Just a note on this—the mystery of India’s vanishing vultures has been solved. Vultures are an important part of the ecology of India, but their numbers have plummeted 97% in recent years and they are in danger of extinction. It’s one of those unintended consequence things–they have been succumbing to liver failure from a pharmaceutical painkiller that Indians have been feeding their cows. The drug accumulates in the cows, to whom it is not toxic, but the vultures have been eating enough dead cows to get a fatal dose. Use of the drug has been banned, but it is not clear yet whether the vultures will recover. Better living through chemistry, eh?
Our Truth in Strange Places Award this month goes to two CEOs who—in vain—begged Mr. Bush to advocate mandatory carbon emissions caps. Here’s what they said:
Alain Belda, CEO of Alcoa: “We cannot put this problem on the backs of our children and grandchildren. It is a very significant step that we call on the leaders in Washington, the President and members of the United States Congress to take action now and make sure that the planet’s future is protected for future generations.”
Peter Darbee, CEO of Pacific Gas and Electric: “The U.S. has a unique opportunity and a unique responsibility. Our emissions far eclipse that of any other nation in the world and so we are undeniably part of the problem. We also have the wealthiest and the most innovative economy so financially and technologically we are in the best position to help solve the problem.”
The problem is, of course, that Mr. Bush has pissed away our resources and promised away our credit by getting us all tangled up with the Iraqi tar baby. Now we are unable to extricate ourselves to deal with the B’rer Fox of global warming and the B’rer Bear of global oil depletion. By crying wolf over Iraq, he has crippled our ability to meet the real challenges that are facing us, and they are not going to be fooled into throwing us into some briar patch—I’m sorry, here the metaphor fails me—global warming and oil depletion are going to have their way with us, and it will not be pretty.
That’s the basic message of the International Panel on Climate Change’s report, which speaks in scientific nuances but basically tells us that the poop has already entered the air intake, and it’s just a question of how long our face is going to get plastered and how long it will take us to clean it off. Oh, and by the way, they have no scientific models to deal with the melting of large chunks of ice like the Siberian permafrost and the Greenland and Antarctic Ice Caps, so there’s really no telling how much worse it will get.
Meanwhile, John Edwards, regarded as one of the more sensible Democrats seeking to become President in 2008 (he’s actually got a halfway decent health plan), joined Hillary Clinton in endorsing an Israeli attack on Iran. Speaking in Israel to a forum on Israeli security, he said, “The challenges in your own backyard – represent an unprecedented threat to the world and Israel.” Barak Obama, too, not content with pushing coal and nuclear power as solutions to America’s energy crisis, has joined the chorus of those who are warning Iran not to meddle in Iraq, even as it comes to light that the US government has been selling spare jet parts to the Iranians and that Saudi Arabian private citizens are the likely source of the surface-to-air missiles that have been downing US helicopters in Iraq lately. A bunch of Saudis destroyed the World Trade Center, so we invaded Iraq and Afghanistan. Now they’re providing weapons to their Sunni brothers in Iraq. Must be time to invade Iran, eh? But I digress…
I bring this up in the same context as global warming because it’s starting to look to me as though, for all their pre-election rhetoric on the subject, the Democrats are going to prove to be as distracted and incapable of intelligent response as the Republicans. We’ve already seen them sell out the electorate on the war, and I have no doubt that they’ll kowtow to big oil when that becomes appropriate, because they don’t have a clue.
The Repugs have a plan, at least—it’s an evil, perverse plan that involves putting themselves first and the devil take hindmost—but the Democrats keep acting like it’s an honest game while Bush and Cheney use every dirty trick Herr Gobebbels—I mean, Karl Rove–can dream up. Replacing seasoned Federal Prosecutors with political operatives, placing Republican party commissars in charge of civil service agencies, the list goes on—having suffered defeat at the polls, Bush and Cheney are working to strengthen the executive branch and do as much damage as they can before they leave office, hoping to hamstring their (presumably) Democratic successor.
There is a life-and-death struggle for control of the Titanic going on here. I don’t know about you, but I’ve quit waiting for the bigwigs to sort it out. I’m getting my own lifeboat together.