Archive for May 21st, 2010|Daily archive page

Climate Science and the Split Over the American Power Act

Good run down of the big green vs. little green dust up over the the American Power Act by Jonathan Hiskes. However, this passage isn’t really accurate:

It’s worth noting that all the groups involved have shown they understand the scientific urgency of an aggressive clean-energy plan.

Maybe off the record that’s true, but on the policy level there are real differences between what they’re saying. You’ve three camps:

1) The 450ppm is OK crowd,
2) saying the present levels are dangerous
3) James Lovelock and other pessimists saying we’re all doomed.

The 450ppm camp pretty much fell apart, in that most of them will basically say that 350 might well be the right goal. Saying anything else would seriously undermine their leadership position even more after all the flack they’ve taken from the little green groups calling their legislative agenda a big polluter give away. But it doesn’t really translate into a change in their agenda, it’s still based around the old idea that we’re in the safe zone and can safely keep going up. The emissions targets just aren’t strong enough to believe that the the plan isn’t to let CO2 reach 450ppm and only lower it slowly from there. The was the official plan 3-4 years ago and nothing has changed.

The folks start from the position that the science says danger is at the door step. Thus we need stronger emissions targets, more money, more effort and less compromise. Politically we need more effort around long-term movement building and to just forget about the current legislation. Use every tool, read pressuring for the strongest possible action by the EPA, in the short term.

James Lovelock is basically saying that only the unequivocally politically impossible action will avert climate change and even that probably wont be enough. He basically endorses the agenda, plus drastic life boat policies. I once wondered if he’d tell Obama to consider invading Greenland or telling young people with children to move to Canada.

Surely a lot of the differences causing the split are political, personal, and philosophical, but there’s science behind the policy and it’s not the same science.