Climate-Change Complacency

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Oct. 1 editorial "The Senate Climate Bill" applauded the legislation's plan to cut our country's greenhouse gas pollution by 20 percent by 2020 (a three-percentage-point improvement over the House bill). But it must be noted that the proposed reduction refers to 2005 emissions and not the standard 1990 baseline used by scientists and policymakers around the world. Arranging the numbers this way may be more politically palatable, but it misleads the public on information key to its welfare.

To have the best shot at averting the worst impacts of global warming, scientists say that the United States and the developed world must cut pollution by at least 25 to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, and by 80 to 95 percent by 2050. Using this accepted standard, the Senate bill shoots for only a 7 percent cut in pollution -- less than a third of what is needed -- and reflects a lack of ambition that threatens progress toward a fair and effective international climate treaty in Copenhagen this December.


Director, Global Warming Campaign

Greenpeace USA



George F. Will used his Oct. 1 column to deride government officials and scientists warning of the consequences of global warming, and he suggested that these climate-change "Cassandras" slow down and not cater to "alarmists" ["Cooling Down the Cassandras"].

Mr. Will has perhaps forgotten his classics. Cassandra, prophetess of Troy, was always right when she sounded the alarm but was never believed by those with power to avert disaster.


Senior Attorney

Environmental Law Institute


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