Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Are the American people really ready to start paying the costs of countering global warming and climate change?

An editorial in The New York Times entitled "The One Environmental Issue" questions whether Americans are really ready to fight Global Warming and Climate Change:

It is not yet clear to what extent Americans are willing to grapple with the implications of any serious strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions: more specifically, whether they are ready to pay higher prices for energy and change their lifestyles to reduce their consumption of fossil fuels.

What The Times is really challenging is whether politicians, notably candidates for President in 2008, are ready to lead the way on the necessary changes:

One result is that even the candidates who urge comprehensive change have not been pressed on important questions of cost: How do they intend to pay for all the new efficiencies and technologies that will be necessary? And what kind of sacrifices will they be asking of people who almost certainly will have to pay more for their electric bills and their greener cars?

Addressing these questions will require more courage of the candidates than simply offering up broad new visions. The voters deserve an honest accounting and the candidates should be prepared to give it.

Alas, I am sure The Times would be disappointed to hear that neither the candidates nor the people are willing to pay a lot more money or dramatically change their lifestyles, and that all anybody will tolerate is subtle quick fixes, whether they be higher vehicle mileage requirements, more electric vehicles, more nukes, more biodiesel, etc. Alas, all of those kinds of fixes put together may only get a third of the way to where the Global Warming crowd thinks we need to get.

And The Times is not asking some of the harder and more necessary questions, like are people ready to give up air conditioning, at home, at work, and in their cars and buses and trains and planes? Go ahead and try to find a politician willing to say they are willing to make that hard choice.

-- Jack Krupansky

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