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An agonizing depiction of the Bush administration's environmental policies
May 14, 2002 6:50 PM   Subscribe

An agonizing depiction of the Bush administration's environmental policies from this week's New Yorker. It's one thing for the Natural Resources Defense Council (which dedicates a web page to tracking the president's environmental record) to call Bush's "the most anti-environmental presidential administration ever"; but even the generally pro-Bush Economist has called his policy on global warming a sham. Aaargh! (Can anyone offer anything more constructive than that? Please?)
posted by mattpfeff (32 comments total)

 
Can anyone offer anything more constructive than that? Please?
I don't quite know what you are asking; are you trolling, are you a Bush supporter or are you curious that most of the press is so reactionary?

Lets face the facts: Bush is the most pro-business president in the last 12 years. Bush is pro-business in the way of taking all restrictions off of corporations so that the “free market” [ha] can take over. Big Business is having a field day with their newfound freedom, much like inmates would feel instant glee at taking over the jobs of their captors. I won’t go over all of his gaffs [since those are linked in the post] but the single fact that Bush is so blind to science by way of money/power/etc. is astounding. On Bush’s left hand side you have thousands of scientists producing many studies that back up the Global Climate Change [global warming] theory. On his right hand you have a few fringe scientists with flawed data and bags of money and powerful lobbies and corporations. It isn’t hard to see who Bush’s masters are.

What I don’t understand is that business can make a profit by acting “green” [to use a buzzword] and they get positive PR because of it. Case in point: when I see Bush saying we need to get off of the dependence of foreign oil, I applaud that. Then in the next sentence he goes and says that we can do that by drilling our way out of dependence in Alaska, Florida and the Rockies. It boggles the mind, really. When people talk about fuel-efficient cars, invariably someone will bring up the scare tactic of the smaller car, the less powerful car, etc. Well what I don’t understand why the Germans and Japanese get it right consistently and our so-called free market corporations have to play catch up. I think we will see more damage to environmental thought 5-10-20 years down the road due to this idea of digging/drilling/buying our way out of problems. Just look at the SUV craze, the unfathomable need for the suburban dream house [that looks just like your neighbors] and consumption, and we can see where we are going to end up if we extrapolate 20 years into the future.
posted by plemeljr at 7:53 PM on May 14, 2002


I think envionmental issues are as difficult to discuss as Israel/Palestinan issues; the rhetoric has ossified into an impenetrable crust which makes starting from zero and rationally examining issues virtually impossible. another problem with 'environmentalism' as a movement is that many people make their livings off of it: there are millions of dollars in grants, contributions and funding riding on the basic and often shaky assertions of 'environmental' organizations. Just as difficult are the millions of dollars behind corporations and individuals that have much to gain debunking the myths (and sometimes even the truths) of environmentalist claims. A further problem is made by both sides and that is the retention of old man vs. nature dichotomies in their arguments. The greenhead will say that man is destroying nature, thereby implying that man is outside of the natural world. The smoky industrialist might say that man is above nature, and that nature is subservient to the will of man. I believe that man is nature and vice versa- that we spring from nature just as everything else does, and that our will and intelligence, even when used for evil, came as a result of the forces of nature. So I end up conflicted when I try to look at the issue from either side and the spectrum of positions in between.

One thing I dislike about the 'green' side of the spectrum is the sanctimonious orthodoxy that often accompanies the speech and actions of environmental activists- it ends up some sort of greener form of religious fundamentalism whose most extremist practitioners think that its o.k. to blow up SUVs and kill Norwegian politicians. I distrust any system of beliefs that refuses to examine itself in a rational manner. I've been reading Bjorn Lomborg's The Skeptical Environmentalist and so far it is fascinating, not least because the author remains environmentally concerned while refusing to genuflect towards the assumptions of the environmentalist orthodoxy. Here are a couple of Lomborg-related links.

As for Bush, he has made some good decisions and some bad ones. I take his environmental policy with a grain of salt since he's a politician (a good reason to initially distrust anyone) with a vested financial interest in an industry with a motive to be against certain enviro measures.Wholly trusting Bush would be like trusting Ralph Nader to be objective on the issue.
posted by evanizer at 7:56 PM on May 14, 2002


(Can anyone offer anything more constructive than that? Please?)

