I read an interesting piece in the Washington Post over the weekend by Mike Tidwell of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. Tidwell’s piece is interesting in light of the EPA’s recent action concerning CO2 (EPA: Greenhouse Gases Endanger Human Health from the AP via ABC News) . Tidwell’s basic argument is that most American’s are pretending to go “green” by washing their clothes in cold water and buying issues of magazines that are on “green” topics, but that we are not really changing the way we live. He argues that we pretend to be green rather than actually making significant changes. Here is a link to his article and a small quote: To Really Save the Planet, Stop Going Green
Green gestures we have in abundance in America. Green political action, not so much. And the gestures (“Look honey, another Vanity Fair Green Issue!”) lure us into believing that broad change is happening when the data shows that it isn’t. Despite all our talk about washing clothes in cold water, we aren’t making much of a difference.
For eight years, George W. Bush promoted voluntary action as the nation’s primary response to global warming — and for eight years, aggregate greenhouse gas emissions remained unchanged. Even today, only 10 percent of our household light bulbs are compact fluorescents. Hybrids account for only 2.5 percent of U.S. auto sales. One can almost imagine the big energy companies secretly applauding each time we distract ourselves from the big picture with a hectoring list of “5 Easy Ways to Green Your Office.”
As America joins the rest of the world in finally fighting global warming, we need to bring our battle plan up to scale. If you believe that astronauts have been to the moon and that the world is not flat, then you probably believe the satellite photos showing the Greenland ice sheet in full-on meltdown. Much of Manhattan and the Eastern Shore of Maryland may join the Atlantic Ocean in our lifetimes. Entire Pacific island nations will disappear. Hurricanes will bring untold destruction. Rising sea levels and crippling droughts will decimate crops and cause widespread famine. People will go hungry, and people will die.
Morally, this is sort of a big deal. It would be wrong to let all this happen when we have the power to prevent the worst of it by adopting clean-energy policies.(Mike Tidwell, Washington Post, December 6, 2009)
One of the things that Tidwell points out is that Obama would really need Congress to act in order to take significant action. He doesn’t seem to think that this will happen. However, this EPA ruling (EPA: Greenhouse Gases Endanger Human Health from the AP via ABC News) may be the sort of regulatory muscle Obama needs. As Obama head to Europe for the climate summit, it will be interesting to watch how this plays out.