Let’s get one thing clear: George Bush and his friends wouldn’t combat global warming, even if the atmosphere were on fire. His plan, announced at the State of the Union, was basically that we would cut down a little on imported petroleum and supplement it with a silo of corn liquor. That’s not a plan. It’s a case of nothing. As the saying goes, half measures don’t produce half results, they produce no results.
We need results, and we need them now. The planet needs the biggest, most ambitious, bold, worldwide and effective human effort ever made. If there were any doubts lingering about this, they were dispelled by the snippets of a major report of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, to be released Friday in Paris. Detailing a six-year effort by 2500 experts from 130 countries, it concludes that there's a 90 percent chance that human activity caused the current rapid climate change. Although the debate has been over for years, it’s now more over than ever.
This comes on the heels of another revelation. The World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS), based in Switzerland, notes that glaciers continue to disappear faster than anyone had predicted. The BBC reported WGMS director Wilfried Haeberli concluding, “many (glaciers) would disappear on a timescale of decades if the trend continued.” And that’s without considering the recent rapid melting of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets. “In 2006,” wrote the New Scientist, “satellite data suggested the ice sheet was disappearing three times faster than previously thought.”
So, we’re facing continued fresh water loss, rising temperatures, advance of tropical diseases to temperate zones, increased drought and loss of arable land—for starters. And Bush responds with a 20 percent cut of one source of carbon over 10 years.
Even when they do grudging admit that global warming exists, Bush administration proposals can be, well, insane,when they’re not just useless. For instance, a U.S. memo sent to the IPCC touted the benefits of “modifying solar radiance"—i.e., launching giant space mirrors to reflect some of all that warm radiation from the sun. Another stillborn effort in the same memo was described by British author and Guardian columnist George Monbiot on his blog:
A group of nuclear weapons scientists at the Lawrence Livermore laboratory in California, apparently bored of experimenting with only one kind of mass death, have proposed launching into the atmosphere a million tons of tiny aluminum balloons, filled with hydrogen, every year. One unfortunate side-effect would be to eliminate the ozone layer.
The real trouble, though, is not Bush and his apparatchiks, it’s the public. An ACNielsen poll, taken in 46 countries around the world, found that Americans are among the most unconcerned about climate change. Fewer than half of all Americans consider global warming a serious problem, 10 percent considered it “not a problem at all,” and an astonishing 13 percent “have never heard of it.”
Given that 98 percent of Chinese, Portuguese, Russians and Thais had heard of it, the U.S. figures represent not so much ignorance, as a strain of willful denial that runs through the population—a strain that’s encouraged by Bush and the oil companies. And, perhaps, one fostered by the media’s destructive habit of giving climate skeptics lavish coverage.
This week’s Paris conference won’t eliminate American resistance to meaningful global warming response. It will, however, continue to educate and unify the world—and sane Americans—against the self-destructive absurdities of Bush and the millions of deluded Americans.
Will change come in time? Stay tuned.
| Tuesday, January 30, 2007 1:22 PM