That’s the underlying message from two remarkable stories published this weekend in the Washington Post.
On Saturday, Steven Mufson and Juliet Eilperin reported that "top executives at many of the nation’s largest energy companies have accepted the scientific consensus about climate change and see federal regulation to cut greenhouse gas emissions as inevitable."
They include a great quote from Duke Energy executive John Stowell:
If we had our druthers, we’d already have carbon legislation passed. Our viewpoint is that it’s going to happen. There’s scientific evidence of climate change. We’d like to know what legislation will be put together so that, when we figure out how to increase our load, we know exactly what to expect.
On Sunday, Blaire Harden and Juliet Eilperin reported:
With the issue of a warming planet shifting rapidly from scientific projection to on-the-ground reality, animals and plants are being compelled, along with businesses and bureaucracies, to take action aimed at self-preservation. They are doing so even as the Bush administration eschews regulations, laws or international treaties that would require limits on carbon dioxide emissions, which scientists say are the main cause of global warming.
The story ticked off many examples: butterflies abandoning Europe for Finland; ski-lift operators in Montana seeking land at higher elevations; pest species surviving winter at increased rates; and power planners in the Northwest brainstorming on how to continue to send electrical power to California during the summer, despite reduced hydroelectric generation caused by earlier snowmelts.
No one expects action from the Bush administration, which supports vague voluntary measures that would allow Texas-based TXU Corp. to build 11 new coal plants in the next few years. According to the story, this would "more than double the company’s carbon dioxide emissions, from 55 million tons to 133 million tons a year. That increase in emissions is more than the total carbon dioxide pollution emitted in all of Maryland or by 10 million Cadillac Escalade sport-utility vehicles."
But losing much of corporate America, which needs to compete across the nation (in regions such as California and the East Coast, which are putting together regulations on their own) and in Europe, is a huge loss for the climate change deniers. Even right-wingers will have difficulty dismissing the likes of Shell Oil executive John Hofmeister, who was quoted at a National Press Club function saying:
We have to deal with greenhouse gases. From Shell’s point of view, the debate is over. When 98 percent of scientists agree, who is Shell to say, ‘Let’s debate the science’?