It seems as though there are an absurd series of magnifying glasses over top of the Massachusetts senate race. If Scott Brown, the Republican candidate, takes over the senate seat of the late Ted Kennedy there is a good chance health care reform will die. If that happens, it seems certain that climate change will become even less of a priority in the United States. Also, it would probably increase the chances of a big swing towards the Republicans in the upcoming mid-term elections. If they lose their supermajority in the senate, the chances of either a domestic cap-and-trade strategy or the ratification of an international climate change treaty with binding targets will become very remote indeed.
All this at a time when global emissions need to peak in the next 1-10 years, if we are going to have a decent chance of avoiding more than 2°C of temperature increase. Note that that is a global peak; to accommodate continuing growth in poorer countries, places like Canada and the US will need to cut faster and deeper than average.
Of course, just because there is a plausible connection between a Republican win in this senate race and eventual failure to address climate change, the logic of failure cannot be flipped around to produce a template for success. To get the kind of action we need on climate change, a lot more things will need to go right.