Greenpeace activists display a banner reading before a news conference of the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change in Incheon, South Korea, on Oct. 8. (Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images)

Robert J. Samuelson’s Oct. 15 op-ed, “On global warming, is it mission impossible?,” was a cry of despair when we need recognition that nothing unites us like a common enemy.

Climate change is the equivalent of World War II; it can unite the countries of the world, open up new technologies and provide new jobs. With a “can-do” as opposed to a “this is pretty much hopeless” attitude, humans have the opportunity to change the world.

But it requires human energy, courage and vision. Think of Rosie the Riveter installing solar panels as opposed to attaching rivets. Europe is leading the way. President Trump has said we can’t stop it, so we won’t try. Those who care about their children and grandchildren need to make themselves heard.

Elisabeth Waugaman, Rockville

Robert J. Samuelson was overly pessimistic about possibilities for averting disastrous climate change. Drastically reducing emissions from fossil fuel combustion, the dominant energy source for our entire civilization, is indeed a daunting problem for which no single and painless magic bullet is at hand. But, as Robert Socolow outlined many years ago, a group of well-established technologies could be individually scaled up and applied to take a bite out of the challenge. Examples include energy efficiency, shifts to less carbon-intensive fuels, capture and storage of emissions, nuclear power, renewable energy sources and agricultural practices.

In each of these areas, numerous options, available knowledge and demonstrated technology exist. With focused research, development and application, each could nibble away at the problem. Together, their incremental reductions would go far toward stabilizing our atmosphere and our climate. The missing element is not technology but political will.

John S. Perry, Alexandria

Robert J. Samuelson argued that “maybe nothing” can be done about global warming, mainly because the litany of facts concerning global warming is not sufficiently inspirational to get mankind off its collective duff to do something about it.

President John F. Kennedy’s moon speech inspired a generation to literally shoot for the moon, and they did it. Five decades later, this generation’s moonshot must be conquering global warming. Perhaps paraphrasing JFK’s poignant words will sufficiently inspire:

We choose to conquer global warming in this decade, not because it is easy, but because it poses an existential threat to life as we know it on this Earth. That goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies, resources and skills; because that challenge is one that we must accept, one we cannot postpone, and one that we must win, for the sake of mankind and the life of our planet. 

Bill Marriott, Springfield