With each new doom-and-gloom report that scientists put out about climate change, I repeat the words of Captain John Paul Jones from the American Revolution: “I have not yet begun to fight.”
You’ve heard about the latest report on greenhouse gas emissions? “Planet has only until 2030 to stem catastrophic climate change, experts warn,” says CNN.
It’s as close to doomsday stuff as you hear from the measured scientists who sit on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The report warns that, unless the world’s nations massively cut greenhouse gases in the next decade or so to avoid catastrophic warming of above 1.5 degrees Celsius, we’ll face devastating sea-level rise, biblical floods and droughts, and other unnatural weather disasters that will bring apocalyptic suffering to humans and all life on earth.
How hard will it be to stop things from getting this bad? David Roberts comments in Vox:
Basically, stopping warming at 1.5C would involve an immediate, coordinated crash program of re-industrialization, involving every major country in the world. It would be like the US mobilizing for WWII, only across the globe, sustained for the rest of the century. Nothing like that has ever happened. Nothing even remotely similar has ever happened. There are currently no indications that any such effort is getting underway, and indeed the US is vigorously moving the other direction.
Roberts is correct that, right now, the US is doing pretty much the opposite of what it would take to avoid climate doom.
We’re going too slow on solar and clean energy. Meanwhile, we’re continuing to pump out dirty energy. And worse, we’re increasing production of fossil fuels we couldn’t even get to before through fracking and other new technologies.
And as goes America, so goes the world.
A massive undertaking — is it even possible? Is it time to get really worried? Depressed?
First, let me quote a modern authority on the psychology of despair, poetic marketing writer Seth Godin:
Doom is inevitable.
Gloom is optional.
Gloom has no positive effects on ameliorating doom.
Doom happens. Gloom is a choice.
Then, in solar patriotic style, let me call on the words of Captain John Paul Jones.
Time to Strike Your Colors?
In the fall of 1779 Jones had taken the fight against the British into their home waters. On September 23 Jones’ ship the USS Bonhomme Richard rammed the HSS Serapis off Flameborough Head in the North Sea.
During the heat of what became the most famous naval battle of the American Revolution, Serapis Captain Richard Pearson asked Jones if he wanted to surrender his badly damaged ship. Jones answered with what became the Revolution’s most famous quote:
I have not yet begun to fight.
Jones won his battle — it turns out that Pearson was the one to strike his colors under the Americans’ sustained attacks on his ship. Just in time, too. Jones took the Serapis and transfered his crew to their new prize ship right before damage to the Bonhomme Richard caused Jones’ own ship to sink.
Today, it may be unprecedented for a major industrial power to abandon dirty energy and clean up its whole economy. But in 1779, it was unprecedented for a crew of scrappy American sailors to defeat the mighty Royal Navy right off the British coast.
Indeed, the whole American Revolution was unprecedented. And yet, we won. That’s because we fought.
With the fighting spirit of John Paul Jones, today we can win again against oil and coal barons whose greed is destroying America. But fight we surely must.
— Erik Curren, the Solar Patriot