Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said the fight against global warming should be like putting a man on the moon.
Speaking at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business Thursday to kick off a weekend conference on global climate change, his speech looked to the Kennedy administration as a model for what the Bush administration must do.
“Because of President Kennedy’s vision and leadership, Neil Armstrong made that giant leap for mankind,” Levin said. “We need an effort similar to the effort of a previous generation to put a man on the moon.”
Levin said that the key to overcoming global warming is for the Bush administration to acknowledge the severity of the situation and strongly pursue a solution — much like the Kennedy administration set the goal of landing men on the moon.
Levin’s speech outlined two pillars for success in the face of global warming: an international treaty to stem global warming and federal funding used towards non-fossil fuel energy.
Levin said both objectives could only be accomplished when the administration overcomes its “allergy” to global warming. The administration has failed to acknowledge global warming as a legitimate threat to society and the world and generally avoids the issue, Levin said.
“Significant action by the U.S. is impossible until there is a change of heart by this administration,” he said. “The administration needs to come to grips with the reality of global climate change.”
Once this is done, Levin added, the United States could work for an international treaty that would bind all countries — developed and developing — to reducing carbon dioxide emissions and working together for a global warming solution.
“Global climate change is just that — global,” Levin said. “We need to return to the negotiation table.”
The second step for combating global warming is for the Bush administration to dedicate a large amount of funding and attention to alternative energy research, Levin said.
With much of current funding going to “dubious missile projects” and tax cuts, little has been left for research into areas such as fuel cells and hydrogen power, Levin said.
“That money would be better spent on the certain threat of global warming,” he said. “If we refuse to support the winningest technology, the needed technology, with federal dollars, we may all end up losers.”
Bringing Levin in to start the conference fit in with the general goal of the program said co-organizer Andrew Hoffman, who introduced Levin. Hoffman is a joint professor between the Business School and the School of Natural Resources and Environment.
The seminar, “Reframing the Climate Change Debate: Jobs Trade, Security and a Revised Research Agenda,” was devoted to examining climate change in a broader scope as a means to bring in more support and action.
“Climate change has been framed almost entirely as an environmental issue,” Hoffman said. He added that thinking of climate change as more than just a special interest issue helps people to see everything that it affects, such as jobs, the economy and national security.
The conference was sponsored by the Center for Advancing Research for Solutions in Society and the Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise, a University institute that integrates the Stephen M. Ross School of Business and the School of Natural Resources and Environment.
Other speakers included Gerry Anderson — president of DTE Energy — New York Times reporter Micheline Maynard, Eugene Trisko — attorney for the United Mine Workers of America — and many University professors.