Monday, July 23, 2012

The Award for Best Use of a Pogoism in Climate Change Journalism Goes To...

...Bill McKibben for "we have met the enemy and they is Shell" in Global Warming's Terrifying New Math (Rolling Stone, published online July 19, 2012, coming out in the Aug. 2, 2012, print edition). A really great piece of journalism, hopefully not falling on deaf ears in Washington as the summer brings about one superlative after another (hottest/ dryest/ biggest heatwave/ drought/ wildfire/ etc.).

This is a tweak on the 1970 Pogoism "we have met the enemy and they is us" by Walt Kelly. It is a parody of "We have met the enemy, and they are ours" (authored by U.S. Navy Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry after the Battle of Lake Erie in 1813). In 1953 Walt Kelly first parodied this phrase in the Pogo Papers' forward ("A Word to the Fore"): remains true that those things which make us human are, curiously enough, always close at hand. Resolve then, that on this very ground, with small flags waving and tinny blasts on tiny trumpets, we shall meet the enemy, and not only may he be ours, he may be us.
(From Wikiquote)

It was later used on a 1970 Earth Day poster.

After you read what McKibben says -- that we can't control climate change until we put a price on carbon -- it's something of a relief to read Walt Kelly, reminding us of all that makes us human, bad and good. As much as Shell is the enemy, Shell is also a company of people, and we are people. It is just as true, therefore, by my lights, that we are the ones who can make this right-- put a price on carbon and make the fossil-fuel industry as a whole internalize the externality of climate change. Hopefully not after the focusing event that I fear will be required to motivate the people at Shell and ExxonMobil and BP-- the catastrophic flooding of an economic center like lower Manhattan.

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