Global Warming: Seven Generations, not Seven Years …

We live in a “time of consequences.” We, as individuals and collectively, are setting the path which will determine the living conditions for millenia to come.  This time of consequences is both long term and quite immediate.

This is true for the individual. Do you invest in an energy efficient future life? Will you unplug the computer before going to sleep?

And, it is true for society.  What is the transportation infrastructure we want 30 years from now? And, what is the legislation that will emerge in coming weeks and months related to energy, farming, and Global Warming?

We live in a Time of Consequences.  And, we can chose to live through this time, buffeted by the consequences, or we can seek to act to drive change in a positive direction.

Global Warming

There remain those (not just on Fox News) who deny that something is happening and that humanity is a driving factor. But, the tide has turned on the Skeptical Sea. People are asked to deny their lying eyes and reject the evidence of change, which are ever more evident in our own lives.  While we must continue the momentum to isolate Deniers even more, the real battle turns to “what should be done”.

Global Warming should not be a partisan issue. It truly shouldn’t be.  The true “partisan” debate should be, as per the Kerry-Gingrich debate earlier this year, on what are the right approaches to tackle the challenges, to rise to our responsibilities in this time of consequences.

Enegize America has been an attempt to develop concepts to address that question. Since the presentation of EA2020’s 20 act plan at Yearly Kos 2006, events have overtaken that plan. While still rich in its holistic approach, with some unique concepts, and innovative in its development process, the growing recognition of Global Warming and Peak Oil combined with the November 2006 election have combined to make the original plan’s objectives seem timid.

Timidness … compromise … working to get through what will be passed … That is the real risk re Global Warming legislation that the United States, international society, and the future face in immediate future.

The NRDC has a fact sheet on Global Warming legislation (well worth the time to read).  This opens:

It’s too late for half measures. Scientists say that we need to turn the corner on global warming soon or we’ll reach a tipping point when it will be too late to prevent the worst effects of global warming pollution. We can’t just dip our toe in the water because the longer emissions continue to grow, the steeper and more disruptive the cuts required later will be. We can’t wait any longer. We must take bold legislative action today.

The only bills to receive a Consumer Reports’ like full-circle rating on all key issues:  S. 309 (Sanders-Boxer) and HR1590 (Waxman).  (For more recent tracking, check out Hill Heat which focuses on Congressional activity re Global Warming.)

At this time, Senators Warner and Lieberman are working on a ‘bipartisan’ bill re Global Warming, in theory taking the best material from all of these other bills and adding in additional approaches. As Senator Boxer noted when they announced this,

Senators Lieberman and Warner have announced their plan to develop an economy-wide global warming bill that includes a cap-and-trade program. This is a critical milestone, because Senator Warner becomes the first Republican on the EPW committee to support an economy-wide approach to global warming.

Wonderful, a real step forward. Perhaps.

We have yet to see the Warner-Lieberman bill.  It is promised before the August recess, but rumors suggest that this might not occur.

Questions, however, are swirling about what might be there and what the implications will be.

Matt Stoler recently posted Lieberman’s Latest Disaster: Global Warming

We all know that Lieberman cannot be trusted, but to understand the problem with his particular approach to global warming, you need to get that the Senate is far ahead of the deniers but is focused on how to regulate carbon.

The bill from Warner and Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La., Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., tries to limit the cost of mandating reductions of greenhouse gas emissions through an emissions cap-and-trade program.
Their bill would allow companies to borrow emission permits and pay them back in future years with interest and to buy more offsets to meet their emission requirements.

Basically this bill sets up a complicated scheme to give away carbon rights to industry, and don’t worry, if the price of carbon goes to high, the government ll just let more into the atmosphere.  It is, in other words, a fraud, designed not to work.

These are beyond ‘fighting words’. These are terrifying words.  

Will Joe Lieberman do for Global Warming what he has been doing for Iraq debates?

Watching hearings and seeing records over the years, Lieberman seems serious in his concerns about Global Warming.  John Warner might have been ‘converted’ to a reality-based assessment of Global Warming’s reality.  Will that acceptance of the fact of Global Warming translate to a meaningful understanding of what is required to address Global Warming?  

To be honest, while greatly concerned, I do not know that answer.  Nor do most who are concerned about Global Warming. We do not know what Senators Lieberman and Warner will propose.  (And, well, Stoller’s concerns are not universally shared. For a more positive review, see Sheril R. Kirshenbaum.) Stoller’s warning call might have been premature, but that does not mean that it was wrong.

A real concern …

When it comes to “Global Warming” legislation, who seriously believes that we will be able to drink at the trough multiple times. That if a GW titled piece of legislation is passed by Congress and signed by George the W, that it will be possible to invest the effort and convince ‘moderates’ to pass another Global Warming act just a few years later?

As per Stoller

only the Sanders-Boxer bill does what is needed.  The rest of them are worse than nothing.  If you pass a big piece of legislation, we’ll have to wait at least five years before understanding it hasn’t worked, which is five years we don’t have.

This is a one-shot opportunity.  

We get it wrong, the consequences will last generations.

We must get it right.

Progressive Vision of Global Warming Legislation?

But, what does it mean to get it right?  What is “good” Global Warming legislation?

There are the technical characteristics — most critically, a massive turn-around of US GW emissions and a path to ‘export’ our successes around the world.  The NRDC fact sheet provide a reasonable short hand listing of these critical factors.  Within this, clearly the Waxman and Sanders-Boxer bills come closest to having reasonable targets to achieve meaningful (survivable) addressing of Global Warming.

But what is “right”?  

Al Gore was (is) right. Addressing Global Warming should not be a partisan issue.  It is a moral issue, a challenge for our generation(s) and future generations to come.

Thus, what is right?  Is there a single “guiding” principle for judging Global Warming legislation in the weeks and months to come.

Let me try one:

Does the legislation address Seven Generations of Society or Seven Years of Economy?

What are core issues in that question?

  • Society or Economy?  Too often, people falsely argue Economy vs Environment (for my thoughts, see: E2 Solution Path), that taking action re Global Warming would hurt the economy. While false, this makes “economy” (defined in traditional economic terms) as the central decision point.  Should it not be “Society”?  What is good for society, for societal interests?  Economy matters, but is this not a subset of something greater?
  • Time: Seven Generations or Seven Years? Does the legislation sacrifice the future for the near-term?  Will the legislation’s approaches provide a path for mitigated (reducing) Global Warming to enhance the opportunities not just for the near-term, but for innumerable generations to come?

What is the moral and ethical basis for the legislation?  Pocketbook or Society?  Enriching the few or Protecting the Many? Today or Today and Tomorrow?  

What will be at the core of the legislation?  

Thus, when Lieberman-Warner is issued, I (for one) will read it with this question in mind:

Does the legislation address Seven Generations of Society?

2 responses to “Global Warming: Seven Generations, not Seven Years …

  1. Very well written. Really a well done effort.

    For those interested in learning more on the subject, I put together a reference list of 8 of the best podcasts / podcast series on global warming on my blog. For those interested in taking steps in their home, we also put together this Ultimate Guide to Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) Bulbs.

    Thanks for this and also for your efforts on Energize America. I’ve been following your work on DKos for a while and really enjoy your work.

    -kevin
    http://www.21st-century-citizen.com

  2. Pingback: Seven Principles for Seven Generations « Energy Smart

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s