Now's Not the Time


“If anything, there is a case to be made that Congress is kind of rushing on the whole cap and trade legislation. Henry Waxman has said that he wants a bill out by Memorial Day. Barbara Boxer says she wants a bill out of the Senate by a similar time…

“Not surprisingly, people are fixated on the economy. Obama is fixated on the economy. This seems like a low level thing, even though scientists are saying we really need to cut emissions quickly. I think there’s a real case to be made for splitting this up and waiting until later this year or early next year on cap and trade until Obama can really focus his full attention on it and do what’s possible in the meantime.”

— Bradford Plumer, Assistant Editor at The New Republic, March 19, 2009


While Bradford Plummer isn’t an opponent of global warming action, the question “Why rush this?” is one we hear a lot from many of those who are.

But it’s a very thin reed to stand on. We’ve debated and debated and debated the need for global warming for more than a generation.

Environmental Defense Fund first starting working on the threat of global warming in Reagan era. The Kyoto Protocol was negotiated more than 10 years ago. The McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship Act was first introduced in 2003. And there have been three votes in the Senate on moving forward on a cap and trade bill.

In other words, this isn’t a new issue. We’ve had ample time to debate the pros and cons.

And, yes, the economy is a huge priority. But energy is a huge part of the economy. And passing a cap on global warming pollution is an essential step in rebuilding our energy infrastructure, putting people to work, and ending our dependence on foreign oil.

Not to mention the fact that, as we point out in this Climate 411 post, inaction is the most expensive option. From rising insurance rates to battered coastlines to droughts and wildfires, global warming will exact an economic toll on top of terrible environmental costs.

Delaying action also carries a huge cost, as we point out in this Climate 411 post. Failure to act — or weak solutions that don’t make the emissions cuts we need — only make solving the problem harder and more expensive.

There are always excuses not to move big pieces of legislation. There are always other political issues that drain momentum for action. Once you start saying, “Why rush this? Now’s not the time — We need more debate,” what you’re really saying is, “Let’s not do this. Period.”

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