If you still view global warming as a threat to a few polar bears and folks on low-lying tropical islands, it’s time to update your outlook.
An editorial in Thursday’s Seattle Times by Jessie Dye of Earth Ministry in Seattle calls climate change “the great moral challenge of our time.”
Dye notes that religious leaders worldwide are calling for action to slow the release of greenhouse gases, to “reduce overconsumption and protect Earth’s poorest people from drought and despair.” At Sightline we’ve been making a similar case, calling for climate policy with built in measures to protect consumers (and avoid windfall profits by big polluters).
In the relatively affluent and climatically temperate Northwest, this idea can require a little explaining.
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Back when I was covering environmental issues at the Seattle P-I, I had a colleague who was a smart, interesting guy, but who, as another friend described it, “didn’t believe in the environment.” A former resident of New Orleans, he more or less saw global warming as an upgrade for Northwest winters.
That was until Hurricane Katrina trashed his former home town. While weather events like Katrina can’t be blamed directly on climate change, he began to understand how vulnerable, low-lying areas and low-income people with few limited resources similarly could be hammered by the extreme weather patterns, droughts, disease, hurricanes, and other problems expected with climate change.
And that’s why Dye, of Earth Ministry, supports action on climate change and specifically a cap-and-trade approach to reducing planet-warming pollutants that also helps folks adapt to the changing world.
Quick review: a fair way to design federal climate policy would put a cap on carbon dioxide emissions and polluters would bid to buy permits allowing them to release the gases. Permit holders could trade their permits depending on whether they were going to beat or exceed their projections. The proceeds of the auctions would be returned to US residents as rebates or go to public investments in a clean energy economy, including home efficiency measures and renewable energy technology.
Dye calls on elected officials—she singles out Washington Congressman Dave Reichert—to support this sort of climate policy. She and other religious leaders are in favor of the lead climate legislation being debated in the US Congress, a bill by Reps. Henry Waxman and Edward Markey called the “American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009.”
Other legislation up for debate at the national level takes on the question of fairness more aggressively with a Cap and Dividend approach (where all the permit revenue is rebated to citizens), including Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen’s bill and a measure being worked on by Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell.
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Steeple photo courtesy of Flickr user byrdiegyrlunder the Creative Commons license.
Any Federal action that moves us to a cap on emissions is good. However, I think the faster, less prone to market manipulation, simpler to understand plan is that offered by Rep. Jim McDermott, more of a tax and refund program, where there is a clear cost to business for using fossil fuels, which gets steeper as time passes, and the funds generated go into a fund that comes back to the public in reduced payroll taxes or additions to Social Security. If selling “permits” under a cap and trade system follows the European model, we will see the same problems we had with Enron, and the pollution will just keep on happening.
Cap and Trade is a Bad joke, empowing the World to monitor and decide who gets to do what with their energy, it undermines this nations Soveriegnty and will be passed on to consumers meaning a false rise in prices, and manipulating the markets just like the US HUD and other Mortgae programs, brought to us by the same people who collapsed the US housing market thru the Manipulation of Freddie and Fannie and insisting from 1999 all was well, knowing full well….the 2 entities were in deep trouble because of the Fair housing act requiring Banks to loan money to people they knew couldnt afford the loans…and turning the US Housing market, into a mirror of The US Used car market…, this will only end up costing US jobs, and mopre money in Taxes, and Anyone that believes a $646 Billion dollar increase in Taxes to business already struggling, and in the US in particualr paying the Second Highest Tax rates in the world , wont pass these on to consumers and or just fold up and close the doors….believes in the tooth fairy
some one tell me, a gas that ocupies less than 400 parts per Million is such a detriment to mankind ?, and it rose from 180 partsd per Million in the 1700’s to 280 parts per Million in the 1900’s….ALL without the Aid of the Internal combustion engine ?, and that the Gas in question…CO makes plants grow faster in Higher concentrations, and those ranting and raving this absurd theroy wont debate it, nor will thwey truly admit…it is the SUN thats doing the warming.,…NOT CO2….it is the Suns Activity, and Sun Spots, creating what ever percieved issues we have with our World, and how do you explain last winter ?…record cold temos….Oh yes I forgot…Climate Change, we switched from Global Warming because the spokes person for it…algore had to cancel a speaking engagement because of a Violent Snow storm…..so we went to “Climate Change”……like the Winter summer and Fall kinda thing….only…this way we (The Government) get to charge YOU money now….