Led by Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chair Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), eleven senators introduced a bill today that spells out in concrete numbers a proposal calling for an 80% reduction from 1990 levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
It is generally understood that global warming is now inevitable and in fact is already happening. Whether or not some of the current warming is caused by natural fluctuations doesn't mitigate the fact that human activity is pushing atmospheric concentrations of CO2 and other heat-trapping gasses well beyond what they would otherwise be.
The science behind the bill introduced in Congress estimates that holding atmospheric CO2 concentrations below 450 parts-per-million will hold the average global temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) thus averting the most severe impacts of global warming. The current level of CO2 in the atmosphere is about 375 ppm.
We are encouraged by government finally taking steps toward leadership on the issue of climate change and global warming. There is more than one approach to solving environmental issues that have such an enormous impact on our current and future world.
Through a cooperative effort from business, markets, governments, and individuals, there is still hope. With each passing year any continued inaction diminishes the chances of hope for the future transforming into the reality of the present.
Government can set benchmarks based on scientists best estimates, business and markets can adapt an economic model that includes the impacts of environmental and resource depletion and destruction - and in so doing make "green" business more profitable than "business as usual" - and individuals can commit themselves to altering their habits and lifestyles to reflect a less all-consuming, all-consumer mode of living.
Change is inevitable, as the bill introduced today reflects, it is how we manage and adapt to that change now that will have the greatest impact on the world we leave to our children and our children's children.