Nobody will sacrifice for a cause that can’t succeed. This principle applies always and everywhere, from mundane tasks – you won’t dash for the grocery store if you cannot make it before they close – to the largest of world historical events – the French wouldn’t help America gain independence from England until convinced the colonies could win. This sensible principle explains a lot of our politics.

The Democrats’ budget reconciliation bill aims to reorient our economy toward fighting climate change, and to make corporations and the rich pay for it. The public supports both goals, in theory, but wants proof they can succeed. Any doubts about the reality or urgency of climate change have been put to rest by recent events: California fires killing giant redwood trees that have lived through a hundred fires before; floods on the gulf coast when flooding from the previous hurricane has barely receded; the shocking and bizarre heat wave in the Pacific northwest; droughts that may never end. People now see the danger and will make sacrifices to stop climate change – as they did to put a man on the moon, and to stop Nazism – but they need to know they can succeed.

The major obstacle to stopping climate change has always been foot dragging by the United States. The cause of that foot dragging is the political power of self-serving American corporations whose strategy has been to convince people resistance is futile: curbing our greenhouse gases is pointless without curbing China and India. It’s so expensive people will rebel before any good is accomplished. It just can’t be done.

We need to prove to ourselves and to the world that it can be done, that America can control its powerful special interests and take effective action. If the reconciliation bill gets weakened to a limp and conciliatory halfway gesture – just enough to look like action but without offending the mighty – the no-sacrifice-for-a-futile-gesture principle will kick in. Americans will think, “Someone should do something, but I’m not paying for it,” and the rest of the world will think, “Our efforts will be pointless, if the United States won’t help.”

The reconciliation dispute is not about whose priorities come first. It is about whether America can still accomplish anything that matters. People will sacrifice to save the planet, but only if they know we can succeed. Passing the bold and ambitious reconciliation bill will prove that we can.

Jerry Cayford

Brunswick

(11) comments

mikekoob

Thank you for this lte. Our efforts to save a habitable living planet are not futile. We must do it. We must defeat the fossil fuel industry's efforts to extend business as usual. They will burn us down otherwise.

gabrielshorn2013

How do you defeat the fossil fuel industry? Demand an alternative, and be willing to pay the price, whatever the cost, for that alternative. If demand for fossil fuels drop below what is profitable, they will stop producing it. However, people being people, there will always be a huge demand for it, hence, the production for your consumption.. Although the laptop you are using to write this comment is powered by electricity, there is a very good chance that electricity is being generated by burning fossil fuels (coal, oil, or natural gas). That is, unless you have a rooftop full of solar panels and a bank of AGM batteries in the basement.

MD1756

How does the LTE writer reconcile the policies in the bill that promote population growth which runs counter to fighting climate change and other significant problems caused by humans?

gabrielshorn2013

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

mrnatural1

Excellent question MD. [thumbup][thumbup]

Dwasserba

“The major obstacle to stopping climate change has always been foot dragging by the United States.”

NewMarketParent

The US government definitely needs to reign in powerful interests. We are closer than we have ever been to authoritarianism because powerful interests have convinced 1/3rd of the US population that:

1. Cigarettes are safe

2. Climate Change isn't real

3. Solar and wind energy aren't sustainable

The old saying is that Americans always do the right thing after having tried all other options.

We are fighting for the future of the planet and the human race. This is one case where we don't want to f)(* around and find out.

Blueline

World population 1920 - 2 Billion, 2020 - 8 Billion. The author is correct in that most do not want to sacrifice $3.5 Billion in a pork-laden futile gesture.

NewMarketParent

@Blueline

Wow.... way to throw up the white flag before the first shot is even fired.

gabrielshorn2013

NMP, the first shot was fired decades ago, along with dire warnings if we didn't change our tune. Most people didn't listen, or put any effort into changing, and well, here we are. Most folks will not make any kind of a change un less it directly affects them. As the consequences of climate change that were predicted decades ago become readily apparent, hopefully everyone will realize that they have "skin in the game" now too. Our demand for energy continues to climb, as does the population using that energy. Expecting "the other guy" to change when they won't change themselves gets us nowhere. To somebody else, we're "the other guy". I fear that we are already past the tipping point.

Greg F

It's hard to gain concessions and sacrifice from those who refuse to believe that a certain orange moron legitimately won the election....or had an ounce of moral fiber in his whole body.

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