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Redford writes: "I put my faith in young people to be a driving force in answering this challenge and maybe demanding that the childishness around climate change in Washington stop, immediately. They know their generation will pay the price if America doesn't start confronting climate change now."

Actor and environmental activist Robert Redford. (photo: Contour/Getty Images)
Actor and environmental activist Robert Redford. (photo: Contour/Getty Images)


American Determination and Climate Change

By Robert Redford, Reader Supported News

03 November 12

 

'm so struck with America's human spirit as Hurricane Sandy has left a trail of destruction in its wake, destroying homes and businesses and turning the lives of so many upside down. And yet people remain unbowed - New Yorkers and New Jerseyans, first responders, hospital workers, National Guard and countless others - are pulling together, as they always do, in the face of tragedy. And this would be the case whether or not a Presidential election were running in the background.

But elections are, indeed, running in the background of this human consequence and the inspiration we are seeing from countless citizens is exactly the kind of determination and collective responsibility we're going to need to fight climate change - the force that super-charged this "superstorm." It will take resourcefulness and grit to reduce the carbon pollution that's fueling these storms, but Hurricane Sandy proves once again we have it.

The question is: Will we use it?

Many lawmakers and fossil fuel companies don't want us to unleash America's ingenuity on the problem of climate change. Oil, gas, and coal companies have spent more than $150 million on campaign ads in this election, and their talking points are echoed on the campaign trail.

Nearly every contender for the GOP's presidential nomination denied climate change and called for more dirty fuels. Mitt Romney - who supported climate action when he was governor of Massachusetts - has joined the crowd. At the Republican National Convention, he mocked President Obama's promise to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet.

Romney's comment drew laughs in the conventional hall. But there was nothing funny about being in New York or New Jersey when Hurricane Sandy's storm surge breeched seawalls and swamped entire neighborhoods. This is what I find so troubling about climate deniers. By ignoring the scientific facts, they dishonor the human suffering brought on by climate change.

So far, more than 90 people died in this storm. Eight million people were without power. Thousands lost their homes. Hurricanes have always been a part of life on the Atlantic Coast, but climate change is pumping storms with more moisture and increasing their destructive power. It is turning 100-year-storms into frighteningly routine events. And unless we reduce global warming pollution, more families will experience the anguish and fear of living through powerful storms.

The true measure of climate change isn't taken in Congress or in pseudo-scientists' debates. It is taken in the communities torn apart by extreme weather. New Yorkers who saw the waters rise this week - and the Midwestern farmers who watched their crops die and Colorado residents who looked on as their houses burned this summer - remind us that climate change is about people, and our connection to nature's rule, not the weather.

Fortunately more leaders are recognizing the threat climate change poses to our towns and cities. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo made the connection clear from the start this week. "I think part of learning from [Hurricane Sandy] is the recognition that climate change is a reality. Extreme weather is a reality. It is a reality that we are vulnerable." Cuomo and other officials are discussing measures to protect their communities from future storm surges and floods.

These are important steps, but we must also attack the problem at its source: carbon pollution. We know how to power our economy with clean, renewable energy that doesn't run out and doesn't pollute. President Obama has presided over the largest increase in renewable energy in our nation's history. He has also issued new fuel economy standards that will cut carbon emissions from new cars in half and save drivers $1.7 trillion at the pump.

On Thursday, New York Mayor Bloomberg endorsed Obama, citing Hurricane Sandy, climate change, and the need for presidential leadership. Governor Romney, meanwhile, opposes those standards and wants to end wind incentives. If he becomes president, no doubt we can expect a surge in fossil fuels pollution and more climate paralysis.

We will continue to have hurricanes and floods no matter who gets elected on Tuesday. But I hope that we are maybe seeing the fierce partisanship around the mother of all environmental issues - climate change - thawing as Republicans and Democrats face the wrath of nature arm in arm, with the exception of course, of Mitt Romney - who continues to deny there is a problem and backs it up with anything he feels will play well for him.

