A few weeks ago I signed up as an activist with the Sierra Club's Cool Cities campaign to fight global warming. The main goal of this campaign is to extend the initiative of Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels who last year on February 16th, the day that the Kyoto Protocol international global warming treaty went into effect, introduced an agreement at the U.S. Conference of Mayors which pledges mayors who sign to reduce the level of carbon dioxide emissions in their cities to 7% below 1990 levels by 2012. This is the same percentage reduction in carbon dioxide emissions that the U.S. would have been committed to had our leaders signed the Kyoto Protocol. According to Mayor Nickel's website, as of September 15, 2006 there are 295 mayors representing 49.4 Americans who have taken on the challenge. The Sierra Club is trying to get more mayors to sign on to the agreement and to get those who do sign up to live up to their pledge.
I guess you could say this is a bottom up approach to the global warming problem. Certainly the top down approach hasn't worked. For many years environmentalists have been trying to get the government to raise CAFE standards for motor vehicles without any meaningful success. Our motor vehicles are no more fuel efficient today than they were two decades ago. Perhaps most importantly, all efforts to get the U.S. to sign the Kyoto Protocol failed.
If a bottom up approach is to succeed it must ultimately reach the top, in this case the federal government. Only the federal government can take the steps needed to cap greenhouse gas emissions for the entire country and only the federal government can work with other countries to cap greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Based on what has transpired with regard to the global warming problem in this country over the past two decades, that is, failure of the federal government to take action despite numerous lobbying efforts by the environmental community, the bottom up approach may be our best hope.