Sunday, May 27, 2007

Kicking and Screaming Our Way to the G-8 Conference

It’s all so embarrassing.

Nation after nation tries to get America to limit its emissions and then we’re caught between 1st and 2nd base in a rundown over the cost to American industry. Top (and usually unnamed) administration officials tell the world that Americans will not support a wiggle or a squiggle in their standard of living in order to guarantee a living with standards.

Bush31percent It’s all so embarrassing.
Nation after nation tries to get America to limit its emissions and then we’re caught between 1st and 2nd base in a rundown over the cost to American industry. Top (and usually unnamed) administration officials tell the world that Americans will not support a wiggle or a squiggle in their standard of living in order to guarantee a living with standards.
Trash-talk from administration policy wonks who wouldn’t know an average American if one ran them down on Pennsylvania Avenue—and it may just come to that.
Kristen Hellmer, spokeswoman for the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said yesterday that "the discussions are ongoing, and what's important is what is in the final document." (Juliet Eilperin, WaPo)
Jimconnaughton Jim Connaughton, over at the Council, counsels doing as damned little as America can get away with. Connaughton, yet another Yalie, headed up the Environmental Practice Group at law firm Sidley Austin before answering Bush’s call for a high-powered hit-man. Jim is the architect of the Bush environmental avoidance program, but to give him the old ‘fair and balanced’ critique, here are two views;
(Wikipedia) During President Bush’s first term, Connaughton coordinated the development of major Administration initiatives including the national clean air strategy; healthy forests restoration legislation; historic multi-billion expansion of Farm Bill conservation programs; the new wetlands restoration initiative to increase overall wetlands acres and quality; the expansion and acceleration of clean-up and redevelopment of abandoned industrial sites known as brownfields; comprehensive climate change strategy; clean technology initiatives; environmental cooperation agreements with our free trade partners; G-8 action plan and international partnerships for sustainable development; and implementation of modernized environmental management systems across the federal government.
Whew. That’s a lot of stuff for just the first term. On the seventh day, he rested.
(Jim Hightower) "A former lobbyist for utilities, mining, chemical, and other industrial polluters, Connaughton, represented the likes of General Electric and ARCO in their effort to escape responsibility for cleaning up toxic Superfund sites. Now he heads up pollution-policy development for the administration and coordinates its implementation. He has led the charge to weaken the standards of getting arsenic out of our drinking water, and he has steadily advised Bush to ignore, divert, stall, dismiss, and otherwise block out all calls for action against the industrial causes of global warming,"
Angelamerkel Whichever you believe, Connaughton is not working and playing well with Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor and host of the upcoming Group of Eight (G-8) Summit that will be held in Germany.
Angela wants to limit the worldwide temperature rise this century to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. I’m sure that, being a German, she has plenty of backup for that precise number (as opposed to 3.5 degrees) and knows intuitively where to insert the global thermometer.  Even more specifically, she intends that France, Germany, Great Britain, Canada, Italy, Japan, Russia and Connaughton’s intransigent United States put their signatures on the line under this stated goal, as well as cutting global greenhouse gas emissions to 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.
"The U.S. still has serious, fundamental concerns about this draft statement," a paper dated May 14 states. "The treatment of climate change runs counter to our overall position and crosses multiple 'red lines' in terms of what we simply cannot agree to. . . . We have tried to 'tread lightly' but there is only so far we can go given our fundamental opposition to the German position."
Damn, we tried to tread lightly. Treading lightly apparently includes producing 25% of the planet’s industrial pollution and greenhouse gases while occupying a mere 5% of its population footprint. In case after case, President Bush speaks on behalf of the American people’s unwillingness to pay the attendant costs of global environmental efforts.
By whose permission does he say what you and I and our neighbor down the street are willing to pay? 
Cheneysnarl This administration set the nation’s energy policy behind closed doors in the company of secret attendees. It’s our policy that has been set, yours and mine, yet the content of that secret policy and the men and women who agreed upon it has been withheld from both the Congress and the citizenry. The administration’s ‘overall position’ and ‘crossing of multiple red lines’ are Dick Cheney’s best-kept secret from the very people who elected him.
The German position is opposed by no one but us. This is not some tiff about tariffs, this concerns decisions relative to the survival of the world as we know it. We have left Jim Connaughton unilaterally in charge of our survival and the president encourages him to blather meaningless terms of what we simply cannot agree to.
Four years into a war we were lied into supporting, America has awakened to a national nightmare no one knows how to end. We were remiss to have allowed that to happen, but the circumstances of 9-11 frightened the country into compliance and followed that with a corresponding plunge into nationalism. Thousands of American soldiers have died, a hundred thousand have lost their right to an unhindered future life, our nation is reviled worldwide and the very standards upon which our republic rests have been strained to the breaking point—but it is still only a war. It will get over, no matter the cost.
Rising sea levels, agricultural disruption, horrific storms and a decline of the very food-chain that supports life as we know it, will not get over. The severity of the disruption may be ameliorated, depending upon quick action, but it has already begun  and the facts is no longer escapable.
We are not engaged in a popularity contest between Michael Moore and Al Gore. The arctic permafrost is gone under forests and towns, under oil pipelines as well. Glacier-melt is unprecedented and today one can trace the route Admiral Perry took to the North Pole by motor launch. Species are disappearing at record rates and American policy is held captive by non-believers.
Who on the seventh day, sold us down the river.
Held captive and prevented from public knowledge in what touts itself as a democratic and public society. America is no longer allowed to know the workings of its elected government.
I don’t care if you believe we’re headed off an environmental cliff or are merely experiencing an innocent spell of mild weather—you are not being allowed to know by this administration. In an extreme of arrogance, you are not deemed intelligent enough to be told.
It will be an historic irony if Germany proves to be the holder of the keys to world survival, while America drags its feet, kicking and screaming into compliance with international will. And on what account?
On account of a replaced national priority that is no longer concerned with the best that mankind can be, but with his profit potential.
Small wonder that Daimler-Benz spit back Chrysler at a nickel on the dollar.
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