Some wit once said something like, “My pessimism extends so far as to suspect the sincerity of the pessimists.” As we witness a flurry of activity concerning global warming on Capitol Hill–and with the IPCC report just days from emerging–that’s the outlook I’d like to apply to the climate issue.
Just because there’s a surge of attention doesn’t mean that surge will translate into lasting action. I’m still convinced such action is going to have to wait until after the 2008 election. There’s a revealing passage about this in an L.A. Times story today:
“There’s going to be a lot of sound and fury,” said Daniel Becker, director of the Sierra Club’s global warming program, “but unless something changes pretty radically, it’s really hard to see how an important bill passes this Congress — and is signed by this president.”
That’s why many environmentalists are looking ahead to the 2008 elections. The League of Conservation Voters Education Fund has launched an initiative, called “The Heat is On,” to ensure global warming is at the center of debate. The organization is tracking what candidates say and hopes to pressure them through town hall meetings and ballot initiatives.
“We will make sure there is an expectation they will outline clear solutions,” said Navin Nayak, director of the project.
Like ethanol in Iowa, global warming could become a litmus-test issue for candidates in New Hampshire, which holds the first primary. More than 100 Granite State towns plan votes on a resolution calling for federal action to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
Ted Leach, a Republican and former state lawmaker from New Hampshire, is co-chairman of the Carbon Coalition, which persuaded the towns to weigh in. He has issued a warning to presidential contenders: “If we don’t hear out of you what we want to hear, you’re probably not going to get our votes.”
That’s what really matters–putting this new crop of candidates on the record about this issue now, while it’s hot….before everyone gets distracted again.