Why it rained on George W.’s Earth Day speech
George W., our compassionate-warrior president, loves to preach to the choir and he received that opportunity once again on April 22, Earth Day.He had gone to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee to tout his wonderful environmental record but it wasn’t to be. Mother Nature may have decided the whole affair was little more than another disgusting photo op, so stormy weather caused the event to be canceled. Kind of ironic that the environment stepped in and stopped George from boasting about his questionable claims that he is an environmental leader.Could that storm in the Smoky Mountains have been an omen, a gentle nudge by Mother Nature (or perhaps even the “big guy”) to remind George that it is not good to fudge the truth? There are many knowledgeable and credible observers who have publicly stated that George W. is the “worst” environmental president our nation has ever had. I certainly could not substantiate that, but it is rather obvious that he and his appointed associates have done endless damage to environmental protections set in place by previous administrations, particularly Clinton’s. And George has shown a distinct tendency to favor business interests, such as logging, mining and oil exploration, and ignore environmental concerns.Our president has let us know that he speaks with God, and he very well may – of course that would be his God and not necessarily mine – but it is just as clear on the opposite side that he does not speak with scientists. The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) devoted its entire magazine for April and May to the issue of global warming, a real issue substantiated by thousands of scientists from around the world, but one that George seems willing to write off as something of a “myth.” To a degree, George may be correct: Global warming is now a hard fact, but what is not known is what is driving the engine. Is it just a huge, natural cycle the planet is going through, or are humans fueling the warming? As an outside, non-scientific and incompletely informed observer, common sense tells me both factors need to be studied. We are not doing that. While nations around the globe devote huge amounts of energy and money to the problem, George sits back and tells us there is not enough data to come to any conclusions.Mark Wexler, NWF editorial director, wrote, “It’s not hard to make a case against global warming. You don’t have to collect years of data, and you don’t need support from a consensus of scientists. All you really have to do is create a perception that the problem is questionable and that the facts are confusing.”And this administration has done an outstanding job of selling “doubt” about global warming to the American public. There was a report from Oslo, Norway, in The New York Times on March 31 that stated “Humans are damaging the planet at a rapid rate and raising risks of abrupt collapses in nature that could spur disease, deforestation or ‘dead zones’ in the seas.”The study was done by 1,360 researchers in 95 nations, under the auspices of a group called Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. This claimed to be the “biggest review of the planet’s life support systems ever.” The report further stated that “human activity is putting such strain on the natural functions of earth that the ability of the planet’s ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted.” Hardly good news! As mentioned, the entire recent issue of the NWF magazine was devoted to global warming. Here are few tidbits from that issue: Though the United States has just 4 percent of the world’s population, it is responsible for a quarter of all global carbon dioxide emissions. New cars and trucks today are getting, on average, the same mileage they managed to get in 1982 – about 25 miles per gallon. The rate of warming in the Arctic was eight times faster during the past 20 years than during the previous 100 years and is occurring at nearly twice the rate of the planet. An estimated 80 percent of the snowcap on Kenya’s Mount Kilimanjaro has disappeared. And in Glacier National Park, one of my favorite places in my Montana days, the 150 glaciers recorded there in 1910 have been reduced to fewer than 30. The above is just a thimbleful of what is currently happening on earth but George W., who sees himself as a “wise steward of the land,” seems far more interested in drilling for oil in Alaska and giving gigantic tax breaks to his rich buddies than he is in the potential consequences of global warming.Where have all the environmentalists gone? Earth Day came and went rather quietly, I thought, although there were some excellent programs conducted locally. It is as if we need a gigantic and disastrous tsunami to wake us up, something both immediate and horrific in its impact. When we read about the potential impacts of global warming, we see projections for 50 or 100 years from now – projections that, if true, simply won’t impact a great many of us. But for generations yet unborn, the future could be a terrifying experience.This is the 316th article in a two-part series devoted to the community of Woody Creek, a place where some of us trust in God and some of us in science and yet we all get along fairly well.
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