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August 17, 2009 – Optimistic, persistent leadership. The kind that refuses to recognize failure as a plausible outcome. The kind that does not allow “no” for an answer, particularly when the future of humankind depends on “yes.” The kind of leadership provided by people who never, ever give up. Not even when the saltwater is up to their necks in Washington, D.C., and the wildfires are burning out of control in all 50 states.

Future generations are calling to us, demanding their right to enjoy the gift of life. We already know that it will be an impoverished existence, lived on a sorely abused planet. There is a great deal that needs doing, and it falls to each of us to do all we are able. Optimistic, persistent leaders will show us the way. Finding them is the first challenge.

Fortunately, as we know from very recent experience, inspiring leadership is near at hand. This means we must be watchful and ready to act, not only to enable the inspiring leaders of tomorrow to take their place at the head of our nation, but to keep the demagogues and the naysayers from scaring Americans with hastily-planned, ill-considered schemes. We all know they’re out there. If they want to plan for Armageddon, let them.
The rest of us must keep clear heads.

Visionary leaders must be able to guide Americans in the direction of effective action. Americans will respond if they know how they are threatened, and why the recommended course of action makes sense. This requires a well-informed fourth estate, ready and willing to ask the hard questions and communicate the answers in an understandable way. It also requires broad use of all the means of communication available to us. Our public schools would be another conduit for the dissemination of vital information. At every step, Americans would need to know not only how issues that affect them immediately and directly are being addressed, but also how global problems might affect them later. This would set the stage for helping other countries in crisis. Visionary leaders will make sure Americans realize we’re all in this together.

That way, America can begin planning for worst-case scenarios now. The Pentagon is considering what tasks it must be ready to undertake once global warming gets underway full throttle. Which other U.S. government agencies are similarly engaged? What are they doing? Do they have a deadline? Are they communicating with each other, or do they have plans to do so? At what point will Americans be invited to participate, perhaps by means of town hall meetings? What is the long-term timeline for completion of these tasks? Will the stage be set for international preparedness in Copenhagen? Which jobs are best left to individual countries? Which jobs demand cooperation? What do YOU think?

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