Sunday, February 20, 2011

"Ehh...what're you gonna do?"

Well, the Republican House acted true to its word and voted to not fund the EPA's new CO2 regulation effort (along with a whole raft of other things that benefit just about everyone except the big money interests that keep them in office - I hope I'm not being too cynical here).

Shortly before the vote, I wrote the following email to our representative Mike Pence (R - IN6):
Mike, I am extremely disappointed that you have co-sponsored legislation that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from reducing global warming emissions under the Clean Air Act (CAA).

Over the last 40 years, the CAA has prevented more than 400,000 premature deaths and hundreds of millions of cases of respiratory and cardiovascular disease. To ensure we continue to be protected, we need the EPA to retain its authority to identify and address new threats to public health. After conducting an exhaustive scientific review, the EPA concluded that CO2 emissions threaten public health and welfare and the agency is therefore required by law to regulate them.

Mike, please understand this: the consensus of the scientific community is clear: increasing carbon dioxide emissions are a direct contributor to global climate change. There is no valid peer-reviewed science that legitimately claims otherwise. To discount climate science is to discount all science - the very science that has brought us the many benefits we enjoy every day.

You can't have it both ways, Mike. The scientific method either works or it does not. Science can get it wrong sometimes, but science is self-correcting - the near-perfect "free market of ideas" not unlike that on which we Americans place such high value. Climatology is one of the most rapidly evolving sciences; that evolution has seen the continual refinement of our understanding of the interactions of pollutants and climate. That refinement has only shown that the science is fundamentally correct and the situation serious.
I received the following reply from Pence's office:
Thank you for contacting me regarding your support for clean air, safe water, and land preservation. It was a pleasure to hear from you.
Our earth is a wonderful resource, and I believe that each of us has the serious responsibility to care for it. I rely on sound science as I consider legislation impacting the environment, weighing various aspects. 
I support responsible efforts that put America on a path towards becoming healthier, cleaner, and safer, so that future generations may enjoy it as well. However, while the federal government must be mindful of our surroundings, it must also be responsive to the realities of our way of life. 
As environmental legislation comes before the 112th Congress, I will keep your thoughts in mind.
Again, thank you for contacting me. It is an honor to serve in the United States House of Representatives and have the benefit of your advice. If you would like more information on this or any other issue, please visit my website...and sign up to receive regular e-newsletters.
It took me a little while to process Pence's letter. I believe he was telling me that we have to take care of the environment, but our overly consumptive lifestyle takes precedence, as though it was a zero-sum game. This is sadly a recurring theme in the debate over the proper response to global climate change and fossil fuel dependency. In discussion after discussion, I almost never hear the benefits and lowest cost of energy efficiency - only the need for alternative energy development.

The basic assumption appears to be - and this is borne out in my experience - that you can't have efficiency without sacrifice. I think these people believe that energy efficiency technology ended at Jimmy Carter's sweater worn in cold, dark rooms.

If Pence and the other Republicans really relied on sound science, they would be ending oil and gas development tax breaks rather than defunding science and technology, energy efficiency programs and carbon regulation.

Miscellaneous Verse...

A walk

The morning's respite
From chore and errand
A walk through woods and
Over bogs
On the trail that
Once was rails
Now mostly silent
The trains long gone elsewhere

Starting in
The rolling field that
Once was overworked but now
Lies quiet more in tune with its

A mile north
My only companions are
Creatures heard but unseen and
Footfalls steady, hard, fast and
The breath from my chest and
The streams of former snow and
The songs in my head

A mile south
My companions remain
Creatures heard but unseen and
Footfalls steady, hard, fast and
The breath from my chest and
The streams of former snow and
The songs in my head

Return to
The rolling prairie that
Once was overworked but now
Lies quiet building our better

Standing at a Grave...

Is this what it comes down to?
No; this is only where it ends
Or perhaps begins.

What it comes down to
I've learned is everything
That's been before.

That's been done before,
Done with Love.