The IPCC Smashed the Climate Change Snooze Button and Congress is Waking Up
Much has been written about the report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report this week telling us what we already knew -- our planet is hotter than it has been since the beginning of the last ice age, we're largely responsible for that warming, and many of the wildfires and extreme storms we're experiencing are related to that warming. Letting nature take its course is most certainly not an option. Each of these things cannot be reasonably disputed.
So perhaps it isn't surprising that within hours of the IPCC's release of its apocalyptic report Republicans and Democrats in the United States Senate voted to pass an infrastructure bill providing hundreds of millions of dollars to fund programs to prevent climate change-related calamities or at least mitigate the damage they cause.
While the climate resilience funds authorized this week are certainly no more than a down payment on what will be necessary, it is still a lot of money. That begs two questions.
First, how do we ensure that these funds are spent as expeditiously and efficiently as possible? It will require standing up federal and state programs to evaluate the torrent of funding requests to come in the hope of getting the biggest bang for our bucks. That will take time but can't take too long.
Second, when do we begin reforming our 20th century laws and regulations to facilitate and expedite the implementation of necessary climate resilience? If the IPCC report tells us anything, it is that we don't have the luxury of the time it has taken in the modern regulatory era to address every complaint every citizen might make about necessary climate resilience infrastructure. Certainly, no one wants Federal climate resilience dollars spent on endless litigation. Now that we're awake, let's get to work.
“This is the most significant piece of climate change legislation that has ever been adopted by a branch of the US Congress,” said Daniel Esty, a professor of Environmental Law and Policy at Yale’s School of the Environment. “You see in this package a real commitment to making sure we’re ready for more tough hurricanes in the Southeast, more wildfires across the West, more floods, and all of the elements of what we know climate change is likely to bring upon us in the years ahead,” he said. “I think it’s an extraordinary signal of changing politics around climate change, particularly within the Republican Party.”