Will this gathering of nations focus on environmental protection, “new definitions of national security”, planetary awareness we’ve been pushing since the 1970s, an environmental security pursued after an eye-opening ‘Earthrise’, a first ‘Whole Earth’ vision, and a first Earth Day… Questions abound at the 27th global climate conference with thousands of attendees
Let’s take a trip thru the years and focus on questions and questing… Let’s call our trip “From then ’til now”…
Now is key light time, time to shine a light on the life of a “planet citizen” and “planet citizens”. For years we’ve written about a new generation of “planet citizens, planet scientists” and now in November 2022 your Strategic Demands editor will be exploring a story of a planet citizen who practiced ‘Big Science’.
Our story starts with a light focusing on George E. Brown, the ‘big science guy’ as he was called over his decades in the U.S. Congress. Planet citizens like George Brown changed our world. His story is our story and brings up many deeper questions with linked stories over the years… Click thru your editor’s memories here of George, if you choose to see and ride along on a multi-decade journey of planet-citizens-in-the making.
December 24, 1968 | “Earthrise”
Our story begins in the mid 1960s with a student meeting a newly elected Congressman in East Los Angeles to talk about a debate topic — nuclear weapons proliferation.
Here’s the Congressman
Here’s the student
Here’s a first chapter of the Congressman and student meeting and the story’s beginning. Start here, a look back, then we visit some touch points of a continuing journey:
“On the 50th Anniversary: Memories on the Road to the First Earth Day”
After a first meeting at the Congressman’s office, a long talk about nuclear weapons of destruction, multinational threats, and how we can move toward peace and security, the student would begin referring to the Congressman as “My Friend George”. They, Congressman George E. Brown and Steve Schmidt, your Strategic Demands founder/editor, began what became a 30+ years friendship and, over time, their work aligned as colleagues on a political quest, envisioning change.
George and Steve can be said to be a generational arc of a story. George, as a trained physicist and engineer was passing a torch of knowledge, lessons how to make visions become real. The politics became a green politics, generational science passed forward, tools for action and problem solving, a story-in-progress.
The student on the left in this photo, who is now the editor of Strategic Demands, also became close with another figure named Brown during these years, Jerry Brown, and would in the course of presidential campaigns work on the drafting of the 1992 “Platform in Progress”. This story of a presidential platform and campaign (that finished runner up) is for another day, but Jerry Brown’s role in green politics is strong in many ways, an activist, truth-teller, insurgent, California governor. Here’s more on Jerry Brown at GreenPolicy360.
Green politics came from politics of values. Science that looked to the future was a key value. We spoke of being ‘out in front’, facts, reasoning, an expansion of rights and quality of life platform. A ‘values-based politics’ became your editor’s mantra. A green politics of Earth Science and an eco-ethics and eco-nomics were foundations. George Brown and Jerry Brown both had integral roles in shaping green politics and green best practices.
Here is how I described George years ago, after his passing in 1999.
George E. Brown was a special person who brought a physics and engineering background to Congress — and directions based on a mission. George saw what others didn’t really understand and when he showed me the original Mission Statement of NASA, I began to understand. Here is the key phrase — To understand and protect our home planet…
George Brown was a man who saw the original NASA Mission Statement, “to understand” and “protect our home planet” as a directive.
Here is how I described George pointing at words on paper and then looking up and saying words along the lines of…. ‘we’re doing it and we’re really going to do it big time.’ He liked to talk about how it felt to tell NASA what to do (and how, when he drafted the first National Climate Program Act how so much more climate science knowledge was needed and needed fast….
Climate Problems, Climate Solutions
George was a congressman who was a quiet, effective mover and shaker, as we called those types back then. The fact is, though few realize this now, George personally set in motion a flock of satellite missions and for decades shepherded U.S. earth science research programs. He knew that good science, data, facts were going to be necessary to understand and act upon global warming, the climate challenge, which now with facts, models, and increasing data most all in science acknowledge is a climate crisis.
Your Strategic Demands founder/editor and GreenPolicy360 founder/editor learned of the Congressman’s work close at hand over the years, witnessing the Congressman’s unique contributions in his Congressional oversight roles. George set in motion Earth Science, Climate Science, Atmospheric Science, Ocean Science and with legislation/budgets and shepherding (yes, shepherding as he especially protected the Landsat mission, now running fifty years+), George Brown envisioned and turned visions into reality, creating NASA Earth Science missions that continue to this day.
The missions/programs/projects, with all the associated and affiliated institutions, the JPLs, CalTechs, the universities, businesses, the resulting science, the switch to digital imaging and digitized databases, and trendlines now coming into focus, have become essential tools to understanding, measuring/monitoring climate change and providing today’s generation a foundation to understand and act upon one of today’s most profound global security challenges.
In the 1960s and 1970s we were just beginning to observe and study the facts and science of climate change, even as we were realizing with nuclear weapons and a flash point of the Cuban Missile Crisis how close civilization was to what some were calling “the end times”.
Today, 2.0 nuclear proliferation — “eve of destruction” war — climate change — apocalyptic quotes are all around us. The news of The Climate news is news everyday, today at the global climate conference, tomorrow with severe weather and further scientific warnings. Nuclear weapons news, threats and escalation, proliferation and ‘modernization’ are there to see.
Climate change and nukes are clear and present dangers to our national and global security.
Planet citizens, Earth is in our hands…
Our story is here and now — a global climate crisis and nuclear weapons crisis.
Both climate and nuclear weapons are inherited and ours to deal with.
It is time to act. Earth is in our hands.
SJS / November 2022
Planet Citizen Action