Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Envirornment At Cross Purposes. One voice from Bali, Another from Oslo

by Norman Markowitz

Bali, which conjures up visions of tropical beaches and love songs from the old musical, South Pacific, is the scene this week of an interesting conference on the attempt to develop a global policy to fight global warming. The European Union and others, continuing the advances made by the Kyoto Accords (which the U.S. government has not signed and which will run out in 2012) is committed to the establishment of mandatory caps for greenhouse gas emissions and this will be the center of the conference. The Bush administration, began the talks in Washington last September to in effect seek to further evade, avoid and deflect the Kyoto Accords, has now stated that it will not commit itself to any mandatory caps but will continue to work toward its own solutions, seeking in effect to evade, avoid, and deflect any Bali Agreement that will serve as a stepping stone for any progressive extensive of the Kyoto Accords, using Bali to continue to evade, avoid, deflect and eventually bury the Kyoto Accords.

The Bush administration looks like it is doing what big business and entrenched reactionary interests usually do when faced with challenges from progressive mass movements, avoid, delay, hunker down, and play for time, waiting for the progressive movement to die down and go back to business as usual when the heat, metaphorically speaking is off (although here the heat is rising).

The U.S. one should remember is the only major developed nation to have refused to sign the Kyoto Accords, and to have, under the Bush administration, down everything it could to avoid, evade, and deflect scientific analysis and understanding of the whole issue of global warming.

In the musical South Pacific, one of the best songs deals with racism: "you've got to be taught to hate. you've got to be carefully taught" One might say as the Bush's people trudge off to Bali that the Bush administration's motto really is, "the people have got to be taught to be stupid. they've got to be carefully taught."

Rachendra Pachauri, leader of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which won the Nobel Prize this year along with Al Gore (who really won the presidency of the U.S. in 2000 only to have the election stolen from him) for its contributions to to environmental protection, issued a challenge to the U.S. by saying that "the science is very clear, It is loud and incontrovertible....the time for contemplation and vacillation is over. Let's move on and that's the decision we hope to get in Bali." Pachauri went on to say that the developed nation have no moral right to lecture or dictate to the developing nations (another dig at the Bush administration) but rather should take the lead in both addressing their own huge crisis through regulation and working to assist the developing nations in finding regulatory solutions to their crisis. Pachauri concluded by saying from Oslo to those who were attending the Bali meeting: "Please listen to the voice of science." Not to do so would be to face destructive climate change which would be "abrupt and irreversible."

The Kyoto Accords which the U.S. never signed will run out in 20012. Many regard the whole U.S. maneuver which has led to Bali as an attempt to bury any serious global policy to deal with global warming, of which Kyoto can be seen as a beginning. Al Gore will be accepting his Nobel Prize tomorrow. Although he is not a candidate for president at this time, there is no American in a position to undo the damage that the Bush administration has done to global environmentalism than Al Gore, no other American with the knowledge and global respect to make the United States the leader in the movement against global warming, not the major international obstacle to that movement.

As someone who voted for Ralph Nader in 2000 and lived to regret it, I would love to make up for my mistake (which since I didn't live in Florida wasn't as bad as it could have been) by voting for Al Gore in 2008. That probably won't happen, but whomever the Democratic party does nominate for president, reversing the Bush administration's incredibly destructive do nothing policy on the issue of global warming will have to be a high priority.

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