In his essay on Obama and climate change, novelist Ian McEwan says this:
The burning forests, the dissolving coral reefs, the extinction of species — we have numbed ourselves with these familiar litanies. During the past 30 years we have dealt with the issue, if at all, only in our minds. There are, of course, first signs of a new clean energy infrastructure — along certain stretches of the Danish coastline, on some German and Japanese rooftops, in certain deserts — but the effect so far is minuscule. We are still dreaming, still murmuring in our sleep as we grope for the levers that connect thoughts to actions.
This is exactly what I was trying to get at in this post, though with less rhetorical facility:
Most conferences on climate in the last decade could have been subtitled: Wouldn’t It Be Nice. Everything — technologies, industries, laws, habits — was discussed under the dark cloud of knowledge that the policies to support and accelerate a green future would not be forthcoming from the world’s natural leader, the U.S. George W. Bush had his finger firmly in the dike. It gave all the wonky conversations a slightly futile and farcical air, like an engine revving hotter and hotter but connected to no drive shaft. Vroom vroom! Sigh.
The Governors’ Summit, along with Obama’s election and many other things, really does seem to auger our emergence from a dreamy haze into real action.