There’s enough scientific evidence to suggest that climate change is real. Although there are of course millions of people who doubt it, you can’t argue with science.
But most climate change activists have been having a hard time getting this message out there. Yes, climate change has been described as one of the most serious existential risks to our planet and yet it seems there are millions who don’t see it that way.
This is why these activists are starting to change their messaging around climate change and they are using a playbook from the 1980s cold war. During the Cold War between the US and the former Soviet Union, one of the key commitments made by both sides was to avoid a full-blown nuclear war. It would have just alienated the planet as we know it.
Climate change activists see the rising global temperatures posing the same existential threat as the proliferation of nuclear weapons. They are, therefore, arguing that messaging designed to fight this environmental crisis should be as serious and urgent as the same messaging used to avert a nuclear confrontation during the heart of the Cold War.
Ultimately, these activists hope that this kind of messaging will alleviate the seriousness of the climate risk we are facing. And because of that, more and more people will start taking it seriously.
Their main target is fossil fuels. In essence, activists want to push governments globally to commit to a “nonproliferation of fossil fuel treaty”, the same way they committed to the “nonproliferation of nuclear weapons.”
To put it simply, such a treaty would basically force states to end or put in place measures to transition our energy system from hydrocarbons to renewable energy. It would also mean ending state-supported fossil fuel exploration, ending coal, and introducing measures to curb the expansive use of fossil fuels.
Activists also feel that such a treaty would encourage governments to find new pathways to invest in renewable clean energy. It’s clear to see why such an argument makes sense.
Fossil fuels are heavily linked to rising global temperatures. But even then, we rely on them massively. Many analysts would argue that for many years, fossil fuels like oil, gas, and even coal have powered the global economy, something that has created jobs and livelihoods.
Ending the fossil fuel industry could lead to significant economic pain for millions of people. But climate change analysts argue that any job losses in fossil fuels could be easily offset by new jobs in renewable energy investments.
There’s also a lot of politics around fossil fuels. Convincing enough states, especially the biggest polluters in the world, to join such a nonproliferation treaty would be easier said than done.
But there’s hope that framing climate change as a “weapon of mass destruction”, albeit it’s slower than a real nuclear warhead, could be just enough to get a few heads turning. It’s a scare tactic though and there’s a chance it may not work. But it doesn’t hurt to try.