It is already beginning to fade into history, but who can forget (yet) the chants of “drill, baby, drill” that became a staple not only of rowdy crowds during the presidential election, but also of the stump speeches of many well-known public servants? Sure, the mantra may have been catchy, but it was, more or less meaningless as a response to energy needs and the demands of climate change, which will not be mollified by a three-word jingle. Unfortunately, drill, baby, drill got a lot of air-and ear-and even debate-space. What hasn’t, at least not in the public zeitgeist, is a variation on this riff, with meaning: a global green deal. What it means: a greened economy that not only weans us from dependency on fossil fuels and slows global climate change, but also creates good, sustainable jobs, economic vitality and a far greater measure of equity than the global economy has now.
As the parameters of the current financial crisis became clearer, some of the “green, baby, green” skeptics were emboldened. There’s no money, or time, for greening, they said. We’re in a crisis. Not now! Other strong, eloquent and yes, practical, voices have parried: If not now, when? This absolutely is the time. When better to bring about such an essential transformation? They’ve also been laying out the whys and the hows. In Newsweek. By the Worldwatch Institute, in an important new book by green, baby, green pioneer, Van Jones (that has become a New York Times bestseller). And another eloquent, powerful voice was heard this week: that of president-elect Barack Obama, who, speaking via video to a California conference on climate change, reaffirmed his commitment to tackling global warming and energy head on and, mercifully, slogan-free. “Denial,” he said, “is no longer an acceptable response.”