Proposed Changes Would Legislate Stupidity

Polar Bear at Cape Churchill (Wapusk National ...Image via Wikipedia
Why Even Have An EPA?

Way back in 1973 the US passed a law which required us to start looking ahead to gauge the environmental impact of our actions. The Environmental Protection Agency was created to regulate how much damage we would allow ourselves to do the planet.

This is the same EPA which recently released a report on the harmful effects of CO2, as directed by the New Jersey Supreme Court. The report was censored by the Bush administration to the point that the report became virtually meaningless. All references to CO2 being harmful to humans was removed from the report, even though that was the general finding of the EPA’s investigation.

Being Dumb Was Good Enough For Bush, Why Not Include Everybody?

Now, the administration is trying to legislate the kind of stupidity we’ve grown accustomed to during the Bush reign over terror. I guess they figured they gutted FISA, which was working fine (except that it cramped their style), why not the EPA as well?

Below is an excerpt from the proposed changes, which is enough to show just exactly what these changes are all about. Parts BOLDED by me…

Document ID: NOAA-NMFS-2008-0213-0001
Interagency Cooperation under the Endangered Species Act

‘These [proposed] regulations would reinforce the Services’ current view that there is no requirement to consult on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions’ contribution to global warming and its associated impacts on listed species (e.g., polar bears).

For example, when a Federal agency provides funding for a new highway, vehicle use of the highway may result in changes in GHG emissions. The proposed revisions make explicit that while the impact of tailpipe emissions on local air pollution could be an effect of the action, the GHG emissions’ contribution to global warming and associated impacts to listed species (e.g., polar bears) are not, and the effects of those impacts would not need to be considered in any consultation.

First, GHG emissions from building one highway are not an “essential cause” of any impacts associated with global warming. Moreover, any such effects are later in time, but are not reasonably certain to occur (i.e., a finding that an effect is reasonably certain to occur must be based on clear and substantial information, cannot be speculative, and must be more than just likely to occur). For both reasons, impacts associated with global warming do not constitute “effects of the action” under the proposed revision to that definition. See proposed 50 CFR 402.02, 402.03(b)(1), (c).

Even if these impacts would otherwise fall within the definition of “effects of the action,” they need not be considered in any consultation because under the proposed Applicability section the building of one highway is “an insignificant contributor” to any such impacts. Further, any impacts associated with the GHG emissions from the building of one highway are “not capable of being meaningfully identified or detected in a manner that permits evaluation” and “are such that the potential risk of jeopardy to the listed species or adverse modification or destruction of the critical habitat [from those GHG emissions] is remote.” See proposed 50 CFR 402.03(b)(2)-(3), (c).

Do you see the pure stupidity of this line of (false) reasoning? First off, it disagrees with generally accepted and vigorously tested science. Global warming is real. Human activity, as a primary catalyst of global warming, is an accepted fact. Real scientific debate has given way in many parts of the world to the search for solutions. Without solutions, global warming will destroy many, if not most, of the species on this planet. Us included.

To lobby the view that greenhouse gases, accepted by the scientific community as one of the leading causes of global warming, are exempt from consultation under the Act, is just plain stupid. Examining the proposal’s reasoning, we find 2 reasons given for their beliefs, with a catch-all loophole that makes any debate meaningless.

Logic Of The Damned

The first states that a single highway cannot be held accountable for an increase in greenhouse gases or global warming. If there were only one highway on the planet that would be true. But the reality of it is, we have highways enough for more than 300 million vehicles in the US alone. All that traffic on all those highways adds up. It’s true that one SUV on a highway isn’t going to cause catastrophic change. It’s also very true that there are more than one SUV on the roads.

The second tries to fudge the accepted scientific view of climate change into something it is not. This administration has argued consistently that warming wasn’t occurring, and when that message finally failed in the face of real science, they have recently pushed the idea that greenhouse gases were not responsible. The accepted science these days shows plainly that is wrong.

Finally, the text states that regardless of all else, ‘building of one highway is “an insignificant contributor” to any such impacts’. This completely ignores the cumulative effects of many highways. The overall stupidity of the last paragraph is amazing. Perhaps these guys have forgotten how weights and balances work. Perhaps they’ve overlooked the significance of a penny, when saved each day for a lifetime. They certainly have no idea what they’re talking about.

Cuddly Humans

Or perhaps they’ve just forgotten that we are starting to pay attention. Maybe they think we’re as stupid as we have shown ourselves to be during these past 7 years. Maybe they are counting on us to be the complacent little sheeple we’ve shown ourselves to be through most of this century. Maybe they’re right. Maybe we just don’t give a damn.

But maybe we do. If you care about what we let huge corporations get away with in their soulless search for profit, if you want to make sure that there’s at least the level of oversight we’ve had these past 35 years, then you need to comment on this thing before September 15th. You can register your comment here. They won’t accept emails, so your only choices are to use the online form at that link or mail your comments to them at the following address:

Public Comment Processing
Attention: 1018-AT50, Division of Policy and Directives Management
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
4401 North Fairfax Drive, Suite 222
Arlington, VA 22203

Remember, it’s not just the polar bears we need to worry about. It’s also the cuddly humans that you love so much. Global warming endangers us as much as any other animal on the planet.

I am Jon, fighting stupidity as best I can… with information.