Casualties of War

Forty years ago this Tuesday, President Jimmy Carter nailed it going away in a nationally televised address.

The energy crisis has not yet overwhelmed us, but it will if we do not act quickly. It’s a problem that we will not be able to solve in the next few years, and it’s likely to get progressively worse through the rest of this century.

We must not be selfish or timid if we hope to have a decent world for our children and our grandchildren. We simply must balance our demand for energy with our rapidly shrinking resources. By acting now we can control our future instead of letting the future control us…

Our decision about energy will test the character of the American people and the ability of the President and the Congress to govern this Nation. This difficult effort will be the moral equivalent of war, except that we will be uniting our efforts to build and not to destroy.

Carter was right about the moral courage it required to address the energy crisis–and now, forty years later, similar moral courage is required to address the climate crisis threatening our planet. Unfortunately, we will not see strong federal leadership on climate until the 2020s at the earliest.

The Fourth Estate has failed to note the irony that Donald Trump, a man who denies the reality of human-caused climate change, would not have felt compelled (for whatever reason) to intervene in Syria were it not for the conflict in the country that was exacerbated by climate change. The Pentagon has long recognized climate change as a threat multiplier for international conflict. Defense Secretary James Mattis also recognizes the consequences of carbon pollution…but not Trump.

Carter’s words from four decades ago are still relevant today. Of course, you’ll never hear these words come from Trump’s mouth:

There is something especially American in the kinds of changes that we have to make. We’ve always been proud, through our history, of being efficient people. We’ve always been proud of our ingenuity, our skill at answering questions. Now we need efficiency and ingenuity more than ever.

We’ve always been proud of our leadership in the world. And now we have a chance again to give the world a positive example.

We’ve always been proud of our vision of the future. We’ve always wanted to give our children and our grandchildren a world richer in possibilities than we have had ourselves. They are the ones that we must provide for now. They are the ones who will suffer most if we don’t act.

Carter himself recognized the threat of climate change and the promise of clean energy. How sickening is it that forty years later, we have a president who refuses to recognize the threat and the promise, who refuses to press his party to come to the table on climate solutions, who refuses to withdraw his support for his completely clueless EPA Administrator, the pathetic Scott Pruitt?

Yesterday, Americans took to the streets demanding that Trump finally release his tax returns. On April 22 and April 29, Americans will be out in the streets in Washington, D.C., marching against Trump’s scorn of science and callousness on climate. However, marching will not be enough to stop him–unless that march is to the ballot box this year and next. Only a climate-concerned electorate can turn up the heat on a cold-hearted President.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.