By Dave and Amanda Casey
In 1941, the world faced unfathomable horror as war enveloped the globe. The United States, an enemy of fascism, was temporarily protected by its isolation from Europe and Asia. But, Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) and Congress recognized the wave of death and destruction coming in the wake of Hitlerism. They called for Americans to mobilize and unite to help our allies.
The Lend-Lease law, enacted in March 1941, formally began the mobilization. Then, the wave crossed the Pacific Ocean. The Japanese killed more than 2,400 Americans at Pearl Harbor. The U.S. entered the war and all its people doubled down, ultimately defeating the Axis powers.
A Crisis Bigger than World War II
Today, the world faces a different but equally unfathomable horror. Climate change is enveloping the globe. World War II killed more than 70 million people. Today’s horror, left undefeated, will kill many more than that. Indeed, climate change is already causing more devastation globally than the Axis powers did. Rising oceans, deadly hurricanes and devastating fires make the damage from Hitler’s Luftwaffe (air force) look insignificant in comparison.
Sadly, our national leadership hasn’t been acting like FDR and Congress did in 1941. Instead, the current government has undermined the Environmental Protection Agency. It has rolled back automobile emission standards, encouraged burning more dirty coal and dropped out of the 2015 Paris Agreement.
It’s the people that really count. In 1941, Americans sacrificed in big and small ways to save this nation and the world. People rushed to fill jobs in the mobilization effort, even relocating across the country. People walked and biked more as gas was rationed. They travelled less and stayed home more. People cut milk and meat from diets, and planted thousands of “Victory Gardens” to take their place.
Shared Sacrifice Led to Shared Gain
The nation’s emergency mobilization brought unforeseen benefits. Progress on racial and gender equality was integral to America’s success. African American men and women were an integral part of the war effort, both at home and overseas. Native Americans transmitted critical battle plans, untranslatable by the enemy. More than five (5) million women joined the workforce for the first time. New jobs were created, and everyone contributed. The U.S. came out of WWII stronger than it was when it went in.
So hope is not lost. In response to the lack of national action, many cities and counties have declared a climate emergency. They are mobilizing to address the clear and imminent danger.
Today, you see signs of the global climate emergency on the nightly news regularly. Yet, you may wonder if the emergency is real, because some leaders and other members of your community not reacting. You may think that it will not affect you or your children and grandchildren.
Indeed, social science experiments have shown that if authority figures ignore an emergency nearly everyone else will, too. However, it’s time for the people to lead and for local action to spur global action. The people defeated Hitler, and we can defeat the climate emergency.
To address the global climate emergency, people need to acknowledge the clear and imminent danger of continued greenhouse gas emissions. We must collectively abandon our “normal mode” of (in)action. Abandon the leadership of those who ignore the danger, and immediately mobilize as individuals, employees, business owners and voters.
Mobilizing Locally to Act Globally
Contra Costa County’s Sustainability Commission has drafted a Climate Emergency Resolution (CER). If adopted by the Board of Supervisors, Contra Costa will join more than 1,000 local governments around the world declaring a climate emergency. Jurisdictions representing nearly a billion people – from big and medium-sized cities, like London and Sacramento, to little towns like Basalt, Colorado – have joined a massive movement. If passed, Contra Costa County’s CER will put the County on record in support of taking emergency action to reverse global warming. It will also initiate climate mobilization in the County and call for action at state, national and international levels. View reports about the CER by The Antioch Herald and Contra County Herald.
Climate mobilization calls for rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions no later than 2030, and immediate efforts to drawdown carbon from the atmosphere. It also includes a just transition for residents and workers, as well as accelerated adaptation and resiliency strategies. Learn more about Contra Costa County’s Climate Action Plan.
Americans need to mobilize to create a just and livable future. We need to exit “normal mode” and enter “emergency mode.” Today, that means residents of Contra Costa must urge their county supervisors and city council members to recognize the emergency and take urgent action. If we mobilize to defeat the climate emergency like we mobilized to defeat the Axis powers, then the U.S. will again come through victorious stronger than it was before.
Courtesy of the Rossmoor News, June 24, 2020. Email Dave and Amanda Casey at firstname.lastname@example.org