Sure. Everything will be okay. Don't pay any attention to the enviromentalists. The free market regulates itself. You can trust big business. Smoking is good for your health. The death penelty is an effective deterrent. Abstinence works. Only criminals want privacy. Trees grow back. Guns don't kill people. Consuming is patriotic. The Friends baby will arrive on Thursday. Supporting anti-democratic coups to ensure oil for you SUV is OK.

Did I miss anything?
posted by srboisvert at 8:12 PM on May 14, 2002


I don't quite know what you are asking; are you trolling, are you a Bush supporter or are you curious that most of the press is so reactionary?

None of those -- I'm genuinely upset about these policies, but dunno what there is to say about it, beyond the rhetoric. Is there an argument one can actually make that would speak to the values that motivate the Bush administration? That is, is there even a conversation here? Or is anyone with a legitimate concern about the environment just locked out of the policy picture?
posted by mattpfeff at 8:19 PM on May 14, 2002


Did I miss anything?

Nope. I'd say you pretty much nailed it.
posted by Optamystic at 8:31 PM on May 14, 2002


Is there an argument one can actually make that would speak to the values that motivate the Bush administration?

Several millions of dollars in campaign contributions would probably get their collective attention.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 8:49 PM on May 14, 2002


Here is another little item of interest that seems to have slipped unnoticed under the noses of the mainstream press. The Bush administration seems to be probing the Endangered Species Act, the bane of developers across the country, for weaknesses. As the article implies, and as friends in the Cookeville, TN USFWS office (in whose region this occured) have confirmed, the permit to allow strip mining of endangered species habitat was ordered from "high up the chain of command."

You ask "what motivates the Bush administration?" and I say profit, either for themselves or for their friends or for others they're indebted to. The money trail is pretty easy to trace in some situations but not so easy to trace in others. As far as coal mining in Kentucky goes, just take a look at the campaign contributions of Larry Addington and his mining consortium AEI. The guy is an environmental nazi who has a long history of buying his way out of environmental regulatory problems, most notably in the Central American country of Belize where he has large land holdings. It's not so surprising that this can go on in a Banana Republic like Belize but I would expect more from the United States Gov't.
posted by Aurantiacus at 8:49 PM on May 14, 2002


Okay, now, just so I'm not hallucinating here, let me get this straight:

Bush (and cronies) honestly don't find a problem with cutting off the watersheds in West Virginia, destroying the mountains, and infecting drinking water with lead and other toxic metals? He honestly doesn't see a problem with that?

Or is it that he simply doesn't care? He allows corporations to ruin our environment--our WORLD--in worship of the almighty dollar. Does he just not care, because by the time it's too late to fix anything, he'll be dead? And MY GENERATION (ie: his wonderful daughters) will be the ones dealing with his mistakes?

What a beautiful legacy to leave us with, Georgie.
posted by gramcracker at 8:50 PM on May 14, 2002


Wholly trusting Bush would be like trusting Ralph Nader to be objective on the issue.

Yes. But with how quickly environmental threats emerge and the years it takes for environmental damage to be erased (if we're not talking extinction of species, which cannot be undone) time is very much so, of the essence. Environmental policy cannot be couched in the boardrooms of corporations that we just "trust" to do the right thing. Profits need be made now, not later. Environmentalism is by its very nature antithetical to "here, now and I'm waiting already". Environmental impact can only be warned against and hopefully should any benevolent nationstate find it in its interest to act would be acting not for the here and now, but perhaps decades in the future. This forward thinking is simply intangible to enviromentalism's detractors, term limited politicians and profit motivated corporations.

