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Copenhagen: 3 AM Red Phone Call & Dithering

December 8, 2009

The presidential campaigns made a big deal of the question: who has “the right stuff” to answer the red phone when it rings at 3 AM in the morning in the next administration.  Our environmental lobbyist pointed out that that red phone has been ringing and ringing for years on the crisis of global warming and none of our leaders has answered it yet.

This week the Obama administration did take one small step forward.  The Environmental Protection Agency officially declared that greenhouse gasses are a threat to public health, which means that the agency is authorized to reduce them. This move would allow the government to limit emissions even if Congress does not pass climate legislation. Lawsuits and challenges to these regulations are likely to hold up these regulations. Congress still needs to act.

The Vice President who brought you “the dark side” with torture, abu Ghraib, and Guantanamo accused President Obama of “dithering,” because he took time to think about U.S. military strategy in Afghanistan.  The news was all about “dithering” on Afghanistan, but who has been calling out Congress for “dithering” on global warming?  Where’s the news on that? Congress doesn’t “get it” that global warming is a real threat to U.S. national security.

This week our president joins other world leaders in Copenhagen to discuss the problem of global warming.  I worry they won’t confront global warming, which science tells us is an existential threat to all nations and maybe, even, to the human species.

If the world’s leaders fail to take action in time to keep CO2 emissions at or below 350 parts per million, the planet might correct the problem itself, by eliminating the human species.  Yet, the best we can hope for at Copenhagen this week will be resolutions to “do better than we have been doing.”

Congress has failed to enact a real global warming and sustainable energy bill this year.  As a result, President Obama has had to rely on the authority in the 1990 Clean Air Act to take action to reduce U.S. emissions through EPA (Evironmental Protect Agency) regulation.  Ominously, ACES (American Clean Energy and Security Act), passed by the House, would rescind that EPA authority and would not significantly reduce U.S. emissions in other ways.  Congress has sent President Obama to Copenhagen not just with a weak hand but with his hands tied.

We the people have to lobby hard to enact policies for a sustainable future.  Now would be a good time to tell your Senators that you expect better of them.  FCNL has prepared an analysis of the Senate’s global warming bill.  I hope you’ll use it this week to help prevent another world catastrophe.  You can contact your senators on FCNL’s website.

  1. Darlyne Neff permalink
    December 8, 2009 9:42 pm

    Those of us who believe that individuals can make a difference, need to join hands and give each other encouragement to cut our own carbon foot print. My husband and I gave up flying three years ago and have cut our driving by over 50 %.
    But we are retired. Our long walks have made us healthier and stronger, and have been very enjoyable.

    I am working with a small group of young people who are planning classes for permaculture, locally grown fruits and vegetables. Helping communities to move from large scale agriculture to growing most of your food in your own yard.
    Have you read The Transition Handbook by Rob Hopkins? It gave me renewed hope.

  2. John Radebaugh permalink
    December 9, 2009 9:20 am

    President Obama Global warming is an emergency worldwide problem. You should insist that U.S. greenhouse gases should be reduced at least 50% during the next 5 years. Otherwise the rising CO2 levels will be high enough in the atmosphere to exceed tolerable levels by the human race and and result in our inevitable extinction.
    John Radebaugh, MD. Falmouth, Me., 04105

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