Climate change debate: science vs. today’s cash costs

Maybe the sky is falling, after all.
Climate change has become a security issue. Pentagon strategists point out that the unending civil war in Sudan which has claimed tens of thousands of lives was caused by what seems to be a permanent drought and a consequent famine. Famine victims have fled, crowding into areas where crops still grow, in a desperate search for food. Brutal battles resulted and the dying continues.
Extrapolating, they can see how U.S. security interests can be threatened in the future by melting glaciers, rising sea levels and huge floods in areas such as Bangladesh which would send millions of refugees into India permanently with resulting chaos.
Rising oceans would also threaten military installations worldwide even as heavily populated coastal areas faced possible destruction.
It is easy to reject such doomsday scenes as fantasies. Hasn’t happened lately, therefore it can’t happen, appears to be the attitude most of our decision-makers are taking.
There are, however, a growing number of the world’s climatologists and other scientists who not only insist that global warming and climate change are already with us but also point out that they are progressing at a more rapid pace than previously calculated. They also believe that pace can be reduced by aggressive, worldwide, reductions in the production of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
Who wins the debate between these two schools of thought — one waving their arms in the air crying panic, the other with both hands over their eyes saying they see no danger at all — may determine the mid-term future of tens of millions of people.
Doing something while there is still time to make a difference could turn out to be a prudent, conservative choice. Doing nothing — waiting to see if the sky will really fall — could take the all-time prize for reckless procrastination.
With these alternatives in mind, an Aug. 10 editorial in the New York Times urged:
“What (Congress should pass) is a climate bill, one committed to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases in a way that engages the whole economy and forces major technological change.
“Without such a bill, America will lose the race against time on climate, lose the race for markets for new and cleaner energy systems, and forfeit any claim to world leadership in advance of the next round of global climate negotiations in Copenhagen in December.
“ ... The White House seems oddly disengaged. It has been a while since President Obama has issued a full-throated plea for a climate bill, and when his aides talk about the issue, they talk about things that are easy to sell — ‘energy security’ and ‘green jobs’ — rather than pushing for tough measures needed to cap emissions.
“They must start doing so, if not tomorrow, the moment the Senate returns after Labor Day. The planet cannot wait much longer for serious action. The last few months have brought a mountain of new data, including an M.I.T. study suggesting that the planet could be warming much faster than previously thought. The only possible response is a strong, demanding climate bill.”

A “DEMANDING climate bill” would cost a huge amount of money to enforce and would raise energy costs for everyone, which is why the idea is opposed almost unanimously by the Republicans in Congress. The cost of doing nothing could prove to be infinitely greater — but payment wouldn’t be demanded for a generation or more.
What’ll it be folks: take a gamble that all of that climate talk is twaddle and worry about the Chiefs’ upcoming season, instead — or accept the analysis of the scientists and declare war on greenhouse gases soon enough to win a battle or two?
Your grandchildren will judge the wisdom of your decision.


— Emerson Lynn, jr.