I defer to Bad Religion:
Modern Day Catastrophists

take those potatoes out of your ears,
listen to the warnings,
verify all your fears,
there's a world outside
that's ready to blow
and we're all to blame,
when it finally explodes,
you gotta listen up,
gotta listen to what they're telling you,
gotta listen up and think about
what they're saying to you,
they're the modern day catastrophists,
they've got practical solutions,
(know all the right equations),
they're the self-appointed righteous pragmatics,
and they know 50 ways to save the world
what makes you think you can cure our disease?
maybe it's just our biology,
maybe it's time to make room for another species,
this is the 21st century
posted by crasspastor at 8:50 PM on May 14, 2002


Sure. Everything will be okay. Don't pay any attention to the enviromentalists. The free market regulates itself. You can trust big business. Smoking is good for your health. The death penelty is an effective deterrent. Abstinence works. Only criminals want privacy. Trees grow back. Guns don't kill people. Consuming is patriotic. The Friends baby will arrive on Thursday. Supporting anti-democratic coups to ensure oil for you SUV is OK.

1. Free market DOES regulate itself.
2. You can USUALLY trust big business (and small biz, too!).
3. Smoking probably isn't good for your health, but it's a personal thing, right?
4. The death penalty IS an effective deterrent, for the person who is executed.
5. Trees DO grow back (surprise!).
6. Guns DO kill people, but not by accident.
7. Consuming IS patriotic, if consumers are free to choose.
8. Who gives a rat's ass about Friends?
9. Anti-democratic coups are NOT OK, but SUVs are great.

It may surprise some people, but not everyone is "concerned" about the environment. There are plenty of people who don't believe that the environment is threatened to any degree that matters, and all of the "green" activity urged by so many political and grassroots organizations do little, if anything, to affect the environment either way. All they do is manage to line their own pockets under the guise of charity and "good intentions" while simultaneously driving up costs or otherwise diverting perfectly good money.

I stand ready to be called names, but please remember that it's an opinion. I'm merely trying to point out that not everybody shares the greenies' beliefs.
posted by davidmsc at 8:53 PM on May 14, 2002


1 .Free market DOES regulate itself

I refer you to the 1890s. We have all sorts of regulatory laws (not to mention tarriffs) today, none of which are part of a "free market." And while we still have troubles (like Enron), they were much worse without regulation.

2. You can USUALLY trust big business (and small biz, too!).

See above.

4. The death penalty IS an effective deterrent, for the person who is executed.

Putting them in prison for life is cheaper (fiscal responsibility used to be a republican issue), and takes away their chances of martydom.

5. Trees DO grow back (surprise!).

Yes, in fifty years. How long do you think it takes to cut them down?

9. Anti-democratic coups are NOT OK, but SUVs are great.

I'm with you on the coups, but SUVs are unecessarily large. They're terribly wasteful, especially if you live in LA.

Incidentally, I'm more or less with you on the rest of it (smoking, guns, and consumerism.) But some of your comments simply do not make sense.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 9:06 PM on May 14, 2002


That NRDC site is retarded.
posted by techgnollogic at 9:13 PM on May 14, 2002


1. Free market DOES regulate itself.

In what fantasy world? Look 'round the globe at true free markets -- say, Russia after the fall of the USSR -- and the one common theme is suffering.

2. You can USUALLY trust big business (and small biz, too!).

In what fantasy world? Look 'round the globe at big business -- say, Union Carbide at Bhopal; or Nike in China -- and the one common theme is maximizing profit regardless the cost of lives or environment.

4. The death penalty IS an effective deterrent, for the person who is executed.

Particularly people like the 108 exonerated death-row inmates that the Innocence Project has helped free.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:06 PM on May 14, 2002


You know, the Nader argument that Bush and Gore were the same candidate sounds more hollow than ever...
posted by solistrato at 10:10 PM on May 14, 2002


In what fantasy world? Look 'round the globe at true free markets -- say, Russia after the fall of the USSR -- and the one common theme is suffering.

Ah five fresh fish, but surely you know that there is no such thing as a free market. It was a trick statement. Because in a truly free market, there would be no govt. interference of any kind. Sadly, that does not, and cannot, exist.

In what fantasy world? Look 'round the globe at big business -- say, Union Carbide at Bhopal; or Nike in China -- and the one common theme is maximizing profit regardless the cost of lives or environment.

