Sunday, August 12, 2012

Climate Crisis 1989: After the Warming

I wrote this piece in 2007 and never published (or posted) it anywhere before, to the best of my recollection.  But it belongs here both as part of this climate crisis awareness history and because it summarizes a television program that deserves to remain part of the dialogue: James Burke's After the Warming, which I quote from in the previous essay.  I'm happy to say that in 2012 it can be seen on YouTube, although not with the quality of the rare and at the moment unavailable DVD version.  I'm not happy to say that 5 years after I wrote this and 23 years after these 1989 warnings, the climate crisis is still not being addressed directly or with the appropriate urgency and scale. 

Nor that Dr. James Hansen, whose 1988 Senate testimony is mentioned, just referred to it in a Washington Post oped in which he says that in terms of its relationship to extreme weather, it's now worse than he thought back then.

We called it Greenhouse Summer. Chicago had seven days over 100 degrees F, and a string of 18 straight over 90. Pittsburgh had more than five times the average number of days above 90, making 1988 the hottest summer in a century. In more than 70 US cities, hot weather exacerbated lingering and dangerous air pollution.

With the heat came drought, especially in the Midwest and South, where it contributed to a 31% decline in the country’s grain harvest. In the West, forest fires lingered into autumn. Titanic fires in Yellowstone resulted from the worst heat, drought and wind conditions there in 300 years.

The phenomenon called the Greenhouse Effect and the predicted catastrophes of CO2-induced global heating were not new in 1988. The first research began in the 1950s, the first tentative conclusions were being drawn in the 1960s, including the possibility of apocalyptic consequences. Arthur C. Clarke mentioned it in a casual conversation with playwright Arthur Miller, as Miller noted. Kurt Vonnegut described the same theory we know today as told to him by a young visitor, in an article published before the first moon landing. By the first Earth Day in 1970, many of us just out of college knew about it.

It was the fact that it was a known theory that made people sit up and take notice in the hot summers of the late 1980s.  In the summer of 1988, NASA scientist James Hansen testified before the Senate that global warming was happening and was going to get worse unless countermeasures are taken.

Then in 1989 and 1990, the first spasm of articles and books came out (Bill McKibben’s The End of NatureDead Heat: The Race Against the Greenhouse Effect by Michael Oppenheimer and Robert H. Boyle.) I believe it was around then that one of the TV networks did a miniseries about it, similar to The Day After, though I don't know what it was called and haven't so far been able to find reference to it.

 But it was definitely in 1989 that James Burke made a two-part television program called After the Warming. (Officially it's dated 1990.) James Burke was known in the US for at least two fascinating and provocative television series seen on PBS, both relating the history of technological development to other aspects of history, such as politics, warfare, social change, even fashion. They were Connections and The Day the Universe Changed.

Burke was so good on television because he explained things simply, yet the connections he made were dazzling in their complexity. He was a lively, even aggressive presence, but engaging. You had to watch him. He came at the end of a short golden age for these series, beginning perhaps with Jacob Bronowski’s Ascent of Man. The most elaborate, most famous of them—and just about the last one—was Carl Sagan’s Cosmos. I don’t know when it was actually broadcast. I happened to see the second part, but it was only a few years ago, when I found the two-VHS tape set in the library, that I saw the whole thing.  It is revelatory in so many ways, and I’m now about to describe it in detail.

The premise of After the Warming is that Burke is speaking from the year 2050, when the world has changed enormously because of climate change. He is looking back on the past fifty years or so, describing how human civilization dealt with the challenge.

But the first 50 minutes goes back much further than that, to describe the influence of climate on human history---beginning with pre-history. Humans became human, Burke says, during the Ice Age, and perhaps because of it. Because game became scarcer, hunting was more complicated, and required cooperation and communication. Humans responded by inventing language. Because plants were scarcer, humans explored for food, and with sea water frozen and sea levels down in such areas as the Bering Straits, they were able to migrate farther.

