Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Man Who Saved the World and Lifted My Shame and Sorrow

Just just when my world hit bottom with last Tuesday's election results, President Obama did the most important thing any president has ever done.

He saved the world.

Not my little world.  The big world. The planet.

And in so doing, he's let me die a happy woman, knowing that my children and grandchildren and all children will now possibly have a future.

By persuading China to set targets for reduction of carbon emissions, he has given the human race a future where we had none. Without a major reduction in carbon by the U.S. and China we were all going to be toast.  Not just the polar bears.  Us too.  With wild climate changes, starvation would have stared us in the face and with it the terrible wars of people fighting for food. Civilization would collapse. The dead would be the lucky ones. That would be the world I was handing on to my grandchildren and their children. I would be dead already  -  one of the lucky ones  -  and they would suffer.

But it may be all right now. Hope has come back into the world.  As of this Tuesday, merely a week after the election forfeited by stay-at-home Democrats, the great good news has come.  China  -  the key holdout on climate change  -  has come around.

Sure, the agreement Obama announced is not perfect.  But it can be improved.  The big thing is that China has changed its stance.  Now that the two top carbon emitters  -  the U.S. and China  -  have announced targets for reduction, the rest of the world will follow suit. Even India, the third-largest emitter and still a hold-out, will have to move.

On the homefront the Republicans, who have resisted anti-carbon measures, have now lost one of their chief arguments.  Mitch McConnell and others have insisted the United States do nothing about carbon emissions because "What's the use as long as China does nothing?"  Ta ta to that argument!

Some Republicans are screaming that Obama gave away the store to the Chinese. No, he didn't.  Most of the U.S. targets he offered were already on the books.  These included the new emissions limits he has announced these past two years for both cars and trucks.  Another big part of the U.S. package is the new stiff standards being adopted by his Environmental Protection Agency for coal-powered electric plants.  With these cuts we were already on the road to most of the reduction goals he offered the Chinese.  In this agreement we got a terrific deal: a  big concession from China  in exchange for what we were going to do anyway.

The President is one hell of a horse trader!

It was evening here in Oregon when the news came Tuesday about the deal.  A couple of hours later when I went to bed, it really hit me and I started to cry.  Tears of joy.  A great sorrow and shame has been lifted from me.  All my life I have worked as an environmentalist, even back to the days when we were called conservationists.  Yet now when I am old it has seemed that the climate of the entire planet was so severely threatened that tens of thousands of species, including my own, might perish.  And this beautiful little blue planet would become a wasteland, even perhaps an eventual hell like Venus, as it fell into a self-increasing spiral of heat.

Before the worst came, I would be gone, having escaped into a peaceful death of old age, leaving my children and grandchildren to suffer the dire onslaught.  I would have failed in the most basic of Jewish duties, of human duties:  save the family, save the children.

But now I can die happy because hope has come back into the world.  There may be a future for my family and yours after all.  And for this little blue planet in the great black reaches of space.

Thank you, Mr. President.  I wish I could give you a hug.  A polar bear hug!

This will be a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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