Global warming requires immediate action by the United States -- the most wasteful, polluting country on the planet. And, sorry folks, this action will require major lifestyle adjustments that will shake up the very foundation of government as we now understand it.
Throughout the Clinton and Bush administrations, global climate change has been ignored, given mere lip service, or has been actively challenged and misrepresented by the highest levels of government. Politicians are beholden to their corporate benefactors -- especially corporations that produce or depend upon oil -- so politicians tend to appease these corporations and bow to their desire to discredit global warming as legitimate science.
Some may argue that the damage has already been done and that the dire effects of global warming cannot be stopped. This may well be true. But the United States has a responsibility to the world to take the lead and make the sacrifices necessary to reduce greenhouse gases as much as possible.
First, we need to understand that the interests of the planet must take precedence over the national interest and, especially, over the corporate interest. We must begin producing all-electric and vegetable-oil-based vehicles and phasing out the gas-powered combustion engine for all but vehicles that can run on biodiesel or a similar vegetable-based fuel. We must also phase out coal-fired power plants and dangerous nuclear power plants and replace them with clean solar, wind and hydroelectric power generating plants. This will require that auto manufacturers be willing to produce those vehicles for the public good rather than for their own private profit. It will also require hundreds of new factories to build commercial-grade solar panels, wind generators, blades, and so on. Gas stations will have to begin selling vegetable-based fuel and converting to battery charging stations. This must become the number one priority in the country and citizens may be inconvenienced for years.
Now, let's back up a little. None of this is going to happen without a fundamental change in the way we allow our government to operate, without an all-out war on global warming. Obstructionist, pandering politicians of any party must be booted out. The American people -- not the government -- need to claim our role as the real decision-makers in this nation. We need to understand that corporations, operating for profit under an unregulated free market, are not going to address global warming in a timely fashion and on the scale needed. Never. But we need to set goals and create a series of five-year plans right now. Tomorrow may be too late.
This war on global warming will need to divert funds from the massive military budget in order to make it happen. There will not be any outsourcing to China or anywhere else and every sector of society must be involved in one way or another. In all likelihood, the oil companies -- which are now the driving force behind the war in Iraq -- will be nationalized in the public interest to ensure that oil is available throughout this societal transformation. Prices may rise and rationing may occur at some point, so the new war on global warming will most impact those of us who are around at the beginning of this transformation.
This is a planetary emergency and nothing is going to be done about it unless the citizens of the United States take the lead and force the societal changes necessary to accomplish it. This nation has the ingenuity, the work ethic, and resources to get it done, and there is no reason why we cannot create full employment, national health care, and a living wage for all in the process. But we need a collective consciousness, not political polarization and self-interest. If we cannot achieve that, then there is no hope of reducing greenhouse gas emissions on the rapid scale needed to offset climate change.
We need people -- like Molly Ivins said in her final column before her death -- we need people out in the streets banging pots and pans. We need tens of thousands of people living in a tent city on the National Mall in Washington, D.C, inconveniencing the normal routine of Congress. We need sit-down strikes. We may even need general strikes to disrupt business-as-usual throughout the country. This is serious, folks. It's do or die.