  Then the planet warmed, the seas rose, and the populations of the Americas and Australia were separated from Europe and Asia. The warmer temperatures and abundance of water led to better growing, more population, the beginning of agriculture and cities. There was so much grain in Iraq in 7000 BC that a system of accounting was needed, so writing was invented.

In 3000 BC drought struck the prosperous area of Egypt. The Nile was the only reliable water source when it flooded, which led to developing systems of irrigation and a host of related innovation: “maps to design the irrigation network, surveying and engineering to lay it out, mud and straw bricks to build it, geometry to measure reservoir volume, metallurgy to make the tools, a calendar to get the river flood date right, management to run it all, tax collectors to cream off the profits, and a state bureaucracy to spend them.” That is, the basics of modern civilization, according to Burke.

Climate changes didn’t have to be global or even very large to have major effects. A change in rain patterns doomed the great civilization of Mycenae, where because of shifting cold air patterns, it didn’t rain for a hundred years. By 300 BC it was warm and moist again in Europe. The Alpine passes in northern Italy became open year round, allowing Rome to conquer the Mediterranean world. China seized the same sort of opportunity in its part of the world. Good weather opened up the “Silk Road” and sea routes, so these two superpowers began trading.

But in 500 AD, the global temperature went down. The Huns of central Asia suffered freezing drought, and invaded the south, displacing other “barbarians” who eventually overran the Roman Empire and ushered in the Dark Ages. A half century later, the temperature went up. Vikings colonized Greenland, where there was grass for sheep. Then it turned cold again in 1300. Greenland had no trees, and soon sea ice isolated it. By 1408, the last colony died out.

 The Little Ice Age gripped Europe in the 16th century, but in England, new technologies were developed to cope with it. Burke demonstrated the innovations of the new manor house: “Stone walls and gravel surround to keep out wet and mud, no more open colonnades and courtyards, steep roofs and guttering to handle a lot of rain, but in spite of the cold they put in big glass windows. New technology… changed their lives.” Like chimneys and fireplaces to heat up small rooms separately. Everyone no longer living around one central fire in a big common room. Those smaller rooms had tapestry, paneling, plasterwork and curtained beds to keep the warmth in and cold out. So now there was privacy. And with those private beds, romance. The chimney allowed for heated offices, so accounts could be kept all year, instead of stopping when the ink froze: more business. The cold meant more life lived indoors, and led to indoor entertainment, like making music.

Then came three decades of warming. With hot, moist summers and warm winters, crop yields in England were at historic highs. Food was cheaper, work was plentiful, and in these prosperous times, people had more children. More households created the need for more household goods. Here’s where Burke shines, with one of those very specific chains of circumstance and (perhaps) causality: the demand for more household goods included iron cooking pots. But to heat the iron to make the pots required wood, which was in dwindling supply. There was lots of coal, but impurities in it spoiled the iron—until someone figured out how to burn out the impurities, to make coke that would be used to make iron. It was at this point that James Watt figured out how to make a steam engine, but he needed high quality iron to make it work. Now he had it. The industrial revolution began—all because of improvement in the weather.

It is at this point that FutureBurke pauses to note the irony in iron: the growing populations and now the steam engine began the era of mass production, and expanding economies and populations. Europe needed more natural resources to keep the machines going, and so the era of colonization began. From coal-fed railroads to oil-fed cars and the next round of petroleum-based innovations—in an age of moderate climate—the cause of the next great climate change was literally being manufactured.

The second fifty minutes of After the Warming begins in our recent past, moves into what was the future in 1989 (when the show was made) but is now also in our past, and then into what is still the future.

Burke reviews the discovery of the CO2 based global warming phenomenon beginning in the late 1950s with the same experiments and measurements in Hawaii that Al Gore describes in An Inconvenient Truth. He described the early manifestations of heating, and the endless studies. He projects inaction into the future, into the 1990s.

