Moment of truth
No sooner did James McCarthy’s name turn up in an Associated Press story on the outlook for global warming than he started getting outraged e-mails from colleagues. All that McCarthy, a Harvard oceanographer who studies how climate change affects marine life, told the AP last week was that "the worst stuff is not going to happen … not that I think the projections aren’t that accurate, but because we can’t be that stupid." The overwhelming response, he said, was, What do you mean, we can’t be that stupid? Just look around!
On that very question could hinge the fate of much of life on Earth. Last week was bracketed by two events that could make 2007 a turning point in the effort to control global warming. On Monday, by a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government had the power under the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles. This victory for environmentalists was quickly snatched away by President Bush, who announced the next day that his administration had no intention of doing anything of the sort. But the ruling set an important precedent for treating carbon dioxide as a threat to human welfare, and opens the way to regulating it by tightening fuel-economy standards. On Friday, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, marshaling the research of nearly 1,000 scientists from 74 countries, issued a long-awaited report on climate-change"impacts, adaptation and vulnerability".The study found that global warming was already affecting the Earth’s ecosystems; it predicted that continued climate change, in combination with other environmental stressors such as population increases and greater urbanization, would lead to more-severe and widespread drought, greater coastal and riverine flooding, and"increased risk of extinction"for 20 to 30 percent of plant and animal species. Depending on how much temperature rises, food production in the temperate regions (including parts of the United States and Canada) could actually increase, but would probably decline in much of the tropics.
Yet at least since last year’s congressional elections it’s been clear that 2007 would be a critical year for what former vice president Al Gore has called the"planetary emergency". A half-dozen bills to control greenhouse gases have already been introduced or are being prepared for introduction to the Senate, according to the National Environmental Trust. Some version of the"cap and trade"market-based system that has already shown its value in reducing acid-rain pollution is virtually certain to pass this Congress."The key question now",says NET president Phil Clapp,"is, will President Bush sign a meaningful bill? But I don’t think there’s any question that if this Congress doesn’t produce one, the next one will and the next president will sign it. We’re in the endgame now, after 10 years on this issue."
至少从去年开始，国会的选举就已经明确2007将会是对于前副总统戈尔所呼吁的地球危机的至关重要的一年。全国环保信托组织表示有六个关于控制温室效应的法案已经或者正准备向参议院提出。一些已经在降低酸雨的污染方面表现的卓有成效的以市场为基础的排放权交易系统是一定可以通过这次的国会审议的。NET 主席Phil Clapp说：现在关键是，布什总统是否同意这个意义深远的法案。但是，若这一届的国会不通过，下一届的国会，下一届的总统肯定会签署的。关于这个议题，我们已经努力了十年了，现在已经进入最后阶段了。