Speaking as a global citizen who cares about the environment, we should be focusing on everything.
But speaking as a person who enforces environmental regulations at the state level? We can’t even get people on board with controlling pollution running off their front yards. When we can crack that nut, then we can start thinking about controlling CO2 emissions.
I just finished writing a response to a letter sent to my agency from an environmental non-profit. It wants the state to call its coastal waters impaired for acidification stemming from increased atmospheric CO2. Normally I have to consult my manager for the party line, but I didn’t have to in this case. Very well-intentioned folks, no doubt, but what they want us to do is crazy-bananas. The state can crack down on all of its permitted facilities–which is all we can do, by law–and it wouldn’t fix global warming one little bit. It would piss people off and invite lawsuits up the wazoo, though. More importantly, though, we already have an uphill battle controlling nutrient and sediment pollution–which is really what is killing our waters. Piling global warming on top of the “to-do” list is not going to speed this up. It will actually make stakeholders (read, business and agriculture) more hesitant to cooperate with us. We tell them to install $30 million worth of improvements to their facility to control pollution and they begrudgingly sign on. But then next week we tell them that’s not good enough and they’ve got to do that and something else to meet CO2 emission standards? How will we even be able to gauge progress? Pollution is easy to track. Global warming? Do we measure that here or in Honolulu? How do we assure them we aren’t going to be knocking on their door next year with another requirement if we can’t gauge progress?
So it’s a mess and I don’t know what’s going to happen.