— Frank Luntz, conservative strategist, 2002
Global warming is real (conservatives secretly know this). — David Brooks, New York Times columnist, 2005
The global- warming problem is no longer primarily a scientific matter. Science has told us what we need to know about how life on this planet will be ruined if we stay on our current greenhouse gas emissions path. Global warming is also not a technological problem. We have the technologies to avoid the disasters that await us if we keep doing nothing.
Today, global warming is a problem of politics and political will. We lack the will to take the necessary actions — and many of the actions we are poised to take are either inadequate or ill conceived. The great political tragedy of our time is that conservative leaders in America have chosen to use their superior messaging and political skills to thwart serious action on global warming, thereby increasing the chances that catastrophic climate change will become a reality.
Global warming should not be a partisan issue — not when the health, well- being, and security of the next fifty generations of Americans are at stake. But it has become partisan, at least in this country. In order to determine how to create the politics of action in the next decade, we must understand what the politics of inaction has caused in the past decade. That’s what this chapter is about.