Ronald Reagan, the most beloved Republican president of our era, would act to avoid the oncoming train wreck that is climate change. Believe it or not.
That is the contention of George Shultz, Reagan's long-term Secretary of State, and by God, Shultz has data to back up his viewpoint. He writes (in the Washington Post this weekend) of his experience in the Reagan White House.
I am also impressed by an experience I had in the mid-1980s. Many scientists thought the ozone layer was shrinking. There were doubters, but everyone agreed that if it happened, the result would be a catastrophe. Under these circumstances, President Ronald Reagan thought it best not to argue too much with the doubters but include them in the provision of an insurance policy. With the very real potential for serious harm, U.S. industry turned on its entrepreneurial juices, and the Du Pont companydeveloped a set of replacements for the chemicals implicated in the problem along a reasonable time frame and at a reasonable cost. It came up with something that could be done then — not some aspirational plan for 2050. Action is better than aspiration. As matters turned out, the action worked and became the basis for the Montreal Protocol, widely regarded as the world’s most successful environmental treaty. In retrospect, the scientists who were worried were right, and the Montreal Protocol came along in the nick of time. Reagan called it a “magnificent achievement.”
We all know there are those who have doubts about the problems presented by climate change. But if these doubters are wrong, the evidence is clear that the consequences, while varied, will be mostly bad, some catastrophic. So why don’t we follow Reagan’s example and take out an insurance policy?
Good question, George. Thanks for asking. Now, please, go convince some important Republicans — maybe beginning with Jeb Bush?