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Baby steps to stem greenhouse gases

Climate change headline

TEXT OF STORY

Bob Moon: Today, President Obama asked a gathering of top CEOs to support his economic agenda. And high on his list is global warming. Obama said putting a price on carbon pollution is a critical part of moving toward clean energy. But if Vegas bookies were taking bets on passing a tough federal climate law this year, the odds wouldn't favor it.

The Copenhagen talks already rolled snake eyes, and the recession and political resistance at home make serious greenhouse gas cuts unlikely. So, what now? Here's Sarah Gardner from the Marketplace Sustainability Desk.


SARAH GARDNER: Right now it seems like the most effective global warming fighter is, frankly, the recession.

MARY NICHOLS: Ironically the fact that the economy is in such weak condition helps with the emission reduction goals.

Mary Nichols is a key environmental regulator in California.

NICHOLS: Because we're not transporting as much stuff, we're not exporting as much stuff. You know, our factories are not working at the same pace, and so forth. And sadly that means reaching the goals that were in the Waxman-Markey legislation is actually easier.

Waxman-Markey is shorthand for climate legislation the House passed last year. Its main goal is deeply slashing heat-trapping pollutants from power plants, cars and the like by mid-century. That's a tall order, even with the help of a feeble economy. And Senate passage of a strong climate bill is, at best, uncertain.

Jeremy Symons at the National Wildlife Federation says without a federal limit on global warming emissions, the U.S. can kiss that goal goodbye.

JEREMY SYMONS: At the end of the day without a level playing field from the federal government to say, here's the game plan, if you invest in clean energy, you'll profit, we'll see more of the same.

So without a federal mandate, can any progress be made? Conservationists say yes, but it's babysteps. Many states now require more of their electricity come from solar, nuclear and wind, for example. And they are mandating more energy-efficient buildings and appliances.

Harvard environmental economist Robert Stavins says energy-efficiency standards can cut greenhouse gases at a relatively low cost.

ROBERT STAVINS: But only so much. If one wants to achieve the targets, for example, that people talk about for the U.S., which is reducing emissions by 2050, 80 percent below the 2005 levels, energy efficiency is absolutely not going to do it.

Same goes for those state laws on how much electricity should come from renewables. States don't want to enforce them too quickly because they can raise electricity prices too high too fast. That leaves two other alternatives. The EPA is planning to regulate global warming gases soon, but lawsuits are almost sure to bog that down. The other way is for states and regions to put their own caps on those emissions.

Mary Nichols is helping to craft California's historic law to fight global warming.

NICHOLS: It's not just a matter of can we do it or is it technically feasible, but can we do it in a way that does not disadvantage California or make us less competitive versus other states.

Nichols is hinting at resistance to these state efforts. California opponents are threatening a ballot initiative this fall to suspend the state's global warming law. And just this month Arizona's governor pulled her state out of a regional program to limit greenhouse gases. She said it would cripple Arizona's economy.

But even without a recession, Harvard's Robert Stavins says making big leaps to combat global warming is inherently problematic. He says typically it takes an ecological disaster that's easily observed and understood to pass groundbreaking environmental laws.

STAVINS: Climate is different than that, and it's different than the other environmental problems that we've dealt with in our democratic system.

Stavins says the "slow-drip" nature of a warming planet isn't like, say, Ohio's Cuyahoga River catching fire in 1969. That event spurred a grassroots environmental movement in this country. He says combating climate change requires political leadership from the top taking chances. And that's why we haven't gotten too far.

I'm Sarah Gardner for Marketplace.

About the author

Sarah Gardner is a reporter on the Marketplace sustainability desk covering sustainability news spots and features.
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"Nichols is hinting at resistance to these state efforts."

One of the reasons Mary Nichols is experiencing difficulty is the almost unreported situation in which she allowed (largely devoid of the boards' knowledge) a fraudulent PhD to compile, during the course of over a year, data which was then used by CARB to write stringent regulations on diesel emissions in California. http://www.landlinemag.com/todays_news/Daily/2009/Dec09/113009/120309-02... When questioned about it, by the public, at a CARB meeting, she replied, "I did it with the best of intentions".

The public doesn't oppose pollution controls. We oppose the fraudulent premise set forth by proponents of the theory of climate change.

Jay, Joe, Jon,
As for Phil Jones "admitting" that there has been no temperature increase since 1995: http://voices.kansascity.com/node/7593

The "climategate" emails do not overturn the scientific consensus on this subject, nor does it seriously impune the vast amount of data and research that has been done on this subject. The emails released were selective, and so-called "fudging" data was done to make the graphs nicer, not to exclude data that had significance. Any person who has actually done science research of any kind will acknowledge these as standard practices, especially when presenting data for publication.
The exclusion of other scientists attempting to contradict global warming was not great, but this is nothing compared to the campaign Exxon put on for the last thirty years to make scientists who spoke about global warming look like they were kooks.

