To the Editor:
Those of us old enough to remember the run-up to World War II will agree there are similarities to what is going on today.
A threat was looming in Europe, but not everyone agreed we should get involved. Most were happy to continue life as usual and hope things worked out.
Pearl Harbor changed everything. Suddenly, the nature of the threat became immediate and unavoidable. The need for national mobilization became compelling. Almost overnight, we embraced food, gasoline and rubber rationing, victory gardens, saving grease and tin cans, military conscription of our fathers and brothers, mothers and aunts working in defense plants and, of course, the ultimate sacrifice so many families tragically suffered.
Before Pearl Harbor, nobody would have consented to any of it.
Today, we face three simultaneous threats to national and global security, any one worthy of preventive national mobilization.
All three together, over the next 20 years, representing the most existential threat to civilization in history.
No. 1: Climate change is gathering momentum while we set records for fossil fuel consumption.
No. 2: Our farmlands are eroding topsoil, organic matter and nutrients from overtillage, while the chemical companies killing those soils make record profits, leaving us only 60 more years of crops.
No. 3: The cheap oil that fueled those depredations and grew our population from 1 billion to 7.7 billion soon will become significantly more expensive and less available. The loss of human life from crop failures later this century will be unprecedented in human history.
What our next “Pearl Harbor” will look like is anybody’s guess, but it surely will involve several hundred million climate refugees looking for something to eat by any means possible. When that happens, it will be too late to mobilize. It will be every person for themselves.
Given what we can see coming, what would be an appropriate preventive mobilization today?
No. 1: There would be immediate passage of a progressively increasing tax on carbon. No. 2: Every farmer in the world would be paid $150 an acre each year for four years to adopt organic practices, no-till, multispecies cover crops, mob-grazed livestock and planted woodlots.
Donovan C. Wilkin