Sunday, April 04, 2010

Despite Skepticism, The Environment Is Getting Its Due

Opinion polls following the so-called climate-email-gate fracas reflected a growing skepticism in America about the state of the environment. Despite the overwhelming evidence, too many people want to latch on to red herrings that "prove" there's nothing to worry about as we pollute ourselves into oblivion. As long as the doubt, denial and lack of responsibility exists, we will continue to end up with less than adequate international frameworks such as what happened in Copenhagen last year.

With that said, there are glimmers of hope. Since the Obama Administration took over, the E.P.A. has become much more friendly towards environmental groups. The N.R.D.C. for example, is finding willing partners in the Executive bureaucracy instead of the adversaries that held their posts during the Bush era.

The E.P.A. is showing some muscle, by utilizing the Clean Water Act in order to regulate carbon dioxide emissions:

WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency is exploring whether to use the Clean Water Act to control greenhouse gas emissions, which are turning the oceans acidic at a rate that's alarmed some scientists.

With climate change legislation stalled in Congress, the Clean Water Act would serve as a second front, as the Obama administration has sought to use the Clean Air Act to rein in emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases administratively.

Since the dawn of the industrial age, acid levels in the oceans have increased 30 percent. Currently, the oceans are absorbing 22 million tons of carbon dioxide a day.

Among other things, scientists worry that the increase in acidity could interrupt the delicate marine food chain, which ranges from microscopic plankton to whales.