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U.S. House Acknowledges Planetary Atmosphere!
Alex Steffen, 26 Jun 09

Though the low targets in the Waxman-Markey climate bill appall me, I'm also finding myself filled with a warm glow at its passage in the House.

I've been writing about climate change for two decades, and now, at long last, my country's leaders have at least done something. Something halting and lame and catastrophically inadequate yes, but something that at least acknowledges the reality that we live on a planet with an atmosphere.

Yes, we need to push on much more strongly. We need to be thinking about how to completely eliminate excess climate emissions from our economy. We need to set the stage for Copenhagen to be the transformative moment is may be shaping up to be, and we need to get President Obama to take that stage and help make history. That's a monumental job, and then we still have to create a new model of sustainable prosperity and rebuild our entire material civilization to support it.

Some days it's good to remember that optimism is a political act.

And some days, it's even fine to just sit and glow and call it a week.

Have a great weekend everyone!

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Yes, indeed. The fact that part of our Congress, especially our Congress, has passed a climate bill that encompasses any measure mandating a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is truly phenomenal. It represents that rarest of instances when meaningful numbers of America's political leaders find the courage to opt for important principle over political expediency. In spite of the compromises necessary to its passage, and they've been significant, this bill must be considered the single most important piece of environmental legislation ever passed by the House.

As we begin to learn more of the content and scope of this bill (It addresses far more than just greenhouse gas emissions.), we must turn our attention to the Senate, where the potential for even greater compromise of the bill's effectiveness is a reality. But for now, Alex, you are right. It is time to bask in the glow, for our House of Representatives may just have helped America turn the corner on climate change.

Posted by: Austintatious on 27 Jun 09

Ok, but then there's the argument that passing a weak climate bill is, under an illusion of slight progress, actually accelerating the damage we will cause the planet in the coming decades.

I can't see it any other way. Optimism is only a strong political act when it is stands on it own, like reading histories of how change has occurred in the past, and seeing something like that happen now, such that one can't doubt the possibility of a world changing movement slowly gathering, and one feels their individual potential in being part of the change.

Today's story is the opposite of political optimism! Seeing a further enactment of hypocrisy and short term greed and careerism on the part of the US government is certainly no reason to celebrate the weekend. I'm actually very depressed after reading about the bill that passed.

On the other hand, the sunshine in new york today is great!

Posted by: Kunal Gupta on 27 Jun 09

Well said! And thanks for workign to keep the atmosphere in the picture.

Posted by: Michael McGee on 27 Jun 09

Don't be gloomy (unless the Senate rejects the bill) - look at this from the perspective of the rest of the world.

The very fact that such a bill is being seriously debated is a huge change. The process should give some grounds for the rest of us (EU, China, India etc.) to believe that the US is serious about grappling with this issue.

Yes, the bill is weak and the arguments have in large part already been debated in other countries but you gotta start somewhere when you're late :-)

Posted by: John Kazer on 28 Jun 09

Two words: tipping point.

(Assuming the senate doesn't geld the thing!)

Posted by: Tony Fisk on 28 Jun 09

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