Feb
10
2011

Let's talk. Coming carbon regulation should foster discussion

Lisa Jackson: The head of the EPA met with House Republicans recently to discuss carbon regulation.
Lisa Jackson: The head of the EPA met with House Republicans recently to discuss carbon regulation.Courtesy EPA
I'm assuming that you aren't at home watching dense legal proceedings related to the regulation of molecules in our atmosphere. So here's the timeline of a recent important story.

  1. Humans figure out how to turn things (engines, turbines) by burning coal and petroleum. This makes like life a whole lot better in lots of ways.
  2. Scientists figure out that, all that burning is causing some problems. When we burn that stuff, we put carbon in the atmosphere and that's disrupting the natural climate system leading to all kinds of problems.
  3. Some different humans hear about this science and think we should pass a law. This law should put some limits on how much carbon we put into the atmosphere.
  4. The humans in the Republican controlled House don't like this idea, because they think these limits would cripple the economy. Oh, and some of them don't even believe the scientists. Since these Republicans are in charge right now, no new law.
  5. The humans over at the Environmental Protection Agency, who are mostly scientists, notice that they should already be regulating all this carbon, because of an existing law, the Clean Air Act.
  6. The Supreme Court agrees
  7. The House Republicans, disagree and call a hearing with the head of the EPA.
  8. Who knows what's next...

OK, you're up to date. Unfortunately the media is framing this issue in military terms. "The coming battle." "EPA and Republicans spar over climate change." "EPA blocks Republican rocket launcher with sweet ion science shield." Yeah, I made that last one up. But we don't need battles, we need conversations and action.

My point is that this issue is a great opportunity to have a discussion about how science is used in our public policy decisions. Do you think the EPA is too focused on the scientific findings related to climate change? Are they ignoring the economic impacts? Are you frustrated with some of the Republican views that outright deny the scientific findings on what's causing climate disruption? Are they ignoring real facts? Could this issue be alleviated by better science education?

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

bryan kennedy's picture

Liza reminded me of this funny little comic on this very issue of politicians and their relationship to science.

posted on Thu, 02/10/2011 - 4:51pm
rationalist's picture
rationalist says:

It's sad, isn't it, the lengths which the political right will go to deny basic science.

Anthropogenic global warming is a scientific fact. One hundred percent of the evidence is consistent with this theory.

If the Republicans continue to refuse acknowledgment of the reality of climate change and the necessity of action, it will be an open advocation for a return to a scientific Dark Age.

posted on Sun, 02/13/2011 - 4:36pm
bryan kennedy's picture

I feel your frustration, but I think it's not fair or productive to lump all of political party's membership into a single viewpoint. Maybe you mean the current republican members of the house, but it's important to be specific for sure.

Making progress on climate issues is going to require less demonizing and side picking, and more recognizing where differing points of view are valid, and where firm scientific evidence is being ignored--not a valid argument.

posted on Mon, 02/21/2011 - 6:06pm
generation now's picture
generation now says:

I believe carbon regulation is ideal if we are to solve the issue of global warming. The United States is number one first-world country consumer of fossil fuels. If we use regulation, the world will be better

posted on Sun, 02/13/2011 - 4:37pm
Shana's picture
Shana says:

I think that some politicians are focusing on the economic realities of today (hoping to get reelected) and using them as an excuse to ignore the economic realities of the future--they tout the fact that it's expensive to regulate carbon now, and ignore the fact that it will be a lot more expensive to deal with climate change in the future.

posted on Mon, 02/14/2011 - 1:32pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Climate is important. Lots of people care about it so you don't have to talk about it every single day.

posted on Fri, 02/25/2011 - 2:48pm

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