October 16, 2008
I’ve written about Emma, our mutant bulldog, before. She’s truly unique among God’s blessed creations.
She’s developed a new annoying habit. In her old age, she’s started refusing to stay outside.
She never was one of those prissy little dogs that would lightly scratch on the door to let you know she wanted to go out or come back in. No, she would stand at the door and bark – loudly and aggressively – to make her needs known and demand that you get your lazy self in gear to address them. But at least she’d spend time outside and resign herself to the great outdoors if it was clear we weren’t opening the door.
Now, she refuses to accept that a dog might have to stay out on the porch from time to time. She just sits there and barks – not really the old aggressive bark, but more of a snooze alarm that screams out every few minutes.
It comes down to Emma’s bulldog-refusal to accept reality. She can’t accept her circumstances and apparently thinks that just making noise will change the situation.
Then again, she’s only a bulldog. People must know better, right?
I thought of Emma on Monday night at a board meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, or CAMPO, Central Texas’ main transportation planning group. CAMPO puts together the plan that lays out the roads, rail lines, and other projects we’ll need in the region over the next 25 years.
Board members had asked CAMPO staff to investigate how different projects would affect greenhouse gas emissions, and to suggest ways to reduce those emissions without harming our region’s transportation system. The effort, I must note, would add no real cost or time to the planning process.
The board approved this approach, but not before taking a little bit of criticism for its effort. The message was the opposite of a Nike commercial: Just don’t do it. Don’t worry about this real, major problem. And don’t even look to see whether we can make a difference.
If you try putting your head in the sand that aggressively, you just might break your nose. Barking mindlessly doesn’t better anything.
Luckily, the learn-as-little-as-possible strategy didn’t win out on Monday. We weren’t so fortunate last year, when the Texas Legislature failed to pass a bill I call “No Regrets.”
My bill would have done something very simple: set up a task force to look for strategies that would reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, and save money over the long-term.
Texas has more than its share of responsibility for this issue – we emit more carbon dioxide than any other state. If we were our own country, we’d rank seventh in these emissions.
As I’ve noted here before, carbon dioxide is widely acknowledged to be the single biggest factor causing temperatures to rise around the world. So if we care at all about being responsible stewards of our land, air, and water, this is something we should at least be looking at and thinking about.
The idea in my bill was that if, despite pretty significant evidence to the contrary, climate change isn’t really a big deal, then we’ll have done some new things that save a good amount of money. And if it is a big deal, then we’ll be down the road on addressing it. It would have gotten Texas thinking about climate change, and looking for economical ways to respond to it.
The Senate, I’m proud to say, passed the bill. The House of Representatives, unfortunately, did not.
Right now, I’m getting my agenda ready for the next legislative session, which starts in January. You can bet that these sorts of common-sense proposals will be on it.
In the meantime, I’m spending a few days in London as part of a Texas legislative delegation to see how the British are addressing climate change. As you might have guessed, they’re doing things a little differently out here.
More on that next week.