Climate, both epochal and philosophical converged with the arrival by sail of a young 16 year-old climate activist, Greta Thunberg, beneath The Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. She sailed fossil-free to attend the 2019, UN Climate Action Summit, to deliver words hoped to never hear, of generational failure to care for their futures.
Their coordinates met in her passing the monument, a gift of France to Americans, to inspire us to keep the light of democracy and human striving through difficult histories.
What I am suggesting is that beyond all we know ad nauseam of the science of climate disruption, the failure to transit to clean energy is that politics and economic conditions are failing us in this moment.
The nativist and authoritarian turn of governments tracks with the enormous strains of human migration and control of territory and resources.
It’s not that we can’t change course but these competing pressures of stable governments, and a revolution in resource distribution seem irreconcilable in a coal-oil-gas world. I’d suggest that denial of climate science must be more about fearing that a global response will somehow replace national sovereignty and economic supremacy.
A Green New Deal is not a socialist plot. It is the template for a democratic response to an existential moment in history. Modeled on Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, it was the prosperous response to The Great Depression and World Wars.
A few short years ago, people the world over drew red lines to compel world leaders to enact the voluntary commitments of The 2015 Paris Climate Accord. I participated on Liberty Island with my own grandchildren much on mind and because the civil protest was, poignantly, at water’s edge.
The global crisis is increasingly more precarious. Our liberties, prosperity and nation’s aspirations and, young people, are all on the line.
I don’t see how we should find “hope” coming from young people pointing out adult dereliction but, Ms. Thunberg, with the wind in favor, hopefully will have rekindled Liberty’s torch.
Here are three poems around these weighted sentiments;
The New Colossus, by Emma Lazarus displayed on the Statue of Liberty pedestal.
The Brand New Statue of Liberty; To Lee Iacocca (Another Michigan Boy), by Jim Harrison
Let America Be America Again by Langston Hughes