“The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.” —Sir Robert Swan
Our biggest crisis regarding the climate emergency is humanity’s massive state of denial that it exists on the scale it does. Yet willingness to recognize the depth of the problem is prerequisite to our solving it. It is a psychological and moral challenge to face the horror of what stands before us over the next ten years should we not act; yet there - in our standing raw before the truth that it confronts us with - lies our only hope for surviving it.
And our environmental crisis is not only climate; it is also water, air, food and soil. Our earth is like a body beginning to experience an all systems breakdown. As president, I will treat the problem holistically. Global warming harms the weather patterns which harms agriculture and animals which harms people's capacity to live in certain areas which harms the city-to-rural ratio which harms social stability which creates a refugee crisis which all together lead toward untold catastrophe. What is imperative is that we awaken now and take immediate, bold steps to change course.
What is necessary is a full scale climate emergency mobilization effort, not unlike the kind of effort undertaken by the United States during WW2. Without such an effort, the world will begin to see social collapse and mass starvation unprecedented during our lifetime. Climate disruption, if not itself disrupted, is on track to become "civilization-threatening." Refugee crises, extreme weather events, non-survivable global temperatures making certain places uninhabitable, global food crises, economic collapse -- none of those phrases are hyperbolic. They are warnings.
The United States needs a president who understands that incremental change -even bold incremental change in regards to the climate crisis -is not enough to stave off environmental catastrophe. The American people must be informed of the severity of the problem, and enrolled in a massive national effort to deal with it.
We need policy change but we need more than that; we need a full-on systems change. We need to change the way we think about what's most important in life. We need to put the health and well-being of our people and our planet before the needs of an outmoded economic system. We must transition from a dirty economy to a clean economy. Period. Full stop.
In this as in so many areas, unwise action has led to the problem and taking wise action now will solve it.
There is a growing consensus in America that climate change is an existential emergency. But now our actions must align with our understanding. As President, I would argue, in no uncertain terms, that rapid, man-made climate change and global warming represents a clear and present danger to our people, to our democracy, and to the world at large. Beginning with the appointment of a world-class environmentalist rather than a fossil fuel or chemical company executive (as is now the case) to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, I would fundamentally reverse the current misuse of the EPA, whereby it serves mainly the cause of profit maximization for fossil fuel and chemical companies, and return it to its original mission of protection and advocacy on behalf of our natural environment. The full powers of the executive branch of the US government would be put in service to this effort.
As president, I will do more than direct a mass mobilization of technological efforts necessary to stave off climate catastrophe; I will harness a mass mobilization of the American people. For that will be necessary for us to achieve the kind of buy-in necessary to allow such massive change as is needed, to occur. This cannot be a Left versus Right, Democrat versus Republican, socialism versus capitalism conversation -- it is a survival versus full-scale human destruction conversation, and when the American people awaken to this then the American people will do what it takes to handle the challenge that confronts us. No president will be able to take the steps that are truly necessary, without that buy-in.
In fighting WW2, we were neither Republicans nor Democrats; we were Americans. In staving off climate catastrophe, we are neither Republicans nor Democrats either; we are patriotic Americans and responsible human beings.
As president, I will immediately re-enter the Paris Climate Accords — while simultaneously working to expand talks to push for even more meaningful and enforceable agreements. The United States will no longer be the rogue nation withdrawing from the international effort to stave off a massive climate-induced collapse; instead, we will be the world's leader in paving the way to new possibilities and new beginnings.
In 2015, we were one of 195 countries to support the important Paris agreement on Climate Change. The situation has gotten much worse since then. We should not only re-enter, but also lead a new push for the global transition to reduce and even sequester existing carbon from the atmosphere. Our urgent goal is not just to hold temperature increases as close as possible to where they are now, but instead to reverse global warming back to more long-term sustainable levels.
The United States and world must take unprecedented action between now and 2030 to actually bring the carbon we put in the atmosphere back into the earth where it came from—to reforest, transform our dirt back to soil on our farms, restore wetlands, peatlands, and increase phytoplankton and fisheries—among other critical measures.
The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, and the 4th US National Climate Assessment describe the dire consequences of failing to act to protect our population, our economy, and our world from climate change.
We are already seeing refugees fleeing extreme weather disasters, causing human calamities, unrest, and conflict. However, these reports simultaneously underscore the enormous opportunities for this nation if we lead in developing and adopting innovations.
Most of the debate right now focuses on keeping temperature rises to around 1.5C or 2C, but that is not sustainable, we actually need to reverse warming trends. While shifting away from fossil fuels towards cleaner energy sources gets the bulk of our attention in this area—there are numerous approaches we must take, in multiple sectors, to address climate change. Other critical areas include: reducing food waste, promoting a plant rich diet, protecting tropical forests, proper land management, regenerative agriculture and refrigerant management, among others. Even seemingly unrelated issues like educating women globally and family planning are known to be an important part of the solution.
Under a Williamson administration, we will take a full systems approach, helping to reverse global warming and lead the planet towards long-term sustainability.
Transforming our energy sector is of course a critical component. America must step up and be the leader in the clean energy transition, not only to save our planet but to economically revitalize our country.
Our continued reliance on fossil fuels – coal, oil and natural gas – is holding back a new, clean energy revolution that will benefit our economy, environment, and collective public health.
Furthermore, fossil fuel companies not only pollute our air and water, damage our health and accelerate global warming, they have also polluted our political system for far too long. As the result of energy industry lobbying and campaign contributions, the federal government supports the use of fossil fuels and hands out massive tax breaks and subsidies to companies that are already among the most profitable in the world. U.S. fossil fuel producing companies rake in hundreds of billions in revenue every year, with huge profit margins, yet the U.S. ranks the worst of all G7 countries by subsidizing fossil fuels the most—over $26-billion a year.
Corruption, both legalized and unvarnished, makes it extremely difficult to take on the power of the energy-producing giants. Until we deal with the issue of money’s powerful influence on our political system, none of this will truly change, which is why campaign finance reform is a central tenet to my governing philosophy.
A Green New Deal would provide an overall strategy for how clean energy, sustainable infrastructure and transportation, and a national green jobs program can revitalize our economy and utilize our innovative and human capacity to benefit all our people. While it doesn’t cover the whole range of measures we must undertake to reverse global warming, it is an important step, therefore I support it.
Ban all fracking operations (oil and gas). This will require planning for the workers and communities that will be most impacted by a transition away from fossil fuel extraction, processing and use called a “just transition.”
Making this fundamental change in how we, as a nation, use energy is not something that any one set of legislative actions can manage; rather, this shift will take a change in how all of us—not only the government but also individuals—treat the earth on which we live. The problem of environmental desecration is rooted, in essence, in a lack of reverence for the home we all share.
In all these and more areas, a Williamson administration will make climate change and global warming an urgent and top priority.
In order for the needed changes to occur, a massive mobilization of the American people, our economy and our industry, will be necessary. We need a great American effort not unlike the massive mobilization necessary to fight WW2 and bring the US out of the Great Depression. Our task is to build a Green New Century. Ultimately we need this for all the world, and the United States should lead the way.