Turn out the obstructionists

Americans must boot the recalcitrant climate-change deniers in Washington

Tens of thousands of people around the world took to the streets over the weekend in advance of the United Nations Climate Change Conference to send a message to representatives, including President Obama, that substantive agreements on curbing greenhouse gas emissions are expected out of this, the 21st such talks.

Here in Chico, about 250 activists took part in that historic movement, marching downtown and to City Plaza for a demonstration organized by Chico 350 (see photo on page 10). The group is an offshoot of 350.org, the international organization named for its goal of educating the public about the dire need to reduce the levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide to 350 parts per million from the current level of 400 ppm (see “Joining the fight,” by Meredith J. Cooper, Nov. 19).

The climate talks commenced on Monday in Paris despite the terrorist attacks there, a testament to the importance of this gathering of world leaders from 196 countries. Every participating nation has a responsibility to curb the amount of CO2 that it emits into the atmosphere. This is a global problem. But the biggest polluters by far are China and the United States, and President Obama has pledged to make a commitment in spite of Republican opposition in the Senate that prevents the U.S. from coming away from Paris with a “legally binding” agreement.

Predictably, the GOP obstructionists in Washington, including local Congressman Doug LaMalfa, used the occasion to send a message to the president. The House voted on the second day of the talks to overturn the Obama administration’s new climate change regulations, including Environmental Protection Agency rules calling for a 32 percent reduction in CO2 emissions from power plants by 2030. Of course, the president has veto power, so the move was a symbolic gesture meant to embarrass the president on the world stage and also score points with the extremists within the Republican base.

But the world is increasingly sick of politicking taking precedence over finding solutions to our warming planet. Indeed, if anyone should be embarrassed this week, it’s those who would work to destroy policy aimed at dealing with the most important issue of our lifetime. A recent Gallup poll revealed that at least 70 percent of Americans believe in climate change. Moreover, a new New York Times/CBS poll indicates two-thirds want the United States to enter into a binding agreement to curb its growth. It’s time for that majority to send a clear message to Congress by turning its anti-science members out of office.