Do you ever feel overwhelmed at the continual piling-up of environmental problems in the world today? Or have you ever dreamt of just waking up one day to find headlines that read, “World leaders realize they can’t negotiate with Earth, pass climate change legislation unanimously“?
Oh, what a glorious day that would be.
Instead, news of earthquakes killing scores of people in Indonesia run alongside reports of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid saying that climate change legislation may have to wait until next year due to the chamber’s ‘busy fall schedule.” So sorry, Mr. Reid, that you’re too busy to address Earth’s impending inability to sustain you and the rest of the world you live in (no offense, health care).
On a brighter note, Sens. Barbara Boxer and John Kerry introduced the new Senate climate bill last Wednesday in spite of Mr. Reid’s schedule.
“We have the chance to reclaim our energy destiny,” the bill’s overview states. By the looks of it, our energy destiny is to let “clean” coal and natural gas promenade hand-in-hand toward a “new energy economy” (supported by plenty of federal subsidies), with renewables and nuclear as the kid brothers trotting behind trying to keep up. While the latter two (cleaner) technologies received ancillary attention, the proposed initiatives will be a drastic improvement from our energy situation right now and lay the groundwork for more progressive policies in the future.
The Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act, its full given name, calls for a slightly more rigorous reduction of greenhouse gas emissions than the House climate bill that passed in June: 20 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050 from 2005 levels (as opposed to 17 percent by 2020 in the House bill). It will also use (gasp!) a cap-and-trade system to ensure that goal.
And while the bill will meet the likes of six committees before it sees the floor, the hope is that it can still pass because there is enough space to bend for the existent dominant energy industries that have strong ties with Senate and House Republicans.
Compromises will be unavoidable. Boxer and Kerry recognize the heavy resistance by many conservatives to even talk about climate legislation. The head of the Environmental Defense Fund, Fred Krupp, made a good point in saying that getting the ball rolling is the most important thing right now.
“For utilities and energy-intensive industries, delay means more uncertainty about what lays ahead,” Krupp wrote in a recent commentary. “Inaction also means that we may be walking away from less costly solutions to taming climate change, and toward less efficient regulation under the Clean Air Act and other laws that may not offer as many low-cost options for reducing emissions as well-designed federal legislation.“
On the whole, the important thing is that the bill is out there, it’s getting attention, and it’s a necessary step in the right direction toward averting the catastrophic damage that will occur if we do nothing.
There is a large movement for the environment budding and, with the United Nations Climate Change Convention in Copenhagen just a couple of months away, it will only get bigger and stronger.
And that brings me to my final thought for now. I don’t know about you, but I am truly inspired by the cumulative effect of the actions of the movement. A mental shift is occurring because of the magnitude of the climate change issue – and it seems to be a move toward awareness. That is, an awareness of the effects and consequences of our personal and collective actions on the planet’s strong but sensitive balancing scales.
Perhaps the words of renowned environmentalist Paul Hawken articulate the notion more eloquently: “Life is creating the conditions that are conducive to life inside you, just as in all of nature. What I want you to imagine is that collectively humanity is evincing a deep innate wisdom in coming together to heal the wounds and insults of the past.“
And though the work is far from done, thank goodness for that – it’s about time!