When former Vice President Al Gore made his dramatic return to Capitol Hill last week to speak out about global warming, some in Congress scorned his call for action. They were exemplified by Republican Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, who read a newspaper during some of Gore's testimony.
If members still aren't convinced of the need to act by Gore or by last month's slam-dunk report on global warming from a panel of international climate scientists, here's some other questions for them to ponder:
Would they like cleaner air? Or, if public health and the environment aren't among their priorities, what about national security? Would they like to curb America's oil addiction and reduce the flow of U.S. dollars bankrolling terrorist groups and hostile regimes?
Each of these national imperatives also would be advanced by some of the proposals that Gore made during his testimony. That's a compelling argument for members who don't share the former vice president's alarm about global warming to give his action plan a long look.
Gore, for example, called for a moratorium on coal-fired power plants unless they are designed to capture emissions of carbon dioxide, the main culprit behind global warming. But the best design so far for that purpose also reduces emissions that cause smog and acid rain, taint waterways and contribute to asthma attacks, heart disease and birth defects.
Gore also called for raising fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks. This was a no-brainer long before most people had heard anything about global warming.
The United States imports about 60 percent of its oil supply, and cars and light trucks burn nearly half of it.
Raising the standard for both cars and trucks to just 33 mpg over the next decade would save more than 2 million barrels of oil a day by 2025, according to sponsors of a plan in Congress. That savings could reduce U.S. dependence on foreign suppliers such as Saudi Arabia, where some of the petro profits end up promoting terrorism, and Venezuela, whose president has been using oil money to forge an anti-American alliance.
If Gore and the panel of scientists behind last month's report are to be believed, global warming is reason enough to demand action from Congress. But the potential benefits for environmental protection, public health and national security make the case even stronger.
Looking away is not a responsible option.
Only those with a financial interest in polluting industries, and those unwilling to recognize appropriate stewardship - no matter what political party promotes it - are still unwilling to appropriately address the issue.
Related post: Right Wing Radio is Over...