In Sunday’s Washington Post, Steven Mufson has an excellent big-picture look at the effort to fight global warming via legislation. It offers a sense of the scope of the problem:

The potential economic impact of meaningful climate legislation — enough to reduce U.S. emissions by at least 60 percent — is vast. Automobiles would have to get double their current miles to the gallon. Building codes would have to be tougher, requiring use of more energy-efficient materials. To stimulate and pay for new technologies, U.S. electricity bills could rise by 25 to 33 percent, some experts estimate; others say the increase could be greater.

Most of the technologies that could reduce greenhouse gases are not only expensive but would need to be embraced on a global scale, scientists say. Many projections for 2030 include as many as 1 million wind turbines worldwide; enough solar panels to cover half of New Jersey, massive reforestation; a major retooling of the global auto industry; as many as 400 power plants fitted with pricey equipment to capture carbon dioxide and store it underground; and, most controversial, perhaps 350 new nuclear plants around the world.

It goes on to detail some of the technical and political challenges of crafting legislation, and some of the bills that have been offered so far. Highly recommended.

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My one problem with the piece, which I suppose it a problem with the political landscape it surveys, is that it overlooks efficiency, as well as the many, many mechanisms available that would cost no money at all. Suffice to say, it is to greens’ great political disadvantage for the entire climate discussion to revolve around the immense costs that are going to face voters.

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