“Today we need a Rachel Carson moment, one that will wake up the masses to understand that climate change is THE primary challenge of our time. Leaders from both parties need to work in tandem to offer American citizens an emergency climate change adjustment plan. Nothing less than the salvation of Earth as we know it is at stake.” ~ Douglas Brinkley
It only lasted a brief two minutes. And far from prime time, it came close to the end of the program, just before a series of pharmaceutical, movie and financial commercials that occupied even more air time (2 minutes 30 seconds). Still, I credit CBS Sunday Morning on a busy political news week for including a climate change segment at all. Most media outlets over the past four decades never paid due diligence to reporting on what presidential historian Douglas Brinkley rightly refers to as “THE primary challenge of our time.”
In his new book, The Silent Spring Revolution, Mr. Brinkley chronicles the rise of environmental activism during the Long Sixties, (1960-1973). It is the story of how the natural world was spared under the presidencies of John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon. Rachel Carson’s bombshell book Silent Spring, published in 1962 launched an eco-revolution that ultimately inspire landmark legislation during Lyndon Johnson’s and Richard Nixon’s presidencies.
No doubt the impending release of the new book is what earned Mr. Brinkley his two minutes in front of the Sunday Morning camera. Standing before a backdrop of current videos of various climate related disasters and old tapes from the 1960’s of Rachel Carson recounting the health and environmental hazards of herbicides and pesticides, he shared this lament: “During our 2022 mid term elections, our climate chaos wasn’t elevated as a top voter concern. That disappointed me.”
That disappointment had been seeded by the newly released National Climate Assessment Draft Report which alarmingly reveals that the United States is warming 68% faster than the planet as a whole. [Note: This extreme warming is especially true for our northern most state of Alaska where average annual temperatures have increased by 3 degrees Fahrenheit and average winter temperatures by 6 degrees Fahrenheit compared to mid 20th century.]
And that lament was elicited by the knowledge that six decades ago both American political parties shared a common concern for the environment and the health of those who dwell therein, whereas now one party perpetuates the problem rather than working toward solutions. Thus his statement laced with concern and urgency:“Leaders from both parties need to work in tandem to offer American citizens an emergency climate change adjustment plan. Nothing less than the salvation of Earth as we know it is at stake.”
The legitimacy and urgency of that concluding statement should rattle the teeth and send a cold shiver up and down the spine of every Homo sapiens worthy of the intelligence and wisdom that designation implies. For it means that climate justice and all that it entails to achieve it must rise to the top of the list of concerns that motivate our voting and political involvement. It must trump everything else that bothers our comfort zone, fuels our passions and elicits our tribal loyalties. It should, as well, motivate every person bearing the designation of Christian to rethink the oft times limited understanding of the term ‘salvation’ and the breadth and depth of that all-time favorite Bible verse, John 3:16 (For God so loved the World…).
To preserve a livable planet that supports a diverse and thriving population of flora and fauna and to create a fully functioning and morally just democracy, the human family must find ways to work in tandem to offer all God’s creatures great and small an emergency climate change adjustment plan. For “nothing less than the salvation of Earth as we know it is at stake.”
Bottom line: The world needs another Rachel Carson moment (and on steroids) that will cause the masses to wake up and smell the roses… while there are still roses to smell.
[The Silent Spring Revolution is scheduled for release today, Tuesday, November 15.]