Last August’s stultifying heat and humidity reminded me that climate change must still be a policy priority. I say must, because although I’m not convinced the doomsday global warming alarmists have it right, if they do, the century-long dwelling time of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere does not give us the luxury of waiting thirty or forty years to see whether their climate models are correct. By then, it will be too late to reverse course.
So, is the “cap and trade” climate bill the House passed three months ago and the Senate is still mulling over the best way to deal with the issue? I suppose it is if you like bureaucracies and volatile secondary trading markets. Still, it’s gotten the debating juices going. For left leaning environmentalists, it’s not tough enough, and for right wing naysayers, it represents capitulation to a scientific hoax. But even those naysayers acknowledge two scientific facts: (1) human activity is causing carbon dioxide to accumulate in the atmosphere at a rapid rate, and (2) carbon dioxide and other green house gases absorb the infrared radiation that leaves the earth’s surface. Where they part company with their “enviro” colleagues is in accepting the climate models that predict ominous global warming consequences. Bridging that divide is a tall order, and the Senate is still grappling to find a way to do it.
As Congress continues to seek clarity in climate change policy, APS is examining its climate change statement for clarity of expression. That review procedure has caused a stir – gratuitously, I would argue – but the process is necessary for APS to retain its scientific credibility. Taking that credibility as a given, the question still remains: How much should APS use its scientific authority to influence climate change legislation?