I wrote to Sen. Salazar a short time back requesting that he take and encourage others to take seriously the threat that climate change poses to the world. Beyond taking it seriously, I encouraged the Senator to push measures now before Congress that could begin the shift toward dealing with this crisis. I got a response back and show part of it below:
The Senate is currently considering several pieces of climate change legislation. I believe a cap-and-trade system is the best and most flexible way of guaranteeing that the lowest cost measures for reducing greenhouse gas emissions are adopted first. At the same time, we must be careful to design this policy so as not to place our industries at a competitive disadvantage in the global marketplace and simultaneously encourage other countries to voluntarily reduce their carbon emissions.
Cap-and-trade systems do indeed ensure low cost measures are adopted first. But it’s like buying a little fire extinguisher when your house is already on fire: it’s too little, too late. What Sen. Salazar and other business first, last and always policy-makers aren’t fully recognizing is that other countries will begin working to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. If the United States waits for those other countries to establish their methodologies, we’ll be behind the curve and will permanently lose marketplace share – globally. This country should do the heavy lifting and hard work to develop emission reduction strategies now, so that when other countries decide they want to join the process, we can export services and ideas to them at a profit.
Sen. Salazar is under sway of business interests who more or less want to continue under a ‘business as usual’ attitude, one that emphasizes short-term profits. Groups and governments that plan for the long-term with respect to climate change will come out of the 21st century in much better condition that they entered.
Solutions ready for today’s market are being held back by corporate welfare give-aways that unfairly prop up the fossil fuel industry. It might make their balance sheets look good today, but the price to society will be terrible tomorrow. Needless to say, Sen. Salazar’s response is discouraging and unacceptable. We need policy makers that are prepared for 21st century problem-solving, not those who cannot move away from 20th century thinking.