More silver lining than cloud?

That sound you heard last week was environmentalists’ heads exploding all across the land as President Bush once again took the opportunity to punt on climate change before a crowd of world leaders. Look closely enough, though, and I think you can pull a fair amount of silver lining out of this latest fiasco.

Am I the only one sensing that we’ve reached end game on climate change obstructionism? I mean, it’s not as though the administration’s stance on this issue is anything new. What is new, though, is that the U.S. is now completely and utterly isolated, with even India and China reportedly favoring more stringent measures. Meanwhile, the states continue to march forward with regional initiatives. Schwarzenegger received a hero’s welcome at the UN a week ago Monday.

Yes, I would very much like to see rapid progress on a federal level before 2009. But I can’t have rapid progress, so instead I’ll settle for a global community that is increasingly united and energized by U.S. intransigence. More and more it feels as though the agenda is just completely running away from those seeking to block action.

Paradoxically, the last-gasp maneuvering from the administration only heightens my sense that change is coming soon and coming fast. What do you think: am I delusional? Or are we about to hit daybreak?

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  1. richard schumacher - October 3, 2007

    I think you’re right, it does feel like the dark before the dawn.

  2. Deb - October 3, 2007

    My daughter and I were discussing this just yesterday. She was lamenting the lack of action about global warming. I agreed but then shared an observation I had. Because the upper powers are not responding to the urgent need to do something, I have seen an awakening of the people. Grassroots efforts are springing up in many places, people are talking and listening. Our local college has made it a year long goal to study climate change (as a whole college across all departments). We have become complacent people, allowing the government to fix our problems. Now the government is doing nothing and it is time for us to fix our own problem. I think that if we make the small daily changes to reduce our consumption, we will hold back some of the damage until our government catches up with us. In the meantime, we will replace non-responsive government leaders with those who will listen. I think this will actually work better for our country in the long run. People will change their habits because they see the need to do so, not because they are told or forced to do so by government regulation. Then government can change things on a large scale by placing regulations on industry and agribusiness. Anyway, that made sense to her. She got up and turned out the light she’d left on in the kitchen. Progress.

  3. Anonymous - October 3, 2007

    I think it’s a little of both. China and India are getting on board with more stringent requirements because they are choking in their own growth and air quality problems (china specifically). I watched a special on McDonalds the other night (can’t remember which news channel), and I can tell you…we have a very large problem ahead of us. Streets that once held small produce stands and markets, filled with commuters on bikes, is now (less than 5 years later) filled with new infrastructure, new cars, and convenience (and we all know convenience usually means unchecked carbon footprint in the total life cycle sense). It looked like any american cityscape.
    At the same time, there is reason to hope. Here in Michigan, a state representative is looking at a feed-in tariff energy program (similar in scope to Germany’s RE program), and daily we hear of corporations that are willing to address these issues without regulatory pressure.
    In the end though, our lack of world leadership on this issue from the federal government is truly sickening.
    I think a bumper sticker read…”I can’t wait until 2009.” Actually…we can’t afford to wait.

  4. Jim - October 9, 2007

    I also get a sense that people are finally awakening to the ecological challenges (and opportunities) that ahead. As Deb pointed out our federal government has shown the world that it has no intention to join the green game. As a result, local leaders are beginning to respond. Isn’t this, after all, more in line with the ideal of the U.S. government system? We need to continue to support our local leaders into taking action as congress and the executive branch is simply too drenched in its own self to act on ANYTHING.