Posted by: ericgrimsrud | May 8, 2021

Biden’s FDR-like leadership on climate change

In his recent address to the joint chambers of congress, it was most refreshing to hear President Biden declare that his administration will put a very high priority on combating the relentless advance of global warming. This constitutes a great improvement over the expressed goals of all previous presidents and especially those of Biden’s predecessor.

As we all know, however, the passage of progressive legislation concerning this issue will be strongly opposed by the powerful fossil fuel lobbies. We have already seen some efforts along these lines by various Republican legislators and I will describe one of these below that is indicative of the tactics Biden’s adversaries will use.

All components of our economic system will have to allow its greenhouse gas emissions to be assessed, of course, and this includes our agricultural sector in which the huge beef industry resides. And it is well known that the production of beef is extremely carbon intensive relative to the production of plant-based foods. In spite of this fact, President Biden has not yet revealed any specific suggestions for addressing agriculture’s contributions to global warming. The high carbon footprint of beef production is, indeed, difficult to deal with due to the popularity of beef among the public as well as its producers. For this reason, I suspect that the Biden team is already discussing this issue with all concerned parties including the representatives of both the ranching and farming industries. 

In spite of Biden’s careful approach, his adversaries are already providing Fox-news-like misinformation on this topic by claiming that Biden is actively trying to deny Americans their beloved hamburgers and steaks. The GOP’s reason for this misrepresentation is undoubtedly to encourage the beef lobby to add their support to the fossil fuel lobby as soon as possible so that they can prevent timely actions concerning greenhouse gas emissions – before discussions are given a chance to find clarity, resolution, and points of compromise. Food production is, after all, a huge industry in which a multitude of options are continuously being discovered.    

The tactic described above is frequently used by the climate change inactivists. Instead of addressing the central question of whether or not some specific changes are feasible in order to combat global warming, they skip that part and exaggerate the difficulties that some needed actions might possibly present. However, when a literal “war” is required in order to effectively address a problem, unpopular, but necessary, changes will sometimes have to be made. When WWII was forced on us by Japan and Germany in 1941, for example, we immediately took the actions that were required – even though those actions would result in the deaths of many young Americans whose lives were just beginning and who had done nothing to create the problem. We reluctantly did that, however, in order to fight that all-out war by the most effective means possible. And, if you think that the war against global warming is going to be any less challenging than that fought against our opponents in WWII, you are mistaken.

Prior to the forcing event of Pearl Harbor in December of 1941, Franklin D. Roosevelt, had been in a very difficult spot politically. He couldn’t declare war on Germany at that time even though Germany was overrunning most of our traditional allies throughout Europe. FDR was boxed in largely because of the popular “America First” movement of the USA that insisted we not send our boys off to another European war. So instead, FDR got the Lend Lease program started and did his best to prepare the American public for what he knew lay ahead.

Our current President Biden is now walking a similar tightrope. While he knows that a full-fledged war against global warming will be required, he has to proceed with considerable caution so that he retains sufficient support from the public. That is a difficult task, indeed, that is not at all helped by the business-as-usual inactivists of today.

Needless to say, I am extremely proud of President Biden for courageously taking on this most difficult leadership role. In doing so, he will have a very tough row to hoe because of the technical and political problems he is sure to encounter. He could have easily avoided this greatest of all problems, as most of his predecessors did, but he didn’t because he realizes that we simply must finally face the reality of our greatest existential threat, just as FDR did in the 1940’s. We now have a President who is willing to lead this absolutely essential quest. Many thanks for that Mr. President!! All of us should now join him in his effort to pass a livable world on to future generations.


Responses

  1. Well written as always Eric, I hope that your efforts don’t fall on deaf ears. I agree that we finally have a Climate Champion in the White House now and at least the , “ climate “, no pun intended is much better to be able to stop the carbon emitters before it’s too late. Your post are very instructive as to the root causes and easy to ingest even to those not as familiar with the science of Climate Change. Thank You!!

  2. I wonder what the defining event will be for our Climate Change battle – what will be our Climate Pearl Harbor?

    • Hi Janet, A defining moment could be caused by Antarctic ice sliding into the ocean. It’s western ice sheet is thought to be susceptible. This could cause sea levels to rise quickly about 4 feet,

  3. The science/technology community needs to be challenged and paid to find energy that can be sold below the cost of coal. Maybe then China and India will join the U.S. and reduce carbon emissions. Can we find another word for nuclear? Sweden calls it karnkraft. Eric asked Biden, where is the beef? I ask, where is the karnkraft? Wind and solar won’t be enough to replace fossil fuels. Biden’s pitch is about jobs. However, jobs isn’t the goal. We need low cost energy that replaces coal and fossil fuels. The battle is about price. Lower the price of energy and the problem will be solved.


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