And the alternative is what? State-ownership?

4. The death penalty IS an effective deterrent, for the person who is executed.

Although this thread has nothing to do with this issue, let's be very clear...it IS cheaper to imprison for life as opposed to executing (mainly because of the appeals process), it is NOT a deterrent (crime has not made any significant reductions after an execution), and those innocent people that are executed can no longer defend themselves, a guaranteed constitutional right.

Abstinence works.

In fact, abstinence does work. Any abstinent couples with unwanted children running around? I thought not.

I like lists. We should do this more often...
posted by BlueTrain at 10:25 PM on May 14, 2002


Good to see someone who finally ignores the lies pushed by far too many knee-jerk organizations.

If you ask me, and some Nasa Scientists, global warming is a sham.

Go ahead and argue that the satellite data isn't valid. I think you'll have a hard time convincing me that Nasa is wrong though. They make far fewer mistakes than any of the Global Warming advocates have (or is it Global Cooling? Sometimes I ignore the rhetoric enough I don't know which is the "in" fad this decade).

Not that I'm not all for clean air -- smog is quite nasty in many ways -- I'd like more clean air. But call it what it is, cleaner air, and stop banning relatively safe chemicals like Freon. [I'd love to debate on that one, and how, once again, the global warming adovocates were presented a pack of lies (IMHO) and swallowed them whole].

And, BTW, trees supply an extremely limited amount of oxygen when compared to plankton (the world's greatest oxygen supplier). Without plankton you would surely die of CO2 poisoning. Without trees, however, this is very unlikely. So if you really want to have an effect on our oxygen supply, stop wasting it by planting trees, and get to work on growing our true oxygenation friends: plankton.

And yes, one of my tiny side hobbies is debunking the great oxymoron that is greenpeace.

It took a meteroite with more power than any weapon ever conceived of on earth (AFAIK) to wipe out the dinosaurs. Why is it that people think that we have any hope on earth of achieving the same level of destruction unwillingly (barring another meteor, of course)?

Fff, Russia was in worse ruins prior to the Free Market. Gulag and starvation were rampant. Bridges and dams were built with the bodies of the dead. The Free Market has helped bring a value to life there.

Russia is not a Free Market failure. It is proof that the Free Market process is not an instant change, but a gradual improvement.

For every company that is rotten to the core (and I will forgive simple mistakes), I can name 10 that generally aren't. I'll name off some of the namebrands I'm surrounded by right now that aren't accused of the horrendous conditions Nike puts its workers through. And while many of these companies have their products built in poverty stricken areas, after talking with someone who once worked in a "sweat shop" that didn't force workers to work, or beat them, but simply paid low wages, they truly are a benefit to the areas they are in.

So lets see, I need to list 20: RCA, Epson, Nortel, Mitsubishi, Logitech, Sennheiser, ELSA, ATI, GI, JVC, Kenwood, Fisher, Circuit-Test, "One4All", Fuji, DishNetwork, ExpressVu, NagraVision, NDS, Pyramid, Paradigm, PSB, GoldStar, Allied-Telesis, Cayman, HarmonKardon, HP, Viewsonic, NCD, Sun, Commodore, Samsung, Trebor, Bassets, Cadbury, Frito-Lay, Hostess, Valmo Laboratory, Black & Decker, Tylenol, Crest.

Ok, so that's way more than 20. You get the picture.

However I do agree, the death pentalty should be banished.

TTYL!
posted by shepd at 10:27 PM on May 14, 2002


Damn Shep! Ever hear of erring on the side of caution? (even if global warming, the occurrence of nuclear mishap in this *increasingly(WTF?)* nuclear age, loss of biological diversity and total deforestation of the planet etc never happen)

And somebody call Michael Reagan. We got the one that left the domain.
posted by crasspastor at 10:38 PM on May 14, 2002


From the World Resources Institute: MEDIA KIT: Debunking Pseudo-Scholarship: Things a journalist should know about The Skeptical Environmentalist.

This is also discussed at Kuro5hin
posted by samelborp at 11:54 PM on May 14, 2002


If you ask me, and some Nasa Scientists, global warming is a sham.

