I was surprisingly inspired by John and Teresa Heinz Kerry's new book, This Moment on Earth. This inspiration snuck up on me around the third chapter. Prior to that, I found the book good, well worth reading, but a little bit like just one more book outlining what humans are doing wrong. Starting around the third chapter I realized I was referring to the book in several conversations and several blog diaries and that several of the people and organizations featured in the book I mentally filed away as worth looking into for future political connections, diaries and general research.
In short, almost without my realizing it, John Kerry's book was getting into my brain and inspiring me. The book starts a bit dull but by the end is excellent.
The book was billed as the next step in the evolution of the environmental debate. I was ready for a book that took as given the problems and focused primarily on solutions. And, on exactly the same day I started This Moment on Earth I was reading the February 9th issue of Science, America's most respected scientific journal. And in that issue, the scientific community was doing exactly what John Kerry seemed to be proposing...The overwhelming consensus of scientists, as reported in Science, is that anthropogenic (human-caused) warming is happening and the most optimistic scenarios are not the most likely scenarios. We are in for a rough ride and the time is now to accept the problem and move on to solutions. Shift the debate, people. Let's talk what to DO ABOUT IT.
I was ready for John Kerry's book to carry the same theme...it is time to take as given the problem and move on to solutions.
That isn't quite what I got. And at first I was disappointed. As I read the first two chapters I felt I was reading yet another book that outlined the problem with perhaps a little more emphasis placed on solutions and how individuals and small groups are empowering themselves to fight back.
But by the third chapter I found I was taking the most notice of exactly what the Kerrys WANTED me to notice the most: the people who are fighting back. I think it was the case of Majora Carter and Sustainable South Bronx that finally made me realize that this book was inspiring me because I immediately decided she'd be perfect as an invited speaker for a political group I am involved with. The example of Riverkeeper, where ex-marines decided to patrol our nation's waterways to protect them from polluters, was another "wow" moment. Even radio personality Don Imus and his wife, Deidre, come off inspiring in This Moment on Earth, something I never imagined I'd say. And Chapter 7, discussing energy policy, is the best chapter, showing how right here and now, using existing technology, the city of Portland, OR, as well as companies like Texas Instruments and DuPont are doing EXACTLY what needs to be done to reduce carbon emissions...and doing it while creating jobs and saving money. Chapter 7 shows us that there remain NO EXCUSES for America to continue to avoid taking a leadership role in stopping global warming. All that we lack...is the political leadership on a national level. Kerry shows us that locally there has been considerable leadership by both Democrats and Republicans. But nationally Bush has led us down a path that leads nowhere and that has ceded economic ingenuity to other nations.
Put all this together and you may not have the next step in the evolution of the environmental debate, but you certainly have one more important step forward and one that might have a wider appeal than previous books in this genre.