Prior Months

Is Climate Change this Generation’s Titanic?
By Terry Leach, President, LDC

November 2007

Most of us were mesmerized and saddened as we watched hours of cable news covering the southern California fires. My television watching was a little more loaded, perhaps, than some of yours, as I exchanged frantic text messages with our 18-year-old daughter, a UC San Diego freshman without a car, who was instructed to stay in her dorm until the campus determined whether the students would be evacuated, and if so, how, since most non-essential personnel were not reporting to work and there might not be enough shuttles to get them out.

I am happy to report that our daughter and her room-mates all made it out of San Diego safely and are heading back to school.

Not as clear-cut is the role that our nation’s failure to take a leadership role in addressing climate change played in the wildfires. California Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi is on record for asserting that climate change exacerbated the damages. He was immediately attacked and labeled an alarmist. He is also on record for stating that our ability to protect our citizens and our property is diminished because of our participation in the war in Iraq and the resulting deployment of resources and National Guard men and women out of the United States.

Not surprisingly, right wing blogs and Fox TV have attacked Garamendi for these statements, as well.

In the last year, I have heard a variety of speakers, ostensibly opining on a variety of topics. The majority, however, focused on climate change and the war in Iraq (and the need to avoid war in Iran). One, an MP from the British Parliament, who is known for her work on nuclear non-proliferation, boldly stated that climate change is the most serious threat facing our planet. She suggested to the audience of policy-makers that we have five years, eight years tops, to get in front of this disaster facing our planet.

She also pointed to the war in Iraq as not only a monumental mistake resulting in unnecessary suffering and loss of life, but as a diversion of resources that will be needed to save our planet.

At another event, the keynote speaker, a scientist and venture capitalist, explained why he is dedicating the rest of his life to bringing about the requisite policy change to address climate change. He explained that it is not a question of having ‘life as we know it’ change in 200 years; he firmly believes that there may be no life at all left on earth in 200 years. He analogized our current situation to that of the doomed ship, Titanic. He says that we, too, are on a course that is predictable, and if prudent action is taken in time, reversible. He, too, gives Planet Earth 5 to 8 years to reverse our negligent handling of climate change, or, our “Titanic,â€? before it’s too late when any changes made will be pathetically impotent.

The experts are adamant that we achieve the following:

  • Elect a Democratic President in 2008
  • Elect a Democratic super-majority to overcome filibuster in the US Senate and hold the House
  • Elect a Democratic governor in California (where significant change in environmental policy is likely to come first), and a super-majority in the California Legislature to overcome the 2/3 veto power of the minority
  • Get out of Iraq as soon as possible, and start spending the resources needed at home
  • Do not start a war in Iran.

    This morning, I had the pleasure of competing in the Lafayette Reservoir Run, and then helping to register new Democrats at our club’s first ever voter registration event at the Lafayette Reservoir Run event.

    I was struck, as I often am, when I have the opportunity to help with voter registration and meet real voters, by how frustrated most of our neighbors are by what appears obvious to policy-makers around the world. Many of my fellow runners declared frustration with Bush, even if they voted for him, many expressed concern about the war in Iraq and concerns that Cheney and Bush would start a new, horrific war, maybe World War 111, in Iran. Many expressed concerns about climate change. Most of these same voters, however, declined politely to get involved with our club’s efforts to elect more Democrats for a variety of reasons, all of them credible. They work, or they don’t work and are now traveling, they have children, or they don’t have children, but want to visit their grandchildren—all worthwhile endeavors.

    I ask, however, if the scientists are right, and if what we saw in San Diego was only a taste of what’s to come, and if we truly only have a few years to turn this situation around for our children, and their children’s sake, will you be able to tell your children that you did everything you could to hand over to the next generation the precious gifts that were given to us?

    Voting is an important first step. Giving money to your favorite Democratic candidate is sadly also necessary, until we get real campaign finance reform. But it’s not enough.

    We must work together to elect policy-makers who will speak out and take action about climate change and the drum beats to wage even more wars, even if these policy-makers take risks that imperil their political careers. We must support these truth-tellers and we must hold those lawmakers accountable who refuse to move the most important issues to the top of the agenda because it is not politically expedient for them to do so.

    Learn as much as you can about climate change. And learn as much as you can about the Bush Administration’s drumbeats to wage even more war. Enjoy Thanksgiving and the holidays with your family and friends, but don’t let opportunities pass to share your concerns with the people you love and ask them to get involved. We are stronger if we work together. We can place pressure on candidates to adopt agendas that we believe imperative, if we work together.

    Please let us know how you would like to get involved and let’s get to work together in one of the largest and most active Democratic clubs in the State of California. At over 700 members strong—we have access to those who sit at the table. If our number were several times that—we’d have the table.

    Currently, our organization works closely with other similar organizations throughout the region. If we all doubled in size and political action, the issues we care about the most would be the issues under discussion in Sacramento and in Washington.

    Enjoy your Thanksgiving table and think of how you can help organizations like ours take our country back.