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Journalist Gelbspan addresses reality of climate change

Published: April 18, 2008
Section: News

In Earthfest’s concluding event, journalist and environmental advocate Ross Gelbspan discussed his perspective on climate change. In front of a small crowd in Lown Auditorium Wednesday evening, Gelbspan introduced his topic as “God awful.”

Gelbspan, a former editor at The Boston Globe, began reporting on environmental issues after learning of a cover-up by oil and coal companies. His original impulse to involve himself with this work “had nothing to do with trees,” he said.

“We are standing at the threshold of runaway climate change,” Gelbspan remarked at the beginning of his speech. In order to effectively mobilize public support, Gelbspan explained, the press must effectively inform the public of the reality of global warming. However, “the carbon lobby has mounted a successful campaign of deception and misinformation,” he said.

“The coal influence has muted the press,” Gelbspan continued.

As such, Gelbspan denounced the oil industry’s public denial of global warming as one of the biggest obstacles to change.

“We need a switch,” to green energy, Gelbspan remarked, “and we needed it yesterday.”

Gelbspan also criticized the Bush administration for its failure to support meaningful environmental policy.

Gelbspan further argued that climate change will lead to greater instability in geopolitics.

One of the “casualties of climate change is the democratic process itself,” he stated. Chaos caused by extreme environmental changes would likely lead to totalitarian governmental measures, he said. As such, the battle against climate change “requires a revival of our system of participatory democracy,” Gelbspan commented.

Acknowledging climate change, Gelbspan said, “plays havoc with one’s sense of future.”

“It’s a bittersweet kind of awakening,” he added.

Even so, Gelbspan said that climate change can act as a unifying force. “We are citizens of one profoundly distressed planet,” he said. “The global climate makes us one.”

Gelbspan stressed cooperation between countries. “We need to elevate cooperation over competition,” he said.

He explained the importance of countries embarking on clean energy switches in tandem in order that one country doesn’t suffer a decrease in competitiveness as it makes the transition.

Embarking on a transition from fossil fuel to clean energy will create a tremendous number of new jobs in developing countries, Gelbspan explained, thereby helping to create “a far more equitable, secure, and prosperous world.”

“Our survival depends on a willingness to join together as a global community,” Gelbspan remarked. “Nature is giving us another chance to finally get it right.”