The Environmental Mandate
I suppose another unelected panel and some municipal and state mandates can only do so much additional harm:
Rhode Island may take another step toward addressing climate change issues if the General Assembly passes legislation initiated by students in the environmental studies program at Brown University.
The bill, introduced by Sen. Joshua Miller, D-Cranston, calls for the creation of a study commission to monitor the impacts of climate change in Rhode Island and recommend responses to the government. An identical bill was introduced in the House by state Rep. David Segal, D-Providence.
The legislation also would require cities and towns to account for climate change when doing their comprehensive plans and mandate the state’s Emergency Management Agency to set up an automated system to alert the elderly about extreme weather.
But one can hardly avoid the feeling of futility. The Brown students who put together the report believe climate changes are on their way regardless of mitigation efforts, but even were that not the case, with a volcano pumping out ash just a short distance across the Atlantic, the relevance of “green” construction for public buildings in the state seems nigh upon nil.
Even an editorial a few pages away in the Providence Journal suggests the point:
Scientists believe that a volcanic eruption in northern Sumatra 74,000 years ago brought humans to the brink of extinction, blotting out much of the light of the sun with ash for six years, robbing plants of the rays they need to grow. The human population shrank to a few thousand, some scientists believe.
The forces that shape this planet continue to make themselves felt as people delude themselves into thinking that we can control nature.
I think also of gigantic blasts from the sun arching across an area of space 100 times the size of the Earth. We human beings are having enough difficulty taking care of ourselves without putting the weight of the globe on a few extra miles per gallon and some squiggly light bulbs.
None of this is to say that people interested in such matters shouldn’t continue to research them and to make suggestions, and that the rest of us shouldn’t follow such suggestions as aren’t too disruptive. When it comes to action by state and federal governments, disruption is unavoidable. Andrew McCarthy puts it well in the context of an intraconservative spat:
You say: “Put yourself in the position of a senior government leader tasked with making real decisions that affect the lives of millions. What would you do if faced with a matter of technical disagreement on such a quantitative-prediction question among experts?” I’ll tell you what I would do. I would say that, given our finite capabilities and the shortness of life, AGW [anthropogenic global warming] may not be a problem at all, and, if it is a problem, it is not urgent enough to obsess over. Not if I am a senior government leader of a country trillions of dollars in debt who is also tasked with making real decisions about unsustainable entitlement programs, the high likelihood that states will soon default, 10 percent unemployment, crippling new taxes and inflation on the horizon, a global war against jihadists whose mass-murder attacks — and their catastrophic costs — are impossible to predict, the imminence of game-changing nuclear capability in a revolutionary jihadist state that has threatened to wipe Israel off the map and whose motto is “Death to America,” aggression from other hostile nations, a judiciary that is steadily eroding popular self-government, and a host of other actually pressing problems.