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The Heck With That Global Warming Stuff | The Nation

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The Heck With That Global Warming Stuff

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Time to ease up on George W. So what that he tore up the Kyoto agreement, which had been painstakingly hammered out among 100 nations in an attempt to control global warming. Bush doesn't know any better, and why should he, since he never seemed to think that there was a world out there worth visiting, let alone saving.

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Robert Scheer
Robert Scheer, a contributing editor to The Nation, is editor of Truthdig.com and author of The Great American Stickup...

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Here's a guy born with credit cards in his cradle, enough to take him anywhere in the world, first class, who nevertheless pointedly refused to go. Even kids without any money manage to scrape up a few bucks and go see the world, but not young George, who satiated his curiosity about foreign lands with a few beer busts down in Mexico.

Heck, this fellow is so partial to sleeping in his own bed that during the campaign his handlers had to cajole him into making appearances outside of Texas. A state that is, the then-governor would tell his out-of-state audiences, the most perfect place in the world. His bold plan for the nation is to make it "a greater Texas."

What makes Texas perfect for Bush is that they have gas and oil profits there, which paid for Bush's run for governor and the presidency and made his Vice President and other key players in his Administration very, very rich. Nothing can be allowed to cut into those profit margins, especially those environmental extremists who are always talking about clean air and harmful emissions.

Sure Bush is for clean air--as long as it doesn't hurt oil company profits. Why, when the black smoke in his hometown of Odessa got so nasty that you had to turn on your headlights in the daytime, Gov. Bush went so far as to politely ask the big oil companies to come up with a plan to regulate themselves. They're still working on it.

What he would not buy, as he made clear in the presidential campaign, is that there is some sort of "greenhouse gas" effect already at work changing the world's climate in ways that all those alarmists say will prove disastrous. Yes, it's true that as part of his successful campaign strategy of conning the center and not frightening the Naderites, he did pledge to enforce limits on carbon dioxide emissions. So he lied. Big deal. At least it wasn't about something important, like sex.

Greenhouse gases are not important to Bush because all you have is a bunch of scientific geeks with all their studies, such as the recent one by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which concluded that such emissions have "contributed substantially" to global warming. But our President still is not convinced, and that's all that matters now, thanks to a weird and dubious election.

Anyway, no matter what those scientific studies show, Bush is not about to let other countries tell us--the United States of America!--what to do. So what that our 5 percent of the world's population accounts for 25 percent of its greenhouse gases--on a per capita basis twice that of Western Europe. Evidently the toxic Texan wants us to be No. 1 in everything, including pollution.

Bush is impervious to the argument of other industrialized nations, which recognize that, being the source of most of the damage, they must take the lead in repairing it while also setting an example for more impoverished nations. The response to Bush's position from our traditional allies has been withering, as typified by France's environment minister, who termed Bush's actions "completely provocative and irresponsible." The heck with them if they can't take a joke.

Bush's typically fractured response to the torrent of foreign criticism was breathtakingly insular: "We will not do anything that harms our economy. Because first things first are the people who live in America." Bush must believe that some sort of divine intervention will preserve the United States as the ice cap melts and the seas rise. Perhaps this is where the corporate greed faction of the GOP finds common ground with the party's religious right.

It's sad that party moderates, led by Environmental Protection Agency chief Christie Whitman and Secretary of State Colin Powell, have not been able to bring Bush the younger up to speed on this issue. And a pity that Bush doesn't even listen to William K. Reilly, the EPA administrator during the first Bush presidency, who urged George W. to at least abide by the 1992 international convention to combat global warming, which his father signed.

But Bush the younger is so steeped in the ideology of Big Oil that he obviously cannot think clearly about environmental issues. The mind, particularly of a president, is a terrible thing to waste. But when it comes to saving the environment, George Bush does seem uneducable.

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