Bush, Burning

Thu, 2008-04-17 14:15Chris Mooney
Chris Mooney's picture

Bush, Burning

Well, everyone is teeing off on Bush's latest global warming speech–and no wonder.

I mean, it's pretty staggering when you think about it: The campaigning George W. Bush in the year 2000 was more progressive on this increasingly pressing issue than the lame duck George W. Bush in 2008.

The major news from Bush's speech, policy-wise, is that he said we'll “stop the growth of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 2025”–or, just under two decades from now. But everybody who knows anything about this issue knows that would amount to running a completely unacceptable risk.

As Joseph Romm notes, for instance, the IPCC chair Rajendra Pachauri has stated that if we fail to take strong action before 2012 it will be “too late.”

The bulk of the president's speech then went on to present an intellectually dishonest “either-or” argument on an issue where we really need a “both-and” approach. Throughout the speech, Bush praised technological innovation and disparaged regulatory action as a means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

But of course, the truth is that we need these two kinds of solutions to work together, and while the latter will assuredly have an economic impact, it can be minor and will itself help spur innovation in the private sector as companies adapt to a new emissions regime.

Honestly, the truly revealing parts of the speech were these:

Some courts are taking laws written more than 30 years ago to primarily address local and regional environmental effects, and applying them to global climate change. The Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act were never meant to regulate global climate change. For example, under a Supreme Court decision last year, the Clean Air Act could be applied to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles. … Decisions with such far-reaching impact should not be left to unelected regulators and judges…”
….this year, Congress will soon be considering additional legislation that will affect global climate change. I believe that Congressional debate should be guided by certain core principles and a clear appreciation that there is a wrong way and a right way to approach reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Bad legislation would impose tremendous costs on our economy and on American families without accomplishing the important climate change goals we share.”

These passages show that Bush is reacting–albeit very intransigently–to recent events which are essentially running out of his control.

His hand has been forced. States, the courts, and Congress are all stampeding to take action on climate change precisely because the President has not.

Even Bush must now acknowledge that a sea change in public opinion is sweeping him along, even if he only does so in a ridiculously high handed way. It's almost as if Bush should have thrown into his speech:

Some former Vice Presidents are making movies that have triggered changing public opinion on the urgency of addressing global warming. But there's a wrong way and a right way to make a global warming movie…”

As all of this suggests, we can all but ignore Bush on climate change at this point; he has made himself less and less relevant. The real climate action is now unequivocally in Congress, where the Lieberman-Warner bill should come up soon enough. In the latest speech, Bush strongly suggests that he would veto it.

That might serve as his final folly on the climate issue–and one last misstep that will leave him still further behind, and drive Congress to pass an even tougher bill in 2009.

So…what can we say about Bush on climate that hasn't already been said? It seems to me that only the clichés remain, persistent because they are fundamentally accurate:

He is trying to run out the clock.

He is stubborn, inflexible, apparently unable to change his mind or admit error.

He is arrogant, out of touch. He is in a bubble.

He will be badly remembered by history.

Comments

Quote:

“As Joseph Romm notes, for instance, the IPCC chair Rajendra Pachauri has stated that if we fail to take strong action [on global warmning and climate change] before 2012, it will be “too late.”

The exact date is Dec. 20, 2012, the end of the Mayan calendar. Is the IPCC chair playing some kind of subliminal joke on all the New Age crowd?

During this time period, the earth will pass thru the galactic plane, and many believe the flux of meteors and of cosmic and gamma rays will be so intense that all life on earth will be wiped out. Hence, the end of he Mayan calendar.

Since we only have four years left to live, I say it time to party down because there is no tomorrow!

I’ll pick up the tab for the EOE Party on my Visa card!

Dear Friends,

I am imagining that the following questions are rhetorical ones to many people in the DeSmogBlog community.

“Why are politicians and skeptics so willing to risk their future and everyone else’s future on blindly clinging to a course of action that has a high probability of leading to a seriously crippled future? If you even suspect that global warming represents a serious risk to your survival (and we have far more than suspicion these days), why wouldn’t you do everything protect and conserve your planet?”

It would please me to hear from others; but from my humble perspective the “answers” to these questions are all-too-obvious.

The leaders in my generation of elders wish to live without having to accept limits to growth of seemingly endless economic globalization, of increasing per capita consumption and skyrocketing human population numbers; our desires are evidently insatiable. We choose to believe anything that is politically convenient, economically expedient and socially agreeable; our way of life is not negotiable. We dare anyone to question our values or behaviors.

