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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Global Warming - Why the Feds may not Matter

(Keywords & tags: , , , , , s will wait until they're actually on fire to accept )

Al Gore made the analogy between Global Warming and tobacco. Corporations told us that there was no evidence that tobacco caused cancer, while sitting on the evidence. Once the evidence came out, they disputed evidence that second hand smoke was unhealthy - despite all logic. Rightwing puppets like Rush Limbaugh went even further, lying by saying that there was no evidence that second hand smoke was harmful. People who relied on their own brains saw through this immediately - if smoking was harmful, how could smoking second hand be benign? Those who relied on propaganda instead of their brains gobbled up the corporate line.

Maybe this was the beginning of the rightwing war on science. Still, if you saw beyond the propaganda, you could quit smoking, avoid smoky areas, and be relatively OK. Not so with Global Warming. You can't stop it on a personal level; it requires that civilization change.

Raw Story reports, in an article titled Report called for by Congress says humans mostly responsible for global warming, "The National Academy of Sciences, reaching that conclusion in a broad review of scientific work requested by Congress, reported Thursday that the 'recent warmth is unprecedented for at least the last 400 years and potentially the last several millennia.'"

"A panel of top climate scientists told lawmakers that the Earth is running a fever and that 'human activities are responsible for much of the recent warming,'" Raw Story reports, "Their 155-page report said average global surface temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere rose about 1 degree during the 20th century."

The NAS report is here.

I'm not saying that Congress will receive this report and say, "Well, that settles that, then." No doubt, the Global Warming deniers will take the report to their corporate lobbyists and tell them, "Show me why this is wrong," but it does weaken their case.

On the bright side, it may not be up to the feds to act - some communities aren't waiting. Paul Loeb writes, in an article titled Global warming, local hope, "238 cities have signed the US Mayor's Climate Protection Agreement, from New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago to Omaha, Charlottesville, and Laredo. Together they represent 44 million people and greenhouse gas emissions exceeding those of the combined population of Great Britain, the Netherlands and Scandinavia." The US Mayor's Climate Protection Agreement is an agreement to abide by the Kyoto standards.

When I heard that Gore was saying that we had ten years, I'll admit I thought we were totally screwed - there's no way we'll get our shit together in a decade. But, as I thought about it more, I realized that we had ten years only if we did nothing. The more changes we make, the farther into the future that deadline moves. And eliminating "greenhouse gas emissions exceeding those of the combined population of Great Britain, the Netherlands and Scandinavia" would be one hell of a step in the right direction.

There are other benefits as well. "Well, had we joined the Kyoto treaty, which I guess he's referring to, it would have cost America a lot of jobs," Bush told Kerry in the second Presidential debate, "It's one of these deals where, in order to be popular in the halls of Europe, you sign a treaty. But I thought it would cost a lot -- I think there's a better way to do it."

Complete bullshit. Once again, people who use their own brains see right through this. How would creating new technologies and new industries cost jobs? It's by not competing in this new market that we lose jobs to other countries. We have both the money and the resources to be a leader and innovator in these new industries, yet Bush would sideline us - in part, because it would mean burning less oil. The Texas oilman in the White House wouldn't go for that.

So, barring federal action, it's up to the cities, towns, counties, and states. The US will abide by Kyoto, the federal government be damned. If the GOP wants to play ostrich, with its head in the sand, then we'll do it ourselves. Not only is local legislation moving us forward, but the market is as well. Ironically, the refusal of the federal government to address gas prices is sparking interest in hybrids and alternative fuels like ethanol and biodiesel. By backing big oil, the GOP is harming big oil - good for them.