Emission control a big first step to two priority goals

A climate change bill tailored to appease polluters squeaked by the House Friday and headed for a doubtful future in the Senate, where it will take 60 votes to overcome Republican opposition.
Legislation to limit emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in order to slow global warming was a key plank in President Obama’s campaign platform. While the House-passed bill falls short in some ways, it still will make substantial changes in the way America lives if it becomes law.
Energy prices will rise. The country will move away — very slowly — from fossil fuels such as oil, coal and natural gas and turn toward wind, solar and nuclear power. Cars will be smaller and the number of hybrid electric cars will in-crease dramatically. There will be more jobs in “green” energy industries, fewer in others.
President Obama strongly supports the measure, despite its serious flaws. In his weekly radio broadcast Saturday, he said:
“Now my call to every senator, as well as to every American, is this: We cannot be afraid of the future. And we must not be prisoners of the past. Don’t believe the misinformation out there that suggests there is somehow a contradiction between investing in clean energy and economic growth. It’s just not true.”
Regardless, the fight to win approval in the Senate will be long and tough.
Republicans, including Kansas Senators Pat Roberts and Sam Brownback, are expected to vote against the bill, as will almost 100 percent of their GOP comrades. As they fight against it, many, perhaps most, will protest that they favor reducing greenhouse gases but want to do it in some other, usually un-specified, way.
It is curious that the issue has become so partisan. Few scientists remain who question the effect greenhouse gases — carbon dioxide chief among them — are having on global warming, or doubt that it is essential to slow the pace of warming to prevent flooding coastal cities as glaciers and age-old fields of ice and snow melt and oceans rise. Republicans and Democrats should be working together on the side of science — and mankind.
No such luck. Republicans are dead set against the bill because, they say, it will cost too much and will kill jobs rather than stimulate the economy. Democrats counter that the nation must look at the broader picture and consider the next generation rather than the next year’s budget.
Both expect to be able to say “we told you so!” in the 2010 and 2012 election campaigns.

AS THE DEBATE continues, Republican strat-egists should moderate their rhetoric lest they be accused of preaching that doom and gloom lies dead ahead if America joins the rest of the modern world in curbing greenhouse gases.
The United States and China are the world’s largest polluters. If our nations do nothing, the battle will be lost. We should be leaders, not roadblocks.
If Republicans want to rebuild their majority, they must appeal to the young, science-literate, college-educated class, which will be running the country a decade from now. It is a generation which strongly believes that global warming is occurring and can be slowed and just as strongly believes that energy independence can and must be achieved by this nation that has led the world in problem-solving for more than a century.
The two goals are inextricably intertwined.
Energy independence can only be achieved through huge increases in the production of nuclear energy along with electric power from limitless natural sources such as wind, solar, geo-thermal and the oceans’ tides. Every megawatt of power generated from these sources will reduce the amount of greenhouse gas sent into the atmosphere.
As clean producers of electric power are ramp-ed up, electric hybrid vehicles will dominate our streets and highways and the need for imported oil will drop sharply.
How soon? Not very. It will take a decade or more.
That’s why Congress and the rest of us must stop thinking short term. Yes, it will cost a pretty penny to make the shift. But it will cost much, much more if we don’t get off the dime and move.
We can move faster if we work together; not as Republicans or Democrats, as Americans.

— Emerson Lynn, jr.