The late, great Chick Hearn, play-by-play broadcaster for the Los Angeles Lakers for 42 years and one of my true role models, is famous for his incredible work ethic, never missing a game for a streak of 3,338 from 1965 to 2001. He not only invented the terms “slam dunk,” “air ball,” and “no harm, no foul” among dozens and dozens of others, he united Los Angeles in a way no mayor, business leader, celebrity or religious figure ever has or ever will. He transcended the sport of basketball and his death in 2002 has left a void in Southern California’s spirit ever since.
Chick had an enthusiasm, drive and a sense of urgency that were legendary among those of us who studied him. Hearn was always the first guy in his plane or bus seat whenever the Lakers returned back home from a road game.
The second Chick could confirm that all the players, coaches and staff were on board he’d want to know why the pilot hadn’t taken off yet. “Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go!” Chick would yell out.
Nobody had better timing than the man who offered us his “words eye view” in real time based on what he saw happening in front of him.
Lately I’ve been feeling like yelling “Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go!” to the pilots who are supposed to be flying us into the future, because while they wait on the runway fueled by incremental changes, half measures, baby steps and compromised goals designed not to offend or antagonize anyone, our flight is already so late we’re not going to land on time. Worse yet, the pilots are still in no hurry to take off.
Never mind the analogies, let me give it to you straight – If you think there is still time to stop global warming and the effect it’s going to have on all of us for the rest of our lives, I’m afraid you’re wrong. We’re already past that point now. We’re already at the point that demands a sense of urgency and bold, decisive action starting today. You may think that’s an exaggeration or an overreaction to what’s happening, but I believe most people have no clue about what’s happening.
That’s one of the dangers of really studying and learning about this issue – you have to face the ugly truth. Not only that, but if you’re a Creative Greenius, you not only need to clue people in, you’ve also got to have a positive solution for them. Rest assured I do.
Here’s why YOU need to have a sense of urgency:
In November 2007, the head of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) tried to issue a warning. He said, “If there’s no action before 2012, that’s too late. What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future. This is the defining moment.” Do you remember reading that headline? Me neither.
What part of that wasn’t urgent enough? And Rajendra Pachauri, fellow Nobel Peace Prize winner, along with Al Gore, isn’t known as some kind of wide-eyed radical given to making outrageous statements. He was chosen to head the IPCC because he was a soft-spoken moderate.
The IPCC climate change report itself was the work of more than 2000 of the world’s top climate change scientists who conducted the most detailed and exhaustive review of all scientific knowledge about global warming. The report leaves no doubt about the sense of urgency or the defining moment we are now at. No doubt.
But you no doubt heard a lot more about the baseball steroid scandal or Britney Spears sister getting pregnant than you did about the fact that we have two to three years to determine our future. I bet you probably saw the video of the beauty pageant bimbo bumbling her question about why so many Americans can’t find the USA on a map or the YouTube video offering those Asian prisoners dancing to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”
But I know you didn’t see the video of the world’s greatest climate scientists begging government leaders in Bali to take “radical action to slow global warming because ‘there is no time to lose.’
On December 5, 2007, the Associated Press ran a story headlined, “Scientists Beg for Climate Action.” 215 climate scientists, frustrated and fed up, signed a petition calling for the the world to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2050. The scientists made their plea to the group gathered in Bali, Indonesia to negotiate the new global warming treaty.
These scientists have never issued a plea like this or signed a petition on this issue before. In fact, the scientists have stayed away from issuing calls to action, leaving that for green advocacy groups. But now they can’t wait for someone else to act. But I bet you didn’t read about this or hear about it on the radio, or see it on TV.
Instead you heard a big deal being made over the new “energy bill” and how US car makers will have to average 35 miles per gallon by 2020. How’s that for a sense of urgency? Seems as if the members of Congress and the Bush Administration didn’t hear the scientists or understand the UN report either.
Maybe that’s why there is no funding for solar or wind and why the requirement that by 2020 15% of electricity come from clean, renewable energy was eliminated from the bill. We need to take urgent action in the next 2-3 years, but 15% renewable energy is too ambitious for us. Where is the leadership? Where is the intelligence?
It isn’t coming from the crop of Republicans or Democrats who want to be the next leaders of the USA either. None of the Presidential candidates has made the global warming issue their chief cause, none of them have separated themselves from the pack by becoming the undeniable green candidate. Not a single one of them mentions any of what you’ve just read in any speech or position paper. Why? Isn’t it a big enough issue? Don’t they think people will get it?
And it’s not as if we’re not up to the challenge. We already have the renewable energy technology ready to go to start reducing those greenhouse gasses the way we need to. And we already know what has to be done. We could start today if the people blocking action would stop being part of the problem and start being part of the solution.
But the people in the automotive and oil and coal industries made their fortunes on products that harm your health and the health of the planet and they are no different from the cigarette industry. The only way they will do the right thing is when they are forced to. So it’s up to us to force them.
And that’s going to mean people like you and me stepping up and providing leadership in the void left by our current elected officials. When the head of the Environmental Protection Agency strikes down the state of California’s tough air emission measures we need to speak out and support our state which has now filed suit to overturn the EPA’s move.
This is a key moment in time for us and the EPA has been dragging its feet for over 2 years now. When the one federal agency that is supposed to protect the environment is fighting a state with as much air pollution as we have in California and giving us lame, political excuses it’s time to step up, speak out and fight back.
The urgent threat we face toady does not need to become a disaster or horror story. This should be an exciting start of a new era of clean energy, fresh directions and an explosion of new industries, new jobs and the kind of future we all want to leave to the next generation. All it takes is some Creative Greenius.
Those of us who get it and understand the sense of urgency need to reach out to each other not just here in the USA but around the world. Billions of Chinese share the same need to act as Americans do.
And we need to do more than reach out, blog, write and talk. We need to do more than just green our homes and businesses. We need to get more involved and participate in the process. We need to serve on city commissions, citizen task forces and political action groups. That’s why I’m filing my application here in the City of Torrance to become a member of the Environmental Quality and Energy Conservation committee. It’s not a political move on my part, it’s an acceptance of my civil responsibility. It may take me a while to get there, but I’ve begun the process.
We cannot wait any longer for leadership that isn’t coming from the current establishment. We need to become the leaders and lead the way.
Let’s go! Let’s go! Let’s go!