Archive for October, 2007
By Edward Flattau
President Bush has been accused of running out the clock in Iraq. What about global warming?
In both instances, he has made token gestures to deflect widespread condemnation for refusing to significantly alter unpopular policies that he still believes are on target. Despite the barrage of common sense criticism, it is highly unlikely that he will ever be motivated to voluntarily change course in any substantial way.
Bush appears to regard a major drawdown of our Iraq military presence on his watch as admission of personal fault, if not failure that could fatally tarnish his presidential legacy. He evidently hopes to keep his numerous critics at bay by making symbolic troop withdrawals while maintaining the status quo at least until his term expires. Then, if conditions should go from bad to worse, it will be the next president who will have to shoulder the blame.
As for global warming, the president is going through the motions of “aggressively” addressing a problem about whose urgency he still has doubts, contrary to the rest of the world’s heads of state and the overwhelming majority of his own citizenry. Bush’s refusal to join virtually every other country in supporting a mandatory global framework for reducing greenhouse gas emissions has isolated us. His warning that compulsory pollution controls will cause economic setbacks is bogus (most studies indicate emission curbs will enhance the global economy in the long run). Bush’s advocacy of a voluntary approach is an ideological knee jerk reflex and reflects his underlying distrust of government as a problem solver when compared to the private sector.
He seems to think that if he can stall long enough, maybe the world will come around to his “free market” point of view before he leaves office. Bush needs a reality check, given corporate volunteerism’s historically poor compliance record and the need for nations to act in concert if they are to successfully cope with a climatic phenomenon impacting the entire planet.
As it now stands, Bush comes across as playing for time while the rest of the world is clamoring for the United States to get on the climate change bandwagon. He uses high-sounding rhetoric to cloak his resistance to the international effort to mount a coordinated campaign to moderate accelerated temperature rise. Technology will be humanity’s salvation, he declares, and obviate the need for forcefully cracking down on polluters. To punctuate his stance, he is opposing major upgrades in fuel economy, renewable energy subsidies, and restrictions on fossil fuel emissions, all measures favored throughout much of the world and already implemented in a number of countries.
The president’s words especially ring hollow among the 15 member states of the European Union which between 1990 and 2004 reduced greenhouse gas emissions by one percent in contrast to the 15 percent gain experienced in the United States during that
If Bush wants any positive legacy at all, he needs to cease treading water and holding our nation hostage as an energy pariah.
@Copyright 2007, Edward Flattau