Friday, July 2, 2010

Carbon Now and Then: Nixon White House in 1969; Britain, July 2010

Carbon has bipartisan consequences. In Britain today, and in the Nixon administration over a generation ago, conservatives and progressives together were able to talk about it.

The new conservative, coalition British government has determined that increasing air service is incompatible with curbing emissions. According to the New York Times,
Britain’s coalition government has set out to curb the growth of what has been called “binge flying” by refusing to build new runways around London to accommodate more planes.

Citing the high levels of greenhouse gas emissions from aviation, Prime Minister David Cameron, a Conservative, abruptly canceled longstanding plans to build a third runway at Heathrow Airport in May, just days after his election; he said he would also refuse to approve new runways at Gatwick and Stansted, London’s second-string airports.

The government decided that enabling more flying was incompatible with Britain’s oft-stated goal of curbing emissions.

Even more interesting, the Nixon Library released memos today discussing climate change and greenhouse gas emissions.

In a 1969 memo Daniel Moynihan, a Democrat working in the Republican administration of Richard Nixon, wrote about the "carbon dioxide problem" and urges the creation of a "world wide monitoring system." He warns that increasing CO2 could "raise the level of the sea by 10 feet. Goodbye New York. Goodbye Washington, for that matter."

Alas, the problem has not seized "the imagination of persons normally indifferent to projects of apocalyptic change."

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