Editor's Letter; June 2009; Scientific American Earth 3.0; by Mark Fischetti; 1 Page(s)
The climate challenge just became a lot more challenging.
We know that man-made carbon dioxide emissions are accelerating
global warming. But intrepid research has revealed an additional sinister
threat: methane. As Sarah Simpson reports on page 30, the
warming of the Arctic is releasing vast quantities of methane that has
been locked away for centuries in formerly frozen soil. Once released,
methane traps 25 times more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide
does. So it is more imperative than ever to slash greenhouse gases
quickly, to slow the venting of methane.
The single boldest stroke must come from Congress. The House
and Senate are debating legislation that would impose either a cap-and-trade system or a tax on carbon emissions (for updates see www.ScientificAmerican.com/Earth3). Certain politicians and CEOs are trying to talk Congress out of it. Our representatives should dismiss
the detractors and pass legislation, before November. That deadline is
crucial: nations will meet in December in Copenhagen to hammer out
new international agreements to limit emissions. The U.S., shamefully,
has never signed such a protocol, and leaders worldwide have said,
plainly, that the Copenhagen talks will fail if the U.S. does not enact
legislation to clean up its own backyard.