As they were walking, they saw thirty or forty of the windmills found in that countryside, and as soon as Don Quixote caught sight of them, he said to his squire:
“Good fortune is guiding our affairs better than we could have desired, for there you see, friend Sancho Panza, thirty or more enormous giants with whom I intend to do battle and whose lives I intend to take, and with the spoils we shall begin to grow rich, for this is righteous warfare, and it is a great service to God to remove so evil a breed from the face of the earth.”
“What giants?” said Sancho Panza.
“Those you see over there,” replied his master, “with the long arms; sometimes they are almost two leagues long.”
“Look, your grace,” Sancho responded, “those things that appear over there aren’t giants but windmills, and what looks like their arms are the sails that are turned by the wind and make the grindstone move.”
“It seems clear to me,” replied Don Quixote, “that thou art not well-versed in the matter of adventures: these are giants; and if thou art afraid, move aside and start to pray whilst I enter with them in fierce and unequal combat.”
–First Part, Chapter VIII
An editorial in the New York Times today reads: “Apart from the disinformation sowed by politicians content with the status quo, the main reason neither congress nor much of the American public cares about global warming is that, as problems go, it seems remote. Anyone who reads the latest National Climate Assessment, released on Tuesday, cannot possibly think that way any longer. The report is exhaustive and totally alarming.
“The study, produced by scientists from academia, government and the private sector, is the definitive statement of the present and future effects of climate change on the United States. Crippling droughts will become more frequent in drier regions; torrential rains and storm surges will increase in wet regions; sea levels will rise and coral reefs in Hawaii and Florida will die.”
People unconcerned about global warming, it is the scientists who are mistaking windmills for giants. What’s the big deal? It will all work out. Come what may, my fairy godmother will sweep in and rescue us all. Anyway, it has nothing to do with what we will face in our lifetimes. Relax. Don’t pay any attention to those “the-end-is-near” granola types.
The editorial concludes: “The surest antidotes are continued presidential resolve, backed by voters sensitized to climate warming’s dangers.” (My italics.)
The power to change things can’t originate in the government: The system is too inept. It has to be a grassroots movement. And it has to spread like an antidote to wildfire.
We’ve got to convince the Sancho Panzas of the world that they need to see what the facts tell us and what requires only a little foresight: Those aren’t windmills, they’re giants. And now is the time to ready ourselves for combat.