Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

Al Gore to Congress: Act on Global Warming NOW!

You can see highlights of Gore’s testimony before Congress here or his entire opening statement here.  Gore challenged lawmakers to cut carbon emissions by 90% before 2050 using stronger proposals than anything currently on the legislative table.  In addition to scientific data, concrete proposals, and an academy award for his slideshow-turned-documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, Gore brought over 500,000 messages from citizens to Congress supporting swift, decisive action to prevent/reduce the catastrophic climate change caused by global warming.  Although no-nothings like Sen. Inhofe (R-OK) called global warming “a hoax,” the majority of lawmakers seemed receptive to Gore’s message, although it will take much citizen action to get the strong changes he is recommending. (Gore called the first hearings on global warming in Congress in 1973 and they are still dragging their feet about doing anything!)

Among Gore’s concrete proposals are:

  • An immediate national freeze on new carbon emissions, affecting everything from cars to lawnmowers to coal-fired electric plants.
  • Changing the tax code to reduce payroll taxes and increase taxes on polluters, especially those who put greenhouse gasses like CO2 into the air.
  • Following Australia’s lead in banning incandescent light bulbs in favor of new compact (and far more energy efficient) flourescent light bulbs.
  • Raising fuel-efficiency standards for cars–something the major car companies themselves asked Congress for clear guidelines on just this week. Will oil company dollars to Congressional campaigns trump concern for the planet AND the clear desires of Detroit automakers?
  • Creating a “carbon neutral home mortgage association” which would allow homeowners to more easily finance energy-efficient renovations.  This last may sound radical, but Jimmy Carter did something similar in the 1970s when, after installing solar panels on the White House roof (removed by the first Pres. Bush), he got Congress to pass tax credits for homeowners who installed solar panels to their roofs (or windmills, etc.). My parents took advantage of this with our Orlando home and some years we actually generated enough of our own electricity to sell some BACK to the power company.  Reagan led in cancelling these tax credits for homeowners in 1981–at the same time he started rolling back fuel standards for cars, and we’ve been going in the wrong direction ever since.

The folks at Environmental Defense now have a page called “Ask the Green Car Guru” to help consumers concerned about the environment.  They have also worked with Yahoo! to develop a Green Car Center that does rather comprehensive ratings and shows what criteria are used in order to help consumers make wise choices.  The Union of Concerned Scientists have called for passage of the Safe Climate Act (which falls short of Gore’s proposals, but would be a step in the right direction), and its engineers have designed the Vanguard, a safe, affordable, and green mini-van.

So, the ball is now in our court as citizens to convince Congress to act and as consumers to convince companies to give us the green technologies we want.  We also need to make lifestyle choices for the planet:  live closer to our work, insulate our homes, walk, bike, and ride public transportation whenever possible, etc.

March 22, 2007 Posted by | ecology, global warming | 4 Comments