Friday, December 18, 2009

What's An Environmentalist To Do About Global Warming?


By Norris McDonald

From Barcelona to Singapore to Copenhagen, the ship of international climate change mitigation has run up on the rocks. The U.S. Congress, as usual, got a climate/energy bill through the House of Representatives, but they are having trouble getting a bill to the Senate floor for a vote. So the Obama adminstration is taking the same road as the Bush administration, which tried to impose a cap-and-trade program through regulatory fiat via the Clear Skies Initiative because they could not get the initiative passed in Congress. In similar fashion, this administration issues an 'Endangerment Finding' and 'Tailoring Rule' in order to implement a cap-and-trade program by fiat instead of Congressionally passed legislation. Litigation stopped the Bush administration and it will stop the Obama administration. And let's not even talk about a climate change treaty. The Clinton administration would not even send one to the Senate back in the 90s and the Senate passed a resolution [Byrd-Hagel Resolution] 95-0 in 1997 that said the U.S. should not sign any international climate change treaty that would:

1) mandate greenhouse gas reductions from the U.S. without also requiring new, specific commitments from developing countries over the same compliance period; and

2) result in serious economic harm to the United States.

Whew. If the world is coming to an end because of global warming, or at least Amtrak, oil refineries, electric powerplants and waterfront properties will end up underwater, then what's an environmentalist to do about climate change?

We go back to technology. It can work without 192 nations agreeing on it and mostly without Congressional legisation. Although all-electric cars are probably not all that practical, plug-in hybrid gasoline/electric vehicles will probably be the wave of the future. And that could significantly cut down on oil imports. Shadows, night and cloudy days might limit photovoltaics, but wind will probably be a good supplemental source of electricity. We are recommending Energy Defense Reservations as a way to increase use of nuclear power and even more coal in a cleaner process. We are also calling for converting CO2 into gasoline [very expensive but much less so than climate change]. Finally, although we have some serious concerns about hydraulic fracturing and might oppose it, natural gas is probably in ascendance as a bridge baseload fuel [notwithstanding Duke Energy President Jim Rogers calling it 'crack' as an energy drug utilities should avoid.

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