“That’s nice, but it’s nowhere near enough” is something of a mantra around here. We are still far, far behind where we need to be if we want global warming to be anything other than totally catastrophic, and I find it infuriating to see politicians who’ve been avoiding or opposing action longer than I’ve been alive, patting themselves on the back for ill-conceived quarter-measures. That’s why this message from Beau of the Fifth Column is not one I’m especially excited to hear. That said, I think he has a point.
Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy was asked for the GOP solution to global warming, and he responded that they’d plant a trillion trees. Whether or not you think that’s an adequate plan, Beau makes the case that those who want climate action should vocally celebrate this, and avoid criticism. If they get positive feedback for this idea, and it catches on, then the conversation shifts from whether we should do anything at all, to which approach is best, with the need to act now being taken as a given.
That’s progress worth making. It should have been made decades ago, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is progress worth making.
I think it’s also worth noting that while the Democrats have started doing things about climate change, those things are still a kind of low-urgency economic “nudging” that might have been enough if it had started in the 90s. Nobody in the US government is taking the problem seriously, but if the GOP does start spending money on planting trees, the Dems will lose their coveted status of being not quite as bad as the Republicans, and that would increase pressure on them to do more.
And more than that, the GOP adopting their trillion tree plan would normalize the need for climate action in their base. McCarthy and his ilk have earned our scorn a hundred times over on this subject, but their power is real, and their obstruction is damaging. I think Beau makes a good tactical case for celebrating this.