Hope and (Climate) Change

Eileen Claussen of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change thinks Bill McKibben is too quick to dismiss efforts to stop global warming.

Bill McKibben ("Think Again: Climate Change," January/February 2009) is right that the world is warming faster, that the impacts are more severe than models predicted, and that it will take a collective effort — involving coordination among federal agencies as well as between countries — to make a real difference. He’s right that the costs of inaction are great and much greater than the costs of acting now. And finally, he’s right that we cannot wait to take significant action. We differ only in that I am more optimistic that the United States and the world will move quickly to address this problem.

The bottom line is that though I agree that the scientific assessment is dire, U.S. President Barack Obama is calling for dramatic climate-change action, and leaders in the U.S. Congress and CEOs of major corporations are increasingly vocal in their support for advancing climate legislation this year. The stars are aligned as never before, and the most important thing is that we get started. Only then can we begin to understand what is achievable. We may well discover that we can move much further and much faster than we ever thought possible.

–Eileen Claussen
Pew Center on Global Climate Change
Arlington, Va.

Bill McKibben replies:

Actually, we don’t even differ on that, because I sure hope so, too.

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