A solid column on warming policy from Carlos Pascual and Strobe Talbott. Given the threshold and tipping point nature of climate change, there really is an uneven time sensitivity involved. As the authors note, this time sensitivity is amplified by the persistence of infrastructure. If we have a short period of time to bring emissions under control, we have an even shorter period of time in which to build the power generation and transportation infrastructure necessary to achieve that goal, and an even shorter period in which to get the right policy environment to make those infrastructure changes. So while the big changes may only start arriving twenty to fifty years down the road, the point of no return is much, much closer.
As such, the worse-than-wasted past eight years of American climate and energy policy is a heartbreaking disappointment. The errors of 2000 will have enormous consequences climatically (and therefore economically and politically). People still don’t really grasp this. Bush did a lot of bad stuff, but the most enduring and damaging failure of his administration will be his approach to climate change.