The Climate Agency: A Letter to President Obama

The Climate Agency: A Letter to President Obama

Dear Mr. President,

The world is in crisis. There may not be a crisis in the Oval Office or the climate-controlled West Wing, but for the rest of us sweltering, freezing, thirsting and drowning humanity, there is a crisis. We are threatened with the greatest challenge in human history, the fossil-fuel driven climate change, which will become more violent and chaotic every year, unless we act now to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere.

As fossil fuels have been the driving force for the development of the modern world, shifting to other forms of energy will not be easy. It will require the smooth reduction in the use of coal, oil and gas with the simultaneous replacement of that energy with a rapid growth of wind, solar and other energy sources. It is difficult to even imagine such a transformation, such a balancing act.

It is even more difficult to imagine how we can proceed vigorously on this complex path without a very strong and able changeover agency to guide us through the process and to make the necessary adjustments as we go along.

While the slow, deliberative pace of Congress may be the best way to achieve modest progress through legislation, it has shown that it is entirely unsuited to the present situation. In the last few years, Congress has shown such divisiveness and has been so strongly influenced by vested interests that it took a whole year to make a few modest improvements in our health care system. The resistance is even greater to avoid the prompt reduction in the use of fossil fuels.

At the same time, this gradual reduction of fossil energy and the simultaneous increase in alternatives will require great knowledge of energy, of our economic and biological systems and the interactions of everyone involved. Our Congress is made up of lawyers, business people and teachers. They lack either the knowledge or the political incentive to handle this crisis effectively.

Mr. President, this is an emergency for all of humanity and particularly for its children. They will grow up in a world where weather will be life threatening, violent storms killing people in one area while unexpected droughts and expanding deserts drive people from their homes in others. It is likely that such chaos will cause people to fight over the most basic resources. Food scarcity will become extreme. Tragedies like that of Haiti and Darfur will become commonplace. But we are told these unexpected weather patterns can be modified and the Earth can return to the climates we have known if we can reduce the CO2 in the atmosphere to approximately 350 parts per million.

At the end of World War II, we established the GI Bill, the Marshall Plan and the United Nations. We exhibited great leadership in helping the world to rebuild after the terrible destruction of that war. To a large degree, that victory and the vision that followed was a result of the War Production Board and the almost unbelievable production of tanks, ships and planes that it made possible. As a veteran of WW II, I know what America can do, and I believe we can do it again by facing and controlling the worldwide threat of climate change.

The Climate Change Agency

Mr. President, I urge you to declare a climate change emergency. The American people have seen enough of violent storms and freezing cold, of sweltering heat and drying rivers to know how urgent it is that our climate be controlled. Once you have declared this emergency, it will be possible to create the Climate Change Agency to plan and direct a smooth changeover from fossil fuels to alternative energies. This giant task will require people with authority and a profound understanding of the issue. Atmospheric scientists, biologists, economists together with public relations and other specialists can implement the changeover by slowly increasing taxes on fossil fuels and direct those funds to stimulating the development and manufacture of new energy systems for the United States and the world.

It can also train workers for jobs in these new energy systems. People losing jobs in coal and oil could be given preference in wind and solar manufacture, installation and maintenance. Others will be needed to expand the existing electrical distribution system to connect alternative energy farms to manufacturing centers. Still others will be needed to improve the efficiency of existing factories, buildings and homes and the conversion of our transportation from petroleum to green energy systems. This transformation to avoid the worst disasters of global warming is also the key to developing a whole new generation of job opportunities in the energy sector. The longer we wait, the more difficult the job will be.

Please, President Obama, do not delay in facing this enemy of human life.