Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Legislating At Scale When the Climate's Wrong

Lately I’ve become convinced that scaling up to attack truly massive environmental problems like climate disruption is a kind of trap. To engage such problems in institutions that are big enough (like our Congress), the necessities of making those institutions actually operate inflate your costs and complications to arresting proportions. When you consider just how unimportant "median" voters are today—and how scarce politicians who represent them are in our gerrymandered Congress—the possibilities for "public reason" seem to shrink. Beyond that political calculation, you’ll have an even harder time deciding whether going to all the trouble is worth it given the limitations inherent in law as a social institution, etc. This is perhaps just another way of restating some old political wisdom, but I think it has sobering implications for American citizens who think about confronting vast environmental problems.

Waxman-Markey (WM) is my case in point. (In a comment to my post last week, Mike suggested this is true of many big problems in Congress lately. I’m inclined to agree but have no expertise on the issues he mentioned.) There has been a lot of talk about the path WM took out of the House. It was a less-than "deliberative" process, to be sure. Rumor has it that few members of Congress even saw the text of the bill (all 1,300 pages of it!) before they voted because a huge managers’ amendment (300+ pages worth) reordered the whole thing the evening before. This embarrasses the standard model of "representation," surely—not to mention deliberation in any traditional sense.

Senators will at least have time to read WM and they do represent whole states. But does that even matter? Will any single Senator know enough about the enormous array of issues this beast raises to reach an informed judgment on it as a whole? Are enough states big and diverse enough to smooth out the incentives senators are facing? I’m thinking "no" on each of these, to be completely frank.

WM can be boiled down, of course. In a sense, it is an effort to avoid the unavoidable. To make carbon-based fuel less prevalent, you have to make it a lot more expensive—exactly what politicians don’t want to do, especially in recessionary times. Putting aside all the talk about "clean" energy futures and bending the curve on GHGs, until society puts the true cost of fossil fuel into its pricing, too many of our markets will be malfunctioning.

It may be reason enough to support WM just to keep up some momentum on the problem of global climate disruption. This is probably the White House’s thinking—that and the possibility that this bill can be ratcheted along down the line. But if that is the reason for pushing this bill, keep in mind that our partners around the globe are taking real measurements of this "commitment" — and will have them in mind in Copenhagen in December.

The reporting I’ve seen puts the Senate's "maybes" around 40-45 (w/ ~35 certainly "for" and ~22 certainly "against"). A half-dozen of the confirmed "fence-sitters" are up for re-election in 2010. So it's worth keeping an eye on senators Dorgan, Gregg, Lincoln, McCain, Murkowski, and Specter.

But it's also worth recalling that the Senate is the home of tactics like the "hold." Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) reportedly has a hold on Cass Sunstein’s nomination to lead OIRA, for example, because he thinks Sunstein will use that office to push for animal rights. Now, to be sure, immediate, obviously existential threats generally rule out bogus tactics like Chambliss's no matter the scale. Most environmental problems lack such structure, though, and my sense is that virtually every legislature has better external checks than our Congress. So the only thing I’m left wondering at this point is where is the "Harry and Louise" PR campaign against fossil fuel when you need one?

Posted by Jamie Colburn

4 comments:

酒店ㄚ君姐姐 said...

,,,,,,,,,姐.,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

狗熊克星 said...

專業的酒店經紀公司我們提供許多工作如酒店上班可以幫您賺錢酒店打工讓您解決錢的問題酒店兼差也可以讓您快速累積財富暑假打工的工作機會也非常的多寒假打工的機會可以事先詢問喔

我們是專業的酒店經紀公司且我們也有自營的酒店水水想來酒店上班或是美美想來酒店打工或者是只是想要短期的酒店兼差都是可以安排的暑假到了暑假打工現在正的熱門的工作寒假打工雖然還沒到但是也可以事先預約工作,歡迎來電洽詢



韓國人由於亞歷安人種臉型較為四方於是整形業在當地非常的發達舉凡像雷射溶脂的技術就蠻進步的僅次於全世界最強的台灣而以整形和他們的娛樂業有著密不可分的關系像一些著加的明星都吃酵素在保養身體以達到良好的水準黃金價格不斷的上揚可能快破100美元每兩了

喜洋洋 said...

高雄縣徵信商業同業公會
南部徵信聯盟
外遇觀測站
大愛離婚諮詢網
離婚大剖析
大愛徵信有限公司
尋人專家徵信服務網
女人徵信公司
華陀徵信
離婚協助中心
跟蹤蒐證徵信器材網
抓姦觀測
大愛徵信
溫馨徵信
成功徵信社

喜洋洋 said...

高雄縣徵信商業同業公會
南部徵信聯盟
外遇觀測站
大愛離婚諮詢網
離婚大剖析
大愛徵信有限公司
尋人專家徵信服務網
女人徵信公司
華陀徵信
離婚協助中心
跟蹤蒐證徵信器材網
抓姦觀測
大愛徵信
溫馨徵信
成功徵信社