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In a week in which the news seemed especially grim and mankind’s problems especially daunting, having three pragmatic politicians come to Westerville with a positive message — “We can do something about climate change” — was refreshing.
John Kerry, who served as Democratic U.S. senator from Massachusetts and secretary of state under President Barack Obama, is determined to bring together leaders in politics, science, the military, business and entertainment to convince the rest of us that tackling climate change is not only necessary but a tremendous opportunity.
He’s calling the effort World War Zero for the goal of transforming the economy into one with zero net carbon emissions. In bringing his pitch to central Ohio on Sunday, he was joined by former Gov. John Kasich and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger — both Republicans and ideal partners for delivering a useful bipartisan message.
According to its website, World War Zero aims to use its “unique convening power” to enlist a coalition of leaders who can reach people receptive to the idea that building a lower-carbon economy could mean jobs in new industries, enhance national security and allow young people to take charge of improving the future.
If only they could get that message through to retrograde Republicans in the Ohio General Assembly who mostly are married to the fossil fuel and nuclear power lobbies and have done everything in their control not to encourage but to actually stymie the development of wind and solar power in the state.
Kasich’s record as governor on environmental matters hardly was perfect, and a heckler on Sunday slammed him for his continued support of fracking. But he resisted Republican lawmakers’ push to drill for oil and gas in state parks, and it’s fair to say his views on climate change have evolved — in February 2019 he declared publicly that Republicans should stop denying humans’ role in causing it.
Schwarzenegger, who was in town for the Arnold Sports Festival, has much stronger green credentials. Protecting California’s air and water was a centerpiece of his gubernatorial campaign and when elected he followed through, working with the Democratic leader of the state House of Representatives in 2006 to push the Global Warming Solutions Act. It aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25%, to 1990 levels, by 2020.
California’s plan included getting a waiver from the U.S. EPA allowing it to set the nation’s strictest auto-emissions standards, a power the Trump administration is trying to rescind.
Kerry’s vision of a clean-power economic renaissance, as reported by Ohio Public Radio, is inspiring: “It’s an opportunity to build out new infrastructure in our country, to build a new grid for our energy, to take clean energy from one part of the country and send it to the other, to use artificial intelligence and quantum computing and put together a future that is different.”
What a project that could be, if Congress were to embrace it and if President Donald Trump were no longer in office to stand in the way. Instead of tax cuts for the rich that do little to stimulate the economy, resources could be applied where they could have much more effect — supporting scientific research that enables new industries, creates new jobs and helps reduce carbon emissions.
That’s a world war everyone can get behind.
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