Saturday, May 11, 2019

No Halfway Measures on Climate

[Comic: Halfway Measures]

I have been frustrated over the failure of some Democrats to understand the urgency of the 12-year window. Some Democrats get it, others do not. But whether they get it or not, this is the issue that mankind faces, an issue that will determine all future history in dramatic ways.

This is not a time for compromise. The physics will not allow it. Better to fail trying than to give up the entire game by thinking it unwinnable, as Nancy Pelosi seems bent on doing. Shame on her. That is not leadership. Lately I look to Elizabeth Warren for leadership among the Democrats. She understands that sometimes you can't pick the timing or worry about appearances but must do what needs doing.

And addressing Climate needs doing. Climate Change is a cancer. It must be treated early and properly. If we wait too long, no treatment will be possible. There is nothing radical about an aggressive response to an existential threat to humanity. There is nothing moderate about a take-your-time or middle ground approach to the Climate Crisis.

Jay Inslee is right that we need a climate-change-only debate. There are some good policy proposals out there for discussion, including these:

  • H.R. 9. Climate Action Now Act
    This bill requires the President to develop and update annually a plan for the United States to meet its nationally determined contribution under the Paris Agreement on climate change.
  • H.R. 763. Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2019
    This bill imposes a fee on the carbon content of fuels, including crude oil, natural gas, coal, or any other product derived from those fuels that will be used so as to emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
  • H.R. 3761. Off Fossil Fuels for a Better Future Act (OFF)
    This bill transitions away from fossil fuel sources of energy to clean energy sources (e.g., energy efficiency, energy conservation, and renewable energy).
  • S.Res. 59. A resolution recognizing the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal.
    This resolution calls for the creation of a Green New Deal.
  • Beto For America. Taking On Our Greatest Threat: Climate Change
    A four-part framework to mobilize a historic $5 trillion over ten years, require net-zero emissions by 2050, and address the greatest threat we face.
  • Inslee for America. America's Climate Mission
    Building a Just, Innovative and Inclusive Clean Energy Economy.
    Subsequent to publishing this article, Inslee announced a lot more specifics. To read his position paper on the “Evergreen Economy,” which he refers to as a refinement in detail to the abstract concept of a “Green New Deal,” click here.
  • Warren for President
    Subsequent to publishing this article, Elizabeth Warren published Our Military Can Help Lead the Fight Against Climate Change and My Green Manufacturing Plan for America.
  • Bernie Sanders Subsequent to publishing this article, Bernie Sanders came out with his Green New Deal which has been lauded as very ambitious. He also made a great presentation at the MSNBC/Georgetown climate event, September 19.

I have my own preferences and concerns, but we can't let the perfect be enemy of the good. We need to discuss all of them, respectfully. We need to collaborate among them, understand that each has good points that might be combined or borrowed from. We need to move ahead on as many of these as we can or we will not make the 2030 deadline set for us by physics.

I said it already, but it bears repeating: The physics part is not something we can compromise on. It's what we're given. Physics doesn't grade on the curve. It doesn't care about the complexities of politics. It doesn't award trophies for trying or meaning well. We will either take necessary action in the time allotted, or condemn our descendants to live forever with the unhappy consequences, assuming the happy case that human extinction is not one of those consequences. I recommend David Wallace-Wells' book The Uninhabitable Earth if you need a visualization of what such a future world might look like.

I'll close here with one more appeal to metaphor, from a recent tweet of mine:

Author's Note: If you got value from this post, please “Share” it.

Article and comic image ("Gray Matters: Halfway Measures") copyright © 2019 by Kent M. Pitman. All Rights Reserved.

Included public domain Elephant image obtained from Wikimedia.

Included Donkey images, before modification for this use, was created by Steven Braeger, placed in public domain, and obtained by me from Wikimedia.

By the way, it was the utter maddening nature of this news story that drove me to write this piece: Exclusive: Presidential hopeful Biden looking for ‘middle ground’ climate policy.

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