Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Historic EPA finding: Greenhouse gases harm humans

From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

The Obama administration took a major step Monday toward imposing the first federal limits on climate-changing pollution from cars, power plants and factories, declaring there was compelling scientific evidence that global warming from manmade greenhouse gases endangers Americans' health.

The announcement by the Environmental Protection Agency was clearly timed to build momentum toward an agreement at the international conference on climate change that opened Monday in Copenhagen, Denmark. It signaled the administration was prepared to push ahead for significant controls in the U.S. if Congress doesn't act first on its own.

The EPA finding clears the way for rules that eventually could force the sale of more fuel-efficient vehicles and require plants to install costly new equipment or shift to other forms of energy.

Energy prices for many Americans probably would rise — though Monday's finding will have no immediate impact since regulations have yet to be written. Supporters of separate legislation in Congress argue they could craft measures that would mitigate some of those costs.


But business groups said regulating carbon emissions through the EPA under existing clean air law would put new economic burdens on manufacturers, cost jobs and drive up energy prices.

"It will choke off growth by adding new mandates to virtually every major construction and renovation project," declared Thomas Donohue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which in recent months has been particularly critical of the EPA's attempt to address climate change.


'Bout fucking time.

This really should have happened years ago, but couldn't because, you know, psychotic right-wing assholes occupied the White House, which controls the EPA. But just because the conservatives are out of power doesn't mean they're not going to pitch the mother of all fits about this. Indeed, the above linked article goes on to assert that a massive wave of lawsuits aimed at tying up the EPA for a long time to come is all but inevitable.

Shit like this, right-wing resistance to combating global warming, gives me a lot of empathy toward George Carlin's giving up on the human race in the latter years of his life. Science, especially climatology, is now dead certain that global warming exists, human activity is causing it, and the end result will necessarily be the destruction of civilization. So why the hell are so many Americans opposed to doing anything about it?

Business opposition I understand. Businesses, while staffed by humans, are not themselves human beings. They're soulless, emotionless, short-sighted organizations governed by procedural rules, motivated solely by increasing profits and nothing else. Of course businesses are opposed to doing anything about greenhouse gasses: they don't give a shit about the end of civilization as long as they continue to make money. I mean sure, the end of civilization is bound to be bad for business, but I did say businesses are short-sighted, didn't I?

What I don't get are individuals who oppose getting serious about climate change. I don't understand how people can simply dismiss hard science--I don't understand why people don't accept evolution, either, but that's another story. I don't understand how people can scoff at EPA plans to regulate carbon dioxide emissions by observing that CO2 exists naturally--I mean, that's true enough, I suppose, but using such a fact in such a way betrays what is obviously a willful ignorance of the entire global warming phenomenon; that is, saying that carbon dioxide exists in nature, and should therefore not be regulated, automatically disqualifies one from the whole conversation. I don't understand why people say the same thing over and over, that fighting climate change will hurt the economy, without acknowledging that climate change itself will hurt the economy far, far worse than efforts to fight it ever possibly could.

Actually, Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman asserts that if Congress gets in on the regulation act, the economy would hardly suffer at all, but I guess that conservatives rule out anything he has to say because he's a Bush-hater.

Anyway, this news is way cool. It's also yet another reminder that, in spite of all my criticisms, President Obama is about a thousand times better than what we had before. At least he's serious about governing the country.