The two of us don’t agree on everything, but we do agree wholeheartedly that the United States needs a full-scale mobilization to tackle the climate crisis the same way our country won World War II. We are absolutely convinced that we can do this in a way that makes our nation healthier and more just, with more jobs and greater opportunities for everyone.
And this will only be possible if we unite unlikely allies to make it happen. So we founded a coalition called World War Zero.
For too long, the people most affected by climate change have been left out of the conversation entirely or felt they’ve only been “talked at.” We need a new kind of discourse that’s inclusive and connects every audience with voices they trust if we’re going to build a groundswell that can’t be ignored by anyone, anywhere.
Our own partnership speaks to what’s possible.
One of us is a Republican, and a conservative former Governor who proudly championed many efforts to protect the environment in Ohio, including strong renewable-energy policies and standards that reduced the state’s carbon emissions by almost 30 percent. The very word “conservative” signals our commitment to conserve, value, and protect those things that matter most to our American way of life and to our future. In that same spirit, we are calling on more conservatives to stand up and do something on this all-important matter.
One of us is a lifelong Democrat, a lifelong environmentalist, and a former United States Senator and Secretary of State who believes that the climate crisis can only be solved by galvanizing global action and cooperation — “all hands on deck” at home and overseas.
Both of us grew up in the shadows of World War II, fought by our parents’ generation. We know that the climate crisis needs to be approached like the greatest battle of our time, because that’s what it is — a fight for our environment, our health, our national security, our jobs and economy. It’s a fight for our future. World War II was won because people with fundamental differences came together to fight the common enemy. This must be no different.
We launched World War Zero to bring together the aforementioned group of unlikely allies — Democrats, Republicans and independents, scientists, military leaders, business leaders, diplomats, entertainers, and ordinary people from all walks of life — committed to mobilizing, speaking up, and tackling this threat together. We are working to use this new coalition to fuse the incredible energy of young activists with the experience and leadership of people who have been in this fight for years. Last but not least we are bringing along and inviting people who have never before felt connected to this issue, because there is so much that must be done. No one person can do it alone and every voice must be heard.
We need business and industry leaders to demonstrate how sustainability and clean energy technology are good for workers, good for businesses, and good for the economy. Just like America’s shift to wartime footing in the 1940s helped build out our industrial base, bringing with it a decades-long expansion of the middle class, there’s a manufacturing revolution just waiting to be unleashed, creating new jobs that will accompany a clean energy economy.
Now, in the same can-do, entrepreneurial spirit, we need millions of activists to take individual actions to address climate change themselves. During World War II Americans would conserve resources like rubber and nylon, encouraged by iconic posters proclaiming, “don’t you know there’s a war on?” We need a similar mindset today, because each of us can make a difference if we know how much is at stake.
To make that happen, we need to do more to reach out to our fellow citizens who may not yet be convinced that the climate crisis impacts them, their families, their economic security, and our national security.
World War Zero is galvanizing 10 million conversations this year to connect a group of voices —the business leaders, scientists, military leaders, artists and entertainers, diplomats, and everyday citizens and activists — with the people who may need to hear something different than what they’ve heard from cable news or partisans.
These conversations must address what Americans can see with their own eyes: once-in-a-generation floods happening more and more often, hurricanes getting stronger and more destructive, wildfires raging harder each year, farmers who are losing more crops – the list goes on.
We also believe in the power of showing everyone the upside of climate solutions. If we do this right, not only will we avoid another devastating crisis, but we will create millions of new jobs, secure a safer, healthier world for our kids, and strengthen our national security.
Sadly, as we look toward that future, all of us in the present-day world are experiencing what happens when leaders refuse to listen to scientists and experts, fail to invest in preparation and readiness, and ignore crises until they explode.
It’s not too late to prevent this from happening with the worst impacts of the climate crisis, but we have to climb out of our ideological bunkers, and bring people together from all walks of life, all parts of the country, and all ends of the political spectrum to agree that the climate crisis is real and it must be solved.
World War Zero is committed to winning this war. Enlist in this fight with us so that, in the battle against the climate crisis, everyone will “know that there’s a war on” — and it will finally feel like the world is winning again.
John Kerry served as United States secretary of state from 2013-2017; John Kasich served as governor of Ohio from 2011-2019.