These last few weeks could possibly be some of the biggest in climate change and greenhouse gases' history. First there was the misnomered ClimateGate that sent climate-change scientists on the defense; then on Monday, the global climate summit opened in Copenhagen, Denmark, with some 200 heads of government set to attend; and then later that same day, the US' Environmental Protection Agency announced they found greenhouse gases to endanger the public health and welfare of the American people. Yes, it's been a busy, very dramatic, last few weeks.
Perfectly timed and perhaps from a very skeptical employee or a big-industry-paid hacker, scandolous emails and documents were taken from the University of East Anglia's climate-change research facility. Some of the most scandoulous emails from the 3,500 documents stolen (that were from 1999) read that some global temperatures were really declining and fudged to report the opposite. Also worth note were discussions amongst leading scientists about surpressing others' work whose data did not support the theory that the world's temperatures are on the rise. Some of the "tricks" reported were not really mischeviuos behavior, but rather tricks of the trade you could say and replaced figures from"proxy temperature data from tree rings in recent years
with more accurate data from air temperatures."
"They may be talking three or four datasets in the e-mail scandal,
we're looking at 28,000 data sets of physical and biological systems
from around the world," she said," said Virginia Burkett, chief scientist for global change research at the U.S. Geological Survey, to the Associated Press.
The scandal broke just before the Copenhagen climate-change summit where 200 heads of state and government, along with another 15,000 participants, are set to meet. Coincidence? I think not. Sen. James Inhofe from Oklahoma, whose state relies heavily on oil company money and big industry money to keep on truckin', is a firm disbeliever in climate-change and has called for a Senate hearing into the matter. His wimpers may fall on deaf ears, however, after the new EPA announcement and Copenhagen comes to a close.
Despite the ClimateGate scandal, the EPA announcement yesterday that greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide, pose a health risk to the American public and the environment. The announcement could help spur cap-and-trade legislation that's been sitting in the Senate since earlier this year, or it could be the beginning of many lawsuits from big industry trying to challenge the validity of the EPA's findings.
The three largest air polluntant emission sources in the US, according to the Wall Street Journal,
are electricity production, transportation and industry. So it's easy
to see why industry leaders like oil companies and electricity
production plants The biggest gripe big industry wants to appear to have through all this are concerns for the US economy, which are valid, but hardly what I think they're most worried about. Severe cuts in emissions could lead to oil refineries closing and job losses, which could send the already unstable economy back into the crapper, along with sending gas prices soaring. But the timing of the EPA couldn't be better as President Obama is set to attend the already-in-progress climate summit in Copenhagen, and now he can do so with some credibility behind him.
The President is set to propose, according to the San Fran Chronicle, a 17 percent cut from the US' 2005's emission rates by 2020. This number is far below the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's recommendations from 2000, which read that the most industrialized nations would need to cut emissions by 25 to 40 percent between 1990 and 2020 to make a substantial, beneficial impact on climate change. At least America is finally ready to start acknowledging some culpability and responsibility in the world's climate issues, unlike previous presidents (yes you Bush and Clinton). It may not be as aggressive of a plan as what the IPCC and others had hoped for, but it's a start. Tune back in on Dec. 18th to see what the conclusion of this proposal turns out to be.
So for all you still not really believing in Obama, I just gotta say, between rebounding the economy, health-care reform on the table and now emission-regulation, he's definitely affecting some change up in here. To that I gotta say booyeah.