On May 28th, Twentieth Century Fox will release a new disaster film. But The Day After Tomorrow is not your conventional fear flick. It's not about biological, nuclear or military attacks. Instead, its harrowing premise is that climate change could destroy planet earth. In the film's trailers, tsunamis overtake Manhattan, tornadoes threaten Los Angeles, and volcanoes spew lava near the Hollywood sign.
This is a film that uses celluloid to teach and inform--and, yes, inspire--people about a critical and still misunderstood subject. The Day After Tomorrow's website includes links to environmental groups with information about the dangers of global warming and ways to get involved in combating the crisis. And while the film is an Eco-Armageddon fantasy flick, I hope it will act as a wake-up call to millions of movie-goers nationwide. (Click here to read environmental writer Bill McKibben's recent piece on The Day After Tomorrow and global warming in Grist magazine.)
Make no mistake: Global warming is a real threat. The majority of policy experts and scientists believe that unless strong action is taken, climate change will lead to widespread environmental destruction with a devastating human toll.
Scientists agree that the earth's temperature is rising faster than ever before. Since 1990, the planet has experienced the ten hottest years ever recorded. Unless we reduce emissions that produce heat-trapping pollutants soon, the weather will keep getting hotter and hotter. Climate change is already causing droughts and water shortages in the Southwestern US and elsewhere. And since 1970, twenty percent of the North Pole's ice cap has melted away.
The problem is so severe that David King, Tony Blair's scientific adviser, calls global warming more of a threat than terrorism. By 2080, hundreds of millions of people will be "exposed to frequent flooding in the river delta areas of the world," predicts King. Even the Pentagon recently cited climate change as a national security threat that could lead to war, drought and mass starvation.
Moreover, according to a recent study conducted by the Harvard Medical School's Center for Health and the Global Environment, climate change and air pollution are already increasing asthma rates among poor and minority children. Christine Rogers, a scientist at Harvard's School of Public Health, warns: "This is a real wake-up call for people who think global warming is only going to be a problem off in the future...The problem for these children is only going to get worse."
The Bush Administration's track record on global warming is--no surprise here--appalling. While Bush pays lip service to "sound science," in truth, he shills for his supporters in the oil, gas and coal industries. Congressman Henry Waxman is right when he charges that W. believes that policies and industry contributions should determine America's environmental policies, not scientific information and research. (Click here to read about Bush's lies on Waxman's website.)
Since 2001, Bush has created a little shop of policy horrors. This president turned his back on the Kyoto Treaty, which offered our best opportunity to attack the global warming problem. He also proposed the so-called Clear Skies Act which, like so many Bush Administration policies, does the opposite of what it purports by failing to regulate carbon dioxide, an important greenhouse gas.
The scary thing is that this Administration warned NASA scientists not to do any interviews "or otherwise comment on anything having to do with the film The Day After Tomorrow." While the order was later rescinded, the Bushies tipped their hand; they don't like science, and they certainly don't want a fact-based discussion on climate change.
The infuriating thing, as experts know, is that the threat can be addressed. Bush would just prefer if we all ignored it. Here are some actions a leader committed to building a safer, healthier and cleaner America would endorse.
1) Rely more on new technologies to reduce the emissions from cars, trucks and SUVs that cause global warming. Promote clean energy sources, including wind and solar that will reduce heat-trapping pollutants in the atmosphere.
2) Support the Apollo program for energy independence, a $300 billion, ten-year plan to invest in hybrid cars, renewable energy, efficient buildings and diversified transit. Such a program will generate more jobs than the president's tax cuts for the rich at a fraction of the cost and, at the same time, it will enable us to reduce our dependence on Middle East oil.
3) Revive the Kyoto protocols, and let the world know that America takes climate change seriously.
But, if the Bush team and their pals in the fossil fuel industries keep thumbing their noses at climate change, then scenes from The Day After Tomorrow could become more than just a sci-fi fantasy dreamed up in Hollywood.
As Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the ranking member of the Foreign Operations Subcommittee, said in a stirring speech this past Tuesday on the Senate floor:
"The mistreatment of prisoners by the US military in Iraq was not limited to the crimes that have come to light at the Abu Ghraib prison. Rather, there was, in the words of the US Army's own inquiry, a 'systemic and illegal abuse of detainees.' It is revealing, and particularly disturbing, that the US personnel involved conducted themselves so openly, even posing with the victims of their sadistic acts. They obviously felt they had no reason to believe that their superiors would be upset with their conduct. The brazenness of these acts, the reported role of US intelligence officers in encouraging such treatment to 'soften up' detainees for interrogations, combined with earlier reports of similar abuses in Iraq and Afghanistan, suggests a much larger failure."
