This week’s two-ring eco-circus – in Germany and on Capitol Hill – provided another all too pointed reminder of why we need to use our marketplace clout to protect the environment: As they proved once again, the President and our elected officials in Washington, D.C. sure aren’t going to do it for us.
President Bush had his chance at the G8 summit, where he could have embraced the Europeans’ ambitious proposals to stop climate change. Instead, he refused to commit the United States to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s goal of cutting greenhouse-gas emissions 50 percent by 2050. His “compromise”? He said he’d "consider seriously" adopting such a goal. Consider seriously for how long, and until when, and then to do what? Sounds to me like the President has figured out a way to “talk the talk” but not “walk the walk.” But what do you expect from a Texan who’s all swagger and no substance?
Meanwhile, at exactly the same time President Bush was dancing the Texas two-step over in Germany, the heads of Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler were on Capitol Hill trying hard to persuade Congress not to improve fuel economy standards. The Senate is considering a proposal to raise average fleet-wide mileage to 35 miles per gallon by 2020 from the current 25, a switch that would help slow global warming, improve air quality, protect kids from asthma, and relieve our dependence on petroleum. Several alternative bills set far less meaningful goals. At least two, including one cosponsored by industry go-to boy Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), let car companies off the hook if the new standards prove too difficult to achieve.
Clearly, neither the Administration nor Congress have the courage nor the conviction to stop climate change. I suggest we use our clout in the marketplace to give them some backbone. By buying highly fuel-efficient vehicles, compact fluorescent lightbulbs, energy-saving appliances and home energy from wind power and other renewable sources, we can show our "leaders" what leadership is all about.