As much as we would love to see real bipartisan support for climate action, we also need to be wary of half-measures and distractions, and of industries exploiting climate concern solely for their own profit, at the expense of the planet and human health.
We bring this up because a couple of recent developments suggest some compromises in the future might be giving the industries causing this problem an even bigger stake in (not) solving it.
At Capital & Main, Judith Lewis Mernit reports on the recent dust-up regarding the Democratic party’s fossil fuel subsidy position confusion, turning to Climate Hawks Vote founder R.L. Miller to read the tea leaves. Miller’s guess is that the party wants to make sure that carbon capture and sequestration remains on the table, as it’s something with bipartisan appeal.
But paying the fossil fuel industry to capture emissions is, per Miller, “a horrible idea that will never pencil out.”
Which is not to say there’s no room for carbon capture solutions, but instead that they need to be restoring the natural environment’s ability to store carbon, not just trying to siphon it off of gas and coal plant smokestacks.
And there are some potentially encouraging signs on that front, in that the international effort to plant a trillion trees is moving forward. But there are still major potential pitfalls in this approach, as evidenced by a recent op-ed and story about it at the Washington Examiner.
We’re still just as dubious about the GOP’s embrace of the effort as we were at the start of the year, since they’ve done nothing to indicate fossil fuel emission reductions are part of their climate platform, are still likely using it as a distraction, and of course the bill is still sponsored by Arkansas republican Bruce Westerman, who’s a major recipient of timber industry campaign donations.
In fact, that’s who authored the op-ed, combined with the American Conservation Coalition, a self-proclaimed conservative youth climate group that walks in lockstep with other Republicans when it comes to anti-Chinese climate rhetoric and chummy sit-downs with former coal lobbyist-turned-EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler.
So while it’s great to see them writing about how “it’s time to embrace nature’s own innovative climate plan,” anything that simply plants more trees without addressing the source of the greenhouse gas emissions causing the problem is going to be an exercise in futility.
After all, you can bail out a boat with buckets all you want, but there’s not much of a point if you don’t plug the gaping hole in the hull.
Or rather, you can plant all the trees you want, but if you don’t reduce fossil fuel emissions causing the warming, the amped-up wildfires are just going to burn them down anyway.
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