It should come as no surprise that America is skeptical and slow to act on climate change. It seems to be in our DNA.
Those advocating immediate and swift climate change action within the United States are dismayed, to say the least, at the lack of action to save Mother Earth. Many are angry at the lack of belief in science they say is causing this inaction. But is it something deeper than that? It seems that we have a tradition of waiting until the last minute to take needed action on anything important.
When our country was formed, the founders failed to tackle the tragic and inhuman issue of slavery. Some hundred years later a major war amongst ourselves started the beginning of the end of slavery, killing well over a half million people, and we are still struggling with the consequences.
In the settling of the American West, the mythology that grew into the classic western folklore was the cavalry, only arriving at the last minute, to save the day.
Fast forward to World War 1. We didn’t want to get involved in a “European war” and it wasn’t until almost three years in that we finally got off the fence, so to speak, and dove into the trenches.
Many foresaw the coming of the economic crisis that became the Great Depression, but little or no preventative actions were taken, and even when the crash began, the Feds failed to act accordingly with steps that may have limited the severity and shortened the duration of so much suffering.
During the 1930s, as fascism spread and threatened to darken freedom’s torch throughout the world, the United States stood largely on the sidelines, as if somehow things would get better on their own. Only a day of infamy in December 1941, put an end to our inaction. Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto has often been quoted in referring to the successful attack on Pearl Harbor, “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.” Some historians are skeptical it was his quote, but you get the pattern. We Americans often seem to be asleep at the wheel (not a reference to the band).
It doesn’t end there or get any better. We didn’t realize that not all communist countries were part of the “evil empire” until we were well into the quagmire of Vietnam. It took Three Mile island to realize that nuclear power could be dangerous. We are still addicted to fossil fuels, even after the oil crises of the seventies (which is when I started advocating for developing alternative energy), and most recently, it took a comedian to shame Congress for the procrastination in taking care of the 9/11 first responders.
So yeah, we Americans have a consistent track record of being slow to react or act when it comes to some pretty important issues that face us. Regarding climate change, I hope it doesn’t take another Pearl Harbor type situation to wake up the sleeping giant. By then, it may not matter whether or when the cavalry shows up.