Nov. 3, 2020: The U.S. presidential election – is the deadline... If Trump is re-elected, the prospects for the necessary national and global cuts in carbon pollution by 2030 will be gone... If he is able to continue his climate-destroying policies into a second term, (it) may make avoiding that point of no return all but impossible." – widely respected longtime climate blogger Joe Romm
An open letter to the southeast Ohio Sanders campaign:While the push and pull of this presidential campaign has played out before our eyes and now runs smack into the coronavirus pandemic, we dare not forget that another colossal threat to human health and welfare is looming before us. As frightening as this pandemic has been, we cannot allow it to block our view of the ultimate danger that those systems which sustain all life on earth may soon be decimated under the weight of a full climate meltdown.
The words "tipping point" have been used so often in association with the climate crisis that some have become de-sensitized. Their implications for the human race are so vast that we can only grasp a fleeting glimpse. Yet the unfeeling and unstoppable laws of physics march on, and if our political process does not catch up, the collapse of civilization is not a theoretical possibility but rather a guarantee.
Our perceptual difficulty relates not only to the scale but also to the concept of finality. Once that point is crossed, the good will of every person who has fought for climate sanity will be to no avail. We will struggle to relieve the suffering of millions who lack adequate water and food and desperately migrate only to find themselves trapped in a closing circle. Life will descend into a hellish spiral of death as the "hothouse earth" syndrome kicks in, and those who witness this will be powerless to alter its course.
While overwhelmingly grim, we are forced to face this reality because we are right now already at the precipice. There has been a dangerous misunderstanding about how much time we have to change direction. Both former VP Joe Biden and Sen. Sanders refer to the year 2030 as a "deadline" set by the international science community (the IPCC). Sanders has stated that "we must act within 10 years to prevent irreparable damage to the earth,"and Biden has done the same.
But the impression given – that humanity has "10 years" in which to make this shift – is in fact quite wrong. The science report is saying that 2030 is the deadline by which a certain level of emission reduction must already be achieved in order to block tipping points. In order to do so, the much more ambitious reduction process must be started now – which translates to this presidential election.
This is the reality that drives the imperative need for Sanders supporters to bring their precious passion and tenacity to the political battle which – if measured by its level of potential consequences to human life – is the most important in history.
Many Sanders supporters chose to "sit out" the last battle against Trump. Perhaps some choices were made on the assumption that Hillary Clinton was going to win. But we now see the unspeakable tragedy that resulted.
Unfortunately, Biden has been stereotyped. Out of fairness, Sanders supporters are invited to hear his position directly without any intermediary. Biden’s five-minute climate videoshould be viewed. Also important is to look at the issue of basic moral character by viewing Biden's town-hall response to an African0American minister whose wife was murdered by a white supremacist.
Biden agreeswith the basic framework of a Green New Deal. He agreesthat the wealth of the upper 1 percent must be redistributed. He agreesthat universal health care is a fundamental human right and not a privilege.
It is true there are differences on details. But this must not blind us to how far the Democratic Party as a whole has moved and the tremendous contrast between this stance and that of the Republican Party. And this time, the gaping disparity on climate is fatal. There is an opportunity to bring Biden further along in understanding how close we are to the cliff. But there is no such chance with a Trump, who is blind and deaf to the emergency.
“The eyes of the future are looking back at us, and they are praying for us to see beyond our own time.” – Terry Tempest Williams
The Sanders campaign faces a supreme moral dilemma. If it stands back from this election battle and the worst happens, those struggling to survive on a hellish, decimated planet will demand answers to these heart-wrenching questions:
Whydid you turn away from an essentially certain victory bringing climate protection and from doing everything humanly possible to remove Trump when you knew that the cost of defeat could well be loss of the last chance to prevent the tipping point to catastrophe? How could you take any kind of gambleon how that election might turn out when the losers of that gamble would be us – your children and all future generations? Whydid you not have the humility and moral courage to set aside your ideological purity if it meant you could have saved our world?
Will you be able to look into their eyes? How will you answer?
Editor’s note: Gary "Spruce" Houser authored the first ballot measure in the country to challenge "corporate personhood" (supported by Ralph Nader), has helped catalyze several green energy projects in Ohio, and is now producing climate documentaries for the Point of No Return Media Project aimed at impacting media coverage.