05/27/2014 05:39 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Climate = Opportunity

Some people see climate change as civilization self-destructing. They're wrong.

It's the opportunity of the century.

Courtesy: NASA

Here's why: climate change can help America heal as a country.

It can help us reconnect to our roots as a collaborative, volunteer-driven society.

It can inspire us to work together to protect the well-being of future generations. And our example can inspire the world -- for climate change truly is a global issue.

Let's look at how this can happen:
  • Community We are a wonderfully diverse nation, but we often focus negatively on our differences and ignore our shared experience and interests. As a result, our disharmony has become dysfunctional. Banding together to do everything we can to slow climate change and ameliorate its negative effects will give us common purpose. We can reclaim our old identity as people who respond to a crisis by volunteering to help. Climate can unite us.
  • Economy Our economic system is stricken by the cancer of inequality. Climate change reminds us that we have a common fate regardless of net worth. By investing our money -- private and public -- in technology and incentives for different behavior, we will generate jobs and new investment as we generate a better life. By taxing carbon we will help balance our market system which operates as if environmental degradation doesn't matter.
  • Legacy We are all children. We all know what it means to come into a world that others have created -- to be limited or liberated by that inheritance. Climate action gives us a chance not only to change conditions on the ground (and in the atmosphere) but to give future children the same choice we have -- to work together to help sustain our planet or face the consequences of not doing so. Climate action gives us the opportunity to keep opportunity alive for generations to come.

So what do we do about it?

Simple. Do not vote for anyone -- at any level of government -- who fails to recognize climate change as a priority issue. Vote for anyone who will work to revitalize our economy and our sense of community by addressing climate change head-on, with all tools at our disposal. (See Tom Steyer's blog on climate at the ballot box.) If the candidates don't address the issue, ask them why.

Don't let the doubters dint your effort or your enthusiasm. I believe most of them will help, too - if not soon, then eventually. And don't freak too much about all the latest news -- like the Antarctic ice melt now deemed "unstoppable" by NASA .

The measurement of the crisis is vital. And it must continue. But it is only the fulcrum on which we place our lever of united action. Climate invites not only a third metric, but a third outcome. Not money, nor power, but actual day-to-day quality of life -- that's the goal here. We must work to keep sustainable the very thing that sustains us -- our planet.

And we can do it. We just need to start demanding that our communities and our states and our nation unite to address the issue. We need to start lending a hand in whatever way we can.

And if you need any additional motivation, just think of the stories our grandchildren will tell. Imagine what they will say about how we responded when the future of the planet was on the line.

Climate = Opportunity from Steven Crandell on Vimeo.

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