I have read to biographies of Winston Churchill and climate change was not a big thing when he was alive. Yet Bob Marshall is able to link the two together.
How are climate change, Winston Churchill and pay-go related? I promise you’ll understand. Recently a growing number of conservative states have been seeking billions in taxpayer funding to “adapt” to the growing impacts of climate change. For example, solid-red Texas is getting nearly $2 billion to build a massive 27-mile sea wall along the Gulf of Mexico to protect Houston and Galveston from larger hurricanes and rising seas. Florida just dedicated $350 million for its communities to “adapt” to sea level rise, while Miami is looking at $300 million for new drainage pumps. Meanwhile, Utah is seeking ways to stop the rapid evaporation of the Great Salt Lake that some of its legislators say will result in an “environmental nuclear bomb” cratering the economy of one of the fastest-growing regions on the continent. But none of these states and communities are taking steps to address the cause of the problems they are spending billions to fight: the emissions from fossil fuels driving atmospheric warming, resulting in rising seas, bigger hurricanes pushing higher surges and record droughts.nola.com
I have noticed that as well. Louisiana has a democratic governor and he has set a state mandate and program for reducing the emissions but the conservative “oil state” representatives have objected and want more emissions.
In fact, their GOP congressional delegations continue fighting federal regulations aimed at reducing those emissions — the only way to slow and reduce the impacts. All of that led me to one of Churchill’s famous political aphorisms. It was aimed at a policy that would spend money on a problem but not solve it. He said it was “like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.” Spending money to treat the impacts of climate change without addressing the cause is worse than a waste of money. It’s condemning future generations to suffer more dire consequences. It’s as if the official response to a pandemic such as COVID-19 was to build more cemeteries rather than seek vaccines. This isn’t to say communities and states, especially those on the coasts, shouldn’t quickly move to adapt. Their immediate futures — measured in a few decades — depend on it. But any hope of long-term survival involves reducing the cause, because the exponential nature of the problem means they will have one shot at that goal.
It is tough to lift your body up standing in the bucket but that is all they want to try. One would think that they would use the 5-Whys and then come up with the cause.
All of which led me to “pay-go,” the congressional policy favored by fiscal conservatives requiring any spending to be offset by budget cuts or revenue increases. It was adopted because those conservatives felt the nation’s growing deficit presented an existential threat to future generations. Well, since climate change is the more immediate existential threat, we should adopt a pay-go for any spending on “adaptation” projects. For every million spent on adaptations — such as seawalls, levees, floodgates, beach nourishments, supports for agricultural and other industrial changes — the state or community benefiting would have to take steps to reduce an equivalent amount of emissions it contributes to causing the problem. This could be done through credits for government initiatives such as switching to renewable green energy, developing markets for non-emitting products like electric cars, reducing or eliminating the use of plastic containers, tighter regulations on water use and air conditioning, to name just a few.
The problem is that we need both – protection and solutions.
This could be done through credits for government initiatives such as switching to renewable green energy, developing markets for non-emitting products like electric cars, reducing or eliminating the use of plastic containers, tighter regulations on water use and air conditioning, to name just a few. Louisiana is actually a good example. Our Coastal Master Plan is one of the world’s most advanced and expensive climate adaptation plans, but we are now the first Deep South state to have an emissions reduction plan. Almost two centuries of fossil fuel use have deposited huge reservoirs of heating in the oceans, on the land and in the atmosphere. These will continue to disrupt our climate for centuries to come. But we can reduce its impact on future generations — if we start now.
The real [problem is that the environment has become a partisan issue. Bioth republicans and democrats feel the impact but only one wants to solve it. Both should.