Global Warming Denial in the Senate: The Latest Chapter

By Melissa Lafsky | July 3, 2008 1:16 pm

EPAOver at Salon, climate expert Joseph Romm has a poignant update on the Senate’s most recent bout with global warming denial. The setting was a debate over the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act, intended to regulate CO2 by setting emissions caps and creating a trading system for carbon allowances. Among the highlights he describes:

  • Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla.: “The vast majority of scientists do not believe that anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions are a major contributor to climate change.”
  • Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz.: This bill means “people must turn off air-conditioning in the summer.”
  • Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.: “This bill will attack citizens at the pump” and “increase job losses.”
  • Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.: This bill will “leave us less competitive in the world marketplace.”
  • Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.: This bill “could bankrupt U.S. air carriers.”
  • Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo.: “Nobody in their right mind” believes we can get half our power from wind and solar or drive a “fleet of golf carts.”
  • Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo.: “It’s unclear as to what the long-range trend is as far as the temperature of the Earth is concerned.”
  • His point is as troubling as it is well-made: Conservatives have a powerful political edge in the climate change debate, and they’re pulling it out at every opportunity.

    Political and social controversy over fighting global warming has always hedged on the pressure between immediate needs versus less immediate dangers—now, with record fuel prices on top of a sagging economy, needy voters are even more primed to back the Senator who pledges to keep taxes low and gas cheap.

    Of course, the reality, as Romm points out, will make few voters truly happy:

    In fact, the overall message of the climate bill needs to change. The public needs to realize that higher fossil fuel prices are inevitable unless we take an aggressive government-led action to deploy clean energy technologies. We need to understand that even the Bush administration’s own Energy Department says drilling for oil offshore or in Alaska will never have a significant impact on gasoline prices. The supply is too little, the global-demand rise is too inexorable. If the public doesn’t understand this, it’s hard to see how it will get behind the necessary action in the face of all of the obfuscation and demagoguing by conservatives.

    Image: iStock

    CATEGORIZED UNDER: Climate Change, Energy

    Comments (39)

    1. “Way too little and way too late,” runs the refrain, followed by the claim that nothing less than an 80% reduction in emissions by the year 2050 will suffice – what I call the “80 by 50″ target. Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have endorsed it. John McCain is not far behind, calling for a 65% reduction…By the year 2050, the Census Bureau projects that our population will be around 420 million. This means per capita emissions will have to fall to about 2.5 tons in order to meet the goal of 80% reduction. It is likely that U.S. per capita emissions were never that low – even back in colonial days when the only fuel we burned was wood. The only nations in the world today that emit at this low level are all poor developing nations, such as Belize, Mauritius, Jordan, Haiti and Somalia.” –“The Real Cost of Tackling Climate Change,” WSJ

      There is a very inexpensive simple way to immediately cool the Earth: just put a small amount of aerosol into the air to dim the sun. We won’t be able to stop rapid ecosystem collapse without geoengineering.

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