Republican strategists have warned members of Congress to avoid anti-science statements on climate change. Denying the near-universal conclusion in the scientific community—that human activity is altering the climate—plays well in red states and conservative House districts. But at the national level it’s toxic, and Republicans risk losing a generation of voters. Yet the Republicans California Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman refers to as “the last remnants of the Flat Earth Society” persist in their full-throated attack on climate science.
Recognizing the futility of working with Congress, President Obama has begun to use his executive authority, most notably directing the EPA to regulate power-plant emissions. He should do more, in particular order the EPA to issue a finding that would, with the stroke of a pen, impose safety and emission-control requirements on thousands of chemical plants. (See “Obama Can and Must Act on Chemical Plant Safety.)
And increasingly, state and local governments are taking the lead on climate change. In this special issue, Peter Lehner reports on the extraordinary measures the governments of New York City and New York State have put in place in the wake Superstorm Sandy. And in an article that describes an already drastically altered climate in the Southwest, Diana Liverman and Gregg Garfin describe the commitment to regulation, energy efficiency, and automobile mileage standards that is making a measurable difference in California.
It might require several election cycles to purge the science deniers. Meanwhile, some regions of the country are moving on despite them.
Lou Dubose is the editor of The Washington Spectator.