The Atlantic, 19 November, 2015
Discord in Congress highlights the challenge for the U.S. of confronting global warming.
“There are always a number of factors that lead to displacement—so you can’t say it’s climate change full stop. But it will be climate change, overlaid on existing pressures like overpopulation and lack of income earning opportunities. So it can become the straw that broke the camel’s back,” McAdam added.
Climate change may also have major economic impacts. The economy is already front-and-center in the climate debate, but Republicans and Democrats in Congress consistently talk past one another when it comes to discussing economic risks. Republicans often focus the political conversation on the cost of environmental regulation. McConnell, for example, warns that the president’s power-plant regulations will kill jobs and stamp out the coal industry. Democrats, on the other hand, tend to emphasize the cost of inaction.
“We can’t pick and choose whether we deal with climate change or ISIS or Russia, we have to deal with all of those problems.”
“It’s not a very well informed debate,” said Robert Engle, a professor of finance at New York University’s Stern School of Business and a Nobel Laureate in economics. “Ultimately there are going to be enormous costs involved. The costs to business and society I think are likely to be enormous. Even so far as saying that life as we know it can’t survive, that’s the ultimate risk.”
As the president races to shore up his environment legacy, Republican opponents are working to thwart the administration. Conservative critics are threatening to withhold funding that the administration has pledged to set aside to cut carbon pollution and strengthen the resilience of developing countries to climate change. Republicans say that unless the administration allows the Senate to review any international climate deal negotiated in Paris, Congress won’t authorize the funds. The administration has expressed confidence that it will find a way to turn its promise into reality. Yet the dispute stands as another example of how congressional opposition creates challenges for the White House as it seeks to implement its green agenda.
As evidence mounts that rising temperatures will have widely felt consequences, climate policy that does not take a comprehensive approach may prove inadequate. A debate that obscures the ways that climate change interacts with and exacerbates other threats could also leave the country profoundly unprepared.
“The conversation has to get broader,” Femia said. “We have to talk about what climate change means not only for our military, but for our health institutions, we have to ask the question of are we prepared for what climate change might mean for the spread of disease, what it will do to our agricultural base and how it will impact our friends and allies.”
Original article The clash in U.S. over Paris climate deal