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August 9, 2009 – Well, well. It appears the Pentagon is taking a look at the havoc climate change will be causing, and trying to figure out what the military and humanitarian implications might be. I hope that once they’ve examined the issue closely, they will begin doing some cooperative planning with the folks at the UN. While there are those decrying the uselessness of NATO, I have to think that organization might have a key role to play in addressing the looming crisis. There’s a great deal to anticipate and plan for, and I definitely believe this is an instance where two heads are better than one. Well-informed heads, that is. The earlier we learn to cooperate with each other, the better off we will all be.

Assuming humankind is capable of cooperation on a sustained basis, how would we best go about it? There are organizations that have made it their business to learn all they can about global warming. The Worldwatch Institute comes to mind.

The Nature Conservancy, Sierra Club, Wildlife Federation, Greenpeace, and the American Farmland Trust are just a few of the others. Surely it would make sense to invite them to educate the rest of us. Our federal government should take the lead in seeing to it that this happens. A public/private cooperative venture would be necessary, something terribly worthwhile for which our tax dollars could be used.

Generally, once people are convinced there’s a problem, they look for ways to be part of the solution. Certainly one way would be to ask them to promote international cooperation, by means of letter writing, phone calling, and signing up for cooperative activities they find described on the web. All of this would be reinforced with public service announcements on TV, the web, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Not everyone would be interested in promoting the same ideas. That’s ok – it’s a big problem that will require any number of solutions. At the same time, we would need to remember that climate change is a global problem which will mandate the active leadership of our country. The United States has done far too much to cause the problem to opt out when push comes to shove. As wealthy as we are, we must help in finding and implementing durable, sustainable solutions.

In order to gain the trust of the international community, Americans would need to be good listeners like never before. Our problems will not be identical to China’s problems. Or Israel’s problem’s. Or Brazil’s problems. They will have definite opinions with regard to the best way to ameliorate their own environmental problems. Again, the best way of making a positive contribution might well be through education. Discussion, education, discussion, action. This could be a model for international cooperation with the purpose of healing the environment.

Next week I’ll talk about the dire need for optimistic, persistent leadership as a model for international survival.

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