Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid. Now Do Something.

Yesterday, the Obama Administration released a study analyzing the potential impact of climate change in the United States. It read like the Ten Plagues at my family's annual seder:

heavy downpours, rising temperature and sea level, rapidly retreating glaciers, thawing permafrost, lengthening growing seasons, lengthening ice-free seasons in the ocean and on lakes and rivers, earlier snowmelt, and alterations in river flows

And if that wasn't enough...

heat stress, waterborne diseases, poor air quality, extreme weather events, and diseases transmitted by insects and rodents

That's right, all that is missing is slaying of the first born. 

This study is very positive in that it is a frank assessment in relatively plain language of what we will have to address in terms of the impact of climate change.  Hopefully, now that the issues have been named, we will be able to be more proactive about enacting market-based and regulatory amelioration, and ideally, solutions. 

The current amelioration mechanism on the table--Waxman-Markey--seems to be in trouble.  First, the bill has not been very effectively communicated or sold to the American public.  Second, it seems to be subsumed beneath the health care media juggernaut.  Finally, agrobusiness interests have been successfully gaining a foothold in tying up the process. 

We need to get on with it.  Cap-and-trade or carbon tax, regulation of GHG under the Clean Air Act, green building market and regulatory programs.  Either that, or be prepared to host a giant tropical cockroach at your next seder.

Green Building And Carbon Policy--The 800 lb. Gorilla Has Left The Building

In my Greenbuild post, I blogged:

Green building policy was well covered, but carbon policy got short shrift. The one session dealing with carbon policy at the state and federal level was cancelled, with no explanation.

Carbon policy, in my opinion, is the 800 lb. gorilla in any discussion about environmental law, especially green building. According to the USGBC, in the United States alone, buildings account for: • 72% of electricity consumption, • 39% of energy use, • 38% of all carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions In other words, a whole lot of carbon. If carbon is valued, either through cap-and-trade or carbon tax, the whole landscape shifts. First, electricity generated through fossil fuel fired plants will get much more expensive, making energy efficiency and conservation techniques more cost effective. Second, buildings may have to pay for their emissions of CO2, making managing the emissions a key component in building construction and management. Green buildings, using less energy and emitting fewer carbon emissions will become more desireable as assets. Finally, green building which generate renewable energy thorugh photovoltaics, for example, may be more economically viable because they generate carbon offsets. Despite these obvious linkages, no speaker that I heard at Greenbuild really made the connection between carbon policy and green building. Too bad.