Weather or not

For information about the California Global Warming Solutions Act and other state initiatives to lower greenhouse-gas emissions, go to or and follow the links to climate change.

Last week’s alarming news that an ancient ice shelf had cracked off northern Ellesmere Island in Canada, leaving a giant trail of icy blocks in its wake, was just another stark reminder to all of us who inhabit the planet at this crossroads in history: It’s time to get real in the fight against global warming.

And though a 4,500-year-old ice shelf tearing off a fjord up in the northern hinterlands may seem utterly distant and completely unrelated to our fight against global warming here in California and Sacramento, it’s not. (If you don’t believe us, go rent An Inconvenient Truth so that Al Gore can fill you in on how greenhouse-gas emissions from anywhere are creating dangerous future consequences everywhere.)

It’s thus encouraging to note, as we enter 2007, that some worthy efforts are under way at the state and local level (if not the federal one) that attempt to deal with this looming crisis.

In California, the stage seems to be set for lots of movement, as the state’s Environmental Protection Agency seems to be charging forward on implementing the California Global Warming Solutions Act, otherwise known as Assembly Bill 32 (Núñez/Pavley). Signed into law by Governor Schwarzenegger in October, the Act establishes a first-in-the-nation program that requires a cap on greenhouse-gas emissions by 2020, mandatory emissions reporting and the development of a market-based compliance program.

Though some assumed Schwarzenegger signed this aggressive bill as an election-year stunt, we’re willing to give the governor the benefit of the doubt and hope he’s embraced the fact that it seems to be California’s destiny to lead the nation in figuring out how governments can address climate change. Indeed, we’re pleased to see that the state EPA already has formed an advisory committee to help set up an “exchange market” for the state’s greenhouse-gas reduction program.

Drilling down to the local level, we’re also encouraged by the fact that Sacramento County officials are considering joining the Chicago Climate Exchange, a kind of energy-trading market formed in 2003 that has members contract to buy and sell emission-reduction credits. If the county joins the exchange (becoming only the second county in America to do so,) it would have to reduce the carbon-dioxide emissions from its 70 buildings and 3,300 vehicles by 6 percent below 2000 levels by 2010. (Thanks to Supervisor Roger Dickinson and County Executive Terry Schutten for leading the charge at the county level.)

Can doing something seemingly so small as lowering emissions on a few dozen Sacramento County deputy patrol cars really have an impact given the sweeping enormity of global warming, as evidenced by the collapse of that Canadian ice shelf? The answer is yes. There’s never been a better time to embrace the wisdom of that old bumper-sticker slogan: Think globally, act locally.