I put my faith in young people to be a driving force in answering this challenge and maybe demanding that the childishness around climate change in Washington stop, immediately. They know their generation will pay the price if America doesn't start confronting climate change now.

 

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-34 # Uranus 2012-11-03 19:20
I don't want to spoil this discussion, and mean no disrespect. I subscribed to the global warming/climate change theory for two generations.

It seemed good enough, but now I see it was never true, still isn't, and we'd better figure it out.

Carbon pollutants? Faith in young people? It will take lots of pulling on better handles than that to fix the problem of weather used as a weapon.

Burning coal and oil isn't good, but it isn't the cause of the last 50 years of brutal weather. Extreme heat, cold, drought, and flooding are caused by men at control panels running unregulated transmitters. All the time, everywhere.

It's a sad, hard thing to accept. I watched Sandy on weather radar: fake, fake, fake.
 
 
+8 # ruttaro 2012-11-03 23:52
Uranus,
Your comments have to be satircal but a lot of people won't see it that way. It's a little too out there, you know, as past Pluto. It has to be satire, right? Please tell us it is so! Other wise, you are talking out of "uranus".
 
 
0 # Uranus 2012-11-04 13:32
I was never more serious. It's taken thousands of hours of study and observation to come to that conclusion, and it wasn't easy.

It isn't easy to tell other people, and it isn't easy to write about it, knowing people don't study it and don't seem to think it matters.

We are suffering endless drought where I live. I'm in the process of cutting down a big oak tree that died for lack of water. With three days' work, my helper and I are about half finished. I'm constantly reminded of extreme weather, and refuse to be silent.

You haven't done one second of reading, and my time is wasted asking you to try harder.
 
 
+8 # NOMINAE 2012-11-04 02:23
@ Uranus

Dear Sir, I would like to suggest that you get back on your meds as soon as possible.
 
 
+1 # Uranus 2012-11-04 13:37
What an easy dodge. I get that same baloney when I talk about free extraction electricity, always from people who can't tell you who invented alternating current or discuss the invention of the electric generator.

I may be flipped out, but that doesn't mean I'm wrong about this. Redford gets a platform because he talks to globalist agenda.

I'm willing to write members of Congress and beg them to regulate the operation of these transmitters, and sign my real name. Are you? One more thing...

...thank heaven for Reader Supported News, the original Truthout and still the best, as relevant an interactive news site as any in the world. On that, we can agree.
 
 
+1 # Uranus 2012-11-04 14:25
More money is spent keeping this technology secret than the trillions that were spent developing it, so it isn't common knowledge. It remains wrongfully classified.

Global warming and the greenhouse effect were well accepted theories in the 1960s, and repetition has cemented them in all our minds.

"Get back on your meds" is a hallmark debunker troll statement. Widely accepted theories aren't automatically factually accurate.

Ken Burns' PBS film about the dust bowl is about to debut, and he'll tell you the phenomenon was caused by PLOWING. That is a widely accepted theory, but it wasn't the cause, and when you think about it, the theory doesn't make sense. Likewise, it doesn't make sense drought and hurricanes are caused by auto exhaust.
 
 
+7 # Helen 2012-11-04 01:26
Already five years ago in Leonardo DiCaprio's documentary "The 11th Hour," leading scientists and thinkers warned us of the scientific realities which we are facing. Since then, there has been far too much childishness, as Redford puts it, much of it intensified by the mainstream media's rush to "balance" scientific evidence with arguments from deniers with political or financial interests in fossil fuels. Our public needs to hear honest, straightforward explanations of the connection between fossil-fueled global warming and the increasingly frequent and extreme weather events occurring world-wide. Our leaders need to create policies based the Genuine Progress Index rather than limited economic indicators like the GDP. How many more disasters will occur before they do?
 
