We cannot despair. The fate of humanity rests on what we do over the next four years. David Leonhardt says it best:
This morning, many Americans feel sick. The country they thought they knew doesn’t seem to exist. Many of them are worried in a way they never have been before. I share a lot of those worries.
But what now?
Here’s my immediate answer: No task has become more important than persuading a much larger number of Republicans that the health of the planet matters for their children and grandchildren too.
Yes, of course, there are other vital issues, especially the constitutional and civil rights that Trump has at times disdained. And, yes, Democrats need to begin plotting their comeback for 2018 and beyond. Yet we also need to recognize that the climate is like nothing else.
Most issues are part of the historical push-and-pull of politics. One side makes gains; the other can reverse them later.
The state of the planet is different. We can’t unmelt the Arctic or magically remove carbon emissions from the atmosphere. We make decisions today that future generations must live with. Already, we’re beginning to live with the consequences of climate change: Coastal flooding, heat waves and droughts have all become more frequent and damaging.
The potential future consequences — the likely future consequences — are awesomely frightening.
To take Trump and the Republican majorities in Congress at their word, they don’t care. But here’s the thing: Eventually, they or their successors will care. The damage from climate change will not spare Republicans. It won’t spare anyone.
Nothing matters more than finding ways to accelerate the arrival of the day when more Republicans do care.
Leonhardt is right. Too many of our fellow Americans are oblivious to these grave dangers — and unaware of the positive steps they can take. We have failed them, and ourselves. We have been insufficiently clear, insufficiently urgent. We must do more.
We must reach out with understanding and love. We must redouble our efforts to ensure that the Earth — “our common home,” in the words of Pope Francis — remains a place where all of us can live in peace and harmony. Leonhardt concludes:
It means trying to understand many Americans’ skepticism about climate change. It is misplaced but honest. Most Americans are not shills for energy companies and their short-term profits. Yelling ever more loudly, or swamping them with ever more scientific detail, seems unlikely to do the trick.
Figuring out what can work — and what the rest of us can do about the planet in the meantime — is the most productive way to channel the heartsickness and anger that so many people feel this morning.
The Earth needs us all.