We religiously promote our shared fantasies of endless economic growth and soon to be unsustainable overconsumption, overproduction oand overpopulation activities, and in so doing deny that Earth has limited resources upon which the survival of life as we know it depends.

My not-so-great generation appears to be doing a disservice to everything and everyone but ourselves. We are the “what’s in it for me?” generation. We demonstrate precious little regard for the maintenance of the integrity of Earth; shallow willingness to actually protect the environment from crippling degradation; lack of serious consideration for the preservation of biodiversity, wilderness, and a good enough future for our children and coming generations; and no appreciation of the understanding that we are no more or less than human beings with “feet of clay.”

We live idolatrously in a soon to be unsustainable way in our planetary home and are proud of it, thank you very much. Certainly, we will “have our cake and eat it, too.” We will fly around in thousands of private jets, own fleets of cars, live in McMansions, exchange secret handshakes, go to our exclusive clubs and distant hideouts, and risk nothing of value to us. Please do not bother us with the problems of the world. We choose not to hear, see or speak of them. We are the economic powerbrokers, their bought-and-paid-for politicians and the many minions in the mass media. We hold most of the Earth’s wealth and control the power it purchases. If left to our own devices, we will continue in the exercise of our ‘rights’ to ravenously consume Earth’s limited resources; to expand economic globalization unto every corner of our natural world and, guess what, beyond; to encourage the unbridled growth of the human species so that where there are now 6+ billion people, by 2050 we will have 9+ billion members of the human community and, guess what, even more people, perhaps billions more in the distant future, if that is what we desire.

We are the reigning, self-proclaimed masters of the universe. We have no regard for human limits or Earth’s limitations, thank you very much. We are idolaters of the global political economy. Please understand that we do not want anyone to present us with scientific evidence that we could be living unsustainably in an artificially designed, temporary world of our own making…… a manmade world filling up with distinctly human enterprises which appear to be approaching a point in human history when global consumption, production and propagation activities of the human species become unsustainable on the tiny planet God has blessed us to inhabit……..and not to overwhelm, I suppose.

Sincerely, Steve

Wow. What an insight into the miserable, embittered mind of a Global Warming End-Timer. Complete with pseudo-religious Biblical references, and all the other misanthropic denunciations and complaints.

“… scientific evidence that we could be living unsustainably in an artificially designed, temporary world of our own making…… a manmade world filling up with distinctly human enterprises …”

I wonder what world Mr. Hairshirt would have us live in? There seems to be a strong Planet Of The Apes theme running through his diatribe.

“… the tiny planet God has blessed us to inhabit …”

I think you mis-spelled “Gore”.

If Global Warming isn’t an End-Times religious cult, with a dash of Scientology and New Age craptrap thrown in, I don’t know what is? Seriously, just look at the level of strident insanity displayed by it’s most ardent followers. These are not intelligent people. They are completely meshuggah. As such, they need to be treated just like one would treat the village Sterno-drinker. You can’t help them. Showing deference and politely listening to their prattle only encourages their delusions and psychosis.

Could we get rid of the italics?

Fern Mackenzie

I’ll pick up the tab for the EOE Party on my Visa card!

Figures! Probably consuming container loads of Chinese crap on credit for a plastic pollution party before the repo man commeth to take the house and car away.

“W” is worst.president.ever. We need to reduce emissions, and he calls for increasing them until 2025. Not that we should ever expected anything else from this crowd. Thanks for the memories, you idiot:
http://www.snopes.com/politics/bush/piehigher.asp
Make the Pie Higher!
by George W. Bush

I think we all agree, the past is over.
This is still a dangerous world.
It’s a world of madmen
And uncertainty
And potential mental losses.

Rarely is the question asked
Is our children learning?
Will the highways of the internet
Become more few?
How many hands have I shaked?

They misunderestimate me.
I am a pitbull on the pantleg of opportunity.
I know that the human being and the fish
Can coexist.

Families is where our nation finds hope
Where our wings take dream.
Put food on your family!
Knock down the tollbooth!
Vulcanize society!
Make the pie higher!
Make the pie higher!

See what I mean?

Chris Mooney and others chose not to use their media connections to spotlight irresponsible agency managers in NOAA & NOAA NWS from 2003 - current.

