Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Building of Momentum on the Climate Issue

I keep seeing things that look to me like many are finally starting to take climate change seriously.  There was the letter from the Oregon and Washington governors I wrote about yesterday, and now the state of New York is putting a warning on its bond offerings, "warning that climate change poses a long-term risk to the state’s finances."
The caution, which cites Hurricane Sandy and Tropical Storms Irene and Lee, is included alongside warnings about other risks like potential cuts in federal spending, unresolved labor negotiations and litigation against the state.

“The state determined that observed effects of climate change, such as rising sea levels, and potential effects of climate change, such as the frequency and intensity of storms, presented economic and financial risks to the state,” the spokesman, Richard Azzopardi, said on Tuesday.
Then last week German scientists withdrew from a research project looking to curtail environmental damage from the Alberta tar sands:
German scientists have pulled out of an international research project with Canada that was attempting to find ways to minimize the environmental damage caused by exploiting Alberta's oil sands. The move comes after political pressure forced Germany's largest scientific organization, the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres, to rethink its connections with an industry that many consider to be environmentally destructive.

The scientists who are part of the Helmholtz-Alberta Initiative (HAI) will no longer be involved in developing technologies that improve Alberta's crude oil or treat the toxic effluent from the oil sands projects. Instead, the scientists will focus their efforts on the initiative's remaining research avenues, such as carbon capture and storage and mine site reclamation.
To be sure, putting a warning on bonds or withdrawing from a project isn't the same as shutting down the tar sands or actually reducing global CO2 emissions. But change rarely comes all at once, and on this issue never would have anyway -- it's just too big and too entrenched.

Roadside litter wasn't reduced quickly, or completely or by fiat, but by lots of small decisions to run advertisements and install public trash cans and of people deciding it was unnecessary and calling out those who did it. Same with outlawing pubic smoking (in Oregon the Senate just passed a bill outlawing it in cars that carry kids), or with same-sex marriage, or many other big issues.

Change happens slowly, but the momentum is building -- and it's certainly not going the other direction.


Wes said...

Pretty good news all around. The momentum is building.
I didn't realize, though, that Oregon had banned "pubic" smoking. I can see why they might!

David Appell said...

Wes: Actually that bill to ban smoking in cars with children has only been passed by the Senate. The House hasn't yet acted on it.