Earth Day -- A Time for Action on Global Warming

Global warming is the gravest threat to the environment today. Compelling scientific evidence shows the planet is already heating up and that humans are partly to blame due to our dependence on fossil fuels and destructive land use activities. If trends continue, by the end of the century, Boston's climate could resemble that of Atlanta's and rising sea levels could make much of Florida's coastal regions uninhabitable.

In spite of the milieu of scientific warnings, many in Washington have been indifferent to the problem and are moving in the wrong direction. Instead of taking meaningful action to match the seriousness of the problem, the Bush Administration and its allies in Congress are proposing voluntary actions with no mandatory cuts in emissions. The Bush Administration approach is an invitation for inaction at a time when active leadership is critical.

Thankfully, there is better plan. Earlier this year, Senate leaders John McCain (R-AZ) and Joe Lieberman (D-CT) introduced the Climate Stewardship Act, the first legislative action that takes all the right steps to curb global warming. This bill starts with mandatory caps on greenhouse gas emissions. The bill is also flexible enough so that industry can achieve pollution reductions in cost-effective ways that can help the economy. It strikes the right balance between incentives and mandatory cuts, and it takes sensible steps now to avoid even graver risks in the future.

Like Senator McCain's previous legislative struggle to clean up America's campaign finance laws, the McCain-Lieberman global warming initiative is sure to face intense opposition, in spite of its laudable goals. Following last year's elections, powerful special interests -- including some automobile, utility and oil companies -- have made no secret about their plans to see to it that nothing is done about greenhouse gas emissions.

That is why Environmental Defense has launched an unprecedented two-year effort to enlist the support of one million Americans to sign up as citizen cosponsors of the McCain-Lieberman approach. We are asking every American concerned about the kind of world their children will inherit to join our Emergency Campaign on Global Warming by signing our petition.

To join the campaign and do your part to support meaningful action to stop global warming, please sign our petition.

It's time to raise the bar. Together, we can make a difference.

Joe Goffman is the senior attorney for Environmental Defense.

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