Opinion

Commentary: Lies will surface in Senate's global warming debate

So, have you enjoyed the debate over health care reform? Have you been impressed by the civility of the discussion and the intellectual honesty of reform opponents? If so, you'll love the next big debate: The fight over climate change.

The House has already passed a fairly strong cap-and-trade climate bill, the Waxman-Markey act, which if it becomes law would eventually lead to sharp reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

But on climate change, as on health care, the sticking point will be the Senate. And the usual suspects are doing their best to prevent action.

Some of them still claim that there's no such thing as global warming, or at least that the evidence isn't yet conclusive. But that argument is wearing thin — as thin as the Arctic pack ice, which has now diminished to the point that shipping companies are opening up new routes through the formerly impassable seas north of Siberia.

Even corporations are losing patience with the deniers: Earlier this week Pacific Gas and Electric canceled its membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in protest over the chamber's "disingenuous attempts to diminish or distort the reality" of climate change.

So the main argument against climate action probably won't be the claim that global warming is a myth. It will, instead, be the argument that doing anything to limit global warming would destroy the economy.

As the blog Climate Progress puts it, opponents of climate change legislation "keep raising their estimated cost of the clean energy and global warming pollution reduction programs like some out of control auctioneer." It's important, then, to understand that claims of immense economic damage from climate legislation are as bogus, in their own way, as climate-change denial. Saving the planet won't come free (although the early stages of conservation actually might). But it won't cost all that much, either.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Sacramento Bee.

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