Leadership on climate, viewed in retrospect

2008-12-10

in Politics, Rants, Science, The environment

A quotation from Joseph Romm highlights the differences between current and future perceptions of leadership quality:

Future historians will inevitably judge all 21st century presidents as failures if the world doesn’t stop catastrophic global warming.

Certainly, future generations forced to endure catastrophic climate change will consider their ancestors to have failed, whether they focus the blame on political leaders or others. I doubt the leaders of the 21st or late 20th century will be able to escape severe condemnation in a world that experiences mean temperature increases of 5°C or more, loses all its glaciers and sea ice, and experiences multi-metre increases in sea level.

Unfortunately, political leaders are conditioned to be a lot more concerned about the judgment of their voters at their next election (or of their generals, the next time the possibility of a coup is raised). The consequences of that may ultimately prove horrifically damaging.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

R.K. December 11, 2008 at 4:36 pm

When it comes to climate change, there are a lot more Neville Chamberlains out there than Winston Churchills.

. October 4, 2010 at 6:34 pm

“As the Senate debate expired this summer, a longtime environmental lobbyist told me that he believed the “real tragedy” surrounding the issue was that Obama understood it profoundly. “I believe Barack Obama understands that fifty years from now no one’s going to know about health care,” the lobbyist said. “Economic historians will know that we had a recession at this time. Everybody is going to be thinking about whether Barack Obama was the James Buchanan of climate change.””

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