13 Jul 2009

Waxman-Markey Causes Civil War on the Left

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The head of NASA’s Goddard program Institute for Space Studies, James Hansen, was one of the first climate scientists to raise the alarm over global warming. He has recently written [.pdf] that unless we reduce atmospheric concentrations of CO2 to 350 ppm (they’re currently at 387 ppm), we may be handing our descendants a climate system with a runaway greenhouse effect. So this guy is no softie on climate change action.

Yet I have to respect him, because Hansen has come out strongly against Waxman-Markey, or in his words, “the counterfeit climate bill known as Waxman-Markey.” To clarify, I’m not endorsing Hansen’s critique; the reasons he hates it are much different from my own objections. But I respect him because there is obviously a lot of pressure on environmentalists to go along with W-M rather than give points to the Republican “deniers.” So unless there is something even more devious going on behind the scenes, it looks like Hansen is actually taking his own rhetoric seriously. In other words, if the world really is going to end without drastic and immediate cuts in emissions, then you can’t support Waxman-Markey. Here’s my favorite part of Hansen’s article:

Some leaders of big environmental organizations have said I’m naïve to posit an alternative to cap-and-trade, and have suggested I stick to climate modeling. Let’s pass a bill, any bill, now and improve it later, they say. The real naïveté is their belief that they, and not the fossil-fuel interests, are driving the legislative process.

In case you’re wondering whom Hansen has in mind, here’s a hint. Ahh it’s amusing to watch the fireworks. Joe Romm is actually driven to defend speculators!

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