Cleaner cars . . . too late?January 27, 2009
Yesterday was a good day for the environment. Tomorrow may not be.
NY Times, 1/26/09: “President Obama directed federal regulators . . . to move swiftly on an application by California and 13 other states to set strict limits on greenhouse gases from cars and trucks. He also ordered the Transportation Department to begin drawing up rules imposing higher fuel-economy standards on cars and light trucks.”
The Bush administration stonewalled California’s efforts since 2002 to further limit pollution and they failed to create regulations to implement a 2007 Department of Transportation law requiring a 40 percent improvement in gas mileage for autos and light trucks by 2020. At last a change.
Don’t feel bad for the US auto industry. “They knew this was coming,” pointed out Ray LaHood, the new Secretary of Transportation and former Republican congressman from Illinois. And, autos manufactured by these same companies for the European market can already do much of the job.
So much for the good news. According to an NPR report based on a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, “Turning off the carbon dioxide emissions won’t stop global warming . . . Climate change is essentially irreversible . . . The global thermostat can’t be turned down quickly once it’s been turned up . . .” We’re talking thousands of years. Now I’m really depressed.
What should be done? Susan Solomon, one of the study’s authors, suggests that if the problem is irreversible, that gives us more reason to act now, just as the new administration is doing.
But, why do we need to wait until 2020 for the 40 percent fuel economy gain? So much of the needed technology has been in development since I started working on renewable energy in the early 80’s. Step on the accelerator.
– Posted by Tom Witkin