Brent Bourgeois
Rock Musician, Songwriter and Producer
California, United States

In Paris, an Opportunity Lost

“Rising temperatures, flooded coastal cities, and drought-stricken farmlands combined to create the perfect storm of an Eco-disaster.”

Dear Future Family,

I know that by the time you read this you will have heard about what happened in Paris at the end of 2015. But I was alive then and wanted you to hear about it from me …

I am a true believer in the idea that history repeats itself. Almost one hundred years before this Paris conference, there was another conference in Paris that had enormous ramifications for the history of the world. It, too, involved an idealistic American president and a skeptical, recalcitrant Congress. Woodrow Wilson saw an opportunity in the carnage of World War I to create a world body that would prevent future wars by bringing disputes to an international organization before they ignited into full-blown conflict. Called the League of Nations, Wilson’s crowning achievement was embraced by the governing bodies of almost all nations except one–his own. Believing that joining such an organization would forever entangle the United States in European conflicts, the conservative U.S. Congress voted against American involvement in the League. Without American participation, the League of Nations lacked teeth. Eventually the world had to suffer through another devastating war, with tens of millions of people dead, before Wilson’s vision was finally realized–this time with American leadership–as the United Nations.

Fast-forward nearly one hundred years. An idealistic American president, Barack Obama, presented the conference in Paris with a sweeping vision of a world without fossil fuels, one based on renewable energy from the sun, the wind, and the tides. Understanding that this transition would not come without financial sacrifice for all leading nations, the President took the extraordinary step of committing the United States to 100% renewable energy by the year 2050, and further offered an “environmental Marshall Plan” to those countries who would commit to joining the United States in this goal, but lacked the resources to do so.

Immediately, President Obama became the most popular man on the planet and seemed to have created the lasting memory of his presidency. However, as Jesus said: “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town…” The majority Republican United States Congress defeated Obama’s sweeping program, calling it another unnecessary intrusion by the Federal government on the private sector and a needless addition to the deficit.

You well know how this played out. As in 1919, a great opportunity was lost in 2015. Rising temperatures, flooded coastal cities, and drought-stricken farmlands combined to create the perfect storm of an Eco-disaster, the ramifications of which you are dealing with in your present time. It is my hope that the more forward-looking leaders of your generation have combined to reverse this disaster and renew the world’s natural resources. I pray that you will be able to write a more optimistic letter to your descendants–the future is in your hands.

A rock musician, songwriter and producer, Bourgeois was co-leader of 80s band Bourgeois Tagg. His latest album is “Don’t Look Back.”