Climate Change Debate

Climate Change Debate Furthers Complacency

Written by Brian Hicks
Posted November 3, 2009

Well, I can't say I'm surprised.

Climate Change legislation on the Hill has proven to be exactly what we should have expected all along - a partisan bickering match comparable to playground scuffles I recall from my elementary school days.

On cue, the Republicans moved to boycott this week's work session on a climate change bill, stating that they want more time to study the EPA's economic analysis. Interestingly enough, these folks had nothing to say when the Bush Administration used the EPA as a pawn in the game of delaying serious climate change debate. But you know how it is - it's all politics.

Certainly we saw much of this kind of behavior from the Democrats during the Bush years. It's really not much different.

That being said, the request for more time to review the EPA's economic analysis is nothing more than a stall tactic. There has been plenty of time for everyone to review the EPA's findings. They're just not happy with the results because the results further erode the argument that climate change initiatives will put us in the poor house. It's not true, and anyone who wants to be honest about this, knows it's not true.

Of course, I won't lie. This whole cap and trade concept plays out as a very complex system that seeks to achieve a goal which can be achieved without it.

The best way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is to go full force on renewable energy and transportation alternatives (like electric vehicles and rail), cut all subsidies for the petroleum industry (don't think for a second that what you're paying at the pump is the appropriate price for that gasoline) and figure in ALL environmental costs in any type of power production. Some folks want to roll their eyes at that one. So come talk to me after the last bit of remaining fresh water we have has been polluted by tar sands operations and mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants.

Listen: We can sit here all day and debate energy costs. But when the air's toxic and the water is no longer safe to drink - debate on energy costs will be irrelevant. Just ask the Chinese. Not only are they pouring billions into renewable energy development, but they're also funding new renewable energy operations here in the U.S.

And what are we doing? Oh, we're playing partisan games, telling folks that requiring utilities to cut their carbon emissions will hurt the economy.

No my friends. What hurts the economy is our continued reliance on oil, the never-ending environmental costs involved with our reliance on coal-fired power, and the continued utilization of a crumbling infrastructure.

And let's not back away from the real issue here. Any costs related to any kind of pollution stemming from power production should be considered operational costs anyway. If you make a mess, you clean it up. If it ends up costing the consumer more. . .well guess what - that's the price of power.

We've become dangerously accustomed to insanely cheap power because for far too long these costs have been externalized. But they still exist. They didn't just disappear because some politician handed off the problem to someone else. And maybe it's about time we pay the REAL cost for power production, anyway. After all, this would certainly encourage alternatives. And in the long run, we'll all be better off economically.

Think about it: The costs of producing and burning fossil fuels will only continue to go up. But the costs for renewable energy will continue to fall for decades.

It's about investing in the future, folks. It's about not being OK with complacency and handing off this burden to future generations.

Enough with partisan dust storms. Enough with misinformation campaigns and political prejudices. Enough with denials.

The future is going to be powered by renewables. Conventional fossil fuels are extreme environmental and economic strains. And anyone who's willing to look at this honestly - without the influence of political motives - knows this is true.

So the choice is ours. Continue walking down the path of complacency while the rest of the world embraces progress, or take a stand for future economic and environmental prosperity. But make no mistake, if we miss this opportunity, we're dead in the water in twenty years. A second-rate nation with a great history of accomplishments, but one major, game-changing regret.

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