Tuesday, February 13, 2007

tell them what they need to know

Last Wednesday Tony Snow, the White House spokesman, announced that the U.S. had done better at reducing carbon dioxide emissions than Europe. In an effort to answer sharp criticism on President Bush’s stance on Global Warming he said that the latest steps taken by the Bush administration “demonstrate real seriousness, not simply giving the speeches, but walking the walk ... We are doing a better job of reducing emissions“ than Europe. Snow was referring to a study from the International Energy Agency (IEA). According to the figures in this 2006 study U.S. carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion grew by 1.7 percent from 2000 – 2004. In Europe emissions in the same period grew by 5 percent. The result of the study should alarm countries in Europe. The trend of reducing emissions in the 90s could be reversed if countries like Turkey, Spain, and Portugal, for example, don’t apply the same standards as more industrialized nations like the U.K. or Germany.

Looking at the statistics for 2006, the White House could have also announced that the U.S. share of carbon dioxide emissions world wide decreased from 22.9 to 21.8 percent compared to 2005. These numbers, however, are relative ones and due to the non-existing environmental policy in China. In fact the total carbon dioxide emission in the U.S. increased not only in the 2005-2006 period. What Tony Snow didn’t mention: greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. increased by 15.8 percent from 1990 to 2004 (in comparison: in the same period Germany decreased its emissions by 17.2 percent).

Not everything that happens in Europe when it comes to environmental protection is done as consequently as it should be done. Lot’s of European countries and also Germany have a long way to go. However, to sell the U.S. as the new environmental hero to the American people is not just unbelievable but dangerous. Tony and especially George W. should have learned by now that misinforming the public leads to tremendous headaches later.

As far as Bush acknowledges, at least according to Tony Snow, a link between climate change and human activity, I have to applaud him. Unfortunately he didn’t tell the rest of the GOP members on Capitol Hill about his changed perspective: The “National Magazine” asked 113 members of the Senate and the House and 84 percent of the Republicans didn’t acknowledge the link between humans and climate change. According to those 84 percent humans have no responsibility whatsoever for the changes in our environment in the last decades (3 percent acknowledged a partly responsibility). When I read in this context about Rep. Rohrabacher’s “dinosaur flatulence”-remarks during the Congress hearing on the recently issued U.N.-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, I didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry. If you’re responsible for one-quarter of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions and use one-quarter of the world’s crude oil you should be at least responsible enough to allow a debate that doesn’t result in polemic denial.

What the U.S. needs is not the “most aggressive program of research and technology ever“ as President Bush announced. It needs an information policy that allows the public to understand what happens with the environment, what is in stake, and who is responsible. Not more and not less. The industrialized nations in Europe might not be role models when it comes to climate protection. The debate about the responsibility for climate change, however, takes place in Europe every day in the different governments, in the media, in schools, and at home. It is not about another new research project. It’s about making the guy on Milledge Avenue understand why he shouldn’t drive his truck to the main library to drop off a book and why he shouldn’t have a truck in the first place...


Blogger Huevos McGringo said...

to fully clarify, that 84% "non-believer" rate refers only to republican lawmakers:

"National Journal has released a new “Congressional Insiders Poll,” which surveyed 113 members of Congress — 10 Senate Democrats, 48 House Democrats, 10 Senate Republicans, and 45 House Republicans — about their positions on global warming.

The results were startling. Only 13 percent of congressional Republicans say they believe that human activity is causing global warming, compared to 95 percent of congressional Democrats. Moreover, the number of Republicans who believe in human-induced global warming has actually dropped since April 2006, when the number was 23 percent."

2/13/2007 3:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hear, hear!


2/13/2007 4:55 PM  
Blogger sauce said...

preach on, Brother Knassel! Shit!

2/14/2007 9:39 PM  
Blogger Huevos McGringo said...

that 95%/13% disparity is pretty disturbing. ignoring our own beliefs as to which side correct, it's just ridiculous that a scientific issue be treated so partisanly. very depressing in its own right.

and i do feel like i can objectively say the bushies carry a disproportionate share of the blame for creating that political climate.

2/15/2007 9:57 AM  

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