Is UNBRIDLED Economic Globalization a material breach of God’s Creation?

Perhaps the time is coming when government officials stop employing every ruse under the sun to protect the selfish interests of over-consumers and hoarders, and start by choosing to do the right thing?

Life and human institutions like national economies are utterly dependent upon the Earth for existence; but too many of our leaders view the Earth as some kind of thing to be manipulated, dissipated, and ravaged secondary to their adamant practice of a religion called Endless Economic Growth. This clear and obvious object of their idolatry is the soon to become unsustainable expansion of the leviathan-like, global political economy. What a colossal sham. What a shame. What a shambles for our children to confront.

Always with thanks, Steve

http://www.mywire.com/pubs/JapanTimes/2008/04/22/6279398/print/

Japan Times
Is growth driving us to oblivion?

By STEPHEN HESSE | Apr 22, 2008 | 1491 words, 0 images

Last month, when I wrote a column headlined ‘Apocalypse when? Can three experts all be wrong on looming disaster?,’ I expected that readers would harangue me for taking up ranks with the pessimists. After all, for every doomster, there seems to be a Pangloss reassuring us that all will be well. Recently in The Japan Times, for example, Ray Kurzweil argued that exponential progress in technology will offer solutions to all our problems before they get the better of us (‘Making the world a billion times better’; April 17). Nice to think so, certainly, though at least one scientist I’ll introduce later believes that the exponential function, and our failure to understand it, is precisely why we have so many problems. In any case, I was wrong. No one wrote to accuse me of being a prophet of doom; just the opposite happened. Everyone who wrote said the experts Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute in Washington, British scientist James Lovelock, and Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University in New York are not critical enough in their assessments. Several readers in particular, from different corners of the globe, were adamant in their criticism. Each sent me Web site links to check out, and they also stressed that planetary survival hinges on the issue of population. This column will share some of their comments and some of the people and resources they introduced, so thanks to you all, worldwide, in advance. Prof. Eric R. Pianka, a biologist at the University of Texas in Austin, didn’t waste any words setting me straight: Hi Steve, You, like almost everybody, miss the point. Treating the symptoms of overpopulation while denying the cause is like driving into a brick wall at top speed. We must get out of this state of total denial and face reality. We must confront the source of ALL our problems: Too Many People. Above all, face reality and THINK. Best wishes, Eric If you’re interested in knowing more about Pianka’s opinions, research and solutions, see his thought-provoking Web site at: www.zo.utexas.edu/courses/THOC/ Another reader, from Switzerland, sent along his Web site address and some pointed criticisms of all three experts. Dear Mr. Hesse, Yes. All three ‘learned experts’ are wrong. Mr. Sachs is wrong because he still believes in economic growth and progress on a planet that has finite space and resources. Hardly any economist gets that point right! Mr. Brown is wrong because he believes we can at least maintain our present level of exuberant consumption. One has to sound vaguely optimistic to be taken seriously. Optimism and hope and belief in technology are today’s civic duties. And Mr. Lovelock has lost his logic. He is right in saying that many solutions are a scam and a waste of time and effort. But his nuclear solution is tremendously off. Humanity’s problem is not that we don’t have enough energy, but that we have too much. The vast amounts of cheap, easy fossil energy have allowed humanity to reach the enormous overshoot of the Earth’s carrying capacity, in numbers and in consumption per capita. The world’s population under business-as-usual scenarios is expected to rise to 8.5 billion by 2050 (it is 6.7 billion now), and nobody knows how all those people can live in terms of either space or resources. Kind regards, Helmut Lubbers I asked Lubbers in a followup e-mail what he thought we should be doing to get humans and the planet back in balance. He replied: Relocalization, elimination of motorized transportation, but for emergency services, slowing down in general, using power when nature provides it, i.e., when the wind blows and the rivers carry water, and elimination of all destructive and useless activities, demechanization, and a return to a very frugal lifestyle. All this will only make sense if people realize that we have far overshot the Earth’s carrying capacity, that economic growth means increasing the speed of resource depletion, and that as a logical consequence we have to consciously and democratically contract economic activities and population sizes. So in sum I think we are lost as long as the BAU (business-as-usual) scenario reigns in this world, Lubbers wrote. You can visit Lubbers’ Web site, an eclectic compendium, at: ecoglobe.ch/ Meanwhile, a third reader, Peter Salonius, provided the most comprehensive comments and links. Salonius is a soil scientist