Confronting climate change

Big role U.S. can play in confronting climate change

Confronting climate change may not be popular but it’s the right thing to do.

The new rules proposed by EPA aren’t ideal. But it’s a start and could give the United States a position of strength from which to influence other nations.

On climate change the planet is saying, you can pay me now or you can pay me later.

President Obama has made a modest step on paying now with the Environmental Protection Agency proposing rules that would require coal-fired power plants to reduce their carbon emissions by about a third between now and 2030.

Coal is the largest cause of carbon-dioxide emissions, followed by automobiles.

If the new regulations survive the three-month comment period, as well as challenges from Congress and in court, they would give states great flexibility in meeting the targets. Washington state is already in good shape.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has warned that the regulations would cost $50 billion a year. As Nobel laureate economist Paul Krugman has pointed out, that’s not an insurmountable sum in a $15 trillion economy. And that accepts that the questionable methodology of the Chamber is true.

The EPA estimates economic benefits between $55 billion and $93 billion by 2030. Among the other goods would be avoiding thousands of premature deaths as well as lowering asthma attacks among children.

Hyped job losses among coal miners, hardly an ideal vocation, are not weighed against the job gains in such areas as solar and other alternative energy, as well as building new plants to run on natural gas and developing effective carbon-capture technology for coal.

The economy is dynamic and responds to incentives.

The new rules aren’t ideal. But Congress refuses to act on more aggressive steps, such as taxing carbon or cap-and-trade. It’s a start and could give the United States a position of strength from which to influence other nations.

The pay-me later scenario is on display with the latest report from the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

I’m not a scientist, as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio would say. But the most eminent scientists who actually study climate have concluded that the problem is already being felt on every continent and in the oceans. And it will get much worse unless action is taken.

Intensifying drought is putting pressure on food and water supplies, as well as increasing wildfires. Ocean acidification, a consequence of climate change explored in depth by The Seattle Times’ Craig Welch and Steve Ringman, poses a critical danger to fisheries. Sea rise will endanger cities and settlements worldwide.

And yet it is difficult to pin down a sum from this disaster that might get the attention of our society, which puts so much stock by money. Even if economists agreed, critics would immediately throw out arguments that the costs of action are too great.

For example, the 2006 Stern Review, prepared for the British government, said measures to lower carbon emissions would be much cheaper than doing nothing. It is still being argued over.

The review stated that without action, climate change would cost world gross domestic product 5 percent a year, a figure that could rise to 20 percent if wider effects are factored in. Since then, economist Nicholas Stern has said he underestimated the costs because climate change is happening faster than was assumed.

Another report, from the International Energy Agency, said that “decarbonizing” the world energy system would require $44 trillion in investment. But it would be offset by more than $115 trillion in fuel savings.

What is clear is that the status quo represents a massive market failure whose costs will far offset the any seeming benefits such as a year-round Northwest Passage and new oil reserves (to further worsen climate change).

Industrial civilization has been pumping greenhouse gases into the global commons called the atmosphere. Yet the costs of doing so haven’t been priced in.

Inaction means leaving our children and grandchildren a nasty and dangerous Earth that we wouldn’t recognize. And no, adapting will not be enough.

Making the many transitions to avoid that fate will take years and great political will. So far, it hasn’t been happening, even though the first U.N. conference on climate change was held in 1992.

The bitter resistance to America acting is especially peculiar.

For one thing, the United States is the world’s second-largest emitter of CO2, and the largest per capita, almost 18 tons per person annually. That’s well above most of Europe and the advanced economies of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). So even acting alone, we would make a huge difference.

Also, opponents to addressing climate change tend to be people who celebrate American ingenuity and American exceptionalism. Why do those virtues not give us both an advantage and a duty in saving the planet on which you, me and the Koch brothers all live?

America would be followed, particularly if we led in research and manufacturing of clean energy technologies.

The 70th anniversary of D-Day was marked last week, when we helped liberate a continent and destroy a regime that represented an unprecedented threat to the world. We did that.

Next month will mark the 1969 flight of Apollo 11, which landed humans from Earth on another heavenly body for the first time, part of a burst of scientific achievement. The nation embarked on these endeavors, in the words of President John F. Kennedy, “not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” We did that.

Now our world faces a gathering calamity unlike any in history. Why can’t we lead now? Have we lost our way so?

Unless we find it, we most definitely will pay later.

Source | Seattletimes

Find us here

Get news from the CSGLOBE in your inbox each weekday morning

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors/source and do not necessarily reflect the position of CSGLOBE or its staff.

Paid content

China Is Turning The Rainforest Into Cheap Furniture For The U.S.

Driven by American demand for cheap furniture, China has become the greatest importer of illegal timber. The...

France Declares All New Rooftops Must Be Topped With Plants Or Solar Panels

A new law recently passed in France mandates that all new buildings that are built in commercial zones in France must be partially covered in...

California is about to become the first state in the US to require solar power installations on all new homes

The world's fifth largest economy —and possibly the first government in the world—is about to require solar panels for all new homes. The California Energy...

What's New Today

Georgia House Votes To Allow Citizens To Abolish Police Departments In The State

The Georgia House backed an effort on Friday to dissolve the Glynn County Police Department and any...

Leaked CDC document contradicts Pence claim that U.S. coronavirus cases ‘have stabilized’

Even as Vice President Mike Pence wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed published Tuesday that coronavirus...

Five bombshells about Trump from Bolton ‘s book

Excerpts from former national security adviser John Bolton ’s book about his time in the Trump administration...

Don’t Listen to Fox. Here’s What’s Really Going On in Seattle’s Protest Zone.

It seems I live in a city undergoing a “totalitarian takeover” that will lead to “fascist outcomes”...


What Is Agenda 21? Depopulation of 95% of the World By 2030

Most people are unaware that one of the greatest threats to their freedom may be a United Nations program which plans to depopulate 95%...

Putin has Banned Rothschild and His New World Order Banking Cartel Family from Entering Russian Territory

As of recently, Russian president Vladimir Putin took yet another decision for his country. "Under any circumstances", the Rothschild family is banned from entering Russian territory. Along...

Scientists Discover A Second Brain In Human Body, And It’s Located In The Butt

It turns out those gut feelings or pits in your stomach may actually come from your second...

China Is Turning The Rainforest Into Cheap Furniture For The U.S.

Driven by American demand for cheap furniture, China has become the greatest importer of illegal timber. The...

Federal Judge Declares – Public Has No Right’ To Know About DAPL Spill Risks

While the fight to prevent the controversial construction of the Dakota Access pipeline has largely faded from the minds of most Americans, the pipeline’s...

EPA Accidentally Contaminates River With Millions Of Gallons Of Toxic Waste

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently made an effort to rectify a situation in Colorado, but actually made it a whole lot worse. In an...

France Ready to Shut Down all Coal-Fired Power Plants in the Next Five Years

Renewable energy has proven to be the source of energy for the future. It doesn’t produce dangerous substances that pollute our environment nor does...

Netanyahu to Putin: Israeli Airstrikes in Syria Will Continue

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he has told Russian President Vladimir Putin that Israeli forces will continue airstrikes in Syria if they...

Printable List Of Monsanto Owned “Food” Producers

Here is a printable list of companies owned by Monsanto that consumers should avoid if they are concerned about their health. There are several reasons...

The road to official disclosure of the UFO reality

The Citizen Hearing on Disclosure, which took place over the course of five days at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C, is a...

Top 10 Most Mysterious Secret Societies

Secret societies have existed for hundreds of years, projecting a sense of mystery and sometimes cynicism about the collective goal of the individuals in...