Our human history is measured in a sequence of “epochs”, periods of time defined by events or advancements. Today, we are entering the epoch of climate change. In this era, Lindsay Graham acknowledges that climate change is real and humans are causing it. Conversations finally turn away from “Do we need to do anything?” to “What are we going to do now?”
This question terrifies conservative political parties across the globe. “What are we going to do now?” cannot be answered by old techniques aging politicians are comfortable with. The beginning of the climate change epoch is the end of their political/economical relevance just as the DVR was the death of Laser Disc. We cannot save our economies and address these new challenges by using strategies developed 30+ years ago during a completely different environment.
Unfortunately, using old techniques to combat new challenges is a bit of a reoccurring theme in our human history. The most fitting example is the 1941 Battle of Moscow when the Soviet 44th Calvary charged encroaching German lines. Horses and bayonets were met by German artillery and tanks, and all 2,000 Soviets were killed while not a single German was injured. I fear that we may be approaching climate change with similar reckless naivety and the results will be equally devastating.
Let there be no mistake, we are headed for a multi-generational war. Climate change will poison our water, disrupt business, destroy cities overnight, starve thousands, and create poverty where there once was prosperity. While older politicians fumble about with these issues like a new smart phone on their birthday, my generation will have to go about answering, “What are we going to do now?” Well, what do we do every time something doesn’t work, gets buggy, or becomes outdated? Run an update.
This update will include rethinking our industries and economies. This means we need new expertise, skilled workers, and more teachers to train these people. We will need conclusions from scientists that can help predict the changes to come, and those scientists will need funding to collect that data. The beginning of the climate change epoch is indeed the death of the old economies and industries aging politicians know, just as the beginning of World War II was the death of the calvary charge (and the birth of jet engines). There are new, relevant, and (possibly more) profitable industries waiting to be discovered. Different skills will be needed and different professions will become critical while others will go extinct, and the nations that pre-empt this demand with supply will become the future economic “winners”. This is why savvy gas-rich countries in the Middle East are investing heavily into alternative energy and the Dutch are raising a new generation of coastal engineers. The war on climate change is actually a worldwide job creator for those who are innovative enough to recognize it, is the USA?
So the next time you hear the cry of politicians who have foreseen the end to global economies and the death of jobs, double check if they are carrying a bayonet.