March 5, 2013 – Vol.17 No. 51

WHO'S TO BLAME FOR CLIMATE CHANGE?
by Bruce Mulliken, Green Energy News

Me.

I'm to blame for climate change. I've been a "believer" for almost 20 years and while I've reduced my carbon footprint dramatically, I haven't zeroed out my emissions. So, I'm as guilty as most of the other 7 billion or so souls on the planet in causing its unprecedented warming.

According to a recent poll from Duke University, 50 percent of Americans are now convinced that climate change is taking place, and another 34 percent think it is probably taking place. Together a large majority of Americans, 84 percent, are convinced or almost convinced.

As whether is man causing the global problem, or perhaps some other reason like natural variation or some kind of cycle, slightly better than half, 54 percent, think that it's caused by human activities.

Yet it appears that while this slight majority think that climate change is about ourselves, most don't seem to want to take any responsibility for their actions. Only a relative few, 36 percent agree to a cap and trade program, which could lead to higher energy prices paid for by consumers. And only 29 percent think that a carbon tax is a good idea. With a carbon tax, that sounds like any other tax, consumers would generally be the ones that would pay in the end. What they DO want, 64 percent, is for regulations to force carbon emissions cuts from utilities, car companies and industries. Read regulations as forcing these emitters to solve the climate change problem. Government regulations are a kind of punishment: "Do as we say or don't do business here!"

In this strong support of regulations, consumers are passing the blame of climate change onto industry and taking less blame themselves. Going back to that 54 percent who think that climate change is caused by humans, how many have shown some responsibility for their actions and zeroed out their emissions? How many have taken any action at all? That would be an interesting poll. I'm cynically guessing less than one percent. If so, this would be shameful.

But then consumers do have a point. Often they want to cut emissions but can't, simply because so called "clean" carbon-free products aren't available. Here in sunny Florida, I'd certainly be willing to pay a little extra to buy solar energy from the power grid, but my utility doesn't offer it. Consumers around the country could find similar examples.


So far, regulations such as state-level renewable portfolio standards (RPS) that force utilities to build clean energy capacity, or upped fuel economy standards, or the phase-out of incandescent lighting, as well as slow economic growth and the expanding supply of natural gas have together reduced the carbon footprint of the United States. Individuals though, more than just believing in man-induced global warming/climate change have to take more personal action to cut their own emissions.

Cutting emissions needs to be the shared work of the major industrial carbon emitters as we'll as end use emitters such as me and you. If only those 54 precent were willing to take action, then we'd be on our way to slowing then stopping the warming of the planet. Waiting for clean products and technology to be offered isn't an excuse to do little or nothing. Much of the problem of excess carbon emissions in the atmosphere has to do with our own excesses. Just doing less of what we already do could make a big difference. Driving less, walking instead of driving, downsizing to smaller homes, purchasing more efficient versions of conventional, already-available products such as appliances and heating/cooling equipment, are all doable today and could make a big difference: If that 54 percent would step up to the plate and be responsible for their actions.

We are all to blame for climate change.

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