Climate Change Bill — not enough, but at least it’s something

Posted June 25th, 2009 in Blog, Featured 1 Comment »

Fostering Ecological Hope
Today from Margaret Swedish:

Well, House Speaker Pelosi is working hard to get the climate legislation passed.  Though it may not be adequate, it is something, it is a first — the first time the U.S. government might actually pass legislation that addresses the threat of climate change, that begins to create an enforceable regimen to bring down the rate of CO2 emissions contributed by the U.S. into our atmosphere.  We are not big fans of cap-and-trade, and we are not happy about the auction process for pollution permits, among other things,  however…

A beginning.  A positive first step.  If it passes the House, if it can be gotten through the Senate, if it can get to the president’s desk.   Still lots of work to do.

The timing is significant because it would strengthen the credibility of the U.S. as it goes to Copenhagen for the Climate Change Conference in December, where the nations of the world will try to come up with a treaty to begin slowing CO2 emissions in time to save us from climate catastrophe.

Carbon emissions 800,000 yr record - US Global Change Research Program

Carbon emissions 800,000 yr record - US Global Change Research Program

However, reflecting on the persistent resistance to acknowledging the need for more drastic and immediate action to slow emissions, I ponder this: how far to we intend to push this idea that we can somehow protect industries from drastic changes, even disappearance in the case of fossil fuels, and still be able to reduce CO2 to the 350 ppm considered optimal to keep anything like the climate in which the human species evolved and in which it created civilization?  We are already at well over 386 ppm (and that only counts CO2, not other greenhouse gases like methane and nitrous oxide), so I worry about the pace of change.

But a law represents recognition by government that we have a serious problem.  Progress.

Not a bad time to be in touch with members of Congress.  If you read the linked article, you see that there is no guarantee that this legislation will pass.  There are still some fossil-fuel backed Democrats in coal states like West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, etc. who don’t want to jeopardize future campaign contributions.

Sears Tower going green - Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Sears Tower going green - Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Meanwhile, progress is being made in the creation of the new energy future, and I just want to note one example today – the Sears Tower in Chicago.  Its owners are going to retrofit the building, put insulation in the windows, add gardens on roofs, add wind turbines, and cut electricity consumption by 80%.  They are also planning to build a completely sustainable 50-story hotel next to the tower.  They hope to prove that it is possible to renovate even our biggest buildings towards a sustainable future.

…the task is important because buildings worldwide account for more than 50 percent of carbon emissions.

So, while we are working towards a new energy regimen in this country with one hand, the other can be lent to creating right now the new world that will make it possible to mitigate some of the worst of the catastrophes to come if we continue business as usual any longer.  We don’t have to wait for Congress or China or the international community to begin playing our part in bringing us back down to 350 ppm.  This means our personal lifestyle choices, yes; but even more it means supporting and participating in the thousands of initiatives through which communities are already creating the new sustainable future.  We don’t have to wait for the transition, we can create it right where we are.


Learn more from NASA on climate change: NASA’s Eyes on the Earth


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One Response

  1. Steven Earl Salmony

    Dear Margaret,

    Thanks for being there, for your humanity, for your fidelity to science, and for all the great work you are doing.

    It appears the human community cannot keep growing in the unbridled ways we are now because the gigantic current scale and rapid expansion of distinctly human overpopulation, overconsumption and overproduction activities in the wondrous, finite world we are blessed to inhabit could become unsustainable soon. What worries me most is that many people in the human family do not yet even see what we have before us as a formidable predicament, let alone its forbidding and growing magnitude. From my humble vantage point, many too many pathologically arrogant and greedy leaders {aka, self-proclaimed Masters of the Universe} who do see the huge global challenges {climate destabilization is one of them} that could soon be confronted by the family of humanity have chosen not to speak of them, but to remain electively mute and in denial. Come what may for our children and coming generations.

    Although I am an ageing old worry-wart whose sight is failing and faculties are diminishing, it is necessary now for me to fulfill a “duty to warn” by reporting loudly, clearly and often that I see the potential for a colossal, human-induced ecological wreckage looming on the horizon. Hopefully, I am mistaken.

    Perhaps the necessary changes such as you are advocating are in the offing.



    Steven Earl Salmony, Ph.D., M.P.A.
    AWAREness Campaign on the Human Population,
    established 2001