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If climate change, dwindling oil supplies or species extinctions make life miserable for us in the near or not-so-near future, we’ll have no one to blame but ourselves. Like Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz,” we’ve had the answer — actually, many answers — all along.

There’s no shortage of solutions being offered for all the environmental problems staring us in the face. Worried about the global destabilization that might be created by climate change? International Alert offers a hopeful and detailed blueprint for averting climate conflict.¬†Concerned about U.S. energy consumption? The National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency outlines ways to improve energy efficiency across all sectors by 2025. Want to create a sustainable, clean-energy future for all the world’s inhabitants? The InterAcademy Council provides an in-depth plan.

It’s not the lack of solutions that’s the problem: it’s the political will. What we need is a Marshall Plan for global security, a Kennedy-like challenge to deal with climate change “before the decade is out.” Of course, it’s not politicians alone who are to blame: unless more of us demand change and elect leaders capable of thinking big, we’re part of the problem too.


Just when you think news about the environment couldn’t get much worse, along comes the latest Global Environmental Outlook from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). We can no longer treat the environment as a fringe issue, the report stated. Instead, governments and other agencies around the world need to address environmental concerns now or risk long-term damage to the global economy … as well as, of course, lasting damage to the Earth’s environmental systems.

While trying to urge action and hope for improvement, the report’s authors didn’t sugar-coat their findings: “‚ÄúThere are no major issues raised in Our Common Future for which the foreseeable trends are favourable.” The also noted that, while the international community has taken steps to address environmental problems like climate change, most efforts have been woefully inadequate.

If that’s not a wakeup call for everyone, I don’t know what is.