"Inside The Beltway, Political ‘Reality’ Trumps Actual Reality"
After it was reported that House Democrats do not intend to include President Obama’s carbon cap legislation in a non-filibusterable budget reconciliation bill, ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos called health care “the survivor“:
Cap and trade will not get the same budget protection, and there are nowhere near 60 votes for it. Keeping it out of the reconciliation process recognizes reality: Congress can’t pass it in the middle of a recession.
Delaying climate legislation doesn’t “recognize reality” — it ignores it. As top climate scientist Stefan Rahmstorf explained at the Copenhagen Climate Change Congress last week, the observed reality is worse than climate models have been predicting. Even limiting global warming to two degrees Centigrade above historical levels — 1.3 degrees (2.3 F) above current temperatures — isn’t as safe as Russian roulette:
I personally as a climate scientist, I could not honestly go and tell the public that two degrees warming is safe. We’re already seeing a lot of impacts of the 0.7 degrees warming that we’ve had so far. So I consider two degrees not safe. And John Schellnhuber this morning asked about the question “Is Russian roulette dangerous?” and in Russian roulette you have a one in six chance of something terrible happening, I think that when we go to two degrees we probably have more than a one in six chance of really bad impacts occurring.
The risk in putting off cap-and-trade, of course, is that “later” may turn out to mean “never” — and “never” is not an acceptable alternative when we are near so many environmental tipping points. It’s easy enough to imagine a scenario in which the economic recovery is slow in coming, the Dems become skittish about advancing cap-and-trade in an election year (2010), they nevertheless lose a bunch of seats during the midterms, and then Sarah Palin gets elected in 2012 and we’re all burning moose dung and invading Alberta a few years later.