Views and debates on climate change policy
Home | Panelists | Staff Blog | RSS

Donald F. Boesch
President, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science

Donald F. Boesch

Donald F. Boesch, an oceanographer, is president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science and Vice Chancellor for Environmental Sustainability for the University System of Maryland.


For Earth's sake, energy next

My expertise extends neither to immigration or politics, but as an environmental scientist, I have to say that we are burning up precious time as well as excessive carbon as a result of the political jockeying in Congress. Hopefully, breaking the impasse that prevented even debate on the financial overhaul bill will now allow the Congress next to deliberate and pass comprehensive energy legislation that is crafted to dramatically reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions over the next four decades.

Energy and climate bills have passed both the House and Senate and Senators Kerry, Graham and Lieberman have drafted a revised version of the Senate bill designed to attract significant bipartisan support. The nation's largest electric utilities, three large oil companies, the Christian Coalition and now even T. Boone Pickens are poised to support it.

Legislation on immigration is not nearly as far along. As pointed out in editorials in the Washington Post and the New York Times tackling that important, but contentious, issue next would tie up the Congress, making passage of comprehensive legislation this session all but impossible.

As Tom Friedman points out, failure is not an option. Not only does the U.S. risk being left behind in the development of new energy technologies that comprehensive legislation would stimulate, but failure would delay both U.S. actions and international agreements needed to turn around the growth trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions. Because of its long residence time, there is a finite amount of carbon dioxide that can be emitted if atmospheric concentrations are to be stabilized sufficient to have a chance of avoiding the dangerous consequences that lie beyond a 2 degrees Celsius increase in global mean temperature. Global emissions have grown by 32 percent between 1990 and 2005, but will need to be reduced by at least 50 percent by 2050. This means that emissions from the
U.S., with our high per capita emissions, will have to be reduced by 80 percent. Because carbon dioxide accumulates in the atmosphere, it would do little good to wait until 2030 or 2040 to reduce emissions, we have to begin now.

Both the science and climate change indicators recently reported by EPA are clear and compelling. Global climate change is accelerating largely as a result of human activities. For Earth's sake, let us hope that Senator Graham's concerns are overcome and that Congress can consider the comprehensive energy and climate legislation on which he and his colleagues have worked so diligently immediately after it deals with the financial overhaul legislation.

By Donald F. Boesch  |  April 29, 2010; 10:24 AM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: The bill should move | Next: No global warming bill likely in 2010


Please report offensive comments below.

A few Washington Post commentators in this section appear to get copies of the comments and maybe even read them.

There may, or may not, be good science behind your assertions that the recent warm period was caused or even heavily influenced by CO2 and other GHG. As long as the climate gate gang and the Hockey Team are continuing to publish their predictions of catastrophe, I don't think the American public will buy it.

Dr. Hansen, for example, famously predicted that the streets of New York city would be awash from rising sea levels in twenty years. He did this about twenty years ago and has confirmed his predictions since.

Dr. Pauchari got a big grant from the EU to study receding Himalayan glaciers just about the time the 2035 prediction was withdrawn. He had known about this for some months, but it wasn't going to do his pocket any good to 'discover' the error.

Lord Oxburgh chaired a review that exonerated the UEA CRU folks of any malfeasance. Turns out he would have suffered major financial loss if the report went the other way.

You can continue pretending that the science is settled and we should just trust you and your scientists, but we don't and won't. Once credibility is lost, you cannot get it back by having those with their fingers in the cookie jar keep repeating the mantra that CO2 will cause the end of civilization as we know it.

Subjected the models to ordinary IT quality control measures like source code control, independent verification, publication of source and data, and similar steps are going to be required. If Dr. Hansen won't step up to the bar, he and his cronies should be excluded from further participation in the IPCC. Most likely they cannot step up to the bar because their previous work was sloppy and unethical, and that is why they hide it from public view.

Posted by: AGWsceptic99 | May 5, 2010 12:01 AM
Report Offensive Comment

The rantings of another so called scientist seeing all those big grants going away.

Posted by: Pilot1 | May 2, 2010 8:09 AM
Report Offensive Comment

Dude, just give it up. You're so wrong on this that you're just embarrassing yourself and the entire department.

If you wife were to see this column, she'd pull a paper sack over her head. You're embarrassing everybody.

Posted by: Ombudsman1 | May 1, 2010 5:24 PM
Report Offensive Comment

Post a Comment

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company