The so-called "medieval warming period" that is the favorite example of those seeking to refute global warming as a man-made phenomenon is problematic, because it relies on historical accounts of temperature data from a select portion of the world (Europe). If you are going to complain about the inaccuracy of the computer models used by climate scientists, you should also acknowledge that scientists in the Middle Ages did not have instruments anywhere near the accuracy of instruments we have, the mathematics, physics, or actual GLOBAL temperature data that we have now.

Finally, this is all a non-issue. The only failure of Copenhagen was the United States, because the rest of the world is racing ahead without us. This will have to effects: 1) hopefully global warming is reversed as a trend, but, more importantly, 2) the rest of the world will have achieved energy independence while we are still stuck fighting nonsensical wars in the Middle East. The only arguments against serious development of alternative energy resources are economic, that it will cause energy prices to go up and stifle growth. Yet, the reality is that fossil fuels are heavily subsidized, the true cost of the "externalities" of these fuels is not accounted for in its price. If you added a tax at the pump to pay for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, gasoline might not look so great.

But, I suppose this was our brilliant plan all along: cook up this global warming thing to "fool" everyone else in the world to seriously develop alternative energy sources so we could get all the oil for ourselves. Brilliant.

Kai,

I am getting tired of the continued invocation of green house gas emissions as a reason to X or Y.
The "science" behind global warming is crumbling rapidly.
The public, as evidenced by polls is losing confidence in the warming agenda.
The climategate e-mails that were leaked last fall show how corrupt the small entrenched community is and how they have manipulated and hid data, tampered with the peer review process (trying to get journal editors fired for publishing papers that question their work).
It is not just the human side of scientists, it is corruption and agenda driven science that is being shown to be wrong. I have read many of the e-mails, have you?
Even Phil Jones at the center of the climate gate has said there is no warming in the last 15 years in a BBC interview. He also said that the medieval warm period was warmer than today. (AND WE STILL HAVE POLAR BEARS!)

All of the alleged "dangers" of warming are from computer models, and these have little credibility,. One recent paper compared 9 IPCC models for snow cover predictions. All predict a decline, but the measured trend is opposite, increasing, and this year is a northern hemisphere record.
See http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/02/19/north-america-snow-models-miss-the...

Hurricanes are NOT increasing according to a new review by the World Meteorological Organization. See http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2010/02/updated-wmo-consensus-perspect....

No, the science is not settled, and the IPCC is not a scientific organization, but a political one, and their credibility has been shredded lately by the exposure oaf many mistakes and errors.
The temperature records are being manipulated to make warming appear larger, and the NASA GISS data needs a congressional invstigation.

So, do your homework, the edifice is crumbling, interview Dr. Lindzen, Dr. Tim Ball,Dr. Pielke (Sr or JR.) Dr. Steve McIntyre to get some objective view of how weak the CO2 warming argument really is. Don't keep talking like this is a fact.

Open your eyes to see global warming is what ever the powers that be want it to be. President Obama sees it as a revenue source. The UN sees it as a way to redistribute wealth to poor countries. PETA sees it as a way to encourage vegetarianism etc.

So, do your homework, the edifice is crumbling, interview Dr. Lindzen, Dr. Tim Ball,Dr. Pielke (Sr or JR.) Dr. Steve McIntyre to get some objective view of how weak the CO2 warming argument really is. Don't keep talking like this is a fact.

-Jay

Joe, John... please list your scientific credentials and research data contradicting the consensus of the vast majority of scientists worldwide. Do you understand what carbon dioxide is? Where do you think it is all going? Who do you think is producing it?
Stop watching Fox News for your science news and get a grip. There is NO credible scientific argument explaining the hard data that shows global warming other than human activity.

>>He says combating climate change requires political leadership from the top taking chances. And that's why we haven't gotten too far.

No - we haven't gotten too far because the case for HUMAN caused global warming has still not passed scientific scrutiny, so the public is not convinced, so the politicians will not take risks. Get the science in place (putting the religion of global warming aside), and the rest will follow.

This combination has provided a rare escape from an economic disaster even worse than the recent crisis. While global warming has occurred in the past, human activity almost certainly had very little to do with it, and this story was just more collaboration with the far left's fraudulent attempt to take over the world economy under the guise of "saving the planet." How about some real journalism rather than just repeating propaganda?

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