The public is largely unaware of a momentous battle about to be fought in Washington. The stakes are enormous. Yet the public has not been well informed.
Ignorance of the matter derives in part from the fact that the conflict was initiated via the highly charged issue of climate change. Climate is complex. People have different opinions about the extent to which humans are causing climate change. Fundamental belief systems are involved and discussion can be emotional.
Yet the core issue can be defined independent of climate. It concerns how society can phase out its addictive use of fossil fuels and move on, in the most economically efficient and equitable way, to a clean energy future. Conservatives, independents and liberals should be united in this fight.
Washington could define a path that would lead the world toward a clean energy future. And, incidentally, it would solve the climate problem — without requiring anyone to agree that there even is a climate problem.
Yet Washington appears intent on choosing a path defined by corporate greed. Unless the public gets engaged, the present Administration may jam down the public’s throat just such an approach, which, it can be shown, is not a solution at all.
The frustrating thing to me is my inability to communicate these alternatives to the public. This feeling is consuming, because I believe with all my mind and heart that the well‐being of my children and grandchildren (and yours) depends upon whether the public becomes informed and interested. So far, it isn’t.
I had an opportunity to appear on a recent , where I said that, for the sake of the people and the planet, the public must understand the difference between “cap‐and‐trade” and “fee‐and‐dividend”. Of course, I could not continue with that topic there. But it is the heart of the matter. So how to proceed?
I decided to write an op‐ed for The New York Times. I got city‐slickered by the editors, as I will relate here. Perhaps this story can help people understand – it is not necessary to be a physicist or economist to understand the basic issues – it is mostly common sense.
My op‐ed, which I submitted to the Times in early December, just prior to the UN climate meeting in Copenhagen, excoriated “cap‐and‐trade‐with‐offsets”. As I will explain, cap‐and‐trade with offsets is the approach taken in the Waxman‐Markey bill that narrowly passed the House of Representatives last June and the Kerry‐Boxer bill that is currently languishing in the Senate.
The four legislators whose names adorn those bills have been stalwart environmentalists for their entire long and honorable careers. Yet cap‐and‐trade, which is ostensibly designed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and preserve global climate, has been a proven loser in Europe. And the cap‐and‐trade bills, which also have the support of the White House and its environmentalist allies, are even worse.
Cap‐and‐trade‐with‐offsets would benefit a handful of wealthy people, while consigning our children to a downhill slide toward a lower standard of living – on a planet whose wondrous life forms are being decimated. So how can it be the basis of legislation being pushed by the Democratic Administration in both the House and Senate?
Easy. The proposed bills in Congress are loaded with goodies for special financial and corporate interests. These bills would cheat the American public – again. Cap‐and‐trade was designed in part by Wall Street, which is eager to exploit a trading market expected to grow to two trillion dollars. The revolving door between Washington and Wall Street helped bring the scheme about.