The warming of the planet is the overriding environmental issue of our time, with former vice-president Al Gore playing a crucial role in raising public awareness. Although the appetite for decisive action is growing – except at the White House – the U.S. is still a long way from a comprehensive response to the challenge.
Several Democratic hopefuls in this year’s presidential campaign are stepping up to the plate, but most Republicans are still dithering.
The Times has thrown down the gauntlet in 2008 by identifying climate change as the top environmental issue, citing numerous examples showing just about everybody but the Bush Administration wants to take action.
Polls say voters are alarmed, governors in some two dozen states are sprinting past the White House by agreeing among themselves to lower carbon gases, federal courts have ordered the executive branch to begin regulating these gases, and the Senate has undertaken a bipartisan bill to slash emissions by nearly 65 percent by 2050.
Sensing momentum afoot, Democratic hopefuls have offered aggressive plans that would go beyond the Senate bill and reduce emissions by 80 percent by mid-century; one has even called for a 90-percent cut. Republicans, in contrast, have offered little in the way of a plan to address global warming. One exception is Arizona Senator John McCain.
Ironically, the League of Conservation Voters found in a study that as of two weeks ago, the five main political talk-show hosts had collectively asked 2,275 questions of candidates in both parties, but only 24 questions even touched on climate change.
So the media isn’t doing its job by casting the spotlight on the issue. Even the Times fell down in its editorial, which wrapped up by stressing the need to fully understand the cost of the new efficiencies and technologies required to reign in emissions.
What about the cost of doing nothing?