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Thursday, February 26, 2004

Global Warming, or to Ralph or not to Ralph?
The Pentagon's gloomy global-warming scenario finally made it to the NY Times today; the Times article reinforces what I've read on a couple of other blogs but forgot to report here--the report is more the examination of a worst-case scenario than a prediction. Also, consider the source! Someone on our local peace e-mail list was wondering why Ralph Nader was getting so much attention on the list while this report wasn't; here is my reply:

As the NY Times article mentions, the Pentagon report was a scenario, not necessarily a prediction. For better or worse (probably some of both), the Pentagon plans for a wide variety of possible scenarios, some more likely than others. What if the Saudi oil fields are crippled by "terrorists?" What if China invades Russia, or vice versa? What if things heat up again between India and Pakistan? And so on. I've read on several blogs which I consider both highly liberal and highly reputable that this global warming report was one of these scenarios. It wasn't necessarily predicting that Britain would turn into Siberia by 2020; it was guessing at what might follow if this worst-case global-warming scenario happens. It's of some significance in that by preparing it at all the Pentagon is admitting the possibility of global warming, but it isn't correct to read it as the Pentagon predicting the scenario. Besides, since when did we start believing the Pentagon?

That said, I believe that global warming is a critical issue that needs to be seriously addressed, and now. I think that Kucinich and Nader address the problem as a critical issue; Kerry has a good voting record, but I haven't seen the environment as a key element of his platform (Anybody know what the key elements of his platform ARE?). Here's some choice Kerry-speak from his web site:

John Kerry has the vision to create a new Manhattan Project to make America independent of Middle East oil in 10 years by creating alternative fuels like ethanol and making cars more efficient. We?ll create half a million new jobs here at home at the same time - and we?ll never have to send our sons and daughters to war for Mideast oil.

Okay, upfront I'll admit that we could probably find two sentences from any candidate's web site to rip to shreds; we could probably even find two sentences from Bush's web site to make him sound palatable. But still, look at what Kerry says.

First, why a "Manhattan Project?" Why couldn't he just endorse the Apollo Alliance, which has somewhat the same goals, and named itself after a big program that was at least somewhat more peaceful? Second, ethanol is a crock, just a ploy to get electoral votes from those states that have more senators than voters. Using modern American farming methods, it takes more energy to produce ethanol than it contains. Making cars more efficient has a very limited potential, especially if people continue to drive more and more. Addressing sprawl, zoning, poor public transportation, and the other factors that contribute to more miles being driven is at least as important as fuel economy.

And then "We'll never have to send or sons and daughters to war for Mideast oil." What a complete utter totally contemptible admission coming from someone who voted for the war. He is admitting that he sent soldiers to Iraq to fight for oil, rather than let the price of oil rise and thereby solve many of our environmental and social problems. (Americans who died in terror attacks in the past decade--about 3200; Americans who died in auto accidents in the past decade--about 400,000.)

As far as I'm concerned, Nader is running because the leading Democrats are unwilling to take stands any stronger than Kerry's two sentences above. If Kerry doesn't, the Pentagon's worst-case scenario becomes more likely, no matter who wins in November. If we want to avoid global warming, we need a president who will take it seriously. George Bush obviously won't, Dennis Kucinich or Ralph Nader obviously would. John Kerry seems to be trying to find out which way the political wind is blowing, and we need to let him know that the planet has a sizeable constituency, even in this country. Awarding him our votes without a fight isn't the way to do it. Maybe I'll determine that I owe it to my country to vote for Kerry in November; I certainly also owe it to my country to make him sweat for it!