For those who see climate change impacts imperiling all of us humans and our soul habitat, and catching-up fast in the rear-view mirror, you could say the prospects for human survival rest on a single word.

Stop there. Let’s stand back.

Let’s take these steps in order:

1)   The idea here is that climate change impacts could be, likely will be, cataclysmic.

2)   With us so far? Ergo that near-term – and serious and effective – global action to control greenhouse gases is essential.

3)   And that none of that will happen unless the United States is fully engaged.

4)   And, finally, that the only chance of the U.S.’s being fully engaged anytime soon lies with enactment of the Waxman-Markey legislation, the only game on Capitol Hill on climate change.

So those are the puzzle pieces. So from there …

Much ado in a June 23 story about a somewhat back-room deal involving the bill’s backers – Henry Waxman and Ed Markey, Democrats from California and Massachusetts respectively – and coal stater and influential Democrat Rick Boucher, of Virginia.

The word in play here, all to get Boucher and other would-be reluctant coal state Democrats on board for the cap-and-trade bill?


Replacing the word “initially” with “finally” could make all the difference, the story reports, in earning or losing Boucher’s support, and with him that of other potential supporters.

“In their vote hunt,”’s Jeanne Cummings wrote, “the chairmen agreed to change the language to ‘initially’ permitted plants, which means that about 100 plants that are in the various stages of the permit process could be built without meeting new emission standards.”

Reporting what one environmental activist called the oil and coal industries’ having done “a number on the bill,” the story says that change isn’t all “that has the green seeing red.”

But it may be the only one in which the future of all known intelligent (?) life in this universe rests not just on the turn of a phrase … but the substitution of a single word.

As Walter Cronkite of CBS Evening News used to say … “And that’s the way it is.”

Or is it? Only if you accept those one-through-four points above. Do you?