When it comes to global warming, most Americans fall into one of two camps—those who think that whether human activities are causing climate change is a matter of opinion that reasonable people can debate, and those who think the only thing left to debate is what to do about it.
Elk Grove Planning Commissioner Brian Villanueva, who recently led the charge to , says he falls into the former camp.
"When you're talking about an issue that's being debated right now on the national stage, it's to Elk Grove's benefit to stay away from those issues," he told Elk Grove Patch. "We should not be inserting national politics into our general plan."
Villanueva and fellow commissioners Frank Maita and George Murphey provoked ridicule from some readers of this site and support from others when they . At , they and two other commissioners will consider whether to approve a revised Climate Action Plan that has been scrubbed of any mention of human-caused climate change and even the word green.
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Asked whether he was aware of any reputable climate scientists who did not think humans are causing warming, Villanueva declined to answer, saying his comments at the meeting—where he called that idea "incorrect"—spoke for themselves.
"My job is not to solve global warming, my job is to deal with land use and planning," Villanueva said. "Solving global warming is above my pay grade."
Villanueva said he would feel the same way about any controversial national issue.
Elk Grove Patch also spoke with Maita, who said that just because scientists agree on something, doesn't mean it's correct. He cited the example of the gasoline additive MTBE, which was intended to help gas burn cleaner and ended up polluting drinking water.
"When I was a young cowboy, the head of the veterinary department at U.C. Davis wanted us to do some ghastly things for his experiments," he said. "It was both costly and cruel. I guess that's where some of my skepticism of expertise comes from."
Maita said he'd rather see the city rely on business owners' own self-interest to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, and that he was unsure whether he'd support the edited Climate Action Plan. Villanueva said he would.
Elk Grove's Climate Action Plan includes a number of mostly-voluntary programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in transportation, housing and other areas. Cities around the state are drafting similar plans in the wake of California's Global Warming Solutions Act, which set a target of reducing the state's emissions by 15 percent by 2020.
The Planning Commission voted 3-2 to have staff edit the global warming language from the document, with commissioners Fedolia "Sparky" Harris and Nancy Chaires dissenting. The commission is set to vote tonight on whether to endorse the revised plan. It would then go before the City Council for final approval.
While a large majority of scientists agree that global warming is happening and is caused at least in part by humans, the U.S. public at large has been more divided on the issue.
However, several recent polls suggest that Americans are becoming more likely to believe that global warming is real and to connect the phenomenon to recent extreme weather events, The New York Times reported today.