We couldn't have said it any better ourselves. Hopefully a statement this strong from such a senior member of the Senate will have some reverberations. Click here to read and circulate Leahy's full speech, click here to read follow-up remarks Leahy made on Wednesday, and click here to read Katha Pollitt's new Nation column, Show & Tell at Abu Ghraib.
On February 15, 2003, one of the greatest mobilizations of popular protest the world has ever seen demonstrated its opposition to the Bush Administration's plans to invade Iraq. More than a year later, much of Iraq lies in ruins, invaded, smashed, and then occupied by a hostile and unwanted invasion force. More than seven hundred US soldiers have been killed along with tens of thousands of Iraqis, some of them, we now know, tortured to death by sadistic soldiers and private contractors.
The political costs are still unseen but will anyone be held accountable for the war crimes committed during the military campaign, or the crimes committed by the occupying forces?
There's no tribunal that will judge the actions of the US and its allies. All official international institutions, including the International Criminal Court, lack jurisdiction and enforcement power. In response, a coalition of civil society groups from around the world, taking their cue from the 1967 Russell Tribunal formed to investigate crimes committed by the US in Vietnam, have organized what they call the World Tribunal on Iraq . The WTI has been endorsed by the Jakarta Peace Consensus and the antiwar assemblies that converged at the recent European Social Forum in Paris and the World Social Forum in Mumbai, India.
Hearings and events have already taken place in London, Monterrey, Brussels, Hiroshima, Paris, Costa Rica, Munich, Mumbai, Barcelona, Istanbul, Copenhagen and Rome. Tomorrow, a panelwill convene in New York City to discuss questions like:
*Could the doctrine of "preventive war" ever be legal under international law?
*Can we record the crimes committed in launching this war of aggression, during the military campaign and ongoing occupation?
*Can an effective grassroots mechanism be established which can initiate the process of providing justice and/or accountability?
New York Session of the World Tribunal on Iraq, Saturday, May 8, 2004, Cooper Union, Great Hall, 7 East 7th Street at 3rd Ave.--Starts at 10:00am.
FREE - donations welcome
The panel will feature Rabab Abdulhadi, Sinan Antoon, Dennis Brutus, Hamid Dabashi, Bhairavi Desai, Eve Ensler, Jenny Green, Lisa Hajjar, Elias Khoury, Robert van Lierop, Motarilavoa Hilda Lini, Kiyoko McCrae and Ibrahim Rames.
The World Tribunal on Iraq is one important effort trying to address the failure of the US to guarantee a minimal standard of human-rights for the inhabitants of the country which we'er currently occupying. Click here for more info on tomorrow's New York Session of the World Tribunal on Iraq and click here to find out how you can assist the Tribunal's efforts no matter where you live.
Every December for the past nineteen years, marchers in Bhopal, India,
have paraded an effigy of Warren Anderson through town and burned it.
Anderson is despised because he was the CEO of Union
The peeling-gilt Aladdin Theatre, in a working-class neighborhood across
the river from downtown Portland, generally draws rock acts a little too
funky or faded to fill the city's main showcase
By smashing evil-doers flat, we've said,
This war has changed Iraq forevermore.
So why is it that Kurds and Shiites start
Imagining they've seen this all before?
The Sinclair Broadcast Group, a Maryland-based media company whose
holdings include sixty-two TV stations, did the country a favor when it
refused to air the April 30 special edition of Nigh
LOS ANGELES -- John Kerry is going to have to decide who he wants to be when he grows up politically. His post-primary campaign has been so dramatically unfocused and ineffectual that -- even as George Bush has taken more serious blows to his credibility than any sitting president since Richard Nixon in the first years of his second term -- Kerry has not been able to open up a lead nationally or in the essential battleground states.
Kerry is making moves to muscle up his Democratic presidential candidacy, with a $25-million let's-make-some-introductions advertising campaign, an effort to sharpen his message and a sped-up vice presidential search. The next month will be critical. If he can open a five- to eight-point lead nationally and establish leads that mirror those of Al Gore's 2000 wins in Democratic-leaning battleground states, his campaign will be sufficiently renewed to make the race. If, on the other hand, he continues to hold even nationally and trail behind Gore's showings in the states that will tip the balance in the Electoral College, there will come a round of questioning -- prior to the Democratic National Convention in July -- about whether the party is making the right choice.
Kerry will still be the nominee. Modern political parties lack the flexibility to clean up messes, no matter how obvious the need. The was proven in 1996, when the Republican National Convention dutifully nominated Bob Dole, despite the fact that no honest observer thought he had a chance of winning.