Month 8, Day 2: Calling His Buff, er, Bluff

Cosmo boy wrote back.

Dear Senator Brown,

Thank you for your response, dated July 7, 2010.

You say that “Reducing America’s greenhouse gas emissions…is clearly of concern to me.” I’m pleased to hear that, for it places you in a distinct minority among your Republican colleagues in the Senate. Later in your letter, you actually state that you are “open to new ideas and proposals to addressing pollution and threats to our environment and climate,” which suggests that you are aware that climate change both exists and is a problem. Might I request that you inform your Senatorial colleagues of this fact? Senator Inhofe’s irresponsible grandstanding has done enormous damage to our environment, to our standing and reputation in the world, and to the planetary systems that support us all.

The recent collapse of climate legislation in the Senate has relieved you of the onerous necessity of balancing political exigencies against the requirements of human survival on the planet in the coming centuries. But let’s look at some of the other points in your letter. You say, “with our economy just beginning to recover…I cannot support any bill or policy that significantly raises taxes or increases consumer energy costs.” I’m glad to hear that you think President Obama’s economic initiatives have turned the economy around — that’s another area in which your opinion probably differs from that of your colleagues. The sad fact of the matter, however, is that the age of cheap fossil energy is over. We have passed the Peak Oil point already; from now on it’s going to be harder to get and harder to refine. The question is not whether energy prices are going to go up — it’s whether we can change the way we live in order to use less energy. And, of course, it’s absurd to imagine that further tax breaks for big oil companies and the billionaires who invest in them will somehow result in lowered energy costs for middle-class Americans.

Finally, we come to your opinion on carbon dioxide emissions, where you say we must “ensure participation by other high-emitting nations, such as China and India…” Indeed, China is ahead of the US in CO2 emissions, and India is just behind. But these countries have about four times as many people, making their per capita CO2 emissions drastically lower than the USA’s. Our country has about five percent of the world’s population, and emits about twenty percent of its carbon dioxide. We waste a lot more energy than China or India. A policy statement on greenhouse emissions that fails to take this fact into account is simply ignorant demagoguery.

Time and time again, our country has shown a willingness to do what is right, not just for our own interests, but for the world. To suggest that we refrain from just and responsible actions until some other nation “goes first” is to abandon any pretense of world leadership.

If that’s your position, fine. I just wanted to be sure.

Yours Sincerely,

Warren Senders

Month 6, Day 27: The World’s Greatest Deliberative Body, or just a Pack of Twits?

The LA Times ran an article about the Senate Democrats’ attempt to get a good climate bill. This is a pretty generic letter; I’m very tired and kind of groggy. Overslept; didn’t write it last night.

As extreme weather becomes the norm around the world, the position of climate-change denialists is becoming harder and harder to sustain. Unfortunately, quite a few of those denialists are U.S. Senators, and their obdurate refusal to recognize the facts of nature is imperiling their fellow citizens and the rest of the planet. Senate Democrats are to be commended for working towards a meaningful climate/energy bill. While a restricted carbon cap is a disappointing half-measure, it is certainly better than nothing. What we really need, of course, is to put a price on carbon. If we can find the political strength and the national readiness to start paying for our pollution now rather than later, we’ll spare our descendants a crippling burden of shattered ecosystems and weather-related destruction. We need a robust bill from the Senate; let us hope that the denialists don’t make it impossible.

Warren Senders