Ohio Environmental Law Blog
Is the Hot Summer Breathing New Life into Addressing Climate Change?
It is an issue that just won't go away...Our incredibly hot summer seems to have re-focused attention on doing something regarding climate change.
James E. Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, in Friday's Washington Post, announced the release of a new study. The title of Mr. Hansen's op-ed piece shows what the new study concludes- Climate Change is Here---and Worse than
In a new analysis of the past six decades of global temperatures, which will be published Monday, my colleagues and I have revealed a stunning increase in the frequency of extremely hot summers, with deeply troubling ramifications for not only our future but also for our present.
This is not a climate model or a prediction but actual observations of weather events and temperatures that have happened. Our analysis shows that it is no longer enough to say that global warming will increase the likelihood of extreme weather and to repeat the caveat that no individual weather event can be directly linked to climate change. To the contrary, our analysis shows that, for the extreme hot weather of the recent past, there is virtually no explanation other than climate change.
Media reports from this summer are painting a dramatic picture of the impact from the summer's heat wave. Take today's AP news article - Thousands of Fish Die as Midwest Streams Heat Up:
Thousands of fish are dying in the Midwest as the hot, dry summer dries up rivers and causes water temperatures to climb in some spots to nearly 100 degrees.
About 40,000 shovelnose sturgeon were killed in Iowa last week as water temperatures reached 97 degrees.....The fish are victims of one of the driest and warmest summers in history. The federal U.S. Drought Monitor shows nearly two-thirds of the lower 48 states are experiencing some form of drought, and the Department of Agriculture has declared more than half of the nation's counties — nearly 1,600 in 32 states — as natural disaster areas. More than 3,000 heat records were broken over the last month.
With new media reports of the impact of the heat wave and new studies emerging confirming the impact of climate change conservatives have started to see its an issue that they need to get ahead of rather than simply resist.
Conservative groups have held meetings this summer to talk about pushing for a carbon tax to replace other taxes while addressing climate change. A recent CNN article discusses how the proposal to put a tax on certain fossil fuels in gaining support amount some Republicans- Carbon Tax Gets Unusual Support:
We have to have a system where all forms of energy bear their full costs," President Reagan's former Secretary of State George Shultz said in a recent interview with Stanford University News. Shultz now heads a task force at Stanford that is currently studying the feasibility of a carbon tax.
For Shultz there are many reasons to support such a tax. One is making fossil fuel energy sources absorb costs that are currently borne out by society at large, such as through higher health insurance premiums or Medicare bills caused by pollution-induced diseases.
He also cites energy independence, as well as global warming, "which is not a matter of opinion, but a matter of fact," he said. "The arctic is melting. A lot of people seem to be scoffing at the idea of global warming, but reality will catch up with them."
The old saying is that elections go the way of the economy. Perhaps the debate over climate change regulation goes the way of the weather.
Political ads still try and cast support for cap and trade as a negative for those politicians that supported the proposal in Congress. However, as long as media headlines are filed with the dramatic impacts of this years hot summer, it will become much more difficult for politicians to cast support for doing something on climate change as a negative. Perhaps that is why conservative groups are trying to get ahead of the curve by exploring policy options that they see as more palatable.
Let's say Romney wins the election. Do you see President Romney, with the current "hot weather" news cycle, repealing all of the EPA climate change regulations without some sort of new policy initiative like a carbon tax? That just seems far less likely.
For an interesting discussion as to whether climate change regulation is back on the table, see the National Journal's Energy Expert's Blog- Is Momentum Building to Act on Climate Change.
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