Marco Rubio previewed a major climate change battle coming soon to a government near you in his response to Obama's State of the Union Address:
When we point out that no matter how many job-killing laws we pass, our government can't control the weather - he accuses us of wanting dirty water and dirty air.
"Government can't change the weather." I think we're going to be hearing that one over and over. Rubio repeated the line this morning on Fox News. It's both a straw man, and, in a narrow sense, a false statement. Rubio's statement makes it seem like Obama believes that he can turn summer into winter. No, government can't control the weather in the way that it can control interest rates. But here are two facts:
1) The temperature has risen about 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit every decade since 1901, and more in the last three decades. Climate scientists, working independently and testing each other's work have found that this change is entirely anthropogenic. The Berkeley Earth project was initially designed by a skeptic who thought these results might be exaggerated. He confirmed them exactly (much to his surprise). Global temperatures are rising and humans are partially responsible.
2) Carbon emissions are a central mechanism by which humans affect the climate. The government has in place, and can change, regulations that govern these carbon emissions. Yes, China with quadruple the population of the U.S. is the leader in carbon emissions, but the U.S. is the leader in emissions per capita, and regardless, that ought to mean we should be pressuring China to join us, not giving up the project entirely.
So, though it's only by a fraction of one degree per decade, the government can and should "control the weather" by reducing carbon emissions, creating incentives for more energy efficient homes (insulation is a better investment than any stock) and businesses (CFL lights!).
Be careful what you wish for Senator Rubio. If we do nothing to combat climate change, droughts could be the norm, and your trusty bottle of water might not be so easily accessible.