 
+9 # sameasiteverwas 2012-11-04 01:41
To me the most encouraging thing this week is that I heard climate change mentioned seriously, without equivocation, on three separate news networks. A need for updated infrastructure (buried power lines -- two different shows brought this up), a graph of how named storms have increased over the last thirty years, and serious discussion over NOT building or living so close to the waterline in the future. It felt good to hear people talk about climate change without the somehow obligatory snark the subject usually engenders when it is mentioned at all by mainstream media. I am sorry it took so much death and destruction to make it happen. And we must keep the discussion alive, and not let it die away in the next news cycle. So, thank you, Mr. Redford, for doing just that.
 
 
+6 # Milarepa 2012-11-04 01:53
Thank you, Robert Redford, but haven't we gone past the point of no return? To put the brakes on Mother Nature's angry juggernaut would require instant action on a global scale. That simply can't happen. Sandy was a terrible appetizer. The main dishes are still to come, probably rather sooner and even less palatable than later. Even defensive action, like abandoning low-lying coastal areas, is not doable. So we'll just have to take whatever comes along. Ain't no way this ain't gonna get worse fast, sir.
 
 
+3 # mdhome 2012-11-04 15:30
I have to agree, even if everybody agreed that climate change is happening and we can do something about it, it will take so much time to stop it we will experience much worse/more often, before it begins to change. There is so much greenhouse gas under the perma-frost that will soon be released throwing the self regulating switch into the danger zone.Hang it is going to be a helluva ride.
 
 
+2 # tclose 2012-11-05 14:41
Further increase of CO2 emissions and resulting average global temperature increase will makes things worse - so any improvement that mankind can make, globally or country by country is worthwhile. Yes, damage has been done and we will have to take what comes along, but we can also make it better for the future than it would otherwise be.
 
 
+4 # seeuingoa 2012-11-04 04:46
And don´t forget that 2012 Sandy
was just the foreplay.

The real f...ing starts in
2013 2014 2015 ........

Have you noticed that all politicians
when talking about what we can do
against other Sandies in the future,
talk about technologies like
flood walls, barriers, and higher under-
ground entries !

What is needed is not technology but
a change of mind !

Vote Jill Stein / Green Party and be
able to see your grandchildren in the
eyes without feeling embarrassed.
 
 
0 # WolfTotem 2012-11-04 06:27
"I put my faith in young people to be a driving force in answering this challenge."

I too. It's precisely because the issue's so much bigger than any other that people cannot get their minds around it.

Nevertheless, I want to draw attention here to another dark facet of human destructiveness . I hope Robert Redford, too, gets the message:

MIDWAY

THIS CONCERNS OUR WHOLE CULTURE OF DEATH. SPECIFICALLY, A HUGE SPIN-OFF FROM BIG OIL.

PLEASE SEND AND POST IT EVERYWHERE. ESPECIALLY WHEREVER ANYONE WHO CARES ABOUT LIFE AND EARTH’S FUTURE IS LIKELY TO FIND IT. BUT, NO LESS, BRING IT TO THE ATTENTION OF THOSE WHO DON’T KNOW AND DON’T CARE.

AND WATCH THE FILM. MIDWAY - THE NAME SHOULD EVOKE FOR ALL AMERICANS A GREAT TURNING POINT IN MODERN HISTORY. WATCH. THINK. AND ACT ON IT.

TOWARDS A TURNING POINT IN WORLD HISTORY!

http://www.midwayfilm.com/
 
 
+2 # seeuingoa 2012-11-04 07:24
Sandy 2012 was just the foreplay.

The real thing happening starts
in 2013 2014 2015 ....

WAKE UP PLEASE !
 
 
0 # handmjones 2012-11-04 07:50
India doubled their population in 25 years at the time of the 'Green' revolution, which is totally dependent on fossil fuels. They are now totally dependent. We buy them a million windmills?
China is now a huge emitter of GHG based on fossil fuel used in the huge advance in their lifestyle and prosperity. Another million windmills?
Let's see that's about $6 trillion.
Oh and Africa is expanding quickly and has lots of O&G. How much to buy them off?
If you use totally green energy for agriculture rice growing, fish farming and animal husbandry still give off massive amounts of methane so we must give up eating.
Even then nature will defeat your puny efforts. The tundra will go on melting back and giving off massive amounts of methane and now it's bubbling out of the seas and the exposed Arctic ocean is now absorbing.
Relax - enjoy - apres nous le deluge!
 
