Consensus Comes out of Catastrophe, Unfortunately

In The New York Times, John Broder makes a simple point that deserves repeating:

It sometimes seems that it takes a catastrophe to create consensus. The Great Depression, Pearl Harbor and Sept. 11 all shattered partisan divisions and led, at least for a time, to enhanced presidential power and a rush of bipartisan lawmaking (some of which political leaders later came to regret). Today, however, the partisan chasm in Washington is deeper than it has been in 100 years, according to some academic studies, as moderate blocs in both parties have all but vanished.

“Remember,” said Thomas E. Mann, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, “these are really big problems and they’re really tough. Solving them is going to involve some major changes in the way we live, the way we tax ourselves, the way we get our health care and the way we transport ourselves.”


Even the relatively new issue of global warming has been batted around since 1988, when Al Gore began talking about its potentially dire effects. Now, despite a foot-high stack of proposed legislation on the subject, virtually nothing has been done.

Mr. Gore said it was extremely difficult to move the political system when it is paralyzed by partisan passion and beset by well-financed and well-organized interests. He refers to the combination of the oil, coal and automobile industries as the “carbon lobby,” which he said is very difficult to defeat.

Washington, he said, has also failed to act on global warming for much the same reason that it has not tackled the possible future insolvency of Social Security or the problem of 45 million Americans who lack health insurance. “There’s just garden-variety denial,” he said. “It’s unpleasant to think about and easy to push it off.”

So, unfortunately, this set of facts argues that we must see a climate change catastrophe before we will see real action to reduce the risks of global warming. I wish it were otherwise, but I think this is the truth. What kind of catastrophe will it take, is the next obvious question…

One thought on “Consensus Comes out of Catastrophe, Unfortunately

  1. So so true. Nothing will really be done about climate change, unfortunately, until it is too late. One pundit calls this our “collective hominid suicide event,” what we are going through now, and nothing will change things, until a major disaster hits the Earth, maybe 300 years from now, maybe sooner, perhaps 500 years or 1000 years, but it will happen, and it is prolly too late even now to stop what the CO2 emissions spigot gusher has started. Alas, we are most likely doomed. Not this generation. life will go on, new brand items, new pop stars, new poets, new singers, for another 30 generations maybe, but one day, all this will stop. We are done for. And we won’t make a collective effort to change things until it is too late, and by all accounts it is already too late. And I am an optimist, most of the time. look at me now, mom!
    TITLE: waterkoeler
    BLOG NAME: waterkoeler
    DATE: 06/17/2007 01:06:20 PM
    Hi, good post, waterkoelers Flevoland


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