Month 7, Day 14: O.F.F.S.

Senator Jeff Bingaman thinks we need to be very cautious about how we build a climate bill.

Dear Senator Bingaman,

I was disturbed by a report that quoted you as saying, “There is a big gap between what the scientists say we should do to deal with climate change, and what the politics of the Congress today, and particularly the politics of the Senate, will allow us to do.”

Now, I’m not suggesting you’re misrepresenting things. There is such a gap, and it has had a terrible effect on our nation’s ability to make and implement policies that can actually have an impact on people’s lives. What upsets me is that you appear to be treating this “gap” as a reason to do as little as possible of what climatologists say we have to do.

What you and your Democratic colleagues in the Senate need to be doing is making the point, day after day, that we are facing a planetary emergency that is more urgent than anything humanity has yet contended with….and that the Republicans choose to believe Sean Hannity and Sarah Palin rather than an overwhelming majority of the scientists who actually study the field and know something about it.

Your quote is an excellent example of “learned helplessness.” Faced with an ideologically driven opposition that is ignorant and proud of it, you choose to avoid conflict, instead producing a measure that does not significantly reward utilities for being the first to have their carbon emissions capped, and blocks the EPA from regulating industrial sources’ greenhouse gas emissions for another eight years.

Senator, the 1992 Rio conference made it clear that this problem was not going to go away. President Clinton said good words but delivered nothing…and President Bush made matters infinitely worse. Are we going to kick the can down the road yet again?

But look on the bright side: if biologist Frank Fenner’s predictions are correct, climate change will bring about human extinction within this century — so our descendants won’t be able to curse us for our inaction.

Yours Sincerely,

Warren Senders