Like the clogged artery before the inevitable heart attack.
That's according to the press accounts from Washington, where a filibuster and other partisan bickering kept any real debate on the bill to a minimum.
The bill would have capped carbon emissions and set up a regulation to gradually reduce pollution through market forces, ultimately aiming for a 70% reduction by 2050. Environmental groups were split on its merits, with some seeing it as the best chance for a solid first step addressing global warming, and others seeing it as too weak.
Whatever the result, now it looks like it will be another year before Congress considers comprehensive laws aimed directly at global warming.
Meanwhile, carbon dioxide keeps pouring into the atmosphere at unprecedented rates. The Arctic continues to melt, sending as clear a signal that dramatic changes are to come. Wildfires, tornadoes and hurricanes continue to raise fears that the weather is seriously out of whack. And there is increasing worry that we have already reached the tipping point scientists hoped to avoid by halving global carbon pollution by 2050.
Barack Obama is talking about an Apollo Program-scale initiative to produce renewable energy and wean the economy off of carbon pollution. John McCain has for years been a champion of the kind of cap-and-trade regulation that just failed in the Senate. Neither showed up for the the procedural vote that killed debate on the legislation today, though, so even the hope they embody is marred by disappointment.
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