Sunday, September 13, 2009

Richard Clarke: recognizing climate as the top issue of the day

I was watching a political commentary/political satire television program the other night. A range of the hottest U.S. news issues were being discussed, from healthcare to Afghanistan to partisan politics. There was humor but there was plenty of solid, serious discussion taking place, too.

On the panel of guest commentators was Richard Clarke, a gentleman with an accomplished history of involvement in international and homeland security affairs for many years, working with the Reagan, Bush, and Clinton administrations and currently a lecturer, author, and faculty member for the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard.

After a lengthy discussion of current events, the program moderator asked the panel what the most important issue facing us today really is. From Mr. Clarke, one might expect a political issue, terrorism perhaps, but his response was . . . global warming.

As many conservationists know, climate change is an issue that, in the end, trumps all others. But the challenge is we live in a world of short-term solutions and immediate needs first. Climate change requires long-term planning and actions that may not necessarily garner immediate or obvious results. Whether you are in the U.S. worrying about healthcare or in the African Savannah worrying about the next drop of water, it can be difficult to make the environment a front burner issue.

But make it we must because if we wait until it is a crisis priority, it just might be too late. As conservationists, our dedication must be towards outreach - making as many people aware of the importance of ecological issues as possible.
Compliments to Bill Day for the cartoon.

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