 
+4 # WolfTotem 2012-11-04 11:33
"We buy them a million windmills?"

We? The Indians and Chinese are big boys, they'll build their own. See http://www.gwec.net/ etc.

Tata is bringing out a compressed air town vehicle. I don't quite see the prototype pregnant roller skate in New Delhi - how to breathe in it for a start? Still... http://www.theatlanticcities.com/commute/2012/08/forget-electric-cars-one-runs-compressed-air/2967/

But my main objection to your comment is dead simple: its masochistic defeatism.

The proud land of CAN DO has fast declined into the fatalistic home of CAN'T DO, WON'T DO - NAH!!! BIG OIL sings that song in a macho bass and "we the people" squeak along with 'em. No, it's not just Nature we can't resist. When gang-rape by BP, EXXON et al is inevitable, we say relax - enjoy...

How pathetic.

Maybe we ARE too late. If the Titanic hadn't tried to steer clear, it might have hit the iceberg head on, and survived. Likewise perhaps Costa Concordia. But while we're still living, we can at least TRY to change course.

ALL THOSE USELESS TRILLIONS OFFSHORE, FUELING THE FINANCIAL CASINO'S INCESTUOUS GAMES. ALL THE HUGE SUBSIDIZED PROFITS FROM BIG OIL POLLUTION, AND YOU DON'T TELL ME THE INDUSTRY HASN'T THE MEANS TO INVEST IN CLEANER ENERGIES.

NO, IT'S CAN'T, WON'T! AND LET 'EM FRY!
 
 
+6 # tbcrawford 2012-11-04 12:21
We owe our young people enormous apologies. Another natural disaster hand in hand with global warming is agricultural pollution as transgeneticall y (across different species) engineered seeds replace those we've had for centuries. Of course, with increasing climate change, eventually nothing will grow.
 
 
0 # jazzrin 2012-11-05 06:57
hello!
i am writing from germany.
by "coincident" i found this nice article.
i feel that,what ,mr.redford says is really true !!!thanks!!!
all i can add is:
we must understand that we will kill ourselfs,if we go on with ignoring our emotions . we must connect ourselfs with true happiness and inner-joy and " just be" !when we, one by one, start to remember ,how perfect we are ,who we are in our essence in our heart,we hopefully will stop with the system of power(that we created once)!
there are storms on the planet and inner -storms inside of our bodys.where does, so called, "burnout" comes from?
the industrie etc.keeps us busy:be that ,be this ,be succsessfull,bu y this ,buy that,must have this and that...we are so confused .we must go back to love ourselfs and let go the fear of failing ,or having not enough or being not enough.
i feel that
storms and catastrophe also representing what is going on inside of us(physically and emotionally).
when each of us starts to remember how it feels just to LIVE,to BE ,it will have an amazing influence on EVERYTHING!!
it will also have an influence on the people who are doing politics.
If they make politic with their hearts,if people learn to make business with heart ,i imagine a healing and a YES to alternative,fre e energie will be there fast! there is a wonderful movie to it:la belle verte.
Imagine Yourself ,Playing ,laughing,being FREE from outside preassure and stress. I start with myself ,seriously.
 
 
0 # Uranus 2012-11-06 20:21
Robert Redford's heart and mind are in the right place. I saw a poll the other day that showed "climate change" is not a pivitol issue in the election cycle.

Redford reminds us it's an extremely important issue, and for that I'm glad.

Oklahoma and Texas have had many decades of extreme to exceptional drought. It may become hard to have water in these states in the near future. Places in Texas have been having trouble with that for several years. That's important if it's happening at your house.

Understanding this crucial subject and encouraging others to be active is critically important. We don't have time to be complacent.
 

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