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.

Under The Radar Enemies Of Green Regulation

The Waxman-Markey Climate Change bill was voted out of committee May 22, 2009, setting the stage for the first national climate change legislation in the United States.  A nice piece on it was done by Treehugger, here.

The Waxman-Markey bill sets up a cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions. Some critics warn that it does not do enough to combat climate change, others complain that it costs too much (although I wonder how inexpensive they expect it to be to relocate residents of coastal areas from Maine to Florida, the Gulf Coast, California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and those poor souls in Hawaii). These challenges are in some ways expected--the usual challenges from the usual parties.  

What interests me more is the objections to climate change and green building regulations from unanticipated sources.  The Agricultural Lobby and even the House agriculture Chariman (a Democrat from Minnesota) are emerging as big challengers to the Waxman-Markey bill.  Sensing a threat to the ethanol juggernaut, Grist reports House Ag chair Collin Peterson (D.-Minn.) has been "threatening to derail Waxman-Markey unless the EPA completely backs off." 

Homeowner associations are another interesting source of opposition to green regulations and the implementation of green technologies.  Mark Pike at William & Mary wrote an interesting note about the situation and potential legal remedies here.

What do homeowners' associations and the Ag Lobby have in common? Vested interests.  New regulation inherently impinges upon someone's previously vested interests.  It is important to consider not only the obvious sources of opposition to green laws--like energy companies, traditional homebuilders, etc., but also those who have collateral interests in play.