Saturday, June 27, 2009

Solution or Compromise?

By Mark J. Lukes
Photo © Stefan Christmann

“If the earth were your body, you would be able to feel the many places where it is suffering. Every day, children and adults die because of the pollution of air and water. These things are related.”

- Thich Nhat Hanh, Buddhist Monk

The House just passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act which sets a target (based on 2005 levels) of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 17% by 2020 and 80%+ by 2050. Like all legislation passed in recent times, there was a lot of give and take, a lot of controversy, and what we got was a watered down version of what environmentalists wanted.

So should we be happy with a small victory or disappointed that the Act may have only minimal effects on reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2020? Even if the Senate passes the bill, we still have a lot of work ahead in encouraging all other developed countries to follow suit. If you’re like me, you get frustrated with the pace of progress when it comes to an issue like climate change. As I said in my last blog entry, we are out of time. We have to act now.

Unfortunately, we are dealing in the real world of American politics which dictates compromise and taking baby steps. If we try to make dramatic changes all at once, we may end up passing nothing. If we pass compromise legislation that does little to address the immediacy of the problem, it may be too late by 2050 to turn things around.

So what do you think we need to do? Compromise and take whatever we can get because it certainly is better than what would happen if we ask for too much change too quickly? Or aggressively push for the kind of legislation that will put our country on a path to more quickly address the serious problem of climate change? Should we take baby steps or giant steps? Vote in the poll on the right.

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