But in his scenario, a series of devastating droughts resulting in hundreds of thousands starving in Third World countries, plus food shortages in the US, and a series of wars in the Middle East over oil, pushed the United States into finally supporting action on global warming…in the year 2000.

Think about this for a moment. There have been devastating droughts in Africa and Asia, and hundreds of thousands have died in wars and genocides (as in Darfur) that are likely related to them. There’s been drought in the American West for several years, though globalization has kept food supplies up in the US. And we’ve certainly had wars in the Middle East, though no one announces that they are about oil. Burke’s description may turn out to be how the historians describe our recent past. But we don’t allow ourselves to see it that way.

Burke next posits something startling, based on something that hasn’t happened—but might yet. In his year 2000, Pacific nations had become major powers, to the extent that they led the fight to address global heating. Burke named Japan, which probably seemed more reasonable in the 1980s than now. But how many decades are we from a China and perhaps an India so economically powerful that world leadership does fall to them?

In any case, Burke posits something that by the realities of our 21st century, we might well find incredible: a Planetary Management Authority to organize and enforce efforts to address global heating. The efforts themselves are familiar to us now, however strange they might have seen in 1989, like carbon trading. But there’s a twist in Burke’s history of the future that is just beginning to be talked about: how to get less developed nations into the process. Burke’s PMA manages a system in which advanced nations trade expertise for carbon use rights, as they cut their emissions. That expertise is applied to helping less developed nations become prosperous with clean technologies, as well as to create better health care and education.

The methods used to cut emissions are startlingly familiar: everything from the end of incandescent light bulbs to tax credits for energy efficiency and computer controlled homes to manage that efficiency, plus various clean energy technologies including solar and wind. Burke throws in some realistic details, some of them already on the mark: beginning in 2008, there are several years of devastating tropical storms that kill hundreds of thousands in Australia, Bangladesh and Florida. By 2010 there are refugees and military confrontations at borders over food and water shortages.

But the PMA has some military authority, and must stop a wave of Indonesians trying to get into Australia. By 2010 the global temperature has gone up by 3 degrees F, and water levels have risen by over a foot. Two million have died by starvation. A temperature rise of 5F is forecast for 2020. In that decade, there is greater concentration on local energy systems. Societies are reorganizing into smaller communities instead of big cities. Forestry is a major career. Water is a greater problem. Major rivers in the US and Russia have gone dry. Sea walls are going up to protect coastal cities.

Though there is grain growing in the far north, and being transported through newly opened Arctic waters, there is severe drought in the US. And despite the ongoing transformation, the effects of past greenhouse gas emissions continue to multiply and create feedback loops. Ocean plankton, which now absorbs CO2, begins dying because of the hotter water temperatures, and that CO2 is no longer being absorbed.

Without plankton, the only hope for absorbing CO2 becomes the forests. When several South American nations fail to halt deforestation, the PMA organizes a sea and land blockade to force enforcement. Because of the land required for cattle that had resulted in decades of deforestation, beef is so highly taxed that it disappears from most tables.

Still…by 2020 the temperature has risen 5.4 degrees. The sea has risen 2 feet. Between 2025-2040 it has risen 3 feet, breaking into sewage treatment plants and toxic waste dumps, and spreading disease. In 2050, the PMA assesses its half century of crisis management. There have been 20 million deaths by starvation, but only one nuclear exchange (in the Middle East.)  Kansas and the Riviera are arid, there are palm trees in Massachusetts. But the civilized world is very different than it was in 2000, and carbon neutrality has been achieved.

But then data from the deep ocean comes in, indicating that melting ice and rain in the far north has added so much fresh water to the oceans that the great ocean conveyor—the deep currents snaking in a particular pattern that sets our climate—is slowing down. The result of warmer water is less carbon being absorbed, so the globe is heating twice as fast.

