Saturday, December 12, 2015

The moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow

Not to minimize the dangers posed either by ISIS or Trumpism, but the odds are pretty good that both will fairly swiftly end up in the ashcan of history. Meanwhile, as we in the US obsess about both, a 195-nation climae accord has been negotiated in Paris that may lay the foundation for  continued human progress without catastrophic interruption.

While the US is maintaining a relatively low profile at the conclusion, the accord would not have been possible without forceful and effective climate action on the part of the Obama administration and the long, intensive efforts of John Kerry. Thank God we have a president who knows what's most important, knows how to prioritize and persist.

Obama was mocked for grandiosity when he laid out this hope on the night he secured the Democratic nomination in 2008 (my emphasis):

If we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth. This was the moment – this was the time – when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves, and our highest ideals.
As I've noted before, these aspirations are marked as much by their incrementalism as by their ambition -- Obama's theory of change is expressed in the mantra began to.  In most of the ways he sought to, Obama has turned the battleship a few degrees. Too bad that that very progress has made the Republican Party even more extreme, so their will and capacity to undo all remains as strong or stronger than ever. 

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