By Dave Casey
The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, led to America’s entry into World War II. President Franklin Roosevelt famously described Dec. 7, 1941 as “a date that will live in infamy.” Roosevelt, our 32nd president, was elected to four terms in office from 1932 to 1945. He led the nation out of the Depression of the 1930s. Then he led a nationwide mobilization that helped win the war and changed our country forever.
National Mobilization – World War II
A visit to the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park on the waterfront in Richmond is an opportunity to learn how the federal government planned and implemented a national wartime mobilization effort. The mobilization touched everyone, everywhere. For instance, it included thousands of children collecting metal and rubber, gas and food rationing. People across the country planted “victory” gardens. Moreover, American men and women leaving their homes and moving across the country to build airplanes, ships, tanks and jeeps to help the war effort. It was the largest migration in American history.
This successful mobilization did not just happen on its own, nor was it a grassroots effort. The United States Office of War Information (OWI) led the mobilization effort. Through radio broadcasts, newspapers, posters, photographs, films and other forms of media, the OWI was key to connecting the battlefront to the home front and to mobilizing the nation.
National and Global Mobilization – The Covid-19 Pandemic
Currently, the world is mobilizing to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Many countries are taking action and imposing national rules and guidelines to reduce the spread of the infection. The United States has mobilized at the state and county levels, but without national leadership.
The result is a disjointed and piecemeal approach. For example, each state is acting independently. Then, each county interprets state guidance separately. Moreover, school districts develop individual plans for returning to the classroom safely.
People and governments can mobilize when faced with a crisis, an enemy or a pandemic. The successful World War II mobilization was a national effort led by the federal Office of War Information. The current mobilization for the pandemic lacks leadership at the national level. As a result, over a quarter of a million Americans have died.
Global and National Mobilizing to Fight Climate Change
So, how about mobilizing to fight climate change? Can Americans mobilize state by state to avoid extreme weather, wildfires, floods, droughts, sea-level rise and other challenges to our health, safety and well-being? Can we successfully act, county by county, to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases? Are cities able to take steps that effectively remove existing pollutants from the atmosphere? Or do we need strong leadership at the national level?
The Biden/Harris transition team has stated it plans to rejoin the Paris Accord. Biden has also nominated John Kerry to a new Cabinet-level position focused on the climate crisis. Additionally, this suggests the new administration plans a national approach to address global warming and climate change. Hopefully, Kerry and the incoming administration will follow the successful example of the Office of War Information and effectively mobilize Americans, businesses and industries nationwide to reduce global warming.
The challenge to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases and to remove existing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere is a global challenge and requires national mobilization from all countries of the world, including ours.
Courtesy of the Rossmoor News, Dec. 9, 2020. Email Dave Casey at firstname.lastname@example.org