I'm perplexed. I can't, yet again, comment on how remarkable the news I'm reporting is. It's not that I'm cynical or blasé about it, in spite of my teaser of a title -- I'm actually very excited. I think I understand now why the media prefer bad news -- it's much easier to write snarky than gooey. I'm feeling gooey. Here's why:
The European Union just announced that within five years its vehicle fleet will be required to get 46 MPG.
This morning, after pressure from a student group led by Kat McEachern, Sierra Student Coalition Excom Chair, Cornell University's president announced that the university would go climate neutral with an outlined plan to do so ready by Feb 23. And Brown University is poised to join Cornell.
Former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack laid down the most ambitious global-warming agenda of any Presidential candidate to date, calling for 80 percent emission reductions by 2050 (which is the level scientists have called for) and breaking with the Iowa consensus by saying that corn-based ethanol was not the key to future progress, and that we need to shift the emphasis to cellulosic ethanol.
Venture capitalist Vinod Khosla announced that he'll build the nation's first wood-to-ethanol factory in the east-central Georgia town of Soperton, using wood waste to produce cellulosic ethanol to replace gasoline much more effectively than current corn-based ethanol plants.
Legislation to make Maryland the twelfth clean-car state passed out of a House committee today with the support of a long-time Republican climate skeptic and may be passed by both houses of the state legislature by Friday.
New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine signed an Executive Order committing his state to reduce its global warming emissions to 20 percent below current levels by 2020 and to 80 percent below by 2050, joining California in taking the need to act on the basis of science seriously.
Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich signed his state up for a 60 percent CO2 reduction by 2050 -- not as ambitious as Vilsack, California, or New Jersey but, from the governor of a major coal-producing state, a huge leap forward.
And in Washington, DC, the U.S. Senate was treated to the spectacle of
the CEOs of Pacific Gas and Electric, Dupont, and BP commending Senator Barbara Boxer for her efforts to set tough regulatory standards for carbon dioxide emissions, while Republican Senators Kit Bond of Missouri and James Inhofe of Oklahoma blasted the businessmen for greedily attempting to make money from renewable energy. (Inhofe called the companies "profiteers." His membership card in the defunct Communist Party, USA, is in the mail. Businessmen seeking profits? Scandalous!)
And Fred Smith, the head of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, earnestly assured the CEOs that they did not understand economics. (Boxer's staff told me that the look on the faces of the businessmen was something to behold.) Smith, whose think-tank last surfaced soliciting science for pay (to undermine the findings of the IPCC on global warming), testified:
"The corporations we see baying for a cap and trade program are out to enrich themselves without thought for the poor," Smith said.
"For these people, environmentalism is the opiate of the masses, keeping them quiet by making them think that what's bad for them is good for the planet."
If this is the best stuff Boxer's opponents can come up with, then her hearings may prove far more amusing than anyone expected.