As the world's weather gets more radical, combating climate change seems further away than ever in U.S.

Author Eric Pooley was asked why he thought the Senate bill died this summer.  He answered on the show:

Well, when they finally went to a compromise just recently, it was too late to get this done. I think, if you want to look for the culprits, you have to go back to last summer. After the Waxman-Markey bill passed the House of Representatives, the environmental community thought it was a big win. And it was. But it was really just the beginning.

And the reaction against that bill's passage was virulent and intense.

It included a lot of money spent on advertising on television attacking people who had voted for the bill. And, frankly, it scared the pants off the Senate. And I believe it also took the president and the White House political strategists aback.

And everybody decided that maybe this was just a little bit too hard to do. I think, if they had compromised then and scaled back the bill to just the utility sector, as they ended up doing eventually, they might have gotten it done. But they tried to get the whole enchilada, and they ended up with nothing.

Meanwhile, the New York Times has a big feature today on how one country, Portugal, recently gave itself a clean-energy make-over. Nearly 45 percent of the electricity in Portugal’s grid will come from renewable sources this year, up from just 17 percent five years ago.  How'd they do it?  Well, it did cost money, as critics warn.

While Portugal’s experience shows that rapid progress is achievable, it also highlights the price of such a transition. Portuguese households have long paid about twice what Americans pay for electricity, and prices have risen 15% in the last five years, probably partly because of the renewable energy program, the International Energy Agency says.

Although a 2009 report by the agency called Portugal’s renewable energy transition a “remarkable success,” it added, “It is not fully clear that their costs, both financial and economic, as well as their impact on final consumer energy prices, are well understood and appreciated.

It hasn't been easy to make such a transition here.  But how much longer can we as a nation wait to start doing what is required to adapt to this new, hotter world?

Pick up the international section of your newspaper today and read about how extreme weather is playing havoc with much of the world.

In Russia, the radically hot weather is killing people, on average 700 a day in the past week(wildfires are also playing a big part in the carnage).

In Pakistan, record floods have killed more than 1,600 people over the past week.

And in China, rescuers are looking for survivors from a massive mudslide that occurred on Sunday, with the death toll now at 700, with another 1,148 missing.  Flooding around the country over the past month has killed another 1,454 and left more than 600 missing, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs in the worst flooding in a decade.

Is this all a coincidence? Oh, and let's not forget the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported yesterday that July was one of the hottest months ever along the Eastern Seaboard, with each state from Maine to Florida enduring one of its 10 warmest Julys since record-keeping began in 1880s.  They also reported that the period from January to July was the Northeast's warmest on record.

Now, before I write about how all of this news is a reminder that the need to combat climate change around the world is stronger than ever, I will not succumb to what critics of global warming did this winter, in one of the coldest winters in recent vintage on the east coast (and especially in Florida).  That is, I won't confuse "weather", with "climate."  I learned from respected Ohio State geologist Lonnie Thompson earlier this year.

No, climate is weather over an extended period of time.  And folks, the record isn't very encouraging.  The world is getting hotter.  Meanwhile, what are we doing about it?  As the PBS News Hour featured last night in a story about the U.S. Senate's recent failure to pass a bill to match the House's 2009 cap-and-trade legislation, very little.

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