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.

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11 years ago

“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.”
And on the discovery of a mythical, economical, non-polluting fuel source.
Now we see how the business climate got so bad in this state. There’s always some “higher” priority that must be attended to. (This bill should be unanimously voted down and the students who proposed it should take a minute to google “Climategate”.)

11 years ago

I had an interesting debate on Friday with my Progressive friends.
We all agreed that steps should be taken to reduce the amount of trash we produce, and should put some pressure on companies to package products responsibly.
Things got ugly when folks started suggesting that the state have biodegradable packaging requirements for retail… I countered that while I appreciate the -sentiment-, Rhode Island isn’t a ‘game changer’, a restriction like that implemented here would only force retailers to set up camp in Massachusetts and Connecticut. It would be different if we were the size of California, but we’re not.
Instead of focusing on destructive and expensive ways to reduce our impact on the world, we should be doing stuff like building revolving funds for homeowners to get low-interest loans that boost efficiency. A revolving fund only costs money to set up, and pays dividends as long as it exists, they -attract- investment and make it easier to live here. Piling-up more mandates just makes Rhode Island a more difficult place to do business and live.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
11 years ago

Mangeek writes:
“we should be doing stuff like building revolving funds for homeowners to get low-interest loans that boost efficiency.”
We used to have that, they were called “Savings & Loans”. Sometimes “credit unions”.

11 years ago

Sure, why think about anything other than our short lives?
And when we can all make money building more tools of war and paying subcontractors, why not make up some boogeymen under each bed? It’s great for business!
Heck, in this case, we should build up a LOT more national debt, because after all….since our lives are so finite, why worry?
In fact, all of the hundreds of millions of people the world over working on big problems which have no chance of being solved during our own lives (cure for cancer, lupus, etc. etc.)…heck, they should immediately stop what they are doing and join the crowd with their hands out for some of those military-industrial bucks…….
Makes sense. I think I get the conservative viewpoint now.

11 years ago

It seems all studies are new and fantastic to push the GA for new bills to address the perceived problems because we are using new words to define the ordinary. State of RI Department of Health Division of Laboratories Air Pollution, State of Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and National Weather Service for as far back as the 1970s and earlier has had monitoring stations set up in almost every City and Town measuring various earthly, water and air quality changes in the state along with the National Weather Service measurements throughout the state of weather related events. If the three data bases are merged you will get a total picture of RI from where it’s been to where it’s going. The scientists maintaining the databases can probably tell you that in a 5 min telephone call. You don’t need another study commission of upper management want to feel good helping the RI people purchasing my products and services. The so called greening of RI is all about reducing carbon emissions supposedly leading to global warming from greenhouse gases. President George W. Bush designated state of Hawaii be used as a model to the other 49 states in reducing its carbon foot print. HI is 2,400 miles away from any other state in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, a group of islands about 90% dependant on imported oil for power needs, no place to put trash in landfills, imports food and toilet paper (sticky when there is a shipping strike) has abundant alternate energy resources, each island has its own stand alone electrical power grid, is the only state in the nation that manufactures its own synthetic natural gas and population pays some of the highest electrical rates and gasoline prices in the nation plus HI has one… Read more »

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
11 years ago

” The Brown students who put together the report believe climate changes are on their way regardless of mitigation efforts”
It is probably worse than that. I suspect that they saw a career path in “Globl Warming”. Now they are near graduation and that career path is disappearing.

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