On Tuesday, the Obama Administration released a study analyzing the potential impact of climate change in the United States. It read like the Ten Plagues at my family's annual seder:
" ... heavy downpours, rising temperature and sea level, rapidly retreating glaciers, thawing permafrost, lengthening growing seasons, lengthening ice-free seasons in the ocean and on lakes and rivers, earlier snowmelt, and alterations in river flows ... "

And if that wasn't enough ...
" ... heat stress, waterborne diseases, poor air quality, extreme weather events, and diseases transmitted by insects and rodents ..."
That's right, all that is missing is slaying of the first born.

This study is very positive in that it is a frank assessment in relatively plain language of what we will have to address in terms of the impact of climate change. Hopefully, now that the issues have been named, we will be able to be more proactive about enacting market-based and regulatory amelioration, and ideally, solutions.

The current amelioration mechanism on the table -- Waxman-Markey -- seems to be in trouble. First, the bill has not been very effectively communicated or sold to the American public. Second, it seems to be subsumed beneath the health care media juggernaut. Finally, agrobusiness interests have been successfully gaining a foothold in tying up the process.

We need to get on with it. Cap-and-trade or carbon tax, regulation of GHG under the Clean Air Act, green building market and regulatory programs. Either that, or be prepared to host a giant tropical cockroach at your next seder.

Shari Shapiro, J.D., LEED AP, is an associate with Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel LLP in Philadelphia. She heads the company's green building initiative and writes about green building and the law on her blog at http://www.greenbuildinglawblog.com, where this post originally appeared.


"The Seventh Plague" (hail and fire) -- Painting by John Martin, 1823.