gilchrest, former Congressman (R-MD) and Co-founder of the Congressional Climate Change Caucus, spoke at the event to highlight the critical threats that climate change presents.

“If we have difficulty figuring out how to deal with immigration today, look at the prospects for the glacial retreats in the Andes. The glaciers are not doing well… If that starts to go away, we will have millions upon millions of southern neighbors hungry, thirsty, with crops failing and looking for some place in the world they can go,” Woolsey said.

Gilchrest said, “As we saw the military in Sandy, we saw the military in Katrina… we’ll see them in Pakistan – one of those countries that may be more hard-hit by climate change than almost any other country in the immediate term.”

The signatories to PSA’s letter join the State Department, Defense Department, National Intelligence Council, and many other security voices in emphasizing the serious national security implications of climate change.

Signatories including seventeen former Senators and Congress members, nine retired generals and admirals, both the Chair and Vice Chair of the 9/11 Commission, and Cabinet and Cabinet-level officials from the Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush (41), Clinton, and Bush (43) administrations.

This initiative builds upon PSA’s 2009 statement “Climate Change Threatens All Americans” ( www.psaonline.org/climate ), which served to publicly identify climate change as an issue of bipartisan concern among national security experts.

According to their website:

PSA is a nonprofit founded by former U.S. Representative Lee Hamilton (D-IN) and former U.S. Senator Warren Rudman (R-NH) to advance bipartisanship on today’s critical national security and foreign policy challenges. Leveraging the leadership of its distinguished  Advisory Board , PSA has unique credibility and access to forge common ground and fashion thoughtful, fact-based policy that promotes America’s national interests

Click here to read the full letter, The Cost of Inaction.


This week as well, the Climate Reality Project released a catchy video about the price we are all paying for carbon pollution:



In other climate news, a report was released that was written by NERA for the U.S. National Association of Manufacturers. It purports to provide “a quantitative estimate of how much [the Boxer/Sanders] scheme would hurt the U.S. economy.” However, like many papers from free-market ideologues and think tanks, the report ignores the costs of climate change as well as the benefits of clean energy, and thus leads to the wrong conclusion. Interestingly, a previous report written by NERA admits that a carbon tax could be efficient in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

As a fellow Citizen Climate Lobby volunteer wrote in response to the NAM report:

A comparison of the costs of damages from emissions in a continued fossil fuel economy versus the cost of ramping up clean energy, efficiency and conservation to create a clean energy economy was done by DARA Climate Vulnerability Monitor, finding that “Economic losses dwarf the modest costs of tackling climate change.”

In addition to the $1.2 trillion loss in forgone prosperity by our failure to act on climate change, there is also the risk of unimaginable catastrophe.

A recent report for the World Bank details the costs and risks of continuing climate disruption.  The carbon fuel economy is propelling us toward : “shock to agricultural production…and pressure on water resources which would cascade into effects on economic development by reducing a population’s work capacity …and risk crossing critical social system thresholds..[where] adaptation actions would likely become much less effective or even collapse.”

Even though I’ve been immersed in the climate conversation for years, it is still hard for me to comprehend that the current reality is that some individuals and groups argue (and apparently believe) that climate inaction is an option because we are worried about how taking action on climate change might impact the economy. That’s pure insanity! To rephrase the great American author Kurt Vonnegut (I  know, it’s pretty nervy of me), who was referring to saving the earth,  “We could have stopped climate chaos but we were too damned cheap.”



I’m going to unplug from the computer now, and spend some time outside on this gorgeous March day. I also plan to find some to read Food Not Lawns by Heather Jo Flores, which arrived in my mailbox yesterday. Hope you enjoy your Friday, too – let’s not let the crazies stop the rest of us from enjoying this amazing world we’re so privileged to be a part of!

graphic: 350.org
graphic: 350.org