in Canada and he, too, argues that population is overshooting the planet’s carrying capacity, resulting in the degradation of ecosystems that already cannot support present population levels. I have taken the liberty of synthesizing parts of his e-mail with other comments he sent. Hello Stephen Hesse, I do hope you have time to run through the material I present below; it is as far as I have gotten after starting to broaden my attention away from the reductionist soil science that occupied me for about 40 years toward more holistic/systems deliberations. Many keen thinkers have understood that the driver that has enabled our numbers to shoot so far over long-term carrying capacity is the planet’s one-time gift of fossil fuels, and this overshoot has resulted in our rampant destruction of the biosphere. The global human population before the start of the Fossil-Fuel Revolution was about 1 billion, while it is now about 6.6 billion and rising. These holistic thinkers suggest that without oil, the Earth will only support about 2-3 billion. The other major factor that has enabled our numbers to shoot so far over long-term carrying capacity is the one-time gift of erodible soils and the vast store of plant nutrients they contained. William Rees and Mathis Wackernagel have developed the Ecological Footprint Analysis and believe that humanity overshot global carrying capacity sometime in the 20th century, while it is more likely that the human family has been in overshoot for the last 10,000 years, and has been sidestepping this overshoot by further forest destruction for agriculture, migration to new areas, global trade, and the fossil-fuel-dependent motive power, fertilizers, insecticides and herbicides that make modern agriculture possible, Salonius wrote. Salonius also included two interesting links, one an easy-to-understand slide show on food production and population, and the other an engaging talk by Dr. Albert Bartlett explaining the so-called exponential function. The slide show, titled ‘World Food and Human Population Growth,’ explains how increasing food production to feed a growing population spurs even further population growth. An important corollary is that industrial agriculture, which we have embraced to feed the hungry masses, is rapidly degrading soils and destroying forest, marine and freshwater ecosystems. The slide show is the work of Dr. Russell Hopfenberg, a consulting associate at Duke University in North Carolina. You can find it at www.panearth.org The talk by Bartlett, an emeritus Professor of Physics at the University of Colorado, Boulder, explains the so-called exponential function in simple terms. This may not be the sexiest topic, but Bartlett makes a clear and convincing case for why we all need to have a better understanding of exponentiation. His talk is titled ‘Arithmetic, Population and Energy.’ ‘Some of these problems are local, some are national, some are global. They’re all tied together. They’re tied together by arithmetic, and the arithmetic isn’t very difficult,’ begins Bartlett. He goes on to explain that we need to understand the function better, because our society’s addiction to exponential growth is both untenable and undesirable. Population growth, another exponential threat, is ‘the immediate cause of all our resource and environmental crises,’ he warns. Bartlett makes his point convincingly, with humor and pithy quotes such as this one from Isaac Asimov: ‘Democracy cannot survive overpopulation. Human dignity cannot survive overpopulation. Convenience and decency cannot survive overpopulation. As you put more and more people into the world, the value of life not only declines, it disappears. It doesn’t matter if someone dies, the more people there are, the less one individual matters,’ said Asimov. Clearly, across the globe, from America to Switzerland to Canada, the fate of our planet and the population threat are very real concerns for Japan Times readers. The consensus is that we need to reverse exponential growth of both the numbers of new people and resource consumption, and we need to start now. As Bartlett notes, this will require educating policy-makers worldwide to the lessons of simple math. ‘The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand this very simple arithmetic,’ he chides good-naturedly. Bartlett ends with a quote from the Rev. Martin Luther King on overpopulation: ‘What is lacking is not sufficient knowledge of the solution, but universal consciousness of the gravity of the problem and the education of the billions who are its victims.’ So, while corporations and politicians continue to reassure us that we can squeeze more energy, more food, and more resources from the planet’s shrinking reserves, perhaps the best, real solution is to give women and families worldwide the education and support they need to raise just one or two children well rather than three or more willy-nilly, at the planet’s and all children’s peril. A video of Dr Bartlett’s talk can be seen at www.youtube.com Stephen Hesse welcomes readers’ comments at stevehesse@hotmail.com A video of Dr Bartlett’s talk can be seen at www.youtube.com Stephen Hesse welcomes readers’ comments at stevehesse@hotmail.com

Steven Earl Salmony
AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population,
established 2001

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