Jody Freeman, a former White House lawyer, provides insights into the political and economic obstacles facing the regulation of greenhouse gases in the U.S., and why only the most tepid reforms are politically feasible. From my perspective as an instructor of climate science courses, alarm bells should be ringing. The climate of our planet is in mortal danger.
The technology for mass conversion to renewable energy exists, and systemic change now would avoid the worst extremes of global warming. More people having reusable shopping bags and riding bicycles is nice, but that is far from enough. Not even close. Massive reductions in carbon dioxide emissions through fundamental changes in energy production are essential.
The problem is that changing the status quo would decrease profits of powerful corporations, and politicians continue to serve their interests above all others. We might hope for the best, but when the laws of capitalist economics come into conflict with the laws of physics, there can be no doubt as to which will prevail.
The writer, a professor of mathematics at Cal State Northridge, is director of the university's Climate Science Program.
Thank you for publishing Freeman's article. It helps to hear from one of the president's former lawyers on why he has not taken bolder action on climate change. However, Freeman didn't consider the truly bold steps that decisive presidents have taken in the past, especially in times of war and great need.
And right now we're fighting a war on global warming.
For example, during World War II, we had rationing ordered by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Why can't President Obama ration household electricity use until 100% of our power comes from clean sources?
Why can't Obama institute gas rationing? Wouldn't such bold action push Congress to pass carbon tax legislation, which conservative economists support?
It seems the only reason congressional Republicans have not sponsored climate change legislation is that they don't like Obama. Members of Congress should reflect on how their political posturing appears to be motivated by contempt for the president rather than concern for the greater good.