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Originally posted at Wildlife Promise.

Two years after Hurricane Katrina much has become clear. We know that the devastation in New Orleans and surrounding areas was less a natural than a man-made disaster. Katrina’s surge into New Orleans was the direct result of poorly constructed levees, an ill-conceived navigation channel, and the destruction of millions of acres of coastal wetlands. Furthermore, the storm’s intensity itself was fueled by unusually warm waters in the tropical Atlantic due, in part, to global warming pollution.

How have Congress and the Administration responded to these lessons of Katrina and addressed the chief causes of its tragic aftermath? A report card is due on the federal government’s response to global warming, reforming the Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and restoring the wetlands along the Gulf Coast that act as a natural buffer to storms.


Congress Grade:  C

Congress has shown significant improvement since its failing grade last year. Both the House and Senate passed energy bills, each taking first steps toward a new energy future. However, Congress has yet to send the final bill to the President’s desk because the energy bills must be conferenced (planned after Labor Day, when Congress reconvenes). Serious committee consideration is only beginning on cap and trade legislation to place mandatory limits on global warming pollution from major emitters. Such legislation is needed to promptly begin reducing global warming pollution by two percent every year – 20 percent per decade – to achieve the pollution reductions scientists say are needed. Congress could pull its C grade up to an A in the next few months by finishing the energy bill, and accelerating work on cap and trade legislation.

Greatest Success:
Passage of stronger vehicle efficiency standards (Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE) in the Senate and a Renewable Electricity Standard in the House.

Greatest failure:
Congress has yet to deliver final global warming and clean energy bills to the President’s desk.

Administration Grade:  F

Recently, the President acknowledged global warming is real, humans are causing it, and something needs to be done. The Administration will host an international summit on climate change in Washington DC in September. But the Administration continues to oppose comprehensive legislation that would cut U.S. global warming pollution from today’s levels. We can’t solve global warming without reducing the pollution that causes it. The United States has a responsibility to take action ahead of other countries that have contributed less to the problem, and should pursue the economic opportunities in having American businesses lead the way to solving the problem.

Upcoming events present an opportunity to change course. After more than six years of delay, the Administration needs to be a leader, not an obstacle, on the fight to reduce global warming pollution.

Greatest Success:
Acknowledging in the 2007 State of the Union the need to "confront the serious challenge of global climate change" and convening an upcoming climate change summit in Washington DC.

Greatest Failure:
Remains opposed to mandatory cuts in pollution from today’s levels and clean energy policies such as a federal standard to bolster renewable electricity sources. The Administration has 17 months before the President leaves office to change course.

"Many American coastal communities may face more intense storms as the oceans continue to warm and coastal sea levels rise in the decades ahead. We can and must do better to prevent the worst impacts of global warming and restore wetlands and barrier islands along our shores that serve as buffers against these storms."  – Larry Schweiger, president & CEO, National Wildlife Federation

The full report also includes sections on: Reforming the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Fixing FEMA and Restoring the Coast.

You can view and download the full report here:  http;//

Originally posted to Target Global Warming on Thu Aug 23, 2007 at 09:07 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Incompetence (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Target Global Warming

    Congress and the administration deserve a solid A for incompetence in rectifying the horrendous situation New Orleans has been left in.

    As for environmental degradation, your grades seem fair, although maybe a tad too forgiving.

    •  Conservative catastrophic success (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Target Global Warming

      The disaster in New Orleans is a direct consequence of tremendous conservative success.  The goal of conservative government is to strip away all social support so that everyone is literally "on their own."  

      This happens as part of their notion that people start out morally bad and must be disciplined in order to become good.

      It is not incompetence.  George Lakoff wrote about this here and here.

      Joe Brewer, Fellow at the Rockridge Institute,

      by joe at rockridgeinstitute on Thu Aug 23, 2007 at 09:43:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Hurrican Politics (0+ / 0-)

    Unfortunately, access to the front page of the media is often governed by the old sarcasm, "if it bleeds, it leads."  Hurricane news is a prime example and it regularly fails to convey more than the suffering.  When the time for reflection and change comes around, the media (well, with the possible exception of Bill Moyers) is long gone.

    On this affair, both sides use the sensation stories that hurricanes generate in order to make political points.  Those who view this as an issue of social justice denied are only partially right.

    There is sound rationale to question the science that links hurricane intensity to global warming.  That is based on the accuracy of the data used as input to climate models.  There is no scientific basis for projecting an increase in hurricane frequency.  Neither is there any doubt among scientists about what the policy implications for the current increase in major hurricane numbers should be.  A full explanation is clearly laid out by Chris Mooneyin his new book, Storm World.

    Readers should follow the link above and listen to the way that guest Melissa Harris-Lacewell explains what should have been one, but wasn't.  Yes, it ties back to neo-con ideas about the relationship between government and private sector that suppresses innovative ideas.  But this is, above all, a political blog and Harris-Lacewell is a political scientist.

    No. It should have been, here, standing here at this moment is the questions of why the Democratic Party, from its own understandings of itself as a progressive liberal institution, should be able to do better. That this was a moment where you had national outrage. Where you had southerners together in solidarity from the experience that they had just had. Where you had environmentalism which is Al Gore's central key issue, where you had urban issues coming-- all of the things that the Democrats say that they're good at, this is the moment to provide leadership. I won't talk-- I'm not talking about exploitation. I'm saying, you claim this is what you're good at. Let's see you do it. Let's see you talk about how we build a progressive coalition of working people in the South.

    It is also very indicative of what this means that we currently have only a very few comments / rec's on this post.  Those who consider themselves progressives have not bothered to go beyond compact fluorescent bulbs in their battle against global warming.  It takes hard work to move a city council to enact new building codes that could force us to start making changes in how we do things.  It is much easier to rant and to protest than to do the hard work, day in and day out to achieve substantive change.

    "Anytime you have an opportunity to make things better and you don't, then you are wasting your time on this Earth" Roberto Clemente

    by wrolley on Thu Aug 23, 2007 at 10:32:54 AM PDT

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