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Sam Edmondson's blog

The Bush years—a seemingly endless era in which those concerned about the planet's fate found themselves arguing with a table, to appropriate the words of a silver-tongued Massachusetts congressman—aren't typically remembered for good efforts to combat global warming.

But a new report by Environment America—"America on the Move"—contends those lost years, thanks to states (not the Bush administration), may actually prove themselves a critical period in our national efforts to lower carbon pollution. The report estimates that states like California, Massachusetts, Hawaii, and many others initiated programs during those years that will lead to a reduction of more than 500 million tons of global warming pollution by 2020.

The projected amount, approximately 7 percent of total domestic emissions in 2007, is no small thing, roughly equivalent to the collective annual emissions of more than 100 million cars.

Recently, some global warming skeptics have used a series of hacked emails to cast aspersions on the scientific consensus on man-made global warming. The hope, perhaps, is to gain support for a delusion that thrives in their fertile imaginations: that global warming is a hoax perpetuated by a clandestine network of global conspirators.

After weeks of speculation from Al Gore and others, we have the first indication from President Obama himself that he may go to the Copenhagen climate conference. In an interview with Reuters, Obama said he will travel to Copenhagen if he feels there is a chance of progress:

If I am confident that all of the countries involved are bargaining in good faith and we are on the brink of a meaningful agreement and my presence in Copenhagen will make a difference in tipping us over the edge then certainly that's something that I will do.

President Obama's statement of intent may signal the beginning of increased pressure on the Senate from the White House to continue pushing climate legislation forward, even as the health care debate—which has eclipsed global warming recently—rages on. Last week, the Kerry-Boxer global warming bill was passed out of the Environment and Public Works committee by a vote of 11-1. No Republican committee members were present for the vote.

Your move, Congress.
 

Bill McKibben, founder of the 350.org campaign, took to the pages of the latest Mother Jones to offer a great primer on the Copenhagen climate conference. McKibben's article is clear: the world needs to stabilize carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at 350 parts-per-million—the threshold of life on planet earth as we know it, according to scientists like James Hansen.

The halls of Congress are echoing this week with debate over proposed legislation to fight global warming—a fight that can't be won without addressing a primary cause of global warming: our dependence on coal. As the rumpus goes on there, a real-life battle between coal and the future of American energy has reached a pivotal moment in Appalachia.

It's a rare thing to encounter good news regarding climate change. Which is exactly why a bit of hopeful writing from Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute caught my attention. Brown's post, titled "U.S. Headed for Massive Decline in Carbon Emissions," contends that the U.S. has entered a new energy era characterized by declining carbon emissions. Do tell, Lester.

Just as world leaders convened in New York earlier this week for the U.N. Climate Conference, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) was introducing an amendment to an appropriations bill that would have hogtied EPA's ability to regulate carbon pollution from power plants and other large industrial polluters.

Fortunately, the Senate just decided not to vote on Senator Murkowski's amendment.

Some major dominoes still have to fall before big carbon polluters like power plants are regulated under the Clean Air Act, but the jettisoning of Murkowski's amendment clears the way for EPA to continue its work in that direction.

Here's a thanks to the 12,000 Earthjustice supporters who earlier this week urged their senators to reject Murkowski's amendment and instead tackle climate change and carbon polluters head on.
 

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