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January 2007 Vol. 22, No. 1   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Turn Up the Heat on Climate Change

from the January, 2007 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

The changing of the guard in Congress presents a momentous opportunity to prevent catastrophic bleaching and mass coral death. Many pro-environment candidates were elected, and several anti-environment members were booted out. Even Republican Governor Arnold Schwarznegger took bold action and announced, with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, an unprecedented partnership between California and the U.K. to reduce greenhouse gases.

The Bush Administration is sure to have heard these messages, but it will take strong political will to change business as usual in Washington.

Respect the science. No more political hacks editing reports by government scientists whose data and conclusions are at odds with political ideology. It’s time to base actions on reality rather than a belief system.

Deal with the global reality. Because climate change affects the entire planet, it makes no sense for the U.S. to go it alone. As the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, we have a moral obligation to sign the Kyoto Protocol so that the whole world is striving toward the same goal. We need to invest in projects like reforestation and energy both here and in other countries. We’ll save money and fight climate change simultaneously.

It’s the economy, stupid. A bevy of eminent economists agree it will be much cheaper to invest in climatechange reduction strategies compared with the huge cost of doing nothing. Early indications from Europe suggest that billions of dollars in new investment are now flowing in response to the continent’s cap on greenhouse gas emissions that lowers costs of compliances. Because the law creates incentives for even lower emissions, a new market in carbon credits has sprung up. Capitalism is one of the strongest forces on earth; why not harness it to save the planet? The U.S. should be leading the charge toward this, not opposing it.

There ought to be a law. California has already passed a law modeled on the European approach mentioned above. There are several bills languishing in Congress that would move the U.S. in the right direction. Now is the time to get them passed and signed into law.

Some readers will take issue with these points and demand a refund for their subscription, saying that they are paying to read about diving, not politics. But I write this because I care deeply about our oceans, our reefs and their inhabitants. At stake is their very survival. I am writing about political action, not partisan politics. American politicians from both parties have dragged their feet too long, and the chance to reverse the effects of global warming is rapidly disappearing. Either America acts now, or we divers will be the last generation to swim among living reefs in a vibrant sea.

-- Ben Davison

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