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Here is a proposal for the next American president. The US should take the lead in setting up a massive, publicly funded research project to tackle climate change. The American government has, in the past, shown that it is capable of sponsoring pioneering science – from the Manhattan project that produced the atomic bomb to the space programme. Why not apply American energy, money and know-how to a new Manhattan project on global warming?

The secrets of the bomb and space programmes were kept closely guarded for security reasons. But climate change is a security issue for the whole world. So a US-led research project on technologies to tackle global warming could be a much more open and international affair. It would also have to be much more wide-ranging than the bomb or space programmes – sponsoring research on everything from alternative energy to carbon-capture and geo-engineering (such as efforts to create a stratospheric shield in the atmosphere).

The main purpose of any such programme would be to combat the obvious threats posed by climate change. But it would also have the incidental benefit of blunting one of the main sources of global anti-Americanism – the idea that the US is too casual about climate change.

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