| The Soapbox |

Climate’s Indefatigable Champion

As well-intentioned Kerry may be, climate change is not particularly high up in polls on the biggest issues of the day


Spewing 500 pounds a minute of climate-destroying carbon, the private jet took off from Boston last week bound for Iceland. Its passenger, a tall patrician man with an important title, probably spent the six-hour trip reading reports, his half-frame glasses perched at the tip of his nose in perpetual displeasure at humankind’s foibles.

John Kerry — his career downgraded from a former secretary of state who negotiated the Iran nuclear deal to a member of the nomenklatura in charge of winning the climate war — flew to Iceland, adding 60 metric tons of carbon to the atmosphere, to collect an award. For what? For his efforts to combat climate change. If it weren’t so sad, it would be laughable.

But you can laugh anyhow. All that’s left of Kerry’s Iran deal is a broken leg and a whole new set of pen pals to keep him company through the long Boston winters. And all that’s left of his climate trip is some volcanic rock jewelry for Teresa and more hypocrisy than the carbon that blew through the plane’s exhaust.

And all that carbon, of course. If you believe in the stuff. Do I? Good question. I’m not a scientist, and I understand that there’s a big machlokes whether human activity contributes to climate change, or even whether the climate is a-changin’. But I do know that there’s this huge pandemic going on, with thousands of Americans dying every day and millions of people poorer now than they were a year ago.

As well-intentioned Kerry may be — and I don’t think he’s ever been right in the entirety of his calling, from tossing his military medals during Vietnam War protests in the 1970s, to deciding that accepting a climate award was in any way important in the 2020s — climate change is not particularly high up in polls on the biggest issues of the day. Gallup, as of January, has two percent of Americans worried more about the climate than anything else.

So you have a lifelong politician, handed the equivalent of “go around the corner and check if it’s raining” by President Biden, fly off in a method that most contributes to his job security during a once-in-a-century emergency. Listen, Greta Thunberg might be a naive schoolgirl, but there’s something to respect about a 16-year-old taking a month off from school to sail on the slow boat to the United States so she can harangue the world’s elite about the climate. You don’t accomplish much, but you also don’t contribute to the problem.

Confronted about his choice of travel, Kerry responded by claiming that he “offsets” his carbon and that it’s “the only choice for somebody like me who is traveling the world to win this battle.”

Well, I, too, drive, warm my home with coal, and fly to win this battle. It’s not reported breathlessly by the media, but you can be assured that I am in this fight to win. I may have taken a few days off because of the cold weather, but I’ll be back in the thick of it in no time. Because it’s what the American people deserve.

It’s hard, especially because people just laugh at my efforts on behalf of the climate. But John and I will not stop fighting for you — he from his jet and me from my warm Brooklyn home.

(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 848)

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