Stop the foot-dragging on climate change action

January 24, 2014 

The world has very little time — perhaps 15 years — to make serious inroads on climate change, according to a leaked report from a U.N. panel. Current efforts, even among the most committed nations, fall short, and at the current rate of carbon emissions, the problem might grow too large to overcome with existing technology.

Yet the recalcitrance and myth-making about global warming continue in the United States. Last week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell moved to halt a key part of the Obama administration’s climate plan.

And at a Senate committee hearing on climate change, Republicans delivered their usual speeches denying that a problem exists. There was recently cold weather in the Northeast, they argued. And New Orleans hasn’t seen particularly bad hurricanes during the past few years.

Underlying many of the misperceptions about global warming is the myth that climate — a long-term trend — is the same thing as isolated weather events. After a cold winter last year, the number of believers in climate change in this country dropped from 70 percent to 63 percent, according to the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication.

Meanwhile, McConnell — a Republican from the coal-mining state of Kentucky — filed a resolution to “disapprove” preliminary new limits on carbon emissions from new coal plants. His action invoked the Congressional Review Act, a 1996 law that has been used only once or twice. It allows Congress to repeal an executive branch regulation by a simple majority vote.

The resolution’s prospects are uncertain, but its political intentions are clear: Democrats would have to vote on this shortly before the November elections, possibly turning off voters who fear the economic impacts.

It would be misleading to suggest that there will be no sacrifice involved in reducing carbon emissions. Yet, according to the leaked report by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the cost of waiting will be greater and the options more limited. There can be no more pretending that an Arctic-style winter in Chicago means that climate change is not a problem.

Los Angeles Times

The Olympian is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service