Monday, October 24, 2011

Shifting focus of Climate Change responsibility?

Last Sunday, I posted a Tweet about an article I read in the NY Times on the loss of focus at the federal government level around climate change. In general, the article posits that in the U.S., the attention to climate change as a serious issue has been over come by events and a decided lack of hard, generally accepted, scientific research.  The article goes on to discuss that while the remainder of the world generally accepts the hypothesis of man-made contributions to climate change and is actively doing things about it, the U.S., has consciously lagged behind and has put the issue politically not just on the back burner but possibly off the stove altogether.

My initial reaction was one of woeful acceptance that my government could just not handle such a heated topic amidst their ongoing infighting and grappling with the current economic conditions of the country.  My Tweet was a sarcastic dig at the concept of a first world power intellectually disavowing any complicity to the changes in global climate change while the rest of the world continues to believe the preponderance of scientific research that affirms some degree (levels vary) of humankind’s involvement in changing climate dynamics. But after my initial reaction subsided, I began to think a bit differently about the impacts of the U.S. federal government shunning global climate change as a policy issue.

A week's worth of articles last week from sources like Newsweek, The Corporate Eco Forum, and even the NY Times, began to lead me to feel that perhaps the federal government does NOT have to play a lead role in moving the U.S. toward action with regard to climate change?  After all, states, corporations, non-profit organizations, cities, and even the DoD, currently seem to be operating under the assumption that climate change is a reality and that accountability for addressing it lies firmly with those that are contributing to it. Billions of dollars are being spent annually in the areas of sustainability strategy, energy management, carbon gas emission reductions, water remediation, and all things "green" without clear guidance from and in spite of federal law makers lack of consensus on U.S. position.  While certainly the guise underlying much of this spending has not always overtly been rooted in climate change (it's generally in the name of cost reductions, efficiency improvements, job creation, or creating competitive differentiation) , the spending continues to grow nonetheless.

So I'm now taking heart in the fact that, like a true market economy, industry is moving forward with tackling global climate change regardless of U.S. official position. The years of wrangling and on again, off again regulatory positioning have probably forced industry's hand here but it appears as though the fence sitting days are over.  In full disclosure, as someone who currently professionally supports these industry and state-level efforts, I am eager to see it continue. I just now hope the federal government doesn't do anything to halt the progress the country is making in combating global climate change in spite of itself!

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