Huffpost Politics
THE BLOG

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Scott Z. Burns Headshot

A Contract with the Planet

Posted: Updated:

The people of the low lying cities of Southeast Asia will not be voting in the New Hampshire primary. The glaciers of Greenland will not be swayed by the next debate, and remain extreme in their allegiance to the thermometer. The weather patterns of the American Midwest and the malarial mosquitoes of Africa are not impressed with the new Chevron ad campaign or the fantasy of "clean coal."

The dots of climate change have been connected by the IPCC, polar bears, and the victims of the latest typhoon. And yet Congress and the presidential candidates argue over incremental changes in CAFE standards and modest goals for industry to be realized by the year 2050, while scientists tell us that the world we will be living in in 2025 will already have burned up most of our reserves of hope -- as well as one in four species. One would think industry and government ought to be able to move more swiftly than geologic time. We are told of the speed with which Detroit re-tooled to make airplanes in World War II and yet they are unable to make even modest change to next year's line of cars and trucks.

But, instead of citing the science, Hillary Clinton seeks refuge in Voltaire saying, "we cannot allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good." WRONG. The "good" she is offering us is a policy of half-measures and capitulation that puts expedience before necessity. The "perfect" that she suggests is well beyond us is actually called LEADERSHIP. And on the issue of climate change leadership means looking at what needs to be done and demanding it, not looking at what feeble gesture our ransomed Congress might be capable of and settling for it. There is a time for compromise and a time for resolve, and if the most recent IPCC report is not enough to rock your world then you are not qualified to become the leader of the one we are all living in -- Democrat or Republican.

What we need is a CONTRACT WITH THE PLANET. We need everyone with an advanced degree in WHAT WE NEED TO DO NOW, from environmental groups to faith based organizations to industry to set forth guidelines-- not carefully couched minimums, but things that will actually make the difference. Five or ten goals that we NEED to attain, not because they are easy, but because they are required of us. And then we need to insist that the media put them before the candidates and that the candidates put them before the media. This is no less a moral issue than what Newt Gingrich offered up in his Contract with America 12 years ago. It is time that we make Mother Nature the most powerful lobbyist on this issue-- not the emissaries of coal, oil and the automotive industry.

We are told in the IPCC report that the technology required for saving our world exists. Furthermore, history teaches us that demand and application will make that technology cheaper and more efficient. We can't allow these solutions to be obscured and derided by those staked to the status quo. The chemical reactions at work in our atmosphere remain beyond the influence of polls and focus groups -- they cannot be finessed by consultants and are not concerned with compromise. To deal with them we will need to be so much more than "good." As George Bernard Shaw said, "All progress depends on the unreasonable man." We need that man, or woman, to step up now.