Steven Mufson of the Washington Post has a grave assessment of Congress’ ability to make even a dent in the dire issue of climate change:
Here’s the good news about climate change: Energy and climate experts say the world already possesses the technological know-how for trimming greenhouse gas emissions enough to slow the perilous rise in the Earth’s temperatures.
Here’s the bad news: Because of the enormous cost of addressing global warming, the energy legislation considered by Congress so far will make barely a dent in the problem, while farther-reaching climate proposals stand a remote chance of passage.
Despite growing public concern over global warming, the House has failed to agree on new standards for automobile fuel efficiency, and the Senate has done little to boost the efficiency of commercial office buildings and appliances. In September, Congress is expected to start wrestling with more ambitious legislation aimed at slowing climate change; but because of the complexity of the likely proposals, fewexpect any bill to become law. Even if passed by Congress and signed by President Bush, the final measure may not be tough enough to slow global warming . . .
The potential economic impact of meaningful climate legislation — enough to reduce U.S. emissions by at least 60 percent — is vast. Automobiles would have to get double their current miles to the gallon. Building codes would have to be tougher, requiring use of more energy-efficient materials. To stimulate and pay for new technologies, U.S. electricity bills could rise by 25 to 33 percent, some experts estimate; others say the increase could be greater.
Most of the technologies that could reduce greenhouse gases are not only expensive but would need to be embraced on a global scale, scientists say. Many projections for 2030 include as many as 1 million wind turbines worldwide; enough solar panels to cover half of New Jersey, massive reforestation; a major retooling of the global auto industry; as many as 400 power plants fitted with pricey equipment to capture carbon dioxide and store it underground; and, most controversial, perhaps 350 new nuclear plants around the world.
(emphasis added). With such a substantial number of foot-draggers doubting the already compelling science (even the Publisher of Skeptic, the contrarian Michael Shermer, recently announced his volte-face on the issue and acceptance that humans are the source of this problem), the task is that much harder–factor in convincing the Chinese and the developing world, much less our Allies, and the task is a Leviathan.
Who’s up to the task?