I'm not entirely sure what I think about the Lieberman-Warner climate change bill that made its way out of the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee yesterday. John Edwards says:
Addressing global warming is one of the great moral tests of our generation, and it’s time for bold action and leadership to address this crisis that threatens the globe. While I’m glad to see that global warming legislation is finally moving in the Senate, unfortunately the Lieberman-Warner bill doesn’t go far enough to address the crisis of global warming. We cannot be limited in our approach by the armies of lobbyists from big oil companies and other special interests. This bill gives away pollution permits to industry for free – a massive corporate windfall – instead of doing what is right and selling them so that we can use these resources to invest in clean energy research, create a new economy of green jobs, and help regular families and business go green.
That's all true, but still is it better to pass the half measure now than to do nothing? The fear is that if Lieberman-Warner becomes law, everyone kind of convinces themselves that we've done "something" and that since "something" needed to be done, we're now done, and can all just kind of not pay attention as the climate degrades at a somewhat-slower rate. Another way of looking at it, though, is that even inadequate steps might strengthen the hand of the good guys. Lieberman-Warner would do something to help spur alternative energy sources, which could grow the power of the alternative energy lobby and thus spur further change.
And of course one also needs to take George W. Bush into consideration. My sense of this is that in some ways the best possible outcome would be for the bill to pass, and then for Bush to veto it. That would mean that "something" still needs to be done, but it would also set Lieberman-Warner as the minimum, thus making it obvious that a 2009 bill -- most likely in a context of a Democratic administration and with more Democrats in congress -- needs to be more ambitious.
Photo by Flickr user Chisvick used under a Creative Commons license