Thursday, April 14, 2005

Trashing the planet

I've blogged before about the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and I think it's time for another article on the realities of that report. Derrick Z. Jackson wrote an article on the subject entitled "US Takes the Lead in Trashing Planet" that was published in the Boston Globe. Here's how it gets started:

For more than four years, President Bush has told us he needs to see the ''sound science" on global warming before joining the rest of the world in combating it. In June 2001, he brushed off criticism of his pullout from the Kyoto Protocol, saying: ''It was not based upon science. The stated mandates in the Kyoto treaty would affect our economy in a negative way."

A year later, Bush's own Environmental Protection Agency put out a report that the burning of fossil fuels in the human activities of industry and automobiles are huge contributors to the greenhouse effect. He publicly trashed the report, embarrassing then-EPA administrator Christine Todd Whitman, saying, ''I read the report put out by the bureaucracy."

Now comes a new study, by a bureaucracy representing just about the whole planet. It is the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, commissioned by the United Nations in 2000 at a cost of $24 million and compiled by 1,360 experts from 95 countries. It is the latest in dire reports as to how we are doing the planet in and, implicitly, how the United States puts its interests and pollution over the welfare of the rest of the planet.

Here's an interesting observation later in the article:

The study offered several scenarios of how humans can halt the degrading of the planet. The most obvious strategies involve a global economy where the sharing of education, skills, technology, and resources leads to a reduction in poverty and pressures on local environments. The worst possible scenario is one called ''Order from Strength," which results in ''a regionalized and fragmented world, concerned with security and protection, emphasizing primarily regional markets, paying little attention to public goods, and taking a reactive approach to ecosystem problems."

That precisely describes the United States. We consume a quarter of the world's energy, are the world's leading contributor to the greenhouse gases of global warming, and take advantage of agriculture in all parts of the world so we can have fresh peaches, peppers, and berries 365 days a year if we wish...

I also want to recommend another article on the same report, this one by Mark Morford entitled, "Earth To Humankind: Back Off" and it's subtitled, "Say good-bye to your car, computer, everything. We are burning up the planet too fast to hang on". Here's the beginning of that article:

The Earth is going down. Way, way down. To the mat, hard and painful and with a sad moaning broken-boned crunch.

We are chewing her up, spitting her out, stomping and gobbling and burning and gouging and drilling and sucking her dry and we are carelessly replicating ourselves so goddamn fast we can't even stop much less even try to slow the hell down, and all we want is more and faster and with less consequence and pretty soon the Earth is gonna go, well, there you are, I'm finished, sorry, and boom zing groan, done.

Don't take my world for it. Just read the headlines, the latest major, soul-stabbing report.

Please don't tune out this information because it's too painful to face. I have a feeling that a critical mass of informed people is required for a difference to be made. Let's all be part of that critical mass.

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