To the editor:
With ice caps melting, forests burning up, hundred-year floods now every five, hurricanes increasing, and heat waves upwards of 120 degrees, every year brings record ecological disasters. Scientists tell us that 130 million people now live in coastal areas that will soon be uninhabitable due to sea level rise.
I used to boast to my kids how, as a teenager on the first Earth Day, I played hooky and joined Greenpeace to man their information booth on Boston’s City Hall Plaza. Unimpressed, they now tell me it is my fault that their kids will be the last generation in the history of the human race because their Grandpa’s generation failed to save the planet while there was still time.
The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), an international group of climate scientists assembled by the United Nations in the 1980s at the behest of then President Ronald Reagan, reports an unbiased, scientific consensus on the status of climate change every five years. Their last report says we have about a decade to zero out carbon emissions or the changes set in motion will be irreversible.
Despite this, I hear people tell me they are going to vote for a presidential candidate in the upcoming primary based upon their gender, sexual identity, age, personality, party loyalty or debate performance, with little to no regard for whether they have a plan capable of delivering us from ecological oblivion.
Plato had warned us that democracy was destined to fail us because of the inability of the majority to intelligently choose what was necessary for their own good, particularly in moments of crisis. Yet, ancient Athens, the first democracy, initially proved him wrong. There, Themistocles, a working class populist who rose to political prominence, persuaded the majority of Athenians to vote to leave Athens undefended while putting all of its resources into building a naval fleet to fight Xerxes and his advancing Persian hordes, whom they then defeated at the naval battle of Salamis (480 BC) in what is credited by historians as the most brilliant strategic plan in history, one which saved Western Civilization and preserved its democratic institutions for posterity. Next year, Greeks and history buffs from around the world, will celebrate its 2500th anniversary on site.
In our current American democracy, we too have a working class political leader who, having risen to the pinnacle of populism, now advocates for placing huge resources into a renewables-powered smart grid with ample storage batteries, repurposing all fossil fuel assets, retrofitting all buildings and infrastructure for efficiency, constructing an all-electric transportation system with electric cars, charging stations and high-speed rail, revitalizing the Conservation Corps to reforest rural areas, breaking up agribusiness into local no-till farms, retraining the workforce to create millions of unionized green jobs, and renegotiating trade deals to enact global eco-justice. Greenpeace rates this presidential candidate’s climate action plan No. 1 — the only one with the hope of meeting IPCC benchmarks in time to save the planet.
This modern-day Themistocles is none other than Bernie Sanders. His strategy to save civilization and the human race is the Sanders Green New Deal plan detailed on his website, BernieSanders.com. On Feb. 11, 2020, New Hampshire, like ancient Athens in 480 BC, will go to the ballot box to determine whether Plato was wrong all along about democracy’s inherent fatal flaw, or instead, whether we will be explaining to our children’s children why there will be no 3000th anniversary of the battle of Salamis.