In reference to global warming, the state of California has developed an incredible system to monitor and perhaps rein in greenhouse gases.

In a story in The New York Times last Sunday it was reported that on Jan. 1, California “will be the first state in the nation to charge industries across the economy for the green houses gases they emit.

“Under the system, known as ‘cap and trade,’ the state will set an overall ceiling on those emissions and assign allowable emission amounts for individual polluters. A portion of these so-called allowances will be allocated to utilities, manufacturers and others; the remainders will be auctioned off.

“Over time, the number of allowances issued by the state will be reduced which should force a reduction in emissions.

“To obtain the allowances needed to account for their emissions. Companies can buy them at auction or on the carbon market. They can secure offset credits, as they are known, either by buying leftover allowances from emitters that have met their targets or by purchasing them from projects that remove carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.”

If, by chance, you have read these five graphs a second time, or perhaps a third, you may have realized that yes it does say what you thought it said: Somehow the state of California has found a way to regulate industries that emit greenhouse gases that are causing global warming.

How could this be?

Here in Alabama, there are those who are not yet convinced that there is such a thing as

global warming. You might say that these folk are in a minority.

And you could say that the majority think there is global warming, but the question to be decided is whether the warming is caused by nature or human kind.

Well, California is beyond that question and is moving on.

But the Times’ article did include this caveat:

“The risks for California are enormous. Opponents and supporters alike worry that the program could hurt the state’s fragile economy by driving out refineries, cement makers, glass

factories and other businesses.

“Some are concerned that companies will find a way to out maneuver the system, causing the state to fall short of its emission reduction targets.”

One of the sources for the article said the worse thing that could happen would be if California’s plan fails because it was viewed as a trial run for a national carbon market that one day

might tie into existing markets in Europe and elsewhere.

I am aware of global warming, but I had no idea we had the know-how to regulate industry

in the manner that California proposes.

I am amazed that our presidential campaign is coming to an end without any discussion about California’s plan which will begin in January.

Gillis Morgan is an associate professor emeritus of journalism at Auburn University and an award-winning columnist. He can be reached at