Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Democrats, I Dare You

A month ago, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations network of 192 countries and 2,000 scientists, released a report in which they agreed that evidence of global warming was "unequivocal".

Furthermore, they stated that there was at least a 90% chance that the burning of fossil fuels was, at a minimum, a substantial cause of the phenomenon.

Think about it.

Two thousand scientists from 192 countries - under U.N. auspices no less - agreeing to the use of the word "unequivocal" and "90 percent". Though my tone may sound sarcastic, I am relieved that this agreement was possible.

This is as close as you can get to certainty on a scientific issue this large (global in scope, with numerous potential causes) and this new (twenty years is not that long in major scientific endeavors).

Nevertheless, there are still people who claim to be unconvinced. Undoubtedly, some of them are genuinely skeptical and not simply placing their economic or political interests above the well-being of their children, grandchildren and the planet.

However, at this point, the skeptics' motives are irrelevant. If this scientific consensus is not compelling to them, then nothing ever will be. Therefore, the time for debate is over. Action must be taken - using raw political power as necessary.

The House of Representatives is expecting legislation on the matter in July. I am writing today to dare the Democrats to be bold in designing the upcoming bill.

We are far past the point of settling for the politically convenient measure of simply allocating more money for alternative energy research. We need to be discussing higher fuel efficiency standards, carbon 'cap and trade' programs and, yes, even expansion of nuclear power.

There is significant evidence to suggest that the first two proposals aren't even that politically risky.

Recent polling by the Civil Society Institute claims that 4 out of 5 Americans support "Congress taking the lead to achieve the highest possible fuel efficiency as quickly as possible". Though I am relatively unfamiliar with CSI, and therefore do not automatically trust them as a reliable source, these numbers do not surprise me. Americans are unquestionably in favor of minimizing dependence on oil (admittedly for security and not environmental reasons) and this is a tangible step towards that end. (I found this poll near the end of this article.)

As for carbon capping and trading, a coalition of prominent American CEOs met just last month to publicly ask the Congress to move forward on efforts to design and implement such a scheme.

Expansion of nuclear power is certainly the most controversial move I am advocating here, but included as a component of a broader policy it could help garner support from a critical mass of Republicans. President Bush himself has long been an advocate of such a measure.

If the Democrats want to make a positive difference for this country, and if Speaker Pelosi wants to distinguish herself as a true leader, this would be a great place to start.

1 comment:

Bryan said...

Jared, would you mind explaining carbon credits? I have heard several environmentalists explain how they purchase carbon credits whenever they are responsible for burning carbon fuels. Also, I heard a scientist talking about the sun's temperature increase as a significant cause of global warming. He said other planets in our solar system are experiencing similar increases in their temperatures. Have you heard anything about this? Is this guy just a right-wing nutcase?