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Warming imperils our future page 2
Climbing aboard the climate-change bandwagon

RICHARD AMRHINE
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Date published: 1/21/2007

By RICHARD AMRHINE

continued

In Virginia, the mayors of Alexandria, Blacksburg, Charlottesville, Richmond, Virginia Beach, and Williamsburg have signed this Climate Protection Agreement. Any cities missing? Hmmm, Fredericksburg seems to be absent from that list. Now would be a good time to rectify that.

When the subject is government denial, inaction, and ignorance on environmental issues, the Bush administration comes immediately to mind. The president announced recently that warming could prompt the placement of polar bears on the endangered list. Unfortunately, President Bush was interested only because he thought his advisers were referring to Polar Bars, some sort of novelty ice cream product.

The United States remains dead last among industrialized nations in terms of vehicle miles-per-gallon and emissions requirements. We can't even sell our cars in China.

Earlier this week it was reported that the administration's spending priorities have short-circuited research on climate change. Funds have instead gone toward manned missions to the moon and Mars.

Do you see the pattern here? President Bush ignores his own planet in favor of space exploration, just as he ignores his own country in favor of military interventions overseas.

For its part, the General Assembly is looking at legislation called the Green Buildings Act that would set standards for materials and methods for Virginia's public construction and renovation projects. Reducing the state's contribution to pollution and global warming is the stated goal.

One can look at the challenge as either combating global warming or weaning ourselves from carbon-based fuels, and still pursue the goal of a healthier planet. So even if you still believe that global warming is natural, cyclical, and not our fault, maybe that's not so bad as long as you agree that reducing our dependence on fossil fuels is an absolute must.

In 1975, as the leaded-gasoline era ended, the auto industry turned to catalytic converters to help reduce exhaust emissions. Without them, experts agree, we would be living under a shroud of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and nitrogen oxides, so we are certainly better off with them than without them.

The tradeoff is that they convert those noxious gasses mostly into carbon dioxide, which is not exactly the "harmless" gas--in massive quantities--that it was believed to be.


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