State of the Union: Words vs. action

17 years ago

To the editor:
For the first time, President Bush acknowledged the threat of global warming during his State of the Union speech. He also presented a plan to increase fuel economy for cars that, if properly implemented, could offer serious cuts in the amount of global warming pollution generated in the United States.
     Unfortunately, the president’s proposal to reduce U.S. oil dependence doesn’t go far enough to protect against dangerous global warming. We must set an overall cap on heat-trapping emissions for the entire economy — addressing transportation, electricity, and other sources of pollution. Although the president mentioned “changing the way America generates electric power”, including advances in solar and wind energy, he stopped short of advocating for sensible legislation that would require utilities to produce 20 percent of the nation’s electricity from renewable sources like wind and solar power by 2020.
Furthermore, the president failed to address that technological advances need to be based on unbiased, independent science. America can not effectively address the serious consequences of global warming if our scientists our being stifled by political interference.
Global warming is the greatest environmental challenge of our time. Sea levels are on the rise, ice and snow cover are decreasing, and storms are becoming more powerful. Leading scientists, such as James Hansen of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, caution that we are nearing a climate “tipping point,” beyond which large-scale, dangerous impacts would become unavoidable.
Scientific evidence suggests we must prevent global average temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels to avoid the worst effects of global warming. To stay below this threshold, atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide must stabilize at or below 450 parts per million. This goal requires cutting today’s levels of worldwide global warming emissions roughly in half by mid-century. Given that the United States leads the world in both absolute and per capita emissions, we must achieve even deeper reductions here at home, on the order of 80 percent below 2000 levels by 2050.
The science is clear and action is needed now. To ensure the deep reductions needed to leave our children and grandchildren a safe climate, let us call on Congress to establish a mandatory economy-wide limit on global warming pollution that ensures near-term emission cuts and puts us on a path to achieve the science-based 80 percent reduction target.

Andrew J. Levesque