World War Mentality Needed to Beat Climate Change

America’s next president must declare war on climate change in the same way President Franklin Roosevelt fought the Axis powers during World War II, climate activist Bill McKibben said in an article published today in The New Republic.

McKibben argued that the next president should harness the nation’s industrial might in exactly the same way Roosevelt did in the months leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor and in the years following the U.S. entrance into the war.

“It’s not that global warming is like a world war. It is a world war. And we are losing,” wrote McKibben, an author and activist who co-founded to fight the Keystone XL pipeline project.

“Defeating the Nazis required more than brave soldiers,” he wrote. “It required building big factories, and building them really, really fast.”

American scientists “have been engaged in a quiet but concerted effort to figure out how quickly existing technology can be deployed to defeat global warming,” McKibben wrote, calling it a “modest start … for a mighty Manhattan Project.”

McKibben, who supported Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I), says the next administration need look no further than the calculations made by a team at Stanford University led by Mark Jacobson that determined how each state could by powered 100 percent by the sun, wind and water by 2050. Getting there requires about 6,448 gigawatts of clean energy to replace fossil fuels—or the equivalent of 295 solar factories the size of Elon Musk’s SolarCity Gigafactory under construction in Buffalo, N.Y.

But it’s possible, McKibben wrote, if the United States takes on a warlike approach to curtailing greenhouse gas emissions and the resulting global warming.

“Without the same urgency and foresight displayed by FDR—without immediate executive action—we will lose this war,” McKibben wrote.

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