Monday, November 13, 2006

The Environment: Running Out of Shortcuts

Terrell of Alone on the Limb has pictures of the way the world is supposed to look in the fall here and here. When people talk about protecting the environment, this is what they're talking about. Also Tom of If I Ran the the Zoo has different pictures from the other side of the country (in the Sierras) here. Whether the world is outside our back door or three hours away or up in a National Park, there is a priceless heritage we need to do a better job of protecting. Protecting our children's future and the world they and their children will be living in is high on that list.

As the population of the world grows, as new countries join the industrialized world, we are running out of environmental shortcuts that allow certain businesses to save a buck. The reality is that if you value something, it will create jobs; doing a better job of protecting the environment and creating technology that will help in that work, will create jobs.

A fact has been apparent for some years all the across the world: from now on, every shortcut, every delay in dealing with environmental problems, exacts a price. The more shortcuts, the bigger the price tag down the road. We're seeing the cost in our water, in our soil, in the falling populations of fish in the sea, and in the air. If you live somewhere that doesn't look polluted, the pollution is above you in the greenhouse zone where large amounts of greenhouse gases are gathering. It's no longer a matter of how much time we have but when we begin doing what we already need to do.

With Bush's veto, getting much more serious about cleaning up the environment may not get much of a start in the next two years. But the winds are definitely changing; here's a story from Common Dreams:
Environmentalists in the United States say they hope the removal of global-warming skeptics from powerful positions on Capitol Hill will present a new opportunity to force the Bush administration to tackle climate change.

This week's seizure of both houses of Congress by the Democrats means that two key Republican opponents of action to confront climate change - Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma and Richard Pombo of California - will lose their positions as the chairmen of Congress's two environmental committees.

Mr Pombo, who lost his bid for re-election, will leave the House altogether. Mr Inhofe, who once said the threat of global warming was, "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people", will probably be replaced by the California Democrat Barbara Boxer. She has promised to curb carbon emissions and strengthen environmental protection legislation.

Even if Senator Boxer is not able to pass much legislation in the next two years over Bush's veto, she can start building consensus on environmental issues; she can provide an important service if she uses her committee to hold hearings that inform Americans about what is happening to the environment and what we can do about it. For the last six years, Republicans have refused to look at the environment. Their attitude has been that if you don't look at the problems, they don't exist. That's exactly the attitude they took in Iraq for more than three years. It's time to find out where we are.


Anonymous Terrell said...

Thanks for the links and the kind words. I checked out Tom's pics. What gorgeous scenery! Maybe we have some folks in Congress now who will help look out for our mountain majesties and all of our wonderful environment.

9:07 PM  
Blogger Tom Hilton said...

Excellent post (and thanks for the link!). You're absolutely right--every deferred environmental cost winds up costing many times as much down the road.

One hopeful thing: I looked at the September/October issue of Sierra the other day, where they identified the worst anti-environmentalists in Congress...and most of them went down to defeat. I think that environmental House-cleaning may be the most under-reported aspect of the elections.

8:55 AM  
Blogger Poechewe said...

Tom and Terrell, thanks for your comments. I've been slow to catch up on comments lately!

Tom, it's good to hear some anti-environment types have been cleared out. I notice, though, that one of the worst, Senator Inhofe, is still there.

I personally know some Republicans who are very concerned about the environment but they often have a hard time getting fellow Republicans to listen. I hope that changes.

6:42 PM  

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