When Franklin Roosevelt took office in 1933, he launched the New Deal, which provided a lesson in the relationship between economic risk and political opportunity and established a legacy of durable reforms.

For that accomplishment — along with winning World War II — historians rank him among the greatest presidents. This is a lesson President Obama is trying to follow.

Roosevelt was able to implement policies aiming to deal with immediate challenges of the Great Depression and to benefit generations of future Americans. To follow this example Obama needs to persuade Americans to see opportunities in the present crisis as well.

All the New Deal reforms that endured had a common purpose — not simply to end the immediate crisis of the Depression, but also to make America less risky in the future and to temper for generations thereafter what FDR called the “hazards and vicissitudes” of life.

Roosevelt’s legacies dramatically changed the character of the ensuing Greater Generation (of which this writer was fortunate to be a member), as well as the opportunities of millions born well after the Depression passed.

The New Deal reforms were an unprecedented success. As a result, there was conspicuous upward social mobility of several postwar generations of both genders and all races and ethnicities.

Now, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for a “Green New Deal” that would rebuild and reshape the economy of planet Earth in ways reminiscent of the programs that President Roosevelt used to revive the economy in the United States during the Great Depression.

Today, the entire world faces economic turmoil. Environmental policies can create jobs, reignite global growth and improve the quality of the world environment.

The 30 rich countries that are members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development have called for radical changes in the way the world drives its cars, operates its factories and. indeed. the global economy. the OECD declares that “a global revolution is needed in ways that energy is supplied and used.”

China is ahead of all other nations with regard to most energy technologies. Applied Materials, a U.S. company that makes sophisticated solar panels, is opening the world’s most sophisticated research and development center — in China, where 50 percent of the solar panels are made. Because that’s where the customers are.

In America, the Senate is trying to forge a bipartisan climate/energy/jobs bill that would for the first time put a long-term fixed price on carbon that is needed to induce U.S. industry and consumers to start shifting the economy to clean-power innovations.

So far, President Obama has done a good job in securing stimulus money for greenhouse technology and using his regulatory authority to compel the auto industry to improve mileage standards.

Now he needs to display leadership to pass an energy bill that will promote energy efficiency and lower future costs for driving, heating or cooling, as well as reduce carbon in the atmosphere and make America a healthy country.

This will also reduce the money going to OPEC and provide more revenue to rebuild America’s education and transportation systems, and create more inhabitable urban communities. The goals should be to create more efficient utility grids, traffic management, food distribution, water conservation and health care.

FDR championed a long-deferred reform agenda that put great emphasis on personal security.

Obama also wants to advance another set of reforms that have long been stalled.

He has already used the crisis to propose new regulations for banks and the financial industry. There are significant objectives ahead. Universal health care was first advocated by Theodore Roosevelt in 1912. A coherent energy policy has been pushed since Franklin Roosevelt. And there is a host of education, environmental and national security issues.

It is useful to recall what President Roosevelt said in 1933 when he launched the New Deal. “The nation is asking for action, and action now.”

Today, the global economy — and the planet itself — are asking for the same thing.

Obama will be judged not simply on whether he manages to rescue us from the current economic crisis, but also on whether he grasps the opportunity to make us more resilient to face those future crises that inevitably await us.

Dr. Lloyd V. Stover is an environmental scientist. During the 1950s he was an adviser to several administrations and was acquainted with numerous New Deal administrators. He may be reached at ursine005@gmail.com.