Funny, in reality NASA's view seems a bit less adamant than you assert. It couldn't be that you just cherry-picked a couple of studies while ignoring others, could it? "Some" is certainly the operative word from your little sample of science, right?

For every company that is rotten to the core (and I will forgive simple mistakes), I can name 10 that generally aren't.

That's so nice. According to you, nine percent of all companies are rotten to the core. The rest are...what...just worm-ridden?

But I'll play your silly game. Here we go...I'll await your list, m'kay?

Allstate, Microsoft, Exxon, Lorillard, Brown and Williamson, MacDonald's, Coca Cola, Enron, Union Carbide, Ford, Firestone, Mattel, Global Prosperity Group, Monsanto, RJ Reynolds, Philip Morris, Shell, Verisign, The Gap, Banana Republic, BP Amoco, DoubleClick, Lockheed, Tyson Foods, Farben, TRW, ITT...

And that's just off the top of my head....

Ah, why rely on my faulty memory. Here's another hundred rotten to the core...let's see...10 * 100...guess you owe us somewhere around another thousand worm-ridden names (and these are the ones who got caught...we haven't even scratched the surface of business corruption):

1) F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd.
Type of Crime: Antitrust
Criminal Fine: $500 million

2) Daiwa Bank Ltd.
Type of Crime: Financial
Criminal Fine: $340 million

3) BASF Aktiengesellschaft
Type of Crime: Antitrust
Criminal Fine: $225 million

4) SGL Carbon Aktiengesellschaft (SGL AG)
Type of Crime: Antitrust
Criminal Fine: $135 million

5) Exxon Corporation and Exxon Shipping
Type of Crime: Environmental
Criminal Fine: $125 million

etc...etc...yawn...then there are these nice folks doing business with China to make a few bucks on the backs of the free market there...the wonderful Sucks500 list...these paragons of business ethics...

Businesses exist to make money any way they can. Period. On any given ethical scale (with rare exceptions), businessmen are one rung up from common thieves. Where exactly does that leave Bush, their biggest supporter?
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 12:08 AM on May 15, 2002


You know, the Nader argument that Bush and Gore were the same candidate sounds more hollow than ever...

It's a shame greens didn't notice this sooner. Like, before the election.
posted by dogmatic at 2:25 AM on May 15, 2002


"There are plenty of people who don't believe that the environment is threatened to any degree that matters"

Rush Limbaugh has made this argument for years and it appears someone has taken him seriously. Ha! May I refer you to www.e-sheep.com/rusheats for an accurate view of this baloney?
posted by nofundy at 5:09 AM on May 15, 2002


Global warming or not, smog and pollution have major effects on asthma in children.
posted by gramcracker at 7:17 AM on May 15, 2002


You know, nofundy, people are allowed to have dissenting (look, there's that word again) views without being dittohead drones. Perhaps someone will start calling you a Chomsky zombie, and we'll see how you like it.
posted by darukaru at 7:38 AM on May 15, 2002


Who's Chomsky? Is he on AM talk radio too? It's nice to hear there may be someone who agrees with me! :) BTW, I didn't accuse, just pointed out that Rush advocated this viewpoint and that many others seem to accept it. But, yes, I do disagree with them. I love for others to have differing viewpoints and to be able to vigorously defend them. Such as the very well put viewpoint at rusheats...

Sorry you're so sensitive about Rush but I didn't call anyone a dittohead, you used that particular phrase that Rush listeners are so ignorantly proud of. As Rush instructed "You don't need to read the newspapers or listen to the TV news, I'll do that for you and tell you what to think about the stories too, just tune in to my show!"

