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Climate and Energy

Bill McKibben is on a crusade. He wants to pound the number 350 into the heads of everyone on the planet, including yours.

Three fifty is the amount of carbon in parts per million that the atmosphere can handle safely without warming up and melting glaciers, raising the sea level, bringing on killer storms, destroying wildlife habitat, and all the other horrors that pop like mushrooms from your morning paper nearly every day.

Three fifty. Remember it.

Once upon a time, in a far-away rectangular state, there was a power source so pure it left no waste and would never run out. And from it sprang the modern environmental movement, not to welcome it, but to kill it dead.

Sometimes, not often enough but sometimes, the bad guys get their just deserts. (And yes, that's deserts not desserts in case you wondered. But I digress.)

...the next 11 months promise to be even worse than the last 85!

By my oh-so-sophisticated calculations we have now endured 85 months of the Bush assault on our environmental laws, our environmental agencies, and our environment itself.

The old energy economy—oil and gas—is booming in Colorado, driven by high prices and the Bush administration's push to aid America's addiction to fossil fuels. Thousands of new wells have been drilled—many on public land—and ranches, hunting opportunities, wildlife, air quality, public health, and the wildness of the West have all suffered.

The stimulus package has pretty much disappeared from the front pages with Super Tuesday upon us and the New York Giants pulling off the greatest upset since David smote Goliath. But, in case you missed it, the suggestion we echoed last week that this moment offers a rare chance to get some green projects going quickly is being trumpeted in the Senate. The House has already passed a single-purpose show-me-the-money bill that would give most of us a few hundred bucks to stimulate with. The Senate Finance Committee, meanwhile, has approved a bill that includes cash for us taxpayers but also would provide some $5.5 billion in renewable energy tax credits, energy bonds, and other encouragements to renewables and energy efficiency. Here's what like-minded groups think about it. And a recent study by the Blue-Green Alliance, a Sierra Club-United Steelworkers project, suggests that such federal encouragements could create upwards of 820,000 new jobs to boot. The President will scorn this approach no doubt, but it'll be interesting to see whether the Senators hold firm. This really is one of those historic opportunities, or so it seems to us—a chance to make concrete the argument that combating global warming offers great economic opportunities.

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