So now it’s a war? Climate change perspectives are… changing

Well, okay. Venkatesh Rao at the Atlantic says that the only chance we have at dealing with climate change is to treat it like a war. Here are two similarly well-thought out declarations in the same video:

Rao writes, “Precedents in public health, civil engineering, epidemiology, and public safety offer clearer examples of technocrat-led revolutions. But those transitions were far simpler, technologically, than a retooling of global energy infrastructure.

Properly qualified, there is only one successful precedent for the kind of technological mobilization we are contemplating: the mobilization of American industry during World War II.

The proposed climate change war—and no other term is suitable given the scale, complexity, and speed of the task—requires a level of trust in academic and energy-sector public institutions (including international ones) comparable to the trust placed in military institutions during times of war.
The significant political difference is that climate change offers up no conveniently terrifying dictator, against whom to rally the troops and general population. Without a sufficiently charismatic narrative, casualties will go largely unacknowledged, like the victims of the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918 (which caused about twice as many deaths as World War I, but is barely remembered today outside of public-health circles).”

To which I respond, if you are correct we are doomed. Not because of climate change–but because of your solution.

War has been declared on cancer, poverty, drugs and almost every other ill imaginable. I hate to break the news to Mr. Rao, but we lost them all.

War is what happens when reason fails. War is what happens when it’s root hog or die. War is always evidence of failure at the highest level of government.

Bringing that mindset to climate change will do just as much good as it has done to marijuana. None to speak of.

How will we know when we’ve won? When the climate no longer changes?

Why don’t we treat climate change as a long-term policy issue of the same magnitude as eradicating malaria or ending poverty worldwide? I’ll be that would work a lot better.

My advice to Mr. Rao–do as we did in Vietnam. Declare victory and go home. Worked for this guy:


3 responses to “So now it’s a war? Climate change perspectives are… changing

  1. So far, the best cure for poverty has been freedom- being able to do business with a minimum of government interference, suppressing corruption in government and business, and access to fossil fuels for electricity, heat, and transportation. Government programs aren’t needed. People, given a chance, are able to sort things out and make progress. The evidence is the dramatic decrease in world poverty over the last 20-30 years. Simple economic growth through freer world markets and fossil fuels has done it.

  2. I was looking around and found this: “My advice to Mr. Rao–do as we did in Vietnam. Declare victory and go home. Worked for this guy:” A picture of George Bush following the Iraq war.

    Neither Johnson or Nixon had a ‘we won, we can go home now’ moment in Vietnam. Despite winning the battle Nixon laid the ground work for Obama’s strategic withdrawal to ensure the disruption of Iraq. The press says we lost both. Following Obama, we’ve already won the war against ISIS several times.

  3. Reagan on the “War on Poverty” —

    BTW, Tom, would you mind sending me an email, so that I have your email address, please?

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