Ditto!!
posted by nofundy at 8:10 AM on May 15, 2002


shepd: interesting that you cite John Christy, who's essentially the oilmen's pet environmentalist. (And not a NASA scientist any more.) Interesting also that Exxon lobbied to have Christy and other media-friendly sceptics replace the 'Gore appointees' on the US IPCC. Interesting that the Bush admin chooses to have its delegates on global panels represent the minority rather than the majority, especially when they're trying to oust the panel's chairman. Oh, and finally:
Christy's opposition to the IPCC declaration is rooted not only in global satellite and weather-station data, but in his Christian convictions. Twenty-seven years ago, he was a missionary in the Kenyan village of Nyeri, in the highlands outside Nairobi where he saw first-hand how energy policies of the powerful nations devastated developing communities dependent on fossil fuels.
While the impact of Christy's Baptist missionary past certainly hasn't altered his views on such things as evolution and the age of the earth, you have to wonder whether his position as a God-fearing, anti-state climatologist particularly endears him to the American right.
posted by riviera at 8:24 AM on May 15, 2002


nofundy: I voted Gore, you chucklehead. And then I got over it.
Anyway…
Global warming or not, smog and pollution have major effects on asthma in children.
This, and the other effects of pollution we see around us every day, are the ones we need to focus our efforts on—the ones that have immediate, negative health effects. There's a good chance that in the process of addressing these, we'll clean up a whole lot of other crap. And yes, one of the first things we need to do is to get ourselves the hell off the fossil-fuel tit, for politics, for cleanliness, and because they won't last forever. Fuel cells and fusion research (but fission in the meantime) ahoy!
posted by darukaru at 8:41 AM on May 15, 2002


darukaru: I'd settle for dual-fuel hybrids, just as a start.... reduce the flow of fossil fuels, while looking for realistic alternatives....
posted by dwivian at 9:32 AM on May 15, 2002


If you ask me, and some Nasa Scientists, global warming is a sham.

the articles you've linked to are 3-4 years old, whereas the most critical evidence in support of the global warming theory have come out as recently as this year. do you have anything more current?

at any rate, just because the planet isn't in any immediate danger, it doesn't mean one should conduct themselves as though it never will be.
posted by mcsweetie at 10:25 AM on May 15, 2002


Or is it that he simply doesn't care? He allows corporations to ruin our environment--our WORLD--in worship of the almighty dollar. Does he just not care, because by the time it's too late to fix anything, he'll be dead? And MY GENERATION (ie: his wonderful daughters) will be the ones dealing with his mistakes?

Perhaps he feels that none of it truly matters, because Jesus will someday be coming back to Earth and renew the entire planet to create a paradise for His believers.

That's what some my brother believes, anyway. No joke.
posted by Dirjy at 11:17 AM on May 15, 2002


darukaru: I'd settle for dual-fuel hybrids, just as a start.... reduce the flow of fossil fuels, while looking for realistic alternatives....
Sounds good to me. I was reading something the other day about some extremely efficient diesel engines they're using in Europe now; the advantage is that you don't immediately have to convert every fueling station in the country, the way you would with an instant switch to fuel-cell or all-electric cars. Wish I could find the link again; Google is being uncooperative.
posted by darukaru at 12:34 PM on May 15, 2002


Good call, Dirjy. Bush and cohorts will be snatched off the Earth during Rapture, and the rest of us will have to live through the horrible yeras of war and destruction, waiting for Jesus to come back and Save Earth. Meanwhile, they're up in heaven, laughing at us, drinking their Vanilla Cokes and Pepsi Blues.
posted by gramcracker at 12:46 PM on May 15, 2002


You know, the Nader argument that Bush and Gore were the same candidate sounds more hollow than ever...

Well, there is an interesting thing going on here. While the American press played Clinton up as the white knight of the environment, the international press was lamenting the fact that the Clinton administration had been quietly gutting just about every international environmental proposal from Koyoto to fishing regulations at the request of key U.S. industries. The arsenic regulations were fairly blatant political set-up by a lame-duck president who blockaded the regulations for years (a contemporary version of Marbury vs. Madison.) The basic difference appears to be that Clinton was pulling a bait-and-switch by making proposals that were worthless, while Bush is rather brazen and honest about selling the environment.

But one of the interesting things about picking up British Periodical New Scientist every week is seeing different views of what Americans take for granted. For example, their goal to increase renewable energy production over the next two decades is expected to increase their per capita GDP compared to other plans.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:13 PM on May 15, 2002


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