Saturday, February 03, 2007

IPCC Report Unlikely to Generate Major Global Warming Action in US for at Least Two Years

If this were a rational world the report released yesterday by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (see for early analysis) would have politicians around the world spending their weekend figuring out what to do to save our planet. But this world is anything but rational and in the US our president is much more interested in instilling fear about terrorism than about global warming. The difference is that fighting terrorism doesn’t require a lot of government regulations whereas fighting global warming does. That is why we will have to wait until 2009, when a new president takes office to see if the dire warnings in the IPCC report lead to real action that begin to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Whomever this new president is, he or she would have to make fighting global warming a top priority and the Senate and House would have to be able to get enough votes to support effective legislation. Admitingly this is a long shot, particularly if Iraq continues to dominate politics in the US. One of the great unknowns looming out there is whether effective implementing of energy efficiency and renewable energy would be enough to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the US to the desired goal or whether strong conservation measures that would include drastic changes to lifestyle would also be needed. It is obviously difficult in a democracy for a politician to advocate sacrificing a luxurious way of life. Making the case for a Spartan lifestyle is probably not going to win many votes.

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