EPA Issues Report on Dangers of Global Warming

Here’ something which would have never happened during the Bush years. The EPA has issued a report on climate change based upon the science as opposed to being based upon administration ideology:

The Environmental Protection Agency sent a proposal to the White House on Friday finding that global warming is endangering the public’s health and welfare, according to several sources, a move that could have far-reaching implications for the nation’s economy and environment.

The proposal — which comes in response to a 2007 Supreme Court decision ordering EPA to consider whether carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases should be regulated under the Clean Air Act — could lay the groundwork for nationwide measures to limit such emissions. It reverses one of the Bush administration’s landmark environmental decisions: In July 2008 then-EPA administrator Stephen Johnson rejected his scientific and technical staff’s recommendation and announced the agency would seek months of further public comment on the threat posed by global warming pollution.

“This is historic news,” said Frank O’Donnell, who heads the public watchdog group Clean Air Watch. “It will set the stage for the first-ever national limits on global warming pollution. And it is likely to help light a fire under Congress to get moving.”

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8 Comments

  1. 1
    Fritz says:

    This will make a most excellent fight. 

    Basically the argument is that the government should regulate and judge all industrial processes — and the cool part is that, unlike all other pollution regulation, location is irrelevant.  You cannot leave an inversion basin like LA and escape costly requirements.  Only leave the country.

  2. 2
    Eclectic Radical says:

    I favor incentivizing green energy industries over harsh penalizing of existing industries, especially since there is always going to be some level of pollution for the foreseeable future. I think the best thing we can do about carbon dioxide pollution is protect our national parks/forests and focus on rational reforestation programs in same.

    I admit I do favor environmental regulation, but I think this is a terribly, terribly tricky scientific area. Legitimate science has a strong consensus on global warming, but there is far less consensus on how to address it. Certain solutions, such as hybrid cars, hydrogen fuel cells, and ethanol, all present their own laundry list of environmental or energy concerns. I think it is tremendously important that the government accept the validity of science and act accordingly, but it is very important it do so in a deliberate and thoughtful manner.

    The simple fact is that while the denial of environmental science by the right is worthy of excoriation, it is important to remember that we really don’t know the solution yet and some of the solutions offered by the environmental lobby have their own extreme consequences for the environment.

  3. 3
    Larry Gilman says:


    I thank Eclectic Radical, above, for their remarks.  However, I disagree with some aspects of them. Their linkage to the science of climate change seems weak. For instance, while I agree it is crucially important that we “protect our national parks/forests,” that is not because this is “the best thing we can do about carbon dioxide pollution.”  Not even close.   Deforestation in tropical forests, not US national parks, is a major contributor to global climate change.  It is possible, in fact, that North American forests are presently a net sink, not a source, of CO2. The significant US contribution to world greenhouse-gas output is from heating, power generation, agriculture, transport, industry, landfill methane, etc., not from deforestation.  In other words, it is from the sorts of things the EPA seems poised to begin proposing some form of carbon regulation for.  I, like E.R., am also in favor of incentivizing good ideas, but why NOT penalize bad practices?  (Ultimate unattainability of eco-Utopia is not a logical reason.) Why all carrot, no stick?  Time is short.  Fees and taxes are legitimate tools if not applied stupidly.
    “Legitimate science has a strong consensus on global warming, but there is far less consensus on how to address it.” — E.R.   At the level of the fuel cell or other particular techno-measure, this is true, but at the level of whether carbon should be taxed or capped, it’s not.  A global scientific consensus on how to mitigate climate change does exist, was expressed by the IPCC in 2007, and can be read, in all its awesome and moderately hopeful bulk, at http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/ar4-wg3.htm .
    Or try the far shorter Executive Summary at http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg3/ar4-wg3-spm.pdf .
    “ . . . Some of the solutions offered by the environmental lobby have their own extreme consequences for the environment.” — E.R.   True, and an important point.  It would certainly be possible to destroy the world without help from fission or fossils.  As Wendell Berry says, “If we discovered a source of ‘green’ energy that was as cheap as air, we’d wear out this world in a few years.”  So yes, keep on thinking critically.  But — to be blunt, because this comment’s already too long — read the science, too, put in the homework hours.  Otherwise critical thought will be misdirected.  Case in point: US national parks are too small to be a major factor in global climate change.  They are precious for different reasons.

  4. 4
    Eclectic Radical says:

    I mention U.S. national parks because there is something we can do about them, in the US, with one hundred percent possibility for success. We cannot achieve the same level of protection of forest anywhere else in the world, on our own.

  5. 5
    Fritz says:

    This is also a profound expansion of the scope of the Clean Air Act.  I’m actually really astonished that the law was written in such a way that it would be applicable.

    Absolutely no scientific data shows that the atmospheric levels of CO2 are directly dangerous to humans, animals, or plants.  You can breath 500 ppm CO2 for your whole life and not have any ill effects.

  6. 6
    Ron Chusid says:

    Fritz,

    “Absolutely no scientific data shows that the atmospheric levels of CO2 are directly dangerous to humans, animals, or plants. ”

    There is considerable scientific data which shows that elevated levels of CO2 is hazardous to the environment, which ultimately is dangerous to humans, assuming you desire the continuation of an industrialized society without the mass starvation and loss of costal areas.

    There is room for disagreement as to the solution, but there is a strong scientific consensus about the problem.

  7. 7
    Fritz says:

    I just was astonished that the Clean Air Act was written that broadly.  That’s a pretty indirect effect to be covered by a law meant to address people dying from intense smog.

    I wonder how well the politicos will be able to hide the price tag for including CO2 within the Clean Air Act.  I’m betting on “Not well enough”.

  8. 8
    Ron Chusid says:

    I don’t know if the Clean Air Act could really be used in this manner, and there are legitimate questions as to whether it should. My interest in this article was simply that we now have the EPA considering scientific evidence.  It is sad that something as basic as consideration of scientific evidence is newsworthy.

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