Nathaniel Rich’s latest article comes amidst crippling heat waves and devastating wildfires that have reached as far as the Arctic Circle.
The New York Times dedicated its entire August 1 special edition of the magazine to the issue of climate change and Rich’s article, which tracks the period from 1979 to 1989 as the critical time period in human history during which climate change could have been thwarted.
“So, by 1979, there is a strong scientific consensus about the fundamental science of climate change. And there were major reports by the—at the highest levels of the government about the problem, and there started to emerge an effort by a handful of scientists and activists and some politicians to move the issue. And over the course of the decade, they developed a plan, which was essentially a global treaty, which would become the IPCC process, and they made steady—if, you know, with some up and downs—progress towards the end of the decade.
And other things that’s significant about that period is that the issue was not a partisan issue. There were prominent Republicans in Congress and in the administration, Republican administrations, who were strongly supportive of a major climate policy. And the fossil fuel industry had not locked arms and coordinated the—what we now see as this history of propaganda, disinformation campaigns, bribing politicians and the entire Republican Party. And so that there was this 10-year period where we came very close to a serious consideration of a binding emissions treaty. And we failed. So I wanted to tell the story of how that came to be and why we didn’t succeed.” — Rich on DemocracyNow!
To listen to the entire hour-long DemocracyNow! special episode on climate change, click here.