Friday, May 4, 2007

Just What’s Needed, Another Road Map

It’s a taxi-ride from Israel to Palestine and yet the Road Map for Peace in the Middle East hasn’t been much help in bringing these countries together. Drive down the coast to Tel Aviv and turn left—how hard can it be?


It’s a taxi-ride from Israel to Palestine and yet the Road Map for Peace in the Middle East hasn’t been much help in bringing these countries together. Drive down the coast to Tel Aviv and turn left—how hard can it be?

Unclimatechange ‘Road map’ is the new political code for any destination that is too costly a trip, be that political, military or the ultimate cost of saving face.

So, it is with a weary eye that I take in the news today that the United Nations has ‘agreed’ on a ‘road map’ for limiting greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. This venerable international organization, the planet’s best hope for peace and dignified negotiation between nations, hasn’t got a real good record enforcement-wise in the win-loss column.

Nonetheless, delegates from 120 countries approved guidelines and, what is a road map if not guide lines on a portion of the earth’s surface?

Interestingly, they signed this accord in Bangkok, Thailand. Have you been to Bangkok? It is without peer as one of the world’s most severely polluted cities. A real gagger. The single thing my wife and I most loved about Bangkok was the chance to get the hell out as quickly as possible and see the rest of Thailand, a truly magical country. But if you were convening an international panel on how deep the world is in its own filth and, particularly if you wanted to hold everyone’s feet to the fire to sign up, Bangkok would be hard to beat for a venue.

(AP) BANGKOK, Thailand -- Delegates from 120 countries approved the first roadmap for stemming greenhouse gas emissions Friday, laying out what they said was an affordable arsenal of anti-warming measures that must be rushed into place to avert a disastrous spike in global temperatures.

Arsenals are in the eye of the beholder and ultimately, just like Kyoto, the beholders will be the individual nations on board. That’s a problem with road maps—if no one gets in the car, they are just useless pieces of paper wedged in the door pocket among all those candy wrappers. The good news in this case is that China is on board, as well as the United States; each of them missing from the Kyoto Accords.

The report, a summary of a study by a U.N. network of 2,000 scientists, said the world has to make significant cuts in gas emissions through increasing the energy efficiency of buildings and vehicles, shifting from fossil fuels to renewable fuels, and reforming both the forestry and farming sectors.

Harlanwatson In another possible example of the disconnect between our U.S. delegation and the White House, our man on the ground in Bangkok, Harlan Watson, praised the report and claimed it "highlights the importance of a portfolio of clean energy technologies consistent with our approach." If approach means intending to deal with something instead of actually doing it, I guess Harlan was right on cue.

Jim Connaughton, the guy who chairs the White House Council on Environmental Quality, was not so sanguine. He ‘raised concerns,’ which is how holocaust deniers describe stuff they would rather not confront.

 

Holocaust, before Hitler’s outrage co-opted the word, originally meant ‘an act of great destruction and loss of life.’ The report’s finding that doing nothing will ‘trigger a surge in ocean levels, destruction of vast numbers of species, economic devastation in tropical zones and mass human migrations,’ sounds to me like a pretty accurate definition of holocaust.

Jimconnaughton_2 But the White House, through Jim Connaughton, thinks the whole thing costs too damned much money. “It would cause a global recession.”

An administration non-sequitur.

Explain to me, Jim, how avoiding economic devastation would cause a global recession. Connaughton’s brand new, bright and shiny economic theory seems to be based on tying down the throttle, jumping off the train to keep the Dow-Jones healthy in the short-term and then letting someone further down the line of presidential politics take the hit.

Connaughton’s postponement will eventually get us all, but here’s the significant fact upon which his theory relies;

The shit will not have entirely hit the fan until 2100. Possibly later.

The Republican ‘base’ does not believe in the Buddhist philosophy of reincarnation. These are get it now and where’s mine kinds of guys. None of them will be required to keep on coming back until they get it right, which is as charming and equitable a religious doctrine as one might find among the many from which to choose. Inarguably, by 2100 none of us will be here. Therefore, the choices environmentally are reasonably succinct;

  • It won’t make a damned bit of difference.
  • It will.

Planetearth Scientists around the planet; atheist rascals as well as representatives of all world religious faiths, overwhelmingly believe it is man’s obligation to clean up after himself. I agree with that although it seems, like a heavy drinker living by himself, we’re getting a damned late start on washing the dishes.

The planet will survive. Mankind may not make the cut, but then we may not have been all that elegant an experiment. But the planet is going to keep on truckin’ as it always has, mutating into whatever life forms best suit its circumstance.

Connaughton is said to be a scuba diver. An anomaly that a man who enjoys nature close at hand lobbied for  power companies and major electricity users, lawyered companies fighting Superfund cleanup rules and co-authored a 1993 piece, titled "Defending Charges of Environmental Crime--the Growth Industry of the '90s." As the president's senior environmental adviser,

Jim oversaw the White House's positions on climate change, ignoring them as long as he could, then claiming controls too costly to business. Connaughton and Bush, a match made in Heaven.

Samsnead In my lifetime, oil went from $2 to $70 a barrel and the sky did not fall. During those same years, CEOs charged up the income ladder from $10,000 to $10 million annual salaries and that thousand-times multiplier failed to bring the roof down on our heads (although the jury may still be out). Golfer Sam Snead, who has won more professional tournaments than any man who ever swung a club, played for first-place checks of $250 and complained that often the checks bounced. In five tournaments this year, Tiger Woods has just surpassed $3 million.

My old daddy told me that during the Depression he and mom wanted to stop for coffee, but only had a nickel between them. We are a nation that falls down and picks itself up, adjusts the cost and leads the world.

It’s an outrage that Jim Connaughton, who never knew a moment in his life without money, claims we are too poor of pocket or spirit to clean up the planet he has worked tirelessly to exploit and make dirty. The United Nations has given us yet another road map.

But, unless we demand otherwise, the Connaughton’s of the world are still driving.

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