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A Glorious Mess: Why the Climate Bill is Ugly But Essential

The Intersection
By Chris Mooney
Jun 25, 2009 11:52 PMNov 5, 2019 10:29 AM


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As the House nears a vote on the Waxman-Markey America Clean Energy and Security Act--what the wonks now call "ACES"--my latest Science Progress column explains why we've gotta be pragmatists: This bill is pretty good, the best thing we've got, and represents the best chance we will have, perhaps ever, to finally start on this problem. To wit:

Yet there’s no question that all the most important pieces are in this bill: A price will, at long last, be set on carbon. Emissions will be ratcheted down over 80 percent by 2050. And the bill contains important requirements and incentives to promote a transition to renewable energy, including a national mandate that electricity suppliers obtain 20 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2020. Anyone who has paid very close attention to the climate issue, and contemplated what it would really take to solve it, recognizes that we’re dealing with perhaps most tangled scientific and economic hairball imaginable. With the global scope of the problem, the uncertainty inherent in any prediction of the rate and intensity of future global warming, and the magnitude of the economic and energy changes required to bring about real change—well, it remains an open question whether governments of the world are even capable of dealing with something so vast and difficult. And of course any solutions will also have an aspect of the hairball about them. But that doesn’t mean that if and when we get them, they won’t be stunning achievements.

You can read the full column here.

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