It certainly is an aggressive bill, but I believe that we need firm and aggressive action now in order to make a real difference before it’s too late. It’s likely things will change about the bill as we come to some compromises, but hopefully people realize the importance of the bill.
It depends on what you mean by “asking too much.” Are we asking too much politically or economically? It would be easy to find someone who says yes; just hang around the halls of the Capitol and find a Senator or Representative who is opposed to the bill. Environmentally speaking, are we asking too much? Almost certainly not, because even with a comprehensive climate bill much stronger than the one currently being considered, global warming continues apace and the threats to the globe from it have not yet been diminished. Addressing a worldwide problem such as global warming with governmental solutions that must be crafted by political processes is by definition going to leave someone disappointed, even ruined. A coal executive who sees new caps or taxes placed on his industry may be just as upset as a climatologist who thinks what’s being done is too little, too late. What policies will attract enough support from the public to create a critical mass necessary to pass and sustain a major legislative initiative? Finding out is the essence of politics.
I agree with bwsf that aggressive action is needed to address climate change. My personal belief is that climate change is the most serious problem the Earth has faced since World War II, and it will take a similarly gargantuan single-minded effort and commitment of resources to defeat the problem. In that sense, the climate bill is a baby step forward when we probably ought to be striding in yards rather than inches, but politics is the art of the possible, not the ideal.
I definitely don’t think it’s too much. As far as I see, it could be even stronger – for example, I’d rather see a straight and simple carbon tax than the convoluted cap and trade scheme. It also sets a lot of targets with only subsidies to achieve them. I’d set some laws, like a minimum fuel-efficiency requirement for all new cars – and old ones too. Maybe another cash for clunkers program, but this time with fuel efficiency increases that are actually meaningful. Maybe a requirement for solar panels on new building roofs (in favorable areas, anyway). Maybe a limit on fossil fuel mining.
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