Imagine if we said that seat belts were not going to prevent all auto related deaths so we did not make them mandatory. Imagine if we did not have drunk driving laws because some people are going to drink and drive anyway. Imagine if we did not have any screening of bags at the airport because someone with bad intentions will eventually get something through anyway. Imagine the same examples for texting and driving, lead paint, leaded fuel, athletic protective gear, and so on…. One of core goals we have as a society is the preservation of life and the advances in safety we have made have been towards that end. We learn, we adapt, and we evolve.
When it comes to climate change mitigation discussions and gun violence prevention discussions; a quick argument that is frequently made against taking any action, is that it will not be 100% effective. Why move away from fossil fuels if the sea level is going to rise anyway from all of the carbon already in the atmosphere? Why impose any changes to gun purchasing because if a bad person wants to get a gun they will find a way? Setting the bar to 100% is unreasonable and is an invalid position. As humans we constantly reside in the gray and that is a perfectly acceptable place to be, things are rarely simplistic enough to be black and white.
Imagine if transitioning to cleaner energy sources could minimize future environmental disasters or if modified gun legislation could prevent one mass school shooting, would it then be worth it? How many lives does a change need to save to be worth it? I do not think any reasonable person would say 100% but yet that is quickly the unreasonable standard that is set in these discussions. I am encouraged with the 70 members (35R / 35D) of the Climate Solutions Caucus and the direction their dialog is going as their group continues to grow. I am encouraged by some of the recent town hall style discussions taking place on how to better ensure the safety of our children at school; as I recently mentioned, having a dialogue is a critical part of the equation. Now the next step is to determine what success looks like and agreeing that there is room for compromise in the answer. The consequences of inaction are too great.