Now that a majority of Americans want immediate action against global warming, what rhetoric and policy would best address this newly-bipartisan concern?
The message must inspire. And the most inspirational rhetoric emphasizes freedom, independence, and self-sufficiency, and taps into the "belief that America can do anything once we make the commitment," reports Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, a Democratic pollster commissioned by the Center for American Progress.
On this particular point, however, Bill McKibben might disagree. The consultants say we should link healthy climate to economic growth, because clean energy would help to restore America as a leader in the world economy, create jobs, and raise incomes. McKibben, on the other hand, calls for no less than a philosophical rejection of the drive for economic growth.
What the firm considers a feasible political agenda:
•Mileage standards of 40 mpg
•Tax credits for people and companies using alternative energy
•A mandatory cap-and-trade market to reduce emissions by 2 percent per year
Speaking of which, the push for cap-and-trade made major headway this week. A major corporate petition has doubled its membership this week. The U.S. Climate Change Partnership now includes such giants as General Motors, Shell, DuPont, and Lehman Brothers. They have partnered with nonprofits such as Environmental Defense, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the World Resources Institute - plus two new groups, The Nature Conservancy and National Wildlife Federation. The want federal laws to curb the country's carbon emissions by 60 to 80 percent by 2050.
Also, ten states are creating the first mandatory carbon cap-and-trade program in the United States. They're trying to avoid the mistakes of the European Union's first go at it.