by Stella Ramsaroop
(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 03 June 2007)
As I browsed through my email inbox on Friday morning after returning home from a very long trip, one email from the Washington Post caught my eye. It read, “Bush Signals Shift on Global Warming.” A smirk curved my mouth and my eyes squinted in disdain.
After withdrawing the United States from the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on climate change in 2001, and after dismissing a report put out by his own administration warning that human activities are behind the climate change that is having significant effects on the environment, Bush has finally decided that he might have been wrong about this issue.
This man has maintained the incredulous stance of hear no evil, see no evil for his entire presidential career on this issue – to the angst of the rest of the world, including most Americans. Now as he wraps up his time in the White House, he has the gall to change his position?
This is the very definition of a leader with his own agenda and to hell with the rest of the world – literally.
On my trip, I drove through some of the Southeast states including Georgia and Florida, which both have wildfires raging due to the extreme drought conditions. During this time of the year, these states usually receive large amounts of rain.
I drove through smoke so thick I could not see even a mile in front of me in broad daylight. This continued for over a hundred miles. All I had to do was drive through the smoke and spend one night in a smoky hotel room that made my hair stink the next morning. My heart really went out to the people who actually had to live in this smoky area.
During my trip, I listened to a “Best of the Left” podcast from May 14. It said that ten of the hottest years on record have occurred since 1990. Twenty of the hottest years have been in the last 25 years. The hottest year in recorded history was in 2005 and the hottest year in the US was in 2006.
If ever there was an American President who could hide his head in the sand, Bush wins the prize. Of course, his ties to oil companies probably made it a lot easier to play the role of an environmental idiot.
The same podcast that I mentioned before talked about how the EV1, an electric car put out by General Motors in the 90s, produced little or no emissions. This car was designed in response to a law in California at the time that required carmakers to cut down on amount of emissions being produced in the state.
The podcast also highlighted a new documentary entitled, “Who Killed the electric car?” The documentary exposes a smear campaign that gave the impression that electric cars were too dangerous to drive when in fact the EV1 was very well made.
It seems that a nickel battery had even been developed to allow electric cars to drive for 150 miles before needing to be recharged. However, after California caved to the carmakers and change the previous law, GM sold its shares in this battery technology to Chevron/Texaco – an American oil company that would like to keep the value of oil as high as possible.
It seems these batteries are now very hard to get and some say the new owners have not invested much money into progressing the technology from where it was. I do not think there is one person alive who is shocked to learn that an oil company would prefer to hide any technology that would make oil obsolete.
Now the truth is out and so now Bush is finally starting to see the light about global warming. Isn’t that just peachy.
In the Washington Post article from my email, entitled, “Bush proposes talks on warming,” the US President said, “In recent years, science has deepened our understanding of climate change and opened new possibilities for confronting it."
Bush continued, "The United States takes this issue seriously. The new initiative I am outlining today will contribute to the important dialogue that will take place in Germany next week.” The US takes this issue seriously? Oh, I guess he meant that the US has been taking this issue seriously since Thursday.
Some will say that it is better that Bush came around late than never. I’m not so convinced when it applies to this issue. I cannot help but wonder what this world would be like today if Bush had taken global warming seriously from the start instead of spending the last seven years pretending it was just a doomsday theory.
Moreover, if he had done right by the world in this regard as well as in the case of the Iraqi war, perhaps the estimated US$320 billion being spent on the war could have been channelled into the production of the environmentally safer ethanol fuel or to promote the mass production of the electric car that has all but disappeared from the scene.
I suppose the world can breathe easier now that Bush has finally seen the light about global warming. Slow as he is, it is reassuring that he came around before the world went up in flames. It only took a catastrophic hurricane, a cataclysmic tsunami and the changing of the entire earth’s weather patterns to help him see the light.
Now I wonder what it will take for him to see the light about Iraq.