The road to Hell is indeed paved with good intentions.
The New York Times is reporting that Barack Obama will make a firm pledge at next month's UN climate change summit in Copenhagen that would see the United States effect a 17% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 from a 2005 baseline.
There kids are your good intentions. There too is your road to Hell.
What's wrong with a 17% cut in GHG emissions? If leading climate scientists are right, a 17% cut calculated on a 2005 threshhold is far too little, far too late. Proposing this also doesn't mean that Obama or his successors will be able to deliver. Somebody is going to have to overcome a Bought & Paid For Congress. And then there's going to be the fudging and won't that be fun to watch. It'll be all cap'n trade with an awful lot more emphasis on trade than cap. Let the games begin.
But getting back to that awful road, the one that leads to that burning place. The solution isn't cutting emissions by some percentage based on some year's baseline emissions through one guise or another. The solution is much simpler than that. It's cutting emissions enough before the planet itself really shows us a thing or two about emissions. You see, we're sort of like the match to the fuze. Nothing much happens when you burn the fuze. It's only when the burning fuze reaches that black powder in the keg that you have a really serious problem. By then you won't even be thinking about the match, will you?
When you cut too little or cut too late (or both), you're assuming you have more time than you may actually have before the problem gets beyond your control. Rampant industrialization isn't going to kill your grandkids. The earth is going to do that. The planet is a powder keg just full of stored carbon and methane waiting to be released into the atmosphere. That's why it's called runaway global warming.
So if Obama's 17%/2005 cuts aren't enough, if they lull us into a false sense of security, it'd probably be better if he didn't bother. Oh well.