Thursday, June 25, 2009

While the planet burns ...

On Friday, the Congress will vote on an "energy" bill, known usually by the names of its writers and House legislative managers, Waxman-Markey. It aims to reduce or at least cap carbon emissions, the driver of global warming. It's been negotiated near to death and many believe it's become close to useless, except symbolically. Here's a smorgasbord of opinions.

As with health care reform, I don't claim to understand all the policy minutiae embedded in these matters, but I am interested in the politics. Here's Matt Yglesias on why our Congresscritters can't see their way to even reduce climate change, much less combat it.

...there's really no getting around the fact that the best feasible legislative outcome isn't good enough according to the climate science. What we're left with is essentially the hope for an iterative process -- a flawed bill that makes progress helps spur a productive meeting in Copenhagen helps spur some kind of bilateral deal with China which helps create the conditions for further domestic legislation. I think this is the best idea anyone has, but it's a pretty dicey proposition. Bottom line is that to get a better bill you need a situation wherein a non-trivial number of Republicans are willing to contemplate emissions reductions. Faced with uniform Republican support for untrammeled pollution, the only viable legislative path involves buying off every Democrat.

In theory, we're this big-brained animal that has survived and thrived because it outwitted its potential competitors for the role of dominant species on the planet.

How come we're so dumb?
Via Andrew Leonard, I hear that Berkeley has ended its program to use biofuels in city vehicles as an anti-carbon pollution measure because growing all that corn makes for more CO2 releases than using everyday gas.

Not so dumb.
Via the Washington Post, I see that most of us think the government should step up to the task of controlling climate damage.

Three-quarters of Americans think the federal government should regulate the release into the atmosphere of greenhouse gases from power plants, cars and factories to reduce global warming, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, with substantial majority support from Democrats, Republicans and independents.

This is beginning to look like the healthcare reform debate: three quarters of us want the government to do its job -- a few law makers just want to keep their contributions from the bad guys and perhaps serve their local interests at the expense of most people.

Meanwhile, where's Obama on all this? His people understand the science, even if Congress doesn't/won't.

1 comment:

Darlene said...

It isn't that the policymakers are dumb; it's that they are greedy. They care more about the money coming into their re-election campaigns than what is good for the planet or for people.

Maybe we, the people, should get back on our platforms to try and change the way our obscenely costly elections are held. Until then, no sensible legislation will pass.

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