[caption id="attachment_879" align="alignleft" width="92" caption="Paul Krugman"][/caption]
By Josh Gelfand
Leave it to Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman to speak truth to power, even if the power in question lost narrowly in the House last week. Krugman's Monday New York Times column called out the 212 dissenting voters of the Waxman-Markey climate-change bill:
"A handful of these no votes came from representatives who considered the bill too weak, but most rejected the bill because they rejected the whole notion that we have to do something about greenhouse gases.
"And as I watched the deniers make their arguments, I couldn’t help thinking that I was watching a form of treason — treason against the planet."
Krugman is not alone in understanding that the issue of climate change is not simply about the environment but about the global economy as well. Economic recovery can only succeed by focusing on sustainable economic forces, and ignoring the effects of climate change will inevitably lead to worldwide economic disaster.
Can you imagine a summer music festival in 115-degree heat? Disastrous summer heat waves will become the norm if we don't act fast and aggressively – and no one wants to dance in that kind of weather.
Don't get me wrong. While this bill is an important step in launching a carbon-regulation market, it leaves a lot to be desired. Most analysts believe it will not be nearly aggressive enough to make the necessary impact. While virtually any bill that sets out to regulate carbon is better than no bill at all, this one attaches some very questionable components. For example, Waxman-Markey gives free permits to the biggest emitters rather than auctioning off the permits to raise revenue and offset any potential energy cost increases. Without putting a proper price on permits, this could devalue carbon as opposed to driving up the price, which would directly encourage cuts in emissions.
Unfortunately, considering all the issues the Obama administration is currently dealing with, from health care to Iran to celebrity deaths, there wasn't the grassroots push necessary to strengthen the bill. This led to a watering down in order to get some of the more fossil fuel-loving Dems on board.
Still, it's a start. With Waxman-Markey as a foundation, we can begin regulating carbon as the enemy pollutant it is, which opens the door for bolstering regulation down the road.
Let your senators know how important it is that they pass this bill. It's never too late for a grassroots push. Remind them that not taking action now is a crime against country and planet. As Merl Saunders said, "Save the planet so we have somewhere to boogie!"