By JP Leous
Picture this: You’re a passenger riding in a car racing toward a cliff at 100mph. You ask the driver to stop, but he ignores you and continues on. “Stop or we’re going to go over the cliff and die,” you cry. “There is no cliff.” he says. As the abyss approaches you make a last-minute plea to hit the brakes.
“Listen, I’m a reasonable guy – Let’s compromise,” he says. “How about I slow down to 50? Would that make you happy?”
Would you take the offer? He’s met you half way. But you’re thinking that his “compromise” doesn’t come anywhere close to solving your problem. His “solution” only does one thing: it takes you off the cliff.
Are we setting ourselves up for a similar fate with our climate and energy future? During the past week a series of important meetings have taken place on the Hill and at the White House to piece together a bill that will end our addiction to fossil fuels and address climate change.
Unfortunately the strategy that the U.S. Senate appears to be taking looks a lot less like the solution we need and a lot more like half-measures that still take us over the edge. Several Senators are promoting the idea of a “utility only” cap on carbon emissions – an approach that only limits the carbon pollution from power plants. While this is a start, it leaves about 60 percent of carbon pollution – the pollution from manufacturing, industrial farming, and vehicles – unrestricted and uncapped. In other words, the “utility-only” solution still takes us off the climate cliff.
Maybe you don’t think there is a cliff ahead, but the signs – and scientists – point to trouble ahead. More severe storms, intense flooding, early melting snowpack, even changes to maple syrup production all indicate that the cliff is closer than ever.
This is not the time for the U.S. Senate to retreat to half-measures that we know will leave us short of what is needed to protect our communities, economy and environment. Now is the time for us to get the whole job done. If we expect less, if we demand less, we’ll get less – and this is an issue where less is simply not enough.
Climate change is unlike any other issue our nation has faced before, and incremental progress over decades of legislative battles won’t eventually push us over the goal line… it will drive us over the edge.
Photo courtesy of minicooper93402 via flickr