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A Plan to Save the World

Washington governor and presidential candidate Jay Inslee. (AP)

Washington governor and presidential candidate Jay Inslee. (AP)

Folklore, myth, comic books and war hagiography have for generations, forever, told stories of heroes who, in moments of apocalyptic peril, figured out a way to pull the world back from the brink. 

‘Saving the world’ is generally hyperbolic.  WW2, for instance, didn’t ‘save the world’. It beat back a vicious ideology. But with the release of Washington governor and presidential candidate Jay Inslee’s latest climate plan, his second biggie of the election cycle already, we can now point to a legitimate plan to save our planet. 

In America, now. Doing so will trigger the rest of the world’s movement toward equitable sustainability. There’s a plan in the wings.

Getting off fossil fuels as fast as physically possible is the name of the game.  There’s no other way around it. Part of me wants to wield maximal power and rip the band aid off immediately.  Shutter all wells, mines and refineries today. Sorry. We’ve fucked up long enough.

But in practical terms, neither tyranny nor economic devastation is a productive way out of this mess.  As one sees in war after war, breaking things is the easy part. Rebuilding, or in climate’s case, recovery, requires a serious plan.

Serious in the sense that it achieves the goal it claims to accomplish.  Serious People™ in Washington tend to have Serious Ideas™ like efficiency standards, carbon credits, carbon capture technology, royalty investment, mitigation infrastructure and all of the above strategies, all of which are designed to placate industry and appease environmental interests.  The liberal order was designed with boxing gloves, so sides got to slug it out without anyone getting too beat up, or winning. 

At least it was supposed to be that way.  Gloves or not, the bigger fighter—the one controlling capital—always wins.  Which is how we’ve been fed the choice of letting the world’s biome collapse (with the world’s poor facing the worst of the human toll) or rapidly removing fossil fuels from our economy (with the world’s poor facing the brunt of suffering).

It doesn’t have to be that way.  The Green New Deal is wildly popular because it gives us hope that we can stabilize temperatures and not kill everything, while also creating a future that is better than anything we’ve known.  But the Green New Deal is an aspiration—sober, legitimate and worthy of our commitment to enact—but not a plan. 

Inslee doesn’t just have a detailed plan, it’s got serious teeth, complete with named villains and unapologetic executive action. 

It’s the sort of thing that we need for two reasons: One, it’s as detailed as an IKEA manual and any president with the will can enact it, even if it doesn’t happen to be Inslee (currently polling at 1%).  Two, and maybe most importantly, it leaves in the past the moronic game of ridiculing Republicans for allegedly not believing in climate breakdown while constantly trying to reach consensus with them.

Inslee’s plan isn’t just workable in climate models, it’s got guts to work in Washington. 

I’m supporting Bernie Sanders this season.  In 2014 I wrote on this website urging him to run and was proud to support his candidacy in 2016.  His style of movement politics, and the movement he’s built over the past four years, is going to be instrumental in getting all of these plans and aspirations accomplished.

But Jay Inslee is setting the most important bar in the race so far.  We need to pay attention to him, support his campaign—for president and for a climate debate—and amplify his message.  No one is going to save the world. We’re going to do it together.