Global Climate Change is Real
The evidence is in – global climate change, the overall, average warming of the atmosphere and oceans, is happening. The evidence continues to be gathered and has been recognized by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (ICCP), an agency of the United Nations, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (DOA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). It is also recognized by official agencies in every member state of the U.N. Additionally, every major scientific and professional society that deals with environmental issues or natural science in the U.S. and abroad has also officially recognized the situation.
The evidence is clear that the earth is now warmer than it has been in at least the last two centuries, that the rate of warming is now greater than it has been in all but a few very short intervals in the last two millenia, that the rate of warming is increasing, and that human activities are responsible for driving much and probably most of the present warming trend.
Responsible leadership, not denial, is necessary. Environmental security requires our attention in the wake of global climate change. It includes security of our own food supply, water supply, air quality and forest resources.
Things We Can Do
Fossil Fuels Reduction and Energy Independence
Patriotism is the love of country and the willingness to sacrifice for it. We must improve our nation’s energy conservation and transition from fossil-fuel power plants with reduced emissions to emission-free sources. We must accelerate the development of alternative and renewable sources of energy here at home. Boosting U.S. manufacturing in the “green energy” sector will improve our position in international trade and leadership. Various other governments such as China and many European nations are taking the initiative here. Our government must guide and improve the funding of basic and applied research on clean energy technologies just like we did for the microelectronics field in the 1950’s and 60’s that led to our silicon chip revolution. I am not advocating a governmental takeover, but a Private-Public partnership where the government helps coordinate the efforts of all interested stakeholders.
Greenhouse Gas Reduction
There is no avoiding this issue: we need a science-based cap on greenhouse gases which are the major cause of global warming. Knowledgeable Democrats AND Republicans have emphasized this position over the past few years. In order to cut carbon emissions at least 80% by 2050, a strong regulatory framework must ensure that reduction targets are met. We must overcome the political obstacles to implementing carbon pricing and achieve the primary objective that our climate future and economic future demands: making clean energy cheap.
- The private sector needs caps or similar cost incentives in order to know what levels are expected for competent business planning and to create a stable investment environment. An active partnership is key between private-sector entrepreneurs and a public sector that provides initial funding and creates public investment in clean energy innovation and the accelerated adoption of clean energy technologies.
- We can direct revenues from carbon permits toward public benefits such as creating clean energy jobs, minimizing impacts on low income communities and ensuring the development of clean energy technologies rather than windfall profits for polluters.
- We can implement a national Renewable Electricity Standard of 25% by 2025. One notable item for us, locally, is the RES Alliance / Navigant Consulting study that found that southern states like Georgia have the most to gain from setting this kind of national standard because it establishes a stable investment environment for new industry.
- We can increase electric energy efficiency 15% by 2020 and natural gas energy efficiency 10% by 2020 if we adopt science-based support and promotion of energy efficient appliance and lighting standards, tax incentives for energy efficiency and renewable energy.
Georgia residents use 25 percent more electricity per capita than the rest of the country because of cheap power! We can maximize efficiency enormously through updated technology such as better insulation and insulation upgrades, A/C and water-heating regulator switches, compact fluorescent and LED light bulbs, and Energy Star appliances.
- We can require that all power plants, including those powered by coal, be cleaned up, and establish emission limits.
- We can eliminate federal subsidies for power plants that do not actually capture and sequester at least 85% of their carbon emissions. A first step would be the Senators’ Rockefeller (D) and Voinovich’s (R) Carbon Capture and Storage Deployment Act of 2010 to create widespread deployment of carbon capture.
- We can set targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from travel through directing a greater percentage of our transportation dollars toward transportation options such as rail, transit, bike and pedestrian infrastructure. We can promote smart land use, development and repair existing infrastructure before building new roads. We can require increased fuel efficiency and stringent greenhouse gas standards for new cars and trucks.
- The Congress must restore protection for such bodies of water as headwaters streams, wetlands, and prairie potholes, so that the Clean Water Act protects the same waters as it did when Congress passed it in 1972. We must also protect streams and waterways from coal mining waste, which may be the greatest source of damage to our environment in terms of how little it can cost to prevent it.
- Polluting Industrial Sites: We must restore the Superfund’s polluter-pays funding mechanism.
Maintaining Our Economy and Leadership
We will ensure that our industries are not put at a competitive disadvantage while we strive to reduce global warming pollution and grow our clean energy economy. Our energy conservation partnership between the public and private sector will foster world-leading developments in science, engineering and technology in the “green” sector. Our largest trading partners are ahead of us in the development and implementation of green technology. We need to catch up!