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Can We Wait Another Year Before

Dealing With Global Warming?

By James Donahue

Even as the nation is being hit by a string of some of the most severe weather in memory, complete with extreme heat, drenching rains, high winds and tornados, the Republican Senators this week managed to block yet another attempt to put controls on industrial greenhouse gas emissions.

Working comfortably in their stately, air-conditioned offices, riding to and from their jobs in air-conditioned limousines, and living in luxurious air-conditioned housing, these well-paid slaves of the lobbyists who buy their votes appear to be immune to the changes occurring in the environment around them.

While doing all they can to protect the big business interests that would like to ignore the fact that our overpopulated and polluted world is in dire trouble, that billions of people are in great danger of dying from famine, flooding, storms and pestilence, other world leaders are sounding the alarm and attempting to hang on until Americans come to their senses and vote out the corporate whores now running Washington.

The Democratic leaders fell a dozen votes short of the 60 votes needed to stop an old-fashioned Republican filibuster on a bill, thus forcing the Senate to pull the legislation from consideration. That means it will not be tried again until next year when the new president and new legislators take office.

The bill called for caps on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, refineries and factories. The target was cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 71 percent within the next 40 years. Of course, President Bush opposed the measure and threatened to veto the bill if it got to his desk.

In the meantime, the leaders of world industrial nations are gathering for an annual G-8 summit in July when members are expected to vote to endorse a plan by an international group of environment ministers that calls for a 50 percent reduction in world-wide emissions by 2050. The United States, which will be represented at that meeting, is among the world’s largest producers of carbon dioxide emissions.

A newly released energy study by a French based International Energy Agency estimates the cost of saving our planet now hovers at an estimated $45 trillion. The study calls for construction of 1,400 nuclear power plants and development of wind and solar power systems to meet this goal.

Nobuo Tanaka, IEA Executive Director, said the task of cutting world emissions by 50 percent is a “formidable challenge” that will require “immediate policy action and technological transition on an unprecedented scale.”

Failure to act now, and act decisively, could spell disaster for billions of people around the world, and possibly an extinction of all life on our planet. A network of scientists concluded last year that world temperatures could increase from 3.6 to 4.2 degrees if this goal is not met.

The effects of such increases in heat are already occurring. They include widespread loss of species, famines and droughts, violent storms, melting ice caps and glaciers and flooding of heavily populated coastal areas by rising oceans.

We wonder if the world dares to wait another 50 years, or even another year before taking drastic action to head off this major world crisis.