Strongly worded piece by Chris Trotter this morning:
In the war for nature, the deniers are traitors
… The question of why war, alone of all our endeavours, possesses the power to inspire such tremendous collective exertions and unstinting sacrifices by human communities is not a new one. Ninety-three years ago, the American scholar William James addressed precisely the same question in his famous essay: “The Moral Equivalent of War”.
Humanity, he argued, must find another way to mobilise all that is brave and noble in the human soul, or the warriors of our species will never want for either willing volunteers nor eager financiers. James’ solution, richly ironic in the context of the events unfolding in Copenhagen, was to enlist youth in a “War against Nature”.
James’ idea of conscripting the nation’s youth to wage the moral equivalent of war struck a deep chord in the American psyche. It informed the thinking behind president Franklin Roosevelt’s Conservation Corps, and president John F Kennedy’s Peace Corps.
Today, however, it is not a “War Against Nature” that our generation is called to fight, but a war in nature’s defence. And it is not merely the youth of the world who must be summoned to battle (though, as always, they will lead the charge) but whole populations. If the battle against climate change does not become the moral equivalent of war for all the peoples of the Earth, then not only the battle, but the Earth itself, as a planet hospitable to human civilisation, will be lost.
There will, of course, be people who whisper that the enemy isn’t really our enemy. That all of our individual and collective sacrifices are quite unnecessary. And that, if only we would stop listening to the “alarmists” and “extremists”, then this needless and terribly costly campaign could be brought to a happy conclusion. In 1940, England was full of such whisperers. The British ruling class, in particular, was riddled with defeatists, Nazi sympathisers and traitors. Back then people called them “Quislings” and “Fifth Columnists”.
If, therefore, the battle against climate change has to become the moral equivalent of war, with all the sacrifice that war entails, then climate change denial must become the moral equivalent of treason.
Over the top? No. The stakes really are that high.
I don’t agree with a lot of the stuff that Chris writes these days. But I agree with him on this.