Year 4, Month 7, Day 18: Tied To A Whippin’ Post

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel opines on the POTUS’ speech:

President Barack Obama’s speech last week on climate change was a welcome call to action on one of the great challenges of our time. If the science is right — and there is no reason to believe that it isn’t — climate change is here and could have severe consequences for human health, the environment and the economy. Meeting the challenge will be difficult and costly but also affords opportunities, especially for job growth in green industries.

As the president said Tuesday, “the question is not whether we need to act.”

The problem is that similar calls to action have been issued for decades and not much has been done to curb the belching of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Utilities such as We Energies, car manufacturers and some governments have taken important steps to reduce air pollution from a number of sources and have worked to reduce carbon emissions. They deserve credit for that.

But reductions of carbon dioxide significant enough to have an impact on climate change have remained elusive.

If Obama wants to change that pattern, his administration needs to follow through. The trick will be to do so without harming economic growth. New rules also need to be based on available cost-effective technologies that can actually reduce emissions. It can be done. And while the president’s plan may be light on details, he is at least pointing the country in the right direction.

Obama is directing his administration to launch the first-ever federal regulations on heat-trapping gases emitted by new and existing power plants, boost renewable energy production on federal lands, increase efficiency standards and prepare communities to deal with higher temperatures.

The ideology of the cancer cell. June 30:

It takes extraordinary intellectual insulation to continue rejecting the scientific evidence of global climate change. By analogy, imagine buying a house condemned as unsafe by 97 out of 100 home inspectors, eating in a restaurant that had failed 97 out of 100 health inspections, or the same proportion of oncologists when they tell you to start therapy immediately.

But even those who are prepared to argue forcefully for action on the climate crisis still observe powerful taboos against questioning the desirability of continued economic growth. To fetishize economic expansion ignores the fact that we live on a finite planet with finite resources; it’s like saying that gaining weight is healthy for infants, so it must be good for adults as well.

Infinite expansion is impossible in a bounded area; we can have sustainability or growth, but not both. If we wish a viable long-term future for humanity, this is a debate we need to have.

Warren Senders

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