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Posted at 10:13 AM ET, 06/06/2011

So what will you do Monday?

A line at the Aspen forum last week, spoken by one of the smart folks: “So what are you going to do Monday?”

Meaning: After all this talk talk talk talk talk — what are you going to do about it when you get back to your real job on Monday?

Note that we were implicitly given the weekend off. It was understood that we don’t necessarily have to save the world on the weekend. Weekends are special. Weekends, we live it up, and then regret it on Monday, and vow to eat only free-range non-GMO organic raw produce purchased at the farmer’s market from a First Nation collective.

I should note that I did not personally contribute to a low-carbon future this weekend. I had a road trip. I was a consumer-culture person. I made huge batches of food. It is possible I personally caused about a one-inch rise in sea level. Maybe a couple of extinctions. (Because of me, andouille sausage is now listed under the Endangered Species Act as “Threatened.”)

I seem to recall that, not so long ago, there was a bill in Congress that addressed climate change. It was a cap-and-trade plan, passed in the House, mired in the Senate. The cap-and-trade idea was a variant of a carbon tax, but one that certain Republicans (Lindsay Graham, notably) could embrace. In fact — this seems like a hallucination in retrospect — I remember when John McCain in 2007 would stand on the stump in New Hampshire and say to Republican primary voters, “Global warming, global warming, global warming.”

McCain made climate change a cornerstone of his campaign (along with support for the war in Iraq and an endorsement of immigration reform). He argued that conservatives could, and should embrace the transition to a vibrant green economy.

The conservatives in the audience looked at him as though he had two heads.

I’m told by well-placed sources that college liberals don’t like the cap-and-trade idea because it still allows carbon emissions. It’s not a ban. But you have to work with legislative reality. For some reason, urgency on climate change legislation has diminished. Somewhere along the line, the debate shifted, and now even cap-and-trade seems to be moribund in Congress. Lawmakers aren’t doing anything as far as I can tell (correct me if I’m wrong). The planet continues to heat up — but somehow, fake controversies like “Climategate” suck up all the oxygen in the room.

Maybe the solution really has to come from the ground up.

Hey, I’m growing my own food!

But why do I suspect that even my tomatoes, by the time I harvest them, will have a huge carbon footprint?

By  |  10:13 AM ET, 06/06/2011

 
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