It doesn’t please me to point out that the Waxman-Markey cap and trade bill only even counts as a great start if it gets the ball rolling on much more severe restrictions in the future. The worst possible outcome of an initiative like Waxman-Markey is if Republicans put up an ugly fight over an essentially cosmetic trifle of a bill that leaves everyone exhausted and disinclined revisit the climate issue. Brimming as it does with compromises that mitigate its value to near zero, passing the bill could score a pyrrhic victory at best.
For what it’s worth, the senior climate expert at NASA agrees.
[E]mission targets in 2050 have limited practical meaning — present leaders will be dead or doddering by then — so these differences may be patched up. The important point is that other nations are unlikely to make real concessions on emissions if the United States is not addressing the climate matter seriously.
With a workable climate bill in his pocket, President Obama might have been able to begin building that global consensus in Italy. Instead, it looks as if the delegates from other nations may have done what 219 U.S. House members who voted up Waxman-Markey last month did not: critically read the 1,400-page American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 and deduce that it’s no more fit to rescue our climate than a V-2 rocket was to land a man on the moon.
I share that conclusion, and have explained why to members of Congress before and will again at a Capitol Hill briefing on July 13. Science has exposed the climate threat and revealed this inconvenient truth: If we burn even half of Earth’s remaining fossil fuels we will destroy the planet as humanity knows it. The added emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide will set our Earth irreversibly onto a course toward an ice-free state, a course that will initiate a chain reaction of irreversible and catastrophic climate changes.
Dr. Hansen proposes a series of initiatives that sound doable but dire. Needless to say, as long as acceptable opinion in America ranges from New Republic to the National Review, we might as well stock up on aloha shirts and deodorant.