Volts newsletter: “There is no ‘moderate’ position on climate change”
“Perhaps the most politically difficult aspect of climate change is that, after decades of denial and delay, there is no longer any coherent “moderate” position to be had.
To allow temperatures to rise past 1.5° or 2°C this century is to accept unthinkable disruption to agriculture, trade, immigration, public health, and basic social cohesion. To hold temperature rise to less than 1.5° or 2°C this century will require enormous, heroic decarbonization efforts on the part of every wealthy country.
Either of those outcomes is, in its own way, radical. There is no non-radical future available for the US in decades to come. Our only choice is the proportions of the mix: action vs. impacts. The less action we and other countries take to address the threat, the more impacts we will all suffer.
Politicians who hamper the effort to decarbonize and increase resilience are not moderates. They are effectively choosing a mix of low action and high impacts — ever-worsening heat waves, droughts, floods, and hurricanes. There is nothing moderate about that, certainly nothing conservative.
For years, climate scientists, advocates, and activists have been trying to get politicians to understand this about climate change: that indifference and inaction are not neutral. Every day that goes by, more damages are baked in and getting the problem under control is more difficult. The cost of preventing future impacts is tiny relative to the cost, in lives and money, of adapting to them.
The only way to conserve what Americans love in this country is to act aggressively to limit carbon emissions, commercialize clean-energy technologies, and wind down fossil fuel production — and help other countries to do the same. To do less means to conserve less, to accept more loss.
Has the Democratic Party taken this message to heart? We’re going to find out in coming weeks.”