Sunday, July 8, 2007

Live Earth - Now What?

So the show is over, the bands and fans have gone home, and there were some 1,800 articles listed on Google News about the whole thing. So what does it really mean? What happens next? Will it make a difference?

Probably the most blistering speech given was by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr at the New Jersey show. His point was basically that all of us can and should do all of the little things they recommend to reduce our individual impact; however national public policy can only change when the politicians in Washington do it.

For those of us here in the Fifth, we already know Representative Scott Garrett is against Congress taking action on climate change. Garrett recently was the only Representative from New Jersey to vote to strip the following language from an appropriations bill (h/t Scott in NJ):
SEC. 501. (a) The Congress finds that--

(1) greenhouse gases accumulating in the atmosphere are causing average temperatures to rise at a rate outside the range of natural variability and are posing a substantial risk of rising sea-levels, altered patterns of atmospheric and oceanic circulation, and increased frequency and severity of floods, droughts, and wildfires;

(2) there is a growing scientific consensus that human activity is a substantial cause of greenhouse gas accumulation in the atmosphere; and

(3) mandatory steps will be required to slow or stop the growth of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. (b) It is the sense of the Congress that there should be enacted a comprehensive and effective national program of mandatory, market-based limits and incentives on emissions of greenhouse gases that slow, stop, and reverse the growth of such emissions at a rate and in a manner that (1) will not significantly harm the United States economy; and (2) will encourage comparable action by other nations that are major trading partners and key contributors to global emissions.

I'm not sure why Garrett opposed this language, maybe he read one of the reports written by the scientists hired by the Exxon backed American Enterprise Institute to dispute global warming and is confused. Fortunately, the rest of New Jersey's delegation (Republicans and Democrats) understood the importance of putting this in writing.

The debate over acid rain went roughly the same way. Scientists, those impacted, and those that read about what was going on were screaming for help; while opponents of regulation painted the scientists as idiots, the activists as fringe, and rolled out their own "experts" to confuse the issue.

However, in that case the government went ahead and implemented regulation with stunning success in achieving reductions. The economy didn't collapse, there was a tangible reduction in the release of acid rain causing chemicals and the environment has begun to recover. Now, faced with over $4 billion a year in crop losses, among other things, China has started to close their coal fired plants to combat their own acid rain issue.

So now, we have a choice to make: do we as a District accept the fact that we have a Representative who would rather have us sit on our hands and do nothing about climate change; or do we get a new Representative. This isn't a partisan issue, as the rest of our delegation proved. This is a big beefy issue that needs people up to the challenge, and by all appearances it seems we don't have that kind of Representative at the moment.

1 comment:

RFKJr. said...