The PMA concludes that carbon emissions will have to be reduced to almost pre-industrial levels of the year 1800. FutureBurke, who has been upbeat throughout, and lives in a prosperous looking if conspicuously energy efficient dwelling with lots of computerized technology, now mentions that the prospects beyond 2050 could have been a lot better if humanity had used that 20 years---between 1980, when global warming became apparent, and 2000, when the PMA was established—to start action instead of arguing.

He ends with a joke from our era. The one about the man who falls from the top of a skyscraper. As he passes the 17th floor somebody asks him how he’s doing. “So far, so good,” he replies.

So here we are. There seems little use in reciting again what has already happened and is happening now: the hundreds of millions of people displaced by drought and natural disasters, the melting of the Arctic and Antarctic, the slowing down of ocean circulation below the Arctic Circle, the dying and migrations of animal and plant species everywhere, the increase of pest-borne diseases with increased heat. The droughts, the storms, the heat waves—they’ve all become background noise.

 We’ve had many hotter summers after Greenhouse summer. Flying coast to coast in the US is becoming increasingly difficult because of weather-related delays and cancellations, but it’s just one more of those things, like the idiocy of removing our shoes for Homeland Security. Clearly there is increasing concern, and even increasing political pressure. Al Gore says that no matter who is elected President in 2008, dealing with the Climate Crisis will be high on his or her agenda. But we’ve let more than those 20 years go by.                           

Getting Warmer 2004

As climate disasters around the world increase in number and awful strangeness in 2012, I keep thinking about the early scenes of the 2004 climate crisis disaster movie, The Day After Tomorrow.  They showed a series of apparently unrelated and decidedly freakish and violent weather events, culminating in a tornado epidemic that smashes through Los Angeles.  By now very similar events have in fact happened in various places.  So far in the U.S. the super-tornadoes that have ripped through and leveled huge areas, including in places that have seen few tornadoes before, have not hit major cities, let alone major media capitals.  But the damage done to Los Angeles in this film may be only a slight exaggeration of what would have happened if, for example, one of these tornado outbreaks had moved on to Washington, D.C., which it easily could have.

This piece appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle Insight section on May 30, 2004.  The intense political polarization on the climate crisis "issue" was well underway, and would only get worse.  But there was some hope that this movie and new documentary films would break the resistance, at least in terms of awareness.  By this summer of 2012--the hottest summer in the hottest year so far recorded, with between a fifth and a third of the U.S. in severe and protracted drought--polls are showing more acceptance of the reality of the climate crisis, and its causes.  But political paralysis remains the rule.

It's one scary movie. "Climate change is a far greater threat to the world than international terrorism," says the science adviser to the British government. "Temperatures are getting hotter, and they are getting hotter faster than any time in the past," says the international weather expert. "Climate change is poised to change our pattern of life," says the African ecologist. But the U.S. president won't listen.

  The number of extreme weather events doubles from a decade before: lethal heat waves in Europe, floods in Africa, droughts in Asia and the United States. A record 300 million people flee their homes from natural disasters. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere hits record level. Warming increases the range and virulence of diseases. Trees die in New England. Glaciers melt faster in Alaska. There's a major influx of freshwater in the North Atlantic and a slowdown of ocean circulation below the Arctic Circle. Antarctic ice flows faster into the ocean.

What could be next? Rising sea levels swamp coastal cities. Famine in Europe. Nuclear wars for water. A million species threatened with extinction. The end of life on Earth as we know it.

Sounds exciting, but these aren't scenes from The Day After Tomorrow, the global warming disaster film that opened this weekend. They're from the real world. Everything in the first two paragraphs has happened or is the statement of a real person (including Sir David King, chief science adviser to the British government). Everything in the third paragraph is science-based speculation.

  The movie itself takes huge liberties with known science, in the speed with which global warming brings on a new ice age. The paradoxical possibility of heat leading to ice is real: if cold water from melting glaciers change ocean currents like the Gulf Stream, Manhattan could get colder pretty quickly -- though in a decade, not a New York minute, as The Day After Tomorrow would have it.
But all by itself, heat is already causing problems like drought, crop failures, disease, violent storms -- and is threatening much more as the century proceeds.

Director Roland Emmerich has substituted climate change for the alien threat of his blockbuster Independence Day and the radiation monster of his remake of Godzilla. At first, scientists and environmentalists worried that the film's festival of instant catastrophe might make global warming seem as credible a threat as Van Helsing's vampires, Harry Potter's dementors or this summer's other movie villains. But that's changed, as the Worldwatch Institute and National Resources Defense Council are touting it on their Web sites, and Al Gore spoke at a premiere sponsored by

Maybe they were all inspired by the Bush administration's attempted muzzling of NASA scientists (who earlier were talking openly about the Ice Age scenario) from responding to questions about the movie. Or maybe it's just that global warming couldn't be taken less seriously in the United States than it is already. While 72 percent of Americans said they were concerned about it in 2000, only 58 percent say so now, and only 15 percent believe it has anything to do with fossil fuel consumption.

Why are we so determined to be oblivious? Perhaps, after the Cold War's thermonuclear threat, and while trying to cope with international terrorism, we're suffering from apocalypse fatigue. Besides, it's hard to get upset about something that sounds so moderate and nice as "global warming." Even the "greenhouse effect" sounds decidedly unthreatening. Who's afraid of a greenhouse? Books continue to be published that contribute solid information, but none has had the simple eloquence or impact of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, which got DDT banned and jump-started a new kind of environmental awareness.

Hence the hopes for this heavily advertised movie. But the highest hurdle to overcome may be the time-lapse nature of the problem. What is newest and most challenging about global warming is that once its effects are clearly apparent, it's too late to stop them. Climate and its effects interact with everything, especially the resources we depend on that are getting scarcer, like fresh water, and oil.

  Almost inevitably, many of the changes will be in how we approach life, as individuals and societies. If we get ahead of the curve, these changes will include global cooperation, common commitment, a surge of creativity, community, shared sacrifice and adjustments in values. If we let the crisis overwhelm us, the changes will be just as great but a lot harsher and more destructive.

We'll need a series of attitude adjustments about the future. We need to anticipate problems, not just react to them. We need to have the courage and confidence to act on those anticipations. And we must accept responsibility for the future. We need to think more comprehensively, as Buckminster Fuller used to say, and imagine alternative futures.

The climate crisis is the keystone issue of our time. Addressing it means addressing virtually every other significant environmental and energy problem. Maybe The Day After Tomorrow will nudge bigger audiences for greater educational efforts, and for political change. Perhaps it will revive what remains for me the most cogent media treatment of the subject, the 1990 international television production After the Warming. Host James Burke presented a plausible history of global warming from the perspective of a citizen in 2050. His future self compares us today -- in the do-nothing days before the day after tomorrow -- to the man who falls from the top of a tall building. As he passes the 17th floor, someone asks him how he's doing. "So far, so good," he replies.

Friday, March 09, 2012

The Climate Crisis

I recently realized that this piece is no longer on the Internet.  It was originally published on June 27, 2002, nearly ten years ago on, a site that no longer exists.  The title was simply "The Climate Crisis," and therein lies a tale already.  Though that expression--the Climate Crisis--was not original with me, it was not yet in common use.  It would be several years before Al Gore started using it, which is what gave it currency.  In fact, this piece advocates using it, as a more accurate name for the phenomenon that until then was usually called 'global warming,' and also to emphasize the urgency with which it must be addressed.

I offer several ideas in this piece.  Some have been tried, others have not.  Celebrities have gotten involved, though with uneven results, and mostly not with the specificity I suggested.  The "one big voice" of an environmental coalition hasn't really happened, although there are dedicated organizations and some coordination, especially to oppose specific legislation or executive action on the federal level.  The goal of elevating this to a moral issue has been only partially successful, and in building "emotional consensus" and a sense of urgency, we've gone two steps forward and three steps back, it seems. 

But the heart of this piece is about nomenclature, and even though the terms I suggested--Climate Crisis and 'global heating' have been a more widespread part of the dialogue, giving elements of this crisis the names that would be immediately meaningful and emotionally powerful to a broad public is still a big problem.  Witness the wimpy "climate change" as the reflexive new label, and especially the talk of "adaptation" and "mitigation," terms for the equally crucial but quite separate problems of dealing with the causes and the effects of global heating, which are confusing and meaningless to everyone not familiar with these bureaucratic terms taken from land use planning.  Some ridiculed the idea that calling it "global warming" was an important factor in the missing urgency , but I still believe it was and is.  Words matter.  They matter a lot.  The resistance and denial of those who really fear the Climate Crisis future may be more powerful.  But especially ten years later, there's nothing to be gained by soft-pedalling the stakes.      

In any case, since this isn't available elsewhere, I am reprinting it as it first appeared.  
© 2002 William Severini Kowinski

Somebody at the end of a Washington environmental organization's press conference recently asked the question: how do we create an "emotional consensus" in support of efforts to address global warming? Nobody had an adequate answer, but the question was exactly the right one.

Another recent C-Span moment recorded journalist Bill McKibben's comment that climate change "is the first morally compulsory, urgent issue since the Civil Rights movement."

Urgent, and a moral issue-- exactly right as well. Right now there is no emotional consensus, no sense of a moral issue. Yet climate change is emerging as the defining context of this century. Scenarios extrapolated from the most modest temperature rise predicted by major scientific organizations foresee large scale human suffering, disease and death, economic disruption and ecological disaster. Scenarios based on the higher end imply mass extinctions, the end of civilization and planetary life as we know it on this earth. It is hard to imagine a greater crisis, yet climate change is not an urgent issue in the U.S. Part of the reason is that this case simply hasn't been made in emotional and moral terms.

A lot of attention has been paid to getting the science right, and to refuting criticism of that science. News has mostly focused on details of treaties and legislation, and scattered reports of effects reputed to be caused by global warming (and then rightly or wrongly refuted.) In other words, from the public point of view, it's been boring and confusing.

Still, at least some information has made its way into the American mind. But there is no sense of urgency. Americans were more worried about Alar on their apples than they are about climate change. There is no real consensus on the stakes. That must change.

Political leaders can't get traction on this issue without public alarm. There are private interests with huge amounts of money and lots of influence opposing efforts to address climate change. As usual, all that can offset them enough to provide leverage for policymakers is public interest, and in this case, a public sense of urgency.

What is needed now goes beyond negotiating mitigation that tries to satisfy both technical and political requirements and winds up doing not enough of either. It goes beyond policy wonking and bureaucratic infighting. It even goes beyond attachment to pet issues, or pushing the usual emotional buttons to work people up to contribute to a campaign fund or flood a congressional office with emails. It requires imagination and concentration. It requires real information told in dramatic and comprehensible ways. It requires commitment to doing it until it is done.

The stakes are very high, for this is an issue like no other. That Civil Rights laws weren't passed when proposed in 1948 was tragic, but not fatal to the cause. The Civil Rights Act passed in 1964, and America has benefited ever since. It was too late for some, but not for all. But if halting the acceleration of climate change is postponed, future efforts may simply be too late for everyone. Terrible and perhaps fatal effects will accelerate inexorably, no matter what treaties are then signed. Americans are used to being able to fix things at the last moment. What will happen when they can't?

In truth, no one can invent a moral issue or create an emotional consensus. But we can provide the spark and start the process by doing the best possible job of framing the issues with clarity and urgency, using the full range of tools available. To start thinking about such an effort, this is what I propose:

1. One big voice -- Existing environmental organizations must form a coalition organization or choose one of their number to run this campaign, but it must be a single voice and a single place the public knows to go to for information, linking with the appropriate other sources. A costly campaign will require a concentration of resources, so money should be channeled to one source. Publicity efforts should be part of a coordinated campaign with the same logo, slogans, and identifiable faces and/or voices in ads.

2. Don't say 'global warming'-- Turn up the heat on terminology. In fact entirely new terms are needed. I believe one of the reasons that global warming and climate change aren't considered urgent is that the words 'global warming' and 'climate change' have no urgency. Though 'warming' might describe a dangerous incremental rise in temperatures, the word itself has mostly good connotations. It's warm & cuddly. Happiness is a warm puppy. Listen to the warm. Can I warm up that coffee? Let's give a warm welcome to...

It takes a counterintuitive leap to think of "warming" as a bad thing. Even as a negative, it is at best, lukewarm. Nothing merely "warm" is urgent, especially in a negative sense. You may urgently desire a warm coat on a cold day, but people don't feel too warm. They feel too hot. Then it's urgent.

Global warming was a dubious improvement over the term it replaced, 'the greenhouse effect.' A useful metaphor to describe what happens when there's too much CO2 in the upper atmosphere, it is otherwise pretty abstract and definitely not scary. To most people, greenhouses are good. Flowers grow in them. They're pretty. The greenhouse effect sounds like it might make the whole world prettier.

There's been a recent move to the term "climate change," but it's too neutral: change can be good, and if the weather is too hot or too cold where you live, you might welcome a change. A better choice is "climate crisis." Ross Gelbspan uses it in the subtitle of his book, The Heat Is On: The Climate Crisis, the Cover-up, the Prescription. Crisis projects urgency. He also uses "heat" rather than "warming." Until even better terms are found, everyone involved should talk about "global heating" and "the climate crisis."
And if you don't think words have anything to do with it, think about the difference between anti-abortion and pro-life, or between pro-abortion and pro-choice. Few remember the language of a single subsection of the Civil Rights Act. They remember "I have a dream today."

3. Bring out the big guns and give them something imaginative to do. Use Hollywood faces and voices, send them places where something can be shown that indicates the effects of global heating. Send Julia Roberts to interview an Inuit elder on camera about the change in Arctic ice and weather patterns, and the effects on the animals and plants. Take an action hero to high altitudes, take Mariel Hemingway up to Mt. Kilimanjaro and measure the snow, and some swimsuit models to an island that will disappear under the water because of global heating.

4. Make this a moral issue. Get the Dalai Lama on camera-he is well aware of these issues. Get Nelson Mandella and Vaclev Havel-get the most articulate and morally respected people in the world. Get religious leaders of all faiths, and send this to where the Civil Rights movement got so much energy and force-the churches. Get Captain Kirk and Captain Picard. There won't be a future unless this is addressed.

5. Be relentless and build momentum. Get some billionaires to pay for relentless TV ads. There must be a few with consciences and consciousness. Do TV and radio programs and web sites, and urge existing TV shows to do something on it. Start by reframing the issue with urgency. Add details (what will happen, where and when.) Get new people on board and in front of the camera.

6. Start now. This campaign should be planned now, and the funds solicited to start it. The year after the 2002 congressional elections will be critical to getting the issue on every candidate's agenda in 2004.

Only if this becomes a priority issue, a moral issue, and an emotional consensus starts to develop, can any presidential candidate offer anything prominent and bold. Such a focus can work partly because the groundwork has been prepared. There's been grassroots activity and education that has increased awareness. There is now enough science to make the claims of a crisis more than credible, and there are many ideas for solutions, so it all doesn't sound hopeless.

What is needed now is the "emotional consensus", the sense of a moral necessity, a cause. I believe it is the responsibility of the environmental community and its organizations to lead first of all by
example, by giving this issue their priority and focus, not in the ordinary way, but by going all out to involve the public in a moral crusade to save the world.

I am an author and otherwise an underemployed writer with no power or influence and few connections. All I can do is offer these ideas